Some of you may be unaware that I have been pursuing a Masters degree in Music Composition at the University of Central Oklahoma for the last two years. Finishing a Masters while teaching full time and raising two small children is not easy; it is my hope that I can complete the degree by this coming May.
I think there are a number of misconceptions floating around about what I am doing…I am NOT pursuing this degree through the Academy of Contemporary Music (UCO’s contemporary music program that I teach in). We do not offer any such thing and so that was not an option. There is really no world where the work I am doing now could be classified as “rock” or “pop” music…there are no electric guitars in it, no instruments to speak of that found their advent post-1900. No, this work I am doing now is for orchestral instruments, or piano, or classical voices.
That said, it is intended to be “modern” music…just not the kind of “modern” we make down at ACM, or that I have historically made under the name Dr. Pants.
The use of the word “classical” to describe the music that I am writing now (or to describe the music being made at the UCO School of Music in general) is really a misnomer, since the actual “classical” period only lasted for a brief time in the 1700s. It is a term of convenience…Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any other good term that is convenient at all.
Anyway, the point is that I have been keeping this music hidden away…keeping my process very private, basically only telling people when they ask. It’s not shame that has caused me to do this; I am certain of that. It’s possible that it’s a fear of others not understanding, or maybe a fear of some weird judgment, but I really don’t know. I can’t say for sure. I do know, however, that when I suddenly had the idea this week of starting to share more about it online, it is fair to say that some sort of figurative dark cloud was lifted from my consciousness.
That means you can look forward to hearing a lot more about the things I’m doing.
I don’t have any professional recordings of these pieces. Only one of them has even been performed yet in any context. I am sharing a recording of that performance here. I hope to share all the pieces I’ve composed during this process in a recital this coming spring. Work has begun on trying to put that together. It is a challenging undertaking. I need upwards of 15 different musicians who all play different instruments, and my ability to network in the UCO School of Music is extremely limited by the fact that I can only be there a few hours a week. If you have resources or are a “classical” musician of any kind and you feel you would like to offer help, please let me know.
This piece is called Celestial Event #1 and is written for piano. It took me almost an entire semester to compose. I had a lot of work to do in terms of figuring out what my process with writing this kind of thing should look like, as well as finding a world where I was integrating some of the ideas I had but also being a willing student and engaging some of the ideas my teacher wanted me to absorb. What eventually emerged is a challenging piece of music to play; Shiqi Li is the pianist here and she did an excellent job. She was brave to do the work and I truly, truly appreciate her efforts.
If you click over to YouTube you can read the program notes I wrote about the piece.