Music Composers Unite!
Here is a post in response several that have appeared on the Forum recently - Janet's question regarding the benefits of the Forum, Gavin's request that we post some stuff and Paul Buckby's post a few weeks back about mixing of musical genres.
Although my musical tastes mostly skew towards the “modern” (I love the music of Stravinsky, Bartok, Varese, Copland, Reich, Glass, Zappa et al) Bluegrass banjo and New Age piano are also among my guilty pleasures. After reading Paul's post about mixing of genres and creation of sub genres, I was inspired to do a little experiment. I hauled out my rusty old banjo and worked out a spacey little melody in a bastardized Clawhammer and three finger style. I then fired up the keyboard and doing my best George Winston imitation, added an accompanying piano part. The results of this little experiment are humbly submitted for your Dissection, Analysis and Critique. Earl Scruggs I aint, and I likewise dont consider myself to be a proper piano player, but it was a fun piece to do.
In response to Janet's post, I would agree with what others have said – the Forum is a place to post our stuff and to request and receive feedback if so desired. I enjoy listening to the music that is posted here and have been inspired on a couple of occasions now to make new music in response to pieces and posts that have appeared here. Although I dont feel the need to jump into many of the discussions, I do enjoy them; the serious ones and not so serious and the ones that are on topic and off. If nothing else, I see the Forum as a wonderful virtual wall where we can post our musical graffiti for anyone who cares to listen. If anyone else is inspired or otherwise benefits from what is posted – so much the better.
Regarding Paul's post about mixing of genres some of my favorite composers (see list above) were masters at this. I think most composers do this to varying degrees when they create. When done well, new and wonderful types of music can emerge. When not done well – it can still be fun! Who knows, maybe there's a good idea for a contest in all of this.
I found this lovely and ethereaI. A unique treatment of the banjo which made me think more than anything else of George Harrison's use of the sitar in Beatles' songs. I hope to hear more from you, thanks for posting! If you have a score, please post~
I really enjoyed listening to this piece. I agree with Gav about the sitar feel. Meditative almost. Interesting mix of instruments and style. A harmonica would have really sent it over the edge for envisioning the cattle. Thanks for writing and sharing it.
Wonderful! I never knew the banjo and piano could be such good friends. It was very different from what I expected. I would have to dub this your "Zen Banjo" piece. Why not consider a suite for these two instruments? you have created a unique blend of two sounds here, which unexpectedly merge into one. Very intruiging.
Delightful! I could listen to a lot more of this. The banjo sounded like a koto to me, as did some of the music it played. There was a time when the two seemed to be playing different rhythms than each other, and I enjoyed the polyrhythm. It was just a little taste to whet the aural appetite.
(P.S. thanks for the feedback about the Forum.)
I'm trying to decide which genres have been fused here. It's kind of Zen/cow pen. Or maybe The maharishi does Woodstock. I think you've created a new genre. Interesting sound. I don't think too many farmers will be listening to this out on their tractors, unless they are growing a certain species of weed. I liked the piece.
Thanks to all for your excellent feedback!
Kristopher - your ears are most astute. There are two types of compositions that I do – those that are carefully and deliberately planned out and structured, and those that are essentially structured improvisations. This piece is certainly one of the latter. I intended it as primarily a “proof of concept.” I planned out some basic considerations in advance; stylistic approach for each part, basic mood and tonality, general rhythmic approach etc. All the rest was left to chance and was composed “in the moment.” Some of my best little snippets have come out, largely by happy accident, using this kind of approach. The drawback to this approach is an admitted lack of cohesive structure or thematic development. In addition, I am limited to a certain style given my cretin level of technical ability on some instruments. Nearly all of the other pieces that I have posted on my home page are examples of the more formalized, deliberate approach.
Lawrence – I am endlessly amused by the possibility that there could be some hemp farmer out there on his tractor (or ox cart), in a tie dye T-shirt no doubt, happily listening away. Maybe there is a new career in this for me.
Michael, Robert (great to hear from you!), Janet and Gav - Interestingly, I did not consciously try to impose an Eastern feel on the piece. I guess this illustrates the impact of context - case in point would be the differences between the final submissions in the most recent contest. If you were to take the banjo part by itself, and provide a straight Bluegrass or mountain music backing, my hunch is that the Eastern overtones would be diminished. The piano part is pretty much in straight C with no deliberate attempt impose any particular modality. I have long thought, however, that the Banjo is a sonic cousin of instruments like the Sitar or Koto. I haven’t come across a lot of other attempts to use the instrument in that fashion, though.
Thank you all for the feedback – if the muse so directs, I may attempt something more formal using this combination of instruments in the future. At the moment, however, I am working to finish up my latest opus which is a minimalist exercise featuring flute, pipe organ, handbell choir and “found” audio.
I play in an Irish folk(ish) band. There are a lot of Celtic & British old tunes that have an Asian feel, oft times because of the pentatonic scale being used. These tunes are some of Bluegrass music's ancestors. I had a Japanese friend who moved to the USA, who was also an excellent koto player. She often combined traditional Japanese folk tunes with Americana folk tunes. I remember in particular one where she used "Amazing Grace" combined with an old Japanese lullaby. It was beautiful!
T.T. Gaudynski said:
Interestingly, I did not consciously try to impose an Eastern feel on the piece. I guess this illustrates the impact of context - case in point would be the differences between the final submissions in the most recent contest. If you were to take the banjo part by itself, and provide a straight Bluegrass or mountain music backing, my hunch is that the Eastern overtones would be diminished. The piano part is pretty much in straight C with no deliberate attempt impose any particular modality. I have long thought, however, that the Banjo is a sonic cousin of instruments like the Sitar or Koto. I haven’t come across a lot of other attempts to use the instrument in that fashion, though.