Underground River Ride

This is a piece for solo piano, inspired by the Indiana Jones movies and other adventurous shows like Jonny Quest. Imagine a chase scene with bad guys chasing good guys through a raging underground river with all sorts of obstacles and dangers on the way. There are two melodies - the main melody is in the bass line (to reflect the underground river) and a secondary melody in the top notes of the chords played in the treble clef as accompaniment.

Underground River Ride music


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  • This is one of my favorites of yours. The driving rhythm never became too much, as the changing keys kept propelling the piece forward. The transitions in keys/harmonies were seamless. To the ear, this sounded like smooth and effortless composing (the way it should!) without any wrinkles. The score illustrates the complexity of the piece. Nice work, Gav!

  • I can really hear the imagery!  And like Janet said, it's really driving.  I wonder how some contrasting sections might  help give more shape over all.  


  • Janet: thanks for your comment! I like breaking out of my normal compositional style occasionally and doing something different. This was a piece that sort of just worked from the get-go. I have a particular love for time changing! Tim, thanks also, I like writing "pictoral" music, that is, music which tells a story or feels like accompaniment to a scene in a movie. The only contrast I could think of would be a slower section, which I think in this case might derail the canoe Indy is in (or maybe I could have come up with a whirlpool danger and created a "swirly" section?!?) Michael, also thanks, I like to push boundaries musically and love extended jazz chords! Glad you all got some enjoyment from it!

  • But what movie sound tracks do we hear today?  Some computer generated noise that is nothing more than sound effects.  Movies from the fifties and sixties had great jazz sound tracks which created the whole noire of the movie, like all the Bond films, Pink Panther, Mission Impossible.  Those songs became top forty hits and were played by orchestras, combos and marching bands.  This music was composed by a human being and played by live musicians.   Most film scores today will be remembered no longer than it took to write the music.  This is just another example of the degeneration of the American culture.

    michael diemer said:

    I agree, this is a really cool piece, Gav. It reminds me more of a car ride through the countryside, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. (Play it again, Sam...but that's another movie). In any case, a fantastic piece, some groovy jazz seasonings, but the best part is that melodic bass line. A great idea and very well realized. Enjoyed it very much.

    Underground River Ride
    This is a piece for solo piano, inspired by the Indiana Jones movies and other adventurous shows like Jonny Quest. Imagine a chase scene with bad guy…
  • Janet, your comment "To the ear, this sounded like smooth and effortless composing (the way it should!) without any wrinkles" - strikes me as the highest compliment which can be paid, thank you!

  • As the late-great Frank Zappa would say - "Hotcha!"  What a fun piece and a fun ride!  I took several listen and read-throughs. One thing that jumps out at me is that this might make a fantastic fingerstyle guitar duet, or even guitar solo if adapted.  It really scoots right along and moves through some interesting melodic and stylistic twists and turns. The piece actually does remind me of some of the earlier stuff that Zappa's wrote for Synclavier.  As much fun as the piece is to listen to, it is just as much fun to read through.  I love odd meters (as in both not even and strange!).  The alternating meters remind me a bit of Stravinsky's "LHistore du Soldat" - despite the frequent changes in meter, the pulse and drive remain steady.  I think this would make a great learning piece to get folks more comfortable with odd and changing meters.  I used to play in an ensemble where the prospect of anything outside of 4/4 or 3/4 would send a collective shiver.  All and all, great stuff!   I also took a listen to some of the other pieces you have posted on YouTube.  If you take requests - more handbells please!

  • Thanks so much T.T.! Regarding odd/alternating meters, I do like to write pieces sometimes with the specific goal of using them. It challenges my compositional chops and can be lots of fun. Glad you enjoyed other works, the handbell stuff I may bring around to this site at some point!

  • This piece starts with drive and keeps going.  Nice marriage of two distinct lines working together, while staying individual.  Well done.

    Normally, I'm in favor of a contrasting section, but in this case, I think it might feel like someone yanking my ears off their feet.  Perhaps make the contrast by using minor or modal versions  instead of a tempo shift.  Don't let the momentum get lost. 

  • Thanks Tim for your comments! Maintaining momentum I felt was key with this piece

  • That was fun.  Why is it an underground river ride?  Of course the melody is in the left hand, but it sounds more like a ride in a '57 Chevy, cruising the streets of L.A in a James Dean movie.

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