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  • dtoub 9:19 am on Saturday, October 5, 2013, 9:19 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music   

    unfinished work for allan cronin (2013) 

    This work came out of an improvisation in a hotel room in Palo Alto, CA on the evening of 8/27/13. It is unlike my other recent works in that it involves more than one dynamic level, in this case pp, mf, ppp. It is scored for solo piano. This recording was realized with Reason 7.0.1.

    Why “unfinished?” Years ago, my wife and I attended a large exhibition of the works of Keith Haring in NYC, and one of his paintings was purposely unfinished in one of the corners. That always struck me as an interesting idea, that one’s creative work is really never truly completed. The question in this work is which portion was not really completed. I’m not sure I have answered that for myself.

    The score is here. The audio file (MP3) is here.


  • dtoub 2:40 am on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 2:40 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music   

    another day, another piece for electronic organ and bongo drums 

    I just finished a short work (16′) for electronic organ and bongo drums. Why that combination? Because no one else has ever done it.

    Seriously, I just thought it would be an interesting combination, and originally had some interest in setting part of Che’s 1964 UN speech to bongo drums and electronic organ. But as much as that idea intrigued me, I have yet to find the Spanish original of his speech (the English translation abounds on the Web), and given Che’s dislike of the English language as the language of colonialism in Latin America, it wouldn’t be right to set the words in English. I could also imagine a performer dressing up as Che, in his guerilla outfit and all that, but that would detract from both the words and the music, so I just wrote the music and left it at that.


    The work is entitled, simply enough, piece for electronic organ and bongo drums. The bongo part is continuous except for a few measures near the middle, and for the most part, the piece is in 7/16. The organ has only five notes to play in the entire piece-that’s the entire range, just five notes. And in some ways it’s a fairly simplistic study in rhythmic augmentation. But I wanted to see how much I could do with only five notes, much like I did in the 10-minute string quartet work five notes for christina fong.


    Anyway, the part (in English) from Che’s speech that really interested me was as follows:


    Those who kill their own children and discriminate daily against them because of the color of their skin; those who let the murderers of blacks remain free, protecting them, and furthermore punishing the black population because they demand their legitimate rights as free men — how can those who do this consider themselves guardians of freedom?


    The score is here. A MP3 file done with Reason 4.0 is here.
  • dtoub 12:02 am on Friday, July 16, 2010, 12:02 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music, objects,   

    recording objects (1999) 

    Glenn Freeman, who produces OgreOgress Records, has asked me to perform the electronic organ part of my 1999 piece objects for marimba, piano and electronic organ. It was premiered in 2006 by Hugh Sung, Daniel Beliavsky and Bill Solomon (electronic organ, piano and marimba, respectively) and the piece was pretty well received. One prominent composer, who I assumed was not someone who would like my music, sent me an e-mail telling me how much she loved the piece, so I learned never to assume who might or might not like my music. In any case, even my daughter likes that piece (which is a good thing, since I wrote it for her).

    The recording is going to be a high-resolution audio DVD and will also come out on iTunes and Amazon as MP3s. While the album has not yet been finalized, it will likely include works by some very prominent composers like Maria de Alvear and Bunita Marcus, so I’m really humbled by being included. The pianist for objects will be Paul Hersey and Glenn will likely play marimba. The recording will be multitracked, so I got to record my part here in a Palo Alto hotel room while on the West Coast for work. It’s taken me three nights to do several takes, but I think I’m there. I knew objects was a hard piece based on the feedback I got from the performers at the premiere. It looks simple, but requires a ton of concentration and stamina. One of the hardest parts for me was one section in the beginning where the organ plays the same measure 90 times in succession. It’s also pretty fast-as it was, I took the tempo down from quarter = 100 to quarter = 86, which is more in keeping with the premiere. I used a M-Audio 88es USB controller plugged into Reason for the organ sound, and had Finale 2011 play the piano and marimba parts at the same time so I could stay in tempo and keep things relatively synchronized. Like I said, it was really tough-I’m not a keyboard player despite all my years of dabbling, and playing in public or recording a take is stressful since it’s just too easy for me to make a mistake. But it all worked out so far, so hopefully Glenn won’t have to hire someone to play electronic organ for this recording. Anyway, the recording is likely to take a bit to get recorded, edited and released, but it’s definitely in progress, which is great news.
    Also on the performance front, the pianist Stephane Ginsburgh is looking into a performance in Belgium of my piano work quartet for piano, which is a piece I think is one of my better efforts. There are a few other performance possibilities out there, but less probable for now. But this is all good.
    • Paul B 10:02 am on Friday, July 16, 2010, 10:02 am Permalink

      Knowing finale, I can only imagine how difficult this would be to record. sounds like it’s time for you to use a dedicated sequencer like logic. or protools.

    • dtoub 10:21 am on Friday, July 16, 2010, 10:21 am Permalink

      Actually, Reason 4’s sequencer isn’t half bad. I’m sure Logic is great but right now this works for me. The alternative was to record from my Ensoniq synth into Audacity, but using a sequencer like Reason’s gave me a decent organ sound while preserving the ability to merge some parts into one, which should make Glenn’s job easier. I tried to do this like a live performance; all Finale did was provide me with a virtual marimbist and pianist to keep me in sync. Thanks Paul! 

    • Glenn Freeman 12:36 pm on Sunday, August 8, 2010, 12:36 pm Permalink

      the recording of the organ part ended up sounding great! We’re looking forward to using your tempo and style as a framework to record the other parts in a few months.

  • dtoub 2:56 pm on Saturday, May 8, 2010, 2:56 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music   

    ideas for new works 

    While I’m still working on a solo violin piece for Todd Reynolds, I’ve been giving some thought to where I might go next. Some ideas:

    1. A work based on the words of Ernesto Guevara Lynch (yes, Che was part Irish), which might also include words by Joe Slovo, Henry MacNeil Turner and Emma Goldman. I was originally thinking of scoring it for piano and bongo drums and have the speaker dressed as El Che, but that might be a bit much.
    2. Another piece for strings (maybe a string trio) since they’re the instruments that seem to have the fewest issues with playing sustained and repetitive music
    3. Definitely nothing for orchestra

    Why Che/Goldman/Slovo, all of whom were socialists and, with the exception of Emma Goldman, communists? Because despite their personal ideology with which I have issues, they believed in bettering those in their societies who were excluded. Turner wasn’t a communist but a freed slave who spoke eloquently about how blacks were being discriminated against by a white population for no reason other than the color of their skin. All four had interesting and important things to say about their times, and their words are just as needed today. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Che. He wasn’t a despicable human being the way the Right demonize him. Nor was he a saint. He was very human, but did a lot out of sympathy with the downtrodden even if his means (violent revolution) and philosophy (Marxism) can be argued against.

    But I first have to finish the violin piece. It’s been dormant for about two weeks now and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for it on my next trip to the Bay Area but I’m hoping to have it to Todd really soon.

    BTW, I wrote this on the iphone’s WordPress app. I’m not happy with it because there doesn’t seem to be any way to view saved drafts. So this was take three. Your WordPress app needs some work, guys.

  • dtoub 1:06 am on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 1:06 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music, vriezen   

    coffee with samuel vriezen in amsterdam 

    I first met the composer Samuel Vriezen in NYC several years ago when both of us were having pieces performed as part of the first Sequenza 21 concert. I knew of his music and got more interested in his work after meeting him. Samuel writes music that incorporates chance elements, although in a way that gives the performers more freedom yet still comes out in a fairly controlled fashion (ie, he doesn’t write graphic scores but carefully notated ones). I really like his piece 20 worlds, and Samuel was nice enough to send me the score in hard copy some time ago.

    Anyway, I’m in Amsterdam for work and had the opportunity to get together with Samuel yesterday over coffee. Amsterdam has a very good new music scene, with many ensembles that perform lots of music by composers who are still alive and who are not very well known. There are so many new music ensembles there are even rivalries among them.

    Contrast that with Philadelphia. I know of only 2-3 new music ensembles in my home town, and while there are some rivalries and politics, the reality is that I probably will never be performed in Philadelphia during my lifetime. Or after. That’s just a fact. Hartford, sure. California, sure. NYC, sure. Europe-probably. But Philadelphia–I’m not losing sleep over it.

    Samuel is able to eak out a living as a composer for the most part. That’s not easy anywhere, but especially difficult in the US. We don’t encourage new music performance or composition. Even our dead composers don’t fare well. Sure, some people have managed to enter the mainstream (Glass, Adams, Reich). But that was in part luck and in part because they were part of a convenient narrative about minimalism as a movement, now long dead. La Monte Young, who pretty convincingly started minimalism, will never be part of this mainstream. Some of that is his own choice. But it’s also reality. Same with Charlemagne Palestine, Terry Riley (apart from In C and some of his string quartet music, most of his music remains out of the mainstream), Eliane Radigue, Mary Jane Leach, Phill Niblock and countless others. We don’t really support our new music composers or performers in the states. I’m not saying it’s perfect here in Amsterdam. But it’s exponentially better. Just this week there are several new music concerts here in Amsterdam by composers who are not mainstream (Samuel mentioned Aldo Clementi for one of them). This is just standard operating procedure here.

    So I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon.

    • Jared Steward 10:29 pm on Friday, February 26, 2010, 10:29 pm Permalink

      I’m a graduate music student right now and this is something I’ve thought about for a while…what is missing in America so that most people just don’t seem to be open to “new” music like they are in Europe? It’s a mystery to me. I love classical/romantic, etc but can get into modern music just as much as Beethoven. My feeling is that people are still trying to listen to Terry Riley and everyone else like they listen to Beethoven or Chopin but you just can’t do that!

  • dtoub 2:21 pm on Saturday, February 20, 2010, 2:21 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music,   

    sneak peak 

    It’s not finished yet, and I am not sure even how long it will be, more or less, once completed. But here in its current state of entropy is my new solo piano piece, quartet for piano, which clocks in at five seconds shy of 26 minutes so far. As stated, it is not finished yet. But you know you want to listen to the draft of the score. No?

    • Paul Muller 9:09 pm on Sunday, February 21, 2010, 9:09 pm Permalink

      Had a listen – the piece is very focussed. The sound is very good – the notes are struck, ring out and end in solemn decay. I really liked the opening sequence of tones and the rhythm.

  • dtoub 12:49 pm on Monday, September 14, 2009, 12:49 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music, US Airways: fail   

    odds and ends 

    My usual 7:45 AM flight to San Francisco got cancelled so I have some time on my hands here at Philadelphia International and figured I should do a quick update of some sundry items:

    • I went to a Sharing Ramadan event at the Foundation for Islamic Education in Villanova, PA last night to break the fast with a lot of wonderful folks of all different backgrounds and faiths. I was very struck by how diverse the local Muslim population is and how accepting they are. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, white or of color, etc. Everyone shares with everyone else and there is a genuine community. There are so many similarities with Judaism, but at the same time I don’t know that every synagogue is really that welcoming or open to people of different backgrounds. There are indeed Jews of color, but they are often marginalized or dismissed (or worse, mistaken for the “hired help.”). The other thing that delighted me was how much the Muslims I spoke with truly want dialogue and friendship with those of other faiths. We need this, and badly.
    • Still working on the torture memos piece very slowly. It’s coming along, though. I am also thinking of trying to put together a piece for harpsichord as well as another piano piece. Now, all I need are the ideas.
    • I was really happy to have had two radio premieres in two weeks. I guess that’s not too bad for a gynecologist.
    • Speaking of gynecology, I’ll be at the next AAGL meeting in Orlando. We have three abstracts being presented there. Also not too bad for a gynecologist.
    • I think Twitter is starting to replace blogging, but slowly
    • Great, the flight I got booked on leaving over six hours after the flight I was supposed to take is oversold. Should I take a voucher to wait some more for a flight that gets me in to SFO six hours later than I will now? Uh, I don’t think so…
  • dtoub 11:12 pm on Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 11:12 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new music   

    buy this album…seriously 

    Picture 3

    Now on iTunes (and eMusic and Amazon). Thanks to Steve Layton, who did a phenomenal job making this all happen.

    And did I mention you get over two hours of truly kickass music for $9.99? It’s a bahgain…

  • dtoub 3:00 am on Thursday, August 13, 2009, 3:00 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , new music, ,   

    busy week for music 

    Last week was a really good week for my music. Given that I usually have to wait a long time for my music to be premiered, if at all, I was delighted that Mike Lunoe and Bill Solomon gave the first performance of bs piece (double canon for bill solomon) last Thursday (8/6) at the Hartt School of Music, essentially 11 months to the day after I started writing it in a Palo Alto hotel. Mike and Bill did an awesome job, performing with two live marimbas and four prerecorded marimbas (the piece is scored for six marimbas). It’s a bear to play, since it’s just too easy to get lost in the repetitions, plus the entire thing is 12-tone except for the last seven measures (the last chord contains all 12 tones, however). I’m still getting over the fact that no one seems to have shouted anything nasty or derogatory during the performance. Guess all the crazies were disrupting Democratic town hall meetings on health care reform instead. The performance is downloadable from the link above and has replaced my Finale-generated performance on the music page. The concert program is here.

    But that’s not all…

    The master composer/MIDI artist Steve Layton took it upon himself to release his excellent realization of my 80’s piano work textbook: music of solitary landscapes in hyperspace (piece for IPS) on a downloadable album via Amazon (I believe iTunes is coming soon as well). Steve broke up the 2 hour+ piece into its seven sections rather than keep it going continuously, so it’s even easier to listen to the entire thing in increments. Or just play the whole thing on an iPod /iPhone with gapless playback and experience the entire two hours in one sitting. It’s all about choice.

    Finally, I locked myself in a hotel room in Palo Alto this week trying to get further into a new piece for two voices, flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, marimba and piano I’m tentatively titling torture memos. It’s based on some improvisations I did a few months ago, mostly in May, but I’ve been really busy lately so putting it all together and scoring the music has been much slower than I would have thought. Only a little over six minutes have been dumped into Finale 2010 so far, but I’ll be back on the west coast in a little more than a week, so I hope to be more productive next time around. If anyone doesn’t mind hearing the beginning of a work in progress, click here.

    So I really want to thank Mike, Bill and Steve for making last week a great week in terms of new music performance. Writing music is really really hard. Performing it with the musicianship and courage of these folks is even harder. And they make it sound easy.

  • dtoub 2:44 pm on Friday, July 31, 2009, 2:44 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AAGL, , , , new music,   

    brief update 

    Lots of good stuff going on, but I’ve been swamped so have not had time to blog.

    • Next Thursday, August 6th at 7:30 PM, Bill Solomon and Mike Lunoe will be premiering my work for six marimbas titled bs piece (double canon for bill solomon) at the Berkman Recital Hall, Hartt School of Music in W. Hartford, CT. I’m listening to their latest rehearsal tape right now and it’s absolutely incredible. How they manage to play this without getting lost while syncing with a tape of the other four marimba parts and counting accurately how many times to repeat each measure (17x is not uncommon in this piece) boggles my mind. Kudos to them both for not just taking on my music but for realizing it so perfectly. The score is here. I’ll be posting a MP3 of the performance and possibly even a video once I get it from Mike and Bill.
    • Just got an e-mail inviting me to be on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, the official journal of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists. Obviously they’re extremely desperate.
    • Composer/performer/MIDI artist Steve Layton is going to be releasing his realization of textbook: music of solitary landscapes in hyperspace (piece for IPS) via iTunes in the coming weeks. Steve’s realization is excellent and took him at least two weeks to accomplish. The piece is over two hours and is continuous, although it will be broken into individual sections for downloading.
    • kraig Grady 1:27 am on Monday, August 3, 2009, 1:27 am Permalink

      Congrats on the premiere and what sounds like a good performance in the works.

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