In the Hills Outside the City, the Old Man Sits by His Fire Conversing with the Forest Animals

I’ve added another movement to my orchestral piece, The Geography of Dreams. It’s In the Hills Outside the City, the Old Man Sits by His Fire Conversing with the Forest Animals.

These, and future movements to come, are all real dreams that have stuck with me over the years and that take place in a world that reoccurs very often in my dreams, ever since I was a kid. This dream world has a complete geography that is quite consistent and which I’ve explored over the decades. It’s a peculiar feeling to know that this other world exists. It seems to exist outside of this time stream…but it is very real.

O Loving Founder Of The Stars

For me, the best part of having a church gig, is having an excuse to write original music and arrangements that serve a purpose in the real world and which must realistically fit the performance conditions/capabilities.

This is one such piece, fresh today. It’s an old plainsong melody, which I arranged for chorus, but I’ve re-arranged here for brass.

This piece has a very wide dynamic range, starting pianissimo and ending forte.


In the previous post,, I had a link to the first of a series of choral pieces based on Transcendentalist poets. The two transcendentalists everyone knows are, of course, Emerson and Thoreau, but there are many more than just those two, and a surprising number of them are women. More than half of the poems I’ve selected are by these women transcendentalists.

The text of the first choral piece in the series, the one featured last week, is by a famous male poet, Longfellow. A friend asked if I was going to post a demo of the choral piece. I didn’t really want to do that–I think choral piece demos sound particularly cheesy (not that other things don’t). What I have done, however–and I intend to do this for every one of the choral pieces–is I reworked them, texturally, into orchestral pieces.

The group of pieces will be called Transcendentalists, and for the orchestral versions, instead of the poem’s titles, I’m using the authors’ names as titles. So, if you want to follow along with some notes, look at last week’s post. Eventually, I’ll post the orchestral score and edit this post to give a link for it.

Here’s the SoundCloud link for Longfellow.

Amidst the city’s desolation, the Anima appears as a woman clothed in radiant white

DSCN9937I added a new track to The Geography of Dreams: Admist the city’s desolation, the Anima appears as a woman clothed in radiant white.

There’s two kinds of programmatic music: what are often called “character pieces,” short pieces with a descriptive title, the music generally depicting the emotions and character of that description; the other being the “tone poem,” longer pieces depicting blow-by-blow actions of a story line. Late Baroque composers and were fond of the character piece and early 20th century composers of the tone poem (a generalization, of course…character pieces have been popular ever since they were invented, even into the present). This movement is closer to the tone poem approach.

If you’d like to download the score, HERE is the PDF.

The Geography of Dreams with two movements…more to follow.

Busts made of cork spinning slowly through the air

I’ve started a new suite of pieces, The Geography of Dreams. At various times in my life, I’ve kept a handheld tape-recorder in bed and recorded dreams immediately after they happened. Even before I started doing that, I was aware that certain “places” kept showing up in my dreams. Eventually, I got so curious about this, I drew a map of this dreamworld. It has an actual geography!

So…this suite will portray some of those places and dream-events that happened in them. So far, there’s only this one movement: Busts made of cork spinning slowly through the air — the title (and dream) has sort of a René Magritte feel to it, doesn’t it?!

If you’d like to download the score, HERE is the PDF.

Symphonic Waltz

Below is the Soundcloud widget for Symphonic Waltz, a short, stand-alone, “overture” of the sort every composer is told they should write for orchestra because no modern orchestra will play anything longer than 8 minutes by a living composer. So…here’s my obligatory 8 minute piece. I like it, even if the orchestra board of the local amateur orchestra didn’t. They demanded that I remove their name from the dedication or they would sue me. So, I removed their name. What an honor. Isn’t there some joke with a punch line like that (“I’ve been thrown out of better bars…” or something.)

HERE is a link to a piano condensation of the piece. I think (I’m not absolutely sure) this condensed score is in agreement with the final orchestral score. It’s “close enough” that you can see what’s going on, which is the only reason I’ve provided it.

I just discovered that I’d already posted this before! Ah well…here’s the link to that one–it has a link to the full orchestral score: This post has a link to a piano condesation which may be easier reading for those interested in how the notes go.