There and Back Again

We moved back to Lexington, Kentucky this summer. I’ve been practicing, composing, and occasionally performing where I can find space! If you’re a musician in Lexington interested in chamber music, do get in touch and perhaps we can collaborate.

Moving to Oxford

It’s official: we have visas and plane tickets to arrive in the U.K. on September 9! My wife (Kathleen) and I will be based in Oxford, where I will continue to work part time as a software engineer and be looking for musical opportunities. If you need a viola, violin, or piano player in Oxford, London, or the surrounding areas, contact me! I will be collaborating frequently with our good friend, violinist Jessica Miskelly. We both love playing chamber music and would be delighted to hear from you.

Chamber Recital

We’re hosting a chamber music recital on Friday, September 4, 2015, 7:30 p.m. at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church. I’ll be performing with a number of other friends, with music including Dvořák’s “American” Quartet and York Bowen’s Fantasie Quartet for four violas. We’ll also be premiering a piece I just finished, Fairy Tales for four violas. The title is reminiscent of Schumann’s Märchenbilder.

Rapido!

I recently entered the Rapido! Composition Contest. They have an interesting condition: the piece submitted must be written during a two-week period that the contest is open. The first day, they email contestants the constraints for the piece. This year, the requirement is a 4-6 minute theme and variations for violin, clarinet, and piano. I composed furiously for two weeks and finished a piece that I am very happy with. Now I’m back to working on a quartet for four violas, which I hope to premiere in September.

Creating video game sounds

I recently discovered some awesome tools for creating synthesized sounds. The sounds they generate are just like the sort of things you hear in an 8-bit Nintendo game.
First there is BFXR. You can easily get started by clicking the presets on the left. They aren’t “fixed” presets, but rather random distributions, so if you click “Explosion” repeatedly it generates several sounds that resemble explosions. Then you can manipulate the various synthesis parameters. The “Mutation” button jiggles the parameters a little bit. Way cool!
Then I found LabChirp, another fun tool with a similar purpose. LapChirp focuses on layering several synthesized shapes. It’s not quite as freakishly easy to use as BFXR, but it’s powerful and it also has a randomizer function to help you get going.
Two great programs for creating new sounds for your next homemade video game!

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain

Ran across this when I asked Pandora for “Iranian Traditional Music”. So apparently Pandora didn’t have much of that, but it tried at least, and Kronos Quartet’s Floodplain album does have some Middle-Eastern flavored tracks. One of the things I love about the album is how the pieces combine the exotic sounds of world folk music into richly-composed works. This isn’t the sort of wallpaper you sometimes get with folk or popular styles; it’s full-fledged art music that explores non-Western idioms. Some of my favorite tracks are “Nihavent Sirto” by Tanburi Cemil Bey and “Mugam Beyati Shiraz” by Rahman Asadollahi.