New Music and Re-reinventing One’s Self

Music can be a never-ending endeavor.  There is always something to study, practice, learn, develop and invent!  I love science.  I probably should have been some sort of scientist.  However, I feel like I’ve been a musical scientist.  Even the soul side of me gets wrapped up in science-like contemplation.  That said, music to me is like a soul science.  My last record, From Head to Soul, was an experiment in a number of different concepts, lightly touching on some eastern thematic concepts and the use of heterophony.  But going forward, I wanted to keep developing my ideas.  Getting more involved in jazz and free jazz concepts, to moving away from the jazz genre sound to only the use of those harmonies along with my continual use of typical classical concepts. As an ever searching musician I only think I’m a better composer now than I was when I wrote music for my first CD, Double Talk.  But looking back now I don’t necessarily believe that’s totally accurate.  Musically I have evolved, and I am much more knowledgeable about music and theory.  But the thread of my compositional style really hasn’t been broken.  And I do believe that thread started when I was just about 8 or 9 years old, too.  My parents had purchased a piano for my sister.  She was taking lessons in classical music.  To look back now, my sister clearly had a gift.  She was playing Tchaikovsky, Bach, Beethoven and more.  Somehow, I think I spring boarded off of her skills by feel, by ears and by just copying.  I could sit down at the piano and instantly compose these free compositions.  At times as I remember they sounded like they were written compositions and I remember my oldest brother asking, “how are you doing that?”  I couldn’t really explain it.  But the gift was a timid one—I could never play like that for strangers, only by myself or in front of my brother and sister.  Soon as my brother would bring a friend over and ask me to play I’d clam up completely.  Like the singing frog in a 1955 Warner Brothers cartoon:  A guy finds a frog that could sing beautifully operatically.  He sees dollar signs in his eyes!  But soon as he tries to exploit the frog and get him on a big stage it just croaks!

Forward and keeping within the thread of this writing I have rediscovered that feeling of being able to compose music from that secret, hidden place inside me.  I can use theoretical ideas I studied in college till the cows come home, but the real magic has always happened when I let go and least expect something to come.  The song, Head Circus, from my Double Talk CD was one of those things that came to me so fast and freely.  I was working at a law firm proofreading at the time.  I had a lot of downtime and I literally sat there at a desk, sans instrument, and composed nearly the entire piece.  As I move forward and now present my latest recording I think about some of the compositions on this new release.  Many, but not all, came very quickly.  Some came with years of edits, like Study in Open Strings (abandoned, reopened, abandoned, reopened, etc.).  But the thread that moves pretty much through everything on this record is the melodic development factor.  I’m a huge fan of strong melodies.  I’ve recently been reading about Haydn and to quote him, “It is the air which is the charm of music and it is the air that is the most difficult to produce. The invention of a fine melody is a work of genius.”  And I’m a huge fan of counterpoint between bass and melody.  Many times, that’s how I write.  This is not to say that all the pieces on my new record have strong melodies—just listen to Spring of My Discontent!  Not much there, really.  That was written from a lick and a groove (yet another way I will write at any one moment).  But that thread I’ve been talking about, that thread is there even in this tune as well—written in the melodic chord soli in the beginning of the piece.  From song to song to song, I have tried to make the music on this latest CD move in a fashion that makes the entire musical output one organic entity.  I believe it does that and there is a lot to feel from the first downbeat of the title track, Help Yourself, to the last sonic utterance of Big Black Shiny Bug unDisturbed.  These are some of my thoughts and concepts encompassing this latest new music CD release.  And on it’s heals I’ll release a new jazz-oriented EP:  A release that begs the listener to let the thread of my compositional style tug them in a direction they may not have experienced before.  Something inexplicably familiar, yet totally unknown, fresh and real.