Yup, you read that right. I spent a lot of time this year composing background music for my wife’s new Twitch channel. She started streaming a Tarot card experience in the last quarter of the year, and a big part of that is the overall mood and ambience. She set up the visuals with a green screen, cloth and crystal covered table, candles, incense, and multiple cameras, and I purchased and dialed in a new boom mic for the setup. I then got to work writing music she could use in the background, as Twitch Soundtrack wasn’t yet available.
It’s honestly been a really important and rewarding experience, despite the music not being the focus. It has been fantastic to be able to play around with ideas and not worry too much about each one. Instead I’m focusing on creating many possible moods that ElizOfSwords can choose from, sometimes using dark and edgy synthesizers, sometimes focusing on warm and welcoming chords. I even composed several original holiday tracks and made arrangements of “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings”. I’m particularly proud of the “Auld Lang Syne” arrangement, which was (obviously) the last piece I worked on in the year. Take a listen:
I created nearly 30 total tracks with a run time of over 3 hours, and I’m sure I’ll keep working on ideas as they come to me. It’s been an amazing opportunity that still has plenty of potential left to explore.
My folkestra (folk orchestra) band, Whiskey Doubles, just released our second E.P. The 9-song Nightcap shows off the matured natured of the band as all of the songs were written specifically for this quartet. Our previous album, Honey Creek EP, by contrast, featured a few songs originally written for the now-defunct Of the North. Another change in this CD is that all parts were recorded simultaneously in a makeshift studio, as opposed to the individual track approach of our previous recording. I think we achieved a much improved sound through both the new songwriting and recording approaches, and couldn’t be more proud of the album.
Like Honey Creek EP, Nightcap features a variety of instrumentation. Because the tunes were recorded live, I do not do as much instrument doubling as have done before, but still alternate between cello, various percussion (spoons, snare, open snare, bass drum) and vocals. Other instruments in the recording include our signature folkestra blend of flute and clarinet, harmonium, guitar, banjolele, baritone ukulele, and the new addition of harmonica.
Nightcap is available on iTunes, can be streamed on Spotify, and we will have physical copies to sell at all of our shows!
The Echelon String Quartet hosted a day of lectures and performances at their alma mater, UW-Whitewater last week. As part of their closing performance, they played two of my arrangements, “Maps” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and “Cosmic Love” by Florence and the Machine, and an original, “Serenade in F minor.” Here are the wonderful recordings! Thanks a ton to them and UW-Whitewater.
First of all, some exciting news… I’m engaged! We’re currently in full wedding-planning mode with the date set at March 29th. Part of the ceremony is going to involve the Echelon String Quartet, including two new arrangements. In the spirit of getting things DONE, I completed both in a stupidly busy week.
I never understood why the sostenuto pedal is used so little because I find it so fascinating. The first really neat use of this pedal which I encountered is in Schoenberg’s Drei Klavierstücke, op 11. In this piece, Schoenberg instructs the performer to silently depress a group of pitches, depress the sostenuto pedal, and then play loud interruptions with both hands, causing these opened strings to resonate. Read the rest of this entry »
This piece is my first attempt at writing for string quartet after years of experience playing in quartet settings. I decided to focus on ostinato and repeated material throughout the piece, hence the title. I created scales for each movement by using pitch sets separated by a major second, beginning with minor third sets for the first movement. Read the rest of this entry »
A custom playback unit coded in PD combined with a cello, a used speaker, and one home-built transducer all came together for this piece. It’s terribly unfortunate that I lost the majority of the working code for this project before securing a recording Luckily, I was able to find this recording of a test run.
Based on the introduction of a string serenade I was writing at the time, this piece combines recorded audio with MIDI signals. The source for all noise is the 8-measure serenade introduction, which I recorded with various MIDI patches and then edited with filters and reverb. Read the rest of this entry »
used body percussion as the source for this entire piece. The only identifiable sound is now the snapping which opens and closes the piece. Some of the lower pitches come from the sounds of me hitting my chest, and the higher pitches come from rubbing my hands together. Read the rest of this entry »