Etude 6 and 7 Updates

Last night I finished a rough draft of my 6th etude. It primarily uses the tapping technique throughout. Here is the midi recording…

This is very much a rough draft. After I write all ten I will go through one by one and make some changes here and there as well as add more articulations and dynamics.

I started working on the 7th one today. For this one I want to explore different timbres on the guitar such as dolce, ponticello, glissandi, and so on. I improvised some ideas which you can listen to here…

You can hear in the recording that I am playing certain passages ponticello. Other passages I am plucking 12 frets higher than the left hand fingering which gives it a hallow sound. At one point I pluck the string on the left side of my left hand and then do a little glissando. A couple points I cross the strings which gives it a very percussive sound.

My goal is to get these 10 etudes composed by Christmas and hopefully will begin recording after that. I’ve got a lot going on so I’ll see. I have a commission for a piano trio that will be performed in April, I want to do another volume of easy arrangements (English/Irish/Scottish folk songs), as well as life (school, family, etc).

Side note….I took this pic a couple nights ago. The fog was rolling in and it looked really cool outside. Unfortunately the pic really doesn’t do it justice.


Magnificent Mountain for Mandolin Orchestra

Wow, what an amazing couple of days for me. I went to Normal, Illinois to attend the Classical Mandolin Society of America‘s national conference. I was commissioned to write a piece for this conference and Magnificent Mountain was the piece I composed. It was inspired by a trip I made to the Smoky Mountains back in June (2019). My son and I took a trip up into the mountains one day. As we were going up one of the mountains it was amazing to watch the landscape change. At certain points it looked very mysterious because of the way the clouds surrounded the mountains. At other times the landscape looked very grand and magnificent when the sun came through the clouds. The music was composed to reflect these different moods and changes of character throughout.

This was a wonderful conference. I met a lot of really nice people who were very passionate about music. I ran a couple of workshops (one on composing and the other on recording), went to concerts and socialized. Guest performers included Naeim Rahmami, Sebastiaan de Grebber, and Fabio Giudice. They were all amazing artists and really nice people. The final concert included the En Masse Orchestra directed by Dr. Jim Bates. The En Masse Orchestra was made up of 140 convention attendees!!

A few pictures and videos…

Here I am giving a workshop on composing music.

Friday night concert

It was a wonderful event. I have to make a few adjustments to the score and then I will post it on my website for free. I would love for this to be performed by other orchestras as well. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.


Write YOUR Music

Don’t worry what other people think about your music and don’t ask for their opinion. If you are happy that is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if it sounds like Mozart, Berg, or whomever. Don’t follow what other people are doing. Write music that you are happy with. Make yourself happy. Sounds selfish, I know.

Shut Up, Sit Down, and Create Some Art

I think everybody should create art. Ok, let me rephrase that….IF you have the desire to create art….CREATE ART.  Write a song, paint a painting, write a poem, do some performance art (stand by the bus stop downtown, take off your clothes, paint a purple B on your stomach and then run like hell from the cops….just an idea).

So many people I know (students, friends, family) TALK about creating something but never get to it. How sad is that? Don’t you realize that you aren’t gonna live forever? Do you want to be on your death bed and think, “Dang, I never wrote that novel!” There are so many reasons not to do it (gotta clean the house, pay bills, watch tv) that it is easy to put it aside. I have a theory….there is a reason why you have a desire to create art. It’s in you for a reason. You were meant to create something.

Now there is a difference between thinking, “boy, it would be cool to write a song” and having a real pull to create something. What holds people back?

Not enough time.

Me: Everyone has the same amount of time. If you need more time get up 1/2 hour earlier. Skip a tv show and create. You don’t need a huge amount of free time. You can do a lot in 15 min.

I have no training.

Me: You want to write music but you have zero training? Check out this guy (short version…records a jazz album without ever learning how to play the piano)….

I might suck

Me: You probably will. Everyone creates really bad art at some point. Look at early Mozart. Not good. Try this….write the worst song ever written. My guess is you will have a lot of fun doing that. Here is something I created that absolutely sucks. I know, many people have told me (I made a techno-remix of a beloved classical guitar piece)…

Final thoughts… Focus on the experience. HAVE FUN

Don’t try to create a masterpiece. That’s too much pressure.

Don’t take it too seriously. Taking it seriously is a great way to make your art REALLY BORING