Welcome to the music page of my portfolio! Here I post my musical achievements. I began to take an interest in music, specifically the piano, in September of 2002, at about the same time that I began attending Monmouth University. I have been pursuing it since. I've been seeking composition lessons for a long time, but to no avail; I'm almost entirely self-taught.
I have written several compositions; I show a few of them here. These are linked directly from a Subversion repository containing all of my pieces in various states of completion (many are either abandoned works of yore or simple themes that I hope to expand upon later). Works that appear on the page you are reading are more or less finished. I make no guarantees about the stuff in version control.
Please note that you will need Finale Notepad, available from FinaleMusic.com, to view Finale files.
You may freely use and distribute the pieces on this page noncommercially. However, commercial use requires my prior permission. I'll probably grant it, but you need to ask first.
As a performance note, I usually intend my fermatas to be short or even optional. However, please feel free to interpret any of my pieces as you see fit in performance. I only write my pieces once. You keep them alive.
Clicking the "listen" links will load them in the player. To save the MP3s, right-click the link and select "save as". They're fairly low bitrate files (since I want them to load quickly here), so email me if you want better quality files for personal listening - I'll encode to whatever bitrate you want. Requests may require a bit of time if I need to practice a song before recording.
I've now posted over 120 improvisations (none of which are as polished as these pieces). They're MIDIs, but I've also written a synthesizer that will turn them into MP3s.
Written in g minor, though often modulating to G Major, this piece captures uncertainty and the loss of innocence, but also captures hope and triumph. Indeed, the piece itself follows this theme; it constantly asks a "question", then "answers" it. Moreover, it ends on a Picardy third. If songs were conversations, this would be a dialogue between Socrates and Plato.
This piece has won much acclaim. I am not a concert pianist by any means, but I managed to play at several concerts without having to audition just because people heard this piece and thought it was beautiful.
Personally, I don't find it all that special.
Date: June 10, 2005.
This piece spent a long time without much activity, but I finally spent all day working on it on May 9, 2008, and completed it the next day.
Inspired by countless journeys home with only the moon and my thoughts to guide me, this is what I would consider one of my most beautiful and profound pieces, intellectually and emotionally.
I managed to orchestrate this far better than my previous orchestral pieces as well.
This song will be one of an album that I am preparing called "Ethereal Lamentations".
Date: May 10, 2008.
This piece was to be a larger-scale work than my typical pieces, and given that it's about twice as long, I suppose it is. It's a set of variations loosely based on the theme (more of a motif, really) presented at the beginning. There's a lot of emotion in the later parts of the piece, with good reason. If you had any idea what I went through between the time I began this piece and the time I finished it...Download | Print | Listen
Date: March 6, 2009.
Started in 2006, "Painting a Sunrise" was one of my first orchestral pieces, and also one of the most unique orchestrations I've performed. Despite involving full string sections, the strings are generally subdued and slightly morose until near the end, when they portray the glory of the rising sun, the finished creation.
This piece is an attempt to capture not the sunrise, but the act of painting a sunrise - of creating something beautiful to fill a void.
Date: August 24, 2008.
For the Piano:
A gentle, joyous piece in A Major, After the Storm was composed to capture the feeling of a new beginning. This piece fits the beginning of the day well, and is often the first thing that I play every morning.
This piece is also interesting because its mood can range from joyous to melancholy depending on nothing but dynamic balance, which is somewhat subjective. As a result, it is usually possible to infer the mood of the pianist after hearing this piece.
This was my third composition.
I revisited this piece on July 28, 2008 and completed the orchestration by July 29. The orchestral version of this piece has a vast dynamic range and really captures what I wanted to express.
True to the theme, the majority of the piece is uplifting, but the conclusion is quite moving... after a glorious full-orchestra tutti, the strings and horns fade into the background, and the oboe finds itself alone. How can it bring the piece to a close on its own? It morosely begins to fade... and then, slowly, the other instruments return, uplifting the oboe and driving the piece joyously home.
Orchestral:Download | Print | Listen
Piano:Download | Print | Listen
Date: June 27, 2004.
I composed this piece over spring break for an assignment I was given in a piano class. The assignment required us to write at least 8 measures. I wrote 105.
The whole piece is a series of variations on one theme. This allowed me to experiment with different modes, tempos, rhythms and dynamics.
Despite fitting the form of a Pastorale, this piece has its emotional moments too. There's always something that is transmitted from the composer to the music, after all.
Date: March 4, 2006.
This piece, written in C Major, conjures images of long walks on the beach or in a park on a breezy day. For the first time, I make extensive use of the major 7th interval in this piece.
Oh, and I absolutely love the coda.
This piece came out quite well, but the sheet music looks awful. Since I have had no luck finding an engraver, I'll try to clean it up myself at some point.
Date: June 17, 2006.
This is likely the longest piece I've ever written. It is a series of variations on Mr. Softee's theme. Yes, the ice cream vendor.
The theme is quite versatile, and breaking it down into rhythmically important components yields a secondary theme which can be permuted in all sorts of ways.
Date: December 18, 2007.
Written in c# minor, Rain is a heavily arpeggiated piece written in the classical style, though the piece is obviously impressionistic. It slightly resembles the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata (no. 14 "Quasi una fantasia").
I added a third voice, meant for a duet, soon after completing the piece.
This is my second composition.
Date: May 17, 2004.
This is a paper I wrote (in a single day) on a musical classifier I wrote (also in a single day) that attains 75% classification accuracy between Bach and Beethoven solely from the harmony employed in both composers' pieces.
Though this is a reasonable degree of accuracy, there are some areas in which I can improve the accuracy. Moreover, I hope to create an algorithmic composer rather than a simple classifier (the acronym originally stood for Bayesian Algorithmic Composer and Harmonizer).
You may download the paper or the entire classifier.
Date: May 6, 2007.
This piece was another assignment for the piano class. It is written in d minor and makes extensive use of the delicate properties of the upper registers of the piano. The conclusion to this piece drives home the point that the rest of the song had so delicately stated.Download | Print | Listen
Date: April 14, 2006.
I wrote this piece in response to a joke by my composition teacher (at that time, I had just made it to Google's final round of interviews and she remarked that I should write a piece about the experience). In this piece, I attempt to capture both the company's brilliance and eccentricities.Download | Print | Listen
Date: July 22, 2007.
A wistfully sad piece, but written in a major key. This shares some similarities with my first lullaby, but is much more developed. It's exactly what the title suggests: it's meant to be a soothing song to fall asleep to.
This piece shares some harmonic similarities with Pachelbel's Canon in D.
Date: January 3, 2008.
I plan on writing many pastorales; this is my third. As in Pastorale #1, I frequent the use of chords from other modes, particularly the Myxolydian. I was going for sort of a "detached flowing" sound here, as in sitting by a stream watching the water going by... but not actually representing the water itself.
There's one section in which the piece modulates to F# minor and becomes "more involved" with the concept of the lake. This is a bit of homage to my past: At about the age of 13, I was sitting beside a lake thinking, when suddenly one of my brother's friends pushed me in, for reasons at which I can only guess. The thought "how can I represent such an immersion musically?" gave rise to this section.
Date: February 9, 2008.
"Love Conquers All". It's a Valentine's Day tribute to my girlfriend.
Unfortunately, I still need training in orchestration - badly. Spreading harmony out onto a whole orchestra is a nontrivial matter. It came out alright, but I can do better.
One distinction between my own pieces and typical orchestration where I think I'm in the right, however, is the use of the viola for more than just an inner harmonic voice. It's really quite a beautiful instrument.
Date: March 4, 2008.
"Ethereal Lamentations" is to be the title of my first musical album. It will likely be in progress for a great deal of time, as I don't have the time I used to have to devote to my music, but I will post new pieces as they are written until the album is complete.
The central theme is not nature, but the emotional reaction to nature.
Date: July 12, 2008.
Named after the meteor that briefly achieved the highest rating ever given to a near-earth object on the Torino scale (4) for its then-observed probability of impact and capability of causing widespread regional devastation (but not any lasting global effects) in 2029, this piece was my attempt to convey a sense of movement through space and the impending doom so often associated with such NEOs.
(Later data confirms that the asteroid isn't going to hit us in 2029, but there is still a slight chance of impact in 2036 as of this writing).
Date: August 4, 2008.
I was inspired for this piece by "The Prince". Machiavelli, you see, was exiled from Florence much like Dante was. And it appeared to make him every bit as bitter and vengeful as it made Dante.
This piece asks the question "What if they had found the power to return?"
The beginning, in which they are "leaving", is troubled, but the real fireworks happen towards the end.
Date: September 26, 2008.
I began writing this piece in early September of 2009 to commemorate Earl Bakken, the inventor of the battery-powered pacemaker, after hearing a keynote speech on his mission to help people using electricity and at the request of one of his colleagues.
Though I do not remember the exact theme I played at the conference, this is fairly close and possibly better.
Date: October 14, 2009.
My first composition, written in e minor and originally titled "Sonata in E - Allegro". Oddly enough, this resembles a few of Bach's Two-Part Inventions, but I wrote it before listening to a single Baroque song! My piano instructor jokingly stated that I had "invented the fugue", and I quickly changed the name of the piece.
...And that was when we started playing Bach's two-part inventions.
I eventually split the "Sonata in E" into three distinct pieces, as the first movement ("Cantabile") sounded Classical, the second ("Intermezzo") sounded Romantic, and the third (this piece) sounded Baroque. I still consider it one piece, as I composed all three movements on the same day with the intent of creating a sonata from them.
Though this piece turned out surprisingly well for a first composition, I later decided that I did not like the Baroque style; it was too bombastic with too many flourishes and not enough emotional depth. My compositions later became more like those of the early Romantic period, in that they emphasized strong harmonies and cantabile melodies.
Date: March 31, 2004.
This was one of my first pieces (started on December 19, 2005), but I let it languish in a nearly-complete state for a long time. I finally finished it on November 27, 2007 as I had resolved to do something relaxing for the day following the extraction of my two top wisdom teeth early that morning.
The piece itself is divided into different "submovements", representing the different approaches that one can take to fear.
Date: November 27, 2007.
I placed Gold in MusicFest 2008 and performed the Pathetique at Gill Memorial Chapel on June 7, 2008.
Date: June 7, 2008.
This was a piece I originally improvised on the piano and decided to later write down. The initial title was "Ups and Downs", but I changed it to "Swings" in October of 2009. It's stylistically different from my other pieces. This is not the best synthesis, but my recording setup is certainly not optimized either.Download | Print | Listen
Date: July 5, 2008.
The autumn on 2006 was one of the most trying times during the "Dark Year", as I had to come to terms with the fact that my plan (I had assumed I would have no trouble obtaining a proper education due to my excellent undergraduate credentials) had been completely derailed and that Temple was inadequate to my needs. I would pull myself together later on, but I would never devise a plan that depends on other people again.
This piece represents that sense of quiet bereavement; the need to put on a mask and pretend that everything was alright after insurmountable, irrational, and utterly needless obstacles were stacked between me and the primary goals of my life.
I decided to transcribe it on July 17, 2008.
Date: November 14, 2006.
I ordinarily don't post any of my more than 120 (and growing) improvisations, simply because they're fairly raw ideas that come to me while I'm practicing and I'm more concerned with getting the idea down than getting every note correct. A select few eventually get polished into full compositions, but this process is just as slow as writing from scratch, easily taking more than a month.
The melody of this piece motivated me to post it as soon as possible. Hopefully the somewhat haphazard playing doesn't turn too many people off. I was composing and recording this at the same time, so there was no opportunity to practice it.
There is no sheet music available. I ordinarily write it all out manually, you see.
Date: October 27, 2009.
Bagatelle: "Something of little value or importance; a trifle.
A short and light musical composition, typically for the piano."
It originally grew out of an assignment for the graduate composition class I was attempting to audit at Temple, but I decided to leave it alone after Temple's broken system forced me away from music classes on the main campus, as I knew it would.
Though the piece is light, its cessation represents a transition from passivity to action: the beginning of rebellion against disciplinary and intellectual lock-in.
Date: September 2, 2007.