Category Archives: Music

Some new music

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I know this is not about Japanese culture, but there are a few nods to some Japanese composers.

I finished working on the latest cut of the soundtrack for the upcoming film, “Ragman,” based on a short story by Walter Wangerin, Jr. In this soundtrack, I was surprised by how many composers and themes had influenced what I was doing. I found myself echoing themes by Maurice Durufle, Jan Bender, Richard Wienhorst, Ralph Vaughan William, Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as Yoko Kanno. I hope you enjoy, and please let me know what you think. The film will premiere at Concordia Seminary in a few weeks.

Much of the formation of my musical sensibilities happened while I studied music at Valparaiso University and Juilliard. I fell in love with Franck, Durufle, Dupre, Poulenc, Howells, I learned so much about sacred music and 20th century reinterpretations of plain chant and other Gregorian themes, that these themes became part of my DNA when I write.

In his introduction to BTTB, Sakamoto talked about the importance of melodies and creating memorable melodies. I read this the summer after I had a course in counterpoint; when I realized the importance of just having melodies that speak and tell a story, whether it’s a hymn or a movie soundtrack, or even background music, I had a paradigm shift in my composition style. Rather than focusing on the rigitiy of tonal harmony, I “climbed the steps to Parnassus” and learned to focus on linear, modal phrases much more than the straight tonality of traditional styles. Blending these things together gave me a whole new pallet, for which I became most thankful.

The Floating World of Ukiyo-e

I went to the Ukiyo-e exhibit at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC in December of 2001 with some of the other students and an instructor from Wash U. I had filmed what was being presented, but forgot all about the tapes. Digging through my stuff for a video to use as a test encode, I discovered the old VHS-C tape that I was using back then. After ripping the video to iMovie through the DV bridge I was testing, I slapped some music I’ve written on it for a soundtrack and posted it to YouTube. Hope you’ll enjoy!