First Tuesday Composers Club – August 4

Second meeting/concert/event of the First Tuesday Composers Club.

The First Tuesday Composers Club at The Dark Room in Grand Center is an informal, open club founded by Adam Maness and Tim Fischer to give an outlet for professional and amateur musicians and composers to experiment and share new music.

We meet the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 at The Dark Room in Grand Center. Each month we have different musicians performing original compositions and arrangements that have been submitted the week before. Each month’s instrumentation will be announced at least 1 month prior to the performance date and we’ll pin an event with all of the month’s relevant info to the top of our page.

Last month – piano. Easy. I play piano music. I listen piano music. I write piano music.

This month – strings. I play strings… with picks, not bows… and with frets – those little metal strips that separate one note from another. Classical strings don’t have frets. Lame. I don’t listen to a whole lot of classical strings music. I’ve never written classical strings music. I gave it a shot.

A “traditional” string quartet has two violins, a viola, and a cello. The string quartet available at the Composers Club this month consisted of violin, viola, cello, and bass. Because I had never written for a “traditional” string quartet, this alteration did not add any extra challenges.

For the main theme I focused on contrasting rhythms – violin and viola playing a one measure pattern in 4/4 time and the cello and bass playing a two measure pattern in 4/4 time. For the B section, all instruments switched to one measure patterns, repeated three times, in 6/8 time. The outro was made up of chord voicings presented first in succession by one instrument at a time and then in overlapping parts. I was mildly pleased with my results. With about eight hours put into a two minute song and the deadline for submission nearing, I was done.

The musicians for the event consisted of current or former Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra members:

Hannah Hart – violin
Sean Byrne – viola
Josh Hart – cello
John Paul Byrne – bass

They were excellent! My composition sounded so much more like it did in my head rather than on my computer speakers. My condition changed from mildly pleased to extremely satisfied! There were many other excellent compositions that night from other composers that were more intricate and more fully developed than mine, but hey, most of them are jazz performers or music professors. I’m a rock ‘n’ roll guy at heart, just looking to be creative and venture out of my comfort zone.

Below is a recording of my piece: a Finale project – converted into a MIDI file – imported and tweaked in GarageBand. It doesn’t sound half as good as the live performance… but you’ll get the idea.

Escape Velocity p1Escape Velocity p2Escape Velocity p3Escape Velocity p4