First Tuesday Composers Club – September 1

Third 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.

I love rock music. Big, dumb rock music. From a music theory standpoint, most rock music is pretty simple: guitar plays power chords, bass plays the root note of those chords, kick drum on 1 & 3, snare on 2 & 4. It’s simple, but it works. Of course there are some more complex rock musicians and rock songs… such as Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix. This song uses a dominant seventh sharp ninth chord, specifically E7#9 voiced with the notes E-E-G#-D-E-G. (Technically the G, being the #9 is a F double sharp, but realistically it’s a G.) Whether a chord is major or minor is dependent on the third scale tone of that chord. This E chord has both a G# (major 3rd) and a G (minor 3rd) making it ambiguous and dissonant. The dominant seventh sharp ninth chord is used frequently in smart jazz music, but rarely in dumb rock music.

This month’s assignment was to compose for a saxophone quartet – soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, and baritone sax. I do not know how to play a saxophone. I do not know what a typical saxophone quartet sounds like. All I know about saxophone is Bruce Springsteen albums and this awesomely retro scene from The Lost Boys. I looked up the note ranges of each of the instruments and began composing using the dominant seventh sharp ninth chord as my gateway into the brainy world of jazz music.

The musicians for the event were:

Jeff Collins – soprano
Elke Overton – alto
Mark Overton – tenor
Aaron Lehde – baritone

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.

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