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Seni-G

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Seni-G last won the day on January 10 2017

Seni-G had the most liked content!

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About Seni-G

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    California
  • Occupation
    Economics/Government teacher
  • Favorite Composers
    Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Clare Fischer, John Williams
  • My Compositional Styles
    I love classical/romantic form and harmony, especially when mixed with more modern harmonies (jazz, blues) and latin rhythms.
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Finale
  • Instruments Played
    Piano

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  1. This piece is called "The People of the Elder Ice." As you listen, picture an Inuit village, alone at the edge of the world, surrounded on all sides by a frozen waste. Survival is a daily struggle, food is often scarce, and the fickle arctic gods constantly toy with the villagers... yet somehow the people thrive. (I've posted this music before, but now you can watch the music as you listen).
  2. Reported Speech (Adagietto)

    I really appreciate your harmonic language, and the thought you clearly put into your music. This is quite expressive, lovely to listen to. Keep writing!
  3. I’m writing some music for my friends. More on that in a bit. These little nuggets will one day become my first symphony. I guess wouldn’t exactly call them sketches since the music is written beginning to end, but they feel rough because they are not yet fully orchestrated. Either way, once that final orchestration phase is complete, this work will be a substantial piece of music, with a lot of rich content for the listener to explore. For now I’ve chosen a basic instrumentation of flute, oboe, trumpet, low strings. This can give a feel of being fleshed out, but is small enough to make sketching manageable, and colorful enough to make it fun. This instrumentation also helped me get away from the violin-centric symphony model, since I haven’t included violins in my original sketches. When I sit down and orchestrate this thing for real I will add violins in at my leisure, like a painter who, with one smooth movement, adds a bit of reflected light to a child’s eye. The next step is to dive deep into the orchestration and make some hard choices. But for now, I’m savoring the completion of an crucial leg of this artistic journey. This particular piece has taken years to get to this spot, and where it will eventually lead I am not entirely sure. Sometimes it’s just important to pause and recognize a milestone. The working title is “Homies”: Joe Soeller Evan Adventure Cat Erica Hunt-Shaw I’m not totally settled on all aspects of this music, but the overall arc I love. This is music for my friends. It’s a celebration of what we’ve all accomplished together, what we’ve built, the life we’ve lived, the love we’ve felt. The music goes a lot of different places, as do long friendships. For us the highs have been high, and there really haven’t been too many lows, and even if a low came along, we all know the high was coming back soon enough. Some of this music is an intense philosophical probing, difficult questions asked, journeys of personal growth, a connectivity that grows deep like tree roots, music for my brother. Another part is a long and exotic road trip adventure. Fences climbed, open mics pioneered, tequila bottles also pioneered. This is music to play spinbat to. And yet another section is a song of love, a private song, a hidden cave. When I dive back into this music and turn these nuggets into completed symphony movements, I may end up expanding certain chunks, or slowing down the tempo for a section, or taking the music in a slightly different direction if the mood strikes me. I’m still shaping the clay a bit. But the meaning behind the music will not change. It’s that meaning that underscores every note of this music, every rise and fall. It’s that meaning that drives me to complete it. I welcome any feedback.
  4. Quiquern Part One: The People of the Elder Ice One of my favorite short stories of all time is “Quiquern” by Rudyard Kipling, from The Second Jungle Book. If you’ve never read the two Jungle Books, I highly recommend them. The Disney film only scratches a tiny surface compared to the epic stories by Kipling (Mowgli’s story is really only the first of like 20 stories). The writing is so crisp, and these stories do what all great sci-fi and fantasy stories do: they create an entire fully-formed world for the reader to explore. The world is rich and complex, and the lessons it teaches are piercing and difficult to shake. The Disney film is fun and jazzy and hip and carefree; the written stories are raw and wild, filled with the brutal poetry of the jungle. The characters are bound by the laws of the jungle, the unwritten rules and shared understandings that guide every action the animals take. The laws dictate how to behave in times of drought, when and where hunting is permitted, and how to interact with the ever-expanding, dangerous world of Men. Only Mowgli is unbound by the laws of the jungle. Therefore he rules the jungle. Mowgli = boss There are also so many hidden messages and deeper meanings packed into Kipling’s verse. Every story begins and ends with poems, the meanings of which change after reading each story. For example, this one: The night we felt the earth would move We stole and plucked him by the hand, Because we loved him with the love That knows but cannot understand. And when the roaring hillside broke, And all our world fell down in rain, We saved him, we the Little Folk; But lo! he does not come again! Mourn now, we saved him for the sake Of such poor love as wild ones may. Mourn you! Our brother will not wake, And his own kind drive us away! At first reading, it is a nice little poem. But after reading the story that follows it, “The Miracle Of Purun Bhagat,” the poem becomes so tragic and beautiful. Every story has these lovely little nuggets, and they make the reading experience so rich. “Quiquern” is the story of a young Eskimo boy who lives in a tiny village surrounded by a frozen arctic wasteland. The village’s only source of food is seal meat which they catch with the help of their many well-trained dogs. One particular dog is born a runt, shrunken and sickly in the freezing wind. However the young boy cares for the dog, and raises him as a member of his own family. His love for the dog is pure and innocent, and together they frolic in the snow like siblings. One year the winter is especially harsh, and the ice does not recede. The surplus seal meat runs out, and the people of the village soon begin to starve. In their moment of desperation they eat the wax from their candles, the leather from their belts. Their beloved sled dogs, still chained together in groups of eight, insane with hunger and fearing for their lives (just as lion cubs must fear their mother in times of hunger) break their chains and run screaming into the white waste. The people of the village become living skeletons. The boy and a young girl from the village, still strong in their youth, announce to the village that they will venture out into the ice storm and find food for the village. It is suicide, but nobody stops them. Within days of their departure they are hopelessly lost, freezing, and beginning to hallucinate. They kneel shivering in the snow and announce to the heavens that they are man and wife. As darkness closes around them they pray to Quiquern, the eight-legged spider god of the arctic, for salvation and mercy. In the morning, as light slowly creeps over the white hills, the two children open their eyes to see a massive creature barreling toward them in the distance, eight legs scurrying effortlessly across the snow. A giant, hulking body becomes larger and larger in the morning haze. Quiquern has arrived to devour them; they are helpless as newborn seals. It is the end of their short lives, the end of their people. Two freezing, starving children prepare to die alone on a frozen plain at the edge of the world. However as their eyes focus, they soon realize that the eight-legged creature is actually eight dogs, running wildly through the snow pulling an empty dogsled. The dogs are well-fed and excited, blood dripping from their snouts. At the front of the pack is the runty dog the young boy once saved, frothing with joy at the sight of his oldest friend. Carried by the sled dogs, the two Eskimos travel for miles to an open pit in the ice, where fat seals emerge for air. The dogs had found the hole in the ice and gorged themselves on meat. The boy and his wife fill the sled with food and return to the village as heroes. The village, now inhabited only by ghost-like creatures with sunken eyes, celebrates by burning whatever candles they have left. An ancient people go on. This story burrowed down inside me and left its mark on my soul. I’m not sure why, I can’t explain it, but it filled me with the urge to write music. Originally I set out to write something eerie and cold and empty, three flutes crying out across the Arctic plain. But as I wrote, I realized it needed some bass, so I worked a piano into the mix. Years later, I switched out a flute for a clarinet to give it one more color, and that ensemble is the one that remains. I’ve always loved my piece, Quiquern, just as I’ve always loved the story Quiquern. I can’t exactly say what it is that draws me to both, but drawn I am. Over the years I’ve written notes about this music in the margins of my journal: “Don’t forget, you love Quiquern. Don’t discard it.” Quiquern Part Two: The Dog Sickness The second movement is called “The Dog Sickness”. I thought “Quiquern” was complete years ago. Time and again I would declare it officially finished. But then, months later, something just wouldn’t sit right with me. I’d pry it open again and tinker with its innards. Maybe it will never be done. Maybe I’m destined to dance with this score til the end of my days. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved this music. Every time I pick it up again, I’m reminded of why I have such a sweet spot in my heart for “Quiquern”. It evokes so many positive memories: of writing it over Christmas break in San Diego, of reading The Jungle Book over and over, of experimenting with new sounds (new to me anyways), of unhinging my creativity from purely classical harmonies and letting go a bit. Like this sort of thing: I never go full atonal, I’m always chained in some way to classical forms and progressions, but this piece freed me up in some ways I had never tried. I went wandering a bit through the cold wilderness. I let the images in my mind solidify into a color palette. I focused on the story the sounds told, rather than fussing about the progression. This allowed me to express all the pain I felt after reading that beautiful, heart-breaking story. A forgotten people, starving alone at the edge of the world. So why, if this music was so compelling, couldn’t I call it “complete”? Well there were a few reasons. One is I just wasn’t thinking about form when I first wrote it. I was in “crank it out” mode, writing down whatever ideas popped into my head. I tried to free up my creative process and stop self-editing as I wrote. As a result, the music flowed pretty freely out of my brain, and the harmonies were weirder than I was used to. The musical nuggets that emerged were captivating and exotic. But there was no overarching shape to the piece. It was just idea after idea, with very little connectivity. Throwing a bunch of nuggets into a pile don’t make it a whole chicken. This time around I wanted to work on that. This is the sort of pre-thought that Schoenberg went on about. In other words, real composers think about form and structure BEFORE writing, they don’t just wander around in the dark hoping to bump into a complete form. When I put some thought into this piece, I was able to picture the arc that I wanted to create with the music. A chaotic, hallucinogenic dream sequence, sandwiched on either side by a poignant but solitary theme calling out in the dead stillness of the ice-fields. Perhaps the middle is what the dogs feel as they begin to starve, giddy and terrified and angry; the beginning is what the Inuits feel watching their beloved animals suffer in the dark, knowing what awaits them if another source of food is not found soon. “What is it?” said Kotuko; for he was beginning to be afraid. “The sickness,” Kadlu answered. “It is the dog sickness.” The dog lifted his nose and howled and howled again. “I have not seen this before. What will he do?” said Kotuko. Kadlu shrugged one shoulder a little, and crossed the hut for his short stabbing-harpoon. The big dog looked at him, howled again, and slunk away down the passage, while the other dogs drew aside right and left to give him ample room. When he was out on the snow he barked furiously, as though on the trail of a musk-ox, and, barking and leaping and frisking, passed out of sight. His trouble was not hydrophobia, but simple, plain madness. The cold and the hunger, and, above all, the dark, had turned his head; and when the terrible dog-sickness once shows itself in a team, it spreads like wild-fire. Next hunting-day another dog sickened, and was killed then and there by Kotuko as he bit and struggled among the traces. Then the black second dog, who had been the leader in the old days, suddenly gave tongue on an imaginary reindeer-track, and when they slipped him from the pitu he flew at the throat of an ice-cliff, and ran away as his leader had done, his harness on his back. After that no one would take the dogs out again. They needed them for something else, and the dogs knew it; and though they were tied down and fed by hand, their eyes were full of despair and fear. To make things worse, the old women began to tell ghost-tales, and to say that they had met the spirits of the dead hunters lost that autumn, who prophesied all sorts of horrible things. Prayers to a cruel and fickle ice god. Now the music told a story. And while I was working on form, I also put more thought into motifs. This piece has a lot of rich material, maybe even too much. Though I love that there are so many fun ideas in there, sometimes it plays like one of those Beatles songs with too many good ideas but no development. This time around I went through the piece with a needle and thread, and wove my favorite motifs into the very fabric of the piece. In and out they come, appearing and disappearing again, becoming more recognizable with each appearance. Just as a chef might pour a bit of the boiling gnocchi water into the sauce to bind all the flavors together, my goal was to bind all the ingredients of this music together into something coherent (and tasty). Like this motif, which appears everywhere: Or this rhythmic motif: Just because Beethoven used it in his fifth symphony, doesn’t mean it’s off-limits forever. There was something else fundamental that needed retooling: instrumentation. Originally I chose three flutes and piano for this piece, because the flutes evoked the lonely, frozen tundra. But as I was writing, I didn’t pay enough attention to the limitations of the flute. I wasn’t writing in an idiosyncratic way, I was just cranking out music. The used a lot of low C’s on the flute because I liked the sound, but I knew the notes were ringing out stronger in my head than they would on a real instrument, where that low C is easily covered up and lost in the mist. I considered an alto flute, but decided a clarinet would give me a whole other palette to play with. When on phases in a new instrument like this, one can’t just paste the flute part into a clarinet staff and call it done. The addition of the clarinet changed the whole character of the piece. While the flute is cold and isolated and graceful and metallic, the clarinet is like warm baking bread. It’s also intense, frenetic, a bit insane at times, with low earthy tones that can feel angry or foreboding or subdued. That new voice greatly expanded the range of the piece, so I was able to open the music up a bit and let it breathe. All these forces combined into something much different than the piece I’ve been kicking around all these years. This version feels like a completed piece of art. It’s not just a sketchbook of ideas, it’s a story arc with real meaning. In other words it really does feel done. For real this time. Seriously. Now I have the final movement to think about, but I might just put this piece down for a while, maybe a year or two. I want to orchestrate something!
  5. I wrote this a couple of years ago right after my son was born. Enjoy!
  6. Jack's Song

    This piece is called Jack's Song, composed shortly after the birth of my son. Having is a child is one of the most transformative experiences one can go through in life. This music is a reflection of all the feelings and emotions and self-searching that went on in my head during those first few months as a new father.
  7. WINTER STORY COMPETITION RESULTS

    Thank you to both judges for all the great feedback! I really appreciate how much time and energy you put into everybody's music. Thank you for making this process so meaningful. I look forward to the next competition!
  8. Memories of the Ghetto

    Thank you for saying that. I appreciate your kind feedback, and your multiple listens. This piece improves the more you listen to it :)
  9. Memories of the Ghetto

    This is the first movement of a string quartet I have been working on. The entire quartet is called "Jackdaw", and this movement is titled "Memories of the Ghetto". It is about things that are gone forever. It is about my ancestors. It is about my jewishness, which has now become so faint it is like the fog on a summer morning, moments away from complete disintegration. Yet at the same time it is a deep root, a bond that ties me to those who came before me, those who clawed their way out of the furnace and found sanctuary in a new land, a safe haven. What were their lives like, living in the ghettos of Prague? Babies were born, children played in the street, lovers held each other and giggled in the moonlight, businessmen haggled over the price of goods, wrinkled old women told tales of heartbreak and woe, an ancient city breathed in one generation and exhaled another. The memories of my ancestors. They don't come to me in an orderly fashion, but instead all tangled up, or sometimes as mere glimpses, vignettes of a time that is buried, of a people I desperately long to know. The deep dark blue of a prayer shawl, freshly baked bread, a labyrinth of crumbling stone spires, grandpa's croaking laugh, a virgin bride smiling beneath her veil. These are my people, a lake so deep it reaches down to the very bowels of the earth. And yet I have almost lost them, almost forgotten the bond, forgotten who I am. I want to see through their eyes and know their pain and triumph and laughter and fear and joy. I want to remember. Remember!
  10. Orchestral Work

    I really enjoyed this! I thought at first it was going to be more like background music at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean, but you take it in interesting directions. I appreciate your use of dynamics, and the feeling that the piece isn't in a rush to lay out it's main ideas. You lead the listener there gradually. Nice build-ups of sound followed by changes of mood. I also enjoy how you play with the chord progression to change the mood. You don't just repeat the same idea over and over, but instead warp it in subtle ways. Nice work. Portraying the sea in a new way is challenging because so many people have done it. Here's my advice: expand this piece! The ending was quite abrupt, as if you said, "well that's good enough, I'll just cut it off here". But the story arc didn't feel complete. This is a compliment to you. You got me interested and wanting more! Take it in further and give us more of the story. What else can you tell us about this fisherman, and how can you do it in a new way, a way that keeps the main ideas you've already laid out, but challenges the ear with new sounds and directions? It seems that you've established that this seaman is on an adventure. So what happens next?
  11. How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

    That's a lovely little piece! I don't think you need to spice up the piano, personally. It's a peaceful song with accompaniment that fits the mood. If you try to get too spicy, you might try to do too much at once. My advice (and of course feel free to ignore it) is to keep this piece as it is and go write another one, and another. The next one you write, aim for spicy. Then before you know it, you'll have a suite, and your suite will have variety as a whole. If this was part of a larger set, and that larger set contained more spicy material, this piece would act as a calming interlude between more dramatic pieces. I'm sure that in a church this music would be very effective. Performed live, I imagine this piece would sound like a serene lake on a chilly Spring morning.
  12. It feels like music that belongs with a visual, like a chase scene from an action film. I think you've got a talent for that cinematic sound, and I'm curious to see what else you have written. I like the alternation between the soft piano portions and the percussive material, and your orchestration sounds very balanced and natural. Nice use of dynamics. As it stands now, the piece feels like a scene, and when the scene is over the music ends. I'm not sure the music can stand alone without the image. If you were to develop the themes more fully, allow a theme to take center stage, this piece might have more of an identity. The music is pleasant and sets a mood, but does it stand out as a piece of "art"? Does it have something to say? What else could that photograph convey, and how else could that music portray that? Could you expand the piece so it explores more than one mood, could you develop your themes? I suppose it all comes down to intention. Are you aiming for cinematic music or music that can stand alone? Do you want to capture one single mood, or write music that takes the listener on a journey? You've clearly got talent. Can you use it to create something with more depth, something that makes the listener FEEL what's in that photograph? This is all very fluffy commentary, based more on a vibe I got rather than anything concrete. Feel free to disregard if I'm off base.
  13. Letting Myself Fall

    Thanks for your feedback! I'm glad you felt the tension in there. Can you be more specific about the dynamics? Which part are you talking about? Thanks!!
  14. The Brimstone Mist

    I agree completely. This starts off with tons of potential, but then doesn't develop. I recommend taking that great first idea and manipulating it so it changes into something else. Play with variations on that idea for a while, practice developing it, changing keys and meters and rhythms. Try to take us on a journey, one with more than just one color.
  15. Variations on a Sea Shanty

    Great fun! I imagine a young person's orchestra would be thrilled to play this, especially with all those rich horn and percussion parts. You really capture the sea, in a much more literal way than something like Debussy's "La Mer". This feels at times like it should have a vocal part singing some pirate dirge along with the orchestra. Well done. Nice balance of lush orchestration with a concept that a casual listener can appreciate. Excellent balance, and you keep it interesting throughout.
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