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J. Lee Graham

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J. Lee Graham last won the day on May 13 2019

J. Lee Graham had the most liked content!

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About J. Lee Graham

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    Old Timer
  • Birthday 01/11/1962

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  • Biography
    Classical-Revivalist Composer, Singer, Violist
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  • Location
    Austin, TX, USA
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  • Notation Software/Sequencers
  • Instruments Played
    Viola, Keyboard

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  1. Bump! Just letting y'all know that I've attached a live recording of this piece hereto if anyone would like to hear it. @Ali Jafari, you might find it of interest!
  2. @aMusicComposer: Thank you very much as well for a great review! 1. I’m surprised nobody has raised an eyebrow about the second note of the opening motive – an augmented second from the tonic – kind of a sexy melodic interval for this period, perhaps, but I fell in love with it, obviously, and I think I made it work stylistically. 😊 2. This is actually my favourite movement of the four, and I think the best written, but I’m keeping in mind what you’ve said about the harmony maybe being more interesting. I’d still like to think the secondary material, while also simple in basic harmonic structure, is interesting enough in content and texture to mitigate the simplicity of the main theme, but I do see what you mean. 3. I’m so glad everybody loves this minuet! I was inclined to think of it as one of my better ones, and especially now. 4. Again, harmonic complexity. I’m going to have to take this to heart, and do some more listening to even more music of this period to see if I can latch onto some of the more interesting harmonic things they were doing between 1790 and 1800 or so – and not just Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, who were the big three at that time, but some others. I’m not them, but maybe I can get a bit more adventurous within the confines of the style and my own sensibilities. I’m really gratified that, as you said, “no instrument becomes redundant at any point and the balance is good throughout” in this piece. These are two of the qualities that are the most difficult to accomplish writing for this ensemble, as I’m sure you are discovering since you’re writing a sextet as well. We’re trained to manipulate harmony in four parts (or less), so what indeed does one do with the extra two parts in a six-part chamber work, in which all the parts really need to contribute equally? Some advice for you: this ensemble is obviously middle-to-low heavy in overall tessitura, something even two violins playing their hearts out can’t entirely mitigate; therefore, watch low-pitched chords and harmonic relationships carefully, but don’t be afraid of them, because handled with care, they can add uncommon richness to the texture. Also, something I could probably have done a bit more of myself, though I did try: be sure to thin out the texture to five, four, or even three parts occasionally, as all six parts playing constantly can be wearying on the ear. I’m currently working on a fun little “Divertimento a 7” (Italian: “a sette” = in seven parts) for Clarinet, 2 Horns, Violin, Viola, ‘Cello, and Bass, and I’m actually having a lot of fun thinning out this potentially rather thick texture as often as practicable, throwing material back and forth between the instruments and making sure that everybody sits out periodically while still having plenty of interest to do. It’s a challenge, but the results are very rewarding. Thank you again for your time and attention! I really appreciate it.
  3. @celloman99 Thanks so much for a great review! 2. I think I know what you mean here as far as getting away from “everyone doing the same thing at the same time,” which is what I was trying to do in the secondary section – there is a lot more motion and push-and-pull here, which I was hoping would be enough. I’m not big on polyrhythms in music of this style, for obvious reasons, but I’ll keep what you’re saying in mind. 3. This movement definitely does have a clearly defined structure, because it’s a Minuet, and the form is fairly strict. You seem to have really enjoyed this movement, and that’s very gratifying – a lot of people write dance movements off. 4. I’m a string player myself, and I’m not very worried about most of the 16th note runs in this movement. I wrote this for advanced players, and I really wanted to give them some challenging stuff to do. Interesting that you thought there was more going on harmonically in this movement – it might just be that it’s all going by so fast that it just sounds that way. It’s definitely a frenetic movement. Thank you again so much for this! I really appreciate it.
  4. First of all, I’m sorry it took me a few days to get to this. C’est la vie! What a nice piece! Beautiful chords and sonorities, particularly in the slower sections. I realize you’re intending flutes to play the “bird calls” part of the piece (not heard here), but I think the accompaniment now in the strings might sound even better with a slightly larger orchestra – a few winds, maybe a few brass, to add even more colour. I wish I had more advice to give you about the overall sound being clamourous with all the part there, but I’m not very good at dealing with the vagaries of electronic playback in my own work, and am seldom completely satisfied. Good luck working with that.
  5. Yes, that's an excellent notion, or even 'cellos and basses (in octaves). You don't want something that will get in the way, just a bit more foundation to the harmonic rhythm that's going on. BTW, I was just teasing about the key you chose. It's just that many members of an average orchestra, especially in the strings, will find their eyes glazing over when they see six flats in the key signature. Any more than 3 or 4 flats perplexes string players. That said, a good professional orchestra wouldn't even bat an eye it this, or almost anything else you set in front of them.
  6. @Monarcheon I don't know how I missed your comments! I'm so sorry I didn't say anything before now. Thanks for pointing out some spots for me to look at - I may see if I can improve those spots somehow. Thanks again!
  7. Fantastic! First of all: E-flat minor? You're cruel and inhuman, but I think the orchestra will forgive you. Tremendous drama and pathos here. I just love your thematic material! One minute I'm hearing Mendelssohn's influence, the next a little Tchaikovsky. At times during the triplet semiquaver noodling in the violins and violas under the main theme, I found myself wishing there were more in the way of a foundation in the bass - not that what you have doesn't work, it was just something I found myself waiting for, and you were very sparing with it. And what an ending! I wasn't expecting that at all! My compliments on a wonderful movement!
  8. I usually shy away from the challenges here because my music is so stylistically specific, but this sounds interesting just as you've proposed it, Noah.
  9. @Simen-N Simen, coming from you, one of the best Baroque-Revival composers I know of, what you say is quite a compliment indeed! Thank you very kindly! I really like how the Gloria turned out as well, and the Sanctus at least as much. 🙂 By all means, keep trying the stile antico thing!
  10. There is a legend about a dialogue between Mozart and a young composer that went something like this: Young Composer: "Herr Mozart, I am thinking of writing a symphony. How should I get started?" Mozart: "A symphony is a very complex musical form and you are still young. Perhaps you should start with something simpler." Young Composer: "But Herr Mozart, you were writing symphonies when you were 8 years old!" Mozart: "Yes, but I didn’t have to ask how." This story is almost certainly apocryphal, but that doesn’t mean it is not very much the truth. You’re probably going to think I’m not being very helpful, and I’m usually very positive and encouraging; but I don’t believe there is anything anyone can tell you here that is going to edify you sufficiently that you’ll know how to write something as complex as a piano concerto upon reading it. As demonstrated above, If you have to ask how to write something, you’re not ready to write it. As Mozart may or may not have done with his young friend, I would urge you to try and write simpler things first before trying to tackle a piano concerto. I read elsewhere that you’re only 13 years old, and you have only been composing for a year and a half. Give yourself some time writing smaller things before trying this. You’ll know when you’re ready to move on to bigger things. However, since nothing I say is likely to stop you if you have your mind set on trying to build Hoover Dam with a box of Lego, as it were, @aMusicComposer has given you some wisdom about not expecting too much from your first effort (with which I concur), as well as some good advice about studying a book on orchestration – and Rimsky-Korsakov’s is a great one for what you seem to be envisioning. As for planning in advance, it appears you already know something of what you want to do as far as basic things like key, metre, tempo, and instrumentation go. Now all you need are some ideas, and no one can teach you how to come up with those. Good luck to you, and keep us informed of your progress!
  11. Something really rare and special: the mechanical organ playing in the video below may be considered the world's oldest "recording" of a musical performance, forasmuch as Joseph Haydn wrote the music for it and (more importantly) personally supervised its programming in 1793, some 226 years ago! It provides us with fascinating and valuable clues about Haydn's own performance practices, including phrasing, articulation (many notes are much shorter than we might expect, particularly at the ends of phrases, which are noticeably clipped), tempo, and ornamentation. The uninterrupted performance by the organ takes place in the second half of the video, after a documentary segment that is itself interesting and informative. Check it out, and I'll be curious to know what you think! EDIT: I found a score for this on IMSLP, so you can follow along if you like. It turns out that between 1772 and 1793, Haydn wrote no less than 32 pieces for mechanical clock organ.
  12. @JordanRoberts Thanks very much for listening and commenting. I'm getting a lot of feedback that this music sounds authentically Renaissance, and I find that very gratifying! I suppose despite my sometime apostasy in disagreement with some tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, I am at heart still very much a true believer, and as such as devoted as ever. I'm glad it shows, in my religious music anyway.
  13. Sextet in E-flat for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and 2 Violoncelli 1. Allegro (Sonata Form) 2. Andante teneramente (Sonata Form) 3. Menuetto: Allegro spiritoso 4. Allegro molto (Rondo Form) Style: Late Classical, circa 1790-1800 Composed: 25 October, 2018 - 26 February, 2019 at Austin I was right in the middle of composing my Six Quartets for 2 Violas and 2 Violoncelli this past autumn when the germ for this piece came to me like a bolt from the blue. I very quickly composed the opening movement, and by the beginning of January, the second and third movements were complete. Over the last couple of months I've been working on the last movement intermittently, and completed it just this evening. There aren't very many works for this instrumentation in the repertoire, and aside from a set of six by Luigi Boccherini, none in the Classical style. I think I'll let the music say the rest as I'm exhausted now. I do hope you enjoy this work. I surely had a blast writing it!
  14. @Bill Jones Thanks very much! Very glad you enjoyed it. And regarding a live performance: from your mouth to God's ears!
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