Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today I present my original composition, UNDER A MAIDEN'S SPELL.  I completed this piece in 2014 and scored it for piano.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


'Twas Christmas Eve.  My father, sister, and I were at a local store purchasing culinary delights for our evening festivities.  The mood was merry and the setting glowed in the warmth of the occasion.  Suddenly, while awaiting service, I spied a vision of feminine poetry.  An employee, humble in her white deli frock and unpretentious demeanor, with hair pinned behind her head, looked to me with a disarming and slightly inquisitive expression.  She caught my eye and held it until I was distracted by the business at hand. When I looked back, I found the moment had passed like a fleeting dream.  Regal in appearance and reminiscent of Capucine, her long, wavy chestnut hair was illuminated gold by the oven-fire that crackled behind her.  I was immediately reminded of two images: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer and a lost young woman in Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

UNDER A MAIDEN'S SPELL, Copyright©2014 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Today I present my original composition, THE WARBLER.  I completed this song in 1990 and scored it for soprano and guitar.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


Composed around the same time as THE DOVE, my setting of this Keats poem for soprano and guitar serves as further testament to my love of birds.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

THE WARBLER, Copyright©1990 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today I present my original composition, THE DOVE.  I completed this song in 1989 and scored it for soprano and lute.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


This setting of a poem by John Keats is one of several I made in the late 1980s.  It deals with two subjects of great importance to me: one being birds--those feathery angels who, throughout the arc of my existence, have so often lifted my gaze along with my spirits towards their ethereal realm; the other being death--that dreaded but obligatory harbinger to new life, whose merciless hand I felt at a young age.  May this song help bring peace to those who suffer and reflection to those who suffer not.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

THE DOVE, Copyright©1989 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Today I present my original composition, PANIC.  I completed this piece in 2005 and scored it for piano trio.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


PANIC is rather unique in my collection of works in that its construction is quite different from the tonal model I usually follow.  In fact, it is a total departure from traditional tonal practice.  However, unlike modern atonal music produced according to the rules generally followed by those in academia, I take my own approach to creating music that has no tonal center.

I must admit that 12-tone music tends to bore me.  I generally do not take kindly to music created by tightly regulated formulae, as this music usually is.  To my ear, music composed in adherence to the rules established by Schoenberg, Berg, and the other founders of this new musical language, tends to run together and sound the same from piece to piece and composer to composer.  This, I believe, is because many composers insist on following stringent rules like avoidance of recognizable figures and patterns, totally asymmetrical rhythm, and use of the tone-row.


In PANIC, composed for piano trio (piano, violin, and cello), I depart from not only traditional but also modern practice.  If you take a look at the image, you immediately see that I use no key signature and that the first note of the piece is C natural.  It first appears to be obvious that this is simply music in the key of C.  However, that is not the case; not by a long shot!  In fact, there is no key whatsoever.  Notice the cello’s entry on C sharp.  In diatonic tradition, fugal music like this almost always follows the same pattern: first, entry in root key; second, in key of dominant to root; and third, once again in root.  So, if this were a traditional tonal work, we would hear entries in C major/minor to G major/minor to C major/minor.  Regarding modern practice, I dispense with the idea of the tone row entirely.  I see it as an almost absurd constraint on the creative process and, even though I understand it is meant to guarantee “democratic” use of all twelve tones, I find it stifling and almost useless for my purposes.  Also, against the strictest and most vociferous dictates of serial orthodoxy, I do, indeed, establish recognizable figures and patterns in this music.  My purpose is not to impress the listener with technicalities while I bore and befuddle him to tears.  My quest here, as in all art I create, is to move the audience, no matter what tonal language I use.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

View at YouTube

PANIC, Copyright©2005 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Friday, June 20, 2014

Today I present my original composition, DREAM OF BYGONE YOUTH.  I completed this piece in 2011 and scored it for piano.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


I composed this piece in recognition of my passage into middle age.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

DREAM OF BYGONE YOUTH, Copyright©2011 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Today I present my original composition, TRIBUTE TO GREYFRIARS BOBBY.  I completed this piece in 2010 and scored it for string quartet.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were inseparable for approximately two years.  On 8 February 1858, Gray died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived Gray by fourteen years, is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master's grave. Another account has it that he spent a great deal of time at Gray's grave, but that he left regularly for meals at a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters in nearby houses.
In 1867, when it was argued that a dog without an owner should be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers—who was also a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—paid for Bobby's license, making him the responsibility of the city council.

Bobby died in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery itself, since it was and remains consecrated ground. He was buried instead just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray's grave.

--Wikipedia


True or not, this story serves to remind all of us just how blessed we are by this great gift in life--the dog.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

TRIBUTE TO GREYFRIARS BOBBY, Copyright©2010 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Today I present my original composition, PAEAN FOR RACHEL CORRIE.  I completed this piece in 2005 and scored it for flute and string orchestra.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


I composed this work in honor of an heroic young woman.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned


PAEAN FOR RACHEL CORRIE, Copyright©2005 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today I present my original composition, CUTTIN' UP.  I completed this piece in 2014 and scored it for Irish flute and bodhrán drum.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


Here is a tidbit I wrote in a flash for my father on our 2014 birthday.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

CUTTIN' UP, Copyright©2014 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today I present my original composition, FREE FLIGHT.  I completed this piece in 1990 and scored it for electric guitar, electric bass, and drum kit.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


I composed this little fugue back in 1990 for a couple of childhood friends.  They had just put together a rock band, so I offered this composition to them as a kind of show-piece to display their impressive skills.  Paul and Jon played drums and guitar respectively.  Their bassist was known locally as a virtuoso, so, for him, I produced a rather intricate bass line.

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

FREE FLIGHT, Copyright©1990 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Today I present my original composition, CINDY FAIR.  I completed this song in 2014 and scored it for bass flute and guitar.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


For this render, I present the bass flute as a stand-in for the tenor voice, accompanied by alternately tuned guitar to achieve open E flat major.  I have never written anything for bass flute before and am very pleased to have become familiar with this much neglected beauty of an instrument!  I shall incorporate it into my orchestra, for it would provide much needed support for the pipe instruments.

Regarding the structure of this little song, instead of using C minor I use G minor as relative to the home key of E flat major.  I thought this might sound interesting since G minor, like C minor, shares notes in common with E flat.  This unusual approach is apparent in the opening guitar progression as it meets the flute’s entry.
 

Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned

View at YouTube

CINDY FAIR, Copyright©2014 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Today I present my original composition, MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS.  I completed this cantata in 2000 and scored it for tenor (John Muir), violin, piano, and choir.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


In the midst of bleak midwinter, I present one of my sunnier works.

MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS is one of a few secular cantatas I wrote with my father who provided the words.  I scored it for very modest forces, envisioning it as a small community theatre production.

For as long as I can remember, John Muir has been a hero to me.  In fact, I often feel that the great Scotsman actually saved my life long before I was even born!  As a solitary, sensitive, and rather idiosyncratic lover of the natural world, I quickly found solace in learning of Muir’s similar character.  


This piece is also important to me on a sentimental level since it was the last thing I wrote before leaving my childhood home in Marin County, California.  In my mind, I can still taste the sweet air, smell the bay leaves, feel the carpets of thick green moss and flesh like skin of the madrone tree, hear the music of nature's eternal choir, and see the countless scenes of glory that surrounded me as I walked the trails to and through my favorite haunts onward to the high cliff rock where I used to compose music, read poetry, and dream.  That realm was so extensive that one might easily think himself to be the only person on earth.  Oh, for one moment more of that ephemeral bliss!

Listen at SoundClick (part 1), (part 2)
Listen at MP3Unsigned

MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS, Copyright©2000 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Today I present my original composition, DANCING ALONE (THEME AND VARIATIONS FOR CLARINET IN C MINOR).  I completed this piece in 1994 and scored it for clarinet.  Below is a screenshot of the title page from the autograph score:


This work for clarinet solo is a set of variations on an original theme.  I tried to create a virtuosic work that suitably displays the rich variety of colorful sonorities and techniques so characteristic of this instrument.  From its thick, velvety, almost erotic “chalumeau”, to its serene, haunting, and expressive “clarion”, on up through its dramatic, anxious, and sometimes alarmingly piercing “altissimo”, all three distinct registers of this star from the wind family make composing for it a joy indeed!

Writing for unaccompanied wind instruments is always a challenge for me; as it is for any other single note non-harmonic instrument.  In the absence of any harmony, outside of that suggested in arpeggios, all interest lies in the horizontal rather than vertical structure of the music.  Of the three pillars of musical art, namely Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony, only Rhythm and Melody are possible.  Thus, the structure is weakened and the edifice may collapse if the material is not strong enough to compensate.  I do not know if my architecture is stable.  As always, I’ll let the listener decide.


Listen at SoundClick
Listen at MP3Unsigned


DANCING ALONE (THEME AND VARIATIONS FOR CLARINET IN C MINOR), Copyright©1994 DamonMusic by Sean Damon Rohde.  All rights reserved