Museday Tuesdays 2007
  1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
  2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
  3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
  4. It must be composed in a single sitting, in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
  5. The title of the piece must be an adverb from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

Sidelong: (adv.) toward the side; obliquely

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

My initial impression of "sidelong" was furtive and shifty, from a more comical viewpoint rather than a longing one. I started with the vamping clarinets which dictated that the piece be in 5/4, and then allowed Shifty the Beat Monster to remove a few notes here and there to obscure the beat. I wanted the flute lines towards the end to float over the mix in a sing-song manner. This took me the full thirty minutes to write, and I hate the ending.

Moodily: (adv.) in a moody manner (gloomy, depressed, or sullen)

My Composition (0:27 MP3)

This Museday was actually pretty straightforward, since there's already a universal preconceived notion of what moody music should sound like. I have to admit, though, that my very initial instinct was to write a song about happy cows. I wrote this fragment for English horn, acoustic bass, drums, horns, tuba, and vibraphone, and then dropped it down a whole step and a couple semitones for additional angst (the lower, the sadder). If I had had more time, I would have worked on the sound of the melodic line, to make it less square-sounding in the last half.

Obnoxiously: (adv.) in a highly objectionable or offensive manner

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I couldn't decide which was more obnoxious: polka music or techno music. I ran out of time, which is why the ending sounds more marching band-y than it should.

Obsessively: (adv.) in a compulsive manner

My Composition (0:29 MP3)

The first concept that popped into my head after randomly generating this adverb was "worrying", in the "worry the end of a rope until it frays" sense, not the "my teenager has trails under his nose and I worry he has a cocaine habit" sense. I was originally going to do a pure piano thing, starting with the diminished vamp and becoming a C minor 6 pedal, but the end result didn't have as much tension as I wanted, so I trashed most of it around the ten minute mark and rewrote it with drums and basses instead.

Spikiest: (adj.) Having the most sharp projecting points

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This week, I permanently changed the rules for picking the title to use adjectives instead of adverbs -- whenever I used an adverb before, I just went by the adjectivial definition anyhow. When Spikiest came up, the first thing to enter my mind was a bulked-up cartoon porcupine brashly trying to convince his peers that he is, indeed, the spikiest. I wanted to get a metallic treble aura of fat eight-note piano triads filled with the slicing ka-chunk of not-quite-together downbeats. The transition in the middle is a little rough, but I think this is one that I could expand into a larger work. With more than thirty minutes, I would have smoothed out the transition, and added an incredibly loud woodblock to the second half like a metronome.

Leggier: (adj.) having long, attractively shaped legs

My Composition (0:23 MP3)

I ran out of time ridiculously fast on this one -- slower tempos are harder for me to write under deadline, because I constantly go back and listen to the work in progress. This one's for bar piano, drums, bass trombone, acoustic bass, and harmonica.

Carsick: (adj.) suffering from motion sickness caused by a moving vehicle

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I've found that it's much easier to approach composition from a rhythmic or harmonic vamp when faced with the thirty-minute deadline. This piece didn't turn out quite the way I wanted, and I wasted several minutes trashing and rewriting the second half.

Dinkiest: (adj.) the smallest, the least important, or the worst quality

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I initially envisioned this title as referring to one of those old-fashioned music boxes that play by rotating a spiked metal roll against many metal pins. That, plus the fact that I had just gone to Anna's "Saintly Dingaling" handbell concert on Sunday inspired me to use just a single sound for all the parts. As this progressed, it started getting out of hand, and away from the concept of dinky. Thankfully, my thirty minutes ran out before I made a full-fledged transformation into Steve Reich.

Reclusive: (adj.) Seeking or preferring seclusion or isolation.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I felt that someone who was reclusive would also be a little unsettling, with a meticulous routine bordering on OCD. Had I had more time, I would have made the flute line a bit more droopy and less quarter-notey. This one's not bad, but not one of my favourites.

Trifid: (adj.) Divided or cleft into three parts or lobes

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

When this word came up, I immediately1 knew that it would involve a trio of some kind, and then decided that it would be a cliche contrapuntal jazz section building to the final chorus, using saxes, trumpets, and trombones as the three voices (because real trios are boring). However, with only thirty minutes to write, I knew I'd only be able to get one or maybe two iterations in before I ran out of time.

I started with a simple 12-bar blues harmony and a unision trombone/bass line. Pretending that it was already the second of three choruses in the contrapuntal section, I mixed trumpets in immediately, and then wrote the third chorus with saxophones on top, while the other two instruments contrapunt like an insane kicker in the fourth quarter.

This one was fun to write!

Frowzy: (adj.) Dirty and untidy; slovenly / Ill-smelling; musty.

My Composition (0:24 MP3)

For this word, I pictured a ramshackled hovel, smelling of stale cat urine and just a little bit condemned. It would be a good companion movement with Reclusive.

Trampled: (adj.) To tread heavily, roughly, or crushingly

My Composition (0:29 MP3)

Surefooted: (adj.) Not liable to stumble or fall.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

Gamy: (adj.) Showing an unyielding spirit; plucky

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

Today is Rosie's birthday, and her brother's name is Gammy -- when "gamy" popped up on the Random Word Generator, I figured it was fated! Since Rosie also likes Zelda games, I decided that the plucky tune in question would be written in the style of a Zelda theme song -- specifically a song you might hear while riding on a gamy colt. Happy Birthday Rosie!

Chichi: (adj.) Ostentatiously stylish; deliberately chic.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

For this word, I focused more on the chic definition rather than the ostenatious one. The definition evoked a feeling more than a melody, but the eventual melody is hinted at in fragments throughout this extended introduction. I was hoping to start the melody, but ran out of time.

Chirk: (v.) to make a shrill chirping sound; to cheer up

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

For this Museday word, I pictured a plethora of Disney wildlife creatures flying out of the forest to cheer up the scullery boy / princess / orphan / cancer patient.

Museday Tuesday Wrap-up

Surefooted (2:02 MP3)

Introducing Surefooted, a two-minute work based on a Museday Tuesday snippet originally written on November 6, 2007.

The piece is loosely written for banjo, celeste, piano, fiddle, harmonica, horns, and percussion (because this most closely resembles the collection of instruments you might find thrown in the Grand Canyon, or other places the buffalo may or may not have roamed. "Loosely written" is a euphemism for "whored out the sounds of the instruments without considering the ranges, technical aspects, or whether such a player would want to waste their time playing my music", just as "euphonium" is a euphemism for "almost a trombone". It was written over the course of eight days, and I generally worked on it for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

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