Museday Tuesdays 2008
  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 a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

Damp: (adj.) slightly moist; unenthusiastic or depressed

Listen (0:30 MP3)

The problem with the slower pieces is that they end just as I start getting into them. This piece is for strings, marimba, flute, and solo viola.

Effuse: (v.) To ooze, pour out or exude

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

The word, "ooze" caught my eye when I generated this random title, and gave me the mental image of a slow, inexorable flow of slime or sludge, slightly ominous and foreboding.

Accursed: (adj.) Being under a curse; doomed.

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

This excerpt is written for a brass ensemble and a light smattering of percussion.

Furfuraceous: (adj.) Covered with scaly particles, such as dandruff

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This was a rather peculiar word, and one that I'm not liking to be using in a news post anytime soon. However, the image of dandruff inspired an itchy, scratchy, shaky feeling and suddenly I had a light Latin feel to work with. This one's for percussion, marimba, flute, cellos, and trumpets.

Afire: (adj.) Intensely interested; on fire

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

This was originally going to be a work for "Jay-Z and Violas", dedicated to Brianne's new tot, but most of Jay-Z's music tends to be a mishmash of beats and vamps underneath lyrics which he doesn't even write down. Since I am obviously not a lyricist , I realized I would have to take a different approach, so I crossed a house beat with a disco vamp, threw in a bari sax (because it's the coolest sax) and added a viola with Samuel-Adler-approved double stops.

No doubt, Jay-Z would be proud.

Stertorous: (adj.) Characterized by stertor or heavy snoring.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

When I heard this word, I felt that a mechanical, methodical snoring motor would be far too easy so I thought of other ways to express the title. I somehow ended up with this Hindemith meets Swearingen concoction. I'm not sure where this would go next, but the beauty of Museday is that it doesn't matter.

This fragment also suffers from the common ailment that it sounds completely different than you remember after you sleep on it and listen again in the morning. A rewrite might be better supported with more repetitions of the melody before spinning it away, but thirty seconds is thirty seconds.

Punchy: (adj.) being or appearing vigorously effective; forceful.

My Composition (0:27 MP3)

I stopped the random word generator on this word since it is also the intended name of Kathy and Chris' cat, who is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Titan. To me, there is nothing punchier than a minor ska tune.

Knightly: (adj.) Noble, courageous, generous

My Composition (0:28 MP3)

The first mental image that came to mind before looking up an actual definition was a double whammy -- Kiera Knightley starring as an anorexic waif of a damsel in distress, in one of those really bad period pieces from the 1980s. This fragment depicts a knight who is both courageous AND caring, and what it lacks in any real musical depth, it makes up for in the immediacy of "if I heard this song, I'd know what kind of movie I'm in for".

Flyblown: (adj.) Tainted or contaminated

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

The word, "contaminated", feels blatantly dangerous and intimidating, like nuclear waste or a brown swimming pool. However, "tainted" feels less apparent and more insidious, like getting food poisoning on a cruise ship from tainted meat. I tried to cover both words in today's Museday selection, which is for piano, vibraphone, trumpets, trombone, bass, steel drums, and percussion.

Jerkwater: (adj.) Remote, small, and insignificant; Contemptibly trivial

My Composition (0:32 MP3)

For this one, I envisioned something that was inherently harmless but scorned solely on principle -- something that's pleasant enough but ultimately ignored. I used a woodwind ensemble to symbolize things that people don't take seriously, and then kept the orchestration fairly light throughout.

Boggy: (adj.) Wet and spongy

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I started this piece with the quirky delayed music box sample and built around it, with an emphasis on sounds that have a sluggish attack. I then gave it a motor to distinguish it from an earlier Museday, Damp. Damp is more of a stationary word, while you wouldn't know a bog was boggy unless you tried to travel through it.

Frazzled: (adj.) Worn-out or fatigued

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

For this word, I envisioned nervous energy, constantly on the move, but slightly off-balance. I wrote it for a mythological banjo quintet that can ostensibly play without worrying about ranges because the homogenous nature of the sound seems to add to the frazzled feeling, making the listener frazzled as well.

Uncomplicated: (adj.) Not complex or involved; simple

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

My initial thoughts for this word were vacation-y and beach-y, since any noun can become an adjective by appending a partial vowel on the end of it. When I sat down at the keyboard, it felt like I had a lot of Latin rhythms in my queue, waiting to be jotted down -- probably a byproduct of watching the third season of Prison Break (set in Panama) and rewatching the first season of Dexter (set in Miami).

Lachrymose: (adj.) Suggestive of or tending to cause tears; mournful.

My Composition (0:33 MP3)

Other than being a possible substitute for pure sugar, "lachrymose" doesn't immediately present a strong mental picture. The definition seems to infer a maudlin quality over a bawly one. All in all, it seems like a word that might appear in a tenth grade English essay after using the online thesaurus one too many times.

This snippet is written for flugelhorn, alto flutes, and rhythm section.

Owlish: (adj.) Resembling or characteristic of an owl

My Composition (0:32 MP3)

This excerpt is written for string section and percussion. Instead of directly composing a piece that felt owlish, I decided to write from the perspective of the mice being pursued by said owl.

Academic: (adj.) Theoretical or hypothetical; not practical, realistic, or directly useful

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

When I think of academic music, I picture lines of music education majors lined up for their continuation exams, hoping that they're just barely good enough at their instruments to continue with the part of the degree where playing is not required.

I decided to write the intro to one of those sonatas that every incoming freshman has to play at least once -- in this case, a sonata for trumpet and piano. Among the devices that make it academic: blatant repetition of motives in different voices, chords with 9ths and 11ths in them, and the occasion Lydian mode, all bundled up in a fine Kennanesque impersonation.

Votary: (adj.) consecrated by a vow; of a devotee or a follower

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

For this definition, I pictured a scene from an epic Technicolor film with a lush orchestral score where the contrast is too sharp by half a notch.

I envisioned the opening motive sung by a Russian bass, half an octave lower than the normal bass range, accompanied by brass and percussion. Unfortunately, MIDI Russian bass is the equivalent of Jabba the Hutt auditioning for the Sound of Music. Picture a Prokofiev score, like Ivan the Terrible or Lieutenant Kijé, and you'll have the style I was aiming for.

Propulsive: (adj.) Tending to or capable of propelling

My Composition (0:26 MP3)

This definition made me think of all those high-school jazz charts with metronome speeds of 180 or higher, and the single word "Driving" as a tempo marking. In general, these charts were rarely as driving as intended, usually because of unskilled musicians and an overabundance of syncopation. By the time one of these pieces was finished being performed, the tempo had dropped to 136 and at least two players had died.

Museday Tuesday Wrap-up

Afire (1:48 MP3)

This short piece is an extended version of the Museday fragment written on March 4, 2008.

The piece is written for saxophones, violas, and trombones (also known as "the neglected instruments"), as well as various percussion instruments and drum machine effects). I wrote it over the course of two weeks, generally spending about an hour a day on it.

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