Museday Tuesdays 2010

As part of this feature, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it's a poorly constructed slum of a song supported by a foundation of droning double stops and abused tubas.

Motile: (adj.) moving or capable of moving spontaneously

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I have the sneaking suspicion that my random word generator of choice is actually backed by a biology textbook, since a large number of terms are medical or organic terms. This title is particularly related to the movement of spores, but it was better than the initial suggestion, "Irregardless".

This excerpt was written for a bevy of vibraphone patches, brass, and percussion, and is my impression of spontaneously moving spores.

Bushwhacking: (adj.) Characterized by living, traveling, or ambushing in the jungle

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This piece is written for percussion, kalimba, marimba, and bassoon. It's my best stab at jungle music, and could be the background music for Shia LaBeouf swinging through the jungle on a vine with monkeys, except that I would only embarrass my music in that way for scads of money and fame.

Saturnine: (adj.) Sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn OR Suffering from lead poisoning, as a person.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This Museday fragment is written for dulcimer, soprano sax, piccolo, horns, and bassoon, and is based on the idea that I, too, would be sluggish in temperament if I had lead poisoning, you know, as a person.

I seem to enjoy modifying the fifths of chords in recent compositions, probably because no one listens to that note anyhow (much like the 3rd trumpet part in marching band arrangements).

Pusillanimous: (adj.) Lacking courage or resolution; cowardly; faint-hearted; timid

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I chose to highlight the running away aspect of cowardice in this fragment written for piano, woodwinds, strings, and tuba. There should really be more oboe-tuba duets in the world.

Corrugated: (adj.) Wrinkled, furrowed, ridged.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is for a very simple combination of strings, percussion, and a synthesizer. I started out with a "rain on a corrugated roof" motif mixed with a little metric ambiguity and then found the beat.

Sylvan: (adj.) consisting of or abounding in woods or trees; wooded; woody

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

As tempting as it was to write a song about a woody, I stuck with the adjective-approach and crafted this little orchestral fanfare. The original idea started with nothing but clarinets, but I had to swap out the bass line after the MIDI bass clarinet refused to perform at the same tempo as the rest of the ensemble. I did not expect a synthesizer to so closely emulate the real world.

Mussiest: (adj.) the most untidy, messy, or rumpled

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt was written for whatever sort of patches I decided to throw into the hodge-podge. Today's Museday was a family affair, with Rebecca writing a story for the hour while I wrote music!

Indefatigable: (adj.) incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

My first impression of this word was that something that can chug along untiringly would probably take a little while to get going. This one's written for harpsichord, strings, marimba, percussion, and other random patches.

Commodious: (adj.) comfortably spacious or roomy

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I started out with an airy, Nestico-like style, but couldn't help making it more ominous as it went on. This one's for a jazz ensemble.

Elegiac: (adj.) expressing sorrow or lamentation

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is mainly for harp and bassoon, although it ended up more maudlin than sorrowful. "Elegiac" sounds more like a cough medicine than a term of sadness.

Malarial: (adj.) Unwholesome or poisonous

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for piano, strings, flutes, horns, and various percussion. After generating the random word title, I immediately came up with the one bar piano motive at the beginning, and the rest flowed from there.

Invidious: (adj.) causing or tending to cause animosity, resentment, or envy

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for strings, woodwinds, percussion, vibes, and bass. I was playing around with a two-bar fragment that was phased and unsettled in the first bar, and "fallen into place" in the second.

Fusty: (adj.) Saturated with dust and stale odors; musty

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for miscellaneous patches, including the jazz scat samples that tend to turn out more creepy than jazzy when I apply them in my music.

Acerbic: (adj.) sour or astringent in taste

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for abbreviated orchestra, which means that I had an orchestra in mind, but was too lazy to set up an actual full score in Finale, so I only used the instruments whose MIDI patch numbers I had memorized. It ended up being more shady than acerbic, not unlike a witch who was turned into a willow tree.

Flinty: (adj.) unyielding; unmerciful; obdurate

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This piece is written for kalimba, which is not a marimba, and assorted percussive sounds. A few clarinet harmonies decorate the later phrases, and the Mr. Businessman chord progression outlines the melody.

Lissome: (adj.) Agile, nimble, or active

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for selected percussion instruments wrapped around a creamy brass quintet center, and articulated with a banjo patch.

Meretricious: (adj.) Based on pretense, deception, or insincerity.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for string quartet and other sound effects. Other than the initial impression as I started writing the melody, the title adjective didn't really play into the creative process at all.

Vermillion: (adj.) a bright red to reddish-orange colour

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is written for piccolo, viola, sitar, electric bass, accordian, vibraphone, and assorted percussion. As such, it would probably never make it onto the program of any young composers' concert series. I think a bright reddish hue would have lots of major 7ths in it.

Mendacious: (adj.) Dishonest; lying; untruthful

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is a bass clarinet solo, backed up by guitar and percussion, since the bass clarinet is easily the shadiest of the woodwind instruments.

Captious: (adj.) apt or designed to ensnare or perplex, especially in argument

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt is for accompanied horns, and mixes 9/8 and 2/4 time signatures like an astute arguer trying to change subjects.

Museday Tuesday Wrap-up

Mendacious (2:02 MP3)

This short piece is an extended version of the Museday fragment written on October 19, 2010.

I started with the bass clarinet (as the most mendacious member of the orchestra) and surrounded it with guitars, strings, horns, percussion, and an atarigane patch. Since I've never actually picked up any atariganes, I used them purely as sounds rather than scoring an actual playable line -- so, this piece probably isn't a good performance piece unless you have about six octaves worth of Japanese gongs lying around your home.

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