Open Mic Adventures XXIII: “Gabbi’s Gavotte”

I’m a tad pressed for time this week, what with the big Music Festival coming up for my students on Thursday.  It’s a flurry of activity for yours portly, so I have a very short little snippet for this week’s edition of Open Mic Adventures.

Regular readers will know of my red tardy slip composing project.  My students have largely been showing up to school on time lately—drat!—so I haven’t had occasion to pen many more miniatures, but I do have a short one that is a bit lively and fun.

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TBT: Composing Humorous Miniatures

There’s something about these winter doldrums that always get my creative juices flowing, and I’ve embarked upon a new composing project, which I wrote about briefly last week.  Piano miniatures—and mine are mini-miniatures—are a fun way to attempt to express a musical idea in a very brief format, much like “flash fiction” or very short stories.

Last year I penned P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen and a short sequel, then my composing pen laid fallow for much of the rest of the year.  I’ve sketched out a few short pieces that will eventually (probably, maybe) make it into Pdam III, but nothing with the drive and focus of the original and its shorter follow-up.

Then I hit upon the idea of taking the small red tardy slips that students bring to class and composing short pieces on that very small physical medium.  I now have a small stack, and it makes for a fun way of composing first drafts.

With that mini-project in the works—it’s perfect because I can take five minutes even on a busy day to jot down a few bars of music—I thought it might be fun to look back to the origins of what would become P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen.  As my red tardy slips project suggests, there are frequently “arbitrary and absurd sources for inspiration.”

Well, at least for yours portly.

With that, here is 8 February 2022’s ” Composing Humorous Miniatures“:

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Lazy Sunday CLXXXIII: P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen Picks

For the past three editions of Open Mic Adventures I’ve been featuring pieces from my modern classical piano project, P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen, which I released on 4 March 2022.  I’ve been unable to get out to open mic night since school and lessons have geared back up, so I figured I’d dip into the portly video archives to bring back some goodness.

I also really liked this composing project, and I think I came up with some good material  If you haven’t already, you can pick it up for a buck.  I’ve got another piano miniatures composing project in the works, but more on that another time.

Regardless, I thought I’d take a break from the movie review retrospectives and look back at those three recent editions of Open Mic Adventures, all dedicated to pianistic noodling:

Happy Sunday—and Happy Listening!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Open Mic Adventures XIX: “Two-Day Minuet for Left Hand”

With Bandcamp Friday rapidly approaching, I’m diving back into 2022 and pieces from my modern classical piano project, P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen, which I released on 4 March 2022.  This week, I’m featuring the final track from the collection, “Two-Day Minuet for Left Hand.”

The title is a bit on the nose—uh, I should write, the hand:  I wrote it across two days, and the melody is in the left hand.  See?

The first section, composed on 24 February 2022 (and in red pen, no less!) is in 3/4 time and consists of a slightly irregular seven-phrase theme.  The second section, composed (you guessed it!) on 25 February 2022, is in 4/4 time.  It’s an even more irregular five-phrase section, which shifts to 3/4 for the last two bars.

It ends with a little multimetered coda.  On the manuscript, I forgot to make the final note a dotted half note, so technically it’s an incomplete measure of 3/4 time.  D’oh!

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TBT^4: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony

I love it when I’ve been blogging long enough that some pieces get the coveted “TBT^4” designation (or higher!).  I don’t know if readers pick up on this delight, or that I’m even layering commentary upon commentary, but it’s one of those little things that I enjoy about the blog.

I particularly love it when I get to reblog a post about something I really like.  I know classical music isn’t exactly the hot new thing, but most of the hot new things stink, and this music has stood and will continue to stand the tests of time and fashion.

That’s probably no truer than for the music of Beethoven, a truly titanic, tumultuous, troubled figure, the man who bridged the gap between the symmetry and precision of classical music and the stormy, emotional grandiloquence of Romantic music.

Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the “Pastoral,” is my favorite of his symphonies.  I’m a sucker for programmatic music, and Beethoven takes us on a moving trip through the countryside.

With that, here is 20 January 2022’s “TBT^2: Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony“:

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TBT^2: The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s “The Moldau”

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about classical and Romantic music, both of which hold a special place in my heart.  Part of the reason is that I am not currently teaching the Pre-AP Music Appreciation course that guaranteed a near-daily baptism in the greatest works of these periods.

So in casting about for a good TBT installment, I came across this little post about one of my favorite bits of programmatic work, Bedřich Smetana’s “The Moldau.”  It’s a beautiful work that transports listeners on a magical journey down the titular river.

I love programmatic music because of its accessibility to average listeners (and because there’s something intriguing to me about a text accompanying purely instrumental music)—anyone can listen to this piece and hear the different scenes on the cruise down the river.  It’s also such a beautiful expression of Smetana’s love for his homeland.

With that, here is 13 January 2022’s “TBT: The Joy of Romantic Music II: Bedřich Smetana’s ‘The Moldau’“:

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Open Mic Adventures XVII: “L’il Divertimento in C major”

It’s been a bit since I’ve been able to get back to an open mic, between school, Christmas, and illness.  Belting out the tunes is pretty tough when your voice is a froggy mess of croaks and squeaks (although I’m sure some people are into that kind of thing).

As such, I decided to cast about through the Portly Video Archives and pull out some golden chestnuts from yesteryear—or, in this case, something I recorded about eleven months ago.

Readers might recall my modern classical piano project, P​é​ch​é​s d​’​â​ge moyen, which I released on 4 March 2022.  It was a frivolous and fun little project that, like most such things, was born of “an absurd, self-indulgent inside joke,” according to the album listing on Bandcamp.

The recordings were pretty lo-fi, but some of the pieces are actually quite good (others are self-indulgent experiments in multimeter quasi-tonality).  I also loaded the digital Bandcamp album with tons of extras—including the video you’re about to see—like scans of the handwritten manuscripts and scores for each piece.

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TBT: Mahler’s Composing Shack

We’re getting into the time of year when my personal creativity seems to spark.  I should be way more productive creatively in the summer, when I enjoy loads of unstructured time, but I find that I work better in the constrains and confines of a busy schedule.  For whatever reason, that extra pressure helps me to eke out, if not diamonds, then at least some lesser gems.

One well from which I have drawn some considerable inspiration the last couple of years was my Pre-AP Music Appreciation class.  It was a broad survey of Western music from the medieval period to the present, with a strong emphasis on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods.  Due to a combination of scheduling difficulties and lower enrollment last year, the class did not run this year.

On the one hand, I’m thankful—it’s given me more time to focus on other endeavors.  On the other, I do miss the almost-daily baptism in the works of some of the greatest composers in the Western canon.

One element of the course that was particularly intriguing was learning about the lives and creative processes of the composers.  Many of them lived quite tragic lives; others (rarer, it seems, among composers) lived quite contentedly.

Gustav Mahler seemed to have developed a nice little work routine, as detailed in this post from October 2021.  I like the idea of having a stripped-down cottage by the sea, with a healthy breakfast brought to me as I work.  Sounds like the good life!

With that, here is 13 October 2021’s “Mahler’s Composing Shack“:

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