Open Mic Adventures XXXV: “The Rings of Saturn”

Last week I wrote a short post about Saturn’s (extremely slowly) disappearing rings.  In that post, I referenced one of my songs, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I wrote way back on 7 August 2015.

Naturally, that got me thinking:  I should record that for Open Mic Adventures!  “The Rings of Saturn” is one of my personal favorites of my original tunes, but I wrote it after the release of Contest Winner EP, and I’ve never made it back into the studio.  It didn’t help that my life and work grew exponentially more demanding in those years, but I also went through a long spell of creative dryness that never fully relented.

That said, it was time for “The Rings of Saturn” to make its official Internet debut (and its YouTube debut).

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIV: “Chase’s Dilemma”

In keeping with the vacation vibes of Memorial Day Weekend, it’s going to be a pretty short edition of Open Mic Adventures this week.  The good news is that very soon I’ll be back to showcasing footage from actual open mics, and not just me noodling on the piano in my school’s tiny music room.

That said, I hastily recorded a video of a very basic piano piece I wrote for one of my students, whose name is Chase.  It was a very quick sightreading exercise for him, and an opportunity for me to write some more student-focused material.

I suppose the “Dilemma” in the title refers to the presence of an F# accidental, as well as the necessity to move the right hand from C to D position and back again.  The left hand is a simple ascending line with that playful F# tossed in the mix.

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Open Mic Adventures XXXIII: “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance)”

I found myself with a rare bit of free time last Thursday, 18 May 2023.  It was Field Day at school that afternoon, and while the kids were frolicking in the rain (yep, it was raining steadily yesterday), I slipped inside for a few quiet moments.  I found myself at the piano and, staring down a blank sheet of manuscript paper in my music journal, I decided to compose.

While I didn’t name it right away, the result was “Spore Song (Mushroom Dance).”  I’d been wanting to compose a piece named “Spore Song” after reading Stacey C. Johnson‘s post “Spore Song” at her blog Breadcrumbs.

The more I listened to this airy, atmospheric piece, the more I realized that this was “Spore Song.”  Because it’s mostly in 3/4 time (with two brief measures in 4/4), I added the parenthetical title “Mushroom Dance.”

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Open Mic Adventures XXXI: “Carousel”

Last week Ponty asked for more open mic material, thus proving the heavy burden of talent—the fans are never satisfied.  I’ll note that Ponty has a significant backlog of requests, all of which I’ll get around to approximately whenever I feel like it (or, more accurately, when I have time to learn the pieces—they’re quite challenging for a hedge-pianist like myself).  Perhaps I should ask him to favor us with some of his guitar repertoire.

I’ll certainly get back to the “true” open mic material soon.  Summer looms, and I’ll finally have the time and energy to get back out to open mic nights on a regular basis.  In the meantime, I’m continuing to experiment with short piano compositions, and wrote this little ditty, “Carousel,” between classes on 2 May 2023.

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Open Mic Adventures XXX: “Chorale for a Sleepy Wednesday”

Yes, it’s Tuesday—the traditional day of the week for Open Mic Adventures.  No need to check your calendars—or to question my sanity.

I wrote this piece, “Chorale for a Sleepy Wednesday,” last Wednesday, 26 April 2023, during one of my planning periods.  I thought it would make a fun sightreading exercise for my Middle School Music Ensemble, and we spent class that afternoon sightreading this piece and “Song of the Bigfoot.”

When I write chorales (as I’ll explain in the video), I tend to do it as a music theory exercise.  I used to write them with the idea of sustaining one or even two notes for as long as possible, and always keeping notes within stepwise motion of one another.  That stepwise motion is largely maintained, with a few exceptions, in the manuscript below.

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Open Mic Adventures XXIX: “Lavender’s Blue”

I’m diving back into Alfred’s Basic Piano Library, Complete Levels 2 & 3 for the Late Beginner this week with the piece “Lavender’s Blue.”

As I explain in the video, I knew very little about the song, other than it has a kind of Renaissance feel to it.  Since making that hasty recording during a precious planning period, I have done a bit more research on the piece.

The piece dates back to sixteenth-century England, where it was a popular folk song and nursery rhyme.  The lyrics suggest the nursery rhyme elements:

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,

When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen:

Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?

‘Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

Any tune with “dilly dilly” in the lyrics is prime nursery rhyming.  As is frequently the case with these very old songs, the piece has dozens have verses, and variations upon those verses, so there’s not an “official” version—kind of like Blade Runner (1982).

Fortunately, I’m just playing it on piano, so there’s no confusion there.

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