Thanksgiving

This year we continued our tradition of elaborate Thanksgiving meals. Here are some photos for your amusement:

Apples and beets for the salad, green beans for the main course.

 

Squash waiting to be roasted.

 

1st course: Cod fish cake with purple cabbage slaw and spicy mayo

 

2nd course: Mushroom soup (made by my brother and sister-on-law, Dan & Meg)

 

3rd course: Salad with apples, beets, and Gorgonzola

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits served with the salad

 

4th course: Sides (L to R) Cranberry Jelly, sauteed Green Beans, Cornbread Dressing, Roasted Butternut Squash

 

4th course: Turkey

 

5th course: Three kinds of cupcakes prepared by my sister Anna

Apple Crumble Cupcakes

 

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache and whipped cream

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with almond frosting

 

Remix update

I posted previously about a remix I was making for David McIntire. Here is an update:

The patch has been modified and expanded through the addition of some fine controls for the generated patterns, layering of patterns, and the addition of a step sequencer to add predetermined patterns to the mix. I’ve been playing around with it quite a bit and am honing in on a form for the final track. In the meantime, this is a screen capture of the patch:

 

and here is a sample of what it sounds like now:

Remix preview 2

 

Remix in progress

Last May I received an email from composer David McIntire inviting me to be part of a re-composition/remix project for his label: Irritable Hedgehog.

This email is an invitation to you (among others) to contribute to an electroacoustic album project for my Irritable Hedgehog label.  I am inviting each of you to create a “variation composition” using analog source material that I created back in 1985.  In those days my primary electronic expression involved a peculiar synthesizer known as the EMS-VCS3, or “Putney.”  I haven’t played one since the late ’80s, but I miss it to this day.  The Putney was a rare item in the US, but my college studio had one.  If you’ve listened to Brian Eno’s work on the first two Roxy Music albums, early Pink Floyd, ‘Who’s Next,’ or any Doctor Who episodes from that era, you’ve heard one.  It was described as “hopeless” as a melodic instrument, because of its instability, but I never regarded that a problem.
Anyway, back then I was very interested in its “non-lattice” expressive potential, as Paul Rudy might put it.  I did a series of real-time improvisations with the Putney, direct-to-tape, with no other processing or manipulation.  These “etudes,” as I called them, are firmly rooted in the “free-improv” scene of the time, but I sought to create a compositional coherence with each one.  (Some succeed more than others…)  I remain unaccountably fond of this stuff and have wanted to share it more widely.  Recently, I began to wonder how other composers of my acquaintance might respond to this raw and decidedly raucous sonic mayhem.  So I am placing these samples in high-res sound files (96k/24bit) on Soundcloud, for your perusal and downloading pleasure.  If you are moved to use this source material to create a “tape piece,” I will include your work in a collection on Irritable Hedgehog’s Bandcamp site, which will also feature the original improvisations.  There are no restrictions as to length or how you use it.  Re-mix, re-mash.  Add beats.  Subtract overtones.  Overdub guitar solos.  Layer in twelve tubas.  Put it in a blender and hit “frappé.”  Whether your approach is subtle and sophisticated or brute-force and grungy, it’s all good.  There’s over an hour’s-worth of this material available; use as much or as little as you’d like.

As I’m always interested in this kind of project I wrote back with an immediate yes and began contemplating what to do. Last week I began to work in earnest on an idea. I’m going to make a new piece simply by slicing apart one of his etudes and shuffling the pieces around. The slices will be small and many will repeat, giving my piece a glitchy click-n-cut kinda feel. The slices will be managed by a patch I’m building in MaxMSP. The patch is almost finished. Soon I will be able to begin shaping the music into its final form. Stay tuned for updates.

This is the original etude that I’m mangling:

and here is a sampling of what my patch can do to it:

Putney remix sample 1

It’s still rough, but I like where this is going.

Dinner with Eleanor

Last night we had our friend Eleanor over for dinner. I used this chance to break out my Arabian cookbook and try some new recipes:

Carrots with Cumin and Garlic

 

Shredded Cucumber and Mint Salad

 

Chilled Pasta and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onion

 

Bulgar Wheat with Peppers, Tomatoes & Scallions

 

We also served two dishes not from the cookbook:

Brined & Roasted Pork Loin

 

and JoLayne’s excellent Peach Cobbler

 

 

now back to the music.

Two new Love Songs Project tracks are ready for your ears:

I’ve been making some headway on my Love Songs Project again and have two new tracks for your listening pleasure.

The first is Summer, from poetry by Anne Cammon Fiero. This is the song that started the whole project. It features performances by Shabana Tajwar (soprano) and Vladimir Katz (piano).

Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

In a hot country (Anne Cammon Fiero)
A languid afternoon
in heat
that feels like summer.

I turn on the fan and stretch
across the bed. Listening
to its subtle crooked whir,
I wonder if fans
become unscrewed
from their hinges.

Through the thin rectangular screen,
I watch the same tree
I’ve watched
for months.

Though as always with spring in a hot country
it seems the leaves have burst like flames
upon branches
that appeared as though dead.

 

My Husband is the other new song. This one is from poetry by Iris Berman. I composed this in collaboration with Eleanor Dubinsky, a great singer/songwriter who also performs on this track. She and I have begun working on another track for this project, plus are collaborating on several other songs. Stay tuned for more on that.

Sonnet 144
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still,
The better angel is a man right fair:
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
To win me soon to hell my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil:
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turned fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell,
But being both from me both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another’s hell.
Yet this shall I ne’er know but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

 

I Wish  (Iris Berman)
I wish my husband would cry in front of me
Instead he puts on a stoic face
He is the rock, protector of his property,
The one to save our family
From major and minor disgrace
He is my Man Of The Hour, Man Of The Day
I just wish he would share his pain
He does let it out at work, in the office,
Where he never misses a day
That’s what his co-workers say
He tells them how he worries about my ill health
How he’s afraid the two of us will never be the same
But once at home, he puts on a smiley face
Then a kiss on the cheek, a quick embrace.

What kind of music do I compose? (in 30 seconds or less…)

I keep going back and forth on PR. Some days I feel invigorated and ready to tackle it, though I’m not always sure of the best approach. Then other days I get overwhelmed and want nothing to do with it, even though I really need to.

So… I’m going to take the time to build a solid PR strategy, one little step at a time.

The first step is to write a 30 second description of who I am and what I do (the ol’ elevator pitch). For me, the key will coming up with an answer to the question “What kind of music do you write?”. This is a question I’m asked a lot but routinely fumble.

Here are some answers I do have (from different places online):

my twitter profile says: Experimental electronica, acoustic chamber music, and everything in between.
It’s fine, but it’s a dodge.

my 50 word bio (for various programs): David Morneau is a composer of an entirely undecided genre, a provider of exclusive unprecedented experiments. In his work he endeavors to explore ideas about our culture, issues concerning creativity, and even the very nature of music itself.
It’s kind of cool, but too detached and vague. I’d like to keep “entirely undecided genre” if I can. It’s true, and it’s not overused the way that many other genre-crossing/melding/spanning terms can be.

I saw this on a  Soundcloud profile: Classical pianist went from Bach to Trance and found a calling in progressive music which led to a journey underground into dubstep (with a classical twist to it).
I like the spirit of this. It paints a pretty good picture of what to expect while outlining the artist’s story.

 

So… now I ask you: What kind of music do I compose? Please help me brainstorm. Everything from simple phrases to full-blown treatises are welcome.