Category Archives: Composing

The Rubber Necker, Bach and Mozetich

Sometimes driving and listening to the radio I have heard things which caused my brain to explode and had to pull over for everyone’s safety. It happened one time with Bach – I heard it! What previously I took for modern was made completely teensy weensy because he was improvising with four voices and remaining melodic and that was 350 years ago.


It happened another time with the Danielson Family. I couldn’t figure out how the main singer, Daniel, did with his voice what he was doing. As it turns out that is just how he naturally sings – all elements together made for a car accident if I didn’t pull over and quietly enjoy this masterpiece.


And then last week – poof – this came on. I tracked down Julie Nesrallah and she completely understood my problem.


String Survey


I started writing a string quartet in April, now there’s 4 of of them bugging me to complete them and set them free.

I haven’t a clue how long they should be and there’s a bunch of string techniques I am also clueless about. If you care to listen and give me feedback I would appreciate it.

These are in the order I wrote them.

Haydn String Quartet Opus 64 #5


I’m studying this and find myself wondering about Haydn’s mind and the way it ebbs and flows. How the 1st violin is set up initially to grab our ear like a rock star but that doesn’t seem to be the intent throughout.

In fact it seems like he gave sensitive attention to utilizing everybody like they are one painting and this leaves me wondering if Haydn’s mind worked like that or if he started with one instrument in particular …or maybe he just kept shifting his attention. I don’t know, don’t know if anyone knows.

So I wrote to a random smattering of classically trained friends on Facebook and asked them what they thought was going on for Haydn.

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I think he heard the melody first then distributed the harmony among parts

Honestly? I think he wrote the viola line first and turned that into a thing with the cello and then put the violin on top as an afterthought. The accomapaniment on that track is just so strong! The beauty of string quartet writing is that it’s easy to sound it out just with a piano and pen and your brain, much easier than larger ensemble stuff

I wouldn’t necessarily know Hayden’s process but I suspect some of it was written melody down. Melody then harmonizing it with various counterpoint lines. But some of it would be written all at once. True Classical period music is pretty rigid in its form so he wouldn’t stray too far from certain norms of harmony.

That’s the question! Thanks for coming to me even thinking I’ve got the answer. I can tell you that in my own writing, I rarely think it terms of harmonies and counterpuntal lines right off the bat. I usually blend them in after pounding the hell out of a line over and over. Melodies seem to come easily to me and usually make their way into my work over time. As for the greats like Haydn, I’m pretty sure they were not as one dimensional as I.

And during all that I worked at this thing below until I couldn’t take being nice any longer. You can probably tell when that happens…then where should it go?