I hope you are staying safe and healthy during these crazy times after a virus has turned the whole world upside down. You might even be feeling a little bit blue. I know I have felt that way more than once! Before this coronavirus unleashed itself on the world I was already getting blue……into blues music that is, so the timing of this world situation is ironic. Anyway, I’ve found blues music to both acknowledge pain and misfortune, but also bring hope and joy.
The blues has always fascinated, captivated and resonated with me. My friend Michael, when hearing me say that told me, “Well, yeah, it’s just good music.” That’s definitely true. It’s got groove, feeling and truth. And in spite of it being “blue” I think there is a happiness and sense of hope that is entwined with the blues.
I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and spent a significant amount of time visiting relatives in Chicago, one of America’s blues powerhouse cities. Fort Wayne is also not far from Detroit, the home of much awesome R&B music put out by Motown. So I was steeped in this wonderful sonic brew by virtue of just being there.
I think the blues touches something in all of us, no matter our ethnic or economic background. Everyone goes through trials and tribulations, hope and disappointment of one form or another. And to me, the blues is one way of dealing with that and connecting it to something universal – music – as a way to work through it in a therapeutic way, even if you don’t realize it. Music is therapeutic. But besides all of that, it’s just plain fun.
And recently, because of my ongoing attraction to the blues, and a desire to learn more deeply about some of the primary blues artists, and needing to start somewhere since there are so many artists and styles I decided to begin with “the kings”….BB, Albert and Freddie. I’m also a big, big fan of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan and I knew that the kings were big influences on EC and SRV.
Having said all of that, stay tuned for more as I venture down this blue highway!
It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been kind of busy running my full time, non-music, day-job business. I was also busy this past year doing something new: Composing and arranging a piece for full orchestra: The orchestral release of Mary’s Gift Symphony
The project kicked off over a year ago.
I Decided to write a piece for full orchestra inspired by my song Mary’s Gift, which is a song about the miracle of the first Christmas.
I sketched out the structure and wrote the initial harmonic arrangement on the plane while flying to Europe and back and fleshed it out over several months afterwards.
Mary’s Gift begins with a timpani roll and cymbal crash symbolic of the arrival and appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary. But after this angelic entrance heralded by the timpani, the violins come in pianississimo and crescendo followed by a solo flute as Gabriel speaks gently to the virgin Mary.
Then the entire violin section plays and begins telling the story of the Holy Family and the Nativity. As the music continues the telling of the story rotates among each section of the orchestra.
Since then, I have been able to publish the conductor’s score and instrument parts with Sheet Music Plus. So….If you are interested in having an orchestra that you are involved with play Mary’s Gift, you may purchase the complete package over there at Sheet Music Plus. There is an MP3 plus a video of the music playing as it scrolls through the score.
Next, I will play for you a synthesized version of Mary’s Gift for orchestra. You can also catch this on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital music distributors.
Links to all of these places are in the show notes below.
Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you next time!
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Evergreen Community Orchestra has three holiday Christmas concerts, Carols and Classics, on the docket the next two weeks, beginning this Saturday. I will be playing bass for the most part, but also get to do a little guitar debut along with the string section playing Away in a Manger.
In addition, this has been a well kept secret up to now, I have been working on and finished an orchestral arrangement of my song, “Mary’s Gift”, and it’s “world premiere” will be on Sunday, December 15th with the Evergreen Community Orchestra playing my composition! After the concert performance I will be working on publishing the score and instrument parts and making them available for purchase on this site.
When and Where
So….If you are in the Seattle area, come on out to one of these shows. It’s all free! There are three concerts to choose from:
I’m very excited to make this secret project public today: I have a new CD released this week that is, believe it or not, called Bluesy Bach & Friends and you can order it from CD Baby.
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Arioso Für Elise
A Little Night Music
The CD Bluesy Bach & Friends takes great compositions from the masters Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig Beethoven and Amadeus Mozart and reinterprets them with a bluesy groove with jazz and classic rock influences.
Bluesy Bach & Friends was produced, recorded and mixed at Pamaku Music Studios, Seattle WA. Recorded on a MacBook Pro using Logic Pro X. Graphic design and layout with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Thank you to everyone who supports my music. Bluesy Bach and Friends was recorded on Ibanez Artcore Expressionist and Fender Modern Player Marauder electric guitars, a Schecter Stargazer electric bass, an Eastman double bass and a Big Island tenor ukulele.
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring was my first venture into rearranging Bach to take on a blues groove. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” is, per Wikipedia, “is the most common English title of a piece of music derived from the 10th and last movement of the cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”), composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1716 and 1723.”
Bach scored this piece for choir, trumpet, violin, optionally oboe, viola, and basso continuo. My arrangement is scored for scored for four electric guitars, violin 1, violin 2, viola and cello, contrabass, electric bass 1, electric bass 2, timpani and two drum kits. The guitar plays the violin 1 melody and the double bass plays the choir lines. A preview of the score and the full score are available for purchase in the sheet music store.
The second release in my “Bluesy Bach” project, was Ave Maria. This is based on the Bach/Gounod version of Ave Maria originally titled in French, Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach. Gounod merged his melody for Ave Maria over Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846.
Gounod’s arrangement originally was composed for violin or cello with piano and harmonium. In my arrangement for Bluesy Bach of course I have drums, electric guitar playing the melody along with clavinet (thinking of you Stevie Wonder!), celesta and electric bass. I hope you like it and I hope the Blessed Mother will be pleased. The Latin and English translation of Ave Maria is shown below.
Áve María, grátia pléna,
Benedícta tū in muliéribus,
et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus.
Sáncta María, Máter Déi,
óra pro nóbis peccatóribus,
nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae. Ámen.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
This “Bluesy Bach” adventure took me into ukulele land with the release of Bachulele Minuet.
Johann Sebastian Bach gave two notebooks of music to his wife, Anna Magdalena. The second notebook of 1725 contains a number of compositions from various composers of the time that were favorites of the Bach family. Included in the notebook is Menuett, BWV Anhang 114, popularly known as Minuet in G major, which became focus of my attention in my ongoing “Bluesy Bach” series of recordings. This recording is my own unique approach to this piece which I hope you enjoy. By the way, during my research on this song I learned that for many years this Minuet (Menuette in French) was ascribed to JS Bach, however it is now attributed to Christian Petzold.
You might also want to check out the song “A Lover’s Concerto”, which was based on the Minuet in G major. The song was recorded by the girl group The Toys and reached number 2 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Arioso Für Elise
Arioso Für Elise was released as “Opus 4” in my series of “Bluesy Bach” recordings. With this recording I expanded the title from “Bluesy Bach” to “Bluesy Bach and Friends”. In this tune I combined elements from Beethoven’s “Für Elise” with Bach’s “Arioso”.
The Arioso a sinfonia from Bach’s Cantata BWV 156. In German is titled, “Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe” (I am standing with one foot in the grave). BWV 156 is a cantata for church that Bach composed for the third Sunday after Epiphany and first performed it on January 23, 1729.
Beethoven’s Für Elise (Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59, Bia 515)) was not published during his lifetime. It was actually not discovered until about 40 years after Beethoven’s death. There has been much debate on exactly who “Elise” might have been. At any rate, it is a delightful melody and has been very popular for good reason.
My arrangement used electric guitar (Ibanez Artcore Expressionist semi-hollow body), Hammond organ, drums and percussion. The tracking was recorded with Logic Pro X digital audio workstation. Mastering was performed by SoundLAB. I would like to thank my friend Michael Powers for arranging and mixing assistance.
A Little Night Music
A Little Night Music was my Mozart Eine Kleine Nachtmusik project and this recording is of the first movement: I – Allegro. My version is essentially a rock quartet, with guitar, bass, organ and drums with jazz and blues-rock influences. This is definitely one of my longer recordings, clocking in at about 8 minutes 20 seconds. I arranged and recorded this because I like what Mozart did and wanted to experience his music through my own interpretation.
The Eine Kleine Nactmusik ringtone is here. I created a ringtone for Bluesy Bach Opus 5 – Eine Kleine Nactmusik and so…….Here is the free link for the mp3 version. But…..YOU can help support independent music creation, by going to my music store page and buy the ringtone that is already in the Apple .m4r format. Once you are there please BUY things for ANY amount you choose to pay. All payments may be done SECURELY through PayPal.