Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Swell Season

Mari and I rarely agree on what movies to rent. We usually settle for romantic comedies- preferably ones set in New York City. There are surprisingly(for me)quite a few good movies in this category. Recently we watched "Once" and I was blown away. I loved the music- especially the title track "Falling"- little did I know that the main actors actully wrote and performed the music.
This morning on my walk to work I was listening to NPR's All Songs Considered's "The 50 Most Important Recordings of the Decade" and I happened to hear "Falling." So as soon as I got to work I did a little research and discovered "The Swell Season" a band consisting of Glen Hansard on guitar and vocals and Marketa Irglova on piano and vocals. They are amazing!
I've been practicing like a crazy man for a concert on December 12th so I don't really have any composing time until after the concert. So I've been recharging- on the lookout for great earth shattering moving shaking music. Recently I've been listening to Josh Ritter's "Girl in a War" and Charles Ives' "Holiday Symphony"
Luka has also been charming me with his homemade international lyrical and melodic stylings based on the classics such as "Twinkle Twinkle" and the Ultraman theme song.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Puppet Show and Duet

It's warming up and I'm finally able to wake up early to get more quality writing done. I've recently been commissioned to write some music for a Puppet Show based here in Nagoya, it's a cute little show for kids based on the story of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff". We are also talking about a feature length show with a string quartet based on "The Little Mermaid" for adults- we'll see how that goes...

I'm also working on another guitar duet based on the past lives I've supposedly lived. Each movement is based on one life. So far, I've heard of about 4 past lives. They are each interesting in their own right.

The first movement of the piece is based on life as a venetian merchant with a taste for fine wine and spices. It's highly ornamented and in it I want to portray our man gliding down the canals of Venice triumphantly with his treasures secured safely in the boat.

The second movement of the piece is based on life as a buddhist nun living in the mountains of northern Japan in the late 1800's. She had lived a hard life and finally decided to become a nun as most women who had hard lives and no other place to go often did. Near the end of her life she began to dream about being reborn as a man in a place as far away as possible from Japan. In this movement I want to capture the image of her on high ragged cliffs looking off into the vast and desolate ocean.

The third movement is based on life as a native-conflict-resolution-specialist or peace-Man if you will. This movment is very rhythmic, in it I want to depict a sort of imagined ritualistic dance based loosely on Native American-esque rhythms.

The possible intermezzo movement is based on life as a WW2-era artist who loses all of his co-conspirators in art to the war. In this movement I thought I would write a sort of modernist/serialist experimental piece.

In the final movement I wanted to write as if a I were a rocker writing classical music. David Byrne wrote a quartet called "High Life for Nine Instruments." It's a lot of fun and very repetitive in a very rocker writing classical music way. Also the soundtrack for "There Will be Blood" was written by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead it also has the same sort of rocker characteristics and also a rawness that's immediate and accesible. It's a subtle difference but I'd like to try it. I often think about Kurt Cobain's comment that all he was trying to do was imitate a Pixies song- maybe that's what we're all trying to do.

Friday, May 8, 2009

October Dream-Jason Taylor Quartet in Osaka

You should fast forward through the preliminaries to get to the good stuff;)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

October Dream

The Osaka Guitar Quartet performing my piece "October Dream." I have a video of myself performing this piece when I had long hair- I'll post it if I can find it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lyrics?!! Crying seafowl?

Do fish cry? I just finished writing two pieces for piano and two sopranos. I wrote the words to one of the songs and the other is based on a haiku by Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. The jury still isn't in on my lyrics but the Basho poem has wonderful imagery of a fish's eyes filled with tears.
Vocal music can be so difficult because of those pesky little words and their pesky meanings. I often start out wanting to write a certain kind of piece and then find a poem I love to set to music only to realize that the poem dictates a certain type of music different from the music I wanted to write. On top of that, even if I wanted to use a modern text say something written in the past 75 years then I'd have to get copyright permission. So then I think maybe I should just write a vocalise(a song without words) but that sort of defeats the purpose. There's also the problem that most poetry stands just fine on its own- it really doesn't need any music muddying it up. I love Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas' poetry but I could never set them to music- they're work is just so perfect as it is. So, I decided to write a short text and repeat it over and over out of context so that the meaning of the words become secondary and subservient to the whole. Haikus work brilliantly as they are so open to interpretation.
Oh and here's a little bit of trivia about Basho- he was supposedly a ninja in diguise as a travelling poet- take that in your pipe and smoke it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Luka saw his first movie over the weekend "Yatter-man"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

and you thought you could only get it at communion

I found this new dietary supplement yesterday at the drugstore.

Rolfe's Barber Shop