Dave’s Music

Here is where I am putting any of my original music.


So called “art music”.

The Snow [3’12”]

for Chorus and Orchestra (1111-222[1BT]0-Hrp-Strings)

Lyrics: “Snow-Flakes” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Composed August 2011

I have had this as a sketch for a while called “chamber 1”. It was going to be a choral with orchestra piece from the beginning, but I had no lyrics. I hate doing lyrics of my own as I never feel they are worthwhile. So I look to others. The piece sat for a while, until I finished movement 6 of “Mother Road”, and wanted a diversionary piece before going back to work on it. So I looked for a poem along a winter theme (which was also part of the sketch) and found these three verses from Longfellow. I worked on the harmonies and settings and now have a lovely piece. I may explore extending this into a series of choral/orchestral pieces with the same instrumentation.

String Quartet no. 2, E minor[4’18”]

for string quartet

Composed November 2010

This was started as a diversionary piece from Mother Road, when I was getting sick of looking at it. I wanted to indulge the “minimalism” that I feel is an influence on my work: As such, this piece sounds an awful lot like John Adams, Steve Reich, and (grr…) Phillip Glass, etc. I enjoy the tambre and energy of minimalist work, though I’m trying to emulate Adams’ style of injecting a bit of late Romanticism into it. I had some fun with pizzicato and “thumping” the instrument bodies.

Mother Road [34′ 00″]

Symphonic Suite for orchestra (2[pic.]222-4331-tmp,glo,xylo,perc-pno-strings)

I came up with the conceptual framework of “Mother Road” when searching for a thematic idea for a large work. I followed the car trip of a friend moving to LA, and recalled my own trip across old Route 66. From there I conceived of several scenes that I could use as guiding ideas for the work.  The long process of getting the entire piece composed is due to the piecemeal approach of an hour here, a few hours there.  Even though the piece seems short for a work over 18 months in composing, being a part time composer means getting to it when you can.

1. Road Trip [2′ 50″]

Composed May 2012

The opening movement is a summary of themes used in the rest of the work. Consequently it was the last item composed as I wanted the music to be informed by all that went before it. It is, sort of, the entire succeeding piece in reverse: The main fanfare is reminiscent of the last movement, and we hear bits from the other movements in ascending order.

2. Chicagoland [5′ 02″]

Composed September 2010

This movement is the second movement, after an overture-style opening movement. It depicts the starting point of the journey on the shore of Lake Michigan, and the music depicts the city as we start the journey – busy, frenetic, contemplative, majestic.

3. Mississippi Valley [6′ 27″]

Composed July 2011

After a long hiatus, the next movement is presented. The movement centers on two themes: The first is a moving, sweeping section that connotes getting onto the open roads away from the urban sprawl. It then elides into the second theme, a lilting 3/4 that represents the Mississippi River, the first major continental barrier on our journey. UPDATE 7/10/2011: I’ve reworked a few parts of this: The ending is in a new key, the transition into it has been altered a bit, and the transition from the end of the first part into the solo piano has been altered a bit.

4. The Plains [6′ 41″]

Composed May 2012

The long-suffering fourth movement was actually started in April of 2011, with rudimentary themes worked out. It sat on the back burner while movements 3 and 6 were finished. Busy life meant it had to wait, and the ending is, to me, a bit abrupt, as I was tired of working on it. The end result is the most rhythmically complex of the movements, and the one that borrows heavily on Coplandesque styling to evoke the wide stretches of land. A languid midsection is a reference to one of the most beautiful sunrises ever in Amarillo, TX.

5. Mojave [4′ 56″]

Composed October 2010

Movement 5, “Mojave” is influenced by the long stretches of the west.  At times barren and mesmerizing, but at other times majestic and beautiful.  The music is bounded by more atmospheric and “avant-garde” (whatever that means), while the middle is monolithic and modal.

6. Golden State [8′ 05″]

Composed August 2011

Probably the most grandiose section, and the section I have been working on the longest. This movement picks up the dying strings from “Mojave” and introduces a Copland-like melodic line, illustrating the transition from the open, barren desert to patches of green grass, trees, and small towns. The melody develops as we continue west through California. We soon reach San Bernardino, which begins a stretch where rolling green gives way to urban sprawl (and dangerous highways). The music returns to the driving pulse heard in “Chicagoland”, building to a shouting climax. We then reach the Pacific, announced with a brass fanfare, then a lilting melody representing the waves of the sea. Soon we restate the Golden State theme, and end the movement (and the piece) with a bold finale.

A Green Walk [5′ 36″]

for orchestra (3[pic.]3[c.ang.]3[b.cl.]3[c.bsn.]-4331-tmp,glo,xylo,perc-harp-strings)

Composed December 2009

This piece started life as the second movement of a planned symphony. Unfortunately I couldn’t sustain doing the entire piece, so this single movement is now a stand-alone orchestral work. It’s named “A Green Walk” as the imagery I was using was of a walk in a green countryside, so it works.

My apologies for the dubious quality of the MP3; my transcoder does not do a great job. It sounds fine in the raw WAV file, but I don’t want anyone downloading 50+MB for my stuff!

Coplandesque [3′ 50″]

for orchestra (2222-4331-tmp,glo,cym-harp-strings)

Composed October 2009

This is my first “original” composition in many years. It’s not very “serious”, in that I didn’t do lots of sketches or really plan out the structure. This is sort of a “compositional noodling”; I found a theme, developed a basic harmonic structure, gave it a B section, built it on a rudimentary arch-like structure, and bobs your uncle. This was more to satisfy my composing itch, and to get back into thinking ensemble, trying to combine instrument timbres into something that sounds OK. I’m using this to get my chops in order so I can tackle a longer form work for orchestra that I’d wanted to write for a while.

The City [3′ 17″]

for piano, four hands

Composed 1989,90 (2009)

“The City” was an early piece from college, but one that I always felt was “finished”, in that it took the idea at its core and developed it and feels complete. While it’s “experimental” (with the shifting time signatures and non-triadic harmony for the most part) I do like the feel. The finished piece has always lived as two octavos, one for each part, outside of notes. I sat down and did a nice conversion into a unified score with both parts on the same octavo. The audio here is generated from the notation software, but I also have a live performance from 1990 during a PSU Composer’s Concert that I’d have to extract from good ol’ cassette tape. Two other interesting things: My brother Bill (who’s written a couple things himself) once scored this piece for mallet percussion: I may have to get his notes and try it out! The other is that this work for piano is, fittingly and totally by coincidence, 88 measures long.


Music arranged for ensembles, not necessarily original.

Lansdale Catholic HS Fight Song [0′ 30″]

for marching band (small)

Composed September(?) 1996

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing [2′ 08″]

for concert band and SAB chorus

Composed November(?) 1996

These two pieces were written during my one-year tenure as music instructor for Lansdale Catholic HS, which had a small cadre of students who made modest vocal and instrumental ensembles. The fight song was a directive from the president of the school who wanted to resurrect the old school fight song from years back (my mom, an LCHS grad, recalls the tune from her days there). I did this arrangement from the melody line supplied to me, and scored it to best accommodate the odd, unbalanced instrumentation we had (I did fill out the score with other instruments that we did not have, mostly doubling what we did). The song sounded good, and we played it after every LCHS score at football games. I don’t believe I have a recording of this piece performed by the band, but the output from the notation software is actually pretty close to how it sounded.

“Hark” was arranged to make a closing piece for our winter concert where we could combine both the vocal and instrumental ensembles. Setting a Christmas tune is a no-brainer, and I scored the instruments to best suit our makeup (but trying to double to all the concert band instruments, minus the uncommon band instruments like double reeds, alto clarinet, etc.) The other advantage to using a common carol is having the audience participate, mostly to bolster the vocal lines – I’ve since discovered that this is a common ploy by music directors help redirect their audiences from a less than spectacular performance. I do have a recording of this performance on cassette, and may post it once I have the ability to get it on digital.

LCHS Fight Song

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

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