Tag Archives: music

Music 548: Ragtag 1

There’s no story today! I used to post lots of music but haven’t posted any here since 6th December 2022. That doesn’t mean to say I haven’t been composing (decomposing). In fact this year I’ve written about 33 pieces (mainly for piano).

So to break the cycle of not-posting music, here is a recent piece of music. It is called Ragtag 1, and is almost ragtime!

Ragtag 1

If you wish to hear other compositions of this year (plus links to other years) go to:

Music Compositions 2023

Thanks! See you tomorrow with another story!

Music 547: The Holly and the Ivy

Today is the birthday of a person of little significance. To celebrate here’s a traditional Christmas carol I arranged for oboe, Bb clarinet, and piano.

Feel free to get out your oboe and play along!

The Holly and the Ivy – audio HERE; sheet music HERE

Music 486-546: All sorts

The last posting of music was on July 14th. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been composing (or decomposing). The problem is that I have written so much music since then that I’m going to post it all at once in a big block! That way I do not expect anyone to listen to it. But it will serve as part of a fulsome catalogue which this blog partly exists for.

The link will take any clicker to another page that had copious links to both the written music and the audio. For example if you want the written music to play on a clarinet then it’s there – although really you should learn to play the clarinet first.

The list of links includes:

Piano Sonata No. 7 in 3 movements for piano
6 Little Dances for piano
4 Humoresques for piano
3 Badineries for piano
24 Miniatures (one in every major and minor key) for piano
4 trios for 2 clarinets and piano
5 Rustic Dances
A couple of Christmas Carols arranged for piano

Click HERE to get to the page of links.

2550. Ethnomusicology

A true story to celebrate round figure Story Number 2550.

In my younger years I was teaching fulltime and trying to complete a music degree in between classes. I would turn up to class with a banana, teach about Wuthering Heights or Richard the Third or something, and the minute the class was over I’d leap into the car, and eat the banana for lunch while driving off to my university lecture. Choice of music papers studied was largely dictated by what was available when I wasn’t teaching. In this particular year I was taking An Introduction to Ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology is the study of non-Western music and this particular year it focused on the music of Polynesia.

The lecturer was Allan Thomas. He once stopped me in the corridor and said, “Bruce, have you ever thought of coming to university full-time and learning something?” Just so you can envisage the time scale, the New Zealand academic year runs roughly from February to November. Around March Allan Thomas announced that there would be no examination at the end of the year but everyone must submit a detailed study on an approved topic about Polynesian music.

I continued to attend lectures, but the detailed study on an approved topic somehow went on the back-burner. I used to try and avoid Allan Thomas outside of lecture times. It was September. I still hadn’t had a topic approved; in fact, I still didn’t have a topic. And there, coming along the corridor with no side corridors to escape into, was Allan Thomas!

“Bruce,” he said stopping me, “what’s the topic you’ve been studying this year on Polynesian music?”

“Oh!” I exclaimed, saying the first thing that came into my head, “Jock McEwen is helping me with it.”

“Jock McEwen!” said Allan Thomas. “That’s wonderful! We’ve been trying to get information out of him for years!”

My heart fell. Jock McEwen was an old Maori local man who knew absolutely everything about New Zealand Maori music. He was the guru of gurus. I went home having leaped from the frying pan into the fire. What to do?

I went to see the local priest whom I knew to be a great friend of Jock McEwen. He said he’d see Mr. McEwen and explain the situation. I waited. Back came the answer.

A local Maori woman known as Aunty Dovey (“Aunty” being a title of respect for older Maori women in New Zealand) had composed songs all her life and they had been recorded but never written down. They had never been copyrighted. The Greek singer, Nana Mouskouri had released a new LP and some of Aunty Dovey’s songs were on it. So too had the Australian singer, Rolf Harris. Would I write down the music of all of Aunty Dovey’s songs so they could be copyrighted? I was given recordings of her songs. Incidentally, Aunty Dovey’s full name was Hera Katene-Horvath but she was known as “Aunty Dovey”.

The day the assignment was due had passed. I had been up all night transcribing. In the morning I drove to Wellington where I knew Allan Thomas lived. I would leave the manuscripts in his mailbox.

There at the mailbox was a woman. I explained that I had an assignment for Allan Thomas. She said he was her husband. She would give him the assignment. What was the topic?

“Oh!” said I. “I have transcribed the music of Aunty Dovey’s songs.”

There was a stunned silence. The woman’s name was Jennifer Shennan. She was a well-known choreographer and dancer. She was doing her doctoral thesis on the dance movements of Aunty Dovey’s songs, but had never been able to get hold of the written music – only the recordings. This was a God-send!

Meantime she had missed her bus. A tom-cat had pee-ed on her woven flax bag at the mailbox. Could I drive her to her studio in downtown Wellington? Off we went with the stinking tom-cat-pee-ridden woven bag held out the window.

Oh! And I got an A+ for the paper!

Music 485: Piano Sonata No. 6

Here is a piano sonata in 3 movements. It is “serial music” – a 20th century style – so it might not be to everyone’s taste! I’ve just finished it and wanted to post it to be “complete” for the postings finish in 9 or 10 days or so when the stories get to Number 2500.

1st Movement – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
2nd Movement – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
3rd Movement – audio HERE; sheet music HERE

Music 482-484: Three Caprices for piano

Good morning! Here are three caprices for the piano.

A caprice is just what it is – whatever that is. Have a nice day! I’m going now to try to think up a story for tomorrow…

Caprice 1 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
Caprice 2 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
Caprice 3 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE

Music 475-478: Four little almost waltzes

There will be music postings for today and the two days that follow, and then we will be back to normal!

Here are four waltzes (almost) for piano. A couple of them have been posted here before in a different context, e.g. “His first waltz” was part of “Little Suite 2 with fifteen sketches”.

They’re “almost” waltzes because the third one would require two and a half legs to dance to.

Here then are “Four little almost waltzes”:

1. The night’s still young – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
2. His first waltz – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
3. Almost a waltz – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
 4. The wallflower – audio HERE; sheet music HERE

Music 474: Rondo adagio

We continue the streak of no-stories today while we catch up with some music postings.

Today’s music is called Rondo adagio. For those who don’t know and have wondered all their life what a Rondo is, it’s when the original tune (Section A) keeps coming back. So the form of a Rondo is something like: Tune A, Tune B, Tune A, Tune C, Tune A.

Here then is Rondo adagio. Click HERE for the audio, and HERE for the sheet music.

Music 466-473: A Little Night Music

8 Nocturnes for piano

Once again there is no story today, as we catch up on posting music.

Here are 8 Nocturnes for piano. Appropriately, tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, so a little night music from the Southern Hemisphere is not out of place.

                Nocturne 1 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 2 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 3 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 4 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 5 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 6 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 7 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
                Nocturne 8 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE


Music 462-465: Four Landscapes for Oboe and Piano

As the world nears the denouement of this blog planned to occur at the appearance of the 2500th story in a month or so there are a few things that have got a bit muddled over time. To tidy things up and lend an air of completeness to this blog there are a few things I will post over the next few days. The area that has suffered through lack of posting is the music sphere in particular.

So if I may, I shall post the music compositions of 2022AD that I failed to post. That way I can say in the end “It is done!”

One of the things that stops me from posting music is that I feel it is a nuisance to the readers who come here expecting a story. So if you are here for stories please come back in six or seven days once I have rid myself of these musical encumbrances. Also if you are a regular commentator please don’t feel any obligation to comment.

By now you must be beginning to decipher that I have a substantial inferiority complex! Perhaps the music posted today – called “Four Landscapes for Oboe and Piano” – might point to my propensity for solitariness. Perhaps the real me is hidden in these four pieces!

Here then are “Four Landscapes for Oboe and Piano”:

             Landscape 1 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
             Landscape 2 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
             Landscape 3 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE
             Landscape 4 – audio HERE; sheet music HERE