Scott Blasco – “Queen of Heaven”

Scott Blasco's work "Queen of Heaven" is a devotional-type meditation for piano and electronics.


Kyle Grimm – Pitchforks and Crow’s Feet

Kyle Grimm's music spans the gamut of media and instrumentation.  A double bassist and dance collaborator, he also has experience working with ensembles and other performers.  This is evident in his work "Pitchforks and Crow's Feet". The score can be found here: Pitchforks and Crow's Feet for Flute, Cello, and Bass. This work relies heavily …

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Gísli Magnússon – Svartifoss

It seems more and more that Iceland is becoming a haven for new music and new sounds in Hartford, CT.  From the influence of Bjork to the Hartt School's international collaborations, the music of Iceland is seeping deeper into the Hartford area.  Gísli Magnússon's piece Svartifoss depicts a waterfall in his native Iceland, and is …

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Aaron Mencher -“Uncertainly Yours”

Composer Aaron Mencher's work "Uncertainly Yours" is a very cohesive work that relies on intervallic tightness, but is extremely fluid and athematic.  Please download his score to follow along with this analysis. Here is the audio: The piece begins with the unifying interval that holds this piece tightly together, despite its arhythmicism and themelessness.  The …

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Proportional Notation (Tool #59)

One trap that is easy to fall into as a composer is the rigidity of rhythm, meter, and barlines.  While these are good tools to use when constructing a piece, sometimes a true sense of line requires that you write music that is free from strict rhythm, meter, and barlines.  This allows your music to …

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Meaning in Mahler Symphony No. 1 (Part 3)

(Chart referenced in this post) Meaning in Symphony No. 1 Titles and Program As we see in the chart taken from Mitchell’s writings, the original title of the symphony was “Symphonic Poem” in two parts. Parts I and II were indicated, but not explicitly titled. The other movements were given brief titles. We know that …

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Meaning in Mahler Symphony No. 1 (Part 2)

(Chart referenced in this post) Compositional History of Symphony No. 1 Most sources agree that Mahler wrote the majority of this symphony between January 20, 1888 and the end of March that year.[1] At this time, Mahler was a proponent of creating music based on building blocks—arranging and rearranging structures (especially pre-existing ones) to create …

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Meaning in Mahler Symphony No. 1 (Part 1)

(Chart referenced in this post) Introduction Gustav Mahler is recognized as one of the greatest composers for the symphony orchestra, taking command of that medium during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His remarkable talent for orchestration and his innovative approach to form make his music inextricably linked to the development of orchestral composition …

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Metric Modulation Calculator – Update!

Hi All, Thanks to the handiwork of Enrico Dell'Aquila (who can be found here:, my metric modulation calculator can be found here: No more need to use a spreadsheet or download anything, and we have graphical output and an easy-to-use interface. Enjoy! Dan

Metric Modulation Calculator

Hi All, I have created a metric modulation calculator!  This allows you to calculate tempos of metric modulations, including modulations using dotted notes and tuplets.  Click here to download my metric modulation calculator for free (Excel or compatible program required). The calculator relates to this former post, where I explain metric modulation. UPDATE: This is …

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Video – Copying just what you want in Finale

I'm starting to experiment with video posts/tips.  Here is my first one: Are there any other topics you would like turned into videos?  I am well-versed in composition, electric guitar, music production, Finale, Logic X, and will be fluent in MetaSynth at the end of this semester.  I also know a little bit of …

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Tool #47: Writing Tuplets Idiomatically (“Correctly”)

Modern music seems to have engineered an explosion in rhythmic notation, in particular the use of tuplets.  Performers are increasingly used to things such as 11 notes in the space of 8, dotted rhythms in tuplets, and nested tuplets (tuplets-within-tuplets), for a few examples.  Yet, is there a way to notate tuplets accurately and idiomatically, …

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Tool #44: Beaming Complex Rhythms

Anyone who has worked with live performers knows that notational accuracy and clarity are incredibly important.  If your notation is unclear, or even not crystal clear (even when indicating indeterminate elements of a composition), valuable rehearsal time is lost and performer morale is lowered.  If you don't take the time to notate specifically and clearly, …

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Tool #26: 10 Finale Keyboard Commands You Should Know

I'd like to devote this post to a basic topic: 10 basic keyboard commands in Finale  that I find essential.  Whether it's composing fast or making engraving your scores easier, these are some of the commands that are second nature to me because I constantly use most of them.  I'm a big advocate for keyboard …

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Tool #25: Rehearsal Letters or Rehearsal Numbers?

Firstly, let's agree that if you are writing anything medium-short length or longer and for more than one performer, you should include some form of rehearsal markings in addition to clear, visible measure numbers (I prefer to put the measure number font to 14 to 18 Arno Pro with no italics, and make the ranges …

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