It’s a humid Sunday evening in June in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m on the patio of a 30-year-old white colonial house, sandwiched between a vibraphone on my right and an electric keyboard on my left. My horn reflects the golden light inside the house and the softer, bronzer glow from the light standards, flickering to life in the setting sun. The fireflies — which we never see in Colorado — are starting to pepper the air in the dining patio. Even as the heat loses its edge in the twilight, I’m sweating through my shirt in the thick Southern humidity.
I’m not thinking about any of that right this second, though — the waning sunlight replaced by fireflies, the light dancing on the bell of my instrument, the damp heaviness in the air — because right now someone in the small but jovial crowd has asked for Giant Steps, which I’ve never played in public. (more…)
Every once in a while, I compose music for electronics which uses as its source American field recordings. These can include folk songs, narratives, or “found” sounds from somewhere in American life. I use these sources as beginning points, entering into a free dialogue with them and the stories they tell about what it means — and has meant — to be an American and to be an American artist. These pieces are loosely organized into an ongoing project which I call Dead Cowboys. My newest musical offering has its beginnings in the legendary American singer and storyteller Bessie Jones. In the source audio, Bessie is talking with sonic historian Alan Lomax and his wife, Antoinette Marchand. This entry into the Dead Cowboys series is entitled Pray For Rain.
Special thanks for this project’s completion goes to the Lomax archives at the Association for Cultural Equity, an invaluable resource for hidden sounds from the American past. Thanks also to Hunter Ewen for his help smoothing out the technical edges (Hunter is a terrific electronic composer in his own right — check out his website and see for yourself).
Dead Cowboys: Pray For Rain is available below via Soundcloud, and will be listed on gregsimonmusic.com shortly. Like everything else in my output, derivative works of Dead Cowboys are licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. For direct download or offline use, contact me directly.
The first performance of my original music in my new town! Marble and Glass is performed by the UNL Jazz Orchestra (with me at the helm) this Wednesday night, April 26 at 7:30pm! Kimball Recital Hall – admission is free. See you there!
Every once in a while, in order to break the creative blocks, I write. My favorite project is to ask friends and colleagues for the titles of their favorite songs, promising to use them as the titles for new flash fiction (very short stories, only a few hundred words in length) and post the results here. Part exercise in new artistic directions, part homage to Mr. Tambourine Man, mostly an effort to fill this space with things worth reading.
I’m often working on these little flash stories behind the scenes, so if you have a suggestion for a title, share it on Twitter @gregsimonmusic, or email me using the Contact page. Here’s the third volume of song title flash fiction, with due credit to their respective sources. If you’re curious to hear the songs behind the titles, just click the artist names.
Giovanni Santos – a great conductor, tremendous friend, and the original commissioner of For Angels, Slow Ascending – is taking his wind ensemble at La Sierra University to Europe this summer, and on Saturday, March 11 they’ll be holding a fundraising concert to help them get there. Featuring a ton of great music, and including For Angels, Slow Ascending in the original maestro’s hands. This is one not to miss!
As the calendar turns to 2017, I’ll be doing some small tweaks and redesigns to this space. Mostly cosmetic, which means you can still do all your favorite GSM things (listen, view, and purchase music by visiting the Music page, and find me on Twitter and Linkedin by visiting the homepage) uninterrupted. If you notice that something is missing or broken, don’t hesitate to let me know by using the Contact function, and I’ll get in touch with you right away.
Step InsideRogue Two8:37
Promise Me You Won’t Believe A Single Word18:50
Devil WindsCavell Trio6:08
Draw Me the SunAlarm Will Sound7:15
SpiritUniversity of Michigan Men's Glee Club4:17
Two Lorca Songs I: Hora de EstrellasUniversity of Michigan Chamber Choir3:10
Two Lorca Songs II: DanzaUniversity of Michigan Chamber Choir5:08
Two OrchidsKellan Toohey9:23
Marble and GlassUniversity of Michigan Jazz Ensemble9:36
Dead Cowboys: Pray for Rain5:47
The Way Through the WoodsGreg Simon, trumpet4:36
Foolish FireCalifornia State University Fullerton Wind Ensemble
Piano Quintet “Scenes From Childhood” II. Jordan and NadiaPlayground Ensemble
Piano Quintet “Scenes From Childhood” I. Kites at Seal RockFifth House Ensemble
Piano Quintet “Scenes From Childhood” III. Tag!Playground Ensemble