blur-old-antique-book

Earlier this week, I sent up the proverbial Bat-signal for suggestions of song titles, 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. The quest for such titles goes on, and there are more coming for the remainder of the month and perhaps beyond. If you have a suggestions, share it on Twitter @gregsimonmusic, or email me using the Contact page. Without further ado, here’s the first 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. (more…)

topRichardPhoto

 

Last week, the American music world’s shine grew just a little dimmer.

Richard Toensing (‘Dick’ to his students), a composer, conductor and music educator, passed away on July 3, just a month after announcing to his friends and colleagues that he’d been diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer.

The honors Dick achieved in his time on Earth place him in the finest class of American composers. You can read about them in his obituary, here. But since his accomplishments have already been well-documented (and maybe since I tend to think we spend entirely too much time talking about awards and jobs in this business), I’m going to use this space to share some other thoughts. (more…)

Dragonfly, for mallet trio, has been named the Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 TorQ Percussion Seminar Composition Competition! The TorQ Percussion Quartet will premiere the trio next week at their annual Percussion Seminar at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. A big thanks to Rich, Adam, Jamie, and Dan – can’t wait to hear the premiere! To find out more about Dragonfly, see the score, and purchase it from Greg, visit the Chamber Music section.

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance announced this week that Greg’s newest work for choir, Two Lorca Songsis the winner of the 2013 Brehm Prize in Choral Composition! The work comes with a $2000 cash prize, and the work will be premiered next season by the University of Michigan Chamber Choir, directed by Grammy-award winning conductor Jerry Blackstone. The Brehm Prize is made possible through an extremely generous gift from William and Dolores Brehm. An big thanks goes out to Dr. Blackstone and to Mr. and Mrs. Brehm! See the official announcement of the Prize results here.

This evening’s adventure in internal struggle:

I’m at the finishing stages of a choral piece, a setting of two texts by the incomparable Federico Garcia Lorca. The piece itself is written, the notes and lyrics are into the notation program. For me, the last stage is to add and finalize the dynamics, articulations, and other expressive markings in the score – I call this “painting” the score (because it adds color to the music – get it???)

Lots of composers put this portion of the process nearer the beginning of the compositional timeline; I’ve never been able to, for a few reasons. Chiefly, when my music is freshly written, I don’t frankly know what the character of it is right away, save for general dichotomies like “loud/soft” or “quick/slow”. More to the point here, though, is the second problem: I can never decide what to paint with. Every dynamic and articulation is a choice. Some are bigger than others, obviously, but every one affects the music. The ones I really struggle with don’t just stop at the music; they can affect a composer’s relationship to the performer. (more…)

Photo by nomilknocry. CC-A.
Photo by nomilknocry. CC-A.

My mornings often start the same: a sunny alarm jingle. A lingering war with the snooze button. A reluctant trudge from the bedroom to the shower. Highlights from last night’s Daily Show or a brief spin of Nils Petter Molvaer. Finally, a bowl of freshly-made oatmeal… accompanied by lots, and lots, and lots of freshly-made coffee.

Coffee, either black or with a splash of skim milk, is a key thread in the fabric of my life. I have a cup in the morning, a cup in the afternoon, and often an emergency cup before class (likely needed because of the amount of coffee that I drink, but whatever).  It’s not just the caffeine that fuels my coffee addiction. It’s the sensory assault of complex, yet rewarding aromas and tastes that shocks one awake; the remarkable ability of a brown-black liquid to simultaneously speed up and slow down time; the delicate balance of water, grounds and time – which I haven’t yet perfected – that will determine whether the five-minute drinking experience is a rich bath of smoky, chocolaty velvet or a charred mess of disgusting, caffeinated water. Coffee is more than a start to the day: it’s a concentration etude, a meditation. To borrow a phrase from Vonnegut, it’s a “Buddhist catnap.” (more…)