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original compositions

  • This is an electronic version of a traditional Irish love song, arranged and performed by me. Lyrics (slightly modified from the original by me):

    Tá mé mo shuí ó d'éirigh an ghealach aréir
    Ag cur tine síos gan scíth 's á fadú go géar
    Tá bunadh an tí 'na luí 's tá mise liom fhéin
    Tá na coiligh ag glaoch ‘s tá an saol ina gcodladh ach mé

    mo Sheacht mh'anam déag do bhéal do mhalaí 's do ghrua
    Do shúil liath ghlé fá'r thréig mé aiteas is suairc
    Le cumha do dhiaidh ní léir dom an bealach a shiúl
    is a chara mo chléibh, tá na farraigí 'dir mise is tú

    Deireann lucht léinn gur cloíte an galar an grá
    ní admhaigh mé go raibh sé 'ndiaidh mo chroí 'stigh a chrá
    Aicíd ró-ghéar, faraor nár sheachnaigh mé í
    Chuir sé arraing is céad go géar fríd cheartlár mo chroí

    Casadh bean-tsí domh thíos ag Lios Bhéal an Áth'
    is d'fhiafraigh mé díthe an scaoilfeadh glais ar bith grá
    is dúirt sí os íseal i mbriathra soineanta sámh
    Nuair a théann sé fán chroí ní scaoiltear as é go brách

  • Trichotomy is a 3-movement suite for solo piano. Each movement is named after one of the sections of the Requiem Mass. The score can be downloaded here.

    You can also listen to a remix of movement 3.

  • Trichotomy is a 3-movement suite for solo piano. Each movement is named after one of the sections of the Requiem Mass. The score can be downloaded here.

    While fiddling with the MIDI file of this movement in Garageband trying to make it sound more like a real piano, I accidentally hit upon something extraordinary. This is what I will call the 'phase/electronic' version of the last movement of Trichotomy.

    I like this digitally-altered version so much better than the original that it makes me sad it would probably be impossible to replicate live.

  • This is an arrangement of a traditional Irish folk song (piano & vocals both performed by me). When writing it, I wanted to take advantage of the ambiguity of key that comes about as a result of the slightly modal nature of the melody. The song is normally in a major key; I deliberately twisted that and made it alternate between major and minor.

  • A couple of years ago I became obsessed with the outro to a song which I otherwise didn't care for much. For a while it was my life's goal to transcribe what seemed at the time to be an impossibly complex musical structure, and when I finally succeeded in figuring out the notes and rhythms I wrote this orchestration. It's only a few bars, but there are 17 staves.

  • I wrote this a long time ago and was never quite sure what to do with it...or what to call it. So it's remained unshared until now.

  • arpeggiator experiments

  • see this blog post for an explanation

  • You can experiment with an interactive version of this piece here.

  • You can experiment with an interactive version of this piece here.

  • This started out as a standard string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) but I soon decided I wanted a much lower bass line, so I added a double bass. I don't know if there'll be any more movements or not.
    Note: Sibelius won't play back 'spiccato', so there are some sections of this which sound like pizzicato but are meant to be spiccato (the fast semiquaver passages on the violin).

  • I started writing the first movement of the Piano Trio during the Melbourne International Chamber Music competition in July 2011, which I was listening to on the radio with great interest. I've never actually liked the piano trio genre (piano, cello and violin) much, aside from Ravel's trio. I think it's a slightly odd combination of instruments. but listening to MICMC inspired me and I wanted to write something really technical and inspired by the rhythms and riffs of heavy metal to some extent. (unfortunately I think the technicality may have made it almost unplayable for the cello and violin, but as the only instrument I play is the piano I can't judge...)

    At the beginning of 2012 I came up with a melody which formed the basis for the 2nd movement of the trio, with similar kind of influences but more lyrical. The 3rd movement is largely based on a rock song I wrote at the start of 2011; and the 4th movement is sort of a development on some of the themes in the other movements, and a further exploration of the techniques I used in the second half of the 1st movement. It's also influenced a little by my growing interest in minimalism.

    This is the 1st movement. Although most of the piece is meant to be as strict and rythmic as possible, at one point I added a contrasting ad libitum section and the full effect doesn't come across in sibelius playback, which is somewhat limited :( I also still can't get sibelius to play back directions for spiccato, so there are some fast spiccato sections in the strings in the second half which still sound like pizzicato.

  • This is the 2nd movement of the piano trio I started writing in the middle of 2011. It actually started out as a song with piano accompaniment. I'm not very good at writing songs/lyrics though, and at some point it occurred to me it could form the basis for the 2nd movement of the piano trio (at that point it only consisted of a few bars of the melody with accompaniment and the first theme in the piano part.) So I gave the melody to the violin and it just grew from there.

    This movement was inspired partly by traditional english/irish folk music, as well as the heavy metal influences that were present in the first movement.

    The Sibelius output on this track sounds really horrible in my opinion (the melody in the beggining should be really expressive and with lots of rubato.) Also, most of the stuff that sounds like pizzicato in the strings is meant to be spiccato (mostly the semiquaver passages which would probably be unplayable if they were pizz.) because stupid sibelius won't play back my directions for spiccato :|

  • This movement is a re-work of some old material from a sort of rock/metal song I wrote in Garageband at the begginning of 2011, and it was quite a challenge reducing the original 17 tracks down to be playable by just three instruments - I had to make a few compromises. I ended up adding to or changing so much of the material that the only part that remains completely true to the original is the first 'chorus' (0:47 - 1:32) This was what I intended, as I wanted to expand substantially on the initial themes.

    Unfortunately Sibelius won't play back the dynamics in the last part (3:56 onwards) properly. The piano part is meant to be 'piano', but Sibelius ignored my markings and kept playing it back 'forte'. So you'll just have to imagine it quieter :(

  • I started writing this in the middle of the movement and in the wrong key (long story...) and had to write some very wierd changes in tonality into the short first section (0.00 to 0.41 seconds), basically transitioning from G minor through to C minor in the space of less than a minute....hmmm

  • During late 2010/early 2011 I worked furiously at this 17-track atrocity in Garageband, which ended up being practise for juggling a whole orchestra in Sibelius. I started this piece first, but was still working on it when I started to write my orchestral suite ("Time Capsule"). In a way, I consider Lullaby of Broken Hearts (acronym LOBH) to be my first foray into serious composition (by which I mean, considered and planned musical writing. Of course I "wrote" music before that.)

    Because I love the material in this piece and it marks my first attempt at composing seriously, I have since tried again and again to incorporate the material into conventional classical pieces. I've tried orchestrating it several times, turning it into a piano concerto, a piano solo...the only vaguely succesfull attempt was 3rd movement of my piano trio, which I like, but which doesn't convey what the original does. In the end I realised LOBH only worked in its electronic form. There's just one problem though...

    Somehow, in the process of chopping up and manipulating Garageband drum loops, I managed to get a loop that was not quite a full bar in length. As a result, all the rhythms are slightly lopsided. This made recording all 17 tracks on top of the drum loops an absolute nightmare, and believe it or not, at the time I had no idea a faulty loop was to blame. I just thought I either had a terrible sense of rhythm or the midi input was laggy.

    Anyway, when I finally discovered the problem, there was no way I was going to re-record everything (I can't even remember how to play it now). When I listened to some of the tracks separately, they were a rhythmic mess, but with all 17 playing at once the texture was so dense you'd barely notice the fault (unless you play it along with a metronome or you happen to be a percussionist.) I'm still hideously embarrassed by this failing though, especially in the point 3/4s of the way through with the very exposed, squawky metally riffs which were practically impossible to get together even with garageband's auto-alignment function switched on. That bit sounds absolutely awful, but I can't get rid of it; firstly, I generally refuse to revise old works, and secondly, it's part of the structure of the piece.

  • I wrote this before I actually "started composing". It was made in Garageband, using some drum loops (one of them inverted). I think I finished it in 2 days.

    I absolutely love the layered strings (which were improvised on the spot) in this, and for some time I struggled to transcribe it for traditional orchestra in Sibelius. I eventually gave up, as it was obvious the only way it worked was as a purely computer-generated soundscape.

    I'm emotionally attached to this piece so it's hard for me to tell whether it's actually of any worth musically or not. That's for you to judge.

piano recordings

  • I came across this piece while perusing several large volumes of Bach's organ works, and my initial encounter with it was on the organ. The experience of sight-reading it was like a journey through a winding maze that held some new and unexpected gem around every corner. It struck me as unlike any Bach I'd ever heard before - extremely simple, almost uncharacteristically so, yet full of surprisingly modern harmonies and progressions. So when I took it to the piano, I decided to do something very different with it - I interpreted it romantically, as if it were a Chopin prelude. I would never usually approach a piece of Bach in this manner, but I felt it was fitting for this work.

  • The reason for this historically incorrect performance of renaissance choral music on a modern piano is that I wanted to use it as an example in my list of music containing the chord progression of resignation.

    This piece was part of a concert programme my choir did, and of all the pieces we learnt, this was my favorite. The beginning was haunting me, and at some point it occurred to me to test whether it used the aforementioned chord progression, considering the feeling I got from it. Even though I suspected it, I was still surprised when the progression in the first few bars turned out to be Im, VI, IVm, Im.
    I could have JUST recorded those bars for my example list, but I love the whole piece so much I thought I'd share all of it.

    p.s. my mother, a talented soprano and tenor (yes you read that correctly) recorded a no less historically incorrect, but considerably more beautiful rendition of this piece in which she sang the tenor part up the octave while I played the other parts at normal pitch on organ. You can find it here

  • piano solo: me, fake orchestra: Stephen Kerr

  • Primo: me, Secundo: Stephen Kerr