Today I have been busy working on gathering samples for the next two releases from Phrygian Phish: Fractals and Beyond the Dice: Symphonic Soundscapes.
Fractals is the first album that I will release under my name. This album is - different. Original. Strange. Out-there. Not your typical album. The idea came about when I was thinking of applying properties of fractals to music composition. I had thought about it from time to time, but did not get started with it until the last few days of 2011. I wrote Fractal 1 to be an experiment into the plausibility of having listenable music while doing this.
Then I lost my job and I have been fighting depression and self-worth issues. Once my self-pity party was over, I got back into writing these nifty little pieces and concluded with a 45 minute, 10 song album.
I am still working on a plan for the release of the music: whether it is released by another label or self-released. In the meantime, I have some samples that you can check out:
Beyond the Dice: Symphonic Soundscapes - This album actually is somewhat the catalyst for Phrygian Phish. It was because I liked writing the soundtracks for these tabletop games so much that I saw an opportunity to try to make a living doing music. We are still waiting to see if that is the case :)
This album consists of six pieces of orchestral music for use in tabletop gaming along with two "bonus" tracks. Each piece sets a different mood and helps add depth to the games being played. I am working on promotional materials and a website specifically for this release, so stay tunes in for that.
Without further ado, here are the music samples for Beyond the Dice:
OK Everyone, here is another music score that I wrote for this medieval campaign game master. What I was going for with this piece of music is two general feelings: loneliness and magical uneasiness.
Now, loneliness is not the depressed feeling that lonely people feel. It is more of a, "I don't see anyone around here" type of loneliness. A peaceful quietness. I used the tremolo strings in the beginning of the piece to give a hazy feel as the party looks out into a forest world. There is no one around. Then the oboe and flutes come to simulate the birds and other little forest creatures. Throughout this section I try to keep the focus on the natural surroundings of the players.
Then, you could probably tell a sudden shift in the feel of the piece. This is where the more magical parts of the music come in. The glock(enspiel) comes in sort of like little fairy dust to tell you that things are not totally what you think that they are. As the wholetone scale feel sinks in, there develops (or at least I attempt) a level of disorientation in this land. It definitely is not what you think that it is.
I hope that you all like the piece of music. I have one more track that I have to complete for this game master before next weekend, so I have my work set out for the rest of the day!
Here is the piece of music that I have long held to be my masterwork - the best that piece of music that I had written up to that point. And as such it has a story to it.
The year is 2003 around December. I was newly married and was finishing up my studies in Music and Mathematics at Emory. About that time, my wife and I along with my in-laws went on a miniature pilgrimage to the Shrine of the most blessed Sacrament in Alabama (short drive away from Atlanta, where we had been residing). We arrived at our hotel and it was time for dinner, so we went off to dinner at one of these buffet all-you-can-eat places.
Now, from time to time, inspiration hits me to plan out for the writing of a piece of music. At that time I was not nearly as disciplined or scientific in my approach to composition as I am now. But while we were sitting down and eating, I was inspired to write out the form of a new piece of music: A - B - C - B - A. At that time, I wanted to write out a new piece of music for a performance at Oxford College. My instrument was trombone and thought that I might as well apply this new piece of music to a trombone and piano.
I did not think too much on it until we were leaving Alabama. As I was driving, my wife was sleeping and I began to think through more of this piece of music. I wanted it to be somewhat of a story piece of music. And as such, I wanted a short overture at the beginning, somewhat as an abstract for the piece of the music that was to proceed. So, while driving, I composed the beginning piano chords and such like. I set to work on writing the music. I got a good start to the music before finals hit. Over the Christmas break I finished off the music.
Stylistically, I was shooting for a mixture between a classical era and romantic era piece of music. I wanted the piece of music to be very tonal and have a somewhat catchy quality to the tunes. Some of the harmonies I used in the piece of music are more along the lines of what you would hear from Wagner than from Mozart but I did not push tonality too hard.
Also, I believe that this trombone piece is a virtuostic piece to the point that i think that other boners should give it a shot. That is why I plan on publishing the music so that folks can give it a shot. I plan on having that up on the scores section in the next couple of weeks. I have to actually rewrite some of the accidentals in order for it to make sense according to music theory and for the musicians playing the piece.
Anyway, it is a LONG piece of music (12 minutes) and is probably best left playing in the background as you go surfing the net. As far as the story that I was going for - feel free to leave your thoughts on what a story for this piece of music could be. I was kind of thinking of some sort of love story with a fight with a bad guy in the middle. Hope you enjoy!
OK, this week's tune is the gaming theme for a temple. This is for a game master (GM) running a campaign that is more of a medieval environment. The temple, generally speaking, is a holy place where the warriors gain new strength and rest from their journey.
The goal of the piece was to both invoke a quiet feel as well as a meditative feel. I used a choir to give make it sound like like the praying "holy" ones singing through harmonies that I think evoked an other worldly feel. The chords used were simple mixture between C major and C minor. The percussion is much more sparse in this score giving more a timelessness effect. The harp was an allusion to angels and a general otherworldly presence among the folks in the temple. I think that this is all that I can really say about it.
Coming up in the next couple of days: Trombone/piano piece, fractal fugue, and more of this medieval game score that I am working on.
I have been busy but I still managed to get a new track up. I did upload a cover version of Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock" but I did not post a blog. Well actually I did, but it got deleted by Weebly before I could post it. Then I got depressed and never bothered rewriting the post. Now that it is a new week, I think that I might post it up there for you all.
But on to the new song...this week's song is the battle theme for a game master that I am writing music for. The style is decidedly different from the gaming music that I was writing before...OK I think that this might be confusing so lemme start again.
Before Phrygian Phish, I wrote a complete gaming score for a gaming friend of mine, Howard Brandon. He was a game master (guy who runs the story and the universe for a table top game) for a Star Wars theme game. So, I asked what he would think about game specific music for his Star Wars campaign. He liked the idea, so I wrote the music for him. I wrote several "themes" that he could use to create an atmosphere (such as a love theme or a battle theme etc.). I think that we have in total 8 themes for his game. When I was writing THAT gaming score, I wrote for an orchestra and tried to imitate John Williams and a Neoclassical style. This was to help keep the same feeling as the Star Wars movies in Howard's game.
NOW, I am working on another gaming score. A lot of the themes are the same (still fighting etc.) so I am writing music for the same theme but in a different style. The setting for THIS game is more of a medieval era campaign, you know castles and swords and goblins etc. So, in order to create the mood for that, I picked instruments that were more folksy and a time signature to match. So, even though this is a battle theme, this is NOT the same one that I did (and is on my soundcloud) from a couple of months ago.
This new game score is for my brother, Bryan Bailey. He will be running a game at Momocon on the weekend of St. Patrick's day, so I am really rushing to get that done. Take a listen and let me know what you think. I have much more stuff that I am working on that is in the pipeline. So stay tuned! I'll work on the blog post for "I am a Rock" and share that this week as well.
I don't have much to say at the moment. Things have been rather busy and I have not been able to update for a little while. I have some tracks in reserve so I think that I can still have on average a song a week.
Anyway - this week's song is another soundtrack. This one is for the eve of battle in a more medieval setting. I tried to keep the style in a folk style rhythmically and instrumentally. It is not necessarily meant to be a song that you just set on playing and listening but more of a background track, a mood setting piece. I tried to make it more reflective of the battle ahead of the party that the game is focused on with some slight fantasy of what the battle ahead will bring.
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be working on more music for this GM and his game. I probably won't share ALL of the music for that (hopefully knock out more than once a week and I also have some maniacal garfunkeling and a fractal fugue in the wings).
Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy it! God bless!
Here is the latest from Phrygian Phish: an ambient orchestral track. I wrote this for a friend of mine's gaming campaigns for the times that don't fit a certain mood or for general gaming upkeep. I was shooting for an ambient feel - no real strong passion in the piece (except for some swells here and there). I don't have much more to say other than that.
So, you can test it out if you wish. Just click play and switchover and surf the internet in another tab. Hopefully it just gives a nice musical feel and makes the ordinary seem extraordinary - or just extra-ordinary :)
But, since it is the beginning of the year, this gives me the opportunity to look out and see what all this new year has to offer. In the many months, and even years prior to starting this site, I was inspired by the many, MANY people ahead of me that found success and do not fit the mold of the "American Dream" or "Corporate America". The people who did not follow the rules, the crowd, so to speak. Now, I don't mean monetary success, because I hardly use that as a measure. Success to me is defined as fulfillment of your God-given purpose. We all have that purpose and it should not be ignored. Just because everyone is lining up for that job in a cubicle with a nice salary does not mean that it is the holy grail of occupations. For some, it is a job like that. Or a doctor. Or a storeowner, etc. - but just because one of these is good for one person does not mean that it is a good choice for everyone.
Enough of that, on to the song! The song is a rather quiet and melancholic piece. It is a solo piano piece that I have played several times while at home. Not flashy, just contemplative. Just like how I have been feeling lately.
BUT WAIT! If you heard it and thought, "Hey, I might want to try playing that". Welll...You are in luck! I have opened a store on ScoreExpress.com where you can actually download the score for "What Could Have Been?" For FREE. Just click on the "Scores" tab at the top and it will take you right to my profile on Score Express. You can download it, print it, play it - the whole kit and caboodle. I will try to also put other songs and pieces for purchase as well.
I have some cool projects that are ready to release soon, but not yet. Stay tuned!
Here it is, the final movement of the Advent String Quartet. The theme for this movement is Peace.
One of the titles of Jesus, the Child that is born on Christmas, is the Prince of Peace. Now, I am not into the rigors of logic and the details of definitions, but I do know that he did not necessarily mean pacifism. In fact it was Jesus who said that he did not come to bring peace but a sword:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’" (Matt 10:34-36)
We are called to stand up for the defenseless - not stand by idly. We need to know when we need to fight and when not to. As long as there is evil in the world, we always need to be on guard against it.
But the peace that I am talking about, or conveying in this movement, is quiet resignation. No matter what happens in the world, peace can be obtained on the personal level. From a Christian's perspective, this is the resignation to God's Will and an understanding that God is always in control. No matter what is going on the outside, this inner peace can still reign within us. This is what I believe Jesus meant by "His yoke is light" etc. When you look at the Christian way of life, in the face of the modern world, it is difficult. However, through believing in Christ and His dominion over all and our relationship with Him, all we have to do is do what He is calling us to do. The lure of the world is somewhat diminished as we see it is all fading and that the real treasure is in heaven.
Musically, the movement is slow and quiet. It is not a very melodic piece. It was written as a soundscape, as a meditative piece not an entertaining peace. As with the other three movements, I begin with the "Peace" idea or motive and deviate to a less settling part before returning to a peaceful conclusion. Now, the performance of this piece will be much more free than the other pieces. I have written it without barlines. The intent of this is so that the performers can determine the pace of the rhythm for themselves - for them to feel the piece rather than read the piece. Unfortunately, my rendering is more mechanical than I wanted, but this is all I could do for right now.
Now, this is not typical finale material. It is not fast, rambunctious, triumphant, or even technical. That is exactly what I meant. The purpose of Advent is not fulfillment. The purpose of Advent is longing. To sum up, the purpose of the Advent String Quartet is in the (paraphrased" words of St. Augustine, "Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you". Afterwards, we should have a longing, a feeling like our waiting is not yet over.
A couple of bits: first, I find this a coincidence that I posted this movement on the day of North Korea's Kim Jong Il's death. Because there is uncertainty to how North Korea will proceed, consequently there is little peace of mind as far as what is happening on that side of the world. Please keep world peace in your prayers.
Second, I have over the last couple of weeks, averaged about a "song" a week. I don't know if this momentum will continue, but I sure hope that it will. I have many musical projects on the horizon for next year as well as some immediate songs that I want to do.
Third, I am averaging around 5 min. a song. if this continues, I would have approximately 5 CDs worth of music by the end of the year. Once again, we'll see how that comes along.
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of Advent waiting for the coming of the Christ Child!
Here is the third movement of the Advent String Quartet. The theme for this one is joy. This last Sunday was the one where the priests can wear the "rose" (I still call them pink") vestments and I believe that the theme is usually joy for this Sunday.
This is a really odd piece for me. Reason is I tend towards heavier and darker sounds and sonorities - Heavy metal, dissonant German opera, etc. I am more at home in a minor key (sad sounding) than a major key (happy sounding). This piece is pretty joyful :) My wife even said that it is cute. It is rather faster paced and I wanted to give sound to what joy would be, in particular the bouncing, jumping, and a general lightness that usually comes with joy. I put in a slightly depressing part to contrast to the more joyful theme. If it had a program (a story), I would say that it would be about a child joyfully waiting in anticipation for Christmas. Then, during this time of waiting, he got some bad news, but not terrible news. Maybe that he got a bad grade in school, lost a game....something that would be depressing for a child but definitely something that can be overcome. Slowly we see the child get over their loss and begin to focus again on Christmas.
The same should be said for us. I know that Christmas has a lot of baggage for a lot of people and that for most of us, it isn't as "magical" as it once was when we were younger. But, shouldn't it be though? Have we really missed the whole reason for this season of Advent? We will soon meet the Christ Child on Christmas day. And unlike the first Christmas when Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, wise guys etc. came to know this miraculous child and birth, we understand fully that he is our salvation. The salvation of our race. Shouldn't we be joyful?
Be sure to take a listen to the movement and get in touch with your innertube...I meant inner child :)
About The Blog
This is the news blog of Phrygian Phish. Check out here for news on Phrygian Phish projects like Last Rites, Beyond the Dice, and other Sean Bailey projects.