Thanks for continuing to be a subscriber to my newsletter! I'm hopeful that you're finding these etudes and recordings I post every month helpful and inspiring, as researching and writing them have been for me!This month is a very special month for me, as I'm celebrating the release of my debut record, "Living The Dream". As a thank you for being subscribed to my newsletter, I'll be giving you all a free leadsheet to my original, Belley's Bounce, in lieu of an etude. I thank you for your subscription, and I hope you enjoy it!
In celebration of "Living The Dream" being released. I wanted to share with you some exclusive insights into my music. Each piece actually has an emotion and a story behind it. A lot of times as composers, we can get lost in the details, sometimes it can be helpful to start with something outside of music! I encourage you all to try writing a piece inspired by a memory or feeling, and below are a few from the record!
Animosity (Anger): This composition encapsulates one of the most visceral sensations I experienced as a child, the anger and jealousy associated with sibling rivalry. As a child I grew up with intense and unjustified animosity towards my siblings because they were always at least one step ahead of me (embodied by the tempo, intensity of melody, and the lead into the second time through the melody). Deep within this feeling of resentment, however, was a sense of admiration and idolization of my brothers’ skills, intelligence, and abilities (encapsulated by the angular usage of lydian chords throughout the form of the tune). The final moment of the composition is the revelation: this competitiveness is a tool, and these individuals can actually be my greatest allies in life.
Belley’s Bounce (Joy): Belley’s Bounce is written for my brother’s first child, Annabelle Noelle. To me, her birth served as a moment for me that I have entered adult life. I’ve been inspired watching her grow and I will forever be grounded by her innocent smile and uninhibited joy. During the recording of this album, having the opportunity to perform with a band of mentors, led by master mentor and musical hero Michael Dease, and with special guest Steve Davis (a musician to which I’m endlessly inspired by), finally sank in. A key memory I will keep in my head for years to come is the smile I shared with Steve Davis as we swapped solos.
Twister (Fear/uncertainty): As children, we all have fears that may or may not be founded in reality, my greatest being tornadoes. Living in Colorado near the plains of Tornado Alley, it constantly haunted my nightmares of my home being destroyed by this natural disaster. Encapsulating this fear and uncertainty is the unmistakable sound of the alarms used for drills in my elementary school, a sound I tapped into in composing this melody. In addition, the composition reflects how from a distance, a tornado (much like feelings of fear and uncertainty) can seem like a distant unmoving system, but in truth moves incredibly quickly and can overwhelm you before you know it.
Blossom (Aspiration): This composition reflects on how hope and aspiration can blossom and bear fruit. Its introduction is designed to elicit a flower unfurling its leaves to reveal vibrant colors .The longer and more harmonically static form aims to portray how aspiration and hope can take a long time to come to fruition, and the consistent motion of the brushes reflects how constant efforts are the driving force for transforming aspiration and hope into change.
Lush Life (Cynicism): To the untrained ear, Lush Life sounds like a lovely and smooth ballad about romance and prosperity. Once you dig past the surface, however, it reveals itself as a cynical and tired reflection by one of jazz’s greatest songwriters, Billy Strayhorn. In situations where I’ve been burned by life, I’ve found it all too easy to fall into cynicism and isolation, and the cadenza repeats the lyric “Life is Lonely” over and over, descending to portray that hopelessness we can feel.
Pencils Down (Anxiety): Evaluation and examination is an unending part of the 21st century life, whether it be standardized testing as a student, evaluation at a job, or the constant evaluation we have on ourselves within our day to day lives. I was a part of one of the first generations of students who received standardized, state mandated testing every year starting when I was in 3rd grade, and I can still distinctly recall the anxiety I felt opening up that first test booklet. This composition aims to encapsulate that moment.