Wagon Train

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

May 19, 1846: At Indian Creek, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Independence, the Donners and Reeds join a larger wagon train, which is led by Colonel William Henry Russell. And they are on their way.

Westering Journey – First Draft

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

I’ve found a beginning, a middle, and an ending for the first piece of the sound track for an unmade movie on the Donner Party. The first chords are made by sliding each note of a major chord by just enough to take a 4:5:6 to a 9:11:14. The 4 (1:1) goes to a 9:8 major second, the 5:4 (major third) goes to the 11:8 tritone, and the 3:2 (major fifth) goes to a 7:4 flat seventh. And some go the other direction, with some inversions thrown in for variety. The chords are played slowly and with complex envelopes that serve to move the sound around in stereo space.

It’s all generated by the following code:
@
.slid-maj-u-a513 o-1t+31&gls7:6. t+22&gls9:8. t+17&gls11:10.
.slid-maj-u-b472 o-1t+25&gls12:11. t+18&gls8:7. t+19&gls10:9.
.slid-maj-d-a135 t+0&gls7:8. t+17&gls9:10. t+14&gls11:12.
.slid-maj-d-b724 o-1t+43&gls6:7. t+19&gls8:9. t+16&gls10:11.
@ very slow part
.flut-maj-384-c1 &flut.o+1d0h420e20&key.v-3&slid-maj-d-b7*.d384
.frnh-maj-384-c1 &frnh.o+1d0h420e21&key.v-3&slid-maj-u-b4*.d384
.trom-maj-384-c1 &trom.o+1d0h420e22&key.v-3&slid-maj-d-b7*.d384
.basn-maj-384-c1 &basn.&key.h420e23t-10&gls8:7.
.flut-maj-384-c2 &flut.o+1d0h400e21&key.v-3&slid-maj-u-b4*.d384
.frnh-maj-384-c2 &frnh.o+1d0h400e22&key.v-3&slid-maj-d-b7*.d384
.trom-maj-384-c2 &trom.o+1d0h400e20&key.v-3&slid-maj-u-b4*.d384
.basn-maj-384-c2 &basn.&key.h420e24t+9&gls8:9.
.flut-maj-192-c3 &flut.o+1d0h210e21&key.v-3&maj3-u-a*.d192
.frnh-maj-192-c3 &frnh.o+1d0h210e22&key.v-3&maj3-u-a*.d192
.trom-maj-192-c3 &trom.o+1d0h210e20&key.v-3&maj3-u-a*.d192
.basn-maj-192-c3 &basn.&key.h220e24
.flut-maj-384-c4 &flut.o+1d0h400e20&key.v-3&slid-maj-d-a1*.d384
.frnh-maj-384-c4 &frnh.o+1d0h400e21&key.v-3&slid-maj-u-a3*.d384
.trom-maj-384-c4 &trom.o+1d0h400e22&key.v-3&slid-maj-d-a5*.d384
.basn-maj-384-c4 &basn.&key.h400e23&gls7:8.
@ start playing
@ very slow part
@ start 135 go to 247
&flut-maj-384-c4.
&frnh-maj-384-c4.
&trom-maj-384-c4.
&basn-maj-384-c4.
@
@ stay 135
&flut-maj-192-c3.
&frnh-maj-192-c3.
&trom-maj-192-c3.
&basn-maj-192-c3.
@
@ start 247 go 135 from the top
&flut-maj-384-c2.
&frnh-maj-384-c2.
&trom-maj-384-c2.
&basn-maj-384-c2.
@
@ start 247 go 135 from the bottom
&flut-maj-384-c1.
&frnh-maj-384-c1.
&trom-maj-384-c1.
&basn-maj-384-c1.

Today’s post is as far as I can take this piece and still meet my internal target of 10 pieces or 35 minutes of music recorded during the month of February. I have a nice long train ride tonight, so maybe I can make progress on the next piece, which is based on the May 19, 1846 incident: At Indian Creek, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Independence, MO, the party joined up with a larger wagon train to make the trek west.

Westering Journey

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

Added some other instruments and a minor bridge of a circle of fifths. Because it’s in 53 tone equal, it doesn’t quite come around. So I move up by a single step, and keep going.

The Journey

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

I ordinarily take about 3-6 months, sometimes more, to create a 5 minute piece of music. I can only devote around ten to twenty minutes each day to composing. And each note takes a bit of time to get right using my hand coding of Csound input. Slow but steady, you might say.

So it is with some trepidation that I’ve undertaken to participate in the RPM Challenge 2008: Record an album of ten songs or 35 minutes of music during the month of February 2008. That’s about 60 times faster than my ordinary work habits. But what the hell, I’ll give it a go.

To try to focus my mind around the challenge, I’m writing a sound track to an imaginary movie about the Donner Party. You know, the forlorn group that set out in April 1846 for California, only to be waylaid by a late October snowstorm while trying to cross the Sierras. Many starved to death over the next few months as their meager rations ran out. Half did not make it to Sacramento. Those that did told horrid tales of cannibalism. I’ve been thinking about an opera based on the story for many years, but that’s too much for this effort.

Here’s today’s start of the first scene, when the participants set out from Springfield, IL, headed for Independence, MO. There is optimism in the air. As the wiki says: The trip is timed to begin when the spring rains have subsided and grass for the draft animals is available, and to end before snow makes the Sierra Nevada impassable.

Making the 13 more clear with some dry spring percussion

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

There is nothing like a little percussion to get the beat straight. It’s in 13, with three subdivisions of 3 and two of 2. These five subdivisions are randomly mixed up, sometimes it’s 3 3 3 2 2, sometimes 3 2 3 3 2, and so on.

Shorter Springs

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

The shorter springs sound more like steel drums. They appear about 1/4 of the way in echoing the longer springs.

Some Negative Space

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

Each instrument can chose what to play, or if to remain silent. When they all chose to be quiet at the same time, we get negative space.

Getting closer

Listen here: to this file

Subscribe here: to this RSS feed

This is a work in progress…

Still working on an escalation of complexity problem. Soon the bassoon will be set free to explore more territory.