Appalachian Sunset is a composition that I wrote during the summer of 2002, when I was living in Los Angeles. It was written on spec, meaning that it was composed for a short dramatic film that was being produced in L.A. If the producers liked the music, they would choose it for their film. The film's story dealt with a New York recording producer who travels to West Virginia on vacation. While there, he meets a young woman who is a gifted violinist, and they fall in love. In writing the theme of Appalachian Sunset, I attempted to mix a rural folk feeling with a solo violin and cello drone, while imparting a classical sensibility with a string orchestra accompaniment.
Written in 1986, Autumn was originally the second movement of a two-movement composition for guitar entitled, "Romance in Two Movements for Guitar". The second movement became so popular by itself, that I lifted it from the two-movement work and slapped the title "Autumn" on it, whereupon it became a piece by itself. From a technical standpoint, the work uses the tremolo technique. This calls for the thumb to play an alternating bass line, while the first, second, and third fingers undulate on a string, creating a combined shimmering effect, as well as the song's melody. The tremolo technique suggests leaves falling from a tree, hence the title.
Riding the train is a short study for fingerstyle acoustic guitar. It was composed during a train ride from Chicago to Seattle, Washington. The trip lasted two days, with little to do, other than read, make new friends, and write music.
I have always found the American folk song, Shenandoah, one of the most haunting melodies ever written. A few years ago, I sat about arranging the song for acoustic guitar. Whilst noone knows who actually wrote it, it is generally believed to have been written around the early 19th century. The lyrics of the song tell of a French fur trapper who, when travelling down the Missouri River of the United States, meets and falls in love with the daughter of a Native American Iroquois chief named Shanandoah. By the late 1800s, the song became popular as a sailor's chanty. The guitar arrangement I present here was created one afternoon when I was vacationing in northern Michigan.
Study in C Major for Guitar was written around 1986, when I was an undergraduate student in music. The piece is done in triplet style and uses a technique called Scordatura, an Italian term that means, "mis-tuning". The low E string of the guitar is tuned to the note, C.
During the fall of 2002 I lived in Los Angeles, where I met a young woman named Margaret, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the course of our friendship, I discovered that she was an avid music lover. I sat about writing a composition for her entitled, "For Margaret - Imitation for String Orchestra". An imitation is a compositional device where a short melody (or theme) is introduced, and as the piece unfolds, the theme bounces between the various sections of the instruments. The theme might occur in fragments or stretched out. The challenge of such a musical structure is to give the work variety, while at the same time keeping it interesting. This particular composition has a five-note theme.