“River Run” for Concert Band

“River Run” captures the spirit of a wild, white water rafting trip in the summer of 2017. My family and I took a guided tour down the Ocoee River, specifically a section built for the 1996 Olympic Games, which runs through the Ocoee Gorge in the Chattahoochee National Forest. It features the longest stretch of class III and IV rapids in the country. We had a great time, but the raft overturned throwing us into fast moving rapids with sharp rocks. We came out of it unscathed, but it was a harrowing experience none the less.

Xylophone and marimba create the feeling of swift currents underlying foreboding melodic contours. Splashy percussion sounds like waves crashing on rocks, while three distinct melodic themes represent specific rapids on the Ocoee.

“River Run” features progress tonality meaning it starts in the key of C Phrygian and ends in the key of G minor without returning to the original key. This technique was made popular in the 19th century by romantic composers including Mahler, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Click on the photo below or here to watch the video.


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Steve Reich – “Clapping Music” for MAX

Here’s an interesting rendition of Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music”. If your unfamiliar with this piece, it’s two identical rhythmic patterns in 12/8 time. They start at the same time, but after eight measures, the second pattern starts an eighth note later putting them “out of phase”. You can see this happening in the matrix object in the video. The phasing process is repeated every eight measures (creating some very interesting rhythmic interplay) until they become “in phase” once again. I plan to create a series of variations using this particular Max patch.

This piece is typically performed with real musicians. I decided to create an electronic patch as an experiment to learn more about MAX and its matrix object. Once the patch has been created, it’s a snap to adjust the matrix and create new rhythmic patterns.

When You Wish Upon A Star for Classical Guitar

I wanted to share an arrangement of “When You Wish Upon A Star”. I did this particular arrangement in roughly 2008, while working on my masters degree in music composition and theory at The University of Georgia.

It’s a tremolo arrangement, which seems to work nicely with this piece.

Since it’s still under copy write with Disney, I can’t sell copies, but feel free to download it and enjoy!

If you work it up and perform it somewhere in the future, please let me know at davidguitar4109@hotmail.com or dr.davidmitchell@aimm.edu

Click the link below to download it:

A Composer’s Inspiration

Click on the picture to read an article about my composition “Lake Avondale” in Decaturish.com. I’m a featured local composer this week! Pretty cool.

Lake Avondale: A Beautiful Day

A live performance of “Lake Avondale” for classical guitar and piano featuring Jay Kacherski and Lina Morita at The University of Mississippi for Women.

Fragmentation and Melodic Development

Fragmentation is an interesting tool which composers can use to generate a plethora of melodic material with very little effort. In my opinion, there are two primary types of fragmentation, subtractive and motivic.

Subtractive fragmentation is easy to do and, if used properly, creates syncopation. All you have to do is substitute rests for notes. Example No. 1 is an original melody which I have used in a number of previous blog posts. Example No. 2 is the same melody with rests replacing some of the notes. Play both examples and listen to the difference. Example No. 2 is clearly the same melodic idea, but it has more rhythmic punch because the rests create accented upbeats in measures 2 and 4. The quarter rest in measure 3 creates additional rhythmic interest.

Example No. 1


Example No. 2

Subtractive Fragmentation

Motivic fragmentation is more common than subtractive. In fact, it is an integral part of classical period repertoire and is common in compositions by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. In general, the primary thematic structures used in classical period music where the sentence and period. It is beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss thematic structures in classical period music, but, in general, a basic idea is introduced (usually two measures), repeated creating a four measure theme, then a fragment of the basic idea is extracted and sequenced three times to create a classic eight-measure sentence structure. In example No. 3, the eighth notes in measure 2 are extracted and sequenced three times to create an ascending melodic line which cadences in measures 7-8. This creates a sense that the melody is accelerating toward a cadential point.

Example No. 3

Motivic Fragmentation

Comment if you can think of any other types of fragmentation. In the meantime, apply these techniques to your own compositions and listen to the results. Happy composing!