Wednesday Hump Camel Caravan

August 3, 2016 at 11:51 am

It’s Wednesday. Hump day. Humps. Camels have humps. Camels. Camels make up a caravan.

Yup folks, that’s all I have for you today. But fear not, because even if the writing is poor, the music is good. Caravan is a 1936 jazz standard written by Puerto Rican composer Juan Tizol, who was a trombonist in Duke Ellington‘s orchestra. By the 1930’s, jazz had become a mainstream and permanent part of the American cultural landscape. Tizol’s influence sparked an interest in Latin-American musical styles and opened new doors for American jazz.


How not to compose, part XLVII

June 16, 2016 at 10:48 am

A couple of years ago a I composed an opera based on H. P. Lovecraft‘s short story “The Beast in the Cave.” There’s an aria in it where the main character falls into despair and basically gives up on life. I was particularly proud of the sweeping, romantic melody I came up with for this aria. That is, until I later realized that I didn’t write the melody at all; it was identical to a melody from a trombone piece I played as a teenager.

The notes were floating around in my head, and I hadn’t heard or thought about that melody for twenty years when I was composing the opera. I suppose it was lying dormant in my brain until I needed it. Maybe the opera character’s despair somehow channeled my teenage angst. I don’t know. But I’m not going to change it now. Thankfully, the piece, Morceau Symphonique by Alexandre Guilmant, is in the public domain, so I need not fear any copyright lawyers.

And it is a smashing good melody. I’m so glad I thought of it.