Roman Legion

Another piece I wrote for composition class. This time I had to write a piece using a specific interval. I chose a fourth and thought that the result was very evocative of an Ancient Roman army marching past. The piece is basically tonal, but not really harmonic in any way. It is scored for piano.

Roman Legion – MP3 from Finale
Roman Legion – PDF Score

Theory III Listening Assignment – Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” – 5th Movement

Gustav Mahler was born in Kaliště, Bohemia in 1860. His musical talent was apparent early, and he graduated from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878. A part time composer, his primary livelihood was derived from conducting opera and concerts. He wrote many art songs and nine symphonies, leaving a tenth incomplete. His music stretched tonality, but remained tonal. Mahler died in Vienna in 1911.

The second symphony, written between 1888 and 1895, is subtitled “Resurrection” and deals with death and the afterlife. The first movement is angry and depicts a funeral. The question why, which permeates the entire work, is introduced and repeated. The second movement is in the style of a Ländler, an Austrian folk dance, and invokes joyful memories in the life of the departed. However, these memories soon dissipate as real life intrudes. In the third movement, the pain and trauma of death is contemplated, finally ending on a scream of anguish. The fourth movement brings some peace as faith returns. A soloist sings, “The loving God will grant me a little light, which will light me into that eternal life!”
The fifth movement depicts the end of time. The introduction starts with a trumpet blast as the dead are raised to life. A horn call sounds and is echoed offstage. The Dies Irae is quoted. Wonder, fear, awe, and surprise are all expressed by the orchestra in turn.

A long drumroll leads to a section which Mahler referred to as the “march of the dead.” The Dies Irae melody in varied form is prominent. Earlier thematic material as well as material from earlier movements is reused. The picture is that of the people of earth, past and present, marching to the throne of almighty God. There is fear as all realize that no one is righteous before God and all must be damned. An offstage band interrupts. Finally, the offstage horn call returns, this time built up into a “Great Summons”, as all people gather in front of God’s throne. Only a bird is left singing in a flute, which soon stops.

The anticipation and fear is suddenly stilled as the chorus sings “Rise again, yes, rise again, Will you My dust, After a brief rest! Immortal life! Immortal life Will He who called you, give you.” The realization of forgiveness slowly sinks in through the orchestra. The chorus continues to sing about the joy of heaven and mercy of God. The orchestra expresses a perfect peace. The text is perfectly complemented by the music sung by the choir and two soloists. The text, “What perished, rise again!” is an explosion of volume while the next line, “Cease from trembling!” is quiet and peaceful. The music builds to a climax on the text “Die shall I in order to live. Rise again, yes, rise again, Will you, my heart, in an instant! That for which you suffered, To God will it lead you!” The questions raised and struggled with in the earlier movements are finally answered as a glimpse is caught of life beyond death.


Franklin, Peter. “Mahler, Gustav.” n.d. Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online. 18 November 2010 <>.

Freed, Richard. Symphony No. 2 in C minor (“Resurrection”). 3 April 2008. 18 November 2010 <>.

Grout, Donald Jay, J. Peter Burkholder, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. “Gustav Mahler.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 November 2010. 18 November 2010 <>.

—. “Symphony No. 2 (Mahler)”. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 9 November 2010. 18 November 2010 <>.

Theory III Listening Assignment – Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Op. 95 “New World”

In 1841, Antonin Dvorak was born in the Bohemian village of Nelahozeves near Prague. He was influenced by German harmonic tradition, writing symphonies that were based on Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. He also explored elements of his own culture, becoming one of foremost Bohemian nationalist composers. In the late 1800s, he came to the United States, accepting a job at the National Conservatory in New York. He studied American folk music, such as African-American spirituals, Native American music, and cowboy songs, incorporating them into his music. He died in 1904. His Symphony No. 9 of 1893 is one of the most famous results of this period, fusing Old World harmonic theory and forms with New World melodies and style.
The first movement is in typical sonata-allegro form. The introduction starts quietly and slowly before exploding with angry chords and timpani. These subside giving hints of the first theme but soon return. Theme one is quietly introduced by several solo instruments building up to a dramatic tutti exposition of the theme. This theme is then used to form a modulating bridge which quiets to the introduction of the second theme. The second theme is first presented in the flute and oboe with the clarinet, trumpets, and strings providing a harmonic base. It is delicate and expressive, both melancholy and hopeful. After a modulating section the third theme is introduced, evocative of cowboys and the plains. The short development section starts with the third theme, contrasting it with the first theme and finally giving way to the first theme entirely. Quietly and unexpectedly the development switches back to the recapitulation where the themes are reintroduced in condensed form. After the third theme there is a sudden key change and the coda rapidly ends the movement using fragments of all three themes.

The second movement is in an ABA` form and begins with a chromatic series of chords ending on D-flat major, the key for this movement. The first theme is played by a solo English horn and strings, followed by the beginning chord progression. The B section of the movement presents a contrasting angst-filled theme. Suddenly, the music is interrupted by a joyful melody in the oboe. This melody spreads through the orchestra before erupting into a tutti chord with motives from the first theme, the first theme from the prior movement, and the third theme from the prior movement all intertwined. This quiets before recapping the A section. This time, the second part of the A theme is reduced to ten strings. The return of the first part is reduced to a trio of violin, viola, and cello; which then expands to include all of the strings. The first violins play a rambling pentatonic scale which leads back to the initial chord progression, ending the movement on a quiet major chord.

The scherzo movement is a total opposite of the second theme. The scherzo A section is quick and angry using hemiolas. The scherzo B section is laid back and rambling. The scherzo A section repeats once followed by a vauge slow section which morphs into the trio. The trio A section is quiet, using uneven rhythms. The trio B section is cheerful and bouncy. After the repeat of the scherzo section, the coda contrasts scherzo A material with the first theme from the first movement. It ends on a punctuated tutti minor chord.

The fourth movement is in sonata-rondo form and begins with a martial first theme, which is gloriously played by the trombones and trumpets, punctuated by tutti chords. After a repeat in the strings, the music rushes into a modulating bridge which subsides and then gives way to the second theme: a quiet clarinet solo which the strings keep interrupting, finally taking over and finishing the theme. In the development, the second theme is explored but gets interrupted by the first theme from the first movement in the brass which gives way to material from the modulating bridge. This is quietly contrasted with melodic material created by combining the first theme from the second movement with the first theme. The music develops the ideas just introduced through different keys and guises before giving way to a tutti version of the first theme, ushering in the recapitulation. The tutti is repeated, but suddenly becomes very quiet. The theme is played by several solo instruments acting as a bridge to the second theme. The second theme is repeated in E-major, the parallel of the original e-minor key. The horns play a fanfare which leads back to the first theme followed by material from the modulating bridge. Suddenly the music modulates, beginning the coda. Falling strings lead to an angry tutti adaption of the chromatic chord progression from the second movement with punctuated timpani. The fury subsides, playing a motive from the first theme of the second movement in the clarinets, while the strings recall material from the scherzo A theme. The horns quietly play the opening theme, which builds into a massive augmented tutti repeat of the first theme, accelerating into a series of punctuated chords. The last chord dies away leaving only the winds, playing an E major chord, recalling the second movement.


Grout, Donald Jay, J. Peter Burkholder, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2010.

Wikipedia contributors. “Antonín Dvořák.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 17 October 2010. 4 November 2010 <ín_Dvořák>.

—. “Symphony No. 9 (Dvořák).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 October 2010. 4 November 2010 <>.

Solo for Horn

My first composition for the 2010 UWRF Beginning Composition class. The assignment is writing a solo for a monophonic instrument. I chose the French Horn. The form is ABA`. In retrospect, the beginning theme sounds like a mix between the Horn solo in the final movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and the Eintritt in den Wald from Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie. Of course that was not intended, but it sounds awesome.

Solo Work – finale – PDF Score
Solo Work – MP3 from Finale

Theory III Listening Assignment – Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178

Franz Liszt was born in Hungary in 1811, but lived most of his life in Paris, moving there as a teen. He was a huge success as a concert pianist and is still considered one of the greatest pianists since the instrument’s invention. In his thirties, he retired from concertizing and focused on composition. He primarily wrote programmatic music, frequently requiring great virtuosity. He also taught and supported other composers, Wagner being one of the most prominent. Toward the end of his life, Liszt entered a monastery and became an Abbé. His very late music explored the limits of tonality, occasionally crossing to atonality. He died in 1886.

Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor of 1854 was composed as one long movement using five motives and themes. The piece is overall in sonata form with a slow introduction, exposition, and long development section, leading back through a fugue to the recapitulation. There is thematic transformation throughout as the different melodies are shown in different characters.

The sonata starts with a slow descending G Phrygian scale – a recurring motive – followed by the same scale with raised second, fourth, and seventh scale degrees. The exposition starts with a chromatic, disjunct, B minor first theme presented in several forms. After some transitory material derived from the opening Phrygian scale, the second theme is presented in the relative key of D major. It is in stark contrast to the first theme; beautiful, grand, and conjunct with a homophonic accompaniment. The first theme is then developed in major leading to the more delicate third theme, also in D major. The exposition is concluded with more D major sequences of the first theme, particularly the first motive in the theme.

The development explores the previously presented themes and motives in different keys, modes, and styles. The beautiful, flowing second and third themes are sometimes grandiose, delicate, sad, and diabolical. The first theme recurs throughout, frequently emphasizing the motive in the first bar. A new theme is introduced (measure 317), derived from the melodic and rhythmic material of the third theme. Towards the end of the development, the tempo slows; the melodic material returning to the Phrygian scale from the beginning. This time the repeat of the scale is in major with a raised second scale degree.

Suddenly the first theme returns monophonically. It starts as a fugue, but a bass motive takes over and leads to the full presentation of the first theme in the recapitulation. This time, the second and third themes are presented in the parallel key of B major rather than the relative key of D major as in the exposition. The pace gets more frantic as the third, and then first and second themes are repeated. The fourth theme, introduced in the development, also recurs; suddenly slowing the pace and changing to a more delicate character. Slowly, the first theme is repeated in major followed by the introductory Phrygian scale. Three chords quietly bring the piece to a close.


Grout, Donald Jay, J. Peter Burkholder, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music, 8th Edition. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2010.

Wikimedia Contributors. “Piano Sonata (Liszt).” 3 October 2010. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 October 2010 <>.

Wikipedia Contributors. “Franz Liszt.” 7 October 2010. Wikipedia, The Free Encylopedia. 7 October 2010 <>.

Group policy deployment failure in Windows 7

I was having some issues with one of the computers on the domain. It refused to execute the installers during boot and threw event IDs 103 and 101. I found the solution, and am quoting it below for future reference.

The solution is to set “Startup policy processing wait time” in group policy. It’s located under Computer Configuration | Policies | Admin Templates | System | Group Policy.


Although it states the default is 30 seconds for Vista it appears Windows 7 doesn’t wait at all. The computers now pause for a few seconds at “Applying computer settings” and then correctly process group policy.

Dies Irae for chamber ensemble

This is the piece I arranged for the 2010 MYS Summer Composition Workshop. It is the result of two different attempts to harmonize the Dies Irae using standard voice leading rules.

The Dies Irae is a hymn/plainchant written by Thomas of Celano, an early Franciscan monk, in the mid 1250s. It is a beautiful modal melody and meaningful Christocentric text which deals with death, the day of judgement, sin, and our passive dependency on God’s grace granted through His Son’s death on a cross.

In my first attempt to harmonize the Dies Irae, I selected the chords I wanted and then harmonized. However due to not paying attention, lack of knowledge of voice leading, and the inherent difficulty of harmonizing a plainchant; the attempt resulted in a piece which, although beautiful chordally, has many errors. My second attempt discarded many of my preferred chords (e.g. the second chord is a i⁶ rather than a VI) but achieved a proper harmonization, following all of the rules as far as I am aware. Both are attached below.

The orchestration uses a woodwind trio of Flute, Clarinet, and Tenor Saxophone along with strings divided into first and second violins and first and second cellos resulting in four string parts. There are three main sections. The first is reminiscent of the Dies Irae’s plainchant roots; the cellos provide a drone on the tonic while the woodwinds intone the melody above. The second section is my flawed harmonization, but, at the suggestion of my teacher, rearranged so that the melody is in the cello and the winds sing the alto, tenor, and bass parts above. This avoids the requirement of proper voice leading and places the focus on the chords where I wanted it. The third section is the correct harmonization, this time in normal SATB order in the strings and the winds doubling at various spots. The cellos return to the drone for a coda where the solo flute intones the beginning phrase once again.

Because it is quite difficult to get an orchestra into church, I also transcribed the piece for solo pipe organ.

full score – all parts – Orchestrated score and all parts – Finale and PDF
full score – Orchestrated full score – PDF
full score – Orchestrated full score – MP3 played by Finale

Dies Irae – organ.mus – Organ Transcription – Finale 2010
Dies Irae – organ – Organ Transcription – PDF
Dies Irae – organ – Organ Transcription – MP3 played by Finale

Dies Irae Correct.mus – Proper voice leading – Finale
Dies Irae Correct – Proper voice leading – PDF
Dies Irae Correct – Proper voice leading – MP3 played by Finale

voice leading – dies irae – f minor – 24.mus – Incorrect voice leading – Finale
voice leading – dies irae – f minor – 24 – Incorrect voice leading – PDF
voice leading – dies irae – f minor – 24 – Incorrect voice leading – MP3 played by Finale