“Etude (RH 4-5)”

Albumleaf 140: July 31, 2018 (Granville)

Had to record this one before my right elbow fell off.  Ravel quote for music geeks.



Albumleaf 139: July 22, 2018 (Granville)

I’ve got as much swing in me as a Corelli concerto grosso.  But I’ll take those harmonies thank you, jazz.

P.S.  In English, the best you can do for the title is “drowsiness.”


“The Shepheardes Calender — Julye”

Albumleaf 138: July 20, 2018 (Granville)

Thomalin in the valley and Morrell on the hill debate the merits of tending their flocks down low or up high.   (Listen closely for the sly fox.)


“Winding Down After A Big One”

Albumleaf 137: July 5, 2018 (Bologna)


“Plier Tree Revisited (Odin at the Spring)”

Albumleaf 136: July 3, 2018 (Bologna)

If ever a title required explanation, this is it.

Back in November 2012, I began writing an Albumleaf inspired by Mooney Warther’s wooden sculpture “Plier Tree” (pictured below).

I quickly became mired in “masterpiece mode,” completing page after page of sketches, throwing away music, starting and restarting, and so on.  At a certain point, I threw in the towel.  Rather than build upon all the work I’d done, I artfully stitched together a few passages, recorded them, and moved on. 

Since then, I’ve often thought my “Plier Tree” was a respectable failure—too bogged down in its low-bass opening and lacking a rewarding follow-through and climax.  Recently I’ve been preparing performance scores for the Albumleaves, and I came upon old number 92 and decided to dive in again.  “Plier Tree Revisited (Odin at the Spring), number 136, is the result.  At ten minutes in length, it is easily the longest Albumleaf I’ve written, and, frankly, probably the longest I will ever write.  (These pieces should be short.)

One problem I had in 2012 was a surfeit of inspiration.  Soon after beginning the piece, I hit upon the idea of portraying Warther’s plier tree as Yggdrasil, the world tree from Norse mythology.  In addition to having the roots and the trunk and the branches, I then had to have the spring.  And once I had that, I needed the birds.  And then—then, I needed Odin, who, in the quest for knowledge, drank from the spring and was attacked by the birds, losing an eye.

“Plier Tree Revisited (Odin at the Spring)” portrays all of these images and events.  But it is also inspired by personal history.  I vividly remember as a child visiting the Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio, and it’s one of the first places I took Gabriella when she came here.  I can’t help but be taken with the thematic overlap between childhood—where a person starts to learn—and Odin’s own desire for knowledge.  So in a way, this is a piece about childhood, too—both of an individual and of (for lack of a better word) mankind.

Back in 2012, I couldn’t hold it all together.  Now, I hope to have done so.

Buon ascolto!

–Granville, Ohio, July 20, 2018


“The Shepheardes Calender — June”

In this installment, Colin isn’t feeling too summery after Rosalind’s rejection and despite Hobbinol’s entreaties.

Albumleaf 135: June 10, 2018 (Bologna)



“Piano dolce”

Give this one the miss if you can’t handle C-major scales.

Albumleaf 134: June 2, 2018 (Bologna)


James Thurber Speaks

[Short-piece writers] sit on the edge of Literature.  In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats. . . . [Such a writer’s] ears are shut to the ominous rumblings of the dynasties of the world moving toward a cloudier chaos than ever before, but he hears with an acute perception the startling sounds that rabbits make twisting in the bushes along a country road at night . . .  If is difficult for such a person . . . to paint a picture of one’s time.  Your short-piece writer’s time . . . is his own personal time, circumscribed by the short boundaries of his pain and his embarrassment, in which what happens in his digestion, the rear axle of his car, and the confused flow of his relationships with six or eight persons and two or three buildings is of greater importance than what goes on in the nation or in the universe. . . . All that the reader is going to find out is what happened to the writer.  The compensation, I suppose, must lie in the comforting feeling that one has had, after all, a pretty sensible and peaceful life, by comparison.

— James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

“Liszt Gets in My Head”

I like Liszt–especially the B-minor sonata.  But when tunes get stuck in your head?

Not so much.

Albumleaf 133: May 26, 2018 (Bologna)


“The Shepheardes Calender — Maye”

Say you’re a tender little goat in a poem by Edmund Spenser, and a stranger comes knocking at your door asking for charity. 

Do you open?

Albumleaf 132: May 15, 2018 (Bologna)