One of the things I like to do is compose music. While my main course of study is mathematics, I’ve also been studying music. MIT has a surprisingly good music department with many classes on composition, and I’ve been taking as many of these as I can.
The following are some of my compositions. Most of them have scores online, and most also have a recording of some kind (whether it be a computer playing it or someone sight reading).
If you decide to perform any of this music, please tell me—I’d like to get a recording!
This is music I’ve composed, in somewhat reverse chronological order. Music I’ve arranged is in the next section.
- Sonata for String Quartet (c. 10 min)
This was written in 2011 for 21M.304, the final class in the harmony and counterpoint series at MIT. It is a sonata for string quartet written in the tradition of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
You can also watch the sonata being peformed on YouTube.
- Piano Sonatina No. 2 (c. 8.5 min)
A piano sonatina in a somewhat classical style, completed January 2011. The recording is of me trying to play it on an old MIT student center practice room piano.
- Decision (c. 2 min)
This was written in 2011 for 21M.310 (Techniques of 20th Century Composition). The project was to write a piece for flute after having studied the music of Debussy. The piece was then sight-read by Rowland Sutherland of the Lontano Ensemble.
- Piano Suite (c. 3 min)
This short piano suite was also written for 21M.310, using “musical set theory” (which is the theory of musical sets, not a musical kind of mathematical set theory). The work consists of three movements.
- Menuet and Trio (for string quartet, c. 5.5 min.)
For Fall semester, 2010, a project for 21M.303 (Introduction to Tonal Forms I) was to write a menuet and trio. At the end of the course, we hired the QX quartet to sight read our pieces.
- The Anniversary Song (for violin and bass instrument, c. 2 min.)
In Summer 2010, around my parents’ anniversary, I wrote a short piece for violin and bassoon/cello/viola. My sister and I periodically perform it with me playing a viola like a cello, held between my knees; the recording is an older version of the piece with a violin and viola played as such.
- Theme and Variations (for violin, clarinet, and two cellos, c. 10 min.)
For Spring semester, 2010, one of the projects in 21M.302 (Harmony and Counterpoint II) was to write a theme and variations for quartet. Based on the instruments available in our class, we wrote for violin, clarinet, and two cellos. The recording immediately below is by a computer (further down is a live performance).
At the end of the course, the group in our class (for which I played cello) sight-read everyone’s pieces. The following is a recording of this.
- Theme. Allegro. MP3
- Tempo comodo. MP3
- Allegro. MP3
- Scherzando. MP3
- Vivace. MP3
- Andante. MP3
- Moderato. MP3
- The Ode to the Progressively Sadder Pennies (cello and piano, c. 3 min.)
For the final project of the same 21M.065 as in Staplers in Cans (below), I decided to write some work for piano and cello. Lacking a better name, I named it after my Progressively Sadder Penny museum (which was a series of pennies in varying degrees of being melted—I wanted to see if I could get a lighter to melt the zinc, and it could). The MP3 is my attempt to perform the piece by myself. I apologize for the intonation, but keep in mind that I recorded the cello part first and then fit the piano part in after, so I couldn’t tune myself to the piano (and I finished the composition the day I recorded).
- Staplers and Cans (electronic, c. 1.5 min.)
For a project in my introduction to music composition course (21M.065, taught by Evan Ziporyn), we had to make a piece in the style of musique concrète, which, in essence, is taking everyday sounds and combining them to compose music. Because I didn’t want to deal with Audacity, I instead developed my own system, using a command line utility called arss to convert sounds I had recorded (of myself playing with a stapler, a soda can, and swiping my fingers across my laptop keybord) into images which I then manipulated with an image editor. The score is a PNG of the BMP image I fed into arss.
- The Great Book Chase (film score for full orchestra)
My brother made a movie for the Eden Prairie Library video contest during the summer of 2008, and he asked me to make the music for the movie (of course, after putting my name in the credits). The video is no longer up on YouTube, however.
- Millenium Films Theme
This is the music which plays as the “Millenium Films” logo comes in, which is for this film masquerading as a 20th Century Fox logo (thus the style of music being a fanfare). The spelling of “Millenium” I’m told is intentional and has nothing to do with a “millennium.”
- Main Theme
The main theme of this movie, due to the nature of the presence of lightsabers and other Star Wars paraphernalia, is Star Wars-esque. Note the ABA form as well as shifting into strings from the trumpet fanfare.
Although a bit slow for a chase, it fits because the chase occurs within the confines of a library while the main characters are trying to get to a book before the other.
One character is explaining why he has a chip on his shoulder and calls the other to remember a previous time that the other caused which was horrible for him.
A song to accompany an intense lightsaber battle. This song was made using a loop library, the loops for which I did not compose.
- Kazoo Concerto No. 1 (c. 1 min.)
Being a high school senior in my orchestra, the conductor kindly let me compose something for the final concert of the year (in 2008). After having to listen to a violist friend, Jenn Borchardt, play “Over the Rainbow” on her kazoo during our lunch break for an entire semester, I decided to make a short piece featuring her playing the kazoo as a serious solo instrument. Due to the time constraints for this particular concert, the piece had to be kept on the short side. Note: the score is a slightly older version than what was actually performed.
If you want to try kazooing along, here are recordings the ensemble with and without the kazoo. These are computer performances, and follow the somewhat older score given above.
- String Quartet No. 1 (c. 14 minutes)
I wrote this string quartet between November 2006 and June 2007 based on my rough idea of how a string quartet is supposed to work: the first movement is something like a sonata, the second is a slow chaconne, the third is something like a scherzo, and the fourth is a modified sonata-rondo form. I submitted it to the MMEA compositional contest under the small ensemble category, and I was invited to have it performed at the 2008 MMEA Mid-Winter Clinic. You can see this performance at this YouTube playlist.
Mvt. 1 Mvt. 2 Mvt. 3 Mvt. 4 Score: Score: Score: Score: Vln. I: Vln. I: Vln. I: Vln. I: Vln. II: Vln. II: Vln. II: Vln. II: Vla.: Vla.: Vla.: Vla.: Vlc.: Vlc.: Vlc.: Vlc.: Recording: MIDI Recording: MIDI Recording: MIDI Recording: MIDI
- Piano Sonata (c. 8 min.)
I wrote this between October 2006 and June 2007. It loosely follows the classical sonata form for piano in three movements. I wouldn’t really call it a sonata, as it’s more like a sonatina, but I’m just calling it what I called it back in 2007. The recording is a computer performance.
Mvt. 1 Mvt. 2 Mvt. 3 Score: Score: Score: Recording: M4A Recording: M4A Recording: M4A
- Dissonance (for string orchestra, c. 2.5 min.)
I originally wrote this for solo piano on October 8th, 2006, but then reorchestrated it for string orchestra.
- Meagan has a Knack! (for violin and piano, c. 1 min.)
This was written with my cousin Meagan on October 7th, 2006. It is for violin with piano accompaniment. We needed to think of a title before we started work on the piece, so she came up with “Meagan has a Knack!” which later received the subtitle “Adventures in Meaganland” (probably because her name wasn’t mentioned enough on the score). The performance is by a computer. A note about the score: the fortissimo at the beginning was only to tell the computer to play loud enough so that we could hear our composition on my laptop.
- Adventures in Meaganland (for string orchestra, c. 1 min.)
After we made “Meagan has a Knack!” I decided to reorchestrate it for string orchestra. I later got a few people together to sight read and record it June of 2007.
- Pizzicato (for string quartet, c. 1 min.)
This was written the morning of October 29th, 2005. It is something like a cross between a canon and a chaconne for string quartet. This piece is entirely in pizzicato (that is, plucked strings) mainly because I thought the string sound on my computer was awful and the “Pizzicato Strings” instrument sounded much better. This was probably my first composition before I studied some music theory. The MP3 recording is by a computer and is kind of quiet.
This is music that I arranged (that is, I didn’t actually write myself).
- L’Éléphant (for bass and string quartet)
My high school orchestra director asked me to arrange L’Éléphant from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns for doubled string quartet, since the bassist would have been completely overpowened by the full orchestra. Note: at rehearsal 3, it’s advisable for the triplets in all parts to be solo.
- The Vinyl Diary (a musical)
In 2007, Todd Hayen asked me to help arrange pieces for a musical he was working on called “The Vinyl Diary,” which was performed at the end of Summer 2007. The following are some pieces which I arranged or wrote for the musical. The orchestra we had on hand was piano, viola, oboe/english horn, cello, and bass. There also was a drum set, but that part was improvised. Since it was a musical, for all of these pieces (except for the waltz), there were people singing along.