My Music

My philosophy of music is pretty simple: music is an auditory (of hearing or the sense of hearing) communication whose ultimate purpose is to alter the listener's point of view by uplifting them or heightening their awareness in a positive way. Music Has the ability to remind a person of the good things that are within them and that of those around them. Just look at the way people cheer during a concert or musical performance - there's a non-tangible connection between performer and listener that's impossible to shatter. The connection is internal/spiritual rather than that of the physical world; how do you actually touch music (this is not a zen koan...). Anyway, I find it magical to enable another person to shift their perspective or improve their mood through listening to a piece of music I've written or created.

I feel grateful and fortunate to have had the opportunities to have studied music at Berklee (and later taught there) and The New England Conservatory of Music. I consider the music on this page to be an absolute outgrowth of those experiences. Enjoy...

Contemporary Classical Compositions

I became immersed with classical music during my graduate studies at NEC in Boston while I was a jazz studies major. I found a deep love and admiration for Beethoven, Debussey, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Ives among many others. These influences seeped into my composing producing...

Kaleidoscope (Kaleidoscope.mp3)

Written and orchestrated for violin and marimba when I was a graduate student at NEC. Having the opportunity to write for a vast array of fine student musicians is always one of the great perks of being a composition major at a conservatory or music college. I was always one to take advantage of this type of situation, having my pieces played in recitals, etc. I was studying classical composition with William Thomas McKinley while at NEC. He really assisted in broadening my listening and compositional perspectives. The end of this piece (which is excerpted here) was an experiment in juxtaposing very different rhythmic ideas in a very worked out/mathematical manner.

Color Abstraction (Color_Abstraction.mp3)

The third of three pieces I wrote as a suite for violin and marimba. I wrote this one in a flourish of a couple of hours one afternoon. I like the directness of its nature; it says what’s needed and goes on its merry way.

November (November.mp3)

Probably the first piece of solo piano music which I wrote and felt to be fully complete and probably one of my favorite pieces of my own music. I really enjoyed its creation; it has a sense of reaching for something inherent in it and yet finality as well. I was studying with Mick Goodrick at the time and when I played it for him he said “I’d like to hear what you’re writing ten years from now.” I was coming to the end of my formal music studies at NEC; it was one of the last pieces I wrote there.

July (July.mp3)

The combination of guitar and piano as a chamber duo is a relatively unexplored entity. I wrote this piece as well as “November” and some others as a collection of explorations into composition for guitar and piano. I think their compositional value as a duo is quite incredible and beautiful - so many textures and possibilities available. I plan on finishing this suite of pieces shortly.

Woodwind Quintet No. 1, 1st Movement (Woodwind_Quintet_No1.mp3)

Classical music affords such a wide array of possibilities for self expression. I always have enjoyed the intimacy of chamber ensembles and am thrilled to have had the opportunity to have my pieces played. My favorite section of this piece is excerpted here - again as in “kaleidoscope,” I juxtapose two very distinct and different rhythmic ideas.

Solo Guitar

Probably the most challenging form to play - there’s no safety net as the piano would have with its pedals (for sustain). Outside of possible ringing open strings, the only way to get notes to hold is by fretting the strings. Playing solo guitar is a bit like being a chamber ensemble by yourself: you have a wide intervallic (distance between notes) range to work with (that’s the nature of the guitar) and each string can be thought of as a different instrument (first string as flute, oboe, etc.). I always find it very enjoyable and fulfilling.

My Favorite Things (My_Favorite_Things.mp3)

An absolute favorite of mine since I was a junior at Berklee and heard Coltrane at Newport, 1963. the feeling and energy he exerts on his excursion makes the word inspiration pale.

Body and Soul (Body_and_Soul.mp3)

A beautifully written ballad with some interesting harmonic twists revealing many improvisational possibilities.

Chega De Saudade (No More Blues) (Chega_De_Saudade.mp3)

I’ve always loved the exemplary lyrical quality of this somewhat lesser known Jobim tune. When I recorded this, my friend and fabulous bassist, Paul Gehman, remarked of the difficulty that laid in playing the melody alone by itself, never mind playing some of the harmonies underneath it - thanks Paul!

Penny Lane (Penny_Lane.mp3)

The Beatles, my first and greatest initial musical influence, recorded this picturesque Pastiche of their childhood experiences in 1967. My greatest challenge was to keep the integrity of the tune and the beauty and simplicity of its essence (so many “jazz interpretations” often loose the essence of their corresponding pop remakes). Walking the bassline and keeping the melody going is something I’ve admired so much in Lenny Breau’s playing that I began to experiment with it when I arranged this tune in 1997. I enjoy applying this technique whenever possible when I play solo

What's Going On (What's Going On.mp3)

Motown is always something I’ve enjoyed, especially some of the more colorful and psychedelic sounding tunes like “Tears Of A Clown” and “Reflections.” This tune comes from a time period from when I was growing up which feel had a lot of very lyrical tunes (as well as some very meaningful lyrics). It lends itself very well to instrumental adaptation

Large Jazz Ensemble Compositions

The following pieces were composed and orchestrated during my tenure in Boston in the 1980’s. My creative interest was peaked by listening to :Duke Ellington, Miles, Coltrane, Gary Burton, Woody Herman, Jim Hall, Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans and Pat Martino to mention only a very few. The ideas of these brilliant men had a profound impact on my musical perspective and ability to write and play. I love writing, especially for larger ensembles and it’s always a fantastic experience to perform pieces I’ve written with groups of these sizes. These were recorded during various recitals as a student at Berklee and NEC.

Blue Dude (Blue_Dude.mp3)

A big band composition dedicated to some old friends with the melody to the “A” section written unintentionally using the Whole-Tone Scale. It’s interesting to compose something and then go back and see if there’s anything worth analyzing. I tend to write what i feel and then review it technically; It’s not my usual operating basis to intellectually first.

Bischvil Ha Saftah Sheli (For The Sake Of My Grandmother) (Bischvil_Ha_Safta.mp3)

Another big band piece. I dedicated this with a Hebrew name to my mother’s mother, Yetta, which whom I was very close throughout my life. The basic form of the composition was only 12 bars, but as the piece grew and progressed, it became an extended composition with longer sections and extensions, especially at the coda.

Sometime In Autumn ‘85 (Sometime_In_Autumn_85.mp3)

Written while I was a student at Berklee College of Music. An early composition which i still really enjoy. I began to write more lucidly by this time and find that some of my early writing (such as this) had merit to it. There are some interesting rhythmic excursions throughout the melody and harmony. It feels as though there are meter changes when there aren’t - that’s one of its interesting qualities. Performed at “The Berklee Performance Center” with an all faculty horn section (sextet).

Turning Point (Of Peace) (Turning_Point.mp3)

One of the oldest compositions which I wrote and still employ on gigs. It was a tune written for an advanced harmony class I took at Berklee with a great musician named Matt Marvuglio. I remember He wrote “Excellento!” at the bottom of the page when I received it back. That kind of feedback from a teacher you respect always stays with you! Performed at “The Berklee Performance Center” with an all faculty horn section (ten piece ensemble).

email: david@davidjoel.net
phone: (215) 831-8640