A link to my interview in the Winter 2018 edition of The Rookery has been added to the Links page on my site. This came about through David Arivett's recording of Eastern Neck Island. The staff at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge liked the music so much that they asked Marty Hoover, a journalist living in Rock Hall, Maryland, to write an article about it.
When I woke up today memories of my graduate composition recital came to mind. It has been many years since I thought about it. The music was presented in an unconventional way. Each piece was performed in a different location. The audience walked from place to place and was led by actors from the drama department. The actors were in costumes and street theater was performed along the routes. A ragtime band led the audience to the last performance.
The compositions included a string quartet, a piece for flute and electronic tape, an instruction-based piece for 14 instruments that included staging, and an extended jazz piece. Most of the music had an avant-garde flavor. However, my concept for the event was for it to be fun and accessible. Afterwards, Dr. Tyrone (my composition professor) came up to me with a big smile. He loved it.
In 2012 I wanted to write a new piece that expressed the spirit of that earlier time in my musical life. Smaller Ups And Downs was the result. The piece came to me in a dream! Instead of hearing the music, I saw pages of a score. The dream also gave me ideas for an 11-tone harmonic complex based on intervallic relationships. Upon waking up I wrote down as much as I could remember from the dream. Then, as I worked on the score in the days that followed I used my intuition to fill in the gaps.
This piece is for 5 wind instruments (flexible instrumentation) and soloist. The role of the soloist is entirely improvised. In addition, the soloist does not have to be limited to one musician. It can be expanded to multiple musicians -- up to a small band (any genre). This music has a great amount of freedom. Any creative possibility can be explored.
Ensembles that are interested in playing Smaller Ups And Downs can write to me from the Contact page.
I was reflecting just now on all of the music that I wrote before 1989. With a handful of exceptions, all of that work (handwritten scores and lead sheets) was lost due to one reason or another.
I was thinking about several pieces that I wrote in the late 1960's and early 70's. In particular, two pieces for concert band -- Haiku Sketches and Ten Events for Band. It has been many years since I thought about them. There was also an extended piece for double quartet (classical woodwinds and jazz ensemble) as well as several pieces for experimental theater. As I write these words, more originals and arrangements are coming back into my mind. I did A LOT of writing during those years!
At this stage in my life and in how my music has evolved, it is likely that I would no longer care for those earlier pieces; but, some of them might have been like meeting old friends again. Regardless, what's gone is gone. I am entirely happy to have all of the music that I have written since 1989...almost 30 years worth. When I think about the pieces that I no longer have, I can see how they served as a foundation for the music that came later. In truth, nothing is ever lost.
The Charleston Youth Winds ensemble in Charleston, SC has begun to rehearse two of my pieces -- Appalachian Awakening and Salt Marsh Rag. They have an interesting instrumentation: woodwinds, viola, trombone, tuba, piano, and rhythm/percussion as needed. Kristy Marx, the ensemble's Director, discovered my scores (written for flexible instrumentation) at Sheet Music Plus and purchased these pieces. The unconventional instrumentation of this ensemble is right up my alley.
WAMU (NPR station in Washington, DC) selected twelve of my recordings for Capital Soundtrack. This project enables original music by musicians in the DC-MD-VA region to be featured with the station's programming.
A Ballad For T
Connecticut Avenue SUVs
Eastern Neck Island
New Tango No. 3
Rubber Chicken Rag
Salt Marsh Rag
Samba Da Aguia Pescadora
Sleepy Creek Samba
Sunset On The Chesapeake
WAMU banner feature: February 6, 2017
David Arivett made a recording of Eastern Neck Island. This piece is a jazz lullaby and was inspired by the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. It can be heard on the Eastern Neck Island page.
The lead sheet for Eastern Neck Island is for sale at Sheet Music Plus and the recording is available for music licensing through Zudo Music.
A link to my interview in the Spring 2017 edition of McKendree Magazine has been added to the Links page on my site. The jazz feature has several stories. Scroll down and you will see mine.
"Musicians strive their whole lives to become like alchemists, healing the world with their music, turning the world’s pain to beauty. But we haven’t yet learned how to save ourselves. If we remain passive bystanders, I believe we will watch the music that we most value slowly silenced." -Maria Schneider
DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES
Music has never been more popular, more accessible, or more valuable. Billions of people around the globe rely on it to enhance their lives. Overall revenue from the use of music has increased exponentially, but only a tiny fraction is finding its way to the people who actually create the music and recordings. The business of music has become unsustainable for those who make it. Therefore:
I support these principles and encourage fellow musicians & music fans to add their endorsement to the Music Answers campaign.
I received this letter from my friend Gary Wakenhut in April 2016. I wrote a number of tunes for his ensemble (including his wife Anne) which they recorded in the 1990's and early 2000's. Gary passed on in February 2017.
"Roger, I don't think you are aware of how many people listened to your music back in those early days. One of your compositions is on 12 of our 16 Collecting Consort releases. Through the years, those recordings have sold over 200,000 copies. That's a lot of people hearing your music when you weren't aware of it.
Don't feel badly that no one gave you any feedback for your compositions. When people mention their favorite recording, I often ask them what their favorite composition is on that recording. They can never give me an answer even though each recording has many familiar folk, classical, and contemporary selections . I think that has something to do with the spirit of our recordings and the expressive capacity of your compositions. People seem to enter a different reality, perhaps on a deeper unconscious level when they listen to this music.
It all goes back to me answering your ad for "free compositions" in a music magazine. You sent us a book of your music and I responded with a gift of one of our cassettes. After listening to it, you wrote "Winter's Woods" for us. You truly captured our essence and it appeared on our next recording. That must have been the late 1980's. Thus our collaboration and release of your compositions continued until we quit producing CDs in 2005. 200,000 recordings is a lot of listening time for Roger Aldridge's music.
Now we are exploring videos of nature with our music as the sound track. I expect it won't be long until a Roger Aldridge composition appears on one of those videos. I suspect "Treasure the Chesapeake" might make it. Thanks for all these years of great collaboration and friendship."
For those who would like to listen to my past radio shows with Rich Pulin, archive recordings are available on the Links page under Interviews.