Making my music shareable!



A recent decision to stop spending money on hosting for a website no one visits (and that I haven’t looked at in the year since I got a job as a programmer) made it necessary to move the location of my music files and change all of the links in the blog posts (again). As I worked through the posts, I clicked each link to make sure it worked and that I’d gotten the correct file.

Meaning I listened to at least the first few seconds of each of my pieces.

And I started crying.

No, I’m not saying my music is so intensely beautiful and moving that it only takes a couple of seconds to move you to tears. Although I do find it beautiful. ūüôā

I bought a new laptop a little over a year ago. I haven’t tried installing my ancient version of Sibelius or slightly newer version of Sonar yet to see if they play nicely with Windows 10, and it hasn’t mattered – except for a tiny bit of fiddling at the piano, I haven’t touched my music in that time.

I enjoy programming. I love the challenge, I love to problem-solve. But while I have sometimes wondered whether I prefer programming or music composition, I believe times like this make it clear that, at heart, I am a musician.

I miss my music…

Older Music

I’m not going to spend a lot of time expounding on the background of these pieces, but I decided to get more of the worth-listening-to music I have sitting around from grad school posted. ūüôā Audio only (at least for now).

One of our projects was writing some music for a six-minute segment from a documentary on sword-forging. It didn’t have any dialogue with it yet, so it was purely some very nice footage of a modern blacksmith working in his smithy. We had some “global folk” instruments as special guests for the concert, including a ney flute, an erhu, a duduk, a didgeridoo, and a lute-like instrument that I can’t remember the name of offhand.
Live Recording: Elemental

Our Orchestration II class required us to write several different pieces spotlighting one instrument or another. The centerpiece instrument was recorded live and added to a mock-up of the rest of the piece.
Oboe: Memories
Cello: The Other Woman – written to a scene from The Age of Innocence, if I remember correctly. Video not included.
Brass: Lament
Violin: Tub Scene (Violin) – written to a really awkward scene from a really weird indie movie called Birth. Video not included. For a different project, we had to score another segment of the same scene: Tub Scene (flutes) (mock-up only)

We also worked on a scene from a black-and-white French film called The 400 Blows. I think it is about a young boy living on the streets or something – the scene we did was him being driven through the night streets in the police carriage and then being taken into the police station for booking.
400 Blows

For an assignment on rhythm, we were given a melody that we had to use, um, I think eight times in a row. We were only allowed to modify it rhythmically, if I remember correctly, and, of course, orchestrationally. I don’t remember what the instructions were as to how it was supposed to build or if it was supposed to fit a certain mood.
Rhythmic Etude

I also have the music from my thesis score. I was working with a student short film called “Coq-au-vin” that was about a family conflict, grandma always made coqauvin but grandma passed away recently and the sisters are fighting about making it or something. Haven’t watched it in several years and don’t really remember the plot beyond the sisters fighting, one of them going to the hospital (having a baby?) with her husband and grandpa, and the other sister screwing up the courage to actually behead the rooster, making the food by herself, and taking it to the hospital for everyone.
Selecting the Victim
The Critical Moment
Coq-au-vin Montage
A Sweet Ending

Just for the fun of it, I’m also including in this post a couple of voice pieces I haven’t posted yet. I sang “Goodbye” at my senior recital in undergrad. “Burn for You” was written for a special my mom and I were doing at church (she is playing violin).
Burn For You

Hope I haven’t bored you too much with this lengthy (but non-informative) post! ūüôā

Lift Me Up (New song – finally!!)

Something about working full-time again has given me an excuse to not find a great deal of time for working on music. Despite the twinges of desperate longing when I hear beautiful music (Candlelight a few weeks ago, for instance – what, me cry while listening to Cathedral Choir? Never!!), I somehow have difficulty creating the time to craft beautiful music of my own. I think I’m just being lazy.

I actually began working on the lyrics for this piece over a year ago – probably around August/September 2012. I finished the score in June, and around July finally used the microphone my parents gave me last Christmas to record the voice part. I had the mock-up mostly finished in November, but only found the time this past weekend to sit down again to give it a “fresh” listening to see what else I needed to adjust before I could call it “finished.”

I sometimes feel like there are a lot of “perfect” people in church – or at least, a lot of people who seem that way to people who don’t know them intimately. It is easy to think that if all those “perfect” people in the congregation were to find out about one’s faults or struggles, they would instantly condemn the wayward soul as being out of touch in their walk with the Lord. Even if the pastor regularly makes the comment from the pulpit that the church is “a bunch of imperfect people serving a perfect God,” it seems like we don’t have very much opportunity to realize that this is true.

I’m not suggesting that we should air everybody’s secrets from the stage, and I get the “glorify God instead of our issues” concept. But at the same time, the Bible says that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, so would it not encourage others in pain to know that other people in church, other strong Christians, also suffer? To know that they have a relative in trouble that they want the church to pray for, or that they are struggling with depression, and to watch how they deal with that difficulty? To realize that it does not make one a “bad Christian” if one has troubles in this life, is sick, has times when it is hard to fight off doubts, sometimes has to struggle against sin (we do still have flesh, after all), or does not have a “perfect” life? To be aware of the depth at which a fellow Christian has been and from which God has rescued him, and take heart that if God was able to pull that person out of their troubles, He can do the same for them?

It annoys me when preachers or speakers or songwriters gloss over real struggles and make it seem as if it is the simplest thing in the world to simply “call on the name of Jesus” and have everything be set right. Even if they claim to have been depressed like David, if they make light of it, how is someone going through a similar circumstance to believe that that speaker really understands what it is like to be in an emotional black hole, and thus believe that it really is possible to be set free from it like the speaker was? I don’t think we should glorify our problems, but does it not glorify God the more to acknowledge just how much He has done by admitting how bad the problems were that He was able to overcome anyway?

I didn’t want to write this song. Even though the lyrics are essentially lots of snippets from the Psalms, slightly modified to fit and interspersed with a few additional lines, it feels far too revealing to share. At the same time, though, that was part of what I felt was the reason God was asking me to write it. To admit the pain I’ve felt, to bring the listener into the reality of where I’ve been, and my attempts at getting out; to let others know they are not alone. Unlike a normal “Christian” song, it never really resolves itself; the trouble isn’t over when the song is. Instead of saying, “I’ve been there and I’m fine now, so buck up, shut up, and shape up; you wouldn’t be having trouble if you were right with God,” the idea is to say, I’ve been there; I know what it feels like; so let me cry with you, and then let me tell you what God has done for me. Facing trouble and being broken does not by default mean that your relationship with God is also broken, and I believe there is a verse somewhere about sharing each other’s burdens…

Lift Me Up WAVE

Lift Me Up PDF

My God, my God,
Why have You forsaken me?

I cry out to you
I used to lift my eyes
But I can’t lift them anymore

I am lonely when not alone
My heart is troubled
When nothing’s wrong
All is darkness within my mind
Free me from my anguish;
Free me from my anguish, Lord!

I laugh and start to cry
I’m sad and don’t know why!
My joy is turned to gloom.
Lord, free me from my anguish.
Free me from my anguish.

To You, O my Lord,
I lift up my soul!
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God and my Savior
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Turn to me and be gracious to me
For I am lonely and afflicted;
My head pulled down in despair.
The darkness opens up before me;
It seeks to pull me in.
Lord, free me from my anguish.

To You, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God, and my Savior as well.
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Lift my eyes up to You.
Oh, lift me up,
Lift my eyes up.
Lift me up!
Help me praise You,
Help me thank You,
For all You’ve done
And have yet to do.
Lift my eyes.

Free me from myself!
From myself…

Grey Days

I like grey days.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to dance in the sunshine. ¬†But there is something about the blue-grey feeling like the color of a far-off bank of clouds when a storm is brewing that makes me want to snuggle down under a blanket on the couch and enjoy a nice, silent cry like a gentle rain. ¬†It’s strange how comforting, how safe,¬†a little bit of melancholy can feel sometimes. ¬†Like it’s proof that I am capable of feeling more than just happiness, that I have more weather within my soul than just boring old sunshine all the time. ¬†That’s one of the things that drove me batty about Los Angeles – it was clear skies and beautiful weather every day for months, and I missed the variety of my home.

The problem, though, is that it is easy to get too comfortable with the blue-grey feeling. ¬†Being the artistic person that I am, I relish a little bit of sorrow, even though if asked, I would say I don’t like to be sad. ¬†It somehow seems more alive than mere brightness, and it is felt more deeply than prancing through the clouds. ¬†It is also more sustainable than flying, and one can’t come crashing to the ground if one is cozily ensconced in a bubble of soft weariness. ¬†But if I spend too much time wallowing in my self-indulgent blue-grey emotions, they begin to turn the darker black of storm clouds and begin to block out the sky, so that even if I want to leave them behind and return to the sunnier feelings, I can’t. ¬†I’ve tied a rock around my own neck, and the more I try to break away from the sad thoughts, the more I dwell on them, and the more I dwell on them, the heavier the rock grows. ¬†As the weight increases, my head is pulled downward until even if the clouds cleared, I wouldn’t know it, because all I can see is the darkness of my own mind; I can no longer lift my eyes to look at the sky.

And sometimes, the best thing I could do when my feelings turn blue-grey is to sleep. ¬†Too bad today is one of my long days…I could really use a nap right about now.

Sometimes, I wonder…

Note: This is actually a post I began 8/16, but then moving and trying to catch up got in the way…I’m now finishing it. ūüôā

Sometimes, I wonder if I look to God like my dog looks to me.

My dog loves to play. ¬†Not as in, “she doesn’t mind playing if I happen to decide to throw something for her,” but “she will spend half her day begging me to go outside so we can play.” ¬†If I would throw the ball all day, she would chase it all day, except for minimal breaks to catch her breath.

She’ll start around 10am, even though I took her for a walk at 5:30 and went out to play with her around 8am, after I got back from my bike ride, and even though we NEVER go outside to play again until after I finish lunch at around 12:30pm. ¬†She lays by the back door and whines every once in a while, gradually increasing in pitch and intensity until she yips and I scold her for barking in the house. ¬†If I’m upstairs, she’ll follow me into whatever room I’m in, lay down, and whine. ¬†She may come up to me and shove her head under my arm as if to say, “Aren’t I cute??” ¬†Finally, when the time rolls around, we play, and she flops down happily on the floor after we come back in.

Then around 1:30 or 2pm, she’ll start up again, even though we usually don’t go out again until my husband gets home around 4pm. ¬†Any time I make any move towards the back door on the bottom level, even if it is simply taking a step in the general direction of the stairs if I am upstairs, starting to stand up, or making a motion towards the back door if I am downstairs, she jumps up and runs eagerly to the back door. ¬†I may just be walking from the kitchen to the dining room or going downstairs to get the sponge I left down there, but because she wants so badly to play, she interprets anything I do as an indication that I am about to do what she wants. ¬†Why doesn’t she learn that there are certain times of day at which we will play, regardless of whether or not she has been whining the last two hours, and that there is no sense in getting herself over-excited during the time in between?

And then I wonder if God sees me and my antics that way.¬† I have my own ideas of what I would like my life to look like, what I’d like to be doing, and where I envision myself in a few years (in my dreams), but I want to follow His will for me…which I don’t know.¬† And so I watch for any little clues, any indicators that might suggest which way He wants me to turn, and jump at anything that looks like it is headed in the direction I want to go.¬† Whether or not His plans line up with that, I know He has a certain time at which He intends them to reach each point…and which may be later than when I’d like them to.¬† And yet I bounce around, trying to guess what I should be doing and where I am going, wanting it to happen NOW.¬†¬† I can’t seem to learn to wait until the time comes.¬†

I’m no better than my hyper puppy…

Undivided Heart

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in ¬†your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. ¬†I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. ¬†For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” – Psalm 86:11-13, NIV

I like this passage. ¬†However, I didn’t exactly go hunting for it; it simply happened to be one of the Psalms I read the day I was on a “try to write lyrics by focusing on syllables-per-line count” kick. ¬†That was probably a couple months ago by now–I didn’t date it–but when I finished “Seeking God’s Peace” and therefore needed a set of lyrics so I could write a choral piece, I found it in my little notebook and decided the poem I’d written based on David’s prayer in Psalm 86 had potential.

Funny, isn’t it, how God arranges things to coincide? ¬†Leaving aside the length of time it’s taken me to finish this piece, what with other chores and such butting in and stealing my time to work on it, when I chose the lyrics, it was simply because they seemed like they flowed well and I thought I could write an effective choral work with them. ¬†There was no “I’m going through such-and-such a time and so I’ll really be able express what I’m feeling” reasoning behind it. ¬†The last few weeks, however, I have spent a lot of time in two minds–regarding a decision that isn’t exactly “spiritually” related, but in two minds, nonetheless–and the fact I was working on a song titled “Undivided Heart” seemed awfully ironic. ¬†And even as I would point out to myself that it was not a decision between the world and God, I would realize that in a way, it was–because whether or not I knew which one was which, ultimately, one choice was what I wanted, and the other choice was the one God wanted. ¬†I’m not saying that EVERY choice we make in life is a God-or-me choice–I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to wreck or even cause complications for God’s plan if I wear the green shirt today instead of the blue one, for example. ¬†However, this one is a little bigger than what clothes to wear and will definitely affect the specifics, at least, about how God will be able to use my husband and myself–even if I don’t think about it that way most of the time. ¬†So although from a slightly different angle than David’s original Psalm, this song became my own prayer as I worked the last couple weeks to craft music that would adequately express the words.

Personally, I like the result (although there were quite a few moments yesterday afternoon while making the mock-up when I definitely did not!).  I hope you do, too.

Check out the WAVE file here: Undivided Heart

And for those who like to see the music, the score is here: Undivided Heart


Cares of the world,
Cares of the spirit;
My heart is torn in two.
Both sets of cares
Call for my attention;
Which one do I choose?

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord;
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace;
Make my heart undivided towards You.

It’s so easy to focus
On what my eyes see
And forget there’s so much more above.
Lord, help me remember
What I see is not important
When compared to Your marvelous love!

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord.
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace.
Make my heart undivided towards You.

An undivided heart can praise You.

The Patriot Deception: Seeking God’s Peace

In the summer of 2004, my family made a short film for a film festival and I, as the music major in the family, wrote the score. ¬†Now, seven years later, I’m rewriting it. ¬†Why? ¬†Partially because I need the practice scoring, and the video is handy. ¬†Partially because when I wrote it the first time, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, having never written that much music before, having never written for film before, ¬†and having never had any orchestration or composition training (unless you count Music Theory I-III). ¬†So I decided to see if, having achieved a Master’s in film composition, I could do a better job this time around.

I spent a LOT of time revising this cue after the first writing. ¬†It’s interesting, trying to revise your own music yourself and trying to figure out how to improve it, instead of relying on a teacher to give you advice. ¬†I listened to John Williams, listened to James Newton Howard, stared at my music in Sonar, opened it in Sibelius and put them side by side, and just messed with ideas between the two. ¬†I’ve never done that before…I doubt my old laptop would even have had the memory to support such usage! ¬†I also remembered that there is such a thing as a reverb effect….I think that helped the overall sound a lot, since even a little reverb really helps to gel the sounds and give them an atmosphere so they sound like they are actually being performed in a space instead of being MIDI sounds flying through a computer.

I started with a scene near the end of the movie, so it won’t introduce itself very much. ¬†Basically, Joshua Kooper, the main character, has spent most of the movie trying to find his wife and kids while trying to keep the government convinced that he has been “reformed” to their way of thinking, as opposed to the Christian seeking to keep his country from falling apart that he was seven years previously when they captured him and stowed him in a R.E.S.C.U.E.S facility to brainwash him. ¬†In this scene, Joshua has finally been reunited with his wife and is discussing the future. ¬†He says he needs to find the other patriots; his wife begs him not to leave her again since she just got him back. ¬†He then comes into the living room late that night for an anguished prayer session–he doesn’t really want to leave again, but he feels called to fight for the country’s survival.

The video didn’t bounce right in Sonar–the audio was lined up incorrectly–so I just have two versions of the audio, one with dialogue and one without. ¬†The one with dialogue is 30-60 seconds longer since I included some of it on either side of the music for some context.

With dialogue

Music only