Instrumentals


Concertino for Trombone, 3rd Movement (1942)
by Neil Carson (1921–1990)

In 1942, the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Rudolph Ganz, presented a youth series at which one of the pieces performed was a trombone concertino composed by my uncle Neil Burton Carson, then 21, who graduated from Harvard that year with a degree in music. Neil went on to become a nuclear physicist and early computer programmer.

Upon my uncle's death, I was given a photocopy of the handwritten score of the third movement of the concertino. In 2001, I finally was able to hear the music by copying the score into NoteWorthy Composer software.

MIDI file (3:29)


Flourish (1971): This is as far back as I can go, or want to. It was the first thing I played that was beginning to sound like something more than a child's finger exercise. It would be a few months yet before I was exposed to the subtler, gentler stylings of Chico Marx. (Key: D)
MIDI file (2:00)

Death of a Paramecium (1971): This brief theme was originally composed with no one in mind, but was later adopted by and thereafter forever associated with a particular schoolmate who liked it. (Key: C minor)
MIDI file (1:24)

Modal exercises (1972): Melodies written for my 11th-grade music theory class taught by Andrew Cottle.

  1. Dorian mode
  2. Phrygian mode
  3. Lydian mode
  4. Mixolydian mode
  5. Locrian mode
  6. Chromatic
  7. Whole-tone
  8. Same played upside down

    MIDI file (3:03)

B for Belair (1972): A piece in the key of B dedicated to guitarist friend Mike Belair. At one point it quotes (at a faster tempo) a four-note motif from a piece Mike composed shortly before. This is the oldest music for which I still have the pencil-written score from its original composition. On the score I indicated that, at the time, I considered it to be my 68th song, though only a handful survive that are earlier and deserving of the term.
MIDI file (7:07)

Bi-Cusp-Id (1973): The title of this piece (which, apropos of nothing, was composed on New Year's Day) refers to a friend who, like me, was born on an astrological cusp. (Key: A minor)
MIDI file (2:27)

Apes of Death (1975): This was my only serious attempt at arrangement for additional instruments besides piano. It sounds like the soundtrack to a bad 1950s science fiction movie, except for the piano parts, which were influenced by Keith Emerson and are bad in a wholly different way. It has three distinct sections; at the end of the second section, which otherwise is for woodwinds, you will hear where a full choir is supposed to sing the words "apes of death" (for which Chuck Barry was given cowriting credit, gratefully I'm sure). The recording is from 1996, when Bill Bannister took the MIDI files I provided and played them through Cakewalk software. (No key signature)
MP3 file (4:23)

Agnus Dei (1975): A classroom assignment presented together with analysis of what's wrong with it.

Fragment (1985): An unfinished attempt at something new, a decade after I stopped writing music regularly.
MIDI file (0:54)

"Home, Sweet Home" for Home (2007): I got the idea to use the house and everything in it as a musical instrument. The obvious choice of songs was "Home, Sweet Home," so I retrieved the free piano arrangement available from the Mutopia Project. I chose a metronome setting of 96 to make the arrangement exactly a minute long. Then I walked around the house carrying a tape recorder and soup spoon and tapped on things. After collecting several hundred sounds, I determined their musical pitch as best I could. The resulting distribution of pitches and durations told me that in order to have the largest selection, I needed to transpose the arrangement from the key of F to C. Then I narrowed the sounds down to about 55 deemed suitable to use, based on their pitch, octave, and duration.
Mutopia version (transposed to C in NoteWorthy Composer) (MIDI file)
Home version (edited in GoldWave) (MP3 file)

 

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