From the category archives:

Music miscellanea

Revisiting Madama Butterfly

December 11, 2011

As I compose my own opera, I am learning and revisiting the master operas. This week I’ve been studying Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” Puccini did five revisions of the piece before he was satisfied. The press and audience were less than enthusiastic with the premiere, but its second performance was a success. The opening of the […]


Operabase (wow!)

December 10, 2011

For those of you who are opera lovers, Operabase is an amazing resource of statistics about opera. For one who is writing his first grand opera, it was fascinating to see statistics on what are the most-performed operas, or composers in the world, or what country has more opera than any other. Pretty amazing stuff: […]


Our party

October 30, 2011

Yesterday we had a Halloween party. From 3-7 was for families with children, and after 7 was adults only. It was a gas having a backyard full of little kids, mostly under 4. I realized that parents  appreciate these kinds of gathering of the clan so that their children can meet each other and play. […]


Harps make magic

October 22, 2011

Sometimes I forget things. Like in orchestration and composing: putting a harp into the texture injects magic into the music, whether it’s Handel or Boulez. I realize that I’m a string guy, attracted to the plucked string world (guitars, banjos, ukes etc) and the harp is in that world, but guitars don’ts alway say “you’re […]


Goodbye, my old Dove

October 19, 2011

Today, I traded in my 1970 Gibson Dove guitar for a Taylor 12-string. I bought this guitar in high school from whatever part time jobs and band gigs I had. That is a LONG time ago, 1970. And yes, I feel a bit guilty saying farewell to my old friend. Elvis had a Dove. Gram […]


Rediscovering the Uke

September 23, 2011

I learned to play the ukulele a long time ago and put it out of my mind until last year, when I bought one for $99 just for the heck of it. I remember learning from the Beatles DVD set, that they took ukes with them while on the road: portable, and great sketch pads […]


I just read an interesting article in Rolling Stone about The Who’s struggles with being aging rock stars. Lead singer Roger Daltrey is having trouble hearing himself and is unhappy with the quality of his voice. This may be a hearing issue, after years of aural abuse to their ears the band can’t hear so […]


Don’t set Frost

April 25, 2011

Ned Rorem told a class of young composers to avoid taking their favorite poem and ruin it by setting it to music. Many of us have sung Randall Thompson‘s “Frostiana” a multi-movement choral work based on the poetry of Robert Frost. I suspect Randall and Robert’s royalties were fairly good from this work, and would assume […]



February 19, 2011

I stumbled across the word “piloerection” last night on a documentary about “monsters” and in this case, a sighting of a large chimpanzee in central Florida. Chimps can be come extremely dangerous to humans as they get older, and a giant chimp could be a real problem. At any rate, the narrator point out that […]


LOS ANGELES, Calif. They met at UCLA thirty years ago as students, and their collaboration as artists and composers has continued to this day. “I was gestating the idea of Pacific Serenades when Roger Bourland and I met,” recalls Mark Carlson, founder of the award winning chamber ensemble, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this […]