Sunday, September 6, 2009


My composition project for the summer has been to write my fifth instrumental piece and as of this week, I have recorded this work and the first of three movements is now available on myspace. I played two movements of the piece at Bethany Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island on August 23rd and now you can listen online as well.

Since I probably won’t perform this any time soon, I figured here would be a good place for the "program notes" or whatever I should call them. The composition is for trumpet and organ and is titled “Ruba’iyat”. It is based on three rubai (four line poems) by the 11th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, with each movement is based on a different rubai. Since there are 235 of them in the collection I have, I decided on the chosen three thanks to a random number generator on my handy TI-83 calculator. It came up with 22, 211 and 5 so those are the rubai I used for inspiration. Miraculously, the three worked together very well in a logical progression.

Overall, the work is fairly minimalist. I felt that style suited the words best, not to mention, I wanted the performance to be accurate and doable. Hopefully after reading the words these three movements are based on, you’ll be able to enjoy the music more. I tried to think of the trumpet as the narrator and the organ as his/her environment. The piece runs about ten minutes total. Special thanks to Ryan Hume for helping with the recording.

Here are the rubai by Khayyam, translated into English of course.

Rubai 22:
If only there were occasion for repose
If only this long road had an end
And in the track of a hundred thousand years, out of the heart of the dust
Hope sprang again like greenness

Rubai 211:
It is we who are the source of our own happiness, the mine of our sorrow
The repository of justice and foundation of iniquity;
We who are cast down and exalted, perfect and defective
At once the rusted mirror and Jamshid’s all-seeing cup

Rubai 5:
If the heart could grasp the meaning of life,
In death, it would know the mystery of God;
Today when you are in possession of yourself, you know nothing
Tomorrow, when you leave yourself behind, what will you know?

*Jamshid was a Persian mythological figure who could look forward in time using a magical cup.

If you really want to listen to the rest, just send me an email. I’m not completely satisfied with the way they turned out, but if you solemnly swear not to judge my trumpet playing ability, you can take a listen to the work in its entirety.

*Last week’s subheading was from the Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man”.

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