Perplexed Joy

Well, I’m not perplexed about my new position. It’s now official: I’m the Music Director/Organist at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Dublin CA. The congregation is wonderful and there is great potential for growth. The “perplexed” in the title refers to my latest composition project. It’s not over yet! I thought I had the piece for Amanda and Jeremy’s wedding, but then I wrote another one! I’ll have to pick one for the ceremony, but I’m well on the way to creating the suite of pieces I thought about in a previous post (two pieces finished; a good start on a third; can another one be far away?).

Like the previous Reflected Joy, this piece is based on themes from my son Jeremy’s upcoming wedding to Amanda Riegle. The flavor of Jesu, Joy is quite evident, as you can see in the first excerpt. The Beethoven Ode to Joy presence is quite subtle at the beginning, with the first hints coming in the left hand 7 measures in. There’s a much stronger statement towards the end of the piece in the treble clef–I know, I know: the right hand has a little juggling to do, but it IS playable! Although nobody would call this a neo-Baroque piece, it flows more gracefully than its companion work largely because of the 12/8 time signature and the three-measure open-ended phrases.

While I like the impressionistic flavor of one of the motives of the previous piece, as well as the dramatic shifts as now you see, now you don’t see the Beethoven, the flowing character of this piece may be more appropriate for the ceremony. About halfway through there’s an interesting juxtaposition of keys, as the piece moves from G major to E-flat to C to D in successive phrases. Originally I’d had the piece return to its starting key, but the V-I progression was out of character since none of the other key changes were modulations as much as voice leading.

What a delightful dilemma: do I play the first piece I finished, or this one, or write another? All while packing up boxes of music and books to move to my new position, finishing my Mom’s estate, turning our “camping out” chez Dad into a more livable arrangement–and more. Life is wonderfully full.

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3 Responses to Perplexed Joy

  1. Dan W says:

    Being incapable of reading music I have started a side project to provide you with a quick and easy way of producing an audio sample of the brief snippets you tantalise us with!

    Its like being asked to read say George Orwell’s 1984 in swedish. You know its gotta be good but your completely lost without a translation!

    If we can put dogs in space, im sure theres a way of making your page play music!

    (And im not referring to that horrific midi rubbish either!)


  2. Robert Train Adams says:

    Actually, I can do audio excerpts, Dan. The quick and dirty way to do them is to make .WAV files of my score and then convert them to mp3s. The problem with that method is that the mp3s are based on that horrific midi rubbish. There is still the rather sterile sound of General MIDI, along with the poor musicality that comes from mechanically reproducing the musical score (when I play I pay as much attention to the spaces between the notes as I do to the notes themselves; MIDI is all “note on” and “note off”).

    The better method, which you may well shame me into doing (and it really doesn’t take very long) would be for me to play the excerpts on my keyboard. I’m still using MIDI sounds, but my keyboards (Kurzweil or Roland, depending on my mood) will give much better audio–and I hope that my performance would also be more musical.

    An even better way (not quite best, but close) would be for me to get the audio by recording an actual piano performance. Since my piano is still about 4 miles away, that’s not yet practical (we’re still largely camping out at my Dad’s).

    But your suggestion is excellent. I’ll make sure to put audio clips along with score examples. With blogger I’m storing the clips on my website rather than, so that adds a minor complexity. I’d really like to switch to Movable Type and keep both blog and website on the same server. But that’s in the future.

    Cheers, mate!

  3. Delara says:

    Congrats on the job! I assume you will be taking Dan and I on a tour of your new Diocese in August. Sure, I may not like going in churches when a service is on, but I love the architecture and the care that goes into constructing a house of worship.

    And for those of us who can read music, looking forward to hearing what I’m reading.

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