When I decided to go back to school in August 2013 to get my masters, I needed to submit a score. In the 1970’s probably wrote over 50 large ensemble compositions, primarily for Jazz Ensembles, “Turbulence” and even more paid arrangements/scores for a variety of artists, Rock and Funk bands and commissions. Full scores written and copied by hand.
I have no idea when or where I purged this material from my life. Probably one of my spiritual mentors encouraged me to discard my past. So I just submitted this simple lead sheet and probably some excuse why I only have this one score, and was accepted into the program.
This is a church hymn dedicated to the divine in us all. Originally written for a teacher I was studying with at the time, who taught Surat Shabda Yoga, which can be described in English as “Union of the Sound Current and Soul”. It is one of five pieces I composed in 2000 for a session with Steve Kaplan on Acoustic Piano, and myself on Trumpet. Recorded at Steve Kaplan’s studio in Malibu in Oct. 2000. This is the original version of this piece.
I am actually whispering into the trumpet on this recording. A Coles ribbon microphone is jammed directly into the bell of the horn. There is a certain innocence about this sound that I was looking for, and it was really hard to play in this fashion. Simply breathing and pushing air lightly into a piece of brass.
Steve was killed flying his own plane to a rehearsal in 2003. He was the accompanist to all of the recordings I created between 1980 and 2000. One of the top LA studio keyboardists, on hundreds of albums and film scores. In the mid 90’s became the composer and re-wrote the themes for “Wheel of Fortune”, and “Jeopardy”. He was a spiritual brother to me, we both studied with the same spiritual teachers and that would be the primary topic of our conversations and adventures. I still miss him today, writing this.
Grace of Your Love – Ensembles version for String Quartet
I created 5 string quartet pieces for my final thesis project called the Tiferet Suite. Removed two of them for the actual concert. One of the works, was the Grace of Your Love re-orchestrated and arranged for the quartet. This video from August 5, 2015 is the premiere of that piece.
In January 2016 the Power Quartet, recorded the 3 pieces, in NYC at Steve Addabbo’s Shelter Island Studio for the Ensembles album. These recordings have already been mixed by Steve Addabbo and will be a part of the Ensembles album.
Notes about the composition and arrangement.
Grace of Your Love Structure
The original arrangement of this piece uses the structure of, 8 bar verse, 8 bar verse. 8 bar chorus, and an 8 bar coda which is repeated 3 times (Grace of Your Love lead sheet at top). I worked out the structure of the new version with Don DiNicola using a variety of methods. One method I used to show him the basic existing structure of the first arrangement was to build a visual layout in Microsoft Visio software of my first draft. The sections marked with a “X” were removed based on a mutual editing decision.
Musical sections are color coded. I use Visio in my day to day work, designing computer systems and find it helpful to give high level visual representations of segments. This image shows the eventual structure of the string quartet version of Grace of Your Love.
The new structure of the string quartet uses intro, verse, verse, extended chorus (13 bars), extended coda (9 bars). A fugue like exposition of the melody (26 bars), then a triplet arpeggio is used to build momentum underlying a return to the 8 bar original phrases of, verse, verse, chorus, coda and a fade.
Grace backwards introduction
I created this extended one minute introduction to the piece, which is actually the ending played backwards. This introduction builds and then fades and the beginning of the forward part of the piece interacts with the backwards components for perhaps an additional 20 seconds. This is the ending of the piece.
The triplet section is used at the beginning and the tempo is first set so the groups of three are natural in the beginning, so I used a 9/8 pattern at 1/3rd the tempo to make this understand-able and play-able and this helps “wash” the sonic spectrum when the actual beginning of the piece starts at letter A.
As compositionally interesting as this might appear, using the 9/8 metric modulation at the beginning, didn’t end up being a great idea. The revision of the score for the recording, I reverted this back to being a 3/4 meter and made adjustments.
Link to the score – Tiferet-Grace-Version-2 – Full Score
Grace – other modifications
The new version of this piece uses a new introductory phrase before the primary melody. This phrase is re-introduced at the end of the piece.
The new middle section of Grace, has a slight fugue, using the original melody, I shift chords underneath and develop these two counterpoint active lines in the violins.
The fugue-like section drives the momentum forward and eventually a triplet pattern is added to the first violin This sets a triplet feeling that is then carried by the arpeggios in the viola and cello which accompanies the use of the melody until the end.
The melodies are re-introduced, and build to the final chorus. The piece then fades to nothingness. The Grace of Your Love represents the receptive part of Tiferet.
Based on a suggestion by Wendy Law, for the recording, I actually changed the key of the piece, to make it easier to play on the cello. Wasn’t planning on writing this much, but the piece does have some history, so at the least thought I would share a bit of it.
When you compose, sometimes you can pull things from the past, and make them relevant for this moment.