Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Composer's Sketchpad: Finishing Symphony no. 1, Mvt. 4

This movement is getting closer to finished, I just need to polish it up and do some more recording. I really appreciate Phillip's vocal here, I mostly just told him to go with the feel and lyrics of  Franz Schubert's "Lindebaum" (despite the music being...well, both my own and heavier). I had a hard time at first getting past my use of someone else's lyrics, however Wilhelm Müller's words struck such a despairing chord within me I couldn't help but see them as perfect for this mood-wise. Apparently Schubert felt it too, at the time of his writing the Winterreise he had been informed of his eventually lethal syphilis contraction. Apparently Schubert felt it too, at the time of his writing the "Winterreise" he'd already been informed of his eventually lethal syphilis contraction.

At the risk of beating the point into the ground, the famous mezzo-soprano Elena Gerhardt once said of "Winterreise" that "you have to be haunted by this (piece) to be able to sing it." That's what I gave Phillip for motivation for his performance.

Once again you can hear the influence of my Serial Vignette method of composition, plus the mix of traditional and electronic instrumentations. Though the "Lindebaum" lyrical setting intensifies the feeling of gloom and dread during Phillip's vocal part, the movement is multi-dimensional, and not just from a musical perspective.

Once again you can hear the influence of my Serial Vignette method of composition, plus the mix of traditional and electronic instrumentations.

The lyrics are Herr Müller's, which are of course public domain. Music © 2017 Andrew Neires DiGelsomina




Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Composer's Sketchpad: Symphony no. 2 Mvt. 1 "Dawning" Early Sketch

This is an early sketch I've worked on for a good portion of the Summer 2017. I have quite a ways to go arranging this and getting it to CD-quality soundwise, but these are the themes and general orchestration ideas I'll be working on. I just wanted to give fans the chance to "hear inside" a working composer/orchestrator's mind when developing a symphony. I doubt there's much here to interest a more casual Rock/Metal listener, but the more immersion-seeking listener might find plenty to like.

                             All music and lyrics © 2017 Andrew Neires DiGelsomina

Deepest gratitude to Antoni Caba for this wonderful artwork.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lyraka Symphony No. 1, Mvt. 3

This isn't the final mix, but very close, and plenty enough to get the ideas across. This movement started out as a piece for a string symphony, but midway during composition I realized I needed a very large orchestra and set of synthesizers to most faithfully represent my vision. Random and aleatoric elements were also integral. Forgive the overall sound, as this hasn't been subject to a final mix and master yet, it's just there to give fans an idea of the piece.

                                 All music and lyrics © 2017 Andrew Neires DiGelsomina



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Composer's Sketchpad: Symphony no. 2 Mvt. 2 Early Sketch

This is a very rough sketch of the second movement of my Symphony no. 2, featuring the themes and general orchestration ideas for the piece. Obviously this is just a fragment, as I haven't fully fleshed out the arrangement on the first movement yet, so I've got my work cut out for me on this symphony, especially if I plan it to have manifold movements like no. 1.

Note here the hint of old school action and fantasy on display, more of an uptempo movement. I'm excited to see where these ideas take me, and thought fans and friends would find these inner workings interesting.


Many thanks to Andy Timm for this amazing picture.

All music © 2017 Andrew Neires DiGelsomina



Friday, September 1, 2017

Lyraka and the "Serial Vignette" Approach to Composition, Pt. 1

After recently reviewing my work of the past eleven years, I've come to realize that I'd quasi-inadvertently invented a musical form that is the product of what I call Serial Vignette Composition. That type of writing was already evident on Lyraka Volume 1 ("Palace Guard", "Errandia", "Neires"), and since then I have refined its execution a great deal, coming to a strikingly effective...let's say, personality quirk. This form of stream-of-conscious, almost film cue-esque writing has never been as thoroughly explored as in my music.

Please bear with me for a mercifully brief autobiographical aside.

When I was young, my parents were huge movie buffs, and we regularly went to cinemas to indulge. Movies were a big part of my life since I was young, and I came to love them very much. I was a fan of  Coppola, Kubrick, and Scorsese, and during the 90s Quentin Tarantino. In regard to Tarantino, I'll never forget watching the layout of his films ("Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill" for just two instances) and feeling as though I'd found a creative soul mate. The way I diverge from his method is by not being as ruled by the movie form as he (understandably) wa$. To elucidate, Tarantino's films led to satisfying conclusions/resolutions, despite the odd internal sequencing, while my music tends to mirror more the internal experience by often leaving conflicts unresolved, or radically resolved to (say), a rare (and/or seemingly random) chord or sudden halt, explosion...MacGuffin. Those last mentioned attributes were especially striking to me when I started studying the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the repertoire of his greatest collaborator, maestro Bernard Herrmann, because such irresolution is part and parcel of their art as well (even more fun: I didn't even discover Vertigo until after I turned 50 lol! It was like I had a couple of artist friends all this time and never knew it! :). Watch the movie, pay close attention to the score, and you'll understand better what I mean.)

This style of composition could be seen as either an oblivious concession to and/or more "artistic" example of of the ADD (i.e. popular) culture we live in, but it originally stems more from my own,  vignette-laden inner experience. To be more specific, I often reflect on experiences in a cinematic way, and this is why much of my music sounds storyboard-ready.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lyraka Musical Update

First off, thanks so much to the tremendous patience and generosity of our friends and patrons, all of  whom have gone well beyond the call of duty in terms of support. We are both hugely indebted beyond any material means, and you will all be remembered forever.

I am currently juggling the final mix of Lyraka Vol. 2 with the Lyraka Vol.1 reissue (the latter will include actual recorded orchestral sections and tutti, especially striking on tracks like "Coronation", "Palace Guard", and "Errandia"). So, added to my daily musical studies and writing of myriad orchestral pieces I'm still doing this 7 days a week, six hours minimum per day! The bad news is that this is going to take me quite awhile, but at least there's a definite light at the end of the tunnel for Lyraka Vol. 2. I am putting up a blog article that pretty much repeats the above, but I just wanted to make sure to connect to all my awesome friends personally.

I'm going for it, wish me luck as I wish all of you great success and happiness.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lyraka's "Gnashing" with Opera Vocalists

    On this version of "Gnashing" we worked with opera singers Nichole (Soprano) and Brian (Tenor). Note the polytonality of the composition, with hyper-compressed harmonic layers superimposed over the original. Here the multi-layering (in the form of manifold, clashing tones) serves to emphasize the rhythm, subtly propelling the piece into a dirge.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Palace Guard

This is an early example of my use of the Serial Vignette style, which involves the laying out of  musical "scenes" in a Creative Cinema way. Due to this being an earlier composition, "Palace Guard" was mostly aligned with the classic heavy metal style, however it's interesting to hear how the building/lead guitar part stops on a dime and goes into a far more lush, lovely orchestral setting. At first I worried that people would be permanently put off by the abruptness of the transition, but I left it like that because...well, we're talking about black-armored Mer-men and women plunging headlong into battle, singing their song. Some degree of recklessness should be allotted :)

I've had Lyraka friends ask me about that cockeyed, abstract solo after the symphonics, and a few heard Allan Holdsworth-isms in it (maybe for its "outside" sound). Count me as a fan of Allan, but I think it was more a shared, Bartokian headspace. Bartok's compositions were really being played a lot by me at the time (String Quartets 2 and 4 in particular), and wanted to play something quirkily expressive on the guitar. I notice now that section's backing sounds a bit like the Assault Attack/Into the Arena slow arp, pretty obvious how that happened...and how strange to have such an "off" solo over that backing.

But that one, abstract solo was the foreshadow of things to come: intensified self-expression and thinking-outside-the-box.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lyraka Symphony no. 1, Mvt. 1

This is a rough cut of Lyraka Symphony no. 1, the "Modern" symphony, which has been composed, arranged, conducted, orchestrated, engineered, and produced by me (and is still being edited by me in the last two areas.). This is the first movement, which unfolds multiple vignettes in a stream of consciousness way. It can enhance your experience of the piece to listen mindfully to its dynamic mapping; volume itself became a type of instrument to me during the creation of this symphony; the levels crescendo/decrescendo both overall and between instruments, a method which helps evoke multi-dimensional depth. Think of a conversation between an ensemble of personalities (or more precisely, points of view), each perspective going through the process of delineation, integration, assimilation, and sublation from all the others as its individuality asserts (and, through the process, concurrently affirms) itself. There are interjections, varying degrees of harmony and disharmony, variations within variations, extensive use of aleatoric and randomization techniques (with ramifications spilling into even the actual production and arrangement), alternatingly stark and enormous layered rhythms, elements of the grotesque, modularity...

I applied a conscientious, creative method to the panning as well, which was challenging considering the sheer number of instruments.  On that last I had to imagine a Straussian orchestra where a whole row of laptop computers (I use software synthesizers exclusively) and electric guitars are included in the ranks. I had to make sure to find a specific place for each in the mix.

Thanks to Lyraka fans for your support, without you I couldn't have conceived of creating such a large scale work as a symphony. Your belief put wings on my heart.

Special thanks to Jasmine Lyraka Aliara and my Uncle John for unfailing support, and I mean from all perspectives, with my Uncle John providing the tough love where applicable...I'm crazy aboout you both, you're my family.


All music © 2017 Andrew Neires DiGelsomina

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Haunted" and Polytonality

Polytonality in music composition is one of the most exciting advances in art over the last 150 years (more or less in regard to time frame, the debate rages on amongst musicologists). From Wagner's arguably unintentional forays in his last works to the employment in Richard Strauss' "Elektra", culminating in the rampant experimentation in early 20th century art music, polytonality remains a realm fecund with possibilities.

Though I've experimented in using this device throughout my musical career (shades appear in "Errandia" and tiny, Lizstian bits in "Palace Guard"). However, Lyraka Volume 2 is where my application becomes more intensive (see "Gnashing" below, as well as the short example here). The harmonic layers get crashing and chaotic with Lilliput's soliloquy in "Fidei Defensor" due to her rebellious, adolescent angst; at another point they rally in creepily comforting fashion during Semmonet's most obviously self-fooling rants.

In this next musical example, taken from the aria "Haunted" from the upcoming Lyraka Volume 2, please note both the discordant sound and its highly animated movement in the instrumental ensemble. What I mean by animated is that most other composers since Bartok use dissonant layers as more of a backround padding to their works, relying on low volume and extended chords. Here the layers act more in a writhing, actively involved way; even the cantabile-ish English Horn and Flute seem ever in danger being overtaken by the snakes of harmonic discord. This piece required just as much strenuous mixing as thoughtful composition, due to the aforementioned, mobilized layers and heavy instrumentation. By dint, the results are peculiarly cinematic in and of themselves.

Donations toward the final production, engineering, and release of Lyraka Volume 2 can be made by Pay Pal to: and thanks for all the amazing belief our patrons have shown over the years!

Andy and Jasmine

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lyraka's "Deathless" and Hybrid Composition

A strangely dysgrammatic (but kind) review of "Lyraka Vol. 1" for Metal Rules magazine includes this quote: "This is one of the more interesting and unique projects I have heard in a long, long time. Lyraka has written and arranged and composed a type of cross-fertilized metal that I don’t think I have never heard before. Bands mixing different styles and influences is nothing new, but Lyraka have really created something special. "

Well, that was the intention 😈. My goal at the time was specifically geared toward advancing Rock/Classic Metal's long-in-the-fang'd structures, and one of the ways I did that was by adding manifold genres outside the former ; admittedly, the "cross-fertilized" sound was just as much a product of my aim toward delineating the different characters' personalities through musical tastes and/or reflections, but there it is.

In recent years my compositional priorities changed; as I studied more advanced harmony and orchestration in classic Art music I became convinced that the goal of advancing Rock/Metal was futile, as the trendy, "fashion-oriented" side to the genre was simply integral to the whole. People will more often than not be more interested in the tried and true, which means that they would always be more interested in hearing the same song structures and chord progressions that the Beatles and Beach Boys basically pioneered and beat to death in the 60s (not to forget the huge discography of  other composers in the genre like Frank Zappa and, for a more recent example, John Zorn). I saw that most fans of Rock would rather turn to either Space Rock (Pink Floyd) and the erroneously named "Progressive Rock/Metal" when they wanted to feel elevated, not caring that there's a difference between adding psychedelic elements and odd times (or showing off your masturbatory instrumental powers) and writing advanced compositions (at least, advanced from the broader musical perspective). When I learned to accept these truths, money and popularity became subservient to personal expression in my writing. I'm mostly interested in outward manifestation of the vision Jasmine and I share, plus (as mentioned above) staying true to my goal of composing in a uniquely personal, expressive way. Plus very few people (besides me) actually pay for music today, at least that which isn't part of the MTV machine

In this composition you can hear the incorporation of Rock/Metal and electronic elements with the more traditional orchestration and even hymnic;  also note the presence of more familiar, present-day effects and panning techniques as well as the wide dynamic range of the piece as a whole. The numerous themes add to the diffuse quality of the work, keeping the listener engaged and waiting for developments that more often than not don't occur. Here elements of Durchkomponiert are even more thoroughly applied than on the first album, edging this more toward the avante-garde than anything remotely popular.

"Deathless" also stands as one of my most personally expressive pieces, this is taken from inside of me, my personality transubstantiated into music.

Donations toward the final production, engineering, and release of Lyraka Volume 2 can be made by Pay Pal to: and thanks for all the amazing belief our patrons have shown over the years, "in our hearts you'll live forevermore!".

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Note the polytonality of this composition (video below), with hyper-compressed harmonic layers superimposed over the original. Here the multi-layering serves to emphasize the rhythm, seeming to propel the piece on a gut-level dirge.

Without the vocals this piece sounds a bit vampiric. I like the way the contrabassoon works with the Double Bass, the two ultimately giving the low end a rugged, gouging sound.

Monday, January 2, 2017

"Everything is Subjective", Uh...No.

I find the "everything is subjective" argument harmful toward others' education. If everything is subjective, then Beethoven's late era works (including the 9th and Kammermusik) can be seen on a level with Kiss. Hate to break it to Kiss fans (I'm one btw) but that's complete balderdash.

The worse part of this is how it might make the young composer lackadaisical toward appreciation of music that's still, to this day, ahead of anything going on. Talk about setting a limit to your studies.

Studying works like the 9th can add so much to a young composer's education, and that also goes for works like the Brandenburg Concerti, Don Giovanni, and the Rite of Spring...far, far more than the score to, say, "Sweet Home Alabama" (great Rock song of course)...or "We Are The World" for that matter.

Whenever I see that "everything is subjective" thing I know that person has little understanding of the compositional scope and depth of the older compositions listed above. And I tune out, because it's pure ray serene horseshit of the lowest caliber. That "subjective" claptrap might be true when talking completely within the confines of the Popular music genre (Rock and all its subgenres, hip hop, country western, MTV, etc.).

Not in the far broader scheme of music. If you don't believe that, then you just don't want to believe it. Just don't try comparing Jay Z to Mahler in front of someone who has any sort of formal music'll be laughed out of the room. That doesn't mean the music of Jay Z is invalid...far from it, it's exemplary within its genre. But musically speaking (strictly) ha ha. NO.