Bill Whitley and The Inside Story: Benchmark Chamber Music

Composer and pianist Bill Whitley’s writes music that is rooted deeply in themes of mysticism and nature, incorporating musical elements as diverse as a Gregorian chant, raga music, and progressive rock. Today, Whitley’s our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover what makes his new album benchmark chamber music.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a composer?

The first time I heard In a Landscape by John Cage, was when I realized that maybe ‘classical music’ was bigger than Chopin and Beethoven. I started improvising, then notating solo piano music like there was no tomorrow. What surprised me most, was that I never got tired of writing music. Unlike practicing and performing on the piano, the depth of the composing well seemed to have no end to it.

If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would it be?

Testing high-quality headphones.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?

On the deck of a cabin overlooking the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers. That kind of openness is where my music comes from.

Chamber Music

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

Wow. That’s like trying to pick a favorite child.  I’m really proud of all of the tracks and all of the performances, and the mixes…

…but “The Eddy (reprise)” into “White Water” (tracks 13 & 14) at the conclusion of Little White Salmon where Donna starts humming, then falls back into “Flow”…that gets me every time. It seems like a really great way to end the album, and it’s so clear that everyone…performers, engineers, producer…everyone really got the piece, the music, and the whole album.

Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose than the others?

They were all either really easy to write or all really hard to write.  I can never remember. I do know that some of them came with really difficult emotions. But that’s what the pieces are for…and often the ones that are the result of working through deep sadness sound the happiest.

But one piece, in particular, captures the feeling of failing to find my way out of depression…that would be “Oaxaca.”

What does this album mean to you personally?

It’s most definitely a benchmark. I didn’t expect that. I look back at all of the work I’ve written and recorded before with I DREAM AWAKE as the acid test. I’ve already actually recycled/deleted/removed uploads of works I’d written or recorded prior since this album has been mixed. I think my body of work will be defined as pre- and post- I DREAM AWAKE.

I see the album as an example of what my work could be.

Bill Whitley’s I DREAM AWAKE releases on Ravello Records Friday, August 11th and will become available for purchase and streaming. 

Doug Bielmeier and The Inside Story: Experimental Electronic Music and the Creative Process

Composer Doug Bielmeier, who is an assistant professor at The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI and a freelance engineer at Noisy Buffalo Productions, has 15 years of studio and live engineering experience under his belt. Today, Bielmeier is our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to see Bielmeier’s thoughts on what it means to be creative and writing experimental music.

Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up? 

I remember my sister and I listening to a 45 rpm single of “La Bamba” (not sure if it was the Ritchie Valens version or the Los Lobos version done for the Lou Diamond Philips film of the same name). At the time, we didn’t speak Spanish, so the words were meaningless to us. Nevertheless, we understood the excitement in Ritchie’s voice and the frenetic Quecha-like rhythms. The B-side of the single was Valen’s more famous “Oh Donna.” It was a slow and sighing ballad about a girl he pinned over. We were more interested in “La Bamba” because of the rhythm and excitement. The A-side was worn down to the vinyl where the B-side remained pristine. I think it’s a wonderful idea that two kids from suburban Buffalo, NY, in the 1980s could understand a Mexican-American pop hit from the late 1950’s and be excited about it. It’s this “dulcet excitation” in music that I’ve been drawn to ever since.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/ composer/creator?

I don’t think I woke up one day and said, “I want to be creative and will create from this day forth until the rapture.” I think being a creative person is a lifestyle: The process of creating intertwines with your daily schedule and becomes your ritual. I was a very creative child. Luckily, my parents supported my creativity and paid for piano, voice, and even composition lessons throughout my youth. I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of TV, and my mother required that we read a particular number of books per month as well as keep a journal. I grew up learning that days were meant to be filled with “doing.” I’ve grown to embrace the creative process, deciding that the process itself is almost more important than the outcomes.

If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would that be?

I really enjoy my life, which includes teaching music technology, hosting a podcast about creativity (The Process), long bike rides, lots of coffee, and creating and producing music and video. I’d really like to shape my music for use in TV and film. I think it would be rewarding to have the music utilized beyond listening and performance. I’ve always loved film and cinema. Using my music to enhance a scene on the big screen is something I’d really enjoy and I think my music lends itself to this end. Some days I do contemplate giving it all up and training to become a park ranger in the Pacific Northwest, but, I think, I need to write a movie score or two first.

Experimental Electronic Music

What was your favorite musical moment on the album? 

Track 2 on the CD, “The Rocking Chair,” is a great track to get a sense of what the album’s all about. I also feel it is the most musical in that it has a rather straightforward form: it builds to a vocal crescendo or chorus and then dissipates into the next section/track. This track feels the most revealing of my process and my ideas for the album, specifically Windowing. The practice of windowing in electronic composition deals with the manipulation of found sound files by the stretching and compression of time, sample rate, bit depth, and window size. The layering and temporal placement of these windows create larger sonic landscapes for the creation of new musical works divorced from the source context. The original source material for “The Rocking Chair” was a short four-bar acoustic guitar sound file that was dropped several octaves in pitch by digitally slowing the playback speed. This track also features my live and processed vocals. I look forward to exploring vocal processing and manipulation with the process of windowing in upcoming releases.

What does this album mean to you personally?

“Betty and the Sensory World” is a celebration of the short life of vocalist Elizabeth “Betty” Reed. Her untimely death should be a wake-up call to anyone who is currently “coasting” through days or is “waiting till tomorrow” to make a change. The piece is a statement about leaving the “cave” of entitlement, victimhood, addiction, depression, and isolation, by returning to the sensory world of “true reality” (as described in Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave”)

Overall, the album represents my creative output in the spring and summer of 2016 while living in Indianapolis, IN.  These days were filled with warm weather, long bike rides, lots of coffee, and music. These sonic landscapes became the sound track for my return to the sensory world and renewed creative output. I spent hours bike riding around Indianapolis listening to versions and drafts of the album on my earbuds. For me, the music and its creation were a form of meditation and an affirmation of the sensory world. From this perspective, the process itself was just as important as the outcome.

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?

I composed this work to function like a guided meditation, so it is best, if possible, to experience it as a singular statement. That, however, doesn’t mean it should be listened to in a vacuum. I think it’s most effective while doing something else relaxing. Turn it up loud over some speakers while you paint the garage or do the laundry. Throw on some headphones and go for a walk or bike ride. My hope is that eventually upon hearing the music you will be able to drift into a place of contemplation and calm.  The music’s ability to create these meditative sonics relies heavily on repetition, pulse, and the use of found audio. This combination, known as Windowing, evokes a sense of familiarity while creating an electronic landscape that appears organic to the sensory world. I hope the listener enjoys the composition, finds some serenity, and uses the sonic landscape to reconnect with the sensory world and themselves.

Doug Bielmeier’s BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD releases on Ravello Records and will be available to purchase and stream, Friday, August 11th.

New PARMA Artist: Carlos Simon

Carlos Simon.jpgWe are so thrilled to be welcoming composer and arranger Carlos Simon to the PARMA family!

2018 will see the release of Carlos’ album MY ANCESTOR’S GIFT on Ravello Records.

“Out of the turmoil and anguish of slavery, unfair laws and systematic oppression, African Americans have birthed the most incredible art forms. I, and many others, have benefited from the sacrifices that so many made. MY ANCESTOR’S GIFT is a homage to these offerings. I am the hope and dream of my ancestors. These pieces are truly retrospective and introspective of who I am as an African-American artist.” – Carlos Simon

Carlos recently graduated from the University of Michigan and currently serves on the faculty of Spelman College where he teaches courses in composition and music technology. He also holds degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College.

Recently, Carlos received the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from the American Composers Orchestra. Additionally, he was the winner of the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Award in 2015 and the Presser Award from the Theodore Presser Foundation. In the same year, he served as the young composer-in-residence with the Detroit Chamber String and Winds for the 2015-2016 season. In 2015 he was named one of ASCAP’s 2015 “Composers to Watch.”

Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, Simon has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. Mr. Simon has toured internationally with soul Grammy nominated artist, Angie Stone, where he performed throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Can’t wait to hear the music? Here is a preview of what’s to come:

 

There’s more fantastic music also available on Soundcloud. For more information visit www.coliversimon.com

Welcome, Carlos!

August New Music Features Our 500th Release!

Our next round of releases is, as always, a little different than anything that has come before.

Today we’re releasing Croatian pianist and composer Matej Meštrović’s debut album on Navona Records, which is an exciting all-piano take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  We’ve also got composer Bill Whitley’s debut album featuring sumptuous chamber music and our first-ever salmon-inspired recordings.  Then there’s an opera by Ross Crean based on Welsh author Arthur Machen’s eponymous novel of scientific hubris and supernatural behavior.  And …

(drum roll, please …)

Here’s the big one, our 500th PARMA release (Woah!), THE TRANSFIGURATION OF GIOVANNI BAUDINO, featuring the work of John A. Carollo.

New Music
The vinyl will be released on September 15th. Stay tuned for a very special announcement. Until then, you can pre-order the album on Amazon, which is dropping on August 25th.

Not only is it our 500th recording, it’s our first ever vinyl release.  Return with us to the days of wow and flutter, of 33 rpm, and bask in the warmth that only 180 grams of slick, black virgin vinyl can provide.

If you’re an old soul still spinning stacks of wax, this is the album for you! If you crave the warmth of vinyl and it’s more human, natural sound, this is the album for you!  And if you seek out creative and courageous music, this is definitely the album for you!

As mentioned above, our 500th release isn’t the only exciting project happening next month. Get a load of this roundup and start planning your pre-orders!

Four Seasons

4 SEASONS FOR 3 PIANOSMatej Meštrović

Classical/Classical Crossover

Performing with Hakan A. Toker and Matija Dedić on three pianos (and accordion), this album presents a whirlwind transcription of Vivaldi’s masterful string concertos by Croatian pianist and composer Matej Meštrović.

iTunes  |  Amazon  |  ArkivMusic


Medieval

SYMPHONIC SUITES 1 & 2: A MEDIVAL SAGA | Mark John McEncroe

Classical/Chamber Music

Australian composer Mark John McEncroe’s presents a classic adventure in orchestral music. Powered by McEncroe’s thematic style, these two symphonic suites lead the listener through a harrowing and dramatic story of ancient conflict and grandeur.

iTunes  |  Amazon  |  ArkivMusic


The Great God Pan

THE GREAT GOD PAN | Ross Crean

Classical/Opera

Chicago-based composer presents his opera The Great God Pan in this debut album that takes its story from an eponymous 1890 novella by Welsh author Arthur Machen, which explores themes of scientific hubris, transcendental medicine, and unexplainable supernatural behavior.

iTunes  |  Amazon


Vallarta

VALLARTA SUITE | John Robertson

Classical/Orchestral

On his debut album, New Zealand born, Canada-based composer John Robertson showcases the continuation of classic orchestral traditions with beautiful melodies, confident orchestration, and classic musical forms.

iTunes  |  Amazon  |  ArkivMusic


Chamber Music

I DREAM AWAKE | Bill Whitley

Classical/Chamber Music

Composer Bill Whitley presents in his debut album chamber music that’s characterized by meditative and trance-like qualities inspired by various forms of meditation practice, and, above all, the artistic installations of Alexander Calder.

iTunes  |  Amazon  |  ArkivMusic


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BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD | Doug Bielmeier

Electronic/Ambient

Composer Douglas Bielmeier’s meticulously crafted debut Ravello Records release collects works for electronics, which soothingly twists into a languid river of sound.

iTunes  |  Amazon


Cuban Music

TRADITIONAL CUBAN MUSIC | Ellasón

Latin/World

Ansonica Records presents a fantastic collection of traditional Cuban music performed with the Havana based all-female octet, Ellasón.

iTunes  |  Amazon

July 2017 New Music is Here

You don’t have to wait any longer, our new music and artists in July are finally here. Pick your liking and order now…

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ARGOT  | Véronique Mathieu

Véronique Mathieu’s ARGOT is a spectacular demonstration of her abilities as a violinist with a unique array of violin-centric works strengths of twentieth-century modernist composers.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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BACK BEFORE BACH  |  Piffaro, The Renaissance Band

The Philadelphia-based ‘Renaissance band’ Piffaro presents an exceptional compendium of sixteenth and early seventeenth-century German and Franco-Flemish music.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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THE SEA KNOWS  |  Michael Kurek

Composer Michael Kurek presents a charming collection of works that are a tonal idiom reminiscent of the great melodist of the early 20th century.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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ASCEND  |  Society of Composers, Inc. 

The latest collection of works by Society of Composers, Inc., is an enthralling showcase of leading composers and performers from around the world.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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WOEFULLY ARRAYED  |  Jonathan Little

Sacred and secular choral works by composer Jonathan Little showcasing intricate “polychoral” techniques such as multi-part, multi-divisi, solo, echo and spatial effects.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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SUFFICIENT TROUBLE  |  Brian Belet

Composer and performer Brian Belet offers a selection of computer music composed over the last twenty years, featuring acoustic instruments and responsive electronic materials.

iTunes | Amazon | ArkivMusic | Spotify


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TURNING TO THE CENTER  |  Phillip Schroeder

A subdued, atmospheric tour de force of songs written primarily for an ensemble of baritone voice, clarinet, and keyboards that feature texts by Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Rumi.

iTunes | Amazon | Spotify

The PARMA Album of the Day: EXASPERATING PERPETUATION

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Delivering a diverse cross-section of dynamically rhythmic and tonally expressive chamber works, composer John K. Leupold II presents his debut release on Ravello Records, EXASPERATING PERPETUATION. Described by the Washington Post as “an imaginative exploration of instrumental timbres,” Leupold’s music seeks to enhance the tonal possibilities of the instruments through the use of tension, personification, and imagery.

Find the album on iTunes and Amazon. Want to see more on John K. Leupold II? Find him on Twitter and Instagram.

The PARMA Album of the Day: DEMOCRACY

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Composed in the wake of 9/11, Barry Seroff’s DEMOCRACY is a multifaceted, genre-spanning examination of the spiritual and philosophical roots of American thought. Calling on texts from Quaker preachers, American poets, Japanese haiku, and Nietzsche, Seroff forms a flowing narrative charting our cultural development from the innocence and purity of infancy through the growing awareness of adolescence and adulthood, to our ultimate peacemaking with the joy of childhood.

Find DEMOCRACY on iTunes and Amazon.

The PARMA Album of the Day: JUST MUSIC

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On his debut release on Ravello Records, JUST MUSIC: MUSIC FOR PIANO IN FIVE LIMIT JUST INTONATION, Croatian composer Zoran Šćekić presents an open series of compositions aiming to explore the harmony of a non-tempered microtonal system based on integer harmonics, or just intonation. Muzika.Hr says the album is “In other words, ”Just download” approaches the piano as we have not yet heard, highlighting the beauty of his tone on the delicate and wonderful way.”

Find JUST MUSIC on Amazon and iTunes.

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