Ken's Music Page
revised Nov. 22, 2015
This is the top page for music on my personal web
site. There is so much material that I decided to break it up into several sub
pages. The main focus of these pages are my compositions but this particular
page is devoted to information about me and the music I like.
I extracted the following music from a power point slide show I received, unknown.wav (~600 kB). I do not know the name of the piece or the composer and even the source of the presentation is unknown. I am posting it here in hopes that someone will recognize it and let me know. If you like beautiful music, this short piece (about four and a half minutes) is a real treat. The wave file as I extracted it is compressed about to the maximum so the sound suffers a bit in places but it is still very enjoyable. Thanks to a visitor to this page I now know the name of the piece and its composer. It is the theme from Moviola and written by film composer, John Barry. The following is a youtube link to a short movie clip which features the music and in much better sound quality than the above wave file. You can also download a full quality recording as well. The last time I checked, it is available from Amazon for $0.99 and there is also a CD of John Barry's music that contains this piece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxa8ouGqyyU&feature=related
See The Revelation of Nature for a detailed
description of this orchestral epic tone poem that took me nearly thirty five
years to compose and has a performance time of nearly two and one-half
hours. The mp3 files are there too.
See Performances for acoustical recordings (mp3) of various music I have played on piano or electronic keyboard.
A picture of me with Slinky at the Korg keyboard in my home office
I am an electrical engineer who grew up on Classical music and have had an interest in composing since 1959 when I was five years old. I wanted to be a composer but that was just not to be. So I became an electrical engineer specializing in analog electronics design instead and do composing on the side. I received my B.E.E. degree from Auburn University in 1978 and my M.S.E.E. degree from the University of Alabama, Birmingham in 1990. I have been on the adjunct faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UAB since 1988. My feline friends and I have lived in the Vestavia area south of Birmingham, Alabama since 1986.
My interest in Classical music began as a child watching cartoons that
employed Classical music. General music classes in school also influenced me. No
one steered me into Classical music - it was something I discovered for myself
and liked. I took piano lessons for about five years but never became very good.
I also played the clarinet in the high school band. I hated football season but
loved concert season. I was always eager to be involved with new music. Some of
my favorite band pieces were Sequoia, A Tone Painting by
Homer C. LaGassey, Dedicatory Overture by Clifton
Williams, and The Universal Judgment by Camille de
Nardis (arranged by Caferella).
sequoia.htm This is a link to a recording I made of Sequoia, A Tone Painting by Homer C. LaGassey on my Korg synthesizer and also includes a little biographical information about the composer .
the_universal_judgment.htm There are three mp3 recordings for download and more information about The Universal Judgment (alternate misspelling for searches, The Universal Judgement ) on this web site.
Here are some other band pieces I have recorded and are posted here:
icarus.mp3 Descriptive Tone Poem by Harold M. Johnson (1954). This is a short piece (about 3:25) for high school band that concerns the mythical flight of Daedalus and his son, Icarus. The two were imprisoned on the island of Crete and inventor Daedalus made wings of feathers for him and his son and they few off in escape. Icarus had been warned not to flight too close to the sun but happy in the joys of his new-found flight, soared ever higher and higher until the torrid rays of the sun melted the wax fastenings of his wings and he fell to his death in what is known as the Icarian Sea. The music is divided into six sections -- The Golden Age of Greece, Theme of Icarus, The Escape, The Flight, The Death of Icarus, and Conclusion.
bravura.mp3 by C. E. Duble (3:11). I have always liked a good march and this one is my favorite of all.
the_stars_and_stripes_forever.mp3 by John P. Sousa (3.58). This march is probably my second most favorite. Many performances of this work are too fast. My performance is at a more sane tempo.
egmont_overture.mp3 by Ludwig van Beethoven (~9:00). This is an orchestral piece that is also performed by concert band. It is one of my favorite works and much of my own music follows its theme of struggle followed by triumph. I packed as much of the original score into this as was possible for my ancient synthesizer and I am pleased with the result. This is how I would conduct it were I a conductor. I have been disappointed with a number of recordings I have heard of this work as the conductors took the music at too fast a pace. My performance is at a more sane tempo but is still full of fire.
st_francis_of_assisi.mp3 St. Francis of Assisi Overture (6:30) by Robert L. Moehlmann, published by the H. T. FitzSimons Co., Chicago, Ill., copyright 1948. This is a work for high school band that is "permanently out of print" according to the publisher. I would like to thank the Huntington Beach Concert Band in Huntington Beach, California for helping me obtain a copy of the score to this work. Be sure to visit their web site at Huntington Beach Concert Band . This is a dramatic overture with the various sections depicting portions of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi who lived between 1181 and 1226 around the city of Assisi, Italy and who is the patron saint of animals and the environment. This is the way I would conduct the piece were I a conductor. I had to compress the rich orchestration to fit the capabilities of my old synthesizer but the performance is still very enjoyable to listen to.
More band pieces are coming as I have time to record them.
I attribute a lot of my success in life to Classical music. To truly succeed in life requires a serious thought process. Listening to and studying Classical music develops the ability to think deeply. The circle of this is that deep thought is best expressed in music so I am driven to compose music. I compose purely for enjoyment and for fulfillment in life as any money I might make someday from my music will likely be minuscule compared to what I have achieved in other arenas. It is interesting that as I think deeply in my area of specialty, electronics engineering, I also have some piece of music (whether composed by me or someone else) going on in my mind at the same time. The music augments the thought process -- I could not do engineering without it.
Some people have referred to me as a Renaissance man although that is quite generous. But, in that spirit, I have broad interests in Classical music and composing, science and engineering, economics and investing, philosophy, and nature.
The first work of Bruckner I heard was his third symphony in 1971. I knew
from the opening trumpet theme that this was going to be a work I would like
very much. I knew I would have to own every Bruckner symphony after hearing his
third. The next symphony I heard was his sixth and I liked it a lot
too. Then I heard the ninth and the discussion below is about what became
my favorite. Next were the fourth and seventh and I enjoy those too.
Later came the second and it wan an immediate favorite. Some years later I
finally heard the eighth and it was more of a challenge to understand.
Each time I listen to it now I understand more but I do not get to hear it very
often because I do so many things. Of his pre-numbered symphonies, the
Symphony in F minor is good. What has been called Symphony No. 0 is
interesting only in that it reveals early Bruckner. That symphony was a
precursor to his third where he got it right. I do not think I have heard
Symphony No. 1.
In 1972 I discovered Bruckner's ninth symphony which ultimately became my favorite work. This was another situation in which I knew this was going to be a great work from the opening phrase. For many years I hoped that someday I would be able to hear a completion of the fourth movement as Bruckner left over 200 pages of sketches for it. My wishes were answered by William Carragan who did a very fine job. Although he did this in 1983, I did not learn of it until September, 2002. A 2-CD recording of this is available (CHANDOS Chan 7051, Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in D minor with finale completed by William Carragan plus the original sketches of the fourth movement, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Yoav Talmi conductor). The second CD has the Carragan completion of the fourth movement followed by the complete Bruckner sketches with a brief silence between gaps in the sketches so you get to hear Bruckner's original material.
When I first heard the finale (Carragan's 1983 version), I was a bit disappointed as I had imagined that Bruckner would have opened the movement in a very grand style with large and slow Bruckner chords and built from there. In reality the opening is very agitated and classic Bruckner misterioso and is even frightful. But, having listened to it many times I now like it very much. Probably, I understand it much better now as it is quite difficult to follow on a first hearing. Themes from earlier movements are recalled but are varied so that they are barely recognizable as such. All of this develops and builds in typical Bruckner style up to the very triumphant close. The world will never know for sure how Bruckner would have brought the movement to a close but I think Carragan's very educated guess is excellent. If I had any complaint at all it would be that Carragan may have erred on the side of being a bit too conservative rather than overdoing what Bruckner would have done. Carragan's conclusion is probably somewhat shorter than what Bruckner might have done and has simpler orchestration but that is exactly the right way to approach this. The result is that most of the finale is either pure Bruckner or Bruckner as orchestrated by Carragan with only a minimum of Carragan's personal writing in the style of Bruckner.
Mr. Carragan has a 2006 revised version (Delta Classics, Akira Naito conducting the Tokyo New City Orchestra in a live recording) available from abruckner.com . That site is an excellent source for a lot of information on Bruckner recordings. This revised completion is excellent! The flow of music is identical to the first version with some additional material particularly in the latter half of the movement. The orchestration is much more complex with a number of new parts -- very much like Bruckner. The tympani is used to great effect throughout the movement. This movement really sounds like the Bruckner I know. The conclusion of the movement has been extensively re-orchestrated and is the ultimate Bruckner. Whereas the first version was conservative, this one goes all the way -- the result of years of research and study. But Carragan has been very careful not to overdo Bruckner and if one did not know otherwise, could easily believe the revised Carragan completion was totally original Bruckner. I think if Bruckner could hear this he would nod his head and say, "Excellent! That is very close to what I would have done if I had lived." The live performance in a concert hall is also excellent. The brass parts really stand out in the cathedral style performance. This is the ninth completion to own!
Just when I thought it could not get any better, Mr. Carragan made further revisions in 2010 that surely represents the ultimate in Bruckner's intentions. Bruckner would be extremely proud. The recording I have (purchased from abruckner.com ) is of Gerd Schaller conducting the Philharmonie Festiva in Bruckner's fourth, seventh, and nineth symphonies with the 2010 fourth movement version by Carragan. It is an excellent performance although in some places the recoding mix is lacking and some subtle themes are barely audible. The 2010 version is basically the 2006 version with even more rich orchestration and significant more counterpoint -- as Bruckner would surely have done. There is additional dissonance -- a concept Bruckner was exploring beginning in his eight symphony. There may be some addtional measures near the end. In the concluding measures every instrument group is doing something different all adding up to the final triumphal unison note. I feel that I am listening to Bruckner rather than Carragan -- that is about the highest praise that can be given to Carragan's excellent work. I had always hoped that someday I could hear the ending to the ninth symphony that Bruckner intended. Thanks, Mr. Carragan for making that possible.
As for other completions to Bruckner's ninth -- I have a recording (NAXOS 8.555933-34) of the 1996 version of Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazzuca version and it is interesting (especially the coda) but seems to deviate from the Bruckner I know -- a bit overdone. But I definitely recommend you listen to it. The Harnoncourt performance of Bruckner's sketches (BMG CD 82876 54332 2) is also interesting -- one unique aspect is that he leaves a certain dissonance in tact rather than correct a possible error on Bruckner's part as Carragan did. Bruckner experimented more with dissonance in his last two symphonies and what sounds more like an error might be intended but it seems too out of place.
In my music the emphasis is on melody that paints a picture - in other words, a tone painting. I really think that someone good at music interpretation could readily identify what my music was about even if the title and description were withheld. Most of my music is very easy to listen to (my hope is that it would be enjoyable too). I describe the style of my music as new old music - it is music that could have been written decades ago but wasn't as far as I can tell.
How I compose
I used to use manuscript paper and many of my early works and arrangements are written that way. Writer's cramp would always set in and that limited how much I could produce. Before committing a work to manuscript I would have the complete music worked out in my head and playable on piano. I would make a recording of the final version so that I would not have to depend on memory. For a number of years I have been using Cakewalk (which is now SONAR) to keep track of partial compositions and to assemble complete compositions. This is much better since my memory is not as good as it used to be. Another big advantage is that I can easily edit and revise what I have written. Now I can compose music beyond my feeble piano skills. I use a Korg 01/Wpro synthesizer which has allowed me to venture into orchestral music which is where I really want to be. I barely have time to just enter the music into the computer much less to do a complete orchestration. My short cut method is to program the Korg to be a statistical orchestra including the ambiance of a concert hall and then work on a single track in Cakewalk. Real musicians will cringe at this but the only alternative for me was to get much less done and I am already way behind where I should be. The statistical orchestration often does an acceptable job and it provides me the opportunity to hear my music as intended. I will consider converting these files to multi track after I have entered all the music that I intend to write. I certainly hope I live that long. See statorch.htm for a description of the Korg settings for the statistical orchestra. See Statistical Orchestration for description of how I worked around the limitations of the Korg instrument to achieve a fair approximation of orchestration
See Musical Works of Kenneth Kuhn for a description of my compositions, MIDI files for over twenty completed works, and plans for future compositions. There is enough material to keep you occupied for hours including over seven hours of mp3 files of my music.
See The Revelation of Nature
for a detailed description of this orchestral epic tone poem that
took me nearly thirty five years to compose and has a performance time of nearly
two and one-half hours. The mp3 files are there too.
See Performances for acoustical recordings (mp3) of various music I have played on piano or electronic keyboard.