22 November 2011

Ogham Ensemble

Ogham Ensemble is another of the bands I play in, we play music from Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Britanny, Asturias and Galicia, and Scandinavia. Although not all are represented in this short selection.

These are some recordings of the first gig we had, back in August. That was when the band was about two months old, we're playing much better by now, but I have no newer recordings yet, so I hope to share more stuff soon.

The fourth piece, 'The Dancing Trees', is a four-part reel I composed. The name comes from an image at the window of my parents' house, of trees being shaken mercilessly by really strong winds. The first two parts came to my mind a few weeks after returning home from an amazing trip to Ireland in which I attended many sessions with my brother, and drank copious amounts of Guinness beer and peated whiskey (Yay!). The seed that would grow to become Ogham Ensemble was a duet I had with Ernesto, who plays the pipes and the whistles. And it was when I started playing with him and was reunited with this beautiful music, that I wrote the third and fourth parts of 'The Dancing Trees'. We were then joined by Irene (bodhrán and pipes) and Nabani (fiddle), and the band was complete.

Ogham Ensemble has profiles at Facebook, SoundCloud and YouTube. And a webpage that is still under construction at oghamensemble.com.

I hope you like the music!

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11 August 2011

Kali Deryav

This is the Demo of my band Kali Deryav. It's a project I'm really excited about, not only because of the music, but also because I'm playing with amazing musicians!

The name of the group means 'Black Sea' in Romani, and we play music from the Balkan peninsula, Turkey and the Caucasus. The Demo has 5 tracks:

· Horo se Igrae is a beautiful Bulgarian song.
· Padjernska Kopanitsa is a composition by me, attempting to imitate a Bulgarian/Macedonian style.
· Valle e Pogradecit is a dance tune from Pogradec, a city on the shores of the Ohrid Lake, in Albania.
· Edinaesetorca is a Kopanitsa (11/8) from Macedonia.
· Perifrona Me Glykia Mou is a traditional Greek song.

I convinced my fellow musicians of the beauty of copyleft, the Demo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License. So, if you enjoy the music, by all means, download them, share them, sell them and do whatever you wish with them. Just don't sue anyone for copyright infringement on a derivative work, and link to us :)

Also, follow us on SoundCloud and like us on Facebook. Cheers!

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8 August 2011


I've left this blog really unattended for a while now. Strangely enough, these last months I've been making lots of music and working in really exciting projects. I have lots of things to post about, but until now I hadn't put aside some time to do it.

Well, it takes much more time and work to make music than to write a few things about it, so there's really no excuse. I have a lot of catching up to do, and I'll start now :)

6 May 2011


Ok, much more than a week since I uploaded İstanbul, but anyway, here's ZOOM IN. It's the second of the two quartets I sent to Trinity College for my LTCL exam, so basically they are my "graduation pieces".

This string quartet is very different from İstanbul, where İstanbul is intuitive, this is sort of intellectual and technical. But that doesn't mean it's cold music at all, the challenge of composing this was to write beautiful music without even as much as 'bending' the rules of my arbitrary system. Beautiful to my ears and taste at least, the only ones with which I can experiment and know for sure what effect is produced.

Now to 'the system'. ZOOM IN is a ritardando that lasts for 6 minutes, and a static coda. The idea of the piece is to repeat something, which will then be force-stretched to many times its duration by the ritardando, and then to fill up the stretched version with more notes in smaller subdivisions. Rinse and repeat.

The form was subconsciously inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mantra. I had read Jonathan Cott's book 'Conversations with the Composer' some time before. Stockhausen's ideas had lingered in the back of my mind and became an undetected driving force in the structuring of this quartet. There are four ideas, each of which dominates one of the four sections. In a way, the beginning is a miniature version of the whole piece (which is as fractalish as it gets, despite my using of a Mandelbrot set image as cover!).

My favourite part is when the slowing down stops and a walking rhythm sets in. I think something as simple as a regular pulse can become very meaningful if the listener is deprived of it for a big while.

I'm working on a Coloured Score for this, the technical process is really hard to explain in words, but it's really very simple. A few arrows and colours and it should be pretty clear. I’m also saving up to produce a real recording of this, the MIDI sounds are just terrible :(

The score and the parts can be downloaded at Scribd, IMSLP or the Internet Archive.

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12 April 2011


This week I'm publishing ZOOM IN and İstanbul, two quartets that are, I think, the best music I've composed until now (but hopefully not the best I'll ever compose!).

In İstanbul I explored the Uşşak tetrachord, with which I originally fell in love thanks to Erkan Oğur. It has a wonderful sonority and it makes me feel beautiful, unknown emotions.

In composing this, I had a couple of important breakthroughs. I somehow broke some arbitrary, subconsciously self-imposed walls I had. Walls with which I separated things that aren't really qualitatively different, but are different degrees of the same scale. Rhythm vs. form, melody vs. polyphony, note-collection vs. thematic material.

Before this, my construction of form was always a planned thing. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, I still do it (Mini-drama in a koi pond, for instance), but I wanted to develop the ability to feel form intuitively. So this is why I had to build a bridge from rhythm to form, melodic breaths that get longer and longer until they become sections. There's a little theatrical instruction in the score to make this even more apparent, the players all take a deep breath between the sections, so that they and the audience note how these breathing events grow further apart from each other.

In general this breaking of walls and replacing them with continua is the beginning of something I feel I need to do. I call it holistic music because I can't come up with something better. Music that can't be broken up into different and independent parameters: in which you can't separate the scale from the motifs because they are the same thing, and in which you can't separate the pitch-class set from the orchestration or the register. I think that taking things to the extreme in this direction is not really desirable, variation is basically keeping some parameters the same and changing others, so a system in which this is not possible would basically be development-less. Anyway that's where my personal exploration of music is taking me at the moment, and I'll just go with the flow. Also, if you see the increasing sizes of the paragraphs in this text, that's more or less the idea of the form of İstanbul :)

The score and the parts can be downloaded at Scribd, IMSLP or the Internet Archive.

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25 February 2011

Mini-drama in a koi pond

While on holiday, my father took some beautiful pictures of koi fish at a pond in the hotel. The pictures inspired the first 4 bars of this little piece, the rest of the music flowed naturally out of it. The piece is light and watery at the beginning and at the end, and it has an über-romantic core. This expressive and dramatic centre is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it's also honest, heartfelt music (from the deepest regions of my tortured soul! lol). I really believe one can mock something, and at the same time, sincerely feel it with passion. This is a little piece that attempts that.

The score and the parts can be downloaded at Scribd, IMSLP or the Internet Archive.

I've become aware of some embarrassing mistakes in the score and in the piano part:

In bar 19 the first note on the left hand of the piano is C natural, the natural mark to prevent confusion with the C sharp in the right hand is missing.

In bar 20, in the piano part, the last note on the bass clef is B flat.

In bar 21, the first chord of the right hand is D flat, E flat, A flat, B flat. The flat symbol for the A is missing.

I'm sorry for any problems caused by this and I'm preparing a new score and parts with all the corrections. At the moment I'm working with the 'Ensamble Nuevo de México' who will perform the piece, I'll publish the revised score after that in case more typos come to light. Sorry again.

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6 February 2011

Youssouf Karembe - TOGUNA


I recently discovered Youssouf Karembe's album TOGUNA. The music is delicious, I just love it. The second track, Ambadji, is my favourite, it's so peaceful and relaxing I could listen to it over and over again for hours :) It is also free-culture, which gets it some extra points from me (though it hardly needs any!).

Enjoy this beauty.

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22 January 2011

Tres Tristes Tangos Live at Zinco Jazz Club on January 18 2011

This is a song of mine called 'La Danza del Dodo', played by Tres Tristes Tangos at a gig we had at the Zinco Jazz Club in downtown Mexico City.

This is a great song by Jorge (the bass player). For more vids check out our YouTube Channel.

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5 January 2011


This is the first post with the "music for musicians" label. I've always loved the idea of chamber music as a social event where the players themselves are the audience, and I've been thinking a lot of composing music specifically to make it fun to play, composing for the musicians instead of composing for the audience. My plan is to compose "games" for chamber ensembles and some sorts of "solitaire" for piano.

Meanwhile I decided to publish this piece I composed some time ago and that actually fits perfectly into this idea: I originally composed it for an ensemble I played at, I made it for myself and my fellow musicians. It is very loosely based on Mbira Dzavadzimu music, and some of the ornaments are Balkanic (...ish).

The score and the parts can be downloaded at Scribd, IMSLP or the Internet Archive.

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