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Old 11-17-2009, 04:03 PM
Mark W Mark W is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 597
Default Mark Walsen - Children's Suite for piano

Wow, it has been a long time since I've shown up here in the Share Your Music section of the forum, where I used to regularly listen to and respond to the music you all have been creating with Notation Composer. In the next couple of months I'll report to you what I've been up to here at Notation Software; but a hint now is that I'm finally building a team that will accomplish a lot more than what just Sherry and I could do alone in the past.

This post points you to the Children's Suite for piano (1977) that I've published in MP3 format at Soundclick:

Here are notes that I wrote about the Children's Suite at Soundclick:

No. 1 - Prelude
This Children Suite was one of the compositions I wrote while studying under Pulitizer prize winning composer Dr. Robert Ward, at the North Carolina School of Arts, when he was chancellor there. It was first performed by Earl Meyer, a piano instructor at the NCSA, who performed widely in North Carolina for four decades.

The prelude has a childhood summer feeling, sometimes lazy, sometimes fun-loving. If you listen carefully, you hear in a few places a familiar short children's "nah nah" musical phrase, mildly taunting another child.

No. 2 - Hide and Seek
Gosh, I'm going to sound like a really old guy with this "when I was a kid..."

When I was a kid... a dozen of us would get together to play Hide and Seek, or Kick the Can, starting each round pretending to close our eyes to not see where the others ran off to hide. You'd count by fives to 100 or 200; and if you had any style, you'd sing out the "Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty" phrase heard at the beginning of this piece. Also, you'd probably cheat (in addition to peeking through the hands over your eyes) by accelerating the pace of your counting-- thus the accelerando of the "Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty" phrase at the beginning of this Hide and Seek.

When I was a kid... we could run through every's yard, into their backyards, high-jumping hedges between properties to leave younger players behind. If kids did that now, every homeowner in the neighborhood would be calling the police. I haven't heard "Five, Ten, Fifiteen, Twenty" since I was a kid.

But I wrote this as a 23-year old without any lamenting of the good ol' days. I was just fondly looking back a few years that I could still count with my two hands, with childhood still fresh in my memory.

No. 3 - Rocking Chair
A very young child needs a nap in the middle of the day. So do 5-piece musical collections, including grand symphonies, often have a calm piece as the center third piece.

No. 4 - Toy Soldiers
Any piece of music suggesting military is required to use a lot of open 4th and 5th sounds, suggestive of horns. Explosive percussion helps also. The piano can pull this off because, technically, the piano is a percussive instrument.

My very favorite activity as a young boy was playing with toy soldiers of any era-- WW III, Civil War, Indians and cowboys, Romans, you name it. I'd make forts out of any scrap I could find and would saw into blocks, and use as cannon balls or hand granades, to wipe out in one minute the enemy that took me a half hour to set up.

No. 5 - Fire Dance
This piece finishes the Children's Suite with a high amount of energy. Just as the whole Chidren's Suite is a reflection backwards in time on children, so also does this last piece take pause in the middle to reflect back to the early part of the suite. Can you hear that happening?

Back in 1977 I did hand-calligraphy with special ink pens to notate the Chidren's Suite, and I still occasionally play the piece reading from that score. Does anyone know of a good notation software app I could use to prepare a nice printed copy of it?

-- Mark
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