Thursday, December 30, 2004


I have FINISHED the score of my Third String Quartet! Just checking and tweaking over the next 3 days. Celebrating by drinking plenty of Medium Dry Sherry. Good way to start welcoming the New Year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

String Quartet score

Had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off but other than that have been powering on preparing the final score. First and second movements are now done and made a good start on the third movement today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Slaving over a hot score

Lots and lots of work for me (till the very end of the year) finishing the score of my string quartet, adding detail and tweaking things as I go. Merry Christmas to all who visit here.

Friday, December 17, 2004


The sketch of the string quartet is finished. I am very happy with it. I made a photocopy of the sketch and sent it to my parents in case of a fire here. I have never been that careful before. Deep down I have this feeling that it is maybe the best piece I have ever written. I will spend the next couple of weeks doing the full score on the computer. No holidays for me. But all the main celebrations fall on weekends this year: this weekend my daughter Melanie's 17th birthday, next weekend Christmas and the following weekend New Year. I'll keep plodding along Monday to Friday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Further sketching

I have now sketched nearly 2 minutes of the third and final movement of the string quartet. This movement has something of a scherzo character about it, a certain breeziness with odd rhythms and a hint of jazz and hoedown. This may be all interrupted by a fugue.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Critic ranks CD #1

Melbourne's Herald Sun is the largest selling newspaper there. Today they have published a spread asking their music critics in the various genres to give their Top 10 CD releases for 2004 encompassing both Australian and international releases. Jazz critic Kenny Weir has rated my CD Keeping the Standards the Number 1 jazz release for 2004 against all the competition from Australia and overseas, saying "The Sydney pianist explores standards with a majestic and adventurous spirit". Thank you Kenny! See here, here and here for other comments on the CD.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Well, I've been at the string quartet composing for 12 days now and have just completed sketching the first two movements which run 10 minutes in total. It's flowing in a pretty unfettered way as that's a fairly quick output rate, especially as the sketch is very detailed in the sense that all the individual parts are worked out already in the way the music is distributed between the four players and the basic dynamics and tempo markings are there too. I'll only need to add detailed dynamics, articulation and bowing when I do the score itself. I've been spending 5-6 hours a day on it but had the weekend basically off, just checked and tweaked a few things. As with solid instrumental practice, 5-6 hours a day is pretty much the outer limit when the work is highly intense and demanding as this is. I've worked much more (up to 16 hours a day) when working on a film score and a deadline is imminent, but that's generally not as aesthetically rigorous and may involve less creative acts like routine orchestration - those kinds of things are better suited to ridiculous hours as they are harnessing basic craft skills rather than trying to achieve a series of continuously inspired moments in which case one would prefer not to be working while exhausted in case this has a subtly deleterious affect on the inspiration.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Further sketching

I am really pleased with the way the ideas for the second movement of the string quartet are coming. There is a purity of line which takes vigilance to maintain - to control the emotions and not gush prematurely, to avoid easy solutions that sully the taste and aroma. It has a definite religioso feel to it and seems to be arranging itself very readily for the quartet format, one of those pieces where the main line gets passed to each player in turn while spawning the occasional duet passage.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Progress report

The first movement of the string quartet seems to be completed in sketch form. For its just over five minutes duration it basically stays with the intentity of the dramatic opening, but it does relax at times into more lyrical moments which I will develop further in the second movement.