Michael L. Carroll -- composer/arranger
Last Update: Jan 06, 2018
Welcome to my Music Blog!
This website contains samples of my work and serves as a partial portfolio of some of my compositions.
01/06/2018: The Canon Composition series is proving to be too advanced for most users. To remedy this I am starting a new series on more fundamental, prerequisite topics in music composition. Here's the first one dealing with Interval Progressions (PDF) (even more fundamental than chord progressions). Also a .wav audio file to accompany the PDF file. The audio is intended to be listened to while looking at the PDF file. (By itself the audio file is meaningless.) Interval Progressions (WAV) Interval Progressions (Ogg) Interval Progressions (aiff for Apple people) Interval Progressions (MIDI)
01/02/2018: Happy New Year! Canon Composition: Lesson 3: The previous two lessons presented the basics but didn't modulate. Here is a whole note sketch of the A and B part for a Theme and Variations (see links below). This was the actual whole sketch that I used (and am still using, since I'm not quite done with this third movement of the sonata) to compose the four variations thus far. Here I illustrate how a third, free voice can be added to two imitating voices in order to spell out the harmony a little more clearly and to provide more harmonic structure from which to build non-imitative phrases (which I do in a couple of the variations presented thus far). Ogg file PDF file Also, I am now posting musical content on Steemit, a blockchain-based social media site at which content providers are rewarded for posting in cryptocurrency.
12/31/2017: Added a fourth variation to the Theme and Variations (3rd movement from Sonata in Bb). Ogg file PDF. Not sure how many more variations I'll write for this. It's getting long: 12 minutes. Oh well, stay tuned and Happy New Year!
12/16/2017: It is my pleasure and honor to present a couple of pieces composed and performed by a very talented young musician, Natalie Plotkin, a colleague of mine in Colorado. Natalie grew up studying classical music at Forte Academy in Littleton, Colorado, and later, geology and computer science at the University of Colorado. Natalie has been composing classical pieces since childhood and holds national titles in competitions for her compositions. Her main musical influences are Chopin and Rachmaninov. Solace and a very recent improvisation Improvisation -- Untitled .
12/13/2017: Sonata in Bb, third movement, Theme and Variations. PDF. Still a work in progress. Only 3 variations, although the theme is fairly long, so that the whole piece right now is over 8 minutes long.
12/12/2017 Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe: Starting a new series of tutorials on how to write canons, expounding my "Forward/Backward" Method for composing canons. The backward process always yields a skeletal canon phrase that can then produce a strict canon when moving forward, but one doesn't have to compose a canon. One could let the the "comes" voice (follower) just provide free counterpoint to the "dux" (the leader). Here's the first one: Lesson 1: Basic Canon Composition This is a self-explanatory, step by step instruction. Also included is the Finale file (if you have Finale): Finale file. Some Wav files for Lesson 1: Whole Notes Variation 1 Variation 2 Variation 3 (Makes the upper voice the dux) Some MIDI files for Lesson 1: Whole Notes Variation 1 Variation 2 Variation 3 (Makes the upper voice the dux)
Sonata in B flat for Piano. 2nd movement: Adagio.
Sonata in B flat for Piano. 1st movement: Allegro. Dedicated to my musical mentor Thomas Walati.
Clips from the Dallas Sunday Jam:
06/10/2017: Cotton Patch Rag Recording Project. I am working on a recording of the tradtional bluegrass tune called "Cotton Patch Rag". I am playing all the parts
(except bass). Will feature two mandolins and two guitars. The mandolins are a traditional f model bluegrass mandolin and the other is a Fender 4-string electric (like
Johnny Gimbel use to play with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys). The two guitar parts are rhythm and flat-picking solo. My goal is arrange all the parts so that there is
rich contrapuntal texture, sort of like Dixieland. Here's a sample of a trio (2 mandos and a solo guitar):
Cotton Patch Trio (Variation). This is just a rough draft to give you an idea of what's coming.
06/04/2017: Video of Charli Alexander's jam session in Dallas, TX. That's Nancy Kamm leading the way on fiddle with
Oh, Lady Be Good.
08/22/2015: An updated version of the Folias for two guitars previously posted. This is version 3. Upgrades include
dynamics, slurs, increased tempo (120), a new phrase near the end and a few minor note adjustments.
03/22/2015: Made recording of guitar piece I wrote for my grandaughter Ramona. It is called "Song for Ramona".
01/25/2015: Variations on Folias of Spain, for two guitars. Version 2.The standard Folias theme and variations
are presented in D minor and then a short modulation over to A minor introduces the canonic variations on the simplified
variant Folias progression in A minor as presented in Version 1 below. Finally, there is a modulation back to D minor, with
theme presented one more time and then the piece ends.
01/24/2015: Variations on Folias of Spain, for two guitars.The theme and variations
are done as canons.
01/02/2015: String Quartet in Eb, Second Movement Ogg)
12/29/2013: New wind quartet (MP3),
(Higher Quality Wave File (130 MB))
composed yesterday, 12/28/2013. In B blat major, first movement only.
Three themes. First one is linear with counterpoint, but not in imitative counterpoint. Second theme is more
song/dance-like with appegiated melody (at my wife's suggestion) with imitation. It also uses a trick
to emulated triple meter in 4/4 time. Third theme is short ending theme,
rhythmic and childlike.
09/08/2013: Coming Sept. 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm: The Allen Folk Festival! Featuring 3 Penny Acre bluegrass combo from Arkansas. Also, yours truly is teaming up with Kevin Vaught and Dennis Brown of Allen to provide some Texas folk music to warm up the crowd before the headliners. We will be playing some old Texas favorites like "Down by the Brazos" and "Deep Ellum Blues." Admission is free! So, if you are anywhere near Allen, TX, come out to the festival and have a good time (and sing along on "Deep Ellum Blues." Article coming soon in the Allen Image (pg. 26) magazine. Also, here's some history on Deep Ellum.
08/11/2013: Arranged a folk tune to perform with the Keltic Dead: "When You and I Were Young, Maggie". Also started a new page where you will find these kinds of arrangements: Folk Tunes.
07/07/2013: Composed a new piece for solo guitar, A Study for Guitar in A major.
05/25/2013: Composed a new canonic study for solo guitar
in G major. It is written here as a duet, but I ensure you it is playable as a solo. This is part of project I've
been contemplating and sort of working on for years. I am compiling a set of contrapuntal studies for solo guitar in
all keys to help the intermediate and advanced players develop their skills in playing two-part and three-part counterpoint.
03/16/2013: Happy Birthday, Grandson Felix!! The big boy turned two today.
01/05/2013: New fugue for two guitars. Tried using more chromaticism.
12/30/2012: Year end clean-up: I have several new works composed this year that I haven't yet posted to the web site.
I'll try to get caught up today. Here's a two-part invention in C for piano with a happy little theme based on a
two-measure strict canon phrase followed by a two-measure appendix (German: Anhang or Nachsatz). The canon is at the sixth below with imitation
occuring after one quarter note. The four measures are revealed at the
end from measures 60-63:
07/14/2012: String Quartet in E-flat Major, 1st Movement. The first movement of a string quartet I began writing this week while on vacation in New York visiting our daughter Josi Stone, her husband Yoshi Stone, and their most adorable son, our grandson Felix Raul Stone.br> PDF Score
05/23/2012: Saw Dennis Prager this evening at a book sigining in Ontario, California. Presented him with a copy of the score to my symphony, the first movement of which is dedicated to him. Here's a link to the symphony: SymphonyNr. 1 in B Flat -- All Four Movments. And here's of picture of Dennis looking at the score:
05/06/2012: Invention for Piano in Expanded C. Another semitonal, neo-baroque invention. Expanded C means the key of C major with f sharp and b flat thrown in, thus expanding both clockwise and counter clockwise on the circle of fifths. PDF
04/24/2012: Fugue in A minor for piano. More like
a three-part invention than a fugue. But what is new is that I am trying once again to break out of the diatonic prison into
what I would call semitonal music. It is not atonal, but it is not diatonic. Somewhere in between. Inspired by Sergei Prokofiev.
03/31/2012: Composed a trio for guitar, mandolin and soprano saxophone. Since my version of Finale doesn't
have sampled instrumentation for mandolin and soprano sax, I used violin and clarinet. The mandolin can use tremolo on the
03/14/2012: Opened up a Music Store on Amazon! Carroll's Music, specializing in music composition tools.
03/09/2012: Added a composer resource page. Here you'll find links to books on various aspects of compostion. I also shortened all the mp3 files on this page to samples 30 sec in length. The downloads were killing me on bandwidth. I'll make some of the full length mp3s available for sale somewhere on the net.
01/29/12: Completed audtion videos:
01/16/12: Working on some audition recordings for son Peter. Peter is trying to get a scholarship to
attend Berklee College of Music's Five-Week Program in this summer. He is working on three pieces. "Scrapple
from the Apple", a Charlie Parker tune, "Do You Know What It Means (to miss New Orleans)", and "Take 5". We made our first
recordings of these three yesterday with the Sepulveda Jazz Project. The MP3s are here:
12/15/11: A revision to and recording of my arrangement of God Rest You Merry Gentlemen for solo guitar.
I've modified the guitar music to make it slightly easier to play. This is now Rev. A.
12/7/11: A jazz arrangement of "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" for solo guitar.
It's funny how these things come about. I was listening to Oscar Peterson's version of
this tune and enjoyed the opening bass solo. So I wanted to something like that
for Doug Freyre, our bassist in the Sepulveda Jazz Project, which I did this morning. I harmonized it with some jazz
chords. Then I wanted
to see what it would sound like as a guitar solo, so I transposed it up a couple of octaves,
made a few minor adjustments and wrote a second part, a bass line to go under the jazz
melody and voila, there it is: PDF
12/2/11: Second two-part YABLI (yet another Bach-like invention) for two guitars (or solo guitar, although I haven't yet checked its
playability). This one is in F major and 9/8 time.
11/26/11: Happy Thanksgiving! Here is a YABLI (yet another Bach-like invention) for two guitars (although it can also be played as
guitar solo) in E minor. I've also arranged it for piano, transposing the upper voice up an octave.
10/16/11: Finale screen capture video on YouTube of "Fantasy in D for Three Guitars, Revision A,
10/08/11: Fantasy in D for Three Guitars, Revision A, dedicated to Jan Schijvenaars, guitar
afficionado and owner of OnlySixStrings.com. This revision includes a statement of the theme
alone at the beginning in the lower register, corrected slurs (and more of them), some grace notes, some improvements in
modulation, and cautionary accidentals.
9/12/11: Some of my guitar compositions have been featured at OnlySixStrings.com, a site
dedicated to modern composers for the classical guitar.
8/3/11: Sepulveda Jazz Project is playing Friday Aug 5th at It's a Grind Coffee House, 4245 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90807 as part of the Bixby Knolls First Friday Art Walk and Expo. The band starts at 6 pm.
6/29/11: Sepulveda Jazz Project is playing Friday July 1st at Elise's Tea Room, 3924 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90807 as part of the Bixby Knolls First Friday Art Walk and Expo. The band starts at 6 pm.
5/29/11: Happy Memorial Day, especially to all you veterans! Thank you for your service to our country.
May our citizens behave in a manor that is worthy of this great blessing!
Here's some fun stuff: Some pickin' and grinnin' in the Kitchen at the Concord Hotel
with my guitarist friend Jay Dover (I'm playing the mandolin.)
4/22/11: Good Friday. In commemoration of our Lord's Passion and Death for the salvation of the world, I've
written a piece for string orchestra: Meditation for Strings. You'll note that this is
WMA file. I am just having much better luck with WMA files than with MP3 files. But here's MP3, just in case.
4/1/11: Happy Feast of Fools! "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:25.
3/23/11: YABLI (Yet Another Bach-like Invention) in C major. The theme was built on a canon idea which is not heard until the end. For keyboard.
3/21/11: Johann Sebastian Bach's birthday: To honor him I've written a little invention on his name B-A-C-H which in German music translates into Bb-A-C-B natural. This motif is presented in several different ways with counterpoint. Happy Birthday, Sebastian!
2/26/11: Fantasy for Wind Quartet in E flat. For flute, oboe, clarinet, and basoon.
2/10/11: Nocturne in A Flat for Piano. It was dark outside when I composed it (sometimes early morning, sometimes at night), so I called it a nocturne. I apologize for the length. Like Pascal said, if I had more time I'd make it shorter.
1/20/11: Invention in A Major for Two Guitars. This is an attempt to escape the diatonic straightjacket and explore wider tonalities. It still needs some polishing, some dynamics (so that the simulated human playback on the computer will interprets things better – otherwise, I generally don't like to intrude on human performers' prerogatives in this area), and to be analyzed for playability.
1/17/11: I'm experimenting with canon forms. Here's a YABLI that is actually a two-part canon. It is not entirely strict, it allows the voices to be free at the ends of phrases. It's a two-part canonic invention for piano in G major.
1/2/11: Happy New Year! Yet another Bach-like invention (YABLI) to start off the new year. This is in D major, in 9/8 time. The audio files are playing at 120 bpm. Although it starts out and develop like a Bach invention, this one finishes in a very classical vein with Haydn-like coda.
12/26/10: Merry Christmas! Here's a little piece I started last night and just finished this morning. I had to drink a Coke late last night to be awake enough to drive the family home from Grandma's. Being fully awake from the Coke when I got home, I decided to write some music. Here's the result: A Pastorale wind quartet in C major. Instruments are flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. PDF Score. OGG.
12/18/10: SATB arrangement of “On Jordan's Bank”. Different key than the fantasy below, since I needed to fit the ranges of the human voices. Key is E-flat. SATB + piano accompaniment.
12/17/10: Fantasy on "On Jordan's Bank". A little Advent offering. "On Jordan's Bank" is a traditional Advent hymn. Here I took the melody and expanded the duration of each note by a factor of 2. Since the hymn is originally in half notes, this expansion yielded a series of whole notes. I then harmonized it as whole notes, adding a bass line. From there I varied both lines using typical diminution techniques and then tweaked it until both lines sounded melodically acceptable. PDF. OGG.
11/09/10: YAYABLI (Yet Another YABLI). Maybe there is a 12-step program for this disease of inventionitis that I seem to have this week. This one's in B-flat. (Ogg version). PDF. Dedicated to my first grandson. My daughter Josi is expecting a boy. Just found out today. Hurray!
11/08/10: YABLI (Yet Another Bach-like Invention MP3) for piano. (Ogg version) PDF
What can I say! I love composing these Bach-like things! It is so much fun!
10/04/10: String Quartet in G Major: Fourth movement: Allegro (Ogg file). This is played at 120 bpm. This final movement of the String Quartet in G is in 6/8 time. Very contrapuntal and baroque. Help, I'm a baroque composer stuck in a 21st century body! Here are PDFs of the
I am starting to upload Ogg Vorbis files now because the sound quality seems better than that of the MP3s produced by Audacity's lame plug-in. Here's the lousy (lossy) MP3 for comparison.
08/29/10: String Quartet in G Major: Third movement, Largo. This piece has a haunting, recitative-like theme in the first violin with ostinato bass. The ostinato and the theme serve as Canti Firmi for the remainder of the piece, with the exception of the Coda, in which the voices modulate to a climax ending with the D7, the dominant seventh chord of G major, in preparation for the finale to be written in the original key of G major. The ostinato duties are shared by the cello and viola and sometimes the second violin. PDF Score.
08/27/10: String Quartet in G Major: First and second movements. First movement is Allegro Moderato and second is a minuet. A third movement will be produced next week. PDF of first movement. PDF of second movement.
08/02/10: Fugue in E Major for 3 Guitars. This is an arrangement for three guitars of the 3-part fugue below (originally in C for piano). This was inspired by hearing the San Francisco Guitar Quartet over the weekend in San Francisco and by talking to Mason Fish who is currently playing with the SFGQ. Mason plays a 7-string guitar, the extra string being a lower A string. I allowed the lower notes of the fugue to hit that string and I transposed everything to the key of E major to brighten it up, since the guitar can have an otherwise dark sonority. Although the piece is in E major, it sounds more like E minor when it kicks off. But it is certainly centered on E major. Here's the PDF score and the individual parts: Guitar 1, Guitar 2, Guitar 3.
08/01/10: 3-part Fugue in C for piano.
02/14/10: Happy Valentine's Day. I made this arrangement of Richard Rodgers “My Funny Valentine” for my wife Leandra.
12/31/09: Happy New Year! Here is a
little simple two-part arrangement of "God Rest You Merry
Gentlemen". The main melody is in the lower register while
the flute plays a descant line.
11/28/09: Some variations on the famous Folias de Espana theme. For string quartet in D minor. These are "loose" variations in that I allowed myself to modulate to other keys and to insert a parallel major version of the Folias chord progression. I was inspired to write this after seeing the marvelous website at www.folia.tk dedicated to the folias theme.
11/08/09: Here's an arrangement of
a Chopin Mazurka for two guitars and mandolin. I did this for a
Dutch trio with mandolinist Sebastiaan de Grebber, guitarist Tom
Edskes and guitarist Saskia Spinder. Here's a link
to Sebastian playing solo mandolin. For the Chopin Mazurka
here are the PDF files:
09/19/09: I'd like to call attention to the release of a CD of a friend of mine: Jennifer Lindsay, a fantastically talented violinist, singer, composer. She played violin with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Her CD debut can be found at Sinfonia Records. Jen and I are working on a duo of traditional jazz tunes to play at Michael's Ristorante in Long Beach. Stay tuned for announcements.
in C for Guitar. This is the first of a series of studies for
the guitar that I'm working on. As typical for me, I am leaving
the fingering and the dynamics up to the performer. I leave the
dynamics up to the performer because I believe that dynamics
should be up to the performer and should be pulled out of the
inner energy of a piece. As far as the fingering is concerned, I
am simply too lazy to go look up in the Finale manual how you do
fingering for guitar music. I'd rather spend the time composing
than fingering. Sorry!
03/12/09: Didactic Variations on a Song by Cole Porter: "What Is This Thing Called Love?". A set of variations written primarily for my budding saxophonist son Peter Carroll. They are only meant as exercises to teach the art of improviation. Included are versions for alto sax, soprano sax (or clarinet) and violin (or mandolin). This is still a work in progress. I have yet to convert the .wav files to .mp3 files and upload to the site. But that should happen real soon now!
02/22/09: Introduction to Counterpoint This is the beginning of a small book I am writing to teach my son Peter Carroll the art of counterpoint. This is just the very beginning, there are no examples of melodies or counterpoint phrases in this book as yet. But I'll keep updating the website as the book grows in content.
in B Flat: First Movement. The symphony in B flat is now
complete with the addition of this first movement. This movement
is dedicated to Dennis Prager, a man whose intellect and values I
admire very much.
in B Flat: Allegro. This will be the fourth and last movement
of the symphony I've been working on this year (see other links
below). As of now I have three movements more or less completed.
12/27/08: Holy God, We Praise Your Name. The lyrics of this hymn are familiar to most Catholics (except that I changed the 'Thee' and 'Thy' to 'You' and 'Your'). The music is new. It is sort of a morning meditation for me. As St. Augustine says, "He who sings well, prays twice." The score setting is SATB plus piano.
in the Day. This is a little experiment in a minor blues for
guitar and sax. The following MP3 file features the sax playing
only against a single guitar playing block chords. This may give
you a clearer picture of the harmony:
in B flat -- Minuet. This is the third movement of the
Symphony in B flat and is dedicated to my wife on our wedding
anniversary, which is today! The main theme of this minuet is
taken from the familiar Gaelic song "Morning Has Broken"
of which a version was recorded by Cat Stevens in the 60s. It is
also sung as a hymn in many Catholic churches in the English
speaking world. Also included is a second theme built as a trio
performed mainly by flute, oboe and basoon and used as a
modulation device; a trumpet variation of the main theme; an oboe
version of the theme in a minor key (which I think works quite
well); a cello and contrabass statement of the theme with temolo
string accompaniment; a trumpet call for the ending using the
intervals of a fourth reminiscent somewhat of the Andante
movement (see below); and then a restatement of the "Morning
Has Broken" theme before fading out.
in B flat -- Andante. This was written as a wedding present
for Josi Carroll and Yoshi Stone who were married on July 3,
2008. Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Stone!
Nur Den Lieben Gott Laesst Walten. This is J.S. Bach's
harmonization of a chorale melody. Here I have arranged this for
flute, violin, bassoon and cello in G minor.
Ana Conditions, updated with Alto Sax part and an intro +
coda suggested by my friend, guitarist Ruth Parry. This is a wave
file, since my mp3 converter was turning out inferior quality
Sailor's Dance. This is an arrangement of a popular Russian
tune. The arrangement here is for flute, clarinet, violin, alto
saxophone, guitar and string bass. The band Bridge
plays this with an accordion as well and the mandolin in place of
the violin. BTW, Bridge is playing next Sunday evening (2/24/08)
as the "featured band" on open mic night at the
Claremont Folk Music
Center. We will be playing the Russian Sailor Dance.
Ana Conditions, a guitar piece in AABA form, using jazz chord
progressions, but otherwise fairly classical. In Southern
California we often get warm, dry windy weather we call Santa Ana
conditions. We had such conditions this weekend, so I named this
in D major for solo guitar. Has a Bach-like feel to it. For
Dr. Andy Podolsky.
This is a quintet for three strings (violin, viola, cello) and two woodwinds (oboe and bassoon). I call it the Guadalupe Quintet because I began writing it last week on December 12, 2007, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.