A blog following my musical activities

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The webhub for Steven Speciale. This page contains previews of his blog ‘mostlynoise’, over 500 YouTube Videos, links to downloadable concert recordings, and other examples of his musical or teaching activities.

via Steven Speciale.


January 12, 2012

Quote of the Week: Kaija Saariaho

August 5, 2011

Indeed, listeners experience her music as an overwhelming primal event, a mystical encounter providing glimpses of a deeper reality that escapes the regulated, linear consciousness of everyday life.

-Zoran Minderovic

Born on October 14, 1952, in Helsinki, Finland, Saariaho studied visual art at the Helsinki University of Art and Design. From 1976 to 1981, she studied composition at the Sibelius Academy. As a student, she was one of the leading members of Korvat auki (Ears Open), a group of young Finnish composers who rejected contemporary music fashions and sought new musical expressions.

In 1982 Saariaho moved to Paris. She studied electronic music at the Institut de Récherche et de Coordination Acoustique-Musique (IRCAM). Here Saariaho formed her aesthetic; in particular, the idea that the essentially mysterious nature of sound can never be completely encompassed by knowledge (Minderovic).

I find Saariaho’s music enchanting. Her use of electronics is holistic. The programs she writes in Max, a graphic object-oriented multimedia language, are sensual components of the sound-worlds she creates. Lohn, for soprano and electronics, is one of my favorites.

TED Talks: Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body

Self-explanatory video by Evelyn Glennie. Glennie is one of the few people in the world to make her living as a solo-percussionist. Her achievement is all the more remarkable by the fact that she is deaf.

TED Talks: Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body

August 3, 2011

Quote of the Week: It’s Biber Fever!

July 22, 2011

“At the heart of Biber’s music is unpredictability. His constant inventiveness produces music which, but for the fact that it exists on the printed page, might have been improvised straight into a baroque tape-recorder.”
-Andrew Manze, baroque violinist

During his lifetime Biber certainly acquired a very thorough knowledge of what was be composed for and experimented on the violin by composers north of the Alps, where a distinctive style of composition was being developed, a style very different from their Italian counterparts. The innovations and characteristics of this style were: the progressive sliding upward to the 7th position, special bowing (bariolage, arpeggio, bow vibrato, staccato), the use of descriptive effect, scordaturas, double notes, the extensive use of the form of variation with many passaggi, runs, fast arpeggios, to mention a few.
-Gunar Letzbor

Heinrich Biber (1644-1704) was a bohemian composer of the early Baroque. Biber is one of the most important violin composers. His playing technique allowed him to easily reach the 6th and 7th positions, employ multiple stops in intricate polyphonic passages, and explore the various possibilities of scordatura tuning. He also wrote one of the earliest solo violin works: the passacaglia from the Mystery Sonatas as seen in the above YouTube video.

Biber’s music is intensely personal, virtuosic, and poetic. While the example I have posted here is intimate, he was capable of extraordinary extravagance. His Missa Salzburgenesis, a polychoral mass, was written for some seven choirs of singers and instruments in fifty-three parts!

Ketzel’s passing reminded me of this piece by Nora-the-cat. I post it here in tribute!

A Ketzel Tribute from Nora

July 19, 2011

Soundwalk 2011: Krapp’s next appearance!

July 19, 2011

Congratulations to the Loyola High School Fall Music Appreciation Classes! I just received confirmation that they have been accepted into the Soundwalk 2011 Sound-Art Festival, Long Beach. This is the third consecutive year we are included in the festival.

According to the website, Soundwalk is

an ear-oriented art event produced annually by the Long Beach artist group, FLOOD. The evening operates under the concept of a five-hour audioscopic experience as provided by sound art located in various indoor and outdoor spaces situated in Downtown Long Beach. The artwork combines, in multiple ways, a wide range of media as well as other interplayful sensory elements. There are sculptures, environments, installations, both interactive and passive, as well as scheduled performances.

You can see an interview that Huell Howser did with the artist collective FLOOD about the 2008 Soundwalk!

“That’s Uh-may-zeeing!”

Part of my professional development work this summer will include recording a cd of 20th and 21st century keyboard literature appropriate for high-school aged musicians. I have been researching repertoire for a while and have decided on recording music by Cage</a>, Cowell, Rzewski, Messaien, Essl, Montague, and others including the Alvin Lucier piece for which I have already made a video.

Summer Piano Project

June 13, 2011

Constructing the Trees

April 14, 2011

The construction of the trees has begun.

Students are disassembling computer speakers and stripping the wires.

The speakers will be wired in parallel to form speaker arrays and hooked up to battery powered amps.

Small hubs will be connected to the amps for visitors to plug in their smart phones and play the QR code linked pieces they composed.

The trees are hosts to ambient compositions.

– Posted from my phone. Go to my webhub at:

Soundcloud is cool

March 15, 2011

My students have uploaded their arch form compositions onto their own Soundcloud Accounts.  After the students liked their accounts to mine, we spent the class period sharing and evaluating the pieces to develop critical skills.

This was most valuable in helping the students examine what makes a good composition and what might be less successful techniques for expressing their musical intent.  We will jump right back into composition with a piece about cars.  I will cut down the timeline to about 4 days from start to finish since they have acquired the necessary skills to create the loops from scratch.

I also had the students download the free Soundcloud app for iPhone/iPod and Android.  This wonderful app allows you to record, geotag, and upload recordings from your mobile device onto your Soundcloud account.  This allows almost anyone to use Soundcloud for capturing sounds much like Flickr or Picasa lets you deal with images.  Very exciting!


Some of the best features of Soundcloud include the ability to store any size file online, embed customizable players into wikis and blogs, and the social networking connectivity of the site.  Like many sites, Soundcloud offers their services for free up to two hours of storage.


I think I will have the kids make simple movie versions of their songs to host on our YouTube channel since there is no limit to how much we can put there.

St. Andrew’s Choir 3-13-11

Music on the First Sunday of Lent

March 14, 2011

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