Project Teaser - September 2019

Hello everyone! It’s the 11th of the month, so it’s time for a monthly project teaser.

This month… I have been slowly tapping away with my keyboard and my computer. Each piece is being handcrafted note-by-note as the music comes to life. The video below demonstrates a bit of this process. The keen-eyed amongst you will notice the piece of music in the video has three pianos and a tripled string section!

At this point I have prepared four pieces of music, with ideas floating around for at least a dozen more. It’s just a very time consuming process! For comparison, I am aiming for well over twenty pieces of music in total. There is a long way to go still!

Have you heard? 08. Neptune, the Mystic

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves

The Planets: Neptune, the Mystic - Gustav Holst (1915)

Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite is undoubtedly his most well-known music ever. Particularly, the themes he wrote for Mars and Jupiter have been played and loved around the world. But there are five other planets he wrote music for, one of which is Neptune, the Mystic. Dreamy and soothing, this is the final piece in the suite, many years before the discovery of Pluto.

So how does an orchestral piece of music written to portray a distant planet as a wizard constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

Before even beginning to assess the relationship between the music and the subtitle, “the Mystic”, I am going to jump straight to the end of the piece. The music ends with a soft choir repeating the same bar over and over again as it fades into the distance. In today’s modern age this is not unusual, but in a live 1910’s performance the effect was simply astounding. How did he do it? In a stroke of innovation for the modern orchestra, he instructed the choir to be put in a room offstage and the door slowly and quietly shut. Very clever!

Neptune, indeed, is a mystical piece. It is not grand or tense, but sombre and magical. That is what makes it special. It’s about the atmosphere rather than the journey. The instrumentation captures this beautifully. It is light and dream-like, heavily utilising the wind instruments and pitched percussion in drifting scales and unresolved chords. In the second half of the piece a choir appears and begins to add to the atmosphere in the background. There are many small chimes and lonely motifs, reflecting the traditional ‘mystic’ viewpoint. Everything is slow, measured and composed. Transitions between motifs and segments are seamless; there are no blunt announcements. Only there is the humble mystic at the end of the universe, craftily weaving his magic.

The music is a perfect fit for Neptune. The choir gives a sense of distance, while the strings flutter around the mystery of the blue planet. It’s the perfect music to have playing in the background when taking it easy… especially if on a trip to Neptune,

Neptune has been inspirational to me as a piece that showcases how a composer to think outside the box to utilise the orchestra in ways to achieve their desired outcomes. These days we have other ways of fading out an orchestra, but Holst’s solution back in 1915 really challenges me to think about things I can do to my pieces to add difference and uniqueness. It also reminds me that not all pieces need to be grand and ‘show-y’. I appreciate the simple atmospheric and impressionistic music Holst has created. it has character and it has soul. It feels just like a planet.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Composing Spotlight: Into the Beyond


This month’s composing spotlight looks at the bold string-only video game theme song Into the Beyond, the main theme from my Adventure_RPG album in 2016.

I wrote Into the Beyond in mid-2016 after someone requested I add music to a video-game coding project. The game, titled Adventure_RPG, was all about adventuring out into the world to hunt down the menace Eric the Slayer and saving Adventure Town.

The composing work for this involved writing different themes for different areas in the game; forests, caves, fields and town. Into the Beyond is the theme written for the game’s loading and menu screens. It is the main theme, from which all the other pieces borrows aspects from.

So.. how and why did I write it the way I did?

Well, first, I wanted to capture the general feel and premise of the game. Tense and mysterious. Everyday the character was going out into the unknown in search of a supervillian they probably cannot defeat. Perfect. A driving timpani beat underlying the entire piece will drive it along. A minor key is absolutely fitting to this, along with a moderate military-style tempo and rhythm.

But there is one caveat; the opening three bars. In the game it is already known that you are in danger, so I saw no need to dwell on peaceful and happy times. Instead, I chose to use it to introduce and foreshadow the intensity to come.

The opening bars for percussion and piano.

The opening bars for percussion and piano.

The piece is written exclusively for an extended string section, with piano, percussion and organ added on top. It is not intended to be melodic, or even harmonic. It is a rhythmic piece that pushes further and further forward into the unknown. I did not intend anything grand, so I kept a very simple melody and supporting chord throughout the piece. D-minor for the entirety of every bar, with a small lift to A-minor at the end of the bar. The melody intended to be simple and curious as danger approached.

Main theme, first appearing in the violins.

Main theme, first appearing in the violins.

Then, the music changes. The focus goes back to the town, the melody and harmony changing to reflect the realisation of certain doom, almost like wailing. But never does the pounding of drums stop. Not once in this section does the home chord of D-minor feature, for D is for danger. Instead, we have things like A for adventure. The sequence follows a somewhat unusual Bb, F, Gm, A progression, repeated twice before finally allowing the return to the D-minor home.

Then, we have the calm before the storm. For five whole bars the beating of the drums stops and the strings give us some open air. Making full use of this, the piano borrows motifs from the theme and plays a solo. But it’s an uneasy and suspenseful moment - the final cadence signalling the introduction of the organ and the intensification of the music. This is where I imagined under still, starry night the watchmen of Adventure Town could see Eric the Slayer and his band of misfits approaching.

Piano solo directly before the organ enters the piece; notice similarities to the original theme.

Piano solo directly before the organ enters the piece; notice similarities to the original theme.

The organ. I waited an entire minute and a half to introduce the organ. Inspired by Hans Zimmer’s organ work on Pirates of the Caribbean and Interstellar, the organ was brought on board as a harbinger of fear. Its entry is entirely unexpected, yet immediately it establishes itself as the centre and feature of the music. In the build up back to the return of the melody I made full use of the organ. The right hand introduces a rapid and intense countermelody, the left hand rising in harmony as the dynamics intensify, and the feet playing one long, deep resounding D to counterpoint everything and convolute the chords. The result is that by the end of the segment the music is begging for resolution.

This resolution occurs as the music breaks back into the main theme. I wanted to give relief, but not too much, so opted to let the organ begin proceedings with its haunting version of the melody before kicking it back into the strings. By this point the dynamics have creeped up from pianissimo to fortissimo. The two styles merge and follow a general repeat of the opening sections, this time with the organ playing a counter-melody over the top.

Introduction of the organ and it’s counter melody.

Introduction of the organ and it’s counter melody.

Then, the drums stop and all melodies combine into one, with the strings taking the organ’s frantic semiquavers and blending them with the scales seen earlier in the music. At this stage I was going for chaotic and unknown, yet still familiar. Counter melodies are played together, backed by the original harmonies.

Then, finally the piano and percussion show us out. The tubular bells ring away as the threat recedes. Tomorrow will be another day of adventure.

The end result is 3m 17s of curios adventure and intense survival. These are the very essence of the game and this is what I tried to capture in the music.

Strings and organ mashing all the counter-melodies together to finish.

Strings and organ mashing all the counter-melodies together to finish.

And that is how I wrote Into the Beyond.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this spotlight!

Project Teaser - August 2019

Hello everyone! It’s the 11th of the month, so it’s time for a monthly project teaser.

This month… work continues in constructing a grand package of great new music for you - all flowing from my beloved piano to my computer’s orchestra and then to your ears.

Just how big am I planning? Hmmm… about as long as my last three albums combined sounds like a good length! Bring on 2020, it’s going to be BIG!

Have you heard? 07. Route 209 (Day)

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Route 209 (Day) - Ken Sugimori/Hitomi Sato (2006)

Pokemon. This is not the Pokemon theme song. In fact, Route 209 (Day) is simply one short piece in a huge catalogue of music written for Pokemon games. In this case, the music features when travelling along Route 209 between Hearthome City and Solaceon Town, in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum during the day. The best description of these two places is a bustling city for the former, and a retirement village for the latter, with a popular off-road cycle path in between.

So how does generic background music for a Pokemon game where there is hundreds of pieces to listen to constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

Well, for a start it has that beautifully simple and classic retro feel. It is straight to the point. It dances like sunlight with it’s lightweight piano ballad. Now when you’re adventuring through the Pokemon world to become the very best, there could be nothing more relaxing.

But if we take away the context of the piece (the Pokemon) and just examine the music itself, we have a short fanfare for an electronic orchestra. At its core, it’s remarkably simple. But it’s the small details and flourishes that really make it a joy to listen to: cheerful A-major key, long wholesome notes, little piano twirls, bouncing string scales, gentle drum beat. The piece is short, but written cleverly to fit three very different, but similar, themes together in one place, each with their own distinct character and feel. You have the initial fanfare to announce your arrival, then you have curious ‘old-timers’ melody before finishing with a more upbeat tune to return it to the fanfare. It’s like a convergence of all ages of life. Throughout the entirety of the piece there’s various counterpoints and counter-melodies. Like the piano counter-melody that plays over the top of the trumpet fanfare at the beginning of the piece or the string counter-melody in the middle section. The chord sequence is constantly rising, giving the feeling of elation and joy. The piece also does not restrict itself to any preset sequence or mode or structure. it just goes where it needs to go to express the many different experience from within this one portion of the Pokemon world.

Personally, I think it’s a fantastically crafted piece of music and a joy to listen to. Especially so given that it’s a electronic composition with a retro feel for a Pokemon game.

This piece has had some influence on my music. I used it as inspiration to write my own light-hearted and joyful adventure music in the Adventure_RPG album, particularly for the piece: “A Day of Adventure”.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Composing Spotlight: Ruminations


I have written a wide variety of music and I felt like writing a series on my compositions and how they came to be.

So, first up is Ruminations.

I wrote Ruminations over the course of five days in October 2017 at the request of a friend who was in dire need of a piano piece for a university project that was soon due. The brief was simple: it had to be mysterious and melancholic, like a person with amnesia slowly remembering their past. The piece also had to be seamlessly loopable and for piano only. An interesting challenge for such a short timeframe.

First, I needed to set the tone and find inspiration. I was supplied with a few example pieces to help me understand the tone the designers were going for: the entire Dear Esther soundtrack and Hundred Waters - Blanket Me. In addition to this, I explored the Last Last of Us soundtrack as well as the iconic Minecraft soundtrack.

Knowing what I wanted to create I set about coming up with ideas. The first thing on my mind was to make it easily loopable and do this I opted for a simple and recurring rhythm that I can return to in the bass while crafting an ominous melody to overlay on top. This presents itself immediately when the piece starts and continues largely unabated throughout the music.

Opening four bars, which sets the rhythm and tone for the first half of the piece.

Opening four bars, which sets the rhythm and tone for the first half of the piece.

The key signature and time signature were difficult choices. I didn’t want to pick a minor key for fear of draining the mood entirely from the piece, but nor did I want it to be overtly happy. After all, it is a piece about mystery and confusion. I ended up settling on G-Major, but put a twist on things by rapidly shifting into the lydian mode, meaning it had two sharps (F# and C#) rather than the usual one (F#). The time signature was no easier; I definitely did not want the standard 4/4 common time. My first preference was for something more unsettling like 11/8, but ultimately to assist in the loopability of the piece I went for 3/4 while trying in other ways to mess with the beat. As such, I took care not to stress the first beat of each bar, instead choosing to put more emphasis on the second beat.

The next step was to decide the melody and harmony. The brief made it such that the harmonies were more important than the melody. So, to reduce emphasis on the melody I created something simple without any fancy bells of whistles. Creating the melancholic feel of the piece was all in the interaction between the rhythm and the harmony. This meant no explicit chords and no natural chords. Everything had to be broken down into the chime of the bass and every chord had to be ominous in some way. Namely, this meant the chords were generally either augmented, with a seventh or totally outside the key signature. This is profoundly obvious as soon as the piece starts, with the first eight bars of the melody going through the following chord sequence:

Gmaj7 | Am7 | Gmaj7 | Am7 | Bm7 | Caug4 | Fmaj7 | Emin7

This then leads the melody into the lydian mode and augments itself into:

Dmaj7 | Em7 | Dmaj7 | Em7 | Gmaj7 | Caug4 | Fmaj7 | E7

Main melody of the first half of the piece, in G-lydian (or D-major).

Main melody of the first half of the piece, in G-lydian (or D-major).

Later in the piece we get a series of descending chromatic diminished chords that slowly bring the piece back to it’s Gmaj7 home chord to finish and loop back to the start for a total length of 1m 30s.

After applying some ambience and convolution the result was a very ominous and melancholic piece of music that really gives you this feeling that something’s not right but yet it still is. The developers were pleased, but not pleased enough. They requested a second piece of music for when you finally do overcome your amnesia. or in their words, an '“intensification”. Perfect! That’s my specialty.

Originally I intended to write a seperate short piece that could pick up where the first left off, but ultimately I ended up put in a dramatic ritardando to mash the two into one piece with two halves. This was not easy task. The music I had written did not owe itself to the kind of intensification that was sought. So, instead I had to come up with something new that still felt familiar. This is where the melody comes in. I decided to tie it back to a common theme in the melody by choosing the first two notes of the melody - those two very first notes you hear on the upper end of the piano - and went to town with them. With those two notes and a transitional note, plus exploitation of the Gmaj7 chord and its close friend the Dmaj7 chord, I crafted a gradual intensification which is different, yet strikingly familiar.

Transition between the two halves of the piece. Notice the similarities to the melody, but in modified form and in the home key of G-major.

Transition between the two halves of the piece. Notice the similarities to the melody, but in modified form and in the home key of G-major.

Slowly and subtly I changed the underlying rhythm to shift the emphasis from the second beat to the first and third. The tempo increased, the dynamics increased and finally the melody was playing more than one note at a time. No more was it to be a simple melancholic jingle, but it was to become requiem of memories as you rise out of the confusion of the storm and into the brightness of day. Finally, when you emerge from your ruminations and, for the first time, your mind is clear, the piece swells into greatness and joy.

At this point I dropped almost every reference to the original themes, after all it was meant to signify a reawakening. The ‘7’s were dropped from the chords, simply becoming G and D. The rhythm had been broken down into something more forceful and driving. The harmony found itself with full chords being pounded out under the melody. The melody itself taking those first two notes and pushing it into something so simplistic you absolutely relatable to the melancholy that came before it.

The grand climax of the piece, with significant developments from the initial themes.

The grand climax of the piece, with significant developments from the initial themes.

Then, the final trick: bring it all back to the Gmaj7 chord and make it loop. Once all the dust had settled this was as simple as deintensifying, gradually slowing down the tempo and reintroducing the main rhythm underneath the melody. Then, to end, a gentle mash of the two themes and a full circle back to the start for 3m 25s.

That is thought process behind the piano piece Ruminations which I wrote in its entirety over the course of five days.

Did the developers like it? They loved it, and into their project it went.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this spotlight!

Project Teaser - July 2019

Hello everyone! It’s the 11th of the month, so it’s time for a monthly project teaser.

This month… grand plans are in motion, but I wanted to focus on my return from Europe: I have been making up for all the missed piano time and a backlog of new ideas have flowed out onto the keys. Here’s a snippet of one piece, which is now getting the orchestration love it deserves. I promise there are plentiful more ideas being developed in tandem and I wish I could share them all!

When will you hear the final piece? Sit tight. D-Day is a long time away.

Have you heard? 06. In Dreams

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

In Dreams - Howard Shore and Fran Walsh (2001)

Everyone knows the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Academy Award winning theme music composed by Howard Shore. But not everyone knows that the same iconic theme for Frodo Baggins and The Shire has a full suite of lyrics to accompany it. Official lyrics to the greatest film songs would almost seem like something you would expect… in dreams.

So how does a singsong set to Lord of the Rings music constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

First and foremost it is totally unexpected. Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition, nor did they expect a young soloist to feature in the most iconic Lord of the Rings song. The melody, rhythm and harmony is like-for-like the same as the orchestral version, but it is without the bells and whistles and glorious flourish. Instead, the piece is a mellow choral song about hope on an arduous journey. Of course, the melody and harmonics alone are remarkable, but it is the instrumentation that makes this piece truly unique. The blend between the young soloist and the choir, backed by a soft orchestra really emphasizes the emotion and spirit of the lyrics. The orchestra is there, but it is not the centerpiece of the music. Even when the iconic themes get their orchestral spotlight the music stays mellow and measured.

The lyrics are simple and clever, making enough reference to the journey undertaken in the film to be relevant. They never talk explicitly of the ring or of Frodo, but they do talk of the hardship and the hope within. Even at the end there is a direct reference to The Hobbit, a nice little touch.

This piece has absolutely influenced my music. Whilst I haven’t managed master the choir, you can find some influences from Howard Shore’s work in One World and Fantasia in F: Commemorating the Steward.

Happy listening and enjoy!

p.s. don’t forget to watch the movies.

Travel: Europe


I am currently right in the midst of a modest adventure of central Europe. Already, I have visited the likes of Amsterdam, Lisbon and Stockholm. Soon, I will be making my way also to Germany and Spain. Every place is a unique experience and constantly I am gathering inspiration and ideas for new music.

My journey through Europe thus far has been very music-focussed. Before I had even made it four hours out of New Zealand I was playing a baby grand piano in the middle of Brisbane Airport, much to the delight of airport patrons - many of whom thanked me for the experience even after we landed in Abu Dhabi. Then, in Amsterdam I met the Nintendo Labo, a cardboard piano powered by the Nintendo Switch. In Stockholm I visited the headquarters of Spotify and discovered a world where music is life.

All this time I have been making fantastic use of being away from New Zealand and the responsibilities it brings. I have been avidly writing music, even without a piano or keyboard to compose new ideas on. Even the keyboard app on my phones crashes every few minutes. Nevertheless, progress is being made toward my next project, and this trip to Europe will surely play a role in shaping the results.

See you in July, New Zealand!


Enjoying the music on the walls in downtown Stockholm.

Enjoying the music on the walls in downtown Stockholm.

Have you heard? 05. Ritual Fire Dance

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Ritual Fire Dance - Manuel de Falla (1915)

Have you ever considered going to a ritual fire dance? I haven’t. But if I did I could absolutely imagine Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” urging me on. Written for a ballet, the music takes a rather uncommon concept and attempts to bring imagery and life to it. The composer himself has since transcribed it into many different arrangements.

So how does tribal themed ballet music constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

Right from the get-go, de Falla’s, “Ritual Fire Dance” does exactly what it says on the tin. The first half minute of ominous trills really sets the mood. The primitive woodwind that follows sets the tone for the rest of the piece: playful, inquisitive, mystical. The music then constantly jumps between moods. At one moment it is staring deeply into the fire, the next it is jumping around in ritualistic form. It draws you into its world and makes it so easy to imagine a bunch of cavemen with sticks dancing around a fire. It’s an interesting and different use of strings - Mozart would be confused. Frantic arpeggios are not dominant, instead being replaced by an unavoidably eerie plucking. Even the brass make heavy use of their mutes at the end of the piece. It’s creative and different in the way its been put together and how it conveys its story. That’s what makes it notable. Even the orchestra hits at the end are seemingly confused and random. But it works!

Although I am yet to delve into the realm of ritualistic dance music, this piece nevertheless serves as an inspiration to me that an orchestra can be used creatively and outside the usual expected bounds of the current trends. It’s different and unique. I like that.

Happy listening and enjoy!

New Website

It’s finally here!

For three years my website lay derelict and neglected - still announcing my studious efforts at university. Now, a lick of fresh paint has been applied and a whole new-look website has been created! Explore the albums and music I’ve published, the commissions I’ve written and the tips I have to share. You can even keep up to date with the latest news and thoughts from me here at this blog! Or, if you like what you see, simply head to the about page and get in touch. I can do anything!


Have you heard? 04. Udan Mas

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Udan Mas - Geoff Knorr (2013)

Take a traditional Indonesian motif, add an orchestra and what do you get? Well, if Geoff Knorr is in charge, you get wartime music for the Indonesian nation in the highly acclaimed video game Civilization V. Each nation gets its own set of peacetime and wartime music, based on traditional melodies and local instruments, but “Udan Mas” takes the cake for taking such a simple tune and turning it into something fierce and respectable.

So how does a battle cry for an army of Indonesian Kris Swordsmen constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

The beauty lies in a simple four-note theme that creates the entire essence of the piece. Drawn from traditional music, it drives it forward while still keeping the traditional Indonesian feel. Traditional instruments are included alongside a full orchestra, giving it authenticity that would otherwise be lost. The masterful blending of the brass with the rest of the orchestra gives the piece the distinct ‘war’ feeling. The piece never stops moving forward. Always marching, it swells, it glares and it calls out. The entire orchestra is only a rhythmic conduit for the deep brass to annunciate their call for war. It’s tense, yet so craftily traditional. You can feel the army approaching, step by step. You can feel the hesitation and the deep breath before the plunge as the woodwinds trill, teeter and then strike in. From a tune so simple as four notes, Knorr has created a piece of music that makes you sit tense in your boots. When listen to this piece you know those swordsmen are coming.

This piece has had some influence on my music. It shows how the brass can be used in effective, but not overwhelming, ways. It has directly influenced two of my pieces: “Serenade in F: II. Sunset” and “Serenade in F: III. Nightfall”.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Have you heard? 03. Chevaliers de Sangreal

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Chevaliers de Sangreal - Hans Zimmer (2006)

Everybody knows Hans Zimmer, the powerhouse of film composing. But not everybody knows all of his music. Shortly after helping Klaus Badelt write the first block of music for the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Zimmer found himself writing for The DaVinci Code, a film based on a very popular novel where the protagonist deciphers a series of incredibly cryptic clues to save the world.

So how does an orchestra on a treasure hunt constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

“Chevaliers de Sangreal” is one of those pieces where you feel the emotion building slowly over time, until it flows over into a crescendo of many feels. Zimmer’s mastery of the strings section is not lost in this piece. Starting gentle, the piece builds atmosphere with soft, but filling chords and harmonies. The string motif in the background brings a sense of continuity as the piece seemingly meanders through a variety of chords and builds in emotion. Eventually the choir even joins in. But for a piece where the rhythm and melody in every bar is just about the same, it stays relevant and interesting through dynamics, instrumentation and harmonies. Deep basses and horns fill out the chords and melodies, while strings and woodwind dance around to bring that extra little bit of embellishment. The piece itself is so simple, yet incredibly effective.

This piece has inspired me to explore the world of compositional and musical development in a different way. You don’t have to make something different to be interesting, just something more.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Travel: South America

Hello world!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been travelling the Latin American world. In between ordering the wrong meals in Spanish and trying to figure out how Spanish actually differs to Portuguese, I thought I would come here to share some of my musical experiences.


My trip began in Lima, Peru, where I was immediately greeted with a lifetime supply of Latin music and street dancing. There was an air of relaxation, ease and normality in the way the South Americans approach life. They love expressing themselves, especially through music and dance. So there was no shortage of random public performances around the cities of Lima and Cusco as I travelled.

A short stop in a traditional Peruvian meeting house and I was quickly acquainted with traditional Peruvian instruments. But the real treat came in the city of Puno during the Carnival (yes, the same carnival as Rio). The streets came alive and people filled the main squares to dance and make music. There were parades and performances and celebration. The people were totally invested in the celebration. They love their music and it created an atmosphere so different to the streets of the western world. The style of music was vibrant and lively, creating a wonderfully joyful experience.


My musical adventures in Bolivia were restricted to La Paz because, well.. I was restricted to La Paz. Dire illness grounded me in the city whilst my friends adventured off into the salt desert and Chile. Nevertheless, Bolivia offered me a musical treat in the form of the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales. I was taken on a journey, not of music, but of instruments. I got to explore a plethora of new and interesting instruments. The historic people of the Andean Mountains found plenty of creative ways to make music. Plus, with Bolivia’s diverse geography, the variety of instruments and the history of them was huge. There were long horns that curled back like a hook, whistles sculpted into statues out of rock and guitars with five sets of strings in the shape of a star. I left Bolivian with a very sincere and informed appreciation of music, and how it can mean the same thing to so many people but in so many different ways.


I have only just made it to the Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires. Already, I have found a vibrant and cultured city. Musicians are busking on the streets, the opera house is marvellous beyond belief. As win the rest of the continent, Latin, salsa and jazz are prevalent - a welcome change from the music of the west.

On the to-do list is to watch a tango show and visit the orchestra. Here’s hoping for the best!



Have you heard? 02. Drysdale Overture

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Drysdale Overture - Douglas Lilburn (1937)

Douglas Lilburn’s “Drysdale Overture” is a New Zealand piece of music that takes the definition of ‘classical’ music, stretches it a bit and embellishes it into something far more ‘modern’. It is one of the first pieces of music published by Lilburn in a long-spanning career as New Zealand’s most recognised composer.

So how does a hybrid classical-modern orchestral overture constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

“Drysdale Overture” is a fairly unique piece in its combination of delicate, yet lush, melodies and intricate rhythm and pace. It sets itself as totally different to the masterpieces that came before it. Instead of being about the tones, harmonies and structure that defines a truely classical pieces, it is all about the melodies and instrumentation. There are grand brass swells and soft woodwind solos, but never does any one theme overpower another. It flows through a variety of emotions, guided by a gentle pacing of the strings. Yet, the strings never go crazy, the brass never goes crazy, the woodwind never go crazy. The music is temperate, yet so well instrumented that it seems like it was written fifty years before it’s time.

Personally, my favourite section is from about 8:10 to 8:40. The delicacy of the strings, complete with the brass chords, invoke powerful imagery and emotion and are a fantastic development not he previous recurrences of the same theme.

Although Lilburn’s treasure has not directly influenced any of my own compositions, the style of writing and the instrumentation is something I find inspiring for future pieces.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Have you heard? 01. Red Planet Nocturne

Have you heard? is a showcase for the unconventional, unique and inspiring music out there that never seems to get the limelight it deserves.

Red Planet Nocturne - Christopher Tin (2016)

Red Planet Nocturne” is a short piece of music written for piano and synthesiser by grammy-winning composer Christopher Tin. Generally known for his work on the Civilization franchise, particularly “Baba Yetu”, Tin composed the work as the main theme for the economic strategy video game Offworld Trading Company.

So how does a mix of piano and funky space synth constitute an unconventional, unique or inspiring piece of music?

First, it is important to understand the context of the music. Tin is tasked with writing music for a video game set on Mars where almost every action taken needs to be carefully considered in a competitive live (space) market environment. Now, how many orchestras do you think there are in space? Believe it or not, we have an International Space Orchestra, but they haven’t actually performed in space. No, there are no orchestras in space and fittingly there are no orchestras in “Red Planet Nocturne”. Instead, Tin opted for a soft bell, a typewriter of some sort and a fuzzy firework when playing with his synthesiser, giving the whole piece the ‘otherworldly’ feel that it needs. Then, he ‘earths’ it with a soft piano chiming away in the background, bringing wholeness and familiarity to the music. After all, it is still us humans that are colonising Mars.

The result is gentle piece that meanders in its own way. The music almost feels as if it is floating around, curiously adventuring into a new unknown. That doesn’t sound too much different to Mars anyway. In any case, the music is mysterious, but soothing, and well worth a listen!

“Red Planet Nocturne” has influenced some of my work. Most notably, the piano chimes in the piece inspired similar chimes in my own piece, “Crop Circles” from the Adventure_RPG OST.

Happy listening and enjoy!

Journey: Remastered Released!

New Music!

Five years after the release of his debut album Journey New Zealand composer Camiel van Schoonhoven has released an revised version.

To celebrate the occasion, Camiel decided to revisit the original album, updating the instrument sounds and tweaking a few passages. Most significantly, Camiel added a eight, bonus, track to the end, titled Epilogue. He explains that the piece is intended to add a note finality to the musical adventure, noting that the original music took listeners out on a journey, but never brought them back.

Epilogue is an upbeat and heroic piece, which Camiel says is a testament to the achievements of not only the story told within the music, but the story told within his own career.

Indeed, it is a fitting piece to celebrate five years of publishing music and alongside it Camiel released a video detailing his own journey to date, including inspirations, interesting facts and times of adversity.

You can watch the video below and the full revised album is available on Camiel’s SoundCloud here.