Michael Sbabo Theme

1 part1 page00:216 years ago266 views
Another melody written on the letters of a name, this time "Michael Sbabo"—though in this case with specific changes to the exact notes that would have been dictated by the letters of the name in order to make the melody more pleasing. Eventually I hope to do more with this melody, but this is the basic theme.
Kelly Morse Theme

Kelly Morse Theme

1 part1 page00:466 years ago761 views
In college, Kelly Morse knew that I often created melodies by using the letters of a person's name (continuing the letters of the alphabet up the scale past the letter "g"), and he asked me to play the theme that would be created by using the letters of HIS name; at the time, I was a bit stumped to make it sound interesting: d-e-e-e-d-f-a-d-e-e

Years later, he reminded me that he'd been disappointed that his name didn't make for a good melody -- and I decided that I had to be a good enough composer to make it work.

Here is the result.

Kiwi Theme

1 part1 page00:176 years ago556 views
This tiny composition was the inspiration for Kiwi Rag. It has many of the elements of my early works, including the half-step-up 5th and 10th in the accompaniment, changing keys—and noticeable optimism!

Seth Chaban Theme (Piano Solo)

1 part2 pages01:286 years ago348 views
The original melody I created using the letters of my nephew's name. I also tried to get a bit of modal feeling into it, aiming for reference to his Jewish heritage.
Francine's Theme

Francine's Theme

1 part3 pages02:205 years ago990 views
This is a rough transcription of a theme I composed for a friend in high school. It includes references to "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "I'm in the Mood for Love". There are other references in there, but I've forgotten what they are since then.

Romeo and Juliet (Flute and Piano)

2 parts3 pages02:095 years ago11,027 views
This arrangement is midway between the original instrumentation for the incidental music I composed for the play and the piano solo sheet music. I really feel that this melody is beautifully suited to flute, for which it was intended in the original performances. Either piano or guitar would work nicely for the accompaniment, so here it is with piano.
Romeo and Juliet (Piano Solo)

Romeo and Juliet (Piano Solo)

1 part2 pages02:085 years ago18,512 views
This is the piano solo version of the theme I composed as incidental music for a theatrical performance of Romeo and Juliet my senior year at Millikin University. The melody was inspired by the words "Romeo, oh, Romeo! Wherefore art thou "Romeo?" On this one, I intentionally used the major 6th opening interval from a number of John Williams' love themes, and used chord progressions inspired by Stephen Foster.
Ragtime #3: George Takei Rag

Ragtime #3: George Takei Rag

1 part4 pages03:475 years ago31,510 views
Happy birthday, George Takei! I've been working on this composition for about three months now and am pretty sure it's complete. (VIDEO SCORE TO THE RIGHT, made with the MuseScore MP3 of this piece. "Made Easy" arrangement at

This piece is composed off the letters of George Takei's name (just continuing the additional letters of the alphabet up the scale after A-G), and from patterns created by other words and names from George's life. (I've marked out where the notes are derived directly from his name in the first melody.)

Section by section:

The first section is composed off of the letters of George Takei's name, and is intentionally upbeat and optimistic. The theme is intended to represent his youth, his early family life, and his overall personality. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Takei by phone once a few years ago, and it was a delight speaking to him.

The second section represents the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is a sad part of America's history, and George Takei has made it part of his life to bring awareness to a time when America didn't behave so beautifully. The section is composed in a minor key, reflects the melodies of songs of Americana, and is intentionally composed so the melody and the accompaniment are not lined up, as the situation at the time was not in alignment with our country's principles.

The third section is all about Hollywood. The melody plays on the many celebratory melodies about Hollywood and show business, right up to the "big finish" cadences that lead the section into...

The fourth section comes as a surprise and suddenly turns a corner into very different places than the earlier sections, while intentionally keeping rhythms and references to other moments in the piece. The melody (if I do say so myself) is classy and sophisticated, even "cool"—the proud protagonist has found his stride, and it's more than just OK to be Takei.

Mia - Original Piano Solo

1 part2 pages02:095 years ago2,316 views
Mia: Thank you for warming our laps and our hearts for ten wonderful years. You were the prettiest cat at the Tampa Humane Society, and you were the sweetest pet anyone could ever wish for. No more hurting, no more fear.

Mia: 2002(?)-2013

This piece is a little bit theme, a little bit song, and a little bit requiem.

While I'm a little embarrassed by how emotional I've been over the loss of a pet, I also recognize how close we become to our animals, and how we both invest and are rewarded with love and emotion because of having them.

This was composed in an effort to try to get my emotions out during a sad but necessary time, and to create a memorial for a beloved pet. At first I fretted (no pun intended) over the ridiculously simple chord progression and repetitive melody—until I realized that my emotions were likewise stuck in a simple, repetitive loop, rehashing again and again our sadness and loss. I find myself humming the melody as a representation of my feelings, repeating it far more often that it would be played in a single performance of the piece... that makes me think I got it right.

When Will She Dance With Me? (orchestral cue)

18 parts4 pages00:505 years ago993 views
A bit of practicing for orchestration, this. "Talk Like A Pirate Day" reminded me that I'd written a pirate piece, but I've been unable to find it or remember it.

However, while sitting down trying to see if I could just recall the melodies from my lost pirate piece, I found myself more and more in the mood for a pirate story, and imagining what one might be. As I imagined, I started to play the melody that's in this piece. It occurred to me that this is a song, sung by sailors, and could serve as the introduction to the story. In this case, it would serve like music to a movie teaser trailer.

What is the story? Briefly, it's about the events that led to a young woman living alone on an island far out to sea. Maybe someday the whole story will be told. In the mean time, this piece is a taste of how parts of the story might sound.

When Will She Dance With Me? (winds cue)

13 parts3 pages00:525 years ago419 views
Same theme, winds only arrangement, with minor adjustments to the arrangement and a couple of flourishes on the piccolo.

(I'm not 100% sold on the open F chords in the last section; I wonder if the feeling of incompleteness that I was going for in the sound is just coming through as a feeling of incompleteness in the composition or arrangement...)

Jacob and Jackson - Viola and Piano (work in progress 1)

2 parts2 pages00:455 years ago324 views
So this is the viola piece I've been working on, with a B section added to the melody. I've used the "letters into notes" trick with the names of our friends Jacob and Jackson Howa-Morrow. With their names both starting with J-A-C, I decided to try their names as a single line with harmonies played on two strings of the viola; I have yet to hear how it sounds played, but I've been assured it's doable.

The piece was inspired by a recent "jam session" with Jacob ("Jake"), who plays viola. With a willing guinea pi—er, violist, I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to compose better for stringed instruments.

I'm sure there will be many changes as I continue composing and building out the piece, and figured it would be fun to document the process again.

One (Sketch for Piano)

1 part1 page00:595 years ago589 views
This is a melody I composed a long time ago and recently decided to revisit. The sketch here is just the basic melody and chord progression, put down on paper so I have something to start with for development and further composition. (The "sketchiest" bit is the ending, which is — and very much FEELS — "tacked on" so that the melody isn't just left hanging for now.)

Interestingly, this uses the same starting notes as Rachmaninoff's famous variation on Paganini, but that was coincidental; I created the melody off of the letters of a name, as I often do, and immediately noticed the matching pattern. I composed the melody with the idea of using exactly the same melody with different tempos; there is a synthesized orchestral arrangement of the melody as a fanfare, which may be posted soon too, if I feel ambitious enough to transcribe and adjust it for real instruments.

Note: See Gerry Busch's guitar arrangement of this piece here:

Dorian Gray - Beautiful Boy Theme

5 parts1 page00:245 years ago747 views
This is one of the themes I have composed for a larger work (most likely a ballet) based on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. This would be the theme for Basil's infatuation with Dorian's beauty (not Dorian's own theme).

This string arrangement gets the theme across nicely, I think.

One (Sketch for Brass)

6 parts2 pages00:345 years ago550 views
This is the brass "fanfare" version of the "One" melody. Just a sketch and just the single melody again, with no development.

Sedigh No. 2 - In Motion (draft 2 - Original Composition)

1 part2 pages02:034 years ago282 views
Finished piece at

This has strayed from the first piece I did in what I was planning to be a set. Sedigh No. 1 is very much in a "song" format, and is very "American Songbook" in its feel. This piece feels more likely to end up in a "movie score" format of a few themes leading one to the next, each with a different feel (for a different character or setting in a film). We'll see. I'm happy how much this is building on the "S-E-P-E-H-R" theme. Pardon the still-unfinished form.

Sedigh No. 2 - In Motion (for Sepehr Keyhani, draft 3 - Original Composition)

1 part4 pages04:184 years ago398 views
Finished piece at

In a fairly "movie score end credits" A-B-B-A arrangement, I finally have this piece to where it feels nearly complete to me. (This piece is VERY dependent on the pianist's performance, particularly in the B section due to the nearly minimalist accompaniment; midi performance will sound very flat and monotonous.)

I know I'll be adjusting the accompaniment and adding flourishes (the starkness of the arrangement of the B theme is begging for ornamentation), but at least I now feel that this piece has both arc and growth. I'm also very much enjoying how much I managed to get the S-E-P-E-H-R theme (musically E-E-B-E-A-D) woven into various parts of the piece. I'll be premiering it on September 21st 2014, and hopefully a video score will come from that performance.

Barnaby Rose sketch 1

1 part1 page00:354 years ago298 views
A quick composition on the name Barnaby for Mayhew Preston Reese (Robert Cullison).

Spy Theme 1 (Original Composition)

1 part1 page01:434 years ago1,339 views
A quick afternoon composition of a James Bond-inspired theme, with some very iconic and intentional John Barry cadences. Thoughts?

Slight revisions added, and this will be the final version in this form. (Revisions were: Triplets added at Zach Robinson's [aka EvilPie's] suggestion, other minor edits to bits I felt needed polishing.)

Zach: the triplets really filled in the "John Barry" sound; great suggestion, good ear!

Original version here:
Original Composition: The Painting

Original Composition: The Painting

1 part2 pages02:043 years ago1,101 views
A quick "turn a word into a composition" piece. The seed word used here is "painting"--B-A-B-G-F-B-G-G

Note: made minor changes to notes that I had incorrectly put in while transcribing. Just measures one and two, and all measures like 7. Also added one measure at the end to round the piece out.

The piece is dedicated to Gerry Busch, from whom I gathered the idea of the recurring pattern bassline and the overall structure.

Theme and Variations on the Word "Rapido"

3 parts13 pages05:193 years ago2,042 views
Violin, Clarinet, Piano
Here's the entire finished contest piece as submitted to the Rapido! Composition Contest. (I didn't make semi-finalist, darn.) Please let me know what you think!

I count the theme & variations as follows:
1) Main theme (melody repeats twice)
2) "Silly" theme -- I did this to reference just keeping the same melody almost exactly and adding ornamentation or slightly varied rhythm (which I think of as a little "silly" compared to a strong 'variation' of the theme—and to reinforce the memory of the main theme, since it varies SO much in the...
3) Ragtime theme (this is equivalent to 2 "A" sections of a ragtime; I had the piano do one repeat of this section solo to give the piano player more solo/melody time, and because of Ragtime's roots in the piano)
4) Tango (LOVE IT, drops the 2nd D an octave down, and is in a minor mode)
5) "Chase" (almost feels more Klezmer than Latin, but it is its own thing; it continues the minor mode and provides a fun, upbeat moment)
6) Inverted variation ('slow' section, major with flat 6 plus modal changes)
7) Final variation (starting D one octave down)

Tiffany Aching Theme - Full Orchestra - Work In Progress

26 parts4 pages01:023 years ago447 views
Flute(2), Oboe(2), Clarinet(2), Bassoon(2), French Horn(2), Trumpet(2), Trombone(2), Tuba, Percussion(4), Timpani, Harp, Violin(2), Viola, Cello, Contrabass
HARPISTS: please let me know about the harp part on this work so far. Playable? Easy? Hard?

After enjoying Terry Pratchett's last novel, The Shepherd's Crown, I was very moved and inspired, and felt that it would be a good time to get to work on a composition about the main character, the young witch, Tiffany Aching. It had to sound "countryside" as she lives on the chalk, it had to sound at least a little bit English and/or Scottish (read or listen to the book and you'll understand that connection) and it needed to be both simple and complex. I am happy so far with that. Tips on orchestration much appreciated.
Sky in Motion

Sky in Motion

1 part6 pages04:104 years ago2,578 views
Ok, so this is my "final" version of this piece composed for and dedicated to Sepehr Keyhani ( I added "Sky" to the title because someone told me that "Sepehr" means "Sky", so it seemed appropriate. (If the translation is incorrect, that's just tough: this is the name of the piece now!) The feel is very movie score, and once I knew that the piece was going to have that feel, I ran with it--even "finishing" the composition by adding a solo intro line that (in a movie) would be played over the last two clever spoken lines from the two protagonists. Note: The "S-E-P-E-H-R" motif appears 42 times in the piece, not including partial or modified appearances.

Launch! - Fanfare for Concert Band

35 parts4 pages00:343 years ago2,411 views
Piccolo, Flute(2), Oboe(2), Bassoon(2), Clarinet(5), Alto Saxophone(2), Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet(3), French Horn(2), Trombone(3), Tuba(3), Contrabass, Timpani, Percussion(6)
Updated March 12, 2017: Added dynamics, fixed some not stem directions, output parts.

Commissioned by and dedicated to Jerry Fletcher, this composition uses the concept of "Launching" as well as the letters of the word "L-A-U-N-C-H" to create a motivational introduction fanfare.

March to Bethlehem (Concert Band Arrangement)

32 parts6 pages02:063 years ago1,154 views
Piccolo, Flute(2), Oboe(2), Bassoon(2), Clarinet(5), Alto Saxophone(2), Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet(3), French Horn(2), Trombone(3), Tuba(3), Contrabass, Timpani, Percussion(3)
Keeping in the holiday spirit (and keeping in the concert band arranging spirit), here's my one "holiday" march, the "March to Bethlehem" — which is intended to represent the story of the three kings (or wise men), the shepherds (and their sheep in the fields), the heavenly host, and the guiding star. The story has its charm, and I think the piece does nicely to represent a feeling of grand expectation.

NOTE: Lowered to B Flat, to keep the horns from being stressed.

Triumphance (Original March) - Brass Quintet Arrangement

5 parts10 pages02:203 years ago2,276 views
Trumpet(2), French Horn, Trombone, Tuba
NOTE: Just restored it to the original key (C major then D major), which puts the French Horn a bit high in places -- HORN PLAYERS: if it's unwieldy up there, let me know and I'll shuffle the parts in those spots.

PLEASE SUGGEST ANY EXPERT ADVICE YOU HAVE ON THE BRASS QUINTET ARRANGING HERE! THANK YOU!. Inspired by my recent re-discovery of the Canadian Brass, here's a brass quintet arrangement of my first "martial" march, Triumphance, which I originally described as "a little bit John Williams, a little bit Stu Phillips" and which I still find inspiring and motivational to listen to.

Original Piano Solo arrangement at:

Triumphance (Piano Solo)

1 part4 pages02:155 years ago991 views
The original piano solo arrangement of my composition Triumphance, a triumphal march. A little bit John Williams, a little bit Stu Phillips, this piece is suited to and intended for 10-part brass, concert band, or full orchestra.

Remembering Zayne - Original Solo Piano Composition

1 part2 pages02:582 years ago1,952 views
Here is the piece I composed for the family and friends of Zayne Shomler, December 14, 1998 - February 8, 2016.

Prior to performing the piece, I spoke to the assembled mourners with the following prepared text:

It does no disservice to laugh or smile — or, yes, to cry — when remembering Zayne. He is a part of your life and always will remain so. You carry him into your future with you.

Likewise, it does him no service to unjustly obsess over things that are now unchangeable. Things said that cannot be unsaid. Things done that cannot be undone. Things not done that you feel you should have done. It does not serve Zayne or anyone to beat yourself up over such things, because then you just carry pain and sadness into your future with you, when you could be carrying —and sharing—the joy, the love, and the lessons you learned from having Zayne in your life for the time that you did.

All that you can do is what you can do now. Let those who are here now know that you love them and you are here for them. Be here for them now, and be here with them every moment you can into the future.

There is a very powerful and meaningful quote by the late author, Terry Pratchett: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...” I personally find great hope and comfort in that saying. Do your best to make as many ripples in the world as possible—heck, make a splash! Touch as many lives as possible. Remember those who created ripples that touched your life, and to keep those ripples going for as long as it is in your power to do so.

You carry Zayne into your future with you. In you. You carry him into the future by Remembering Zayne and sharing the good that he brought into your life, so that the ripples he made continue to go out and touch others through you.

Rob Zeh 1

3 parts2 pages01:382 years ago165 views
English Horn, Percussion, Contrabass
This is for my friend (& my 1st Patreon patron) Rob Zeh. He asked for "Jaunty & Mysterious" & I think I have more work to do, but I'm very happy with what I've composed for him so far. If you'd like a custom composition created for you, you can commission me directly or become a patron at:

Tualatin Overture - First Rehearsal Draft

26 parts31 pages09:07a year ago541 views
Piccolo, Flute, Oboe(2), Clarinet(2), Bassoon(2), French Horn(2), Trumpet(3), Trombone(3), Tuba, Timpani, Percussion(3), Violin(2), Viola, Cello, Contrabass
Here is the Tualatin Overture as it will stand for the first rehearsal with the Tualatin Valley Symphony tomorrow evening.

A Stroll Back In Time
Mastodons (& Meteorites)
The Missoula Floods
It's Not Just The Rocks That Are Erratic
Fanfare Recap and "Coda(?)"

It's not completely finished, but the overall shape is complete and I'm a happy camper.

Misted Swerve - Patreon Reward for Rob Zeh

3 parts5 pages03a year ago306 views
English Horn, Percussion, Cello
This completed "tune" composition is for my friend (& my FIRST Patreon patron) Rob Zeh. He asked for "Jaunty & Mysterious" and with the new section and adjustments to the overall feel, this is pretty on the mark. If you'd like a custom composition created for you, you can commission me directly or become a patron at:

Previous work on this tune is at: