A milestone was reached today -- after many months of composing, arranging, rearranging, editing, recording, mixing, remixing and mastering, the music of my orchestral suite Pamlico Sound Sketches is now in the hands of the CD manufacturer, for anticipated release in Fall 2010. Having completed the liner notes for the CD insert, I am now working on expanded comments about each piece. These will appear under the "Projects" tab of the website. It is hard to believe that this project is "complete" but I am eager to see the finished CD product.

The last piece in the Pamlico Sound Sketches, At First Light, is now posted in the Music section of the website. This piece envisions watermen working their crab pots and nets at dawn, amid the still air and glassy water of sunrise.

Four more pieces from the "Pamlico Sound Sketches" symphonic suite are now posted online, and you can hear them in the Music section of the website. "Winds of the Neuse" has a sparse, impressionistic character. "Tryon Palace Gardens," in contrast, features a quartet of solo instruments alternating with chamber orchestra in a formal, precise, regal manner. "Regatta" attempts to capture the majesty of a sailing race. "Passage to Ocracoke" describes a journey over challenging seas from the mainland to the barrier islands. One additional piece for "Pamlico Sound Sketches" is currently nearing the final stages of completion.
I have completed two short film cues as entries in a "score-to-film" contest. The subject was a 60-second nature documentary-style clip, with credits before and after. I composed two cues in deliberately different styles -- one in a traditional, serious-sounding, flowing symphonic style ("English pastoral"), and the other in a more playful jazz quartet style (piano, soprano saxophone, upright bass and drums with brushes). You can hear both of them in the music section of the website! I have been hesitant to try scoring to film in the past because I thought that the need for visual synchronization would make the music composition process very frustrating, but in these exercises I found the opposite to be true. In the first place, having to fit the music to the parameters of the visual component forced me to try new musical approaches that expand my compositional "palette." Furthermore, although the first steps into the composition of each film score piece were more tentative, the remaining workflow was paradoxically accelerated -- one can quickly exclude many musical options that do not work with the video, which is not the case when you are faced with the "blank white page" of a musical score that stands alone. I hope to find more opportunities for scoring to picture!
Nor'easter attempts to capture a more ominous and aggressive mood, employing as one technique to this end a persistent ostinato driven by the timpani and low percussion. My hope is to portray some of the palpable terror of these storms. You can hear the entire composition in the Music section.
This composition is a lyrical adagio, essentially an aria for solo clarinet accompanied by full string orchestra. You can hear the entire piece in the Music section, or listen to a shorter excerpt.
The first track from Pamlico Sound Sketches can now be heard in the Music section of the website. You can listen to the entire composition (total time, 6:28), or hear an excerpt that highlights the main theme (1:35). I have also posted a short track in a slightly different genre -- a choral and instrumental work titled "In His Presence." This composition is from a separate collection of works in an electronic-ambient-soundtrack style, which has the working title Alpha and Omega. If you have any comments, be they general or specific, I would welcome hearing them in the guestbook or by email (craig@craigsteffee.com) -- thanks for listening!
I am currently recording and mixing Pamlico Sound Sketches, an orchestral suite consisting of eleven symphonic pieces. The title is a double entendre -- inspiration for the music stems from elements of the Pamlico Sound, a body of water that lies between North Carolina's mainland (Inner Banks) and the barrier islands (Outer Banks). These compositions are influenced by the work of Holst, Debussy, and Vaughan Williams among others. Watch for updates, which will proceed track by track and will include an excerpt of each composition.

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