Saturday, November 28, 2015

Vote for Shakebags & Co. on Kindle Scout!

Amazon has a new contest running where authors can submit never-before-published novels and have readers nominate them for publication. Books with the most nominations will get a contract with Amazon and considerable marketing support as well. So I've thrown my first novel into the ring, the only one of my 4 novels I've never published (constantly tinkering with it), which got a good deal of notice on Inkitt a few months back. However, I've renamed it Shakebags & Co. and hope some people will find it interesting: it's a humorous fantasy novel about three hapless thieves trying to make their name in the world. You can read the first 3 chapters here and nominate it if you find it worthy. Thanks!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Composing With a Russian Accent: The Orchestral Music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

 In some ways, the most “Russian” of all Russian composers is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (the name alone would place him high on the list!), as he not only jumpstarted Russian orchestral music and opera, but he was deeply connected to the wellsprings of Russian folklore and literature. Rimsky-Korsakov’s work can be seen on some level as an attempt to translate the Russian spirit into purely musical terms, and his innovations have been followed by generations of Russian composers, not to mention film composers in Hollywood. It’s hard to truly pin down Rimsky’s compositional persona, as his greatest achievements—his 15 operas, on a range of fairy tale and historical subjects—are almost completely unknown in the West, while his memory lives on in a handful of orchestral gems which often disguise his Russian heritage, such as Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazde, and the infamous Flight of the Bumblebee. Ultimately, what distinguishes Rimsky-Korsakov’s art is his masterful orchestration and sense of musical color: he believed strongly in the idea that notes represented colors, and clothed his music in the most lavish tonal raiment. Rachmaninov once said that with Rimsky-Korsakov’s music you could ‘hear’ the seasons, with the right combination of notes and instruments creating snowflakes, driving winds, budding trees, and falling leaves. He saved his greatest orchestral effects for his operas, where sadly few listeners are able to find them, though a few orchestral works betray this talent, even though his heart wasn’t always in ‘absolute’ music. However, even a lollipop of a piece like The Flight of the Bumblebee (a little interlude in his opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan) is a masterful tone poem of sound and fury, suggesting how with the simplest of means he could conjure up an entire world, large or small.