I. Rimsky's Beard

This track is a humble tribute to one of my favorite composers, Rimsky Korsakov, whose harmonic approach and orchestration techniques I have studied extensively. I used some of the harmonic effects that he developed in his compositions, including the use of octatonic harmony. Examples are heard in the main riff, the first theme, and in the central section. Additionally, in the main theme I referenced Rimsky's signature use of a chromatic harmony, full of harmonic digressions, but always linked to a tonal center. I wanted not only to write in Rimsky's harmony vocabulary, but also incorporate elements of his orchestrations, such as the use of the tremolo on octatonic harmonies and the use of woodwinds opposing the strings.

II.Pied Piper

Throughout this album, a central concept is that of the fairytale or classic children's story. In this piece, the leitmotif of flute is what inspired the title. The guitar is often more in the background, accompanying first the bassoon, and then the flute and oboe, which introduce the main themes. The piece is based on contrast between sections, the opening theme given to the woodwinds and accompanied by a dark, modal figure on the piano which contrasts with a lighter theme given to the strings and the guitar. The bassoon, the other protagonist of the song, closes the composition with a brighter version of the first theme.

III.Hansel & Gretel

This is an attempt to tell the story of the famous fairytale of the Brothers Grimm with musical images. My main idea was to stylize the different moods of the characters, rather than trying to represent specific situations. The first theme is an introduction to the characters, childish and naive, and then the second theme is more subdued and dejected, indicating the abandonment of the children in the forest. The central part of the composition is given to the woodwinds and then to the strings as they crescendo with non-diatonic harmonies, evoking the feeling of being lost in the forest and the subsequent surprise in discovering the "Gingerbread House"… 


The arrangement of this track kept me very busy, as it is often difficult to effectively combine orchestral instruments with a rock rhythm section. As with "Rimsky's Beard," the tritone relationships derived from octatonic harmony are the harmonic backbone. I gave much space to the orchestral instruments, while the electric guitar playfully exchanges phrases with the other instruments, such as with the English horn solo in the middle section and the cello lines in the initial section. Influences of French composers, such as Dukas and Roussel, is heard throughout, in the generally light and ethereal texture as well as the use of ninth and thirteenth chords in the orchestration.

V. The Little Match Girl

This is perhaps my favorite track on the album. As with "Hansel and Gretel," the music follows the story of Hans Christian Andersen, and is in the form of a small symphonic poem played by a chamber orchestra. The first theme is childlike and lively, and the repetition of the theme is accompanied by oboe and bassoon as a small dialogue between the three instruments. The programmatic intention here is the little girl trying to be heard. The entrance of the main theme, initially played by the violin, indicates the despair of the poor little girl, as she is surrounded by cold and darkness. The bassoon in counterpoint emphasizes this darkness, and the piece grows, with the initial theme given to the whole orchestra, representing the girl's best memories and vision of her old grandmother in a dream. It concludes with the resumption of the main theme followed by a final crescendo, and it slowly fades away in the ethereal final chord.

VI. Two Sketches

In contrast to the very composed and polished other pieces on the album, "Two Sketches" are intentionally more rough and evoke the bizarre. In the first sketch called "Sandra," I kept out the electric guitar, as it would have upstaged the solo violin. In the second, "Bed Bug," I wanted to recreate a vintage flavor with the use of brushes on the drums and idiomatic rhythm guitar. Surely listening to Erik Satie helped inspire these short musical ideas, both from the harmonic point of view as well as the musical intention. 

VII.Gingerbread House

Originally, the idea for this piece was to be the middle section of "Hansel and Gretel." But I decided to develop the idea further, and it became a independent piece. The wickedness of the witch is conveyed by a low mumble of two notes on the contrabassoon and dissonant polychords played by the strings, accompanied by a relentless and obsessive rhythm section. The intense counterpoint of the woodwinds convey the battle between the children and the witch. To create the fairytale or otherworldly effect, I used symmetrical harmonies, such as octatonic, hexatonic, and whole-tone, often fused together, and with diatonic moments as well. 

VIII. La Terza Età

This inspiration for this piece is the relationship between two phases of life: youth and old age. The situations are related by a motif of three notes, sometimes given to the strings, sometimes to the woodwinds and guitar. Initially, the motif is represented by a sharp key (E major) and a carefree and steady rhythm. Old age is represented by a contrasting flat key (F major), where the theme becomes shaky by a change of rhythm. The two keys, representing the different stages of life, are connected by a modulation where a common chord joins them, as if joining the hands of the children and the elderly.  

IX. Caligula

In composing this track, my idea was to give an effect of power and extravagance, hence the title. The obsessive pedal point is balanced by the harmonic progression, and is developed by the strings. From a formal point of view, it is an attempt to bring a sonata form into the rock idiom. After the exposition of the two central themes, the development involves fragments taken from the elaborate initial themes, first given to the solo violin, and then transposed into harmonic digressions from the very low register by fugato proceedings. The second half is given to the guitar solo. The recapitulation of the main riff, this time accompanied by a march figure in the snare drum, evokes Roman warriors, guided by their tyrannical emperor. 

X. Fugue

I wanted to venture into composing in this classic and complex musical texture. It is my first fugue, and I used a Bach model for compositional reference. I avoided overly classical or baroque patterns in the divertimenti by using a more free harmony. The subjects are often ritornellos intended to produce a song-like and accessible effect. The guitar plays within the orchestra, rather than above it, only on occasion becoming the main instrument, and often accompanying the counterpoint (such as in the midsection), moving up gradually within its register in the final crescendo.