AJ Performing at Paper Birch Landing on April 23!

I’m excited to announce that I will be performing again at Paper Birch Landing on Sunday, April 23! The event is called “We Are Family” and will showcase artists and performers from shows in 2016.

What: We Are Family Members Art Showcase
When: Sunday, April 23, 11 am to 5 pm (I’ll be performing between 2 pm and 5 pm)
Where: Paper Birch Landing, 3740 Broadway Suite 300, Kansas City, Missouri 64111

Check out the Facebook event and RSVP!

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Scenes and Visions: Concert Music of AJ Harbison Now Available!

My new concert music recording, Scenes and Visions: Concert Music of AJ Harbison, is now available as a free download! Please download, listen and share!

Scenes and Visions: Concert Music of AJ Harbison

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New Music Coming 9/16/16!

It’s almost here! Scenes and Visions: Concert Music of AJ Harbison will be released as a FREE download on my website (right here) on Friday, September 16. More details in the announcement video below!

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A New Record and an Exclusive Preview!

I’m very excited to announce the release of a new record, scheduled to drop in the next few weeks! Scenes and Visions: Concert Music of AJ Harbison was one of my final projects for my master’s degree at UMKC, for which I composed, recorded, edited, mixed and mastered all the music. It includes five pieces and nine tracks, and will be available for FREE download on my website when it’s released. The artwork is being created right now, and I can’t wait to share it and the music with you all.

But! In the meantime, you can hear an exclusive preview on my SoundCloud page. I’ve uploaded three movements of Five Scenes for solo piano, along with the full version of I Saw in the Night Visions for solo cello, which is a recording of a live performance. These tracks won’t be available anywhere else until the record is released, so take a listen, like, comment and share!

https://soundcloud.com/ajharbison/sets/concert-music

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#illomusicfriday 6/3/16: “Prince”

Welcome back to #illomusicfriday! We’ve taken a break for a long while, as I was finishing school and Eleanor was caught up in other projects. But we’re back, a few weeks late, with a tribute to Prince. Eleanor drew a prince and created a pattern for his cloak, while I took a song by the musician Prince and arranged it in a style that might be more suitable for a traditional prince’s court (string orchestra). Enjoy!

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AJ Performing at Paper Birch Landing on June 10!

I had such a blast performing at Paper Birch Landing‘s opening reception for their show Merely Posing last week, and they’ve now announced that I’ll be the featured musical guest again at the reception for their new art show, Get Fierce, on June 10! If you didn’t get the chance to check out the last show, I’d highly recommend coming to this one—the art at all their shows has been high-quality and thought-provoking, and it’s a fun atmosphere with free food, drinks, art and music!

What: Get Fierce Opening Reception Gala
When: Friday, June 10, 6 pm to 10 pm
Where: Paper Birch Landing, 3740 Broadway Suite 300, Kansas City, Missouri 64111

Check out the Facebook event and RSVP!

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AJ Performing at Art Gallery Reception on May 13!

I will be the featured musical guest at Paper Birch Landing‘s opening reception gala for their juried art show, Merely Posing, on May 13! This will be my first singer/songwriter performance in Kansas City and I’m very excited.

What: Merely Posing Opening Reception Gala
When: Friday, May 13, 6 pm to 10 pm
Where: Paper Birch Landing, 3740 Broadway Suite 300, Kansas City, Missouri 64111

Check out the Facebook event and RSVP!

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#illomusicfriday 4/1/16: “Wisdom”

This week’s #illomusicfriday word was “Wisdom.” I didn’t have any immediate ideas, but Eleanor decided to draw an old pig imparting wisdom to his eagerly listening grandchildren. That image, coupled with a score I looked at yesterday in the UMKC library (Br’er Rabbit at the Wolves’ Party by Victoria Bond), gave me the idea to do a short banjo piece. I imagine this would be somethin’ ol’ Grandpa “Brick House” Pig might strum to dramatize the story of the Big Bad Wolf for his young audience.

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#illomusicfriday 3/24/16: “Masquerade”

As I’ve mentioned before, Eleanor and I usually get our #illomusicfriday word from http://www.illustrationfriday.com. But for some reason the site wasn’t updated last week, so Eleanor decided to choose her own word and we went with “Masquerade”. I wrote a new waltz, loosely based on the waltz I did for “Dance” a few weeks ago; but since nothing at a masquerade is what it seems, I tried to give it as many surprising harmonic twists and turns as I could. I tried not to rely too heavily on mode mixture, since that has become a not uncommon harmonic language even in pop music; some of the root notes of the harmonies are drawn from mode mixture, but I kept the melody fully in the “key” of whatever harmony the accompaniment happened to be in at the moment. Eleanor drew an elegantly dressed dog descending an imposing staircase, so I imagine a string quartet and a clarinet providing music for the dancing at the fanciest dog ball of the season!

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#illomusicfriday 3/18/16: “Dragon”

I was working hard on my thesis again this week (almost done with revisions!), so I stole from it again for this #illomusicfriday. The word was “Dragon,” and Eleanor decided to draw an ominous but idle one, sitting on her hoard of treasure, and I happened to have an ominous motive in my thesis which is played by the bass clarinet, bassoon, and contrabassoon. Sadly, in the Logic sample library (the only one I have right now), there was no bass clarinet and no contrabassoon; so this version is played by two bassoons (panned left and right) and a regular clarinet. The motive is imitated exactly by the two higher parts, but offset by a couple of beats, until they come together for the final chord, which I diminish (with the clarinet) from a minor triad to an augmented one. Her drawing is a work in progress, as is my thesis!

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#illomusicfriday 3/11/16: “Childhood”

This week I was hard at work on my thesis, the composition which is the culmination of my entire academic career (but no pressure or anything), and I didn’t really have time to write something new for #illomusicfriday. But it just so happened that a passage I wrote for my thesis fit well with Eleanor’s concept for this week’s word, “Childhood.” Both of our pieces aim for the mystery and seriousness and inner worlds of childhood, rather than something light and fun. I used all three of my music/audio applications for this piece: Sibelius (a music notation program, which I’m using to actually write and engrave the score for my thesis piece), Logic (a digital audio workstation or DAW; I thought I’d try using Logic’s instruments rather than Sibelius’s, but it turned out that Sibelius sounded a little better), and Pro Tools (another DAW, which I used to edit the audio file from Sibelius).

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#illomusicfriday 3/4/16: “Village”

This week’s #illomusicfriday word was “Village,” and Eleanor and I decided to go with a fairly standard interpretation. She drew up a town street; I wrote a folk melody and orchestrated it for a group of street performers. Folk songs, particularly in Western cultures, have some interesting and consistent features: simple, repetitive melodies and rhythms; straightforward harmony; often pentatonic or modal scale material. I mixed the last of these a little—parts of the melody are pentatonic, while the end of each phrase has a flatted seventh, making it Mixolydian. But there are also normal sevenths too. It’s an eclectic folk song!

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#illomusicfriday 2/26/16: “Shelter”

This week’s #illomusicfriday process, and product, turned out differently than usual. The word was “Shelter,” and Eleanor and I were both excited about it. She started working on a piece with a small cave providing shelter from a large storm, and inspired by that I created a piano riff with my favorite pair of reverbs (two Space Designers in Logic—one for ambience and one for shimmer), and some cool delay, to abstract the rain from her piece. Then she realized that she wanted her piece to be a fully-developed drawing for her portfolio, which she wouldn’t be able to finish by Friday. So instead of posting that, she decided to substitute a piece from her last portfolio called “Shooting Stars,” which also shows a cave as a sort of shelter, but with a different feel. I took the piano riff, made it into shooting stars instead of rain, and added a bass line and some subtle electronic percussion—using the same Logic instruments that I used in my fixed media piece And See The Flaming Skies. I know I’ve said this before, but I really feel like this one might be my favorite #illomusicfriday yet—I love this piece of hers, and the music adds a new element to the world she’s created. I want to see this in a movie. And maybe we’ll do an extended/altered version of this piece when she finishes her “Shelter” drawing!

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#illomusicfriday 2/19/16: “Dance”

Normally the word that Eleanor and I use for #illomusicfriday comes from IllustrationFriday.com. But the children’s book organization that she belongs to, SCBWI, also puts out a monthly illustration prompt, and we opted to use that word this week instead. For “Dance,” I reached far into the mists of the past and pulled out a waltz for piano I had written back in 2002, I believe right before I started my undergrad at Cal State Fullerton, and orchestrated it for a string orchestra. Ironically, Eleanor ended up illustrating a girl playing a piano….

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#illomusicfriday 2/12/16: “Mystery”

This week’s #illomusicfriday didn’t go as planned—though they usually don’t…. I originally set out to create a film noir clip, since that’s what first sprang to mind on reading that “Mystery” was this week’s word. I ended up with a film noir-ish progression, played by a harp, but with some cool effects added with the free Vinyl plugin from iZotope—giving it an old, ill-preserved soundtracky vibe. (Hopefully.)

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#illomusicfriday 1/29/16: “Orbit”

A little late, but worth the wait! Eleanor created a planet with an awe-inspiring aura of mystery, and I tried to do the same in my music, putting in some sci-fi-ish sounds along the way. Star Wars Episode VIII, anyone? J.J. Abrams, take note….

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#illomusicfriday 1/22/16: “Spin”

A dizzy (and dizzying?) woodwind quartet, a car going for a drive along a precipice…. “Spin”!

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#illomusicfriday 1/15/16: “Tropical”

For the word “tropical” I decided to go with “exotic” instruments, along with some birds and water in the background for a more stereotypical “tropical” idea. (And, when I discovered that I did, in fact, have steel drum samples in Logic, I threw them in, albeit in the background as accompaniment.) Relax and enjoy!

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#illomusicfriday 1/8/16: “Moon”

Welcome back to ‪#‎illomusicfriday‬! Eleanor and I took a few weeks off over the holidays, but it’s a new year and we’re back it. This week’s word was “moon”; Eleanor did her thumbnail sketch before I started work on my music piece, so I based my piece off of that and went with a cinematic feel (listen for a not-so-subtle film score reference early on…). Eleanor’s final piece turned out a little differently than the sketch, but I love the way it looks!

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#illomusicfriday 12/4/15: “Punch”

Philip Glass! I don’t really like Philip Glass’ music, but whenever I come across it (in a class at school) somehow it finds its way into what I’m composing. Last semester it was a film score I was working on; this time it’s an #illomusicfriday post! When I saw that the word for this week was “Punch,” I immediately thought of the “orchestra hit” sound on my Kawai keyboard. I found some samples online of various types of orchestra hits and downloaded them. While I was thinking about what to put in between the “punches,” Philip Glass’ additive organ music (like Music in Fifths, Music in Similar Motion, etc.) came to mind. So here it is!

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