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Steve Anderson
Professor Stephen Anderson

Congratulations to Professor Stephen Anderson on his composition “Drones” being selected for classical pianist Jeffrey Jacob’s latest album, Contemporary Eclectic Music for the Piano, Vol. 18!

Last year, classical pianist, Jeffrey Jacob, held a competition inviting composers to submit new works for solo piano. The winners of the competition are all featured on the new album, released earlier this spring. Below Stephen Anderson explained his composition process for “Drones.”

Throughout my career, I have always worked in two different musical traditions that have very different approaches—(1.) as a composer of detailed classical music that is carefully planned and scored, and (2.) as a performer in various jazz ensembles where having few notational details, if any, is preferred, and where extended improvisations often generate a considerable portion of the musical substance of a performance between the relatively short statements of the melody. In my previous classical works, and even in my works for jazz band, I have always created a very detailed pencil sketch—working meticulously through the harmony, counterpoint, texture, and other compositional concepts and details before scoring a final version of the piece in a notation software. But with Drones, I wanted to try a completely different approach. No pencil sketches were created. Instead, I hoped to capture the spontaneous and natural intuitive flow of ideas that I have experienced so many times over the years when improvising on stage. So using Logic Pro® digital audio software, I recorded myself improvising at the keyboard. Measures 1-40 of Drones were directly taken from the recording with only a few minor harmonic adjustments, and the rest of the piece was composed using the thematic material and harmony from the opening improvisation, with the exception of the material found in measures 88-95, which was likewise completely improvised with a few minor adjustments.

Watch “Drones” on YouTube:

Get your copy of the full album on Amazon or listen on Spotify below.

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