Stephan b wessels

As usual, there's a story associated with each composition and how it ended up on the CD.

Take Five was mostly just an exercise in writing something with an unusual meter. I originally intended it to be the foundation for some kind of extended brass solo instrument piece. But after listening to it for a while I decided to leave it alone. Bill Gwynne helped out a lot on this piece my taking my original 5-note beat motif and creating an interesting percussion track to bring the whole composition alive. It's a short and up-beat piece of music and seemed perfect for opening up the album. One of the surprising things for me was that a number of people have commented to me, upon hearing the CD, that this was one of their favorite pieces. I was actually a little bit embarrassed to put it on the album because I felt it was so musically weak. Just goes to show how different everyone's taste can be.

Bruce is by far the most emotional and lyrical piece of music I've ever written. I really like how this piece captures a feeling. There is an amusing story about how this composition got to be called Bruce however. I have a habit of not naming musical compositions when I create them and often just label them with the date the piece was written. Back in 1993 I wrote a number of compositions for a home exposition/show in the Greater Cincinnati area. The music was to be played outside while people walked from home to home, on the house tour. Group Effort created the master tapes for the show and I was one of the composers selected to contribute material. I submitted this piece of music on DAT tape to the studio for feedback on suitability and other comments. They have a policy over there that no piece of music will be in the studio that is untitled (my date scheme didn't work). So Bill just labeled it "Bruce" on the DAT tape. I'm not sure why exactly except that I think it was meant to be funny. A lot of time elapsed and I got the tape back and noticed the name of the piece. The thing is I did not know that I had not named it that. I saw the name "Bruce"and immediately concluded that I must have named the piece after a friend of mine from High School. It was only much later that I learned how the real name got assigned to this piece.

Desert Hymn is music that I'm very proud of. I actually composed this as a piano piece while in Chicago in 1991. I was staying at a hotel in downtown Chicago for a trade show that I was expected to provide technical computer software support for. Since Chicago is only a 6 hour drive from Cincinnati, I drove up there with my Kurzweil K1000 keyboard in the passenger seat of my car. During the days that week I would work at the exhibit and in the evenings I would retire to my hotel room and compose music on the K1000 with a set of headphones. I actually wrote 2 pieces that week that I was proud of. When I got back into town I played them both for Bill and he just loved the one that ended up being"Desert Hymn". I started working on turning it into an orchestral piece of music when I was back in my studio in Cincinnati. Bill liked the piece a lot and asked if he could record it for me over at Group Effort. So we hauled the equipment over there and made the usual tweaks and enhancements to the piece and recorded it as it appears in the CD.

Circles Around You was written somewhere around 1987 or 1988. It was polished up a great deal and improved upon mostly because my instruments improved since that time. The version on the album was recorded in 1993. Upon hearing the piece someone asked me if the composition was about a woman, but I have no recollection of that being true. Although you can listen to it with that point of view and see how that might be true.

Mood of the Moon is a brief piano piece. I tinkered around with it a number of times and actually removed whole sections of music before it became what was recorded for the CD. It has a nice mellow feel to it.

Just This Once was written in 1992 or 1993. When I listen to it I get the idea it's about someone who is angry about something. The truth is I have no recollection of what emotion produced this music. I do remember that the saxophone and guitar notes near the end of the piece were the first time I tried using that kind of sound in my music.

Leaving Me was originally written as a piano piece that was supposed to have orchestral strings added in various sections. I wrote this piece in one sitting as a free flowing kind of piano music. When playing it for some friends a few years ago they encouraged me to just leave it alone and keep it as a stand-alone piano piece. Although it's a fairly long piece of music, and in some places probably feels pretentious, I really like it. It has some interesting lyrical and tender places that to this day I'm not sure how they came to me and fit together so well. If you listen carefully you can hear a few flubbed notes but I decided not to go back and edit it and just left it intact for the CD. Incidentally, for the people that know me well, you might well conclude that I wrote this piece near the end of 1993 when I had a very painful relationship ending. It certainly sounds like music that would have been produced during that time. But the truth is that the music and its title were actually written some time in 1991. Maybe it was a premonition.

Knock Three Times feels to me like a piece of music waiting to have lyrics and be sung. When I wrote this I had already imagined in my head some singing for the melody line. But I've never gone any farther in that direction since I would ruin the piece to sing it myself and I haven't written any lyrics for it anyway. Nevertheless, it feels like a nice ballad to me.

Quiet Room is a really fun jazzy piece of music. It's also a great example of the counter melody stuff that always happens when I listen to or create music. I originally wrote just the acoustic bass, piano and vibes part of the music. Then while listening to early drafts I kept hearing in my mind a counter melody that ended up being the saxophone notes in the final recording. I'm proud of the way those two instruments, the vibes and sax, play around each other on this piece.

Interlude was written to be deliberately short. Some of my friends were giving me grief about my longer compositions and this was a product of those times. There's an amusing story that goes with the first time this piece was ever heard in public. I had volunteered to include some of my compositions for a concert that the local Apple MIDI (Special Interest Group) SIG was doing one year. I decided to show this piece in-between 2 pieces written by other member's of the SIG at the live concert. The guy who was to have his music play after my piece was caught off guard. I had warned him it was a short piece and that he should be ready right away. But I guess he figured that "short" for me probably meant at least 3 minutes. While the piece was playing he was making some last minute adjustments in his setup. Then it ended on about 30 seconds. He turned to me surprised, and unprepared to launch his own piece, and said something like, "What? That's it? Where's the rest?"

Parts of Me Lost was written back somewhere around 1988 or maybe even 1987. It's not as melodic and lyrical as a lot of the music that I've written that I'm proud of but it has an interesting mood to it.

Nine to Six Grinder probably should not have been included on the album because it is so different from all of the rest. It sounds like it was composed by someone else, with its fast aggressive pace. I guess it does kind of break the mood of the album. But it is an interesting piece of music I wrote and I am proud of it. It was also originally composed on the piano. If you try to follow the meter carefully you will discover that it's very unusual. I think it turned out to be something like 27/32.

An Embrace is a mellow and moody piece of music. I kept changing the name of this piece around. It is actually an excerpt from a longer piece of work that I never really finished. I played it for a young woman I was dating in 1993 and she told me she really liked it because she thought it sounded sexy. Gee. Since I had no idea how to write something sexy, I figured any comment like that meant it had to be included on my album.

These pieces are really a collection of my compositions from about 1987 until 1995. I write a lot of music. It's a bit like taking photographs. You have to take a lot of pictures to get some you can be really proud of. There's more material that I've got sequenced or sketched out that needs to be polished off and finished. I've actually not composed any music for most of 1996 through 2007, so I suspect I'm ripe to create some interesting music very soon. As I go into 2007-2008, along with all of the other changes, I have added and subtracted some instruments with my studio and have begun to compose some new works. So, maybe by the end of the year 2008 I'll have another recording. I'm also experimenting with using Apple's Garage Band application and synthetic instruments all created inside the Macintosh computer.

People sometimes ask me what kind of music I listen to and what influences me. Mostly I listen to classical music and progressive rock. I love Stravinsky, Copeland, Mahler, Mozart and recently Alberto Ginestara. I also am pretty fond of Italian Opera. Puccini'sTurandot and Madame Butterfly are favorites. For a while there I listened to a lot of new age piano stuff like George Winston. Bands like Yes write my favorite progressive rock music. In fact, I listen to everything that Jon Anderson writes. His music is very inspirational to me. I also listen to jazz. In particular I like Eric Marianthall, Chic Corea, and The Ether Orchestra. I'm also a big fan of Laurie Anderson's music. Although you would never guess it from listening to my own compositions, I also like Madonna's music a great deal. She has that "wall of sound" thing in her production that I find very interesting. Vangelis is also very cool. In fact I've always listened to "keyboard" musicians (like Rick Wakeman) and keyboard oriented bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP). When I find additional links to web pages these artists have, I'll add them in here.

I would like to have browser links pointing to the composers I reference. I've not been able to find links for Aaron Copeland or Alberto Ginestera. If you have an URL for pages about these composers drop me a note and I will update this page.