Quintet of the Americas – HVM practice page.

Quintet of the Americas!

Welcome to your Hudson Valley Music Practice page!

(This page will evolve as we go…)


 (Feel Free to skip to the PARTS AND PRACTICE zone below –  and read this later)

I am excited to be working with you on Hudson Valley Music.  HVM may be my most performed work. It is very important to me in many ways – not least for the powerful environmental message it contains. 

It is a true labor of love.  In the 2000’s, I put in my thousands of hours learning the ‘home studio-based arts’ – scoring indie films, audio albums and the like – then the opportunity called to ‘go creative’ with it – the call came – FROM YOU! –  🙂 – this piece simply would not exist if not for Jeff James, Barbara and Quintet of the Americas.

Designing this new version for you – where I can put together what I learned over the years – is very useful for me.  Let’s get it just right.

I have designed HVM such that players can find their own way of putting it together – within the realm of the work and the landmarks provided (more on that below).

I have always been fascinated with nature and natural sounds.  I had imagined someday getting together a field kit where I would borrow an insect’s time and record them. It turns out this has already been done – its called the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  As an alum they allowed me complete access – I shopped for sounds and ended up with hundreds.  I placed them in my ‘cleaning station’ where I used programs I acquired from working in film – such as Soundsoap – used for cleaning dialogue for when indie artists film ‘wild’ and have to remove the sounds of air conditioners or planes flying overhead. I used it once for a scene filmed in a van with rain clamoring on the roof! That technique came in handy when cleaning tree cricket sounds from the kickings of metal buckets and wind hitting the mic.

I then placed the sounds in my logic program which is like a vast Loom where I sculpted the sounds into what we have on our soundscape.  You’ll detect some traditional compositional techniques, like stretti formed from the sounds of Beluga whales recorded under water and which sound like alien starships.

HVM has a linear function as well.

The first movement, Ocean, begins in the Long Island Sound.  In fact, the first sounds are ocean surf and OARS – (I also used sounds from my film libraries) – you see, the idea is to get the audience into their dugout canoes experiencing the story.

The Humpback Whale starts huffing, Barbara starts her solo – and the work begins with a duet between whale and horn.  Our boat turns to shore, the belugas sing and speak…we get reach the shore…and the shorebirds begin.  The climax of the movement occurs when the Geese fly overhead…a beautiful flute solo leads into a Symphony of Birds (with a bullfrog chorus baseline) – and that leads into the dark forest – Nocturne – where the soundscape features the music of nocturnal creatures.

Then we either transition to the last movement – titled… and the Earth is our Spiritual House… or firstly grab them by the collar and make the issue of Climate Change feel more immediate for them –  with Industrial Storm.

The video is comprised of both natural images and the work of our patron saint – Ken Cro-Ken.  Matt can tell you of how Ken participated in the original performances with a Live Art Presentation. Often the art and natural images elide such that you don’t know which is which at first.

One neat thing for the audience is that when you See a creature on the video you Hear that creature on the soundscape. I have found this component really helps the audience connect with it all.

I can’t wait to hear your performances of the music which tells of what it feels like to be in nature and is inspired by the sounds and movements of the creatures whose singing you meld with.

And there it is.

Now for practical matters!


The work is arranged in two forms.  

1] Ocean, Nocturne, Spirit (ONS) – this is the shorter version. We will perform this one mostly.

2] The ‘Instrumental Storm movement’ follows the first SPIRIT. We may include this for the performance at Scorca Hall or other events where there is room for it – or if we get a performance at an Environmental Conference or some such.  To do it – you would just go to it after Nocturne. You’ll see there is a second set of SPIRIT pages after it with the appropriate timings. Note: I had some trouble locating old project files, so used previous set of parts for this movement.  This just means that the rehearsal markings are not consecutive with the rest of the music –  and the cut at the end is a color block.

In practical terms – it would follow that you may add Industrial Storm after you were quite used to ONS.


You will see timings all over the place.  These are for your CUES on the soundscape – such as BELUGA or MOOSE.  🙂 — the ones in PURPLE are solid – the sounds on the tape.  The timings in RED are for you and are in parenthesis because they are malleable.  The idea is for you to find your way of doing it.  

I have done this piece many times and with many ensembles – from solo to orchestra – and have found that with timers on your stands the work is not hard to put together.  I can provide timers for you.

Var Tek – this is a fanciful term I use for when you play through musical phrases divided by A,B,C – with dotted lines between them.  You play through, then vary as suggested, usually just playing the elements different numbers of times – continuous flow until next timing landmark. 

NOTE: When you are playing these areas – and you see timings – such as MOOSE 1 or what-have-you – the timing cues are there for you to be able to keep track of where the tape is – NOT to line up that sound with the timing cue.

There are practice tapes in the music player to the side (or below if on mobile device).  You don’t have to practice with it all the time.  I recommend using the timer.  If you find that you are wanting to stretch things out more, you can start earlier or end a little later than the suggested timing (RED).  There are marks to hit and times when things come together, but I want you to be as free and expressive as possible.

When practicing – you don’t have to start at the beginning and wait on the timer.  You may deduce the amount of time between areas – like where you have a solo – and practice in a segment.  Get to know the soundscape as best you can – and react to the sounds upon it as you wish. The idea of practicing in this way can apply to ensemble rehearsal as well.

NOTE: In music player – the  practice tapes: you have two versions of each, i.e. 1] ONS without quintet sounds, 2] ONS with quintet sounds, 3] ONS with STORM movement with and without.  The tapes with the quintet sounds are not balanced – just for sample placements.

I have created a dropbox with the parts and tapes and shared it so far with Barbara and Matt.  You may wish to download the tapes to work them from your home computer – much easier to slide the timings around.

All that said – just start the timer and go.



I hope you enjoy the process, I look forward to the performances!

Be sure to email with any questions you may have.

Enjoy these links to past performances and other Environmental Adventures!




Visit my youtube channel! (please subscribe if you can).


NOTE:  I know that you were not happy with the music mix of the film I made before.  I am sorry about this.  Some day, perhaps we may be able to create sound recordings of your performances in a studio setting.  Then I can take your performances and place them in the project.  I can move the sounds around and mix them with true artistry and create a beautiful new soundscape.  I’ll be able to move sounds right and left, lower and raise volumes of each sound, and the like.  It would actually be a pretty simple process tp record, I am acquiring my own recording equipment for projects such as this. Perhaps when the tour is complete we can accomplish this.