Chords on the Table

Released: 19 June 2015

It is a pleasure for me to introduce Chords on the Table, the eighth in my series of CD’s of original compositions for piano. With the exception of The Bones Song, all of the pieces were newly composed within the last six months or so (though I should mention that this CD does feature a greater emphasis on improvisation in the recording studio).

CD Artwork

Liner Notes

  1. Shadows of the Past: This piece was the first one composed for this CD. It is intended to evoke the haziness of memory and the elusive nature of recollection. Or perhaps my lifelong love for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Your choice.
  2. An Emerald Journey: This composition was composed to honor the life of Dr. Robert Green, my colleague at the University of Michigan and a true renaissance man. In 2009, I had the honor of hosting a televised panel discussion of his book of medical memoirs, A Journey through Medicine
  3. School Spirit: Many of my family members have a talent for teaching. This lively piece, almost all of which was improvised, is dedicated to my two sisters-in-law who have careers as educators. Freda Yoshioka teaches Japanese at a prestigious private school in California and Loreen Olson is an associate professor in the Communication Studies department of the University of North Carolina-Greenboro.
  4. Letters from an Antique Land, Vol. 1: In June of this year, I sat at the studio piano with the lights dimmed. My goal was to improvise a series of very short pieces, each one deliberately simple and unstructured, languid and peaceful. I have divided the resulting recording into three installments. The “Antique Land” in the title is a reference to the first line of Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias: “I met a traveller from an antique land.”
  5. Major and Minard: This composition dances between major and minor modes and is dedicated to my terrific nephew, Matt Minard.
  6. The Campbells Ride Again: This piece represents my attempt to write in the style of Scottish folk music as a way of honoring my wonderful sister-in-law, the Beth (Campbell) Fine. See if you can spot the portion in which I try to force the piano to sound like a bagpipe!
  7. Letters from an Antique Land, Vol. 2: The next installment of the improvised miniature pieces that I described above.
  8. Melpomene: I composed this piece to honor my dear niece, Julia Fine. Melopmene was initially the Muse of Singing and then became the Muse of Tragedy (in what I can only assume was some sort of mid-life crisis). My erudite father gave a young Julia this nickname many years ago.
  1. The Next Generation: This chord-laden piece is dedicated to another of my wonderful nieces, Aubrey Fine, who was the first of my parents’ grandchildren and thus the leader of her generation! She is also a very talented flutist.
  2. Letters from an Antique Land, Vol. 3: The final installment of the improvised miniature compositions.
  3. The Bones Song: When my son, Ben, was in fifth grade, his class studied the various bones that make up the human body. He and I sat down after dinner one night and wrote lyrics to help teach the location and function of the major bones. I then set the lyrics to music later that evening. An example: Phalanges come in handy when you’re picking something up,/When you’re playing a piano or you’re lifting up a cup./The fibula and tibia are needed for a kick./The radius and ulna are for lifting up a brick. Naturally, it’s shocking to me that the University of Michigan Medical School (where I teach) has yet to adopt our song into its curriculum!
  4. Jessie’s Song: This song was written for yet another of my wonderful nieces, Jessica Minard. Jessie is one more member of our family who has a talent for teaching and she now has a position at my former high school in Sylvania, Ohio. Despite her questionable taste in movies and television shows, she has been a great success there! It should be obvious from the lyrics that I am a proud idealist about teaching. It should be obvious from the vocals that I am not proud of my singing ability.
  5. Lemon Zest: The final track is song that I wrote to commemorate the graduation of my nephew, Kenny Fine, from The Vista School in Pennsylvania. It is a very fast-paced, jazzy song that celebrates Kenny’s many unique and endearing qualities. I wanted the music to reflect the joy that is so apparent on Kenny’s face when he is swimming. Thanks to my son, Ben, for the title (which was inspired by Kenny’s love of lemons).