20th Century Goodbye

I hope you are all well and keeping your distance. Here is a little music to hopefully brighten your day. Stay well. Reyn

(Composed and arranged by Reynold D. Philipsek copyright 1997
Zino-Rephi Music BMI)


“Some war, some peace,

All the happenstance between

Our two eternities in the meantime.

Is this an age of wonder or just Babylon?

A spectacular sunset mistaken 

for a dawn at the same time?

Just where did the time fly?

20th Century Good-bye.

The rise and decline 

of another chapter of mankind

in the meantime.

Is it random or design

that a million dates

All intertwine at the same time?

We all want to go 

to heaven but we don’t want to die,

Like to take the plunge 

but still keep dry in the meantime.”



Back in the late 1990’s as we faced the dawning of a new millennium I got all grandiose and decided to write an “epic” piece. 

I wrote it for an “orchestra” which was comprised of 4 cellos, 4 violins, clarinet, euphonium, cornet,  2 flutes, harp, bass, piano, several vocal tracks, percussion, oboe and harp. 

I started with my vocal and piano part. Very simple. With a click.

I then hired musicians either in groups (strings) and (winds) or individually like harp and oboe etc. In other words, lots of overdubs.

This was a long and arduous process for an autodidact like me but it turned out ok.

A somewhat ambitious project but in retrospect I am glad I did it. I certainly wouldn’t have the patience or energy for this sort of enterprise anymore.

The lyrics (which are always a tortuous task for me) don’t embarrass me and in fact seem rather apt for these days.

Out of necessity (because I was a novice at mounting this sort of effort) I had to keep things relatively simple and uncluttered.

I tried to (in a subtle way) simulate the ticking of a clock with various devices like shaker or pizzicato strings etc.

And, yes, the long chromatic rise and 20 beat pause at the end before the harp flourish is totally inspired by A Day In The Life.


Piano, vocals-Reynold

Cellos-Dianne Temaine

Violins-Carolyn Boulay

Flutes-Kristi Kuhns

Clarinet-Kevin Stuevens

Percussion-Gomez de Riquet

Trombone, cornet, euphonium- Zane Schaefer

Oboe-Merilee Klemp

Harp-Sunita Staneslow

Recording engineer-Brandon Lenz

(Photo from Long Ago, Far Away album cover was taken at Maurice Ravel’s piano in Montfort L’Amaury in France by Mary G. Philipsek)

Link: https://youtu.be/l3GFCk_QQ-8

Vienna Blues

Performed and written by Reynold Philipsek
Copyright Zino-Rephi Music (BMI)

Back in the mid-1970s, I took some college-level music classes. These were still the days when the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg influence prevailed. They were the early 20th-century Austrian composers who explored the 12-tone technique. This roughly means a melodic line has to sound every note of the 12 possible choices without repeating. 

This is an over-simplification, as there were some very lengthy and specific, yet rather arbitrary, rules that Schoenberg prescribed. Like, no major or minor triads in any inversion, etc.

A matrix can be drawn using the original 12 tone row, which results in 144 distinct rows. Further manipulation can be done by casting a row in retrograde or inversion. The possibilities are vast.

To me, however, it always seemed a bit like “lab coat” music, yet it does still fascinate me in small doses. Plus, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg were fascinating people. (Though I’m sure Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg sound more like the letterhead of a law firm than a composer consortium.)

This piece is based on a 12 tone row but I tried to relieve the melodic angularity by shaping the harmony, in a small way, to fashion a more blues-like mood. Of course, Schoenberg and “Blues” don’t seem like an obvious match but that was the challenge to and subtle joke about it. (Someone once said that the best jokes are the ones no one gets.)

The 12 tone row I used for “Vienna Blues” is B flat, D, E flat, C, F, G, E, F Sharp, A, G sharp, C sharp, B. (I’m pretty sure no one really cares about that info but I felt it was my duty to prove it really is a 12 tone row).

I wrote one other piece with 12 tones called “Alban’s Bolero” which is based on the 12 tone row from Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. I recorded that piece with Sidewalk Cafe Trio which is on YouTube if you are interested.
Stay safe. Link below: https://youtu.be/UckK-Lo6aJU