Rockefeller Bellagio Project – Composer & Organizer

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My Project at the Rockefeller Bellagio Center will spread international goodwill and creativity worldwide, emphasizing the global and cross-cultural impact of the arts, especially music. The Project will harness, enlist, and elevate global creativity as a bond across nations and cultures. As an avid proponent for global communication through the arts, my Project is twofold.bellagioview

First, as a Senior Fulbright Specialist, and speaker at international forums presenting American Studies in Music, I will seek and obtain endorsements via Fulbright alumni and colleagues. As Director of my nonprofit H Project Performing Arts Association, I will obtain funding and connections through its website. I will organize this influential group of artists to impact and solve language barriers across nations and cultures, influence critical global problems, and promote the harmony of nations through musical performance. The team members will be developed from my network of Academic Artists from all over the world who meet in Athens at the ATINER Annual International Conference on Visual and Performing Arts. This is a great opportunity to meet and share with artists on a global level at the very birthplace of freedom and democracy. As a featured performer and educator/recruiter at the JEN Jazz Educators Network International Convention,  I will acquire artistic support from international jazz educators to benefit the Project.

Second, the Project will produce concert performances internationally to share the music cultures of people across the globe. Nothing more nourishes the roots of all world cultures than art. The Project goal of joining forces in arts communication worldwide is enthusiastically endorsed by George Abufhele B., Rector, Instituto Profesional Projazz, Santiago, Chile. Affiliates include Antonio Campaña, executive director Fulbright Chile, and Larry Corwin, Public Affairs Officer, United States Embassy in Chile‘s Chargé D´Affairs. A partnership between my Texas State University School of Music and Instituto Profesional Projazz to create institutional linkages and faculty led programs and performances will share the music cultures of South and North America. As the MacDowell Colony Norton Stevens Fellow in Composition, I will actively pursue MacDowell fellows to contribute new music to the Project. Personally, I have been composing music to create a new, signature American sound, from a synthesis of contemporary art music, jazz, and world music. A global approach and unique blend of influences gives my music a brand, its own distinctive place in the international scene. I wish to focus my music on programming directly related to my Bellagio Project. My recent compositions are based on Native American and South American folk music. My orchestral piece Puerta de la Luna – “Door to the Moon” will be in the final phase of work and completion while at the Bellagio Center. Plans are for a performance in 2016 or 2017.

I want to especially thank three individuals who have made the Project possible:

Cheryl Young, Executive Director
The Macdowell Artist Colony

Dr. George Abufhele B., Rector
Instituto Profesional Projazz

Dr. Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Director
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band


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ASCAP PLUS award 11-14-2014

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a pleasant surprise. I don’t even remember applying… :)
awarded to writer members whose catalogs have prestige value.


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Musician’s Forum with Dr Thomas Clark

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Graduate Jazz Piano Techniques class 2014

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with Jerry Espinoza, Sam Thrasher, Ben Triesch, Brian Christensen, Nicholas Tozzo, Bjorn Johnson and Miguel Angel Aguiar.

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The Role Of College Teaching In The Life of A Creative Musician

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Trainer/Clinician for the Army – School of Music & Air Force Band

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a week presenting and performing w professional Army and Air Force career musicians as a trainer/clinician, sponsored by the Dept. of Defense – DOD

My ex-student, Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Conductor of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band and TxState alumnus, presents me with an award certificate.


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I’m in the Army now

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Well, for a week. I was guest clinician/trainer at Fort Eustis, Virginia with the US Army School of Music, & the US Air Force band attending. I worked with adult professional career musicians on:

Secrets of Success
Innovative Practice Techniques

Contemporary creativity
Maximizing individual potential
Global/Cross-cultural impact of music

I met 2 star general, Major General Mark MacCarley, Deputy Chief of Staff, and discussed plans to use the arts, especially music, as a bridge between cultures, and a way to spread freedom and creativity around the world, while spreading American goodwill. MacCarley is an advisor to the President’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who directly advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President of the United States on military matters.

from L to R:
Sergeant Major Robert L. Burford Sr., me, Major General Mark J. MacCarley, and Major Leonel Peña, Commander & Conductor of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band.
The certificate reads: “For your generous contributions to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band at Ft. Eustis, VA. Your talents and commitment have helped the TRADOC Band maintain its reputation of professionalism, excellence, and distinction. Your dedication and patriotism are in keeping with the highest traditions of service and represents great credit upon you and Texas State University – San Marcos.”

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@JazzEdNet convention Jan 6, 2015 with the premiere tentet TimesTen from Austin WOW!

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New Jazz: Pushing its Boundaries with Harmonic, Metric, and Instrumental Devices

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This is an online paper I presented at the
Atiner Athens Greece 5th Annual International Conference
on Visual and Performing Arts

2-5 June 2014. It is excerpted here with examples and audio.


This paper will explore devices used by musicians/composers Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets), Michael Brecker, Chick Corea, and Hank Hehmsoth to provide a brief snapshot of current jazz techniques in harmonization, rhythm, and fresh orchestration.


Harmony Meter Instrumentation Rhythm Jazz Hehmsoth


Contemporary Jazz in the twenty first century, is tumbling ahead and absorbing, introducing, and synthesizing elements. New techniques are being developed to broaden, and expand the vision of contemporary improvisation, composition, and arranging, to include precision in harmonic structure, organizing rhythm and phrasing, and unconventional instrumentation. Particular attention is given to music examples and detailed analyses of:

  • harmonic explorations
  • odd meter groupings
  • and unique choices in instrumentation.

The future of jazz is a broad topic, and subject to multiple interpretations. These examples are compositional techniques that I have incorporated in my own work.
Of course the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and the best way to understand these concepts is to hear them, and if you read music, examples are contained in this paper.


2.1    In this example from Bob Mintzer, simple pentatonic “anthem”-like melodic shapes are harmonized in a unique colorful “pandiatonicized” (I use this term loosely, to refer to various complete use of chord/scale possibilities), non-tertial voicing structure, with simultaneous sus-4 and Maj3s, on Is and Vs; lots of cluster shapes, with 2nds providing a constant dissonance “sizzle” (my own term to when referring to the dissonance of mi 2nds and maj 2nds) to harmonization; also “omit”-type voicings that imply upper harmonic color structures while missing more fundamentals like Maj 3rds (another way of categorizing these types are as “slash chord combinations”) with intervallic content in chord structures yielding resonance and interest with complete harmonic information in fresh shapes and structures.

Figure 1. ex. Why Is It?


[1] Mintzer, Bob, 2011. Why Is It?. Timeline – Yellowjackets (audio CD Mar. 2011), Label: Mack Avenue ASIN: B004KBSQMYI

2.2    The melody itself is a D pentatonic scale, over a G in the bass, which generates an overall G maj7.

Figure 2. simple pentatonic “anthem”-like melodic shapes

2.3  The harmonization of this simple melody displays several unique and fresh chord voicings used in contemporary jazz

Figure 3. non-tertial voicing structure with “omit”-type voicings that imply upper structures with missing more fundamentals like Maj3. Notice also the predominant parallel motion.

2.4    Another good harmonic example comes from another recent YellowJackets tune. With a simple melody, a fresh harmonization using these typical structures provides an almost compendium of current voicing structures with omit type voicings, sus+3 colors, and quartal instead of tertial interval dominance. Since many have not seen these extended harmony structures, which have been codified in jazz over the last 30 – 40 years, it is also worthwhile to note that these newer fresh structures are seen in isolation since the 60’s Miles Davis era, but is now more and more frequently used since the 1990’s.

Figure 4. Sus13 and with omit type voicings, sus+3 colors mixed with tertial structures

[2] Ferrante, Russell, 2010. Spirit of the West. Club Nocturne –Yellowjackets (audio CD Mar. 2010) Label: Warner Bros. ASIN: B0046WOXHO

3. Odd Meter Groupings

3.1 Of course Jazz is all about rhythm, and more sophisticated uses of meter. Groupings and phrasings are under development all the time.

Figure 5. Odd Meter Groupings – Rhythmic Diminution – 3 Phrases in 4 bars

[3] Corea, Chick. The Chick Corea Elektrik Band Elektric City, Hal Leonard Pub. Corp., ©1987.

3.2 In this 1986 Chick Corea example, “melodic or motivic diminution” creates a rhythmic “phrase displacement” which groups three phrases in 4 measures. The first is 6 beats, the 2nd is 5 beats, and the 3rd is compressed and ends on beat 4 of measure 4, an odd meter grouping inside of 4 measures.

3.3 I used this same technique in my piece Freedom Stomp 2012 for a 10 piece ensemble, with my own variation:

Figure 6. 

[4] Hehmsoth, Hank. Freedom Stomp, Time Space Fabrics, ©2012.

3.4 The first 4 bars consist of three phrases, each using rhythmic/melodic/motivic diminution.

Figure 7. 

3.5 The first phrase is 6 beats, the 2nd is 5, and the 3rd is 5, 6+5+5=16 beats=4 bars of 4/4. Also each phrase beginning is truncated from the original. The 2nd phrase has only 5 eighth notes before the triplet turn, and the 3rd phrase has only 4 eighths.

3.6 There is a long 60+ year heritage of interesting metric phrasing in jazz. A great early master was Thelonious Monk:

Figure 8. Odd Meter Groupings – Cross – Rhythms

[5] Monk, Thelonious. Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-Are (aka Bolivar Blues), 1956 (Riverside LP12-226), ©copyrighted by Thelonious Music Corp.

3.7 The form is a 12 bar blues, but the 9th bar is a real 3+3+2 =8 because the bass makes it apparent. The interesting “cross-rhythms”are an early example from the 1950’s. I always return to Monk’s work for creative across the barline phrasings.

4. Fresh Choices In Instrumentation

4.1 Here are examples of a jazz composer merging fresh choices in instrumentation, and the number of players.

Figure 9. Carlos ‘n Charlie’s  2011 – Hank Hehmsoth – a piece for steel drums


[6] Hehmsoth, Hank. Carlos ‘n Charlie’s, Drop6 Publications, ©2011.

4.2 In Michael Brecker’s “Wide Angles” released 2003, instrumentation and arranging techniques show many of contemporary jazz’s influences, including orchestral instruments, and free forms. (score not available)

[7] Brecker, Michael. Wide Angles, 2003 Audio CD Label: Verve ASIN: B0000AKQ96



[1]    Mintzer, Bob, 2011. Why Is It?. Timeline – Yellowjackets (audio CD Mar. 2011), Label: Mack Avenue ASIN: B004KBSQMYI

[2]   Ferrante, Russell, 2010. Spirit of the West. Club Nocturne –Yellowjackets (audio CD Mar. 2010) Label: Warner Bros. ASIN: B0046WOXHO

[3]   Corea, C. and Chick Corea Elektric Band. 1986. The Chick Corea Elektric Band. Third Earth Publishing/Not Bernie’s Publishing Co.

[4]   Hehmsoth, Hank. 2012. Freedom Stomp. Time Space Fabrics. 2012.

[5]   Monk, Thelonious. Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-Are (aka Bolivar Blues), 1956 (Riverside LP12-226), ©copyrighted by Thelonious Music Corp.

[6]   Hehmsoth, Hank. Carlos ‘n Charlie’s, Drop6 Publications, ©2011.

[7]   Brecker, Michael. Wide Angles, 2003 Audio CD Label: Verve ASIN: B0000AKQ96



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Music Braille Code

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I joined a U.S. government-sponsored exchange program to distribute Braille Music Notation Guides (both printed and in Braille) among Latin American Universities and libraries.
The guides, music examples, exercises, and a double CD with recorded examples will expand the access to inclusive education for all musicians with visual impairments.
As a Fulbright Specialist, I am a member of The U.S. Department of State Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) which provides grants to to carry out public service projects, and supports initiatives that promote shared values and innovative solutions to global challenges. If you are interested please visit and like their new FB page:

Expanding the Access to Inclusive Education for Musicians with Visual Impairments in Latin American Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools.
“Music Braille Code” is a project currently applying for an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (2014) provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs from the United States of America.

It is estimated that the world population of people with disabilities is over 1 billion (nearly 15 per cent of the world’s population), over two thirds of whom live in developing countries. Developing countries offer many social scenarios where people with physical, sensory, or intellectual impairments face discrimination on a daily basis. As former students of Latin American universities, we can attest that music faculties in our countries lack the resources to provide an inclusive academic environment for students with disabilities. This project will allow faculty members, alumni, current and prospective students of Latin American Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools with music departments to acquire the basic skills needed to read and write music in Braille Code.

The goal of this project is to distribute Braille Music Notation Guides to the main Latin American music libraries. The distribution of these guides will: enhance people with disabilities’ access to musical resources; promote equal opportunity in artistic education for people with disabilities; increase the participation of people with disabilities in the cultural environment of Latin America; empower artists with disabilities to express themselves through music composition and performance; allow composers to write and perform music in Braille Code; enhance the pedagogical resources of music libraries; enrich music libraries’ catalogues; foster awareness among able-bodied music students, faculty members and academic staff regarding the importance of inclusive education; reduce artistic and social exclusionary practices; and promote a model for equality in the music making of Universities, Music Conservatories, and Public High Schools with Music Departments of our countries.

The main beneficiaries of this project are students with visual impairments and music libraries. The guides to Braille Music Notation will be distributed in more than 30 academic institutions and libraries across Latin America. Secondary beneficiaries of this project include: current able-bodied students, alumni (as they would have access to the material through music libraries), and current faculty members of Universities, Conservatories and Public High Schools with Music Departments.

Long-term results include: increased number in the enrollment rate of students with visual impairments in music programs and increased number in the graduation rate of students with visual impairments in music programs. We expect the following short-term measurable results:
1. Music libraries will enlarge their collections.
2. Students with visual impairments will have access to music education.
3. Current students and faculty members will enhance their academic and pedagogical resources.
4. Composers will be able to learn an alternative system of music notation.
5. Current students will increase their understanding about disability and inclusion through media outreach and promotion of the project.

If you are a current or past participant of any U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs, please visit the website and join or “cheer” our project using the following link:


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