About my music

by David Temperley

I’ve been fortunate to have my pieces played by some terrific ensembles and musicians, such as the Quintet of the Americas, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, pianist Ian Hobson, pianist Margaret Kampmeier, violist Rudolf Haken, cellist Scott Kluksdahl, and the Ganache Quartet.

My music is very much grounded in the “common practice”—classical and Romantic music. At the same time, it’s nothing that an 18th- or 19th-century composer could have written. Popular music has been a huge influence—rock rhythms and chord progressions. And there are bits of West African rhythm, neo-classicism, and things that I think (I hope) you won’t have heard anywhere.

Just as my chamber music is influenced by popular music, my songs are classically-influenced pop: The two come together. Some people say my songs sound like musical theater; this wasn’t my intent, but I think there’s some truth to it.

People sometimes ask whether my composing is influenced by my music theory/cognition research, or vice versa. In my conscious thought, they’re very separate: my composing is very intuitive—really a kind of controlled improvising—not at all “theory-driven.” But I’m sure they do influence each other. Sometimes when I’m thinking about a musical idea—say, a harmonic progression or melodic pattern—in my research work, I find it turning up in my compositions. Or perhaps I’ll find it in something I composed many years earlier.

All music and lyrics are © David Temperley. Scores, parts, and lead sheets are available on request.

Violin Sonata No. 3

by David Temperley

My Violin Sonata No. 3 was written in 2017. It was performed at Eastman’s Washington Square Concert Series in October of that year, featuring Soo Yeon Kim, a terrific Eastman DMA student, on violin, and me on piano.

The piece is in three movements. The first piece mixes major and minor—from the very first measures—giving it a sort of bittersweet quality. The second movement is a theme and variations, with rather a dark, somber mood. The third movement is more lively.

  1. I. Allegro moderato 4:36
  2. II. Theme and Variations 5:35
  3. III. Allegro 3:31

Guitar Quintet

by David Temperley
Guitar Quintet

This piece is for violin, viola, cello, electric guitar and electric bass. It was first performed in New York City in 1997 in a concert organized by me and some friends called “Chamber Metal.” I revised it in 2015, and it was performed again in September 2016 at Eastman School of Music by some fantastic Eastman students: Shannon Steigerwald (violin), Angela Kratchmer (viola), Dan Ketter (cello), Sungmin Shin (guitar), and Eugene Bisdikian (bass). This recording of the piece features the Eastman group.

  1. gq-1st-mvt 6:12
  2. gq-2nd-mvt 4:38
  3. gq-3rd-mvt 5:20