August 20, 2013
I’m currently an engineering intern at Dropbox, Inc.. Dropbox undertakes a bi-annual creativity extravaganza called Hack Week, where employees are allowed to drop their normal responsibilities and work on whatever they want for a week.
One of my hack week projects was to organize the first a cappella group at Dropbox (I had a lot of help arranging and conducting). We sang at the closing ceremony in front of about 500 people, and it was spectacular.
The day before the performance (i.e., our fourth rehearsal), a music production expert named Scott Cannon offered to do a quick recording for us with all kinds of fancy mics, mixers, and software. Unfortunately I was standing way too close to the mics and you can hear my voice prominently. But check it out anyway!
May 27, 2013
My favorite Classical composer is Bach. One of my favorite contemporary composers is Hans Zimmer, who scored the soundtrack for countless movies. I often play Zimmer’s music on piano, and I would play Bach too if I had the technical ability.
I was listening to one of Zimmer’s pieces for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest called The Kraken, and I noticed that it sounded very...Baroque!
At 1:29, I figured out why. Amidst the barrage of pirate contention surrounding the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman, I could hear an homage to my second-favorite\( ^1 \) Bach piece—the well-known Toccata and Fugue in D minor! You will surely recognize it:
Same key, same instrumentation (pipe organ), same motif. Now I know why I like Hans Zimmer so much—we have the same inspiration.
 My top favorite Bach piece is his “Little” Fugue in G minor. You can hear this in The Kraken too, if you listen with a bit of imagination.
May 16, 2013
I wrote a ballad for tenor voice and piano featuring lyrics from William Blake’s poem “Never Seek to Tell Thy Love.” From a music theoretical perspective, this is my most sophisticated composition to date. The piece is written in B major but borrows chords from G#, with a modulation to C major and finally to A minor. Unconventionally, the chord progression I -> III is featured prominently throughout, with III functioning primarily as a pre-dominant. The sheet music is free and you can get it here.
Bill Cutter, director of the MIT Concert Choir (of which I am an alumnus), offered to sing the piece to the accompaniment of Professor Charles Shadle, and together they gave an incredibly powerful performance:
May 13, 2013
I’m taking a music theory/composition class at MIT called Writing in Tonal Forms. One of our class projects was to write a minuet and trio for string quartet in the tradition of 18th- and 19th-century Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. We had a professional string quartet from the Worcester Chamber Music Society perform our pieces! Here is the quartet reading my piece for the first time:
Thanks to Professor Shadle for guiding me in writing this piece and for recruiting the WCMS to perform it. Also thanks to Luyi Zhang for recording and uploading the video.
April 29, 2013
In my last post, I announced that I had started a new bastard pop a cappella group at MIT called the Centrifugues. Last night we had our first annual Spring Concert (in collaboration with the MIT Asymptones), and it was nothing short of amazing.
Check out our YouTube Channel to see the rest of the songs we did! If you’re a current or prospective MIT student, consider auditioning for us in the fall!