Where None Would Go – Gettysburg Memorial Song

“Where None Would Go” (Gettysburg Memorial Song) is a piece I wrote to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. This song released July 4, 2016. Words and Music by Conrad Askland. Vocalist: Leisha Skinner. To a variation of the melody “Shenandoah”.

I was inspired to write this song after spending many hours of discussion on the Civil War with my friend, Joe Bowen. He is a scholar of American History where he studied the Civil War at Harvard College. He will setup battle tactics and battle strategies on tables using napkins, playing cards, cups – whatever is around – to really immerse me in details of the Civil War. The conversations usually start with prose, then get into historical details and facts of the battles and politics of the time, then end with philosophical musings, anecdotes and quotes from soldier’s letters.

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Sibelius and MainStage for Music Scoring


(Score sample of Keyboard Two part from Conrad Askland’s “Romeo and Juliet – the musical”, July 2014)

As I’m working on orchestrations for my third full length musical, “Romeo and Juliet” (http://www.RJmusical.com), I realize the need for a particular scoring approach for the Keyboard Two part. Here is the solution I came up with to incorporate Apple’s MainStage with Sibelius for use in orchestrations and creating the final Keyboard Two patch setup.

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Basic Drum Notation Tips


I’ve just had the very frustrating experience of scoring the drum part for half of an entire musical theater score, and doing it wrong. Arghh! I got some bad advice so I’m posting some clarification here for other arrangers that are new to scoring drum parts. Hopefully this will save you some headaches.

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Clarinet Overview

Range of the Bb Clarinet and characteristics of different registers. Low register called the Chalumeau octave.

More information on Clarinet construction and use in the orchestra available at:


The Nimble Oboe

I had not realized before how flexible and nimble the oboe is. Here is an excerpt of the oboe score from Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297, third movement. So this is just a note to myself to remember to score more interesting and diverse parts when I write for oboe. We want to keep the oboe players happy.

“The oboist gives a good representation of staccato articulation and the wide leaps that it can play.” (Norton, The Study of Orchestration.)

For several months I am studying woodwinds and strings with an online music school to get more tricks and creativity into my scoring. (Yes, it’s very fun!)

Orchestration Notation and Performance: Triangles, Tambourine, Concert Bass Drum and Cymbals

PDF Download: Guide to Drum and Percussion Notation
PDF Download: drums-percussion-notation
From: http://web.mit.edu/merolish/Public/drums.pdf
Congas, woodblock, gong, and individual drum kit (toms, cymbals, etc.)

Also this information on notation and performance for Concert Band Percussion Instruments:

by Staff Sergeant Bill Elliott
and Staff Sergeant Steven Hearn

CONTENTS: Triangles; Tambourine; Concert Bass Drum; Cymbals

From: http://bands.army.mil/masterclass/tusafb/mar2001/perc.htm

Download PDF: Percussion

Playing techniques and notation examples for music orchestration.

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Leoš Janáček – String Quartet No. 2, ‘Intimate Letters’ (1 of 4)

I did not like this piece on first listen – then I read about it’s background: the description of Janacek’s unrequited love and pining. And now the piece is very powerful to me.

Janacek once wrote: “I maintain that a pure musical note means nothing unless it is pinned down in life, blood and locale; otherwise, it is a worthless toy.”

And that is exactly true for this piece, the “Intimate Letters”. How many songs do we each have in our personal lives that are tied to a certain event or emotion that triggers our memory when we hear it? Or to have a piece like this framed with new information so the performance takes on a deeper perceived meaning.

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Adam Guettel

Adam Guettel is the composer and lyricist for “The Light In The Piazza” – a musical, but really worthy of the title “opera”. I’ll tell you first why Piazza and Guettel interest me, and then following will be more biographical info and article links.

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Holst Mercury – Example of Orchestral Sketch and Piano Reduction

Gustav Holst – The Planets Op.32 Mercury, the Winged Messenger

Here is an example of the full score and following that is a two piano reduction. I have been racking my brain in several futile attempts to find the most economical and free way to do orchestral sketches on the computer – and I think the two piano reduction idea is fantastic. It seems like a painfully obvious approach to me now – but I was very frustrated with the idea of sketching with a single piano part because it’s difficult to think in tonal colors and sections with that approach. I don’t want to spend a lot of time editing – I want to input the ideas. The 2 piano approach gives me room for counterpoint between sections – and to insinuate different textures. Orchestrally, the counterpoint happens between sections and textures rather than just notes – so Viola!

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Orchestration: Copland Appalachian Spring

Insight into how Aaron Copland would sketch his music before full orchestration.

Appalachian Spring rough sketch page 15 by Aaron Copland. Copland wrote his orchestra sketches at the piano at a slow pace, often at night.


Aaron Copland sketches can be found here:

Appalachian Spring second sketch, a little cleaner with more notes and info on score: