Profile:Tyler Smith

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Tyler Smith (known on YC as 'Hands') is a first-year composition student at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He is trying to make a career in music despite having perhaps the most generic name in the universe. He has wanted to be a composer ever since he heard Danny Elfman's "Music for a Darkened Theater", and perhaps even before that. When he was a child, he would ask his mother or anyone else to pick three notes on the keyboard, using which he would make up primitive, meaningless, but personal noise. Piano lessons have helped make this noise somewhat more focused. He is a tall person.


Tyler has been writing music consciously and intentionally since he was about 14. These were formless, rather Beethoven-ish piano pieces, none of which were able to overcome their composer's ignorance of music theory. Gradually, due in part to an increase in the potency of his technology, his music has become more smooth and focused, though still somewhat individual. Since coming to college for music, Tyler has (to his sincere dismay) experienced a drought of the sort of musical productivity he experienced before. While this is sure to pass, it causes concern for the future of Western music (I keed....:P). His music has not yet reached a mature stage of development, but a few general observations can be made. Emphasis is often on harmonic interest, to the exclusion of rhythm and melody. His 'Media:Two Premises' and 'Media:Yummy Pizzicato' are examples of this.


At GVSU, Tyler takes piano lessons with Van Cliburn medallist Aviram Reichert ([1]), and composition lessons with Dr. Bill Ryan. Both are intense teachers, and Professor Reichert has earned a reputation for his demanding teaching style. Under Professor Reichert, Tyler has learned: Bach Prelude and Fugue in C minor, WTC Book 2 Brahms Romanze, Op. 118, No. 1 Chopin Nocturne in E flat Debussy La Cathedrale Engloutie Grieg Lyric Pieces, Op. 12 Mozart Sonata in A major, K. 331, First Movement Scarlatti Sonata in A minor

Works in Progress

These are projects agreed upon by Tyler and his composition teacher.


An art song for soprano and piano, sung in Latin. The text is Dido's speech from her vantage high above the ocean, watching the fleets commanded by her lover, Aeneas, as he sails away. Having finished her speech and cursed the gods, she stabs herself with one of Aeneas's swords and falls on a pyre she had built of Aeneas's possessions. Expressing this kind of intensity is something not attempted in Tyler's other works.

Piano Sonata

A sort of piano sonata in one movement, undertaken at the suggestion of Professor Reichert. Referred to under the working title Drowning Worm, it may be based on half-diminished seventh chords. The working title comes from an experience the composer had just outside the Performing Arts Center at GVSU. It was raining, and he began walking home. Along the sidewalk, hundreds of earthworms had stretched themselves out, escaping the danger of drowning underground. Many had been trodden to pieces as they squirmed there. Something about this pathetic and inescapable fate is worthy of an artistic expression. There is something about the half-diminished seventh chord that is pathetic and unsettling. A sketch of two minutes' length has been discarded, and another one begun.

Clarinet Solo

As soon as Tyler feels he is powerful enough, he will begin this work. This is not something of which Dr. Ryan is aware. The work is for a great friend of the composer, who has gone back to her home in Georgia. Possible subjects include separation, lack, or desire. Or perhaps gladness. It will become clearer as he gains inability.