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About

Welcome! I'm a composer, pianist, and music teacher. My first love of music was through pro wrestling entrance music. Seeing my favorite wrestlers make grand entrances accompanied to sounds of an orchestra, I was convinced they composed the music. I began recording myself playing piano pieces, giving mock interviews and short analyses to the camera, mimicking wrestlers I'd heard. Here's me when I was 9:

"...but I'll be doing the whole symphony by myself..."

I started writing music about my favorite animals. I also made arrangements of music I liked but didn't have the sheet music: classical, movie scores, TV shows, gangsta rap songs, video game soundtracks, etc. I asked teachers a lot if I could write songs for projects/assignments and perform in class. My favorite composers to play were Prokofiev and late Beethoven. I lost much use of my hands when I was 22 and had to relearn piano as an adult with limited fingers. I've been told my playing sounds odd and very identifiable. I like it. 

I studied music at North Carolina School of the Arts (high school), UNC-Chapel Hill (BM), Duke (PhD), with fellowships from Yale School of Music and Bang on a Can. I've been fortunate along the way to win some awards, including 2 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. My doctoral dissertation was a pro wrestling ballet/piano concerto filmed with action figures, an attempt to form a soundtrack for the entire spectacle that made me love music in the first place.

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Press play to hear "Hulking up, chair shot," an excerpt from Barbeque Man Unleashed

Recent projects include pop/rap etudes in stacked time signatures, songs about Saturday morning impromptu trips to bird fairs, mental illness and caretaking, Jurassic Park alternate histories, scores for microscopic science footage, podcasts, films, orchestral, music for children, etc. Years ago I began digitally altering original isolated vocals of popular songs and remixing them into other genres. I recently released an album of orchestral remixes, American Nachos. Here are a few: One is Journey's Any Way You Want It with a variation from Bach's Goldberg Variations /additional orchestration. Another is a major key orchestral version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit 

Wie du Willst (Journey's Any Way You Want It/ and Bach's Goldberg Variations:1st var.) In 3/4 

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

(Remix for Orchestra) - Paul Swartzel

I developed schizoaffective disorder when I was 19 and speak publicly about it, using music and humor to try to decrease the stigma of mental illness. My one man band is The Shitty Titanic.

Hojamei - Paul Swartzel
Snake Bite Memorial - Paul Swartzel
Postlude - Paul Swartzel (2021)
The Truest Haiku - Paul Swartzel