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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 often asked teachers if I could write songs for projects/assignments and perform in class. My favorite composers to play were Prokofiev and late Beethoven. I lost some use of my hands as an adult from psychosomatic inflammation and had to relearn piano with limited fingers. I've been told my playing sounds odd and identifiable. 

I went to school at North Carolina School of the Arts (high school), UNC-Chapel Hill (BM), Duke (PhD). I went to Bang on a Can and Yale's Norfolk Festival and had fun. 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 in my parents' basement, 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

I developed schizoaffective disorder, basically both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, when I was 19 and speak publicly about it. I write music for The Me2/ Orchestra, the world's only orchestra for people with mental illness. My new audio-visual work, Music for Mental Health, will be at Photografiska in NYC for the MATA Festival in May 2024.  

Recent projects include multimedia stuff featuring musicians with mental illness, Music for Prepared Piano, pretty much complete nonsense that brings me joy, Etudes for piano/vocalist/rapper (me) 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, music to be performed by people with developmental disabilities, orchestral, music for children, etc. I like to play most of the instruments on my recordings, even if I can't even play the instrument or keep a steady beat. It brings me joy, 


In school, I began digitally altering original isolated vocals of popular songs and remixing them into other genres. I made 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 

Hojamei - Paul Swartzel
Snake Bite Memorial - Paul Swartzel

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

(Remix for Orchestra) - Paul Swartzel

Postlude - Paul Swartzel (2021)
The Truest Haiku - Paul Swartzel
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