I finished the bulk of writing for “When It WIll Bloom” a couple of days ago. there is a whole second layer of the piece that needs to happen now, but it was nice to look at the finale file and hear it played back and think. Done! I am waiting to accumulate the cash to buy a copy of Ableton Live. I have been working off of a basic copy of Cubase, but Ableton seems to be more along the lines of what I want from a DAW, so if I am going to dig in to really learning, I want to get in with Ableton. It looks like it will give me the “live” kind of response I seem to work best with. Anyway, once I get Ableton I’ll work on the next phase of the piece. It will be cool to get it out of my head and recorded.
“When It Will Bloom” is going to be part of a larger piece (song cycle? performance art? not sure what it will turn into) – a collection of stories, songs, music, and sound that deals with intimacy and technology…..sorty, anyway. More will be revealed. I have fragments of two other pieces: “Mango” and “Apple.” Fruity!
I have a musical in the works….well, it’s been in the works for quite some time, but it looks like there is a theater that wants to produce it. I’ll write more details later, but for now, I find myself at the piano, or reading the script and hearing those nagging little voices in the back of my head asking me who I think I am. The music for this show needs to be jazz/blues tinged – a genre that scares the hell out of me. I think somewhere I harbor a belief that only certain people can write music like that, and that I most certainly not one of them. So, more than anything right now, this part of the process looks like it is going to be about shutting those voices up and getting on with it.
In some ways I think of this writing as history for a future time in my life when there is more of my music in the world. I guess it keeps me from feeling silly here in a public way about something that no one has access to. So nice to sort out what’s going on in my mind, anyway.
I’ve been chipping away at a rewrite of a piece I performed at DiverseWorks back in September. “When It Will Bloom.” I am wrapping it up now, so yesterday I decided to give the original a listen to remind myself how I ended the thing.
What I found interesting was that the “problems” with that version of the piece still seem to be there: just a couple of ideas that never get fully developed. Last time I listened to it, I did so with a highly critical ear and the whole thing made my skin crawl. “This thing just meanders along without going anywhere!”
But yesterday I realized that it still had something that the new version doesn’t. It moved me. Granted, the new version exists only in Finale so far and what I hear is the computer’s only slightly expressive playing of the piece, but yesterday I started to wonder if, in my eagerness to make something happen in the piece I took it to the other extreme and it’s all thought and no emotion.
I have a new computer on the way and this really excites me. My going-on-six-year-old MacBook Pro was really struggling with the recording for the yoga project and I have been wanting to dig deep into Ableton Live and Max for Live using Christopher Willits’ What YOu Talkin’ Bout Willits? tutorials. The idea of combining clicky, staticy washes of loops with my stories and acousticy-synthy pieces really excites me.
Oh, this little site. Neglected so.
Continuing writing “When It Will Bloom” and a new piece, “Mango.” Visions of an evening of music, stories with piano, keyboards, laptop, strings and winds.
It’s snowing today. It’s March 23. I do not approve of this.
So it looks like the RPM challenge didn’t work out so well, but the good news is that I am steadily working on new music. The learning curve for a beginning home recordist was much steeper than I anticipated, but now that I have some experience behind me, I will be better equipped to participate next year.
I’m in the mixing/mastering phase of some new music for Bija Kids Yoga which will be included with their Spring session. I wrote two new songs, “Bija” and “Ganesh.” I’m really happy with how they came out and have really enjoyed every aspect of working with a client in this way. Here’s hoping I get to do more projects like this in the future. This should be all done in the next week or so, allowing me to get back to work on When It Will Bloom. I wanna finish that piece up stat!
In addition to all of this, I have joined The Greenwich Village Follies as pianist. It opens next week and runs for at least a year. Really so happy to be a part of this fantastic show. Come see it!
When I woke up this morning at around 6, I laid there for a few minutes until I was suddenly compelled to get out of bed, get the coffee going and get to work. I am so thankful that this project is motivating me so much!
So I tried some more to fix my Cubase problem. I didn’t exactly get if fixed, but I did find a workaround. I got to work on “Serpentine.” It started out as a sort of spooky dissonant thing, but somehow this morning a funky little bass line emerged and I got some drums going too. Interesting. I like it so far.
Yesterday morning I did more work on the orchestration for “When It Will Bloom.” The oboe part surprised me a bit, there is a little percolating 16th note figure in the piece now which is pretty out of character when compared to the original version. Though it’s time consuming, I think this is really the best way to approach writing a piece like this for me. Writing the entire thing out, I mean. It’s really forcing me to think about each note and as a result, the piece is going to have much more direction. Here’s an example of the oboe part:
I have another deadline this week, I need to write two songs for another project. Slightly overwhelming but what a lovely way to be overwhelmed.
Slow last couple of days. there’s a voice in my head that keeps nagging…”just go watch judge judy and forget about this nonesense. you’ll never do a whole album by the end of the month.”
The antidote to that seems to be “have fun and enjoy as much of the process as you can.” Even if I don’t reach my goal, I have already written more music in this last week than I have in the past several years.
1. Still have not worked out my cubase problem, but I thinkI have the solution.
2. Wrote a few new measures for “When It Will Bloom.” The Oboe is kinda rocking out now.
3. Going to start another song called “Vegan Snow Boots.”
4. “Serpentine” needs those shocky paddle things like they have in the ER or at least some mouth to mouth.
The best part of this process so far is that I am constantly thinking about writing music. I wrote some lyrics on the subway yesterday and came up with some ideas about my second song for the RPM album. The title is “Serpentine.” I toyed around with some musical ideas for it, and have a start, but when I opened up Cubase to start sequencing some music I ran into a snag.
There are a handful of applications that facilitate communication between my keyboard and the music production software on my computer. One of them, the editor, actually keeps my keyboard in sync precisely with the computer, so, if I change one of the sounds on my keybaord, it gets changed in Cubase, and vice versa. Yesterday, Mr Editor was NOT playing along as directed so I spent alot of time reviewing settings, and making sure I had everything set properly. I did. Boo.
Luckily, there is a dedicated website for users of the Yamaha S90XS with a forum that is frequented by a particularly brilliant tech guy for Yamaha. I posted my problem and expect to have a solution sometime today. Thank God for the internet. Until then, I am going to work of my orchestration for When It Will Bloom.
Technical issues like these frustrate me a great deal, but as much as I want to be a more prolific composer and songwriter, I want to be more proficient at how all this stuff works as well. When my new audio interface arrives I’m going to have a whole new batch of
problems learning opportunities.
It’s probably been six months since my friend Sari Gurney finished the design on this site (check out her other work here.) When it was done I found myself paralyzed at the thought of how to begin writing on an “artist” site. I knew what I would write if I had already started, but what is the first post supposed to be?
For a couple of years now I have been wanting to commit to doing the RPM Challenge: 10 songs or 35 minutes of original material written and recorded in the month of February. It looks like this is my year and a perfect time to start making use of this site.
So, here’s where I am with it on day three:
– I decided to allow myself one “cheat.” I’m including a piece that I have already begun, and even performed in Houston at DiverseWorks. The piece is called “When It Will Bloom.” I wanted to re-orchestrate the entire thing anyway so I started it entirely from scratch on Feb 1st. It’s being written for Piano, String Quartet, Synthesizer and Oboe. Of course, all of that will be generated from my keyboard (Yamaha S90XS, if you’re into that sort of thing) unless the funds to pay 6 other musicians miraculously appears before the end of February. I’ve written 45 measures so far.
– I met with my pal Eve Beglarian last night. A brilliant composer and friend who is kindly helping me out as I re-enter the world of composition in terms of writing that shit down on paper. We also talked about my need for:
– A digital audio interface for my computer. I decided on a MOTU Microbook, which I ordered last night. Now I’ll be able to properly record my work. Yup yup.
I have LOTS of other work going on right now, so the trick is going to be balancing my time between teaching, my “for pay” music writing and the RPM project. I’m thinking the “for pay” work will happen during regular 9-5 work hours that I have available and I will do RPM work on evenings, early mornings and weekends. With updates and maybe some audio samples here as they emerge. I also have had a musical theater project on the back burner for way too long, so I am thinking of including some as-yet-unwritten songs from that on the RPM album as well.
I welcome your encouragement and support with this project. I’m feeling SO INSPIRED!