Sorry bout that

Sorry for being gone for so long. I'm sure my "loyal readers" were wondering what's been happening in my compositional world. here's the summation:

the opera previously discussed "Cake" was finished in piano redux form and performed April 3rd and 4th, one show at Brooklyn College, the other at Jimmy's No. 43 in Manhattan. "Cake" runs about 21 minutes in its current form. It was presented along with other one act operas and opera scenes by Remarkable Theater Brigade in conjunction with Brooklyn College.

In addition to composing "Cake," original story by Eileen Wiedbrauk (speakcoffee), i staged directed two shows; the final scene from "The Ace of Diamonds" composed by Whitney George, and "No Shoes, No Skirts, No Service" written and composed by Marie Incontrera. It was the first "professional" directing debut in NYC and i think it went pretty well. I was a bit rusty at first and with school, work, and composing (as i was writing up to the last second, and past the last second a week or two. lol) so i felt the overall design was a bit lacking, but i still stand by my work.

On top of that, the decision was made to use projection as the scenery. Since its what i do professionally, i stepped in to work out the technical details. That went perfect smoothly. I think i would do it slightly different next time, since there was a mixture of video and stills, but i manuevered everything alright. i would probably use a program like QLab next time. Programs like that are set-up to load just about any sort of media cue you'd like. I haven't used QLab too much yet, but i haven't had many chances either.

During the opera production, EM-NY's bi-annual occurred, i think the week of March 16th or something like that. it all blurrs together for me. As usual, i had a piece performed, "Brooklyn Bridge Blues." This was my first truly mult-media piece. I shot low quality video (on purpose) of my travels to and from NY from NJ, including an "artsy" shot of some cables swinging between the cars next to the wheels on the train. With that, I composed an electronic piece as a soundtrack. These were two firsts for me. I've done camera work and a little film editing now and then, but never taken 15+ different 2-3 minute segments, cut, spliced, faded, etc a 9 minute movie from those segments. Amazingly, it was easier than i thought. I used Final Cut and was amazed how easily my skills in audio editing translated to video editing. I'm still missing all the fine points of video editing and video in general, but i at least put together a pretty good looking movie.

And i've never really tried to do a soundtrack. It was an interesting process. There were times i was dead set on trying to get interesting things to line up and other points was far more interested in the compositional process. I used mainly sounds taken straight from the videos. I also stole a bass line and screwed it up large amounts. it wasn't stolen by the end. lol. Then, i read some Kerouak, and had a little interactive program slinging out short 2 second samples of NYC based musicians.

Let's see...after that i wrote a piece for David Whitwell, a fabulous trombone player in NYC. He wanted something with electronics, so i came up with "ALNT" or "A Little Noise in the Trombone", titled in honor of Pauline Oliveros (in case anyone had any questions about that. lol). It basically is an evolution of trombone playing, starting with simple overtone exercises then running the major western art music trombone playing styles, ending with an improvisational section. I put the whole thing together as a graphic score using Scribus, an open-source desktop publishing program. Took me a minute to get the hang of it, but since i was already familiar with InDesign, it didn't take too long. The electronics also followed a concept, running from a basic bass line to harmonization, complex FM modulation resulting in harmonic overdrive, and finally into noise run through a bandpass filter where the center frequency follows the trombone improvisation and the Q follows the intensity of the bass line. It's an impressive bit of programming. No idea how long it took me to put it all together, but the bassline took some work, as did figuring out the harmonization. I finally settled on a single side band modulation style. it doesn't work great, but i'm still a novice programmer.

Finally, i did a "party" piece entitled Urban Tribes. What follows are the complete instructions.

"Urban Tribes"
for Dancers, Drummers, Warriors, and Disklavier, and 4 mics. PD Patch is included.

There are three roles. 1) Dancer 2) drummer 3) warrior. the first two are self-explanatory. the third comes later (and its something we're not using this time around). There is no time limit, though a minimum of roughly 7 minutes is preferable. All percussion instruments should be "found" instruments: paint cans, paint buckets, sand pails, trash cans, kettles, oil drums, chairs, break drums, car doors, etc. All instruments are beaters are to be strewn in the performance area. The disklavier (or synthesizer) is triggered by a pd patch controlled by 4 microphones. the 4 microphones should be placed at the parameters of the performance space. Each member of a tribe should wear something to identify them as a member of the tribe.

1) at the start of the piece, the first "leader" yells "Let's go!" At that point everyone stops whatever they were doing and bum rush the stage. Drummers grab a bucket, can, or whatever. Dancers run to the middle of the stage and get set for fun. Whoever ends up with the biggest drum is the drum leader.

2) Start up a drum circle! if you've never done one, the basic idea is everyone gets together going on the steady beat the leader starts. the leader then sets a basic ground rhythm and everyone else moves in and out, sometimes soloing, sometimes playing with the leader, or sometimes syncing into smaller groups.

Dancers, start dancing

Warriors are hidden as drummers to begin

3) everyone minute and a half to three minutes the current leader yells "SWITCH!" at that point everyone drops their instrument and grabs new instruments. OR people can change their role from dummer to dancer. Warriors are fixed and are to remain in "hiding" until needed. One big key is that the beat must NEVER stop. A new leader is crowned by whomever ends up with the biggest drum.

4) everything is a drum. use everything that happens to be around you, even other people if necessary, to keep the beat moving!

5) Separate Tribes. if a large amount of people are participating in the piece (30+), they can be separated into separate tribes. One tribe would begin the piece as normal and the second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc) would gather in separate areas. once the piece begins, All tribes are considered hostile. The point is for each tribe to try and take control. There are several ways to do this. A) The tribes can try and steal unused percussion instruments to start their own competing drum circle. B) Tribes can steal instruments being used from other tribes and start a drum circle. C) Tribes can sneak into a drum circle and try and completely throw off the groove, make changes, or even prevent other people from playing. D) get members to defect from one tribe to another.

The main goal of each tribe is to be the most important tribe with the largest circle and most dancers. This can become full contact. that is perfectly allowed. whoever is the largest, loudest, and strongest group at the end of the piece wins.

Warriors job is to prevent any hostile takeovers, theft of instruments etc. The warriors should stay hidden until an attack. Warriors should also be the ones doing the attacking, taking drums, getting people to defect, and generally causing havoc.

6) the disklavier is a commentator, completely unaware of the reality of the situation, but somehow thinking it is qualified to tell us all about it.

Feel free to perform the piece as you wish, just e-mail to get the PD patch. it's a simple bit of programming, and you'll need something with 4 mic inputs as your ADC. I used a Digi 02. Yeah, that was a crazy piece. We had like 20 people jumping around on stage just getting crazy till i yelled "It's the fuzz!" I even made up a song when the digi 02 crashed and i had to restart the whole computer (LAME!).

On top of that, i submitted my opera as my masters thesis, got it approved, and, supposedly, i've graduated. I guess. Haven't officially heard anything. So, yeah, have a masters, fat lot of good it does me. lol. Anyway, that's about it. I'll prolly update again in 10 months or something!

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