So, it's been a long time mr. blog. sorry bout that.

Anyway, i'm not sure what to write about at the moment. how's about, talking about teaching. yeah! we'll do that.

Met with my mentee on friday. as always, it was a good experience. I treat this "relationship" not as a student/teacher relationship but as a "let's hang out and talk about music for awhile. and if you have questions or want some feedback, i'll speak my mind." i generally speak my mind though. heh.

Anyway, it was a good conversation. Love working with this guy because it's, well, "easy." lol. easy might not be the right word. He always has questions. Always wants to hear ideas. Usually, before i say anything, he's asking me "what about this section." or "i'm not really please with this. what would you do to make it better?" talk about a dream "student." LOL. I do my best to try and work within his style. he's in a "free tonality" phase of working, mainly. His interest is very much in modalities and other more far reaching tonal ideas, but still very much within functional harmony. absolutely nothing wrong with that at all, especially since he finds interesting ways of presenting the material.

In fact, he asked me about one section. he wasnt sure if the clarinet could pull this off, and wasn't sure what else to add. So we talked about the limitations of the instrument (running 16ths for, oh, 9 measures, is a bit long. they do need to breathe. might as well decide what notes will be lost. lol) and in talking about what to add, i did a lot of "well, what's most important? what's going on in the line?" we sketched out an "order of importance" map for the piece. (it was mainly about exploring harmonic relationships.) We then talked about ways that some of the lesser parts (timbre, for instance) could be used as ways to bring out the main part (orchestrational changes to help show a harmonic change, that kind of thing).

and he has a lot to say, musically speaking. Sometimes, almost too much. it seems like my job is more of "WHOA, hold up a bit!" than so many ideas. all over the place. he came to me with what appeared to be a 10 part form. for...a 2.5 minute piece. lol.

so, i mentioned that, first, let the piece be as long as it needed to be. if it's longer than 2.5 minutes, then you'll just get that much recorded (they are recording the pieces. which is awesome). secondly, you might want to step back and look at what you have. there is a TON here! and you've only done 3/10 of the piece! he then said "well, i know developing ideas is a weaker point for me. How do you develop ideas?"

Oh man, was i not ready for that one. i stopped for a minute and said "ok...this...is going to be a long conversation...let me use the bathroom first." LOL. well, after i told the computer to bring up Grooveshark. to listen to


No matter how much music i study, when i think of general development ideas, no one shows it off in such a clear way as Beethoven to me. so, we started up "what's music made of?" then into the specific terms "fragmentation, diminution, etc" all the while i'm popping up bits of Beethoven's 5th. we had a great conversation, i pulled in another passing DMA student to help me clarify the difference between "motive" and "melody" (always a tricky one for me but my friend put it quite well...and i won't misquote him right now, so you'll have to live in suspense.)

trying to sum up ways of development, and continuously saying "ya know, they normally do a bunch of these at once." and "these terms apply to multiple things...you can do diminution on all sorts of music ideas" and so on. took me back a bit to my first "formal" composition study, winter term '05 with James A. Beckel. and we worked on, mostly, development of ideas. basically a solid month, two meetings a week, for a couple hours at a time. it was a lot of fun. and, tonight, as i went through my external drive grabbing sound samples from my archive, i found that piece...and listened to it. and it was, most definitely, a study in development. with a horrible horrible melody. thankfully, i spent 8/10 of the piece developing it. lol.

it was a good conversation, but hard. there's a lot to development, and the art/craft of taking a melody and turning it into something else is quite difficult. I know that the professor has given them several assignments on it, and i help him with it as much as i can. but he has so many ideas...i remember those days

i heard music in my head this week. it's been...a long time. but, it was muted...very muted. it wasn't even the full parts. it was more like me singing it. and i could shut it off, just took me shouting, in my head, "stop, stop, stop" and then it did. It was some pop song, i can't even remember which. lame.

in other news, i went shopping. and there is ice cream. makes me happy.

and nothing seems to fix my audio monitors. makes me sad...tired of hearing the voices, especially on a clear night. blech. so freaking loud!!!


public forums

I often think of what i should put here. What should be personal? how much of my art is personal? quite a bit, after all. I'm putting myself out there with every piece. Sometimes, explaining them...well...it's like doing an interview in the dark with a voice changer, then cutting away to a newscaster that gives my name and address. lol

and, right now, there are pieces of me floating around that need that veil.

All this is just to explain why i haven't blogged about my current piece...

yeah, the premise is almost silly. but...i'm creating a dialogue. a dialogue that i think is important to me at the moment. It's why i'm performing part of it...

and, it's probably why i'm scared to finish it...

you'll just have to see/hear the piece, i guess, because this is all i shall say about it for now. Other than the title

It Was Raining


a short rant

Ok, this is a quick rant about the sales of pro-audio equipment.

First off, the majority of equipment you see walking into a Guitar Center (and even a Sam Ash) is hardly professional. Anyone using an entire low-end Peavy Set-up* does not have a professional set-up. your "Professional Tube Microphone. A Professional Behringer Condenser" is about as professional as me running in a marathon. Yes, i could run it, probably finish it...dead last.

There are uses for such things, but calling them "professional" is misleading. Then again, people claim to run professional studios when all they do is pop out unmastered demo tapes for local groups. I guess in the most literal sense, yes, this is professional. You are, in fact, getting paid to do this work, but is it professional.

So, let's say you're planning on starting up a "real professional studio" and you're off to buy gear. You think "well, buying used is fine for a lot of the gear, and can save me a bundle" so you start trolling eBay. you go to musical instruments: pro audio: microphones; wired microphones; recording condenser and you're bombarded with a couple thousand entries. And you start seeing the following things over and over: "CAD Professional Studio Condenser!" "Behringer Professional Studio Condenser!" "Professional USB Condenser."

This is not a huge dig on CAD and Behringer. They definitely have a place. I used Behringer mixers regularly for small live set-ups, like bar bands, small events and parties, etc. CAD, especially their vintage Equitek line (ie the e300), has some nice microphones. I'm not saying they are terrible mics...

It's just that you get what you pay for with pro-audio gear, and there is a reason studios have started carrying specific mics. Take the Behringer microphones and boards. They are definitely bargain priced. If you're just starting a home project studio, getting into beat making and a little rapping over top, having a Behringer mixer, with a couple Behringer mics, and, oh, let's make it complete, some Behringer Truth 2031A monitors, running into a Behringer ADC, wouldn't be a terrible set-up. But...it'll be noisy, for sure. The mics will have a definite brightness to them, with a mid scoop and a lot of proximity effect. The speakers will have a mid-scoop. And, your ADC may not be good enough to handle better than 44.1Khz 16 Bit and, may in fact, have problems with all the data you're throwing at it (especially if it's USB 2.0). ah, latency...

You can repeat this set-up however you wish. Let's say you're doing Samson, and you don't want to mess with a lot of stuff. So, you buy a G-Track USB microphone (with an extra XLR input, and a stereo headphone output) and a pair of Samson SH700 headphones, etc. You're mainly working out of Fruity Loops, and the free version of Cubase LE4 that comes with the G-Track. Is this a terrible set-up? For a beginner, not at all. It's all about getting your ideas out onto the computer.

Is it "professional?" I don't think so. Does a studio need to have Neumann's, DPA, Earthworks, Manley Labs, and maybe an old RCA 77 to be a professional studio?** Nope, not at all. Maybe you need a Neve console or at least a couple Avalon pres? Nope, not at all. Oh, and it HAS to be PRO-TOOLS (HD, of course, though most people won't think about it). Again, nope.

It's about finding the right gear for your style, in the end. Price is always a problem, so scouring for deals is fine. But, i don't like the idea of "settling" too much. My home set-up isn't amazing

Event TR5 monitors
PreSonus BlueTube
Sennheiser HD280s
Shure SM57
Oktava 219A (old 319)
Soundcraft Spirit Folio 16 (w/ 8 direct outs and inserts on all mic inputs)
MOTU Ultralite Mk II

That's not an amazing studio. The Shure was a parting gift from my old sound company, Concert Quality Sound. The Ultralite i bought in 2008 as i became desperate to do some work at home (i was borrowing mics from CQS at that point). Everything else has been e-Bay trolling. and i have reasons for all the gear. The BlueTube isn't about the tube at all, actually. It was a cost efficient way to add 2 pre-amps to my ultralite in an easy to move format. at $100 that's not bad. The cleans are clean and actually pretty decent sounding. Yeah, not Neve or Avalon, but all i want from my pre-amp is CLEAN. lol. The TR5s were just a steal at $125. Same with the Soundcraft board at $125. The Oktava was on a suggestion from my brother after i mentioned to him that i really like dark vocal tracks and using dark microphones***. So far, i like the sound, as it makes my voice not quite as grating to my own ears.

Anyway, for what i'm doing, it's a good set-up. I could use a pair of DPA mics. LOL.

anyway, i've ranted long enough. here's the ultimate tip for n00bs going and buying gear off eBay.

1) do your research on the gear. If it looks like an awesome deal, it's probably cheap to begin with and you should buy new. don't buy a used MXL, Behringer, Samson, CAD (unless vintage), Nady kinda mic. They are inexpensive to begin with, so don't take your chances on what some other guy has been doing with it. The biggest thing with them all is that they aren't sturdy, so new is definitely better.

2) if someone feels the need to put "professional" in the headline, he's either trying to cheat you, or he's an idiot

3) don't buy a USB mic if you're serious about it. If it's for a 10 y/o and they want to play and sing and do podcasts, that's fine. if it's to do some home project studio work, get an interface. there are inexpensive good ones (like the Presonus AudioBox.).

4) don't buy into the hype of any given program. Test them out (you can get trials of most of them) and see what one you like. You may find yourself wanting different programs for different things. Case and point, i have Logic and Ableton Live, Pd, Spear, Peak, and a host of others. and i use each one for semi-specific things.

5) did i mention do your research? there are a lot of interesting mic companies out now: Charter Oak, Chameleon Labs, Cascade, sE Electronics: that seem to make well-reviewed products for a bit less money than the mint you pay for a Neumann or DPA microphone.

end rant. time for coffee and class. AH, in 30 minutes!!!

*There is some good Peavy gear. The Black Widow loaded speakers are pretty good. and, surprisingly, their line array has gotten really good reviews. Still, i seriously doubt it compares to, say, a Meyer or L-Acoustics rig. Probably not even a JBL rig.

**without even naming mics, other than the RCA, i can tell you that microphone set-up, new, is going to set you back at LEAST $15K, i'd guess. The DPA and RCA mic could cost you about $10K by themselves...

***I generally think of dark sound coming from the low-mids and mids. I generally like a high end roll-off, actually, on my vocals as well. dark dark dark dark. LOL


those troubling students

Working with CITS has been an interesting experience. First off, trying to find time in an hour to see about 10 different compositions is incredibly challenging. Also, just how many different experiences i can get in that brief hour (actually, it's 50 minutes. lol)

I am really amazed at the level of creativity paired with the level of laziness i see in the group. It's frustrating, to say the least. They'll kinda loosely jot down something...that almost looks like western notation, but with the stems going the wrong way, no dynamics, durations being quite relative. heh. And then, the student will play it and, boom, makes sense.

Still, here's a run-down of some of the commonalities i am seeing in these young composers

--fear of rests.

--repetition (direct and possibly changed by octave)

--homophonic part writing (single melody, sometimes with accompaniment, sometimes harmonized in thirds, but always exactly together)

--performance vs. notation (playing only one sharp, but writing in two; playing more dynamics than written; not playing written dynamics, etc)

-- lots of ideas

--"i don't want to write it down" (i have heard this way too many times. lol. to me it sounds of laziness or insecurity in their own skills as far as transcribing their ideas).

--"I don't know what to write" (i believe this is related to the above, mostly thinking they CAN'T write. they actually do have ideas up there, lots of them, just have to coax them out)

--"But does it sound good" (there's a general fear in this age group of rejection, and they seek peer acceptance. So, "does it sound good?" is certainly a social statement more than anything. if you talk to them one on one they will say "Well, i like it!" I try to stress that is most important.)

some of the problems i attribute to age and practice. one must practice notation, just as one practices anything else. I still get my stems going the wrong direction sometimes (i cover my tracks by suddenly writing another line on the other side, like i was THINKING two things, and so that's why the stems are doing that...mmmmmhm.) the same with the performance vs. notation. they are only in 7th grade, i don't expect them to read with perfect dynamics every time yet.

The fear or rests is inherent in a lot of music. Actually, i think fear is the wrong word. Confusion might work better. One student embraced rests, and had them throughout her composition. But what ended up happening was that it sounded like it either needed a second line with her that would play through part of the rests, or it was just a very fragmented piece. So, when to use rests?

I try to tell younger students that rests are more like accents. They focus the ear on what just happened and on what will happen. it's like a build up in a song, with a big crescendo, getting louder and louder, then suddenly, a brief silence, then BOOM, everyone enters in the loudest passage of the piece. That loud moment was made louder and more unexpected by that brief silence. The crescendo into it makes us believe that it's going to that huge loud moment. but that brief break makes the mind go "Oh man, wtf is going to happen!" it could drop to nearly inaudible dynamic levels, it could explode in cacophony. who knows!

So, i usually begin students thinking about rests as accents. The next step i usually through in is rests as breaths or sighs. It is a release after a moment of high energy in a piece. This energy can come from any number of places; harmonic tension, active rhythmic schemes, etc. Sometimes, it's nice to just stop and take a breath.

The biggest problem is probably the "I don't want to write it down." I've tried a few ways to get students past this. Questions like "how will others play it? how will you remember it in 20 years?" and then ideas like "sometimes seeing what you're hearing can give you more ideas of what to do with it." heck, even sometimes i try "well, i can't make you write it down. i gave you some good reasons [above] but, in the end, your teacher has given it to you as an assignment. if nothing else, you better get something down." I dislike that last option, but, for some students, the fear of "F" is more than fear of peer mediation. mostly i try and coax the music out of them onto the paper.

One student, in particular, is giving my trouble with this. he has tons of ideas. every time i come in, he plays me something different. this week he said "i have two ideas, and i think they'd go great together. but how would i put them together." He then proceeds to play me two short phrases.

This student has not written anything down all semester. My answer (which as truthful) "It's hard for me to come up with something off the top of my head on one hearing. If you write it down, it's easier for me to see it and hear it in my head. Then i can come up with some ideas. Just jot those two ideas down and we can work on how to get them together."

His answer was "i don't like writing them down." and i replied "I really want to help you, but i am not the kind of musician that plays by ear well. You've got a gifted ear and gifted memory. I just don't have that. If you write it down, i can come up with lots of ideas. I just need to see it."

after that he just stared off into space and started playing. It's an interesting problem. He has some definite social problems, namely missing verbal and physical cues in conversations quite often, borderline obsessive interest in specific things (for him, music), difficulty with authority, a lack of interest in socializing, and sometimes seems to go into fugue states, where he'll just start playing and be completely in his own world.

Ok, fugue start is far to harsh of a term for what happens. its not like he forgets who is, wanders around the school, and comes up with a new identity, and then his memories come back in a flash. lol. it actually reminds me almost of a complex partial seizure, where he gets stuck in a bit of a repetition and spaces out doing it. his teacher thinks he has symptoms of Asperger's. I agree with that in some sense, but i'm not professional, and i don't see him every day.

Did you know that they think Mozart may have had Asperger's Syndrome? seriously, i had no idea until i looked up some more info (one student has been diagnosed with Asperger's so i was trolling info to see how i could best help her) and it was up on a couple different articles. random. Anyway, there's a single-mindedness to what this student (the one not diagnosed with anything) does. He does quite well in school, when he does his work, aces tests, and gets preoccupied. hm...sounds a lot like me in school. LOL. except i did turn in my work, i just happened to do it moments before it was due. I am merely lazy

Anyway, it's a conundrum. I'm just trying to get him to write it down. If i was any good at transcription (easily my weakest point of being a musician), i would just write it down as he plays it, and then get him to work with it after that step. Alas, it's not my forte at all, so i have to find a strategy to get him to notate something. I get the feeling like if he breaks that one barrier, he could write whatever he wants.

hm, maybe i'll address my thoughts on the other things later. This has gone on long enough. lol


best idea ever

Totally had the best idea ever. Record a rock album using giant horns, onto a wax cylinder

for pressing CDs, just do a set-up like a turntable, run it stereo, do little more than adjusting volume for the mastering, and call it good.






the pain in my leg

So, i've continued to run the general course of the piece, and it continues to not want to run along. Gargh. this thing needs done a week ago, at least, and here i am, not able to put a decent line together. it's all figured out...just needs to happen. normally i'd let it gestate for awhile, but i do not have the time for such things at the moment

The weather has turned sunnier. such things make me happy. it's been proven that sunlight helps increase serotonin levels, which generally means more happy feels. i could use them

and it allows me to wander, to walk, a little more freedom in a city i still feel like i know nothing about. I've probably traveled more of it than i ever did of NYC, but i felt NYC's soul from the moment i stepped foot off the train, heading to Brooklyn College in spring, 2007, for matriculation exams. I knew it then, what the city was. Kansas City...it's hiding itself a bit. perhaps i am too distracted

And my leg hurts. this happens when i walk more. My shoulder aches from the change in weather. my leg hurts because, for quite some time, i've had the ligaments on one side of my leg pulling a little tighter than the other side. when i look down, i have one straight foot and one foot cocked a little bit outwards. I've started stretching it again, but i don't see it helping much at the moment. I presume i probably actually really hurt it at some point and ignored it. That's how i usually was in sports. Half the time i didn't notice. Damn pain threshold...

Just ask Cory. :)

anyway, i'm going to bed or something. if it won't flow, it won't flow. I blame spending a fair amount of the weekend thinking technically. that usually does in my creative side.

as a coworker of mine once said "you can only be an expert at one thing. You may be very good at many things, but it is impossible to be an expert at more than one thing." As i get older, i get it...and i realize that when i actually have to switch my concentration fully to make it work. So, if i don't actively think about electronics, hard-core, i won't be able to do any good with them. and if i don't think about composition fully, i can't get more than the basic grunt work down. It's really sad

Anyway, to bed.



I've been feeling a bit down this week. It happens. I go through cycles just like everyone else. My current diet/level of physical activity has definitely helped me from any deep plunges lately. Plus, a nice string of good luck. Whoever out there that is trying to make my life a bit better, thank you greatly.

The biggest problem i have when i hit these funks is writing music. Basically, i'll stare at a page, unable to come up with anything. I'll run through some motions (write a line, do its transpositions, inversions, some rotational aspects, etc) and still nothing. So, i'll pop on some "tv on the internet" (hulu, or some illegal sites) and watch that for awhile. come back and try the writing thing again. then i'll throw on some music, make some sort of elaborate feeding session, try a new recipe, something like that. When i'm finished cooking and ready to eat, i'll watch another episode of whatever show i was watching before, or maybe toss on a movie. Last night, that movie was Blues Brothers. awesome. still, nothing.

Yesterday, i also tossed in driving to the mall and checking out shoe stores and trying to find a radio shack. shoes for my feet and a single stage power conditioner, outlet box, and any cable/clamps i might need to make a home-made power conditioner. Unfortunately, i failed on both accounts. Shoe shopping always sucks cause no one seems to have what i want. Vans, skater shoes, relatively plain (no skulls, no crazy colours). Colour is negotiable however, i prefer black on black (partly for professional reasons).

Anyway, i hopped on here this morning thinking i would do a nice long article on "The Death of Hearing" based upon 1)headphone listening levels, 2)accurate broadcast of music through any medium (headphones, speakers, radio. all these things change the sound. not to mention things like mic choice, mixing ability, etc). 3) the over compensation of mixers attempting to make a product that sounds alright over these mediums 4) the availability of media destroying live acoustic performances (even those coloured by PA systems), and 5) the lame attacks by the record industry to stave off sharing of music, and continuing to view the most important product created as the CD (or the iTunes mp4a up for sale.) 6) the degradation of media quality for file size-- a simple trade-off but one that people don't always realize is a bad thing, in some ways.

But, i don't feel like fleshing it out. I was actually going to flesh it out with proper citations from credible sources and send it off for a conference...however, i just don't feel like it now. Heh. yep, its the funk. I think washing my sheets would help. I'll do that today. I had meant to early in the week but got distracted. clean sheets is a joyous thing.

On that note, i'm going to shower, walk to a coffee shop with compy, maybe do some work there. Not sure i'd really need compy for this mission, but i love him so. lol. anyway, catch y'all later

oh yeah, bought my plane tickets to NYC for Electronic Music New York's International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival. I'm on the "emerging composers" concert on Aprils 13th, Levenson Recital Hall, 7pm. lol. Hopefully i can get moved up with the big boys soon. not that i'm really as good as they are, it'd just look better on the CV. lol


the perfect recording

I went to the orchestral readings at UMKC yesterday. great pieces by everyone, and great playing. something occurred to me though, watching the whole process...

From how they were playing and rehearsing it, i could tell, there won't be a "perfect run." There isn't going to be that perfect live performance recorded. it's more like a recording session...

which made me think about recording sessions. I sat through one classical session as a trombone player, at DPU doing their Symphonic Band cd. The engineer was Bruce Leek. He's a real pro, looking back at how everything was done, the micing, the runs, everything. The final product was quite amazing. Mr. Leek did a great job capturing the pieces

and putting them together...

there is where i have a problem. it's been a growing problem for me; a large philosophical quandary going back to "what is music?"

i've arrived at an answer to "what is music?" with which i am comfortable. I believe music to be a construct of an intelligent being, temporally based, organized sound (and silence), with the intent of the creator to be taken into account. it's a pretty loose definition, but one that i think can, at least, separate it from most other forms of art. Painting, for example, is not temporally based. it's CREATION is temporally based but it's presentation is not; it's static. Dance, which is temporally based, constructed by intelligent beings, and organized, does not necessarily have to have sound. therefore, it is different, as music requires sound (or silence). Theater is the rub, really. Other than pantomime (which, does not necessarily include sound, though can include non-speech style sounds), Theater shares all the above characteristics, with only that last statement giving it any difference. It's the Marcel Duchamp thinking "This is art because i say it is art! It is in an art gallery!" "but, it's a toilet!" "NO! it has a title, 'The Fountain.' Please refer to it as such."

Theater is theater because we say it is. Music is music because we say it is. Opera (and musical theater) is theater and music, because we say it is. But, is a Greek Tragedy, done in the original style with the chorus, considered music? Even though the chorus, does, on occasion, sing? What about theater that includes music, say, a serious drama that has a waltz between the two characters in it (like, say, The Glass Menagerie). Is this theatrical piece now music because it contains music?

And then there is the rub of television and film...which is the same rub i have with completely fixed media pieces (with no live performer) and with "definitive recordings of concerts." all of these share the above characteristics, except...

they are not experience temporally. Or rather, they are experienced in a FIXED temporality. As a painting is meant to be experienced the same way for generations*, music and theater is experienced differently with each production. But what of film? While it unfolds over time, it is FIXED. It does not change over time**. When you watch Pulp Fiction, it is meant to be Pulp Fiction every time. Samuel L. will say "MMM, That's One Tasty Burger!" It won't change to "MMM, that's One Tasty Chicken!" in 50 years. John Travolta will still do the twist, not the mash potato. Just as Morton Subotnick's "Silver Apples of the Moon" or Beatles "Revolution (or 1 or 9)" or Miles Davis classic recording of "So What" are not meant to change over time***. what's the difference between the 3 (or 5) pieces?

"Silver Apples" was composed 100% for the medium. The same could be said for Revolution and Revolution 9****. But what of, most specifically, "So What?" this piece was played live in concert many times in clubs by Miles. He didn't always play the exact same solo either. in fact, i'd bet be probably didn't, as that would really ruin a part of what jazz is.***** So, it becomes a "definitive recording." But is that recording the piece? is it a snapshot of the piece? What about creating a perfect recording from many different takes? The piece wasn't played through all the way, after all. It was, instead, pieced together, section by section, sometimes note for note.

so how do we define a recording then? We know, for instance, that the commercial recording style means getting one or two instruments together (say, drum set and bass) and laying down the track. then the guitars will layer on top. then, finally, the vocal track will be laid down in a totally different booth. they're recorded dry, reverb is added later to give the recording a more "live" sound. Effects are sometimes added later, such as delay and echo to a vocal track, or to the kick drum to give it a little more life. In concert, some of these things can be done. Often times the drums are gated and compressed in a similar fashion to the recording, but not always delayed and overdubbed/doubled/tripled to fatten the sound.****** Is this anything like a concert?

This brings us a bit to intent. with "Silver Apples" it was intended for the medium. so, we have the one issue of it being in a fixed temporality. I'm willing to stretch my definition******* to include "Silver Apples" even with it's fixed temporality because of the intent. Revolution is a fuzzy zone i'm going to pass over. the recording to "So What" i believe deserves to end up in a different category that the composition "So What." One is a snap shot, if you will, of one particular instance of the piece. It is frozen in time, as a reference to the composition, but, it is not itself, the piece of music. So, a recording is a reference to a piece of music, just as, say, a photograph of a painting is a reference to the painting#.

This leads me to recordings...they are references to a work. However one might do it, in a studio with commercial techniques, in a cathedral live style, doesn't matter so much. You can change it, tweak it, put it "in tune" using Melodyne or Autotune, but, in the end, it is not the actual music. It is a reference to music. It is a reference to a particular performance (or multiple performances) of a piece of music.

So "what is music?" The performance? The piece of paper with it written down? I say that music happens in the performance, not on the piece of paper. Something happens there, something i haven't been able to define to put it in my definition. There's that "human element," that bit of interpretation, the act of listening, everything around effecting what is happening. Music, in a sense, is experienced, not read, therefore, the score is not music. I haven't figured out how to word this right, how to put a handle on this part...the organic participation of people, the existence within society as a form of cultural process...it's all at once more and less than those words.

But, i can say, that music is not the recording^. The recordings of, say, Alfred Brendel playing Beethoven's Sonatas are not, in fact, his Sonatas. They are references of his Sonata. There should be no "definitive" recording at any point, as music is left up to the interpretation of the performer.#^ It's one reason i hate recording my works. They aren't my music. the listener is missing the experience of the piece.

Ya know, a lot of what i've spent the last, uh, amount of time going over is kinda "D'UH!" when you think about it. most people would agree that what you get live is so different. And yet, recordings are treated in such a special way. Brendel's recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas are "special" to a lot of people. live performances get compared to them. and yet, their creation, was not the same as a live performance (though very close, from what i've read). But, yeah...what was i saying? OH, yeah, the "putting it together" part, the overdubbing...

That part, to me, as engineer, is a different form of art all together. it's actually like creating music yourself. You're given the tools (the different recordings, your programs, your knowhow) and then you're set to create some sort of reference work of a piece. It's like doing restoration, in a way. While you're not the painter, doing restoration is an art form of its own, a sort of "sub-art" to painting. The same can be true with audio engineering, piano tuning, possibly even instrument making. While these things are not music, they have a direct impact on what becomes of music. What if the engineer decided to put the sections of a piece together in different orders? Or what about if s/he felt like transposing all the tracks, each to a different tuning!?! what about a piano tuner that decides, before a concert, to tune everything to perfect 4ths instead of current intonation practices? wow...that'd be fun!

They influence music, and their practice, their craft, if you will, is an art unto itself. the final outcome is a reference work to a piece. The creation of the reference work is artistic in nature. it is, in fact, a quasi-art, perhaps. There is discerning which recording of the section is best. how much of the ambient mics should be mixed in? how about adding reverb on a particularly dry recording done in a studio? all artistic choices that change the reference copy. does it change the piece of music? Well, it can, at which point it is no longer a reference to the music, but, instead is its own piece, more than likely intended for the specific medium, with some sort of specific "performance" instruction#^#.

So, in conclusion, a recording is NOT music, in its purest sense. it is, instead, a REFERENCE to a single occurrence of the MUSIC on the recording. There are quasi-artistic acts in the creation of a recording, however, these acts are not to create a new piece of art, but, instead, are to restore a reference to a piece of art. G'ah, philosophy SUX!!!!! #^^#**

*often times, though the definition is changing)

**unless it goes through some other processing. which, then, muddies the picture greatly

***though, with different medias, they invariable will, from scratches on the LP, to tape stretch

****though an argument can be made for Revolution either way. However, the specific guitar overdrive distortion could only be done in the studio at the exact time it was recorded...the "classic overdrive distortion pedal" didn't exist yet...since they, after all, popularized it in recording. i won't say invented, as i don't think they did.

*****After all, one of the big stylistic ideas with jazz is improvisation. the piece is meant to be different, they specifically make it that way.

******though, there is a quite a bit of mixing and matching mics now. often times the kick drum, in live contexts, will have 2 or possibly 3 mics, one inside, close to the kick head, another placed in/near the whole in the outer head, and the last being placed a foot or so away from the drum. all three mics are them mixed to create one kick drum sound. this is similar in idea to how recording is done on a kick drum.

*******it doesn't completely break my definition. It still happens in time, over time. it's just that the specific time is fixed, and the piece will be exactly the same every single time. I never say that music cannot be exactly the same every time. and, since it's intent includes it being for this fixed medium, the stretch isn't terrible. while it makes my definition a bit uncomfortable, if enjoyed as intended, at home, on a hi-fi system, then all is well...

#sorry, had to switch styles. after seven "*" i couldnt take it. Anyway, there is something i consider a huge faux-paux in comparison between art forms. People often say a recording is like a painting. However, i disagree. If it was like a painting, then, in fact, it was meant to be a recording, and not performed live. Therefore, "Silver Apples" is like a painting, however, "So What" is not. "So What" references another work, the actual composition and its live performances, and therefore is like a photo of a painting. The photo (or any other reproduction) references an original, but it is NOT the original. Just take a look at the blown up images of Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memories." It's much smaller in person...

^unless, of course, it is meant to be the recording...but we have covered this already right? no reason to rehash old news. Philosophy SUX!!!

#^another part of my definition i am still working on. I said i am comfortable with what i have now. never said it was my ideal definition. it's still lacking parts, and probably always will.

#^#that sticky subject again. If you were to play "Silver Apples" on a concert, in a concert hall, where people paid, i dunno, $10 a head to hear it, i have an issue with it. kinda like when people get uppity when i play Bach Cello Suites. It's not for trombone, after all. I agree, and i explain i do it as an exercise, not as a part of a performance. i wouldn't, personally, ever program a Cello Suite. I have seen it done, but it makes me sad. It is, in fact, against the intended medium. It changes the piece. And, on top of that, it's BORING. :)

#^^#** it bears repeating...PHILOSOPHY SUX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


take it easy, you're on the right track!

Ah, young composers, and their amazingly long lines and fantastic ideas. wait...i'm one of those composers. lol

Had another meeting with my mentee. Man, this guy has quite the staggering mind. Honestly, anyway that takes on reading ancient philosophy (partly for class and partly because he wants to) and doing "a series of exercises using all 5 forms of species counterpoint, for multiple voices" without being in a theory class is quite astounding. I never had that kind of drive. prolly never will. lol.

Anyway, we were discussing his latest assignment, a clever piece of orchestrational fun. He is to take 4 different percussion parts, two of which must used pitched instruments at some point, and create some sort of theme. Then, develop the theme not through various pitch or rhythmic invention, but through timbre. Ah, orchestration.

Oh course, he came to me with big ideas. "he's my rhythmic ideas. i think i'l use just one." there were three, and, from my basic guess, each one was about 6 or 7 measures long. Yeah a bit long. He drew out his ideas for the melody and accompanying gestures graphically (a fun way to work, i think). and went to elaborate on his ideas.

After awhile, a smile crept over my face. How many times have i done this exact thing! Here's my idea, here are 20 other ideas, each one quite long. and wonderful. and, i will say, his patterns were quite interesting. and his ideas on the melody were interesting...but...

When is there too much? it's a big question i think. I tried to lead him toward making a decision on one line to follow. Then, i offered the simple advice "do a bit less, work within the confines of the idea, and keep it simple."

I think one of the biggest challenges in composition is limiting oneself. It's easy to come up with great ideas...well...easier to come up with great ideas than start with one and turn it into something more. This invention, this development of idea is what separates the greats, ranging through time, from the wannabes. It's why we remember Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg. they new how to do more with a little.

And it's something i struggle with everyday i composer. My last piece, 6 Pieces After Basho, was a giant exercise in restraint. I had limited resources (not quite a full band instrumentation), limited abilities (it was for a HS band playing right around grade 3 literature, not a "dream group."), and decided to limit myself in time (each movement being 1 minute, except the last which went 2, but it's really in two 1 minute parts) and in content (working mainly with 0 2 5, 0 1 5, and 0 2 7 trichords, mostly in inversion). and, honestly, i'm not sure each movement does stand alone perfectly. However, as a whole, the piece, i think, is pretty successful. Maybe not a masterwork, but a pretty good piece. Restraint does wonderful things. And figuring out invention using limited materials can really lead to great things.

My mentee is a quick learner...I pointed out that his first rhythmic idea can really be broken down into two separate ideas, and the rest of it is based almost fully on it. He wasn't sure what i meant, but i illustrated that the first two groupings (3 3 2 and 3 2 2) really made up the whole line (i believe it was 3 3 2 3 2 2 2 3 3 3 2 2 2, though this was about 8 hours ago he showed it to me). So, take the basic units, 3+3+2 and 3+2+2 and create the ideas out of that.

Then, we came to the big part. The professor had given two pages of a piece he had written for percussion quartet as an illustration. I pointed out one other thing. "ya know, it seems like you're thinking of continuous rhythm and lines...what about silence?" we started talking about this and that, and he told me a story about his marching band days when, while playing in the pit (he plays bassoon, which is conducive to marching band. i should tell him about the bassoon solo i once saw in a marching band competition...). they were doing music from Wizard of Oz and the first song was Over the Rainbow (of course). afterwards there was silence, then...BOOM, the percussion erupt into the tornado! He said everyone was surprised and he got a reputation for being the guy that leapt into the air at the gong and really beat the heck outta it.

And i smiled...and looked at him, and said "why was it effective?" and he laughed. "Oh wow, and we came back to it! Because it came from nothing!"

exactly! Silence is a large part of music, and something that is easy to forget about. There doesn't need to be constant motion. in fact, constant motion can wear down the ears. it creates expectation of sound. and music is at least in part playing with expectations. I could go on and on regarding this topic, as it's an interesting psychological/philosophical discussion in what we get out of music, but, suffice it to say, that when you know what's going to happen, every time, it can get boring. When you never know what's going to happen, you're going to stop paying attention. It's about finding the middle ground, fulfilling and denying expectation

and, on that note, i'm going to sleep. "lessons" are a lot of fun, especially since it happens in the afternoon on a day i don't have anything, so we just kinda sit around and talk till we're tired of talking. It generally seems to go a couple hours. lol. maybe not always productive time, but, i guess as long as we're both learning, then it is productive, on some level. Ah, sleep

Oh yeah, i finished my meta-sonnet. I shall post it and a discussion of it later...