the scariest thing that has ever happened to me

Thursday, 11:35am: after a morning filled with work and drafting out my ideas for my latest piece, i decide it's time for shower and food. I shut down all the programs on my macbook pro, close the lid, and let the tough little guy sleep. he works ever so hard!

Thursday, 12:46pm: having showered and eaten a light lunch -- a turkey sandwich-- i move back to my computer to quickly type up my proposal for my pedagogy of composition class. I pop open the lid, and there is nothing...just black greets me, with the light on...

I assume the poor guy froze. it happens occasionally. not too often, but once every month or so, it'll just nod off too far. So, i do a hard restart.

screen is still black...I wait patiently for the some sign of life. I hear the hard-drive spinning, all the normal boot-up noises. after a couple minutes, i check controls. Caps Lock light comes on, sound works, number lock comes on. i do the next logical step, which is plug in my Samsung monitor. it remains black.

I restart my computer again thinking, perhaps, if something was up, i'd have to restart the computer for it to register the second screen. After the reboot, nothing...

well, i'm not a mac pro. If this was a PC desktop, i'd fix this in about how long it takes me to drive to Best Buy or wherever and buy a new video card. Yep, my "amazing skills" deduced video chip death.

On a macbook pro, that's a huge problem. Unlike PCs towers, the chip isn't separate. Oh no, it's apart of the logic board. and you can't actually replace the chip, you have to replace the board...

I was terrified...I had a feeling, $700, $800 maybe, down the tube. hell, maybe more, since that'd prolly cover the parts...maybe...

Thursday, 1:45pm- troubleshooting and panic session over, i toss my computer into my bad and run to the nearest apple store. i couldn't make an appointment, obviously, so i just drove there and hoped they could squeeze me in. Luckily, they had a spot at 3. I'm cutting it close to class at that point, but it's worth it. I go to starbucks, have some terrible coffee, and return at...

Thursday, 2:55- i check in and wait. The Genius approaches me, and, he runs it through the "proper diagnostics" even though after i told him how i troubleshot it, he knew. Turns out, nVidia shipped a bunch of chips with crappy pins. this was music to my ears. why?

because that means, there HAD to be a product recall/free replacement plan in place. Apple always does such things. it's one of their redeeming qualities --and trust me, i'm not an Appleophile, at all. the iPad is RETARDED-- sure enough, he checks out some stuff, and it's covered, 100% free repair. BOOYAH!

then the bad news. we're backed up in house. got about 25 towers back there, can't send them out. If we do it in house, it's 7-10 days. we can send it to a central repair facility nearby and have it done in 4-6 days. Well, 4-6 isn't terrible, so, sure, why not...

AH, this is a partial repair. to do it there, they HAVE to run a full diagnostic on site. and if there is ANYTHING wrong, they fix it.

a couple things run through my head: "Man, i need a new Hard-drive in there soon...shit, they might flip it!" "shit, i think i have a loose wire running from my video to my screen. SHIT they might do something scary like replace the screen!"

those things...would not be free. So, i was staring a "send it to central, have it back faster, but possibly cost me a LOT of money and lose ALL my data (since they don't do backup/recovery without paying for it UPFRONT)" or "wait 7-10 days and know they won't touch anything else without talking to me"

well, it was a simple choice...take the chance! lol. ok, not really. i hadn't decided at that point, but i knew i better go back-up a bunch of files anyway. ya never know what'll happen when someone opens up a laptop. i don't trust these things --but i LOVE you compy!!!-- and you sign a disclaimer saying "it's not apple's fault if your hard-drive is wiped." I take the case sheet, saying it'll be free, and run away to class

Thursday, 4pm. I wander in, just in time for class. As i look around, the head professor isn't there so, i ask "who wants to let me borrow their computer?!?" basically, i just needed to restart my computer in target disk mode while having it hooked up to another computer. Then, drag and drop the files i "need" from my computer to my external hard-drive. That's when i was reminded that there IS a computer over here, and over here, and in that room there, and you could use any of those...I then sat through class, somewhat distracted, thinking instead about what files i'm going to save, just in case, and wondering if i can do a disk image

Thursday, 7:15pm: class is over, and i've run home and come back with my external drive. sure enough, you have to be able to see your screen to do it. bugger...i transfered over files, sat and spoke with a new good friend who was printing out materials to send to competitions. for a random moment, my screen pops on! I freak out and ask my friend if he has his Mac OS 10.5 disk on him! and yes, he's a big enough geek, like me, where this might have happened. He didn't, sadly, so as i stare at a screen that i know will soon be dark, i feel sad...here was my chance for a disk image, and no one had an OS disk! lol

Thursday, 9:00pm: I return home, exhausted. screen went black again. I realized that i hadn't actually eaten since lunch at noon. I had a throbbing headache. I forced down a bean burrito, let out a big and crashed soon after. don't ask me the time, my brain was dead

Friday, 8:15am: I wake up, turn on my computer, hoping for a bit of a miracle. My friend was bringing his OS disk to class in the morning, and if my screen was good, Disk Image time! no such luck, so i shower, look at my supplies, feel nauseous, and head to class. as i walk, i call the apple store, hoping to get through and set-up an appointment to drop off my poor unhappy mac

Friday 10am: pass my buddy in the hall, tell him the sad news. go into class, a bit sullen, but, again, had my head EXPLODED UPON! if i wasn't such a lazy composer, i'd prolly be a decent theorist. but that seems like it takes work. i don't like work.

Friday 11am: I leave class, head to apple. was able to score a 11:15 appointment. go, check in, and the genius grabs a couple codes of compy, and we start talking. i tell her my worries about sending it in. She says "do you have Pro-Care?" and i reply "no, i'm out of warranty and never think to buy any of the add-ons" her reply "oh, well, Pro-Care gets first priority on repairs, so if you had it, it'd move into that pro-care line." We go through the motions, get the order laid out and then i ask "how much IS pro-care?"


i sit and think for a moment...then "are you able to tell if there are any pro-care computers in, or how long, in general, would it take in house if i had pro-care?"

she clicks away for a couple minutes. stops...stares at the scream. she softly utters "wow..." She looks up at me and says "well, if you HAD pro-care...we 'd have it done today...by, 1 or 2. we'd call you at 1 and tell you if it was done or if it needed an hour."

I look at it, and say, quite quickly. "well, that's an easy choice. Best $100 i've spent this week!" i run over, cash out, while she writes up another work order form, i assume, pro-care style. I come back over with my pro-care card, and ship it off!

Friday 12pm: back at my apartment, i clean my trombone for a presentation and warm-up. an apple rep calls at 1pm and says "it'll be an hour or so. did you know you have a loose wire in your display?"

"yeah, it's in the loose joint, right?"

"uh, actually, no...i checked all those wires and everything looks good. i tightened the hinge too. actually, it appears to be in the display. we'd have to replace the whole thing, if you want it do. it's intermittent and you have to press in a one relative area"

i chuckle "ah, yeah, i know that spot...right about the hinge. why i figured it was the hinge. N'ah, it's ok. those screens are expensive. what, a grand or so? yeah, it's ok, i'll just be nice to compy."

Thursday, 2:15: compy is fixed and i pick him up. they cleaned him up nicely. i had actually just cleaned it thursday morning, but an extra round of polish is nice. the apple guy that grabbed my compy asked if i wanted the receipt. it actually shows how much it WOULD have cost. i said "yeah, sure, it'll be a good laugh and a nice reminder of how expensive fixing a mac is." so, he prints it out and hands it to me:

Logic Board: $1,155

Service, Hardware, Level: $199

HOLY SHIT! this repair would have cost me $1,354!!! HOLY SHIT! right there is enough of a reason to switch back to PC. lol. that's a whole new computer. its funny, when i showed guys (who use apple computers) the receipt they were like "damn, might as well buy a new computer. my answer "uh...mine cost $3500...it's kinda tricked out..." i can't remember the exact price. I added on a few programs when i bought it, and the total was around there. the computer was probably only $2800-$3000. still, yeah...

Two amazing pieces of luck. 1) it being a quality control issue so it was free. 2) they had the logic board IN STOCK so it could be done quickly.

it was...scary. here i am, i just bought Ableton Live so i can do this piece, all this tons of work that hadn't been backed up since i moved to KC...scary as hell. and a lot of luck. I shall be the nicest person alive for awhile, i think. Karma paid me back in spades, IMO.

life...is still good. and i am thankful


the college experience

Ok, so i'm not the "traditional" college student. never have been. Worked (on and off) through most of my college years, a little at DPU, a lot during BC, and, right now, i'm not working. it's a nice change, going back to just concentrating on school work, and, more importantly, composition. I'm really banging some stuff out.

But, in the normal college student way, i'm spending WAY too much money. lol. it's all thing i do actually kinda need, a nice microphone, a decent dual pre-amp, some monitors, headphones, and now, Ableton Live 8. i had planned on spending the money on buying Logic Studio 9, and possibly a new hard-drive, but after a lot of thinking, i realized i need a live sequencer...and Abelton has done a better job of making one than i will do making one in Pd. so, yeah...

Anyway, i'm going to talk about Monday. i know it was awhile ago, but i'm supposed to journal my teaching experiences, so i better journal them! lol.

My mentee came in with an assignment from composition class. A nice counterpoint exercise, taking a melody, set in a string quartet, and changing it little bit by little bit till all four lines are completely different, after, i believe 25 measures or so. As with many young composers, he jumped right in...

and after 2 measures, did his first change, adding harmony...

and 2 measures later he created a counterline. one that would fit quite well and had some good characteristics

2 measures late he harmonized that line

I looked at his work, and asked a simple question "where did you come up with that bass line?"

the answer, of course, "well, i'm not sure. I just really liked the sound and it harmonically works with the rest of the lines."

Ah, that wonderful thing. It's easy to say "well, it fits harmonically, therefore, it fits fine." however, this isn't always true as a rationale. being in the same tonal (or atonal) structure is certainly helpful for cohesion, but not necessary, and it doesn't always make for a nice fit.

In this instance, the line fit fine, would be quite interesting, actually. but it wasn't the point of the "assignment."

My mentee is a smart guy, a very quick study. He basically taught himself the basics of tonal harmony by reading the Kotska/Payne book. He's learning counterpoint by analyzing Bach. He is currently a Philosophy major. We are working to correct this. lol. But, he's still young. Development is the hardest thing for a young composer...ok, it's the hardest thing for ALL composers, me included. so, giving them this little technical exercise is probably a good thing.

The idea of slow evolution is always a good one. I'm using it a bit in what will be my latest piece. A movement from full stanzas, to words, to syllables, to letters...it'll be interesting.

Well, my head is pounding and i still have some work to perform before class, so, i shall go now. peace



Ok, i really need to update a bit more often. i think it's better to see multiple shorter posts than a bunch of longer ones.

yesterday, taught middle schoolers again with CITS. my main job was going over what students had and getting them to get to the next step, be it increasing one line's length, writing in the chord structure (director wants them to write in the chords after writing the melody, and not necessarily to follow a progression.), or adding in the second and third lines.

Ah, middle schoolers. there are those with about 20 measures of 3 lines done...meaning their project is basically finished. then there are those that "lose" what they've worked on every week. and others that it's just impossible to get them to do anything constructive. it's an interesting challenge going from "we've got it all done -- well, what about this and this? -- OH!" to "uh, i left it at home...err...i mean... -- so, you lost it or never started it? -- uh, well, i don't know what to write!" to "UGH! Just leave me alone. i'll do it if i want to. -- ok, it's your grade. i can't force you to take my help..."

ok, so that last bit i don't say. I think it, and say to them "I am here to help you. You know this is for a grade, and i can help you along. If you do have questions, let me know. i just want you to get something fun out of creating your own music." It's a bit nicer approach, I think.

For those students that say "I don't know what to write" i generally start with "what do you like to play?" or "what's on your iPod?". after that point, i get them talking about it. Is it fast or slow? does it have a lot of repeated notes, or repeated "licks" or does it have a lot of variation? loud/soft? all those "fundamentals of music." After getting them thinking about it (and, if possible, playing little chunks of it) they seem to start getting ideas. Then it's just the always difficult process of helping them take what they're playing/thinking about and translating it to paper.

Working with younger students, i find having them write for instruments they play, or they can hear played immediately really helps. Yes, it means that the young students pieces are "easy." but, ya know, the point of writing music isn't always to "outdo every who has written music, EVER!" or "to write something no one has ever written before." You can write music for enjoyment as well. And that's what i try and get these students to do. Write something you WANT to hear, write something you WANT to play. and once you spark that interest in writing music, then some come up and say "so, i was thinking about this, but i think i want it played by 37 french horns..." or something like that. heh.

sometimes it's baby steps. and pulling teeth. Like reminding them that, the "score" is a document so that OTHERS can play it. If i ask you to play it, and you play things not on the page, like phrasing, bowing, staccato, pizz, etc, then i will tell you "hey, you played X Y Z but it's not in the score. This is how i'd play it"

for those of you who have heard me play violin, you know just how painful that is...

also, random thing i knew and never thought about- wind players generally start with longer notes. quarter, half, and whole. string players seem to start with eighth notes and quarters. the reason why is simple- held notes mean vibrato, and vibrato is taught later. Still, it's an interesting dichotomy. it actually opens up some interesting ideas of how to write a piece for beginning full orchestra...the pedagogy is there to have some interesting ideas for a middle school piece- where string players are really just getting a handle on vibrato (if they do only public school orchestra, not lessons) and band students that are really just starting to get into more eighth notes. hm...anyway...

I also went to a great concert last night. UMKC Wind Ensemble presented what was really a timeline of music. The first piece was one that, well...It's Arvo Part.

I don't particularly like Part. His vocal pieces are nice, and he does some great timbral things, but, yeah, not my cup o' tea. The piece they played was Fratres for double woodwind quintet and 2 percussionists. The arranger needs to be fired. permanently. This piece has been arranged millions of times. originally it was string quintet and woodwind quintet, and it was a much better piece. almost like it. the string quartet version (famously recorded by Kronos Quartet) is quite nice as well. double woodwind quintet just doesn't do it for me. at all...not at all...It was performed quite admirably, especially considering some of those notes were held for incredibly lengths of time. note to composers- bassoons sustaining a note for 45 seconds is a bit mean. seriously.

the next piece was "Selections from 'The Danserye'" originally written as dance movements by Tielman Susato and arranged by Patrick Dunnigan as a quasi-dance suite. It was, again, marvelously performed - though, honestly, i felt the trombones were a bit sloppy and the percussionist in the back never quite got the feel of playing slightly ahead of the beat to match the time of the flutes and oboes up front. The piece itself was a nice illustration of Renaissance dances done as a suite for Wind Ensemble. there were some great moments in the percussion, like the use of the Lion Roar, and some nice mallet writing. Still, it's not as good as Gordon Jacobs "William Byrd Suite." First, William Byrd is AWESOME. Second Gordon Jacobs is AWESOME. lol. Sorry Susato and Dunnigan, you've got some tough competition throwing yourselves against those two. lol.

After intermission, the piece i really came to hear was presented. Lee Hartman, a recent DMA Graduate from UMKC was having his Doctoral Thesis, Concerto for Vibraphone, premiered. Honestly, it was fantastic. how the hell did i get into this program? lol. The Vibe part really did a great job showing all the different styles/effects/virtuosity of the instrument. Some of the most poignant moments for me was when the soloist, James Clanton - a BEAST of a vibraphone player!- performed with two mallets in one hand and a bow in the other. He used the two mallets to execute single note rolls and dampening while bowing other notes. It was impressive technical skill by Clanton and an amazing effect. Also, using a hard yarn mallet to strike the note and then slowly placing a brass mallet on the struck key to produce a bouncing sound and slight bending of the pitch was an amazingly effective technique. Lee really nailed it in the last movement. The ensemble and vibraphone would strike fortissimo chords in unison. However, the ensemble played a marcato eighth note while the vibe player held the pedal down. The effect you go, seeing the Clanton strike the keyboard, but only hearing the ensemble, then hearing the sustained chord appear out of the texture was quite amazing. I learned a trick or two about writing for vibraphone and for band from this piece. fantastic!

the final piece was Symphony No. 6, for Band by Vincent Persichetti. Wonderfully performed. Love the piece. Nothing i can say more than if you like band literature at all and haven't heard this, grab a recording and listen to it. Seriously. Good stuff, and the wind ensemble continued to perform at a high level, even after playing almost an hours worth of music before that moment.

The above was somewhat of an exercise in article style writing. i've been thinking about sending some samples out to do reviews and such for the local "classical" music scene and avant-garde art scene. I'm alright at it, and i plan on going to as many as possible. might as well get paid to blog about them, since i more than likely will anyway...

well, that's it for now. I may post again later tonight. Other great experiences in music worth recounting, such as todays 20th century analysis class - my academic version of crack. lol- and work on my new, yet to be titled work for voice and electronics. Also, don't think i blogged about working with my college "mentee" on monday. those are always good experiences, i think.


and then it turned into the Shroud of Turin

Ok, so before Advanced Analysis today, i was talking to a compatriot about the analysis homework. We are analyzing a Schoenberg String Quartet, going through, finding the different row forms and their meanings. Our professor had asked the class to look at a few measures, identify what forms of the row were used and why Schoenberg chose them. we were told it was "something really really cool...at least to Schoenberg at the time."

So, i compared them, found some dyad pairs that were in two measures, but the third measure was completely different, so it threw me off...then the next couple seemed to have a couple dyads in common with the first two, and some flipping in order of specific pitches, but, i just wasn't seeing much.

My friend and i were discussing this as we were walking over (after drinking coffee) and we figured the professor would lay some crazy stuff down. Our professor, honestly, is quite amazing. he really tries to find out the why's of music, not just "Oh, and here are the row forms used and when." That's what theory is all about, yes, but so often, i've never gotten to that point in the class. it's about learning the pedantic issues; identifying the row, filling out a matrix, in set theory-getting everything in prime form, identifying trichords and such...My current theory professor says "well, yeah, you need to know how to do that, but, what's the point if you can't see the relationships the composer is creating? It's not about what form of the row, but WHY is that form of the row necessary at that specific moment."

So, my friend and i were walking and basically decided that, somehow, our professor would take the row, transpose it (probably a tritone), then take the retrograde, tear it into little bits, pee on it, put it in a magic hat, say three words, and "POOF" its the Shroud of Turin.

and, ya know, we were far off...

Our Professor took the forms. we pointed out a couple pairs of matching dyads, then he pointed out "they are ALL matching pairs." Shows how much space really messes with your thinking...we noticed the pairs close together, and the pairs that started and ended, but not the ones in the middle. boo to me for not being observant. shoulda started the analysis before 11pm last night. n'ah, i still wouldn't have seen it...

Then Professor posits a rule of transposition for the row- that if you transpose it 6 away, you'll get the dyads, and if you invert it and move it + or - 3 away, you get the dyads, thereby creating 4 form clusters.

THEN he goes on to show us how the measure with the form that didn't fit (which i knew didn't fit but didn't know why) fits in with these measures over here, but instead of doing dyads in order (1-2, 3-4, 5-6) he was stacking dyads vertically between the two forms...

thus, our professor more or less did take the form, transpose it, invert it, tear it into little bits...and made the Shroud of Turin...or at least a pretty damn clear picture of how Schoenberg put together this String Quartet and many other pieces...and eluded to the fact that later composers use this quite often...

He also said that doing a 12 tone matrix can confuse us from seeing this relationships. You do the matrix, the distance starts messing with what you see. Put everything close together, right on top of each other. Dissect measure by measure, form by form, and something big will pop out. Schoenberg lays down a classic musical form: Intro-AABAAB AND the intro, which is P0, of course, acts as a "tonic" if you will, and that the A section functions like a Dominant, and B as a secondary Dominant...thus, taking atonal harmonic and melodic ideas but classic tonal structural ideas all at once...

Schoenberg is awesome. and my professor is a much more gifted theorist than i probably ever will be.

and, everyday, as i walk to class, i pass KinderMusik posters, drawings of "what is music" with bright crayons, swirls, and all different shapes...and somehow, that means a lot more to me, and i get it...completely. my professor is bridging that gap, for me, of what i hear and what is on the page. it's not just random rows without meaning, it's a lot more...but it's still not bright crayons drawing self-meaningful shapes yet...that's the theory i'm looking for...and it may be just drawing brightly coloured shapes in crayon...



ok, i'll post more tomorrow or something

i did a marathon on the last movement of Six Pieces After Basho...12 hours of work today...and i'm still going. i took a break to e-mail the director the final movement and all the audio while i finish cleaning the score...and parts. God, parts...

and, honestly...i got chills at the end. i think i wrote a real piece. who knew? i didn't...

ok, the screen is moving a lot, and i don't think it's the screen. lol...to sleep

I plan on doing a retrospective analysis of the piece, 1 movement at a time...really breaking down what i find in my own writing. it may prove interesting. and i may do some graphics or something to help out. i dunno bout that yet...i'm tired...g'night



Ok, seriously, i need one. I think i'm done, for now anyway.

here's the gear list i've purchased

Soundcraft Spirit Folio 16 (16 mic channels, 4 stereo channels, sharing 2 faders, 4 bus, 3 aux, Direct Out on the first 8 channels, one bad insert) $125

Oktava MK219 large diaphragm studio condenser $65

Presonus Blue Tube microphone pre-amp $105.75

Sennheiser MD280s- $108 (after tax)

Sony MDR-EX56LP ear plug style headphones (general listening/basic monitoring- $37

Event TR5s-$150.50

AND there is a possibility of landing a pair of Yamaha HS50s for $90 a pop. and they are in perfect working condition (i trust the guy selling me these WAY more than just about everyone else i bought from. heh)

and i still have some needs. I wasn't looking to turn this into a real project studio, but, it's turning into that. here's what i still want/need

Quad Core XLR cables (25' lengths is fine, say, about 6 of them.)

4 Gold Plated 1/4 patch cables (for the monitors...though i'd prefer only gold plating on ONE side, but that's beyond the point...fusing issues, basically)

mic stands (all preferably boom style)

Pop Filter (preferably metal, though i'll prolly end up with a mesh one)

1 vocal tube microphone (haven't decided on any brand yet. keeping my options open)

a matched pair of pencil condensers (Oktava 012s with all capsules is my preference here)

1 stereo ribbon mic (ok, this is just insane. lol. i'd love Royer SF-24, but i'd take a Cascade X-15, if it sounds good.)

1 cardioid ribbon mic (Beyer Dynamic M500. period. i will get one, someday)

1 vintage microphone (a Shure 55 would be cool, or an RCA ribbon style mic- which would be insanely expensive)

anyway, as you can see, i've spent about $550 already. WTH?!?!? this is really bad...seriously...AND the cables and a mic stand or 2 i HAVE to have. i can do without the other mics, and the pop filter. at least for now, on the pop filter. Once i start the trip-hop album i'll need it to record the vocals.

Still, this is all quite insane. i'm NOT a real recording engineer. this money is definitely NOT a waste, that's for sure, but, yeah...it's just expedites the whole "get a job" thing. as in, as soon as i get back from NYC in april, i will HAVE to get one, i think...if not find a way to make some money before that.

anyway, as for MUSIC! oh yeah, i'm a composer. sometimes, i forget these things.

6 Pieces After Basho is almost finished. I took the afternoon off to, um...spend a lot of money...but i hope to finish tonight. hopefully i can get to Nevada for the performance, or maybe convince the Wind Ensemble director here to give them a reading. that'd be pretty cool.

movement 5 is incredibly simple and probably the hardest piece to perform in the lot. in fact, it IS the hardest to perform. it basically comprises of 3 notes, F, Eb, and E. these notes are passed around the woodwinds until the brass enter...HUMMING. yep, humming. Dissonance. there are some other notes, in the high Vibraphone and the orchestra bells, but they are cursory. really, i just put them there so that there'd be a bit more going on. I REALLY can't wait to hear this movement performed. I think, if done well, it'll send chills down everyone's spine. what i hear in my head does it to me.

as for the last movement, it's a lot more traditional. very traditional. lots of doublings. only a few different lines going on. might use the timpani even. lol. The end will be fun, as i've decided to do some canonic writing. it may end up just being imitative counterpoint, but i might turn it into a real canon. I'm going to avoid going full blown fugue because 1) i don't think there's time for it to develop and 2) that'd be a bit too hard to follow really. it's not an easy form to play, at all.

anyway, this is a long post. I haven't posted in quite some time. Sorry about that. life got in the way a bit. I'll try to post regularly again, but there's a good chance this slows down to once every few days. heh. i knew i couldn't keep up everyday. however, the eating meals at home part is still going quite well!



Ok, i don't know specifically what i'm doing this summer, but there's one thing i want to do...

put out a trip-hop/hardcore album.

i need a break from "contemporary classical" or whatever you want to call it. i need to rock out.

record vocals with a vintage shure 55

spend time creating sonic textures from recorded sounds

and put out an "pop" album and see if anyone likes it.

there all things we need to do. mine is change it up...it's hard writing "contemporary classical" when it's all i see and hear. I'm used to doing concerts. it's weird not having that.

and when i hear Portishead followed by Rise Against! followed by Bjork followed by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, i end up wanting to do an album like them. there's so much energy there, so my feeling

my music still lacks that in the "CC" form...it's not expressing me yet. and sometimes i wonder if i even can...


well first i had some toast...

Ok, so i didn't do much today really. i went shopping, ate out for lunch, felt like CRAP afterwards, went to pedagogy of composition, and went to a concert.

Pedagogy of composition is so awesome. i love it. that's all i got right now on that subject. lol. we're talking about assessment. and we went over our syllabi in class. it's funny, the head prof actually said "you're going to be great in an institution, writing rules and such. i bet you'll end up on every committee." lol. i followed that up by saying "you should see my lesson plans, when i write them. they actually follow MENC format!"

after class i went to a concert, the first Musica Nova concert of the semester. I take issue slightly with the name, but it's been at UMKC longer than i have, so there's little i can say. lol. I'd just like something cooler sounding like "Death Whalers" or "Alliance for the Federation of Contemporary Musical Literature" (aka AFCML) or something like that. Musica Nova sounds so...old...this from a guy who's myspace is musicaimprovica. LOL.

It was a good concert. the performers here are top notch. it's the first time i've heard any of them in a solo or chamber setting, and i was beyond impressed. really makes me feel even more that this was a great choice. the guest composer was Alvin Singleton. I found his pieces to be very interesting studies. not quite my cup of tea, but very interesting, a lot of good work. I actually like his piece for solo snare drum the most. Definitely worth playing, for all those percussionists that read my blog. (HA!)

I was probably most impressed with the piece by Asha Srinivasa. I had been hearing a lot about the piece (i know a guy who knows her...pretty well...i mean, they ARE married, after all. lol) and Asha as a composer, so i was interested to hear a piece live. It was quite well done. I was quite expressive, but not in a schamltzy neo-romantic way. I quite liked it

and now, i'm going to lay down to sleep, or something similar in thought. I might bring a piece to a MC with Alvin Singleton and this amazing pianist Teresa McCollough. or i might just sit and learn a thing or two. or 50...



Ok, what time is it? i don't even know.

I won one auction the last 4 days of bidding. one! but it was a good one. scored an Oktava 219A for $65 after shipping. can't beat that. now i have one of the vocal mics i need for my trip-hop album.

I also kicked a little ass in the composition world today. I really put my head down and plowed through 11/12 of the 4th movement. gotta finish a few measures, decide if i'm going to make this movement a little longer, make sure i have all my markings in, and BOOM. should be done tomorrow afternoon. too tired to keep it up tonight.

I read a great article sent to me by a friend. here's a link


It's pretty straight forward and i agree with it 100%. i HATE being asked "is that what you wanted" after someone plays a passage. play it like it's written, interpret it as you will, and if i totally hate it, i'll probably tell you and come up and change the score. otherwise, have confidence, and PLAY IT!

I get tired of "you have to play this piece THIS way" as a mentality anyway. a musicians job is to interpret what's on the page. There is no "definitive recording," there is no "perfect way to play something." period. end of story. are there completely wrong ways to do it? yes. tons. and its a performers job to know what's appropriate and what isn't. But it doesn't mean we should all play pieces in the exact same way. There's already a recording for that snapshot of the piece. be an artist, make it moving.

I dunno about other composers, but it's certainly how i feel.

I'm still hoping to get a pair of monitors. I tried for a pair of Yamaha MSP5s today, but they jacked up in price like crazy in that last minute. oh well. i'll save the money, maybe buy some Rokits off a friend in Indiana.

And this movement is gonna be sweet. i really think so. just like Holst's 1st Sweet. yep, it's like drinking simple syrup baby! lol. oh man, i'm getting delirious.

on other news, i've decided to write a concerto for:



finished mvt III. it was nice to finally have it done

I followed through on the plan, melody, high WW play a note, it gets passed to low brass, the melody has that note taken away.

worked out quite well. I varied a bit, at the end, to create a sense of finalization, playing around with an [ 0 2 5 ]. it appears mostly as a m3 M2 order, but occasionally i switch it up. there's actually a great deal of [ 0 2 5 ] in the piece, which is funny, because it is, primarily, modal. yep, it's written in dorian mode and my main chord revolves around playing with m3rds, M2nds, and P4ths. fun times.

Oh, the whole piece is in Bb but i run through the modes. Though, really, it's hard to tell the main tonal center. I set out to do mvt. III in dorian mode, but it kinda ran into myxolydian quite a bit. happens

anyway, onto 4, which i've swapped places with 5. lol. a nice trumpet fanfare to start, i think. lol.

it's really cold here. really really cold. kinda sucks.

and i have yet to successfully snipe an auction. lol. i have doubts i'll be able to pull it off. I'll prolly just haggle like crazy at a store and see what happens

dippermouth blues

Sorry if anyone expected a post about Louis Armstrong. that's not it

Watched the Superbowl. The Saints really did play a better game. I got a little tired of the coverage though. Yes, i get it already. a little more unbiased coverage definitely would have been nice. and, no, i don't think there was bad officiating. Manning blew it when he threw the pick.

other than that i spent the day feverishly composing. I hit gold on a melody and started going. I took a break, saved it, did some things- namely transfer over some old audio files from way back. Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. fun set of discs! and i should have dug them out earlier for listening. Anyway, I came back, tried to load the piece

corrupted file

Yep, dunno how, but it was a goner. And...for the first time in quite awhile, i had nothing more than a melody and some sketches of how the accompaniment would go in my handwritten sheets.

i just spent an hour or so recreating it. the voice leading is different...worse, i think...bugger

Well, i got it back to where it was, from memory, as best i could. and i started going on...if i hadn't lost that hour, i'd prolly be done.

as is, i'm too tired. bugger. I'll finish tomorrow and ATTACK mvt IV with a vengeance with an eye toward finishing tuesday night. Yep, setting some high goals on this one. it happens occasionally.

also, didn't get the TR6s or TR8s. Still hoping for the CAD e300. i put a bid in on a pair of Mackie MR8s. again, not what i'm really looking for, but they will do. I also have a bid in on an H2 recorded for $70. if it works, it's worth it for halfprice man. lol



Great successes come from many failures

I bid on some gear today. i did not get the pair of Event TR8s. i don't particularly like those monitors, but it was such a good deal that i bid anyway. for $200+shipping i would buy them. more than that, hell no. but that's just my preference

And at the suggestion of my brother, i bid on a CAD E300. i've never used the mic, but he suggested it, especially at the price. It's one of the older Equitek CADs, which is actually why my brother was able to convince me. I really dislike the new CADs, though i've never used the equitek gear. I knew the smaller ones were electrets, not true condensers, and that was about all i knew. My bro said the E300 is worth it, especially if i can get it for under $200. From the looks of it, when the E300 came out, it went for £699. at least that's what a review from '97 says for the list.

I've also put a bid on an Oktava 219Mod. i wasn't planning on bidding on it, but since it's running cheaper than the standard 219 and 319, why not? i probably won't get it. anyway, i haven't even met the reserve yet. lol.

and now...i'm done on here. I've been drinking coffee so i'm not tired...but...i dunno what i'll do...eh, whatever. no worries



Helped with KcEMA's concert tonight. It was a good experience. there was some really cool stuff there. I like Paul Rudy's piece the best. yeah, a bit biased, but it was the most well done piece, in my estimation.

One of the things i've noticed is people get stuck on certain things...like "this video all about going through these 6 filters and using still images taken from video..." ok, cool...not for an hour plus. that's boring. I get it. 20 minutes, that's fine. 40 minutes, starting to hurt, an HOUR, that's a no go. the guys in KcEMA are smart though, did excerpts of it and split it up with another video. very good planning on that one

In other news, i might have thrown out the entire third movement. maybe. It's just not jiving. I'm reaching an impasse, i think...a moment of "this is what i want to do with it...but it sounds like shit." So, i shall spend the weekend really focusing and working hard, getting it sorted out. I want 2 movements done by wednesday. I think it's doable. there is time

and i need to go buy an antenna for my tv, so maybe i can watch this superbowl thing. maybe. or i'll just have a friend text me results. lol. i am NOT going a bar, that's for damn sure. maybe someone is throwing a superbowl party in town. though, the guys i'm hanging with don't seem to be sports fans. lol. it hasn't come up in conversation much though. i could be entirely wrong and there's a giant party i could go to. lol



So...i was going to go to bed early tonight. guess that failed.

Gonna go to the KcEMA concert tomorrow night. pretty excited. maybe i will head up toward downtown to check out first friday festivities as well.

Oh, yeah, this is a music blog...Um...I like music?

Pedagogy of Composition continues to rock my face off. soon, i shall have a "mentee" a younger college student in need of guidance...or something. lol. that will be good.

I'm too tired to discuss all the wonders of Ped of Comp tonight. we played a game called "Methodologies Survivor's Island." It was fun. i didn't win, which made me sad, because i thought i had the best 2. lol.

i have things on my mind...that aren't about music at the moment. This job i'm creating for myself in town...i dunno...it could be cool, or it could kill me. And possibly working out some sort of teaching gig? maybe...i dunno...

I really like it here so far. KC kinda rocks...but...i dunno...an uneasiness has fallen over me tonight. i think i just want too much out of life...or maybe i'm terrified of money. quite likely. yep....

it's time to sleep. shit, it's 1am here...i have class in the morning. bad idea...



importance of what we do

First off, let me say i love workshop. i really do.

Still...it has been brought up that i'm spending too much time on this grade 2.5-3 HS band piece and that i should get it out of the way so i could write what i want. It seems that they do not believe me when i say i WANT to write the piece and that i find it incredibly important.

I do think some great things were said. My piece has a certain transparency in its orchestration. Almost all of my pieces have had that. I don't like "and everyone together now!" especially in band.

especially especially in band.


because too much of band is like that, especially at the lower level. Yeah, in college, a proficient wind ensemble could do some amazing things. But in HS, it seems, composers are happy to create 4 or 5 lines, maybe 6, and call it a day, and double the hell out of it. I find that ANNOYING. i've got (in this piece) at least 10 non-percussion lines. and, yes, i do a fair amount of doubling. But, i find it disgraceful to think that just because a piece is grade 2.5 and therefore "medium easy" i can't have transparent orchestration. I still have tutti moments. I still have "all together now!". the last bit of this movement is going to be a chorale, and while i had originally planned on holding back somewhat in my forces and doing it as a WW feature with a LB pedal chord, i've decided to put everyone into the chorale. Still...still...

It's this kind of thinking that creates boring, lame, run of the mill, weak, unpedagogical pieces. now, there is nothing wrong with writing an entertaining piece, if that is its purpose. and there are many things to learn from well written entertaining pieces. But is, essentially, a 4 part homophonic sound really entertaining? i don't think so...i never did.

I think of some of the really cool, not so hard to play pieces. Percy Grainger did some great pieces, done in what he called "Elastic Scoring." here's a link to a page with a quote from Grainger explaining it.


He did several piece this way. Yes, the one i played was Grade 4, but the overall language of the piece was a bit more challenging than mine, with a lot more counterpoint. a lot more counterpoint. and no, i'm not talking about Lincolnshire Posey. Can't remember which piece. oh well.

Anyway, teaching students to stand up and play out is important. forcing sections to play something a bit harder, even if its just 3 or 4 bars, is good. "hey, baritones. check out those 4 bars in Mvt. 2. practice those 4 bars. the rest is pretty easy, ya?" "ya" "perfect, learn those 4 bars!" that's a lot more doable then "Hey, baritones. i know you usually play half notes, but this guy just wrote a TON of 16th notes for ya. have fun!"

I also find it interesting that i meet a lot of resistance when i write moderately complex rhythmic passages and say "yeah, that's easy for a band." seriously...i've played in band...as long as it's spelled out well and not really crazy (not like i'm doing 5s or 7s or something, just entering on 2 in a slow 6/8) a band can handle it. I mean...if a band can handle playing in more difficult meters, then a syncopated rhythm won't kill them. I remember learning syncopated rhythms in band starting my first year...maybe within the first couple months.

Anyway, the main thing is, I find this work important. very important. Kids don't have enough "good works" to play. Am i writing some magical work that will get picked up and played all over the country? i doubt it...but am i writing something that can at least be incredibly meaningful to a group of 30 kids? most definitely. and if walking into a class and telling 30 kids who normally get to play whatever Hal Leonard has on sale that year, that they have a piece written especially for them, and i tried to make it was awesome as i could...well....

those 30 kids may remember it their whole life. and maybe they'll learn something about music too...

and isn't that worth taking the time to make it amazing?


helping out at the MS was great today. It's hard describing development ideas with a handout or a white board or anything. The best way? Force the kids to do silly things. Yep, i took a few kids made them line up, and moved them around. heck, even joked that one should do a handstand. the kid was ready to do it, but i stopped him. Yay inversion. lol.

Composing today...well...screw that! lol. actually, i've probably spent at least 4 or 5 hours working on it...i have a few pages...with lots of Xs, fragments, writing, notes, scribbles...

And i have it all figured out and it should be freaking EASY. seriously, i have it all there, but, i keep making stupid mistakes. like writing half of one melody then putting a completely different part with it.

or writing it on the wrong line.

or all of sudden writing a bunch of stuff out of range, marking it 8vb, then getting so irritated that i just mark it out.

Yeah, it was one of those days. I've probably written...4 measures of new music. seriously. freaking lame.

Well, i'm trying to hand-write what i actually HAVE in a legible fashion, and sketch the rest of it, since, really, it's done in my head. as long as i get everything in the correct place, i can be done. otherwise, well, there's thursday morning. lol



Last night, i got a bit distracted. the habit i've been trying to get going is using this blog at the end of a night to gather my thoughts before bed. Well, didn't happen last night.

they turned my water off for the morning, so, at midnight, i was like "oh, i should take a quick shower cause i won't get one in the morning and i don't want to stink for teaching." i also saved some water in a bottle so i could brush my teeth/drink water. I got a bit sad, cause when i woke up, my first thought was "I bought coffee!!!" followed by "Crap, no water..."

anyway, last night, i was working on "6 Pieces" Mvt. III. i've finally got the idea mostly in hand, i think, though i am probably going to tweak it like crazy today. the movement is titled "A Little Girl Under a Peach Tree/Whose Blossoms fall Into The Entrails/Of The Earth"

the basic idea is that there is a melody and a countermelody. this melody then loses notes, taken, first, by the wind-chime, then the Woodwinds, and finally the low brass. ya know, like the wind blows, and grabs a blossoms, and it falls to the earth? the original idea was to just leave the notes out as empty spaces, but the line got too jagged and empty...it works great for the allusion, but not so well musically. It's cool, like the tree is becoming bare. however, musically, it just...doesn't work too well. first off, it ends up with INSANE counting. seriously. the whole thing in in 6/8 and a lot of notes start popping up on 2 5 and 6 with rests all around them. do 7 measures of that kind of counting and even i don't want to play it. lol.

so, instead, i decided to take the notes out and rework the melody, shorting the melody half a bar each time. eventually, it should work out to almost being a chorale, since the note values of the remaining notes keeps elongating

Anyway, that's the idea. I've been distracted though. mind is just floating around the cosmos. at least i got the idea now. that's better than this weekend. still, mind, wherever you are, if you could make your way to my brain, that'd be awesome. thanks


and so the spaces continue

Read some more of Cohn's article. haven't finished it. reading that much on a screen hurts my eyes, so i printed it, and one by Ian Quinn "General Equal Tempered Harmony- Intro and Pt.1." I got these articles from a good friend who took a class, "Musical Spaces," with Joseph Straus. I chickened out and didn't take it. should have. woulda been awesome. then i could have had more guidance than one friend 1300 miles away.

Still, it's fun reading these articles, learning about how people have been dealing with this issue of space in music. It's interesting. Really goes back to relationships. How is such and such a note related from this particular set of notes, be it tonal or atonal. the neo-Riemannian theory article by Cohn talks about how the first systems were created to discuss tonal music, or at least music that started from a chord normally thought of as tonal- such as a C minor chord. I won't go through it, as Cohn already has.

the complete name of the article, again, is "Introduction to Neo-Riemannian Theory: A Survey And A Historical Perspective."

it is a nice intro. and the idea of the Tonnetz is quite simple. I built a full one (hitting till i repeated on all ends) in about 25 minutes or so for [ 0 3 5 ]. i even practiced my Inkscape skills by drawing the center of the doughnut. yep, a Tonnetz ends up a doughnut. At first i didn't recognize the top/bottom relationship. then my friend typed it and i did . lol

Anyway, i'm not really using the Tonnetz in my piece. I chose [ 0 3 5 ] because that is the pitch collection for a central motive i'm using in the piece - 6 Pieces After Basho - but it doesn't particularly help me much. All it shows is all the transpositions, and gives me an idea of how far away each transposition is from the original. it's a fun tool, and i like building new relationships with it - like overlaying another picture and connecting the dots - which is a method i MAY use for a later movement.

i thought about it briefly with the current movement, overlaying a cherry tree...and having the leaves dropping being the changes in pitches through a chaotic fall through the numbers, however, i went with a simpler method. Basically, i'm taking the melody and having notes drop off. these dropped notes are held and passed along by the other instruments, at first in the same relative range (floating on the breeze) and then lower (on the ground). talk about text painting.

Anyway, that's been my day. I was going to keep working on the piece, wanted to have the sketch done by midnight, but my brain is still too scattered. I blame watching part of the Harry Potter Musical. seriously. my bff told me to tune to that youtube playlist, so i did...and i felt dumber for it. and it was spectacular. and awesome. i shall finish it later though. lol. totally distracted my mind

ever have that happen? be working on a task, like writing music, then do a task this is very similar, but different enough that it screws everything up? it's one reason i don't listen to a ton of music while i'm actually thinking about music. It screws with my head...can't hear my own notes anymore. Anyway, yeah, maybe that's just me.