Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Symphonia's Performance and Other News

Ugh. My hard drive is crashing. About a week ago, it seemed to be having incredible trouble booting up when I turned it on, and it started making a horrible clicking sound that I reluctantly identified as the click of death. My computer is considerably slower, but while this has put a bit of a dampener on the efficiency of my work, it hasn't succeeded to crush my spirits! I ordered a new hard drive for a very modest price on New Egg, so hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

There are only a few days left until the Symphonia Orchestra performs my composition live at Concordia, and I can't tell you how thankful I am for this opportunity. I'm extremely excited to have "Shards" performed and recorded, but I must admit that I'm also very nervous. Symphonia has done an admiral job overall with trying to prepare and coordinate such a difficult piece of music, and there are so many things being done well, I feel bad for demanding more polish. Many sections still sound sloppy for various reasons, and the biggest problem at this point is the tempo, which always seems to drag and sound muddy in places. Monday is the final tutti rehearsal before the concert, so I'm hoping things go well! Stay tuned for my report on the concert. UPDATE: Today's rehearsal went significantly better than the last time we played through Shards. Most things are sounding fairly smoothed out now, although the timpanist is having a hard time keeping up to speed. I'm concerned about that, since the timpani part is really the most important rhythmic part of the orchestra, and when he drags, the rest of the ensemble is pulled down as well.

Using Audacity once again, I recorded the Finale 2007 playback for "Shards" and uploaded it to Youtube as a demo of what Symphonia will be playing. This video can be found embedded at the bottom of this post. I also uploaded a terrifying slide show video of "The Snarly Song," a short and random recording I made a few years back. The lyrics have absolutely no significance to anything, so don't ask! Some of the horrible artwork comes from my friend and accomplice, Bryan Folstad.

I'm starting several new composition projects in addition to everything I'm already doing, which makes me think that perhaps I really am out of my mind, trying to write so much music at once! I'm nearly finished with "Ellipse," my ambitious percussion ensemble composition, and I'm beginning work on a choral composition for four male voices. Working with all male voices will restrict the range I can use significantly and add a fresh challenge to my plate, but first I need to write a poem to set to music! My roommate and his friend have asked me to compose a duet for alto saxophone and trombone, for them to perform at a spring recital. In addition to these projects, I've started drafting musical ideas for a ballad my girlfriend and I have been working on. It will be written for piano and our two voices in tandem. It's quite a surprise that I still find time to sleep and eat amidst all this music!

Here's the video I mentioned earlier in my post. It's the Finale demo for "Shards," my orchestral composition. As always, I'd love to hear feedback! Have a nice day :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Determining Goals for the Future

Trying to make a career out of some sort of art is very risky business. It's true that a lot of very talented artists get lucky enough to be successful at it in their lifetimes, but often this is not the case. Sometimes you just don't get recognized, despite your best efforts and promotion. Sometimes, untalented "artists" become disproportionately successful, and this can be even more discouraging (see Ke$ha). But I think it's important to remember that if you care about your art form passionately, and you know you have something to offer to the world through it, don't get discouraged. I've been more and more concerned about my future career as a musician and composer, since it is such a risky life to attempt. For a long time now, my plan has been to find commissions as a freelance composer and to try to work my way into the video gaming business, while teaching piano and composition lessons. While these are still future goal for me, I'm seriously reconsidering going to graduate school for a masters degree or something. I'd love to hear any thoughts my readers have regarding this!

I just finished writing "Inner Unity," a two-movement duet for bassoon and saxophone, and I'm super excited to announce that it will be performed and recorded with the help of two of my most talented classmates. The piece was a challenging one for me to compose, since I struggle with keeping purely melodic instrumentals interesting and consistent. Not being able to rely on the thick textures of a piano or a large ensemble is crippling for me, but obviously that was the point of the project; to push my creative boundaries. I'm very happy with how the piece turned out, so I suppose that makes the project a success!

The Symphonia Orchestra is doing great with my piece, "Shards," and with less than three weeks until the performance, I'm glad that it seems to be coming together. I wish I could share some demos with you, but unfortunately that won't be possible until at least next week, if ever! If you want to hear more of what I've written, just check out my Youtube. I've uploaded several new videos in the last week or so, since I kinda went on a video-making binge, and they showcase a lot of my recent work. As always, more videos are on the way as well! With every piece of music I write, and even the ones I learn, I make it my tentative goal to somehow get it performed and recorded.

It's time for some homework! Last week, my composition professor was like, "for your next lesson, put together a list of everything you want to accomplish in your major before you graduate." I'm a sophomore at Concordia in Moorhead, so whether I like it or not, I'm nearing the half-way point for my time undergraduate college. I have peter pan complex. I don't want to grow up! :'( But anyway, I thought I'd tackle this assignment in this post, to give you, my readers, an idea of what I'm planning for my near future.

> Finish my composition for percussion ensemble and have it performed
> Write an anthem for full choir with an african drum ensemble
> Compose something for a fully electronic ensemble in a techno/industrial style
> Complete all five movements of the Black Storm Symphony
> Attempt to create something feasible for a full concert band
> Finish a brass quintet piece, and finish my progressive metal song
> Try composing a soundtrack to a short film
> Somehow, write some music for a video game setting
> Push into different styles and periods of composing, such as Jazz, Impressionist, etc.