Friday, November 28, 2008

Midwest Conference

Happy Thanksgiving, all - hope you had a nice holiday.

After much thought, I've decided that I won't be able to make it to Chicago this year for the Midwest Clinic. I got an e-mail recently from the orchestra director who programmed A Breeze In The Keys asking if I'd be there to hear it and, sadly, I had to decline. The Conference has started posting performances online, though, and I'll be able to hear it when it goes on their website. I have no doubt that it will sound great.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Breeze at Midwest

And... Done with another new piece! I'm really cranking them out. As it stands, I have more than I need for next year's submissions, so my plan is to continue writing so I can be choosy when it comes time to mail new music off to Alfred. I hope they like this latest one - it's in 6/8 with lots of delicious hemiola.

In other news, I just found out that one of my pieces will be performed at this year's Midwest Conference in Chicago! A group from Marietta Georgia (a district that has been very good to me in the past) will open their show with "A Breeze In The Keys" - one of my new selections this year. I hadn't planned on going, but now I'm considering it. On the other hand, traveling 300 miles and taking on the travel and hotel expense to hear a two-minute piece doesn't sound appealing.

Anyhoo, if you're planning on attending the conference, be sure to have a listen and stop by the Alfred booth to buy a copy of "Breeze" and any of my other selections that strike your fancy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Filling Out The Fragments

I decided to tackle the second of my loose fragments first. Since that piece (a fast waltz) is for an intermediate-level orchestra and is less complicated, I figured I could whip it up in no time. And I was right - I got it done yesterday afternoon and celebrated with a trip to the theater (my alma mater had a production of "How To Succeed..." It was very well done).

Now it's back to work. I shaped a main theme today and transitioned it into the secondary theme I'd already developed. This one has some exciting rhythms and I think it will be popular. Up next, it needs a contrasting "C" theme and a recap. Hopefully I can get it done by Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working With Fragments

I started working on a new piece recently - a minor key piece in 6/8 time. I got a nice tune going and am happy with the accompaniment, but I realized that it felt more like a "B" theme than a "Main" theme for the new piece. Normally I'll write a strong main melody and them come up with something to go with it, that provides contrast or that compliments the rhythms and motifs of the main theme.In this case, I'm starting with the B theme and have to come up with something even stronger to use as a main melody. It's unusual for my process, but maybe it will produce some unique results.

Another part of my process is to take breaks from writing. I like to walk away for a while and return to get a fresh perspective. During a break last night I had a flash of inspiration about a completely different piece of music. I went straight back to my computer, opened a new file, and began working on the new piece, which I'm very excited about.

So now I have fragments of two different pieces to work on. Normally I like to finish one piece before starting another, but who am I to turn down inspiration? In anticipation of your question: no, I can't combine them into one piece. They're in completely different styles, time signatures, and keys and are for two vastly different ability groups. I'd rather get two different pieces out of them than try to wedge them together.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Election Day Anthem (Part 2)

Writing the middle section of my election-inspired piece was easy. Watching the news on Wednesday put me in just the right state of mind and I whipped up 32 measures in no time. Another few days to recapitulate the opening (with a few flourishes, of course), edit dynamics, and add bowings, articulations, and measure numbers and this one's done!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Anthem

I have to admit that the closer we've come to Election Day, the more I've been paying attention and getting excited. It reached a point where I couldn't get to sleep last night and this morning I bolted out of bed at the sound of my alarm. I made it to the polls around 7:00am (they opened at 6:30am here in Ohio), cast my votes, got my "I voted" sticker, and stopped by Starbuck's for a free beverage (I'm not a coffee guy - they were nice enough to give me a free tea).

I mention all this because my Election day excitement has manifested itself in my latest composition. Looking over this year's portfolio, I saw that I was lacking a major-key piece for intermediate-level orchestras so I decided on the key of F major and set to work. My inspirations are not always apparent (even to me) and I realized after I got into the process that the style was inspired by the music for all the news shows covering the election - especially John Williams' "Mission Theme" for NBC and the CNN trumpets. For the B section of my new tune I borrowed a chord progression from a certain inspirational pop song from the 1980's. It's going to be an overture and for the middle section I think I'm going to do something like the hard part of Gauntlet - very nebulous, with overlapping motifs in a contrasting D minor. Like in Gustav Holst's "Jupiter," I think it's important to have a little sadness to temper the joy. Keeping with my inspiration for the piece, I want to acknowledge the sacrifices and heartaches that accompany a triumph.

I won't be able to work on the piece tonight (I'll be channel-surfing all night between CNBC, CNN, and NBC. And Comedy Central a little too) but I'll write again when I've completed a little more. I should also note that I'm not committed to a title yet. Chances are that by the time I submit the piece to my publishers, the title won't give any indication that I was inspired by the election.

Get out and vote! No excuses!