Monday, August 23, 2010

Heist Music & Opera

I haven't written here in a while, so I thought I'd give an update on what I'm working on right now.

At present, I'm in the middle of writing a piece for intermediate-to-advanced groups.  I enjoy a good "heist" movie like Oceans Eleven, The Italian Job, and the grandfather of them all, Rififi, so I thought it would be fun to write a faux soundtrack to a heist movie.  Musically telling the story of an elite group sneaking into a building, evading security, cracking the safe, and getting out with the loot has yielded some good things and has given me the opportunity to include some fun special effects.

I have a "main" theme and a "secondary" theme written and now it's just a matter of arranging them to tell the story - building suspense in certain places and depicting the events of the heist.

I'm also at work on my second opera, Heart Mountain.  My plan is to go back and forth between writing a number for the opera and writing a piece for school orchestras.  that way, I'll have enough music to send to my publishers each year while still making steady progress on the opera. At present, I've finished the opera's short intro, two of the twelve arias, and the ensemble-finale.  There will be four singers (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone) and the arias I've finished are for Soprano and Tenor.  I'll write an Alto aria, then one for the Baritone, and another ensemble (perhaps the opening chorus, but I haven't decided for sure).  After that, I'll be one third of the way done.

The opera is coming along slowly, but I have the time and want to make sure I have nothing but spectacular melodies throughout.  in fact, I've worked out a method where I write all the music to a piece first, then write the lyrics to fit the rhythms and melodies.  Writing music to fit the lyrics never worked for me - The melodies tend to fall flat at the expense of staying true to the words.  the new system is working much better.

I'll write more about the lyrical process later.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saga of the Broken Arm: Update

If you come to this blog to get to know me inside and out, I have a special treat for you today.  As you may have read here, I was in a bike accident and shattered my shoulder back in April. I thought I'd give an update.

The accident and ensuing surgery pretty much knocked me out of commission, but I've been going to physical therapy, building flexibility and strength, and, while I'm still not at 100%, I've come to realize that I may never have a full range of motion in my right arm.  Still, I'm much better and have exceeded the expectations of both my therapist and my surgeon.

Last Thursday, I went for a follow-up with my surgeon who had great things to say. He also took these X-rays.  The engineering is impressive.


What you're looking at is a titanium plate secured to my right humerus with nine screws.  The break is completely healed and looking good.  To answer your questions:

1. No, I can't feel the plate.  It's under so much tissue that one can't feel the edges.  But the night after surgery when the anesthetic wore off?  Boy, I felt that.  Worst pain of my life - worse than the actual accident.

2. I will not set off metal detectors at the airport unless the TSA turns up their sensors to maximum sensitivity.  I've actually been through airport security a few times since the surgery and had no problems.

3. I have an eight-inch scar from my armpit to almost the top of my shoulder.

4. Yes, it still hurts, but it's an ache, rather than a sharp pain. Advil helps a lot. I'm still going to physical therapy to build strength and can now get dressed by myself, drive a car, and change an overhead light bulb.  I still can't sleep in a bed, though (I spend the night in a reclining chair).

But here's the most fascinating thing: on that second X-ray, the doctor showed me that I developed extra bone growth over the break.  It's not unusual for the body to over-correct after an injury and it won't get in my way, but it's pretty cool.