Monday, March 19, 2012

New Submissions for 2013

This past weekend I gathered together my portfolio of new music, recorded it to disc, wrote out some brief descriptions, and today I took it all to the post office and shipped it all to my publisher for consideration in their 2013-2014 catalog!

As always, I try to offer a wide variety of music and this year's packet of nine pieces includes three pieces for beginners, three for intermediate-level performers, and three for advanced players. Five are in major keys, four are in minor keys. Some are overtures like Gauntlet or Westward Motion, but I also included a scherzo and some pieces that mimic styles from around the world. None is too much like any other.

When I first decided which selections I'd submit, only three had titles, but I spent the last week coming up with names for the other six. As always, that's the most difficult part of the process and I know I shouldn't leave it until the last minute.  But I'm happy with the titles and with all the submitted music in general. 

Now we wait and see. The selection committee will meet, look over all of this year's submissions (from me and from all the other composers) and put together a catalog of interesting music for all ability levels. I usually hear back in June or July, when my fingernails are nubs. Once I hear back, I'll be sure to post it here. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Doug Spata's iPod 2012

Every year around this time, I share some songs that I've been enjoying recently. While I love a lot of music, I usually just use my iPod when I'm running, so I don't keep classical music on there. It's hard to keep a steady pace when tempos and moods keep changing, so I prefer up-tempo pop music. Here are some of my current favorites:

1. "Domino" by Jessie J.

She's like the British Katy Perry and has a really powerful voice. I'm impressed with her vocal control on the melismas and I like her subtle use of vibrato. The song itself has a great beat and fun chords.

2. "Back and Forth" by Bright Light Social Hour

This Austin-based band is really good, but there's an even better version of this song, if you can find it. Their keyboard player (who goes by the nom-de-DJ "Mirasole") did a techno-electronic remix that is truly amazing. Unfortunately, it's not available on iTunes or YouTube.  Anyway, enjoy the original version and its weird video.

3. "Maniac" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Here's a great song to run to - I just love that propulsive bass line and excellent drumming. There's no official video for this song, but I found a really good fan-made clip that features a stuffed ferret, geometric solids, and a tea party. You're welcome.

4. "Love Etc." by Pet Shop Boys

Like a lot of Pet Shop Boys songs, this one has a wonderfully sly sense of humor and that characteristic bone-dry, sarcastic British wit. It has a great call-and-response melody and the aloof, icy cool beats indicative of great English dance pop.

5. "The Geeks Were Right" by The Faint

This is another ice-cool electronic dance tune. There's a serious environmental message in the lyrics, but the buzzing synths and mechanical beats are the real draw.

6. "Breakin' Up" by Rilo Kiley

Whispy, breathy vocals become stronger and more assured as this song progresses, moving from ennui to complete confidence. The song is about getting over a relationship and by the end, it's an all-out hand-clapping sing-along celebration of freedom. This video is kinda hilarious.


7. "Clap Your Hands" by They Might Be Giants

I got to cross off "see They Might Be Giants live in concert" from my bucket list last year when I attended an amazing 150-minute show that included 8 encores and every single one of my favorite Giants songs.  I've been a fan of theirs since middle school and believe that Lincoln is one of the greatest albums in all of music. The show I saw was for grown-up kids, but they still played some songs from their kids' albums, including this little gem.  There's no story or heavy meaning here - sometimes you just need to get up and clap your hands, stomp your feet, and jump in the air.

8. "Holidays" by Miami Horror (featuring Alan Palomo)

I love love love the fat bass sound in this modern-day disco song. And speaking of weird videos...

9. "Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure

Is it any surprise that the composer of Gauntlet is a fan of The Cure? They have a reputation as a mopey English band that sings dark, sinister rock dirges and they're a touchstone of goth style, but this song is an absolutely ecstatic expression of sheer happiness. Beneath all that dark eye makeup and tangles of Edward Scissorhand hair, their hearts are little balls of sunshine. I couldn't post the official video, but this one will do nicely.


10. "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen

Quite simply the greatest song written by the greatest rock star who ever lived and performed by the greatest rock band ever assembled.