Monthly Archives: April 2012

…in which I use a 12-tone electric bass line

For the 2-3 of you keeping track, I can now announce the completion of TWO of my “works in the queue“. Ponder, written for the 2012 Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts, was completed last week, only a “little” behind schedule (what’s a deadline, anyway? Oh yeah…).

The latest double-barline comes at the end of RAWR, written for The Gentlemen’s Very (Very) High Art Society of South Waltham, Brandeis’s Official Unofficial Graduate Composers Ensemble, of which yours truly is a distinguished member in good standing. Instrumentation of the piece (and the group) is piccolo, trumpet (not to be confused with “piccolo trumpet”, though that’s a thought…), flugelbone (yes, really), bassoon, piano, drums, and pink sparkly electric bass (Yes, the sparkles matter. Pink not so much, though it helps).

The title comes from the most stereotypical sound I could think of for lead singers in most death metal bands (for example) (or this, definitely this). The piece itself sounds kind of like what happens when a composer with a “classical” training and a sort-of jazz background listens to a lot of Frank Zappa and spy movie/ cartoon soundtracks, watches Metalocalypse, and decides to write a piece. Actually that’s exactly what it sounds like. Or Weather Report, according to Herr Professor Davy Rakowski. But don’t take our word for it. Now, through the miracle of those highly talented Sibelius Sounds and MIDI, you, Dear Reader, can decide for yourself, and post what you think is wrong with me in the comments section. Unless it’s mean. Don’t be mean.

Oh, and it uses a 12-tone electric bass line. Not the whole time, though.


New Music on the Point

I was very excited (and now anxious) to learn of my acceptance into the New Music On the Point summer composers workshop! Excited because I’ll get to compose two works for some excellent performers (including the JACK Quartet). Anxious because, well, I now have to write two works for these excellent performers in the next month!! At least I know what I’ll be doing with my time…

“Ponder” Update

And…done! At long last, the piece is finished, and parts have been distributed. Now begins that post-double-barline period of relief, jubilation, second looks, second guessing, doubts, serious doubts, depression, “what does it all mean???” moments, exhaustion, and acceptance (composers/ artists, you feel me). But for the time being, I’m content to relish the “relief” phase. This has been a long one, and as excited as I am for the performance, my present thoughts are on how grateful I am that at least the composition stage is over. Time for a celebratory single malt, then off to bed. Tomorrow begins the next project.



Since I can’t sleep, and if I stare at Sibelius (this one, not this one) any longer today my brain may start to bleed, I guess it’s as good a time as any for an update. (I almost said, “I figure it’s as good a time as any…,” but that may have geographically pegged me a little too specifically) This week’s never-ending project has been to tame said notation software into submission, allowing me to create an appropriate score for Ponder, the piece I’m writing for the 2012 Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts at Brandeis (for more info, see my previous blog).

The issue at hand is creating a score of musical “cells”, rather than continuous measures on a staff. Of course, Sibelius doesn’t always like to be helpful, and so the only way I’ve found is, to put it mildly, extremely convuluted and non-user friendly. I won’t bore you with details (I’ll just keep complaining instead).


So because of the technological hurdles, things are moving slowly but surely (And don’t call me Shirley), and not really in the “I’m savoring the art, blah, blah…” kind of way. More like in the “It’s been four hours and I finally have a page of the score formatted” kind of way. But I have begun to figure it out, so hopefully the rest of the parts will go more quickly.

What is making the whole thing bearable, however, is that I’m still very excited about the project! The end product, in my head at least, should be very cool, and fun to perform. As a teaser, here’s a look at the first page of the score for Part 1:












That’s it for now. If I’m going to stay awake, I should probably actually get something done. More soon!



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