Archive for category Composing
My new single!!
It’s been awhile since I released any new music. I started working on this song during a huge creative spurt last year. I recorded a demo, and really liked it, but it need some tweaking.
So, what did I do today? Lots and lots of tweaking! LOL And paperwork. And scorewriting. And editing and editing and more editing. Proofreading. Computer work. Computer glitches. Computer file formats. Rendering. More computer glitches.
But here it is.
This is the first time I have released a song that was created in my home studio. If you recall how many times I complain about audio engineering…it seems like it’s amazing that I even got this far. (And yes…full disclaimer..I do comprehend how much farther there is to go – in terms of me learning and being adequate in audio engineering.)
But something about this song captured me from the beginning. It’s one that I play over and over. It touches me on some base level. For me…music is about generating a response in the listener – whether that response is to tap your toes, or dance in your chair, or make a tear come to your eye, or touch your heart in a way that says, “I have felt that way before!”
I guess that’s why I’m not at the top of the charts. It seems to me that modern music has taken away the emotion. Modern music (ie the ‘popular’ tunes that are controlled by mega media companies) has taken away emotion. It seems to have no human connection. It is a commodity – manufactured to the lowest common denominator.
This, THIS is my stand.
Music – no matter what the genre, is about capturing the human condition.
As to the song itself…
every artist needs a muse.
This song is both inspired by…and dedicated to…
You make me smile.
Part of being a creative artist – is receiving rejections. I received this letter earlier in the week:
I hope this finds you well. First, I want to apologize for the delay in getting our feedback to everyone — we were hoping to complete this process much sooner, but, since we don’t send “yes” or “no” form letters, it takes us a good deal longer than most companies to read through submissions and get back to every creative professional with individualized feedback.
In the case of Paula/Poly, we found your story and your characters very compelling. Of course, the story is not brand new, but it seemed as though the heavy use of sociological labels in your piece (“poly[amorous],” “triad,” etc.) — which are socially and ethically challenging concepts to be sure — make the subject matter a little uncomfortable. You call the piece a comedy, but, to be perfectly honest, it didn’t feel like one as we were reading. The emotions that Paula felt came across as very genuine, as did the emotions of the other three principals, and their words were very heartfelt — we genuinely felt badly for the people whose hearts were hurting, and that’s a testament to your strong writing.
Of course, whether it’s a comedy or drama is not really a big issue. The piece could work fine as a drama, or as something in between (like the Netflix series Love, which portrays some very tumultuous relationships). There have certainly been attempts in recent years to portray polyamorous relationships in the performing arts (including a failed recent series on Showtime), but, while the concept of polyamory is by no means new, it is still a challenging issue for the public to grapple with (the way marriage equality still was 8-10 years ago), especially in a relatively conservative state like Kentucky. We also felt that the title, while verbally witty, didn’t really do the piece justice – it just highlighted the controversial nature of the subject matter.
Now, I should note that some stage works, especially those involving music (which seems to transcend many of our artificial barriers), are able to overcome the intrinsic challenge of their subject matter when the music/art is strong enough – Rent is a good example. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel that was the case in this piece. The character of Paula wasn’t developed enough to be someone that we wanted to “root for” – perhaps if she’d had a back story and had experienced some public or professional success, that would invest us in the character enough to want to ride out her challenge with her (sort of akin to the recent PR campaign showing successful public figures saying something to the effect of “Oh, by the way, I’m a Mormon.”). Or, if the music had been truly sensational, it would have carried us beyond the surface level of the challenging words — but in this case, we didn’t have any printed music to look at or sing from, and we found the audio that you provided a little monotonous. Speaking of which, is the female voice in the recording yours? If so, you have a truly beautiful instrument. As a record producer, I would put a voice like that in the studio in a heartbeat. But it does have an unusually low range, and it’s not representative of most female musical theater voices, so it would be difficult for most groups to use this audio as a basis for judging how the music will work for their voices (especially without any printed music). We would humbly recommend, if you’re going to continue sharing audio demos of this work, that you invest in a few singers who have the timbres and ranges that you ultimately envision for these roles. (If you don’t have access to the singer-actors where you are, we might be able to help with that, and I’d be glad to talk further about some sort of recording collaboration if that were of interest to you – we’ve done this with several composers).
Artistic Director & Conductor
The Bluegrass Opera
My brain is firing today.
Creativity is a pendulum, and all you can do is ride it out. When you are so ON that everything you touch turns to gold, then it’s amazing. But what is the aftermath? No one can function at a 95% level indefinitely. You burn it out. You burn YOURSELF out.
So, when these amazing streaks of creativity and productivity happen, then you ride it (and you’d better do everything you can to enjoy them while they last), but then you have to ‘suffer’ the aftermath.
I’ve had 5 months of aftermath. The last burst of creative brilliance in July was an idea for a short film. Then I Had To shut it down, and give myself/body/mind/spirit/soul time to recoup from the previous super intense 8 months of creative accomplishments.
So, this short film is a noir, thriller. When my movie parter, Don and I conceive these ideas, they grow soooo big, we can’t seem to accomplish them. So, I am limiting us on this one. No large cast. No need to acquire sets or major props. Film it with what we have now.
And now, finally, maybe it’s time to move filmmaking to the front burner. Last year, we built a major proposal for a thing code named Project D. We didn’t get a green light, but it’s still in the back of my mind. So, this is a ‘toe in the water’ so to speak. A short film, but good quality, to send to festivals and get more stuff rolling out there.
So, what happened today – ie why am I blog posting when things have been so quiet lately?
Well, I want a haunting instrumental music piece to go over the ending credits.
An idea fires in my brain. I go to the piano. I keep a recorder there and notes, so when these moments happen (the last song I composed was what? July??), so when I’m checking notes and recorder, I am sooo afraid the noir idea will fly out of my head.
But finally I get it laid down on tape. Now it exists in the world, and I don’t have to try to ‘hold it’ in my head. I wanted a haunting, eerie piece of music. And it didn’t exist before today. Sometimes a song will be ‘in there’ in you, for days and you think on it and evaluate it. Today, it just popped into my head.
I hope my audio recording skills are good enough to let me lay it down (for real) in my home studio. Goodness knows audio engineering is one the things that my skills are not adequate at – at all. But I will try it here, and see.
The music is what’s new for today. The ideas for the short film have been percolating around in my head for months, so maybe, even during the creative shut down, something was ‘working’ back in there.