Yearly Archives: 2013

How to Become a Composer

3.3.3.3 – 4.3.3.1 – tmp+2 – pno – hp – str

Like my earlier “Cinderella Goes to Music School” this is a narrated story about a young musician in which the music itself plays a crucial role in the tale, and is interwoven into the narration.  This story concerns a young boy, Jacob, who wishes to become a composer.  We follow him from his childhood, full of musical imagination, up to college, where he finds out that ‘the biz’ isn’t quite what he thought it would be.  In the end, he gets to meet one of his musical idols who teaches him that the true reward of being an artist is neither fame nor fortune, but the ability to connect with other people through one’s art.

Like “Cinderella”, this is a concert-length piece for a kids’ program (clocking in at just under 33′) and I’m offering it for a $150 rental/royalty fee with a $50 royalty per additional performance.

The recording was engineered by the great Jon Brennan and is available for purchase here!

Nostalgia Radio

Say what you will about Cincinnati, but we have an FM station devoted to the pop/jazz music of the thirties, forties and fifties.  They even play the CBS Mystery Playhouse every night from 7:00 – 8:00.  Is it our abnormally high population of geriatric Caucasians that sustains such an endeavor?  Certainly yes.  But that’s OK; I’m willing to throw my lot in with them.

There’s a few things I need to get off my chest about The Great Debasers Podcast, and it’s more than I can unload on twitter.  My friends made this podcast as a way to revel in the nostalgia of their youths misspent watching film, and in spite of the fact that we went to the same school, grew up at the same time, and lived in the same city, my early history with film couldn’t be more different from these guys’.

Let’s look at the first 10 episodes: “Lost in Translation”, “KIDS”, “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Jackie Brown”, “Last Tango in Paris”, “The Fugitive”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Office Space”, “Do the Right Thing”, “Romeo + Juliet”.  Alright, of those ten movies, I’ve seen five (“Lost”, “Jackie”, “Tango”, “Fugitive”, “Eyes”) and of those five, there’s only two that really made an impression on me (“Jackie Brown”, “Eyes Wide Shut”) and I saw them both in college.

It really got to me with the “Clueless” podcast, because it turns out all my college buds consider that movie a touchstone of their adolescence, and they all cop to having seen it about a hundred times.  I saw it for the first time in June, just so I could understand what they were talking about.

Since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I’m going to go on record with the movies that I watched incessantly in middle/high school and which played a part in my own personal formation:

Auntie Mame
Interview with the Vampire
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Heathers
Immortal Beloved (I know…)
Les Trois Couleurs: Bleu
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

I can still recite every line of dialogue in these movies.  Other than that, all I wanted to do was watch The Simpsons and Absolutely Fabulous, and listen to Vivaldi concertos, Beethoven Symphonies and Strauss waltzes.  And to AM 1260, D.C.’s nostalgia radio station, and they didn’t even play the CBS Mystery Playhouse.

New Experiences

I’ve escaped to San Francisco, CA to celebrate my – dear god – thirtieth birthday today.  I figured that going to the west coast would buy me three more hours of twentydom, but lo and behold, the day came all the same.  The good news is that I’m with my friend Kei who is also celebrating a birthday, and no matter how old I get, Kei will always be a year older.

A couple of months ago I composed theme music for a new show called “Cincinnati Edition” which runs on the public radio station back in southwest Ohio at 2:00 on weekday afternoons.  Feel free to give it a listen:

This was a fun little project.  I enjoy trying to write in a “house style”, and I think I got this tune sounding sufficiently NPR.  It’s got telegraph-news rhythm, a hummable tune that’s hopefully not distracting, and enough harmonic switches to keep the ear attuned but not compete with the voice-over above.

I’ve heard this cue on the radio several times now, both in its truncated form for promo spots and at the head of the show, but yesterday on the parking lot shuttle to the airport* I had the strange experience of hearing it in a public place surrounded by strangers.

Because here I am, just another passenger on this public transveyance, silent and anonymous as anyone else, and yet, my voice is suffusing the atmosphere around all of us.  It’s different than sitting in the audience at a formal performance of one’s own work. That may still be an anonymous experience, but at least the public has the idea that the music was composed by a human being; radio theme music seems to exist a priori.

I suppose this is just the sort of thing one has to get used to in one’s thirties.

*[Note: there is no finer long term airport parking situation anywhere in the world than at the CVG airport outside of Cincinnati.  The prices at this airport are vexingly high, but it’s almost worth it for the parking lot experience.]

What is Maine

Here’s the weather summary from Down East Maine this summer: it was abysmal.  Alternately clammy and boiling, with plenty of precipitation thrown in for good measure.  Somehow I got healthy doses of tennis and pond-swimming in, plus I got to conduct Randall Thompson’s 2nd symphony and premiere a new kids’ piece (recording coming soon!) so all-in-all, it was a good summer.

I get so nostalgic when these summers in Maine come to their inevitable conclusion, but my drive back to Ohio had some nice distractions to cheer me up: I stopped in to see a student perform at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, which, I’m sorry, simply isn’t part of Maine.  I’ve now lived a cumulative total of a year in Maine which legally qualifies me to distinguish which regions are and are not Maine.  Brunswick is not.

Rural Quebec certainly is though, and driving through there to get to Hancock this year was a trip in more way than one.  I’ve always thought about taking the Northern Route from the American Midwest to Hancock Point, but I’ve never done it until this year.  My apologies to the Rust-belt, but Toronto and Montréal are much better stops along the way than Buffalo and Worcester.

Approaching the U.S. border, Quebec takes on a strangely disconcerting aspect – the landscape is so familiar, but everything is in a foreign tongue.  Speaking of which, Point of Information: people on the other side of the Maine border still speak French!  In fact, 5% of Maine households are French-speaking, according to the Sacred Wikipedia!  Learning!