This past Saturday, January 29, Milton Babbitt passed
away at age 94. Those of you who read this blog regularly know what an influence his teachings have been
in my life, and how much he’s influenced my serial, twelve-tone composing. My String Quartet
No. 6, that I’m currently working on, will be dedicated to his memory. I’ve posted a recent
sample on my What’s New page, along with two videos of Babbitt’s Philomel (parts one and two),
composed for voice and electronics in 1964. Besides serial music, Babbitt was also into Broadway musicals.
In fact Steven Sondheim was one of his students. He was an incredibly intelligent yet full of fun
kind of a guy. He loved popular songs and beer. You’ve got to love a guy who writes
like he did and is into all the regular things a regular guy is into. I’ve heard him affectionately
referred to as Uncle Milty. I can dig that.
Today, Sunday January 30, I’ve finished
transcribing the Medley into a Sibelius score, and generated an MP3 file from the playback.
I sent these via email to Byron today, but I didn’t call him as he’s sick. I will call
him tomorrow. He’ll have to scrutinize the score and playback for any mistakes I might have made,
or even some that he’s made. We’ll then review it over the phone, while I make the changes
to the score in real time in Sibelius. I usually make a corrected PDF copy
and send it to him for one more review. He’ll also use the MP3 as aural verification along with the
score as visual confirmation. Learning my lesson from that last score, where I understood him to have okayed
everything for printing when he actually wasn’t sure yet, I will wait until he tells me it’s a go to print out
scores and parts.
From there, I will spiral bind two copies of the score and tape bind two copies of the parts.
I’m still waiting for the names and mailing addresses of the musicians who will be on this gig. I
only have the piano player’s info as he wanted his copies up front. That particular ball is in Byron’s
court, so to speak. As a manager in the business world for many years, having managed many projects with
a ton of resources to coordinate, I find a project like this as not too difficult a challenge. This is
why I’m somewhat amused at how musicians manage projects versus how business managers manage projects. It’s
a left-brain, right-brain thing, I think, which is why there seems to be some disparity.
The greatest problem with transcribing Byron’s
scores remains the stuffing of full and busy bars of music into small, preformatted score paper. With bar
lines already there, the fuller bars are really crammed, making legibility a real issue. I asked him about
buying preprinted score paper without bar lines, but he said that would be a hassle for him. So he’s
basically passing the hassle down to me. I can tell you in all candor, it’s getting old fast.
My eyes aren’t the best and I make things easy on myself when I write my own music. Of course,
when you do it on screen, you can zoom it to an easily readable size, ensuring a much higher level of input accuracy.
And with immediate playback available, it’s easy to audition each passage to ensure it sounds the way I want
it to. On-screen editing is also quick and easy, so mistakes are corrected in seconds. Most
composers these days use a notation software application to score their music, even if it’s to be performed by a live
orchestra. It’s infinitely quicker, more accurate and produces engraved-quality results that is easy
for musicians to read.
My daughter paid me a very nice compliment. She and her boyfriend were in a restaurant,
when she overheard this twenty-something guy explaining the ins and outs of computers to his forty-something Dad.
She commented to her boyfriend how amazed she was at this Dad’s apparent lack of knowledge, and said she often
calls me with computer questions and I’m a sixty-something. I guess there are those who either fear
or don’t want to be bothered learning even the most rudimentary computing skills. I attribute my
early learning of these skills to being in business management. When faced with the prospects of manually
collecting and recording data and reporting on it to others, I decided to buy a computer back when they first came out.
I learned by trial and error, crashing frequently and figuring out how to recover. I did it often
enough where I became kind of good at it.
In 1999, when I was first introduced to computer music production, it was a
natural evolution for me. I found this program called Pro Audio (the predecessor of Sonar)
and learned how to notate my music and play it back. The notation feature then, as now, leaves much to
be desired, so I saw this ad for Sibelius and bought it. It was version 1.2. From
that point on, there was no going back. It’s now up to version 6.2 and is part of Avid,
who now owns Pro Tools. The program has evolved into a world-class product that, along with its
biggest competitor Finale, is the standard for computer notation. Evidently, I got on the right
bus with that choice, and the years of honing my skills in using it have paid off.
Word today is that we here in the Chicago area will be in the midst of a major blizzard between tomorrow
and Wednesday. This will be a major pain in the posterior for just about everyone. For
my wife and I, it means snow blowing the expected 18” plus of snowfall from our driveway and stairways.
With the help of my trusty Toro, that should go okay, but it will take awhile to get done. I’ve
developed this hatred for winter. The beaches of Kauai are calling me. Poipou is gorgeous
any time of the year, with the gentle trade winds blowing, and the tropical birds singing, and the sound of the ocean lapping
the shore. I could see myself in a nice studio there, writing music and enjoying life with my lady.
But, of course, I’ll be shoveling snow instead and freezing my ass off! Reality can be a real
Peace, love and warm winds,
I learned that composer Milton Babbitt passed away yesterday. He was 94. I've spoken many times about him in this
blog and how much I learned from him. He has done more to develop and promote serial music than any other person I know
of. I am dedicating my String Quartet No. 6 to his memory. I have posted two videos on my What's
New page, parts one and two of Babbitt's Philomel.
I received and am working on the Medley
score for Byron. It’s actually not that bad. I was expecting worse as the piano
will be carrying the majority of the load. But so far, the piano part has been no worse than the previous
scores. The whole thing is about 77 bars long, so with tempo changes and the Collo Voce callout
(which means the rhythm and flow follows the singer’s lead, rather than everyone following a defined tempo), the duration
will vary but the whole thing will not be very long at all. It’s a medley of You’ll Never
Walk Alone and Climb Every Mountain. Tonia loves these inspirational songs and really puts
a lot of heart into them.
I spoke to Byron this afternoon (Friday) and found he’s home sick today, not really feeling like
doing any work. I can dig that. So there’s obviously enough time left before things
get tight. That’s good. I’ve got half the Medley score done and
I’ve called it a day for now. I’ll work on it more tomorrow and probably finish it up sometime
on Monday. I, too, am not going to put it into overdrive when there’s obviously time to spare.
I’ll certainly get it done well before I receive the last score from Byron, which is the Overture.
From what Byron has told me, it shouldn’t be that long either, so at least the last part of the project will
be easier than the first part.
Of course, I’ve put my String Quartet No. 6 project on hold until I get this score done.
Then, while I’m waiting for the next one, I’ll work on it some more. I’ve added
more quartertone passages, which surprisingly blend rather well with the well-tempered material. But I
reached a break-off point, so getting this next score was good timing for a change. I’ve been having
a lot of problems lately with my internet connection and my VoIP phone service. I’ve not been able
to resolve it with my provider, who insists it’s my problem, not theirs. So I took matters in my
own hands and found a new provider for those services.
The only problem is that this same provider also supplies cable
TV service, and I’m going to cancel voice and internet but keep TV. They, of course, will raise the
price and offer the excuse that my current price is a “discount” because I had all three services.
As much of a load of crap as that is, I don’t have any immediate alternatives but to accept that.
However, come warmer weather, I’m considering a long-range antenna that will pull in signals from up to 70 miles
away, and get free TV. Anyone remember when TV was free? Since my TVs are digital, I
don’t need a converter. I just have to make sure the antenna is designed for digital and HD channels,
and can pull in the signal from great distances. But that’s a one-time cost, which will be covered
by what I’d end up paying for a couple of months of TV service.
This morning, I’m continuing work on the Medley score. One thing I’m noticing
is that it’s apparent, at least to me, that Byron wasn’t 100% while he worked on this score. I
see many inconsistencies and minor technical mistakes that I’ve been correcting as I go. Byron makes
some of these mistakes normally, as we all do, but the frequency and number are more than normal. I know
it’s difficult to focus when you’re out of it for any reason. When you’re in pain, it’s
worse yet. Writing music is like any other intense endeavor, requiring concentration and constant attention
to detail. It’s not the kind of task that’s almost mindless. You know, the
kind that while you’re doing it, you let your thoughts drift away, returning only to make sure you haven’t screwed
up too badly.
So this means I have to be more diligent when transcribing to make certain I don’t miss any mistakes.
After I finish the transcribing, I usually do a visual proofing against the written score to assure I didn’t
miss anything. That’s been known to happen with me and I actually sent a score with several bars
missing for some instrument. If Byron doesn’t catch that when he proofs the score, we
could, for instance, have the clarinet player just sitting there and staring at Byron as he’s conducting, wondering
what the hell is going on, and why everyone else is playing something and he’s not. Very embarrassing.
To avoid these moments of utter stupidity, I have to scrutinize things very carefully before I declare it’s ready
Everyone knows mistakes like that are the copyist’s fault, and not being at the rehearsal makes
it easier for everyone to call me an idiot. Even if I was at the rehearsal, they’d still call
me an idiot but probably with a glaring stare instead of saying it out loud. Either way, it’s humiliating.
Like giving a PowerPoint presentation to upper management and not realizing one of the images you’ve used is
some inappropriate photo of a girl doing something that has nothing to do with the theme of your presentation (fill in your
own image here). Although, admittedly, when I was working in quality management and had to do this, I would
intentionally slip one of those images in just to see if anyone was paying attention. I found that of those
who were still awake, at least 30% noticed. The rest were thinking about where they were going to go for
lunch. Management can be so rewarding.
At the rate I’m going with this score, I may have it
done today, if I really work at it. But it’s Saturday and, even though my wife is going out this
afternoon and I’ll have the house to myself, I still tend to succumb to the usual weekend distractions.
So I may or may not get it done today, depending on my overall attitude about life in general. There’s
always Monday. I’m not working on anything tomorrow; it’s my day of rest. I’m
not observing the Sabbath or any other religious occasion, I just prefer to hang out with my wife and do things that don’t
require too much brain power. Yes, you can say I’m being lazy. Go ahead.
I can handle it.
Peace, love and a warm bowl of minestrone,
I’ve begun work on, what will become,
String Quartet No. 6. There are two things that sets this quartet (number 6) apart from the five
that precede it. First, I’m using the Sibelius Essentials sound set that comes with Sibelius.
These are based on the Garritan GPO (Garritan Personal Orchestra) library. Earlier versions
of Sibelius came with a different library that, frankly, didn’t sound very good at all. This
is what led me to discover Kontakt and all the libraries designed for it. But this new library that came
with version 6.2 sounds pretty good. A nice feature is that it’s totally responsive to all the Sibelius
articulation, expression and technique commands available from the various menus.
the second thing that differentiates this quartet from the others is the use of quarter tones. Sibelius
has an interesting way of handling this. You add the quarter tone accidental (up µ or down B ) to the appropriate note then run a performance plug-in that bends the pitch up or down by a quarter tone,
as indicated, using a MIDI command. When you play it back, you hear the quarter tones. Very
cool. If you’re not accustomed to hearing quarter tones, or any other microtone, it’s going
to sound very weird to you, like the instrument’s out of tune. It’s not. You
are, so to speak. In some Eastern countries, microtones are normal. They think our music
sounds weird! So it’s a cultural thing, for the most part. Check out a sample on my What's
I did a piece for string quartet a few years ago using quarter tones but I haven’t done it again
until now. I thought it was time. When you think about it, the well-tempered scale that
we’ve been working with here and in Europe for many years, with its twelve tone chromatic scale, has pretty much been
done to death. One of the interesting things about electronic music is that it uses the whole spectrum
of sound. It’s not necessarily divided up into intervals at specific frequencies. But,
short of that, microtones can expand the number of frequency intervals you have to work with. And, with
the quarter tone accidentals, you can still use conventional staves to notate the music.
Now, granted, this is not something I want to
do on a regular basis. For me, I’d have to completely reinvent the serial method to be a twenty-four
tone system. I’m not up for that, at least not at this time. But I might be at
some point in the future. I’ve got too many other projects on the horizon to start such an ambitious
and involved project. But it does intrigue me. Meanwhile, a piece like this string quartet
can include some quarter tones where it best serves the overall aesthetic and feel on the piece, and create something new
and different. For that reason, I’ve decided to use them in this piece.
Now tomorrow (Thursday,
January 27), I should be receiving the score for the Medley Tonia’s planning to sing at her concert, and similar to
what she recorded on her album Smile. It will rely heavily on the piano for much of the score.
Byron’s piano music, as I’ve mentioned before, is challenging at best, damned difficult at worst.
For me, the problem is legibility because he uses a preformatted score paper. Bars of piano music,
busy with notes and cross-handed passages, gets scrunched because the bars are pre-sized. This will present
the most problems for me, as far as accurate transcription is concerned. Time to really clean my glasses
and use a magnifying glass to see all the intricacies hidden in these cramped bars.
After this, the last score is the Overture.
From my conversation with Byron a couple of days ago, he hasn’t started on it yet. He said
he’ll only reference a few of the songs being presented as a sort of musical résumé. This
is essentially what an Overture does. It gives the audience a little taste of the flavors to come.
Besides the songs we’ve been working on, there’ll be a classical piano recital and some opera selections
Tonia will sing. The concert is dedicated to her teacher and is, in part, sponsored by Temple University.
Ticket sales, according to Byron, have been good from what Tonia has told him. Personally, I hope
it’s a big success so that Tonia will be inspired to add more songs for future concert programs. It’ll
mean more work for Byron and I, and that’s a good thing.
If you’ll pardon a digression, I was very impressed with
President Obama’s State of the Union Address. I especially liked his emphasis on becoming competitive
in a world marketplace. I’ve always felt that many of the jobs that went away during this recession
aren’t coming back. Obama seemed to acknowledge that when he referred to a steel plant doing the
work that used to take 1000 people with only 100. This has happened all across the board. When
business is booming, the tendency is to throw “bucks and bodies” at the problem. It’s
a fast track to increased output to meet the increased demand, but it’s not very efficient or innovative.
slow down, companies tend to re-evaluate their situations and take a fresh look at their manning requirements.
They use that time to streamline and implement smarter, more efficient processes. If they can downsize
and still maintain their capacity and productivity, they will cut jobs they consider obsolete or redundant. Those
jobs aren’t coming back. Having spent forty years in manufacturing in a management position, I’ve
seen this countless times. I believe a significant percentage of the jobs lost are in that category.
This is why I believe Obama is on target when he advocates retraining for the jobs that are still available.
In some cases, there’s a shortfall of qualified candidates for these positions and retraining is the smartest
thing for an out-of-work person to do. You’re not going to be recalled to your old job because it’s
Facing this can be a very traumatic experience for someone. We consider our jobs
as something that’ll always be there. Obama eluded to the transient nature of jobs today and how
it’s changed over the years. I was through that myself. A company I was with many
years ago had this kind of protectorate sense of “family” and promoted that with all of their employees.
As a result, people tended to stay there for many, many years. There were a couple of people who
were there over forty years. In that nurturing environment, you feel safe and secure. When
things got very bad at one point, and management did everything they could to keep as many employees as possible, there were
still some who got laid off. The trauma they went through was extraordinary. They felt
a strong sense of betrayal.
Well those days, as Obama pointed out, are over. It’s time to rethink where
and how you will be employed, and what you’re going to need to do to get ready for that. For some
who haven’t faced that prospect in a long time or begun to prepare for it, it can be devastating. Personally,
I’m practically giddy to be retired from that world of manufacturing and happy as can be to be back doing what I love,
writing and talking about music. But I have to confess, there’s a lot of left-over anxiety stuffed
away in my head, and I still have nightmares about working that really leave me stressed out the following morning.
I guess it’s like going through withdrawal. After nearly four years, it’s not totally
out of my system yet. That’s scary. Maybe there’s a twelve-step program
My website is my catharsis because it’s all about my music and my experience with it. I
think the reason I offer my music to anyone interested in downloading or copying it is because I want to be free of any commercial
ties and any restrictive practices. I’m not going to make any money writing music, except for what
I do for Byron, so I don’t muddy the waters with trying to get what I can monetarily. There’s
no restrictions and no hassles. My music is completely free. There is an implied copyright
but I haven’t formally applied for it with any of my work. If you download it or use it in any way,
you know where it came from. I know that you know where it came from, and that’s good enough for
Peace and love,
I’ve completed a short piece (meaning a
little over three minutes) for prepared piano simply called Music for Prepared Piano. As I mentioned,
it is a serial piece ironically written for an instrument associated with John Cage, who was not a fan of serial
music. Another irony in all of this is that Cage studied with Schoenberg for awhile,
who is the one who developed the twelve-tone system. All of these contrasts are what prompted me to use
the serial method for this piece, rather than a free-form approach, which would probably be more fitting. You
can check my piece out on my What’s New page. It is accompanied by a photo of Cage
actually preparing a piano according to the tunings he specified.
I’ve been reading an interesting book Words about
Music, which is the transcription of a series of lectures Milton Babbitt gave at the University of Wisconsin
in Madison in 1983. What’s interesting to me is Babbitt’s tendency
to be far less verbose when lecturing (as opposed to his writings) and that approach’s ability to better communicate
his message. I’m on the first chapter but, so far, it’s been very informative and a good read.
Babbitt knew Schoenberg while he was in New York. It was Babbitt who
suggested the term set to identify the twelve-tone row or series. Babbitt preferred series
but there was some German translation issues that made Schoenberg reject this. Set comes
from the math vernacular. Babbitt was fond of borrowing terms from other disciplines.
One of the other things Babbitt expounds on is how much misunderstanding existed, and in fact
still exists, as far as how to use the twelve tone system to compose music. He talked about how composers
were hung up on assuring they used all twelve tones before they repeated any. In fact, that’s the
rule for constructing the set, not for using it to compose. I’m beginning to like Babbitt
even more. He is not only a significant theorist on serial music, he’s a damn good composer.
It’s because he’s a composer that what he says about the theory makes sense, even though much of what he’s
written can be quite verbose. I guess I can suck it up, get a dictionary and continue reading his stuff.
Maybe I’ll expand my vocabulary a little.
From what I’ve heard, New York is in for more snow and continued
cold. This probably means Byron won’t venture out again and it’ll be a bit longer before I
receive the next score. Clearly I don’t want him to brave the elements if he doesn’t have to.
He not only has to have the score photocopied, he then has to send it FedEx, both efforts requiring him to walk to
the respective facilities to do this. Walking the streets of New York in the winter, after a significant
snowfall, can be treacherous. He’s had enough mishaps doing exactly that. I don’t
want him to have any more. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it, which is what drove me to find a technology
solution to such things. But I’ve always been much more technically inclined than Byron, so it would
follow that my solutions would reflect this. Byron is an avid walker, a very healthy practice and
one I should emulate. I, on the other hand, take a cab to the bus stop, metaphorically speaking that is.
Another motivation for seeking less strenuous solutions.
With the prospects of more delays, I’m going to consider
another project. I’m not going to start the tribute to Uncle Hank quite yet. This
will require more focus than I’m going to be able to give it at this point. I need a project I can
easily break away from when I do receive the next score. Maybe, I’ll begin to put ideas together
for another String Quartet. This would be number six for me. A String Quartet is an
ensemble of instruments widely written for by many composers over the years. Even today, when the tendency
is to shy away from the more traditional instrument groupings, the String Quartet remains a viable choice.
of the things Byron and I discussed recently is who will replace the concert-going audiences when the aging population of
subscribers begins to die off, literally and figuratively. Sadly, most symphony orchestras, specifically
their management personnel, have done little to cultivate new audiences. In fact, with their insistence
on sticking to the worn-out repertoire they’ve been playing ad nauseum, they’re not doing much to help matters.
What they consider as a “modern” addition to their program are usually works by the likes of Bartok, Debussy
or Stravinsky. The works they choose are usually decades old and none of these are living composers. That’s
Occasionally there’s a bright spot on this horizon, like Gustavo
Dudamel, who brings an energy and enthusiasm to his conducting and often selects works by Latin composers he’s familiar
with. I’ve watched his televised concerts on Ovation TV ( a cable television channel) and
was blown away by the response of his audiences. They’re not dressed in suits and ties, they’re
dressed casually and most are sitting on the lawn, like you would at Ravinia here in the Chicago area. Nothing
stuffy or high brow about it. Just exciting music enjoyed as is, no frills, no formality. Unfortunately,
he’s the exception, not the rule. We need a lot more Dudamels if there’s going to be a change,
and if there’s going to be new audiences for concert music. We definitely have to lighten up.
put the Hank tribute on the back burner and start exploring some ideas for a new String Quartet. I also
had some thoughts, actually from a couple of years back, of taking some of the early jazz tunes I wrote and arrange them for
a big jazz band. I still may do some of that as well. Today, I have to take care of some mundane, everyday
things like get new windshield wiper blades and add some washer fluid to the reservoir. Last trip out was
kind of scary. I couldn’t see very much out the front, so I looked out the side window instead.
But all the horn blowing and tire screeching was annoying, so I’d better get new wiper blades today.
It seems other drivers get pissed off when you’re not that specific about where you drive.
Peace, love and more of
I have begun work on a new piece entitled Music
for Prepared Piano and is dedicated to John Cage. Interestingly, the instrument is an ordinary
piano modified by Cage, adding objects to various strings like screws, bolts, washers and nuts, but the music I’m writing
for it is decidedly twelve-tone. The sample library I’m using is the only one authorized by the Cage
estate. The irony, if you know anything about modern music’s history from the late 40s through the
60s, is that Cage, and those that surrounded him, considered their music as experimental, while the European serialists
considered their music as Avant Garde. In spite of a brief time when Cage and Boulez
were friendly and corresponding, the differences between the two schools far out-weighed their similarities.
Boulez tired of Cage and even referred to him as a performing monkey, typical of Boulez’s
charming personality, especially at that time. Maybe today, in his 80s, he’s mellowed.
But the serialists, including Stockhausen, Pousseur, Penderecki and others, who taught at Darmstadt,
subscribed to the total serial method, advocated by their primary influence, Olivier Messiaen (Boulez
and Stockhausen studied with Messiaen). While Cage and others, mostly
in New York, took a more open, less system-oriented approach. Some of those composers included Morton
Feldman, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff and LaMonte Young. During the 50s and 60s primarily,
there was a cerebral feud, if you will, going on between the two groups.
However, time eventually leveled everything out.
Total serialism pretty much ran out of steam. The experimental work of Cage and others also ran
out of steam. But understand, today’s composers are still writing music in these basic styles.
There are differences, of course, but essentially it’s still the same approach. The influences
of both the Serialists and the Experimentalists were profound. But many composers, including myself, took
from both schools. That’s why I’m writing serial music on a prepared piano. I
think of it as the coming together that never happened between the two groups. Most of the composers of
that era have left us. Only a few remain. But their impact on today’s composers
Now, granted, there’s not very much total serialism being written. Likewise, there’s
not a lot of the kind of experimentalism being done today that was prevalent back then. However,
you need only to go to Theresa Sauer’s website at Notations 21(www.notations21.net) to see that the graphic scores, similar to those that came out of that era, are still very much
alive and well and being created by many of today’s composers to document their music. Theresa’s
primary influence in creating this project was John Cage’s ground-breaking book on graphic scores called Notations.
Also, you will find a lot of composers still writing atonal music that comes from the early twelve-tone system invented
by Schoenberg and elaborated on by many others, including Milton Babbitt, Karlheinze Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.
So both schools are still represented in a lot of today’s music but not in the same way as it was earlier.
It’s gone through a metamorphosis of sorts to become what it is today. But the influences
Today, Boulez is still with us but as a well-known conductor. I’m
not sure when he composed his last work. Clearly, he has chosen a different path than the one that made
him such an influential composer in the 50s and 60s. But, the music analysts and musicologists have found
a wealth of material in the serialists’ work. The overwhelming number of books on the subject are
essentially analysis-oriented and not necessarily used to learn how to write atonal music. I’ve already
expounded on that, so I won’t do it again. But my point is simply that both types of music are still
being composed today, only in different shapes and forms than before. That is as it should be.
It’s very indicative of the evolutionary path music has taken over the centuries.
So the irony of my writing
serial music for the prepared piano is something more important to me than most anyone else. Nonetheless,
it makes for interesting music. With objects attached to various strings, those tones are dramatically
altered. They are more percussive in nature and sometimes create a unique timbre. I
am approaching the piece as though I were writing it for a normal piano. I do not have a listing of what
strings were prepared and how. I wanted that to be completely random. The result, thus
far, makes for a unique and interesting piece of music. I’ve posted a sample on my What’s
New page for you to check out. It’s been fun writing this piece.
But I’ll only have today and tomorrow to work on it. Then on Tuesday, I’ll
receive the next score from Byron for the Tonia project. That means setting the piece aside and turning
my attention to that next score. For those in the Philadelphia area on April first, here is ticket information
for the concert. Just follow this link. http://www.kimmelcenter.org/events/?id=3987
Another project I’m considering is
a tribute to Uncle Hank. Since he was a very good banjo player, I’m thinking of an orchestral
ensemble (woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion), featuring the banjo as the solo instrument. I’m
betting that’s not been done before. Of course, if I expect anyone in the family to listen to it,
I’m going to have to write it in a somewhat tonal style. Suffice it to say that most of my friends
and family consider my serial music as “weird”. My musician friends, on the other hand, think
it’s okay. They just think I’m weird. It seems I can’t escape the
“weird” reference no matter what. I can accept that. Weirdness is inherent
in a good person, just as its inherent in most everything else. I’m proud to be weird.
two projects of my own (the prepared piano piece and the Hank tribute), and the two remaining scores for the Tonia project
(the medley and overture), I haven’t planned anything else. It seems what I have on my plate for
now is enough without thinking about the next course. It’s like your mother told you, you shouldn’t
eat too much, too fast, or you’ll get sick. If I’ve estimated correctly, what I have planned
should take me to early spring. Then the birdies will start twittering, the flowers will start blooming
and I’ll start thinking about the next project, in that order. I expect 2011 to be a very productive
year for me. I want to be able to write several works and have them be some of my best work.
But I also expect world peace and an end to the environmental problems. Just like me.
Always asking for more. What can I tell ya’?
I know among the next projects will be more from
Byron, including the two scores for Adam Unsworth, and maybe that project for the bassoonist Byron’s been talking about.
But nothing’s firm on those, so I’m not putting them into the mix just yet. Beyond that,
as far as copyist projects, I don’t think there’s anything else even being discussed. It’s
a bit dry out there, according to Byron. But he’s ambitious and will leave no luncheon unattended
if it means a potential project. He’ll start making calls and get himself on everyone’s radar
in hopes that there’s another project or two out there. He doesn’t really need the money, but
his ego needs the challenges. I can relate to that. It’s why I’ve partnered
with him as his copyist so we can both enjoy the challenges and make some extra bread in the process. That’s
always a good thing.
Peace, love and a big bowl of pasta and meatballs,
As of this morning, January 21, I finished my
electronic piece Six Stones. I had begun this work sometime last year but set it aside while I
was working on Tonia’s project. But, with a lull in that project while waiting for the next score,
I had time to work on it and get it completed. Each of the six segments were constructed of a main theme
with a few variations. I blended all of these theme and variations for each of the six segments I developed.
Then I took each blended segment and blended those into one track that became Six Stones. I did
some volume adjustments to achieve a better balance before mixing it down. It’s on my What’s
New page. I invite you to download it and listen with headphones for maximum effect, but do it straight!
I’m not responsible for what may happen while under the influence (I’m kidding, man).
So now the two projects
I’ve been working on are complete. The timing couldn’t be better as I heard from Byron this
morning and the next score should be here by Tuesday of next week. Fortunately, it won’t be needed
for the February 2 rehearsal, so I don’t have to rush to get it done. It is a medley of inspirational
songs Tonia favors. After this, all that remains is the Overture, which will open the concert.
The Overture is like a summary of the tunes that will be performed, giving a little taste of each. It’s
something more often done for Broadway musicals and similar theatrical performances. It’s a nice
way to open a concert showcasing these kind of songs.
We also talked about the project that will happen after this one.
It will be two additional tunes for Adam Unsworth’s project. Unfortunately, Adam never got
the funding he was hoping for and will finance this project out of his own pocket. For that reason, both
Byron and I will be receiving fees much smaller than would be the case otherwise. But I don’t mind
that because I like Adam and really want to see this unique jazz-chamber music album get made. I really
enjoyed the first five tunes we did a couple of years ago. Now Byron and I will add two more and Adam will
add one. Adam’s next challenge will be to find a label to distribute the album. But
the prospects for that don’t look too good. It’s hard times in the music business.
No word on the bassoon and chamber ensemble project, but that’s going to still happen sometime soon.
I am awaiting
receipt of a sample library for John Cage’s prepared piano. I ordered it from Big Fish Audio.
It is the only prepared piano sample library authorized by the Cage estate, so it’s authentic. I
acquired this because I have an interest in composing a piano piece using the prepared piano. I want to
dedicate it to John Cage because, in his own way, he inspired me. It wasn’t so much a musical inspiration
as a philosophical one. I learned that there was more to the musical experience than what I was seeing
up until then. He gave permission to be totally open to anything, even though I thought I already was.
Understanding this through John’s vision made it better. So I thought a piece dedicated to
John might be best written for the instrument he modified. That may be my next project, or at least one
of them. I may work on a couple of projects concurrently, with each being different enough to be interesting.
In the last
couple of years, I had taken up the bad habit of smoking little cigars once in awhile. I didn’t inhale,
I just smoked them. But in the last couple of days, I decided to quit. My wife wasn’t
too pleased with the tobacco smell, even with candles and incense burning to cancel out some of the odor. It
became a hassle. In the warmer months, it was okay to sit out on my patio, read a little and have a smoke.
Well, it’s 8° out there and I’ll be damned if I’m going out for anything, let alone a smoke.
Besides, intellectually, I know it’s a bad thing as well as expensive. Even at a discount,
ten packs of twenty cigars each is still close to $100. I could spend that on new sample libraries, a good
enough reason to quit.
I still have more material to go through as part of my continued studies, even though much of it is
more about analysis than actual compositional techniques. But, being the eternal optimist, I’m still
looking for clues I may have missed. But, to be honest, I’ve read as much as I can tolerate about
pitch class sets and the endless stream of ways to move them around. It’s like debating what shoes
to wear and why, just to talk a walk. Put on something comfortable and start walking! Analysis
is not composing. Analysis is not necessary to compose, only to understand the technical aspects of the
system. If you understand the technique, you may still not understand the music.
But I persist in my efforts
to try and unlock the secrets behind the techniques in order to discover something that will be useful to me as a composer.
This is a clear indication that I’m tenacious, persistent and, maybe, just plain dumb! If
you put your hand in the fire and burn yourself, it’s usually enough to keep you from doing it again. If
you still do it again and get the same result, you’re a special kind of stupid. I fear when it comes
to my ongoing studies, I’m a special kind of stupid. I’m still looking for what evidently is
not there. There are places for people who keep doing that and I’ll bet I’m going to wind up
there someday. I need to work on fixing that flaw in my otherwise demented character. I
don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
Peace, love and a Chicago-style hot dog,
I have completed Pasticcio and
have posted the MP3 file on my What’s New page, and the score on my Scores page. I
have presented it with both movements in a single track, without any separation. The only pause is for
the fermata ending the first movement, but then going directly into the second movement. The piece is a
little over 23 minutes long. This piece represents my application of various serial techniques including
duration rows and Babbitt’s time-point system. I developed a number of 48-row matrices that were
used for both linear and vertical elements.
The pitch class sets were developed more for
their overall motivic potential than any other reason. As I said, I did not use any hexachordal combinatoriality
to create rows, but I did use some partitioning. I broke out some rows into partitions of three and four
notes. You can re-order the notes in each partition however you want to. This was a
useful technique for creating harmonic elements, but also for melodic elements. The fact is that the rule
says in creating a series or row, you can’t repeat a note until all twelve are stated. But this doesn’t
pertain to the music you create from these rows. That’s a misconception among some composers new
Pasticcio is also constructed as the title’s description suggests, which is assembled from
pre-existing sources. It was this explanation that convinced me of how appropriate it was for a piece
based on the serial technique. Since musical form has become whatever you make it, that is not in any predetermined
format like Sonatas or Concertos, I used a combination of timbre and intensity to structure the piece. I
achieved variation in tone color through the use of articulations, some not often used like Col Legno.
I think it added interest to the piece. Intensity is also a variable, usually coupled with varying
dynamics, but also emotional changes. I saw it more as a journey with stops along the way to take in the
sights and experience each to its fullest. A musical road trip through a landscape of my creating, if that’s
not too esoteric.
Today, January 20th, would have been my friend Chuck Domanico’s 67th
birthday. Chuck passed away in 2002. We were the best of friends, more like brothers
actually. We met in high school and developed musically together. He introduced me to
Byron over fifty years ago. I think about Chuck a lot and miss him very much. We were
two Italian musicians with an affinity for one another’s musical sensibilities, as well as each other’s personalities.
After he and Byron had a falling out years ago, they hadn’t spoken to each other. When I learned
that Chuck was seriously ill, I urged Byron to call him and resolve their differences while there was still time.
I’m very glad they did exactly that, even though Chuck would call Byron a chooch (Italian slang for
jackass). I wanted things to end like they began, with all of us together like musical brothers.
been quite a few days since I’ve heard from Byron. I’m assuming he’s working on the next
score and will be sending it soon, but you know what they say about “assume”. Now that I’m
done with Pasticcio, I’m going to hold off doing anything else until I know what’s happening with the
next score. It’s not leaving me much time to get it done before rehearsal on February 2nd
. Fertilizer descends the earthen mound and I’m at the base of said mound. What
does that tell you? Not a pretty picture. But I can only move at the speed of Prov.
I’ll do my best but....
Tomorrow, it’s going to be colder than the proverbial well digger’s shovel (feel free to
insert your own reference here if the shovel thing is too tame). It’s January in Chicagoland so it’s
normal to have single digit temps with below zero wind chills. Normal or not, it’s too cold for this
composer! Friday looks like a good day to do something constructive indoors, even if it’s not that
constructive, as long as it’s indoors. I don’t do well in 7° temperatures.
I’m not even too thrilled about 20° temperatures! Starting tonight, there’s wind
chill advisories. That means if you leave it out, it’ll freeze and break off, so don’t leave
Peace, love, brotherhood and a warm bowl of chicken soup,
My work continues on Pasticcio.
I am well into the second and final movement. It’s intentionally going slow, as I’m
focusing on making intuitive transitions from one statement to another. Thus far, the piece is more like
a series of statements linked together to create the piece’s structure. My objective was to introduce
an element of variation through contrasting passages in texture, density and movement. As the title implies,
the piece is being assembled from several pre-existing sources, except these sources are being pre-composed then inserted
into the piece at the appropriate points.
I’ve dismissed the use of hexachordal combinatorial methods to develop
rows. The pcs I use are developed intuitively, mostly based on the potential motivic properties,
as well as on certain interval patterns that appeal to me. I concur with Charles Wuorinen when
he said in his book Simple Composition that most of the analysis done by musicologists and the like are fine if you
want to better understand the twelve-tone system but have little to do with the compositional process. Because
you may understand the process, doesn’t mean you understand the music. There is a difference between
composition, analysis and perception, as Wuorinen points out. Analysis is not de-composing (the
reverse of composing). Composition is not the reverse of perception. A work cannot be
written as if composing were a slow-motion form of listening.
There’s nothing to listen to! Listening
to music is a time-dependent, one-directional activity. You can’t hear a piece backwards, unless
you’re still into finding hidden messages in old Beatles songs. You can’t make events come faster to you than
the rate at which they’re being performed, even if you know what’s coming. Composing and the
musical perceptions of a composer are time-independent. Unlike a listener, a composer has a total, instantaneous
sense of his or her piece and the relationships it contains. So, when reading about twelve-tone, serial
techniques, my intent is to find within what I’m reading something that’s useful to me as a composer.
I have no intention of trying to become knowledgeable for the purpose of coming on like some kind of
freaking genius. The tedious and insidious analysis done of twelve-tone, serial music has been more for
the academic need. If this music is to be taught in universities and conservatories, it needs to be put
in such a way that knowledge of it can be assessed and graded. There are many a thesis expounding on the
ins and outs of things like pitch class sets, their transformations, combinations and all of that sort of thing.
They’re all essentially useless as a guide to creating music. I pour over them in an effort,
mostly futile, to find some insight into how I can more effectively compose my music. Much of what is written
is overly complex, verbose and tending more to the mathematical side than the musical side. The double-edged
sword of serial music is that it’s far more mathematical than tonal music is. Since this cross-over
makes it more interesting to the math whiz kids, and math being a very teachable concept, books on serial techniques are more
about the math.
In my early studies involving tonal music, I can’t remember ever seeing anything expressed as
an equation or in some mathematical context, except in the most rudimentary way. Tonal music is not about
the numbers, although you can imply the relationship. Because serial music uses integer notation as well
as music notation, it became easier to focus on that instead of the music. With numbers, all sorts of relationships
can be found, if you look hard enough. When I see the examples used in many of these books on serial music,
where the patterns and relationships are highlighted within the passage being examined, I wonder how much of that the composer
was aware of at the time the piece was written. I would guess that very little if any of it was part of
the composer’s mental process while he or she was composing.
One of the reasons I admire Morty Feldman
is that he chose not to follow any method or system, but to rely solely on his own musical intuition. And
it’s not that he didn’t study these systems, he certainly did. But, as I’ve said before,
it’s better to know what the rules are before you break them or, in Morty’s case, ignore them. Even
though I intentionally make myself more knowledgeable in twelve-tone, serial music techniques, I only use of it what makes
sense to me as a composer. The rest of my approach is also intuitive. It has to be.
I have to allow my ability to create music to be what guides me, not a desire to emulate anything or anyone.
What determines if a composer is successful shouldn’t be how much of a command of the technical
aspects of the language he or she commands. There are people who have a strong command of the English language
but have very little to say of any interest or consequence. And success surely isn’t determined by
how much money a composer makes. Most make very little money, and those that do aren’t necessarily
compensated based on their abilities, it’s more often political. Many prominent Hollywood film composers
today are compensated well. But, compared to their predecessors of a few years ago, they generally have
less musical training. Creating a soundtrack by looping samples and inserting effects is not the same as
writing the musical score from scratch.
In my view, what determines the success of a composer is more about how well
he or she has communicated with the listener, and not just in some gratuitous way, but in a way that helped the listener transcend
their current state of mind to some higher state they may not have realized without hearing this music. How
moved were they by the music? How much has it affected their perception? To cause these
things to happen for the listener is the mark of a successful composer, in my opinion. It’s not an
academic contest to see who has retained the most knowledge, or who has earned the most money or received the most awards.
These things are more tied to the social and political aspects of musical life, more to the music business.
is the criteria I hold myself to, as well as other composers. Sometimes, a composer falls short of these
expectations. Not every piece achieves the level of communication I described. That’s
more because we’re more human than unworthy. Everyone has those days where everything seems to go
bad. It’s part of life. Composers are no exception and, therefore, it’s
not unexpected that their work will sometimes reflect this. But when you look at their total body of work,
at least up to that moment, you can see how successful overall they’ve been.
as a young student of music, I was very taken with Stravinsky’s early work, such as Petroushka and Le Sacre
du Printemps. But I wasn’t as taken with his neo-classical works that came after.
There were only a few that moved me. Most were not very interesting to me. But
when he entered his serial period in the fifties, his work excited me again. Of course not everyone would
agree with this. They have their own thoughts about Stravinsky’s work. Maybe the
neo-classical pieces were the most moving for them and they didn’t like the serial work at all. It
points out that the perception of success lies in the mind of the listener. The more people moved by Stravinsky,
the more successful he is said to be.
These are some of my thoughts as I revisit some of the text books on twelve-tone, serial music.
I guess I go back to them in hopes I’ll find something that I may have missed the first time around.
Some insight into how to apply a technique in my composing. I also try and balance this learning
experience with my listening experience. By that I mean revisiting my CD collection of serial works to
see if I can hear how a technique was used by the composer. I look at this as a way to validate what I’m
reading as compositionally relevant. I have to confess something here. As closely as
I listen to the many serial compositions I have as recordings, I can’t make out the notes that comprise the pitch class
set the composer used.
I attempt to recognize that familiar pattern but never seem to, at
least in most instances. Maybe in some works, where the pattern is clearly evident as a melodic passage,
usually prominently by itself, not buried in a ensemble passage. In those cases, I think I hear the series,
that unfolding of the twelve tones of some permutation of the series. But that’s a stretch and is
probably presumptuous on my part. To claim such an ability would be pretentious of me and so much bullshit.
Just listen and enjoy. Try to get something out of what you’re hearing. Know
that, in most cases, there is some amount of magic in each piece of music and you would be better for having found it and
letting it enter your soul. Music communicates at a higher plane. Sometimes you have
to be willing to climb up to that plane to experience it. It doesn’t always reach down to you and
pull you up. You have to meet it half way. But, most of the time, it’s worth the
Peace and love,
Today, a memorial service will be held for Hank
Meschievitz in Cable, Wisconsin. My wife, daughter and son-in-law made the drive up there yesterday.
I chose to stay back as I’m still dealing with some health-related problems. Here is Hank’s
obituary, as put together by his son, Tom.Henry
S. Meschievitz Sr., 96, of Cable, Wis. passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010, at Dunn County Health Care Center in Menomonie,
Wis. Henry Stanley Meschievitz was born Aug. 27, 1914 in Cable the son of William and Alexandra (Pomither) Meschievitz. He
was raised in Cable and received a common school diploma and then attended taxidermy schooling in Omaha, Neb. Henry returned
to Cable where he went to work for the telephone company and opened a taxidermy shop.
On May 5, 1941 Henry joined the U.S. Army and attended radar training at North Carolina
State in Wilmington, N.C. Henry also trained with a gunnery unit and was stationed in Washington DC and the Virginia Coast.
With his training, Henry was able to serve as a field marshal for the Carolina Maneuvers between Patton and Eisenhower. Henry
volunteered to join the 101st Airborne and was sent overseas and dropped into Europe in the D-Day invasion. He fought in numerous
battles including the Battle of the Bulge before being stationed at an airfield in Poland. Henry received several decorations
including the Presidential Unit Citation and the WWII Victory Medal for his service in World War II before being honorably
discharged on Dec. 25, 1945.
Jan. 16, 1945 Henry and Sally Lou Alford were joined in marriage in Baltimore, Md., just before Henry was sent overseas. After
his time in the service Henry worked a short time with some of Sally’s family near Atlanta, Ga. before moving back to
Cable. He worked on the family farm and at the Ashland power company for several years before becoming the caretaker of Forest
Lodge in 1949. A large part of his position at Forest Lodge was being the horticulturist for the property. Some of his flowers
won ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair.
served as Cable Town Chairman for several years in the mid 1960’s. After his retirement from Forest Lodge he went back
to work for Lake Owen Villas as their caretaker. Throughout his life Henry was known as a jack-of-all-trades and excelled
at doing all kinds of projects. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing but his favorite pastime was working with the sawmill
he renovated on the family farm.
Henry is survived by his two sons, Henry “Stan” (Jessie) Meschievitz Jr. of Windsor, Colo., Thomas Meschievitz
of Menomonie; four grandchildren, Sally, Mika, Elizabeth and Casey (Noa) Meschievitz; two great-grandchildren, Isabelle and
Ana; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; six brothers; and four sisters.
you can see, Hank lived a full life. By comparison to many, he had what can best be described as a “good
run”. He will be missed by everyone who knew and loved him.
I spoke with Byron yesterday (Friday, January
14) and he informed me the piano player on the Tonia project received the piano parts I sent him and had some questions.
Tom is one of those musicians who likes to be thorough and well prepared. Today, I will be sending
him the piano part for the last score we worked on, so he can look it over and run through it. He likes
to be familiar with the material so he can focus on Byron conducting. That’s the mark of a true professional.
informed me that Tonia will be in New York by the end of the month and wants to start rehearsing on February second.
This means that Byron will have to kick it into high gear and finish the remaining two scores. And,
of course, that means his sense of urgency will become my sense of urgency. When I get the next score,
I’ll have to really focus on getting it done ASAP to keep pace with the schedule. I think having
February rehearsals are more because Tonia is concerned with having a problem-free performance. Clearly
all the musicians on the date are of a caliber that she has nothing to worry about. This is what these
guys do for a living and are very good at it.
But, be that as it may, Tonia is funding the project, therefore, she calls
the shots. If that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get. The one
with the bread makes the rules, not unlike every other situation in life. I’ll be ready to get into
the next score when it arrives. My wife has graciously offered to take care of the cooking and whatever
of the tasks I usually do around the house, so that I can concentrate on working. That’s appreciated,
of course. We have been life partners for about 47 years and have developed a very symbiotic relationship.
Our willingness to pitch in for each other is one of the reasons we’ve been together this long, in addition of
course to still being very much in love.
So, for these next few days, before that next score arrives, I’m working
on Pasticcio. I’m into the second movement now. I’ve been creating
some interplay between the violins, playing Col Legno, and the rest of the strings playing in a soft, legato
fashion. That changes to the violins playing in a soft legato manner, doing a time-point created
passage, while the violas play a pizzicato passage against it in a rising and falling dynamic pattern.
I’m trying to create contrasting elements sounding both concurrently and consecutively. With
the first movement being a little over thirteen minutes, I think there will only be the two movements, so as not to make the
piece excessively long. Too much of anything can ruin things, especially a piece of atonal music.
I will break
from it when the next score arrives. When I finish that and send the score, parts and playback CD to Byron,
I’ll resume work on Pasticcio. The last score, which should be the Overture Byron
is creating for this performance, is all instrumental. That will be it for the project, at least as far
as I’m concerned. My work will be completed but Byron still has to conduct the rehearsals and finally
the performance on April first. But that is something Byron is more than capable of handling, with a lifetime
of experience doing concerts and recordings. I’ll return to Pasticcio to complete it.
This will be Opus 135 for me and one of my more ambitious projects, in terms of experimenting with various serial techniques.
I will finish the Six Stones project that is all electronic. I have three of the six segments
to finish, then I have to determine how I will integrate these six into a single piece. Returning to electronic
music, after doing a number of conventionally instrumented pieces, will be a welcome change of pace. It
presents different challenges than using orchestral instruments. It’s more of a real-time experience,
as I’ve mentioned before. There is no meter, it’s simply sounds occurring along a timeframe
that goes forward. That time going forward thing is only because we haven’t figured out how to go
backward yet, at least as far as time travel is concerned. Many of us seem to go backwards in plenty of
In fact, one of the tenants of Babbitt’s time-point system is that while sound can go either up or down, time
can only go forward. Since the time-point system uses integer notation to determine attack points, using
a modulus (a division of the bar into twelve units), if the attack point is 4, and the next attack point is 3, the 3 has to
occur in the following bar. That’s because music doesn’t move backwards, it can only go forward.
You can’t create an attack point at 4 then go back to the 3 in the same bar. You have to go
to the next bar because the music moves forward in time. I know that’s probably confusing to many
of you. Believe me, I understand. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you
know I struggled with understanding the time-point system for quite awhile.
But I finally had an “Aha”
moment when it suddenly became clear to me. I had been using a durational row scheme prior to that (and
still do from time to time) where you select a note duration (like a sixteenth note) as your unit of duration.
Then, using integer notation, you simply multiply the duration unit by the integer to determine its duration in the
music. For instance, with a unit of a sixteenth note, the integer 4 would translate to a duration of a
quarter note. That’s because the sixteenth note times 4 equals four sixteenth notes or a quarter
Using the integers from each pitch class set, you can vary each note’s duration accordingly.
Where this becomes particularly interesting is when you create several lines of these duration sets to be played concurrently.
What results is some interesting counterpoint that adds a whole new dimension to the piece. Of course
like anything else, too much of a good thing can turn into tedium, which can quickly lose the listener’s attention.
But to interject these duration-based counterpoint passages adds some interest. You can even juxtapose
some motivic line over the counterpoint for an even more complex texture. If Babbitt taught me anything
it’s that the techniques he developed are useful elements of variation that adds shape and form to a piece, while still
relating everything to the pitch class set in some way.
The most significant difference between composing a tonal piece,
as opposed to an atonal piece, is the system you’re using. Each works with the same twelve notes
in the chromatic scale. And, as I said, a blending of the two is an area of compositional technique where
I believe today’s music has evolved to. Today’s composers have a far more difficult challenge
than those like Bach, Beethoven or Handel did. Those early composers followed an almost formula-based,
recipe-like approach to composing where the classic forms. like Sonata Allegro, established the shape and form of the piece.
It was the template they used, only needing to fill in the notes, so to speak.
I’m not saying, of course, that the
music they created wasn’t inspired and magnificent. It clearly was, which is why composers like Bach are considered
masters. But what I am saying is today’s composers have many more choices, and many more decisions
to make regarding those choices. Shape and form in today’s music is far less like the classic forms
of yesterday. Most are invented to suit the particular piece and aesthetic intent. Then
there’s the matter of what system of harmonic organization to use, tonal, atonal, some hybrid of the two?
All of these factors need to be considered.
To my mind, today’s composers have to be
much better at their craft than Beethoven et al ever had to be. And I think we dress better.
No powdered wigs for me, man!
Peace and love,
I’ve begun the second movement of Pasticcio,
even though I hadn’t planned to do so until later. I’m actually not very deep into it.
I’m just trying some ideas out. In fact, it was my thinking about these ideas that prompted
me to resume work on the piece, even though I know I’ll have to start work on the next score from Byron, probably sometime
Monday afternoon. But that’s a few days away and I just can’t stay away from the studio.
What can I tell ya’? I think I’m a workaholic. Who knew?
That’s something I never would have thought of myself as. It took working at something I love
to turn me into one.
The scores I sent to Byron for the last song were somehow out of sequence and incorrectly collated.
I didn’t even check them as I printed them directly from Sibelius, as they’ve always printed in the right
order. Byron called me on it. Interestingly enough, I had previously saved the score
as a PDF file, so I printed it from that. Lo and behold, it printed just fine. Go figure!
Today, Byron should receive the corrected score printouts. I expect to hear from him later when
he does. I still have no idea why Sibelius printed this particular score out of page sequence.
Later, I will go back to it and figure out what happened. If it did it once, it’ll do it again.
I want to know why.
I subscribe to a blog entitled Modern Tempo. In one of the recent posts,
a reference was made to a website that those involved with music will find hilarious. The link is www.classicalmusicisboring.com . I think you’ll find it funny and entertaining. It pokes fun at those who
take themselves too seriously when it comes to pretentious, high-brow discussions about music and art. It
certainly appeals to my off-beat sense of humor. Check it out. You can subscribe to
it either by email or RSS feed, if you’re so inclined. I recommended it to a few friends in the business
who I know will find it amusing.
I apologize for not attaching the PDF file The Serial Music of Milton Babbitt until 10 hours
after I said I would. I think I had a senior moment last night and just forgot to do it. I
finally posted it early this morning. If you were looking for it and couldn’t find it, my bad!
It’s there now. You know, between screwing up the score printouts and forgetting to post this
Babbitt paper, I’m not having a good week. An old, chronic condition I put up with has come back
to raise hell with me. I’m not going to bore you or gross you out with the details, but it sometimes
channels my energies in a different direction than I expect. I think that’s enough info to share
with you. Any more would be considered TMI and doesn’t make for good blog copy, even mine.
renewed my membership with the Art Institute of Chicago, and our local PBS TV station, WTTW Channel 11. Even
though we’re not frequent visitors to the Art Institute, it’s nice to enjoy the benefits of membership when we
do go. As for the PBS station, it’s the channel we watch the most, so supporting it financially is
something my wife and I both feel good about. I certainly would encourage all of you to support your local
PBS stations. It’s one of the last places you can get quality programming without the endless commercials
and solicitations. They only have pledge drives every now and then, so it’s not at all inconvenient.
Plus, you’ll find more music-related programming on PBS than anywhere else.
I subscribe to cable television (with Comcast).
As part of the package we have, we also get high-speed internet and VoIP phone service. Both the
internet and phone services are very good. But the cable TV programming is a travesty. They
have a ton of channels available, but most are redundant to another channel, so you end up with only a few channels showing
the same content. Plus, they constantly run repeated episodes of everything, sometimes running the same
repeated episodes two or three times in the same day, morning, afternoon and evening. Then there’s
the weekend morning Paid Programming segments, which are infomercials that go on for hours. Aren’t
I already paying for television? Why do I have to be subjected to endless commercials when I already laid
down my bread?
And it doesn’t make any difference which carrier you have, the programming is all the same!
There’s really no advantage of one to the other. The same holds true with satellite service.
What’s up with that? For all three services, I pay on average about $170 a month.
For what you get for your money, that’s close to criminal. I’m actually considering
buying a powerful antenna, having it professionally installed and getting whatever free TV there may be. I’m
also considering just using our cell phones and dropping the VoIP. As for the internet, there’s the
problem. Finding high speed internet service isn’t that easy, at least in my area. You’re
stuck with Comcast or AT&T, for the most part. There are some satellite services but they’re
expensive and signal strength in my area isn’t the best.
That leaves me with very few alternatives. The
internet connection is very important to me, more so than the TV or phone services. For those I have viable
alternatives. But I use the internet for everything, not the least of which is maintaining my website and
this blog. So I have little choice, at least at this time. Maybe I’ll be able
to find a viable alternative to my cable internet connection down the road but, for now, this is it. I,
too, am a slave to technology. But there’s worse things that can befall you. I
may be one of a handful of folks who can still do long division without a calculator. I’m betting
my grandsons can’t. I’ll have to ask them the next time I see them.
Another piece of technology
I’ve resisted is an e-reader, like Amazon’s Kindle. I like the tactile experience of holding
a book in my hand. If the lighting isn’t good enough, I move my butt to a better location.
I don’t need a glare-proof screen. Also, the kind of books I tend to read aren’t likely
candidates for e-reader versions. I just don’t see a Kindle version of any book on serial music or,
for that matter, on any other type of music book I would be interested in. I don’t think this technology
is excessive. For many, it’s a viable alternative to a physical book. You can
actually add notes and the like, for later reference. That’s actually very cool. And
most of these e-readers are Wi-Fi capable, so you can connect to the internet and download books directly, if you’re
near a hot spot or have a home wireless network.
There is a difference between being anti-technology and honestly assessing
your true need for it. In some cases, there is a technological answer to a real need I might have.
My Intel Core i7 computer is one of them. It allows me to compose and produce my music at a level
of professionalism I would have to pay someone else to do for me. My cell phone is another example.
Since I’ve retired from the business world, I have no need to have my email forwarded, nor a busy schedule uploaded
to my calendar, or any of the other features that Smartphones have to offer. I have a simple flip phone
with voice-only service in a no-contract situation. It works fine for me. I have no
need for any features beyond what my little phone offers.
I think many people get caught up in the technology vortex.
As an example, Verizon is now offering the iPhone 3 on their 3G network. There will be loads of
folks rushing to buy it. But, in a few months, Verizon will offer their faster 4G network and Apple is
rumored to be introducing the iPhone 5 sometime this summer. All the folks who are jumping in to get the
old phone on the old network will probably have to sign a two-year contract just for the privilege of upgrading, all because
they’re addicted to having the latest and greatest. It’s not being anti-technology to consider
this as not too smart a move. But for every product, there is a buyer. Impulse or addictive
purchases are not the result of a disciplined, though-out process. It’s a reaction. I
guess these days, I don’t react that fast. I tend to think about it more. Another
of the joys of getting older, I guess.
Peace and love,
I’ve completed what amounts to the first
movement of Pasticcio. It was not my initial intention to divide this piece into different movements,
but that’s the way things worked out. The first movement is about thirteen and a half minutes long,
longer than I thought it was going to end up to be. As the composer, I know it’s me that determines
the duration, but I’ve been letting this piece dictate to me when it’s ready to end, or ready to continue.
It wanted to end at the point I actually did, but it also felt as though it wasn’t completely finished.
I knew there was going to be an additional movement, maybe two. Maybe this is like Zen composing.
I did post the first movement on my What’s New page for you to check out.
I tapped into a number
of methods, some that I developed and some that I read about others developing, mostly Milton Babbitt. In
fact, at the end of this post, I’ve attached a PDF file entitled The Serialism of Milton Babbitt that I found
while researching online. It gives a very good explanation of four of the procedures he developed.
I used many of these in Pasticcio. If you’d like, feel free to download it.
Please know that it gets into some in-depth materials and assumes some prior knowledge of twelve-tone methods.
But it gives you an idea of how this man expanded the practice of serial composing to levels Schoenberg never considered
when he created the system in the 1920s.
The first part of the paper talks about Schoenberg’s and Webern’s
influence on Babbitt, prompting him to seek Schoenberg out when he lived in New York for a short time. He
never had the chance to study with Schoenberg because he moved away to California to escape NY’s winters, but was definitely
affected by him and his music. It’s what got him into serial music in the first place.
Over the years, there have been a few individuals who have expanded the study of twelve-tone music, including Alan
Forte, John Rahn and George Perle. Each of these people have written at least one book on
the subject, and I own every one of them.
In fact, I think my collection of books on serialism, and all of its iterations,
is more extensive than most libraries, including some universities. It’s been the focus of my music
study for the last couple of decades. And still I have more to learn. Actually what
I strive to learn is how to take all this knowledge and apply it to my composing. Knowledge is nothing
unless you can use it. The study of serial methods is very arcane. It’s much more
mathematical than the study of tonal music and deciphering it sometimes requires several re-readings of the same material.
I don’t always find they reveal all of their secrets in one reading. Sometimes it takes two
or three. That’s what I mean by having more to learn.
But, relatively speaking, serial music is still
new, at least compared to how long tonal music has been around. Atonal pieces began to appear after 1900,
so it’s only been around for about a hundred years. When compared to tonal music, the number of text
books on the subject is very low. But, as I’ve said many times in this blog, serial music, in general,
took a few hits from its critics over the years, and even from some of its practitioners. But there
are still composers using this system today, in some way, shape or form. In spite of the bad reputation
it got, some of us believe its language can still tell very moving and exciting musical stories, when in the hands of a composer
who speaks it well.
I think a good example of what I’m trying to say is Byron and I. Byron’s
strength, his gift is to be able to use the tonal language to create these lush and wonderful textures that enhance the performance
of the singers he writes for. As far as his original compositions, they tend to have that same feel
of rich and complex harmonic structures that are his signature sound. Even if I were to attempt to write
in a similar style, it would pale by comparison. That language is not the one I’m most comfortable
in, although I can speak it.
Conversely, my strength, my gift is to create atonal music that
is both beautiful and brooding, with an abundance of complex harmonic and motivic voicings that create interesting atmospheres.
Byron also speaks this language, but any music he would create with it would admittedly not be among his best work.
He speaks tonality very well, I speak atonality very well. The irony, of course, is that we both
create with the same twelve notes of the chromatic scale. It’s like both of our languages use the
same alphabet but the words sound different because we apply the alphabet differently.
As all of you well know, the internet is a vast
wealth of information about nearly everything. While I was doing some research totally unrelated to music,
but using my name as the search word, I came across a few listings that showed some of my scores being part of the library
at Ohio State University. I post my music on my website with no restrictions as far as usage.
This includes both the MP3 files and written scores in the form of a PDF file. The same is true
for any of the papers and articles I’ve written and posted. But, I have to admit, I was taken aback
by this discovery, in a good way. If there are some who are interested in my scores for any reason, I feel
honored and am glad to be considered worthy. But the ultimate lesson learned is that whatever you say or
do on the internet will eventually make its way into some search engine. That doesn’t concern me
at all, in fact it delights me. How cool is that? But, it does point out that I need
to be careful and always get my facts straight.
Now that I’ve finished what’s turned out to be the first
movement of Pasticcio, and with expecting to receive the next score from Byron by this coming Monday, I think I’m
going to wait to begin the next movement. I think if I tried to multi-task, working on both projects concurrently,
my brain will short out and I’ll start drooling...well, more than I do now. Besides, I need to give
some thought to how I’m going to structure the next movement of Pasticcio. I want to do
more pre-planning and some pre-composing before I start on it. There’s a few more techniques I’d
like to incorporate but I want to determine how I’m going to apply them and if the pitch class sets I’ve developed
This coming Saturday, January 15th, there will
be a memorial service for Hank Meschievitz, my wife’s beloved uncle. He will be buried with
full military honors, as befitting this veteran on World War II. I want to close this blog with a salute
and farewell to Hank. He was a hero, a great Dad, a wonderful Grandfather and a hell of a nice guy.
Hank, it’s been my privilege to know you.
Peace, love and respect for all,
Work on Pasticcio is coming along.
I’ve just uploaded a new sample of what’s been completed as of Monday, January10. There’s
nearly 10 minutes of music, 118 bars thus far. I will still be working on it for at least another week.
By next Monday, January 17, I should be getting the next score from Byron for the Tonia project. It
will be a medley of inspirational songs. Rather than taking too much from the original arrangement, Byron
is re-doing a lot of it from scratch. Better him than me. This project has taught me
many things, including the fact that I’m glad I never pursued being an arranger. I’m much happier
being a composer, especially of my own music rather than for someone else’s purposes.
Today (Tuesday, January 11), I intend to do more
work on Pasticcio and determine where I want to take it next. This afternoon, I’m picking
my daughter up at the airport, assuming her flight from Florida will not be delayed due to weather. Several
of her colleagues, who live in Georgia, have had their flights cancelled because of the snow storm they’ve been hit
with. Here in Illinois, we’re supposed to see some snow but nowhere near as bad as the south has
seen. I don’t think the drive to O’Hare will be any worse than it usually is, but I have to
take the Kennedy expressway and that road is as unpredictable as the weather.
I’ve decided to begin another round of
technical reading, revisiting some of the material I’ve collected on atonal and serial music. In
addition to several articles I’ve downloaded, I’m re-reading Simple Composition by Charles Wuorinen.
This is, in my opinion, one of the very best books explaining the twelve-tone system I’ve come across.
He really explains it in easy to understand terms. The book also gets into several advanced serial
techniques, like the time-point system. Anyone interested in composing with the serial system should read
this book. Even if you simply want to better understand it, no other book that I’ve come across can
explain it as well.
One thing I want to try, probably in Pasticcio, is using the integers
from the pitch class sets as interval designations. When you establish a series, the first pitch class
used is an arbitrary choice. It is always designated as “0”. All
other notes in the series are designated by an integer that represents the distance in semitones from that first note.
For example, if the first note is C (having a “0” designation),
and the second note is F, it would have an integer designation of “5”
because it’s five semitones from C. Each note added to the series is assigned
an integer indicating the number of semitones from the first “0” note.
integers can also be used to create permutations of other elements, such as duration or dynamics. But I’m
thinking of using them to designate intervals. Rather than having the integer represent the distance in
semitones from the first note of the series, I’m going to use it to indicate the distance in semitones from the note
just preceding it. It’s another way of expressing the twelve-tone series for use as linear and vertical
pitch material. It’s also a way to develop contrapuntal elements. A great book
that explains some of these techniques is Basic Atonal Counterpoint by Stanley A. Funicelli.
Actually, the interval is at the heart of most western music systems. Wuorinen says that
the main difference between the tonal system and twelve-tone system is that the tonal system is based on interval content,
whereas the twelve-tone system is based on interval order.
However, I still like
blending the two systems into one, single system. To me, it’s inappropriate to use tonality in its
fully functional form. I’m not as interested in following typical triadic harmonic practices, where
I establish a tonal center or key and always resolve to it. The aspects of tonality that I prefer are those
as practiced by the likes of Debussy, where harmony is used as color, not function. There is far less emphasis
on resolving the harmonic and melodic elements back to the original tonal center. Instead, they are used
as timbral elements to add color and shape to the piece. This makes them blend well with the same elements
developed using the twelve-tone system.
As an example of that, in my Sabbats Suite, in the seventh movement
Lammas, I begin in a decidedly tonal environment but make the transition to atonal toward the end of the movement.
I used that transition to depict the Mother preparing to give way to her aspect as the Crone. That
metamorphosis begins at bar 448 and continues to the end of the movement at bar 467 (if you’re interested, you can download
the Sabbats Suite score from my Scores page). This is just one example, maybe not as
representative of my point as others, but still showing this transition from tonal to atonal as less conspicuous.
When using both systems interchangeably, you accomplish a few things you may not if using one system or the other by
The overwhelming majority of people have had their musical experience conditioned by tonality. It’s
been the prevailing system for over four hundred years and is still prevalent today. Most popular music
is based on tonality, some in its more basic form. Most film and theatre production scores are essentially
tonal with perhaps film scores stretching toward the edge of atonality. Many others are more a mix of soundscape
designs and various musical effects with no real system being followed. But they all have entered our musical
psyches and conditioned us to derive an emotional reaction from it. With that said, a system combining
tonal and atonal elements is probably much more acceptable today than it may have been decades earlier.
So, to my way of thinking,
using a blend of the two systems results in music more palatable to people’s taste and, therefore, more readily accepted.
Serial music has the unfortunate reputation as being unemotional, mathematical and limited in many ways.
Of course, to a large extent, this is all true. Critics have bashed atonal music for all these reasons
since the very first performances of works in the early 1900s in this genre. But time has shown that these
early pieces by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern have a very distinct quality that is only now being appreciated. It
also didn’t help serial music when the likes of Boulez and Stockhausen dismissed many of these composers as passé
(with the exception of Webern), and claimed that the Integral Serialism they practiced was the thing.
It wasn’t, and has
since faded away. This has more to do with the seeds of its own destruction being planted from the beginning.
When you look at the body of serial music written between the 1920s, after Schoenberg developed the system, through
the present day, you see that there are simply not that many works, as compared to tonal-based compositions. This
is clearly not to say that there weren’t some tremendous pieces of music written using that system. There
were many, and they remain as masterpieces studied extensively by students of the discipline.
What happened is that
most composers began moving toward that blend of systems I spoke of, some more towards the tonal side, some toward the atonal
side. But it redefined music for most of us and still does today. Experimentation still
goes on today, as it should, and results in some very interesting music that I can’t imagine Schoenberg ever anticipating.
It does tend to find its own path, and that’s a very good thing. My adventures into this blended
system are both a recognition of the validity of this combination as a composing method, and as a means to gain more acceptance
of my music. I still need to express myself musically in whatever manner suits my aesthetic, but I’m
also interested in sharing it with others. So I want to make it more appealing to maximize that effort.
My goal as a composer is to share my musical vision with everyone in the hopes that everyone will find it interesting,
worthwhile and enjoyable.
Peace and love,Prov
Sunday Morning 1-9-2011
The shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several others
in Arizona yesterday is a tragedy that should outrage everyone in this country. Even though we still don’t
know what motivated the individual who fired the shots, you have to wonder what impact all the angry rhetoric and fear-mongering,
that has been going on for so long now, has on those on that hairy edge of reason. There is always going
to be an element, however small, who will interpret what they hear as a call to action. When you stir the
pot, the dark stuff on the bottom will always come to the surface.
herself cautioned that rhetoric of this kind will have consequences. When asked if she had any enemies,
her father was quick to answer that he thought it was the tea party. Indeed, the tea party has managed
to appeal to the basest of instincts in people with their fundamentalist message. I don’t believe
it was innocent or unintentional that Sara Palin used rifle scope symbols on a map to indicate who were the targets for defeat
in the mid-term election. That’s provocative and reckless. I can’t believe
a woman of seemingly high intelligence, like Palin, did not consider the implications of doing that.
I sincerely hope Representative Giffords fully recovers from this. I am so sorry for those
that were killed, including a nine year old girl who came just to see democracy in action. I also hope
that we learn from this tragedy and tone down the negative rhetoric and begin to promote cooperation and tolerance, especially
among those serving in government. The example they should be showing the nation needs to be one that emphasizes
these principles. We shouldn’t be rallying people against something, we should be rallying them for
something. Regardless of what that is, we should always be treating each other with respect and decency.
Hopefully, it won’t take more of this to convince us we need to change our ways. I’ll
leave it at that.
I’m continuing work on Pasticcio and am making
progress. It’s still a give and take situation, in that I compose some passages, I review them, some
I keep, some I delete. I find I’m really focusing on how the piece sounds and abandoning those rules
that get in the way of that. I’ll skip a note in a pitch class set if I feel it conflicts with where
I want the passage to go. I’ve also tried establishing a theme then transposing it by various intervals,
then playing them concurrently. This gives the passage an almost tonal feel. By introducing
elements that are tonal in nature amidst all the atonal passages going on, I achieve a more balanced sound and feel.
Basically, it’s more reminiscent of the early atonal works of the second Viennese school at the turn of the twentieth
century. That wasn’t deliberate. It just came out that way.
The string orchestra, as the only instrumentation of the piece, does not offer a great deal of opportunity
for a lot of different tone color or timbre. There are different articulations you can call upon to achieve
that color variation, but it gets tricky. You can easily begin to make the piece sound gimmicky.
I don’t want a piece full of musical clichés. It’s like the almost obligatory
flutter tongue flute articulation in so much of serial music. It becomes a signature gesture you come to
expect, therefore it gets over done. With strings, I have used articulations, such as tremolo, pizzicato,
Con Sordino, Sul Ponticello, no vibrato, and marcato to establish some variety, trying to carefully introduce
those at the right moments.
Thus far, I have over eight minutes of music written, some ninety
six bars. And, as I said earlier, I’d like to extend this piece to a duration longer than I usually
strive for. I may either break it out into a couple of movements or create an abrupt tempo change somewhere
to initiate the next section, as I did with the Sabbats Suite. That was a single continuous score
with all eight sections intended to be played consecutively, with only fermata pauses in between. I’m
very glad I developed several pitch class sets, and their respective 48 row matrices, for this piece. You
can never be too rich, too thin, have too big of an engine in your hot rod, or have enough rows to work with.
It’s quintessentially American.
Sunday Afternoon 1-9-2011
Continuing work on Pasticcio. I decided to separate sections within the single score,
and am now starting a faster tempo section with staccato and syncopated rhythms. There’s a motif
going on in the four violins, both in unison and in harmony, while the violas, cellos and bass maintain a staccato, irregular
rhythmic pattern. One contrasts the other. I tend to favor this kind of thing when it
comes to works for large string orchestras. In fact, I have to be careful not to repeat myself, so I’m
very much aware that the pattern needs to vary enough to avoid that. I’ve been using a few rotational
schemes for re-using some of this material. I consider it like another permutation in a work full of permutations
of pitch classes, rhythms and durations.
At last check on the MSN site, it looks like Congresswoman Giffords is hanging
in there. She is showing some response to simple commands, but this is just the beginning.
She has many months ahead of her of recovery and rehabilitation. It’s difficult to know to
what extent that recovery will take her. I certainly hope it will be a full recovery. In
listening to news reports today, I think a lot of people have the same idea about the impact of all this heated and hateful
rhetoric. It’s time to tone things down, turn down the heat and stop the hate talk.
tolerance and non-violence,
This morning, I’ve been continuing work on Pasticcio.
I’m introducing a combination of free-form, three-part counterpoint with layers of time-point passages under
layers of marcato gestures in the violins. I’m liking the overall sound that these combinations bring
to the piece. I have about seven minutes of music written already and have more to say. I
see this piece longer in duration than other similar works of mine. This is for a couple of reasons.
First, Gorecki usually wrote lengthier pieces and, with him as my inspiration, I felt it appropriate
to do the same. This gesture is approximate, of course. I don’t set out to write
a piece to fit within a particular time frame, unless it’s for a film score. I usually let the music
tell me when it wants to end. The other exception is when the music must fit a specific libretto or liturgy.
That length will affect the duration of the overall piece. But, since neither of these circumstances
are the case, I’m deliberately allowing the piece to be longer than usual for me.
The second reason has no artistic merit whatsoever.
I usually like to work every day in my studio. When I’m not on a project, whether it’s
mine or someone else’s, I start going stir crazy. I need to work. When I work
every day, even a little, I achieve my greatest artistic satisfaction. I may write a hundred bars or only
a handful. It doesn’t matter, as long as I put in some effort. Often there’s
only so much gas in the tank that day, and I just go so far. That’s cool. At least
I allowed myself to go as far as I could at that particular moment. I didn’t just get lazy and quit
before I was done. I usually don’t do that, on purpose anyway.
But the second reason is simply that I have no
idea how long it’ll be before I see the next score from Byron for the Tonia project, and if I don’t work, I’ll
go nuts (even more so than I already am). With my head deep into Pasticcio for the moment, it’s
the logical choice to work on. That may, on the face of it, seem somewhat counter-intuitive but so what.
It is what it is and I’m just going with the flow. So, those are the two reasons Pasticcio
will be longer in duration than it might otherwise be. Besides, it’s been interesting exploring some
of these advanced serial techniques, and surprising how good they help this piece sound. Mind you, the
technique isn’t why, it’s how I use the technique that makes the difference.
I mentioned that I was reading an earlier edition
of a Perspective on Contemporary Music publication. And I also found that some articles were available
as PDF files for about $10 each. I decided to go to the PNM website and look through the available articles.
From what was shown, I selected eight articles that looked to be of interest to me. Most address
the application of advanced serial techniques, some are more theoretical, and some discuss related subjects. All
in all, I believe they’ll provide me with information to help me be a better composer. At least they
appear to have the potential to do that. Only I can make me a better composer. But acquiring
more knowledge enables that improvement. Knowledge is indeed power.
According to the tracking information I was given
about the two packages I sent out (one to the piano player Tom, and one to Byron), they both should be delivered today.
With that receipt, Byron can send Tonia all the playback CDs I’ve put together thus far, which she’s recently
asked for. There’s always an element of concern when you present such a thing. Tonia
isn’t concerned about the fact that these CDs are simply a rendering of the virtual realizations for each song.
Her expectations will be that they represent how her performance will sound. There are a myriad
of subtle differences (some not so subtle) between the virtual performance and the actual performance Byron will coax from
the musicians on stage.
Those subtleties are not always captured in the virtual performance, even though Sibelius has
extraordinary capabilities to get it very close. Samples are samples. Notation and sequencing
software can only tweak things so much. A virtual performance will never replace the real deal as far as
all the musical nuances and interpretations are concerned. But our intent from the very beginning has been
to provide these playbacks as simulations only, to give a good idea of what the arrangement will sound like with this particular
ensemble, but never intending for them to replace a live performance. As long as Tonia bears that in mind,
she will be satisfied with these playback CDs. They clearly give a feel for how the ensemble will sound.
are not substantially different from the originals done for Tonia’s albums. Byron has successfully
reduced the ensemble size from 23 or so players to only 7, without compromising the sound and flavor of the originals.
An important consideration is to ensure the sound and feel of the songs, as recorded on her albums, remain close enough
to be instantly recognized by her audience. That recognition is paramount if the concert’s success
is to also translate into increased album sales. The albums she’s done with Byron are beginning to
see even greater success, and the concerts are another way to ensure that continues. Personally, I think
Byron’s done a terrific job in achieving that and I know he will get an outstanding performance from these arrangements
and players at the April 1st concert in Philadelphia.
Did I mention it’s freaking cold outside? It’s
freaking cold outside! I know it’s January and it’s supposed to be cold, but it’s been
well below average lately and that sucks. I’ve also heard news reports about hoards of birds falling
out of the sky, in a number of different places throughout the country. There was even reports of fish
doing the same thing. End of days? Or was it just stupid human behavior?
I’m going with the stupid human thing. There’s a lot more evidence of that than anything
else. But, in the spirit of open-mindedness, I’ll give equal time to the opposition here.
While I’m waiting to see what’s next, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing. But
I may not be stocking up on too many supplies that takes me much past December 21, 2012. Hey, maybe the
Mayans were onto something.
I’ve been watching with great amusement how the bevy of new republican congressional folks are
hitting the floor running. They’ve put the repeal of the health care law first on their agenda.
Even though it’s been shown that repealing this law will substantially add to the deficit, they have no faith
in the source of that projection. I also love the fact that they’re carrying a copy of the constitution
around with them. I’m not sure if it’s just for show and to make a point, or if they’re
actually seeing if the things they’re proposing have a shot at being considered constitutional. Carrying
a copy of the constitution around with you doesn’t make you a patriot. I think we’re in for,
what Jerry Garcia called, a long, strange trip. Hang on, man.
I think a Tea Party endorsement can be
more of a curse, instead of a blessing. Those republicans with Tea Party backing, who are new to congress,
seem to be the ones spouting a rhetoric sounding much the same as other Tea Party folks. They’ve
said their election reflected the voice of the people. That’s true. Congress has
an obligation to hear what their constituency has to say and provide a redress of their grievances. But,
at the same time, they have an obligation to do what must be done for the good of all people and the nation.
their constituency say anyone opposed to their policy should be arrested and jailed, should they carry out the will of those
people? Of course not, because it would not be in the best interest of the American people, nor would it
be in compliance with the constitution they carry in their back pockets. Depending on the prevailing situation,
laws can be enacted that are morally wrong. We only need to look back at Germany in the 1930s to see how
that can happen. What the Nazis were doing was legal and followed the law. But the law
was not founded on the basic ideals of a democratic society.
So the newly elected republicans, who are touting
that they are acting upon the mandate they believe the people gave them, should be aware of their responsibility to the constitution
and the laws that have been enacted ruled to be constitutional. They simply can’t reinvent the wheel
just because they don’t like the one they’ve got. Frankly, I still personally believe it’s
all about racism. They’re opposed to Obama because he’s black, not because of what he’s
done. If you listen closely to the economic reports of late, you’ll see that we’re beginning
to come out of this recession and that employment is starting to slowly increase. Maybe Obama’s policies
are starting to pay off. Americans are into instant gratification. If it doesn’t
happen right now, it’s somebody’s fault and we need to find and get rid of them. That’s
not how it always works, is it?
The foreclosure crisis, for instance, isn’t the result of anything the Obama administration did.
The mortgage people did that all by themselves. The swell of refinancing that took place a couple
of years ago was more about enticing people to cash out on their equity, so they could infuse more money into the economy.
This wasn’t money earned, nor generated from increased production of goods. It was money in
the form of equity that probably should have been left alone. None of this was to make it more affordable
for people to stay in their homes, even though that actually happened in some cases. It was to bring more
money into the economy, to generate more consumer spending.
So now we have these huge loans people who refinanced don’t
have the income to afford. Eventually the fecal matter collides with the oscillator and folks begin
to fall behind. After that, things begin to fall apart, including home values. I don’t
remember Obama telling the financial sector it was cool to do this. Greed always seems to prevail when
it comes to the will of the people. Very few people are that altruistic and noble that they do things for
others without any other consideration. Even those very wealthy folks who can, do it because they could
afford it, and for the good image. If they still needed the money, you can bet they wouldn’t
be parting with any of it.
The new republicans need to be aware that this whole greed thing, that seems to be behind
of much of what we do in this country, is something they’re as guilty of as anyone else. They should
also not hide behind that whole carrying out the will of the people thing and step up to their constitutional responsibilities
to enact laws that improve the common good and the welfare of all the people, even those they don’t agree with.
Their time in office shouldn’t be about getting that Obama guy. They only need
look back at the last republican administration to see the root of many of our current problems. It’s
not about undoing Obama, it’s about doing for the American people. All of them, not just some.
C’mon, guys! Read your job descriptions!
Peace, love, tolerance and common sense,
I finally heard from my friend Byron. He was not stranded in D.C., as I suspected, nor was he
impacted by the tremendous snowfall that hit New York, where he lives. He was home and, by his own admission,
just got lazy. His wife, Michelle, wasn’t feeling well and spent a few days at home, and so did he.
He said he thought about calling me, but decided not to.
But we did get down to work. We
went back and forth, making corrections to the score until we covered all errors, or so I thought. Before
I got started on the playback rendering, I printed out two scores and two sets of parts. Then I spiral
bound the scores and taped the parts. Meanwhile, I worked on the playback and got it to what I considered
an acceptable state. After Byron heard it, he noticed two additional errors (his, not mine), a wrong note
and a tempo that was too slow. That required me to re-do the scores and parts. He said
I didn’t have to, but I felt they were significant enough to warrant a do-over, even if that was only because of my
own sense of integrity.
Mind you, I had just spent about 4 to 5 hours doing the printing and binding. I thought
Byron caught all his mistakes (and mine) during the proof reading. As it turns out, he also needs to hear
it, as well as read it, before we can reach a point where it’s okay to proceed with finalizing things. That
was my fault for making assumptions I shouldn’t have. Suffice it to say, I now know better.
Going forward, I will not do any printing and binding until we have a playback we both agree is acceptable, with all
errors identified and resolved. I’ve spent this afternoon re-printing everything and will bind and
tape tomorrow morning.
We have two more scores to get through, then the project will be completed. The next
project, according to Byron, is either the piece he’ll be writing for a bassoonist and chamber ensemble, or the additional
material to be added to Adam Unsworth’s project he began a couple of years ago. He’s waiting
to hear from his people to see if (and when) that’s going to happen. In either case, it’ll
be more copyist work for me. Now that I’m older and wiser, so to speak, it should be easier.
Where have I heard that before?
I removed the Handel video from my What’s New page, and replaced
it with a video of a performance of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, second movement, that took place at the Auschwitz
concentration camp. This is an especially moving performance, and closely represents Gorecki’s inspiration
with this piece. In view of the fact that I’m working on Pasticcio in his memory, and my
many references to him, I thought I’d give you an opportunity to hear his work, if you haven’t already.
The performance at that particular location makes for a compelling musical moment. You will find
it very moving.
New day, same
project. Today I get all the binding and taping done and send everything off to Byron. Presumably
he will start on the next score sometime today. I have no idea when I’ll see it, so I will continue
working on Pasticcio after I mail his package. I intend to add some time-point sequences next.
This will be consistent with how the piece is flowing. After a rough start, it’s starting
to come together. I shouldn’t be surprised at that. Somehow, I always seem to
pull it off, in spite of my self-doubt. I should learn that about myself and trust my intuitions.
Another lesson to learn.
I’m finding the variety I was looking for in the array of articulations the strings are capable
of. Their unique timbre adds to the complexity of the piece and allows me to develop contrasting gestures
that also establishes another layer of variation. So, even though strings, in general, are very similar
from a timbre perspective, digging deeper into their intonation reveals enough variation to keep the piece interesting.
That’s a good thing. Writing a piece like this for string orchestra is a challenge, but in
a good way. It calls upon more of my composing abilities than any other piece might. It’s
the kind of stretch that helps you grow, not snap in two. That’s also a good thing.
I found a
back issue (1990 Winter edition) of Perspectives of New Music (Volume 28, No. 1) available from a used book seller.
It has several interesting articles, among them an interview with Pierre Boulez by Pierre-Michel Menger
covering the period from the Domaine Musical to IRCAM. Frankly, I couldn’t get through it because
Boulez’s responses had that same arrogant air about them that, once again, rekindled my dislike for the man.
I considered subscribing to this publication, but it seems that, on average, for every 15 articles, about 2 or 3 would
be of interest to me. They do offer individual articles for sale as PDF files, so that may be a better
choice for me.
I simply can’t abide the endless parade of analysis articles. I don’t
give a rat’s tukas if you’ve discovered this hidden permutation in a Webern work, buried somewhere in the bass
clarinet part, or whatever. Who gives a damn! Stop examining Webern’s musical
bones and move on! Isn’t there a substantial body of work by living, contemporary composers?
Shouldn’t we have a look at some of those? Maybe, by doing that, we can help give these composers
exposure they wouldn’t have otherwise?
I resist publications and books that give musicologists
a platform to pontificate on why certain composers did what they did. We should be concentrating on how
these works sound, why they appeal to us or, conversely, why they don’t, if that’s the case.
The volumes of technical knowledge surrounding any genre or style of music is literature for those who compose
it, or play it, or who want to better understand it. The average listener can’t discern a tone row
in a serial composition if it came up and bit him on the ass. He shouldn’t have to. He
should just be allowed to listen and derive whatever pleasure (or pain) he can from the music. The analogy
I often use is that a driver doesn’t need to understand internal combustion engine technology to drive a car.
And auto makers go to great lengths to have the technology be there and working, but be transparent to the driver.
Those of us involved in music should really spend some time figuring out how we can make the listener’s experience
more enjoyable. Yet, we shouldn’t compromise our aesthetics or deliberately dummy-down the music
to the point where we think the listener can better understand it. That’s just plain insulting.
People are inherently intelligent. They get through life, facing all sorts of adversity and challenges.
In most instances, they overcome it and continue to live life, be productive, raise families, and make a contribution,
however small. That takes a measure of intelligence and a strong will.
I try to keep this in mind when I write my music.
I am like my listeners in that I face the same hurdles in life that they do. Maybe my gift of being
able to compose music is one I consider extraordinary as compared to other human endeavors, but the music I create is nothing
more than a reflection of who I am. I believe people will get my music if they give it a fair shake when
listening. There’s nothing super-human about it, or me. I don’t have a need
to seek out others like me just to reinforce the notion that we’re somehow superior because we have command of music’s
language. I despise cliques. I have little use for gatherings of folks with a common
interest who feel it their duty to convert me to their way of thinking. It’s that kind of thinking
that allowed us to all but obliterate the Native Americans.
Okay, that was a rant you didn’t need to hear.
Sorry ‘bout that. But you get my point. Music shouldn’t be analyzed
ad nauseum. It should be played and heard. It should connect with the listener and,
hopefully, help that listener realize a sense of enjoyment and perhaps enlightenment. But it’s still
okay if it does little more than make them smile. In fact, that’s a very nice thing indeed.
When you consider everything that’s happening in the world, anything that makes you smile is welcome.
Byron called again this afternoon to tell
me he’s heard from Tonia. She’s ready now to listen to all the playback CDs we’ve been
developing. I know she’ll be happy with the overall sound. She will have to keep
in mind that these are virtual realizations based on the sound samples I used and MIDI protocols. All Byron
and I manipulated were dynamics. The instrument quality is based on the sample. I used
the East-West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra sample library, which is among the best sounding libraries around.
Of course, it will never equal a live performance by excellent players, as she will have at her April
concert. And she’ll have the benefit of Byron’s many years of writing and conducting for many
prominent vocalists, which will guide the ensemble to his usual brilliant interpretation of the American songbook.
And to think that this extraordinary career started with he and I co-writing a top 40 hit in the early 60s called the
Frug. Actually, Byron’s role in that collaboration was to lie on a sofa, smoking his pipe,
while I banged out the stupid song at the piano. It took all of 20 minutes to finish it.
we were going to make tons of money, we put both our names on the song’s credits. However, being
the astute businessmen we were, we signed everything over to this stock broker turned promoter, who took everything.
Word at the time was that the song went to number one in West Germany. It was recorded by a group
called the Eatons. They had these school-style uniforms with those little beanie hats and short
pants as part of their stage persona. In fact, the guitarist with AC/DC has that same look.
Maybe he copied it from the Eatons. At that time, in the early days of rock and roll, image
was everything, not unlike it is today. I guess some things never change. The big DJ
in the Chicago area at that time was Jim Lounsbury. If you wanted to work in Chicago in those
days, you needed two things; a union card and knowing Jim Lounsbury.
The one concession I had to make, in order to get
the record played on the radio, was to change the lyric from “frugging on the sand” to “dancing
on the sand”. My first confrontation with censorship. Today, however, you can pretty much
say whatever you want, but then you had to comply with a very strict morality code. As I recall, both Byron
and I had no objections to the change in lyrics. In fact, we didn’t object to much, as long as we
could play our jazz and write our music. After all, we knew it was only rock and roll, and you’d
Peace, love and a juicy Italian beef sandwich from Connie’s,
While waiting to hear from my friend Byron, so we can move forward on the
Tonia Tecce project, I decided to begin work on my next piece for full string orchestra titled Pasticcio.
This is the piece I’m dedicating to Polish composer, Henryk Gorecki who died late last year.
I had developed some durational permutations I intended to apply in a juxtaposed, concurrent manner but was surprised
at what I discovered. I cannot apply this to the same row form simultaneously at different transposed iterations
because it creates a redundancy cycle. When I laid this out on the score and played it back, the problem
The duration pattern repeats in all voices, even though I attempted to stagger their initiation points.
In order for this to work in a simultaneous, juxtaposed manner, I have to use different permutations (i.e., the prime,
retrograde, inversion, retrograde inversion). I can’t use the transposed iterations of the same row
to get the result I’m looking for. In other words, I can’t use P0, P1,
P2, etc., in concurrent voices. I have to use P0, or R0, or I0,
or RI0 in the first voice, then P1, or R1, or I1, or RI1 in the next
voice, and so on. When I do this, the durations vary. The result is more
contrapuntal, which is what I was looking for. Otherwise it’s too linear and redundant.
This is one of those cases where it looked great on paper but sucked in reality.
I’ve posted a sample on my What’s
New page. There’s also a picture of the score’s first page. In this
opening section, I state a free-style contrapuntal passage in the violins while concurrently stating some vertical passages
(as harmony) in the violas, followed by more of the same in the cellos and basses. It moves to a closing
linear passage in the violins. I move the intensity through various levels, from moderate to high, finishing
at a lower level. All of this takes place in the first minute and a half of the piece. It
is multi-layered and dense, with a lot going on at the same time. In the next passage that I’ll write,
I’ll try and use some of the durational permutations I just mentioned to create another layer of contrapuntal movement.
This will definitely be a more difficult piece to listen to. Compared to my
recently completed Sabbats Suite, this is much more complex. I’m definitely returning to
my serial, atonal roots with this one. It actually feels good. But I find my work flow
is different when I compose with the twelve-tone method. It seems easier for me, but at the same time,
difficult, if that makes any sense. I tend to think serially, rather than tonally like many of my peers
do. I can write using tonality in its most recent form (highly chromatic and harmonically freer), but it
doesn’t seem to flow from me as atonality does.
I also reject using the term pantonality
instead of atonality, as is suggested by some. I see atonality as meaning the absence
of a tonal center or tendency. To me, pantonality indicates that there are multiple tonal centers
occurring either simultaneously or one following another. I prefer atonality to describe my music.
It can be free-form or follow the twelve-tone, serial method and still be regarded as atonal.
Works for me.
In retrospect, the piece, thus far, is much more Ligeti
than Gorecki in its musical influences. That just happens to be where I’m coming from at
the moment. There’s no intentional Ligeti references implied. My thoughts
were of Gorecki and his contributions to the twentieth century musical repertoire. I completely
love his Symphony No. 3 and can’t listen to it without shedding tears, and picturing that young girl scrawling
those words on the walls of the Gestapo interrogation room she was in. You cannot help but be moved by
that. That is what inspired me to honor this composer, but with my own musical language, not a simulation
of his. There will never be another Gorecki.
However, the work is proving to be difficult to write for
me, I think because I’m probably layering too much content. When that happens, the piece gets muddy
and too thick. It chokes on itself , drowning in too many layers, trying to avoid one another.
It ends up being almost monotone but in a dodecaphonic way. There’s not enough linear variety
to help establish some motivic substance. It’s more like mega-cluster chords, using the entire twelve-tone
series in almost every linear note occurrence. Basically, it’s getting too busy to be able to distinguish
any melodic content. I’ve got to stop layering as much and do more to establish more melody to go
with the harmony.
I could take it in a completely different direction, I suppose, where the variation comes from the changing
dynamics. To accomplish this, I would have to break out mini-ensembles moving through the piece almost
independent of each other, yet still being part of the flow. I may incorporate some of that further along
in the piece, maybe after establishing some of that melodic content I mentioned. As I said, this piece
is posing some challenges that I hadn’t anticipated. Part of the problem is using a string orchestra.
There is not a great deal of differing timbre between sections. The violins sound too similar to
the violas except for register. The same is true for the violas and cellos. The bass
is the only instrument with a timbre different enough to be noticed, but the registers are so low that melodic content can
easily get lost in the deep, full sound. The bass, in this context, is more of a bottom end to the celli
and even the violas, when in ensemble mode, or at tutti.
I guess I have to continue tweaking it, looking for variation in
places other than where I usually do. I’m resisting studying Ligeti’s score of Atmospheres
as I’m afraid of letting it infiltrate my head to the point where it’ll manifest itself in what I’m writing.
But it would be interesting to see how he achieved the sound that gave that piece its uniqueness, and how he established
a sense of variation. I think I’d rather work my way through Pasticcio without the benefit
of seeing Ligeti’s score. This is going to take a lot longer than I thought, but that’s
okay. This is a piece that’s not to be rushed. In fact, there may be some tear-downs
and rebuilds, as I search for the right combination of elements.
It’s Monday and, after listening to what I’ve written for Pasticcio, I’ve decided to trash
it all and start again. Until I come up with a new sample to post, I’ll leave the old one on my What’s
New page as a reminder that I’m still quite capable of screwing up. This is what I was eluding
to when I said there may be some tear-downs and rebuilds. But, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t
work. There is no magic, as an old friend once said. He was referring to the fact that
things don’t happen automatically. You’ve still got to put in the work. In
this case, there is magic. I’ve just got to recapture it.
Before I start putting notes on the staves
again, I need to think things through a bit more thoroughly. Maybe some time-point development in a canonic
form would be appropriate, in spite of having done this in another work. I don’t think Babbitt saw
this technique as applicable only once per work, or once period. The problem is that it eventually becomes
limiting. It is fresh only for a relatively short duration before it becomes redundant. That,
if anything, is how its limitation becomes apparent.
I need to revisit Wuorinen’s Simple
Composition as he has a chapter about advanced time-point techniques, like using a modifier (like mod 12 when calculating
pitch classes). There may be a clue there to help me find more variety in this technique. Otherwise,
I become my own limiting factor through my limited knowledge of the technique. This is kind of like driving
your car in a forward gear only because you don’t know how to put the damn thing in reverse. At some
point, compensating for that shortcoming gets to be too much. Sooner or later, you’ve got to find
out where reverse is at!
Peace, love, and tolerance,
Happy new year! I hope everyone
survived whatever New Year’s eve celebrations you indulged in. Mine was a very quiet and very private
celebration. My wife and I celebrated it by ourselves, at home, having some wine and watching a good movie.
That worked out just fine, as far as we’re concerned. I leave the partying and carousing to
those more given to such things. After a lot of years of gigging as a musician, and drinking my share and
then some, I lost my taste (and need) for alcohol, at least in any great amount. The occasional glass of
Cabernet Sauvignon is what I’d rather have these days.
We got some sad news the other day. My wife’s
uncle Hank passed away. He was 96 and in poor health, but still had that same indomitable spirit he’s
always showed through all his life. Hank was a veteran of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, and also survived
the siege at Bastogne. He was assigned to General George Patton as his adjutant. Hank's
last name is Meschievitz, but Patton called him “Messerschmitt” instead. He is my mother-in-law
Josephine’s younger brother. She passed away nearly twenty year ago, so now Hank is finally reunited
with her. They were not only siblings, but best of friends.
There will be a memorial service in Cable, Wisconsin,
where Hank lived, on January 15th, and my wife, daughter, her boyfriend and I are planning to attend to say goodbye
to the old warrior, weather permitting. He was affectionately known as Uncle Wiggly by everyone
in the family. He always treated me with respect and kindness. When I went up north
for the first time in 1963, as Donna’s fiancé, everyone was a little leery. I was a musician,
after all, and everyone knew about musicians’ reputations. But Hank didn’t seem to care about
that and was quick to extend his hand in a friendly handshake. I’ve never forgotten that.
He was a great guy. One of my prized photographs is of my two grandsons on either side of Hank,
with his arms around each of them. He will be missed.
Well, since I last blogged, I’ve finished
the score for What the World Needs Now and submitted it as a PDF file in an email attachment to Byron for his review
and inevitable correction. The only problem I had was not with the score, but with the song.
As I mentioned, I hate that damn song! Every time I hear it, I want to hurl! Seriously!
It took a lot of determination and grit to transcribe it, because I had to listen to the playback as I was working.
That playback, incidentally, will take a great deal of finessing to get it into recognizable shape. Fortunately,
I won’t have to begin that process until Byron okays the conducting score for accuracy. I get a short
but welcome reprieve.
However, I was supposed to hear from Byron on Thursday, when he got back from visiting his daughter.
So far (this is New Year’s day), I haven’t heard from him. He was scheduled to travel
by train. I know there were all sorts of transportation problems due to the storms on the east coast, so
I’m assuming he may have got stuck in D.C. After watching the video footage of the New York streets
piled high with snow, and the streets of the LA area piled high with mud, I’m glad I live in the Midwest.
We get to experience all four seasons, with only a few days of extreme weather, which we’re equipped to handle
for the most part.
In the meantime, I did some work on some time-point layouts and durational permutations, to be used
with the integer notation of the pitch class sets I just put together. I used a lot of that in Moments
in Time, but now, for Pasticcio, I’m creating a more elaborate scheme, varying it as I go.
I’m also considering juxtaposing different schemes so they sound concurrently, hopefully resulting in a deeper,
more intricate texture. I was mindful of Ligeti’s Atmospheres when I was thinking about
that. That piece has so many layers of texture, resulting in a complex fabric of sound that fascinated
me when I first heard it. By the way, that Ligeti piece was used as part of the soundtrack for Stanley
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by Arthur C. Clarke. If you ever watch that movie
again, pay attention to the music. You’ll see what I mean.
I went through the year-end statistics
from my website’s records of known visits (I say known because there are quite a few visits they report but have no
specific information on, so they categorize those as “other”). It seems 2010 was a very good
year for “Music by Prov”.
I’ve had 1,446 unique visitors and
a total of 7,096 visits.
There was a total of 3.75GB worth of files downloaded.
There were a total of 11,171 reads of this blog, averaging about 930 per month.
blog’s best month was July, when I got 1,279 reads.
The month with the least reads was February,
when I got 680.
With a great deal of visits recorded as “other”, I suspect
these numbers don’t represent the actual number of visits, and are a bit understated. For me, of
course, this is extremely gratifying. The mission, for lack of a better term, of this website was to reach
as many people as I can to share my music, my basic philosophy as a composer, and my thoughts about life and the process of
creating my music. It seems, based on these statistics, you have shown an interest in it all.
That is always exciting for me.
I’ve done nothing to promote this website in any way,
and certainly haven’t screwed it up with ads or soliciting donations. I tried that earlier on the
advice of others, but it went against me, so I stopped it. The website offers my music, my scores, my writings
and thoughts with no strings attached of any kind. I don’t want your money. I
just want to be able to share my world with you and, hopefully, give you some enjoyment and, maybe, educate you a little.
I especially enjoy sharing the myriad of steps I take when composing a new piece. Hopefully,
better understanding that process gives you some insight into what goes into the act of composing, and
gives you a better appreciation of all music, as a result. I often express my basic philosophy about being
tolerant when listening to new music. I encourage you to listen at least once before you dismiss it, knowing
that you may find it enjoyable in spite of your initial reaction. I’ve discovered a lot of enjoyable
music doing exactly that. By talking about various composers, suggesting certain works to listen to, I’ve
given you a starting point for new musical discoveries. I know that the enjoyment of music is its own reward.
Listening to music offers you an experience that can transcend any other you will have.
Well, the weather around
here went from temps in the 50s yesterday to the 20s today. They say that if you don’t like the weather
in the Chicago area, wait, It’ll change. They’re right. It seems sometimes
we can have all the extremes of weather in the course of a few days. There were thunder storms with lightening
yesterday, and snow and ice a few days before. There is very little incentive to go out these days unless
we need to. I think a warmer climate may be in my future somewhere along the line. Meanwhile,
I’m hanging out in my studio where it’s relatively safe. It’s been awhile since it stormed
in my studio. The last time, it was when I was working on the What the World Needs Now score.
But that wasn’t an atmospheric disturbance, however I did fill the air with bad karma.
I wish all of you a great
year ahead. Stay healthy, stay strong and enjoy life. And come back to visit anytime.
Think of this website as a place where you’re always welcome, no matter what else is going on in the world.
Lately, that’s not a bad thing at all.
Peace, love and tolerance,