Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New year, old problems

It's kinda funny... Here we are, four months into the new year, and I'm facing the same problems that I'd thought I had made progress on last year.

Apparently, that isn't true.

I think about my melody-crafting skills (or lack thereof) and wonder: why do I seem to have so much trouble with writing and developing these things? (Its really more of a problem with the latter, but they're both connected)

Thematic or melodic development has always been a challenge for me - I tend to have trouble catching anything but the obvious connections in the development sections of symphonies/classical works... they just read as new melodic material to my ear. And yet, there are supposed to be connections and callbacks and what have you layered into these parts. It's quite annoying because ido can hear how those areas work in older tunes, how can I learn from them?

I'm trying to overcome this problem, but I'm flailing about. A friend summed up my original writing pretty well: interesting orchestration, but my melodic passages were like "HERE IS THE MELODY! HERE IT IS AGAIN! LISTEN - YOU CAN HEAR THE MELODY HERE!"

Blunt, but true.

Now, how to fix it?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Partial Success

My first attempt at a new process of  writing melodies has produced something useful, in part...

What I ended up doing was working out my chord progression, then playing on the piano and singing possible melodies. What was surprising to me was how easy it was to come up with good melodic lines this way.

Now, the melody that I'm working with does still need some work (I'm using it in a song, and therefore needs more variety), but I'm quite pleased with how this process works and will be using it more often and that is something that I'm quite happy about.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I really do wonder how some composers do it... how they manage to be a wellspring of melodies and beautiful themes. I try to dig up something that evokes, something that catches your attention and leaves an impression on your mind. I don't care how little of an impression - I just want you to remember it.

That's the problem that I'm facing right now - I'm coming up with cool harmonic ideas, but the tune that I write to go along with things just never manages to measure up.

A part of things might be that I've never had a good process for writing (in general even, but that's another matter). Now, I'm not liking for some magical method that will net be something awesome, but a consistent process that can come up with a line that is at least serviceable wouldn't be too much to ask, right?

I am going to try some new ways to come up with a tune that I haven't really tried before... maybe something useful will result. Here's hoping.

Monday, October 24, 2011


What is? How about hearing something cool in one's head, but not knowing what those pitches are?

Yeah, that's annoying. Any way to fix it?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I've spent the last few days working on a cello solo. I've worked out some cool motifs, and have started a draft that is coming together nicely, which is pretty cool. In fact, it's quite rare that I'm so happy with something that is still a work in progress, much less at this early stage of this (only about a minute of actual 'tune' written). Things are going so well that I'm thinking that I'm going to do something abnormal when I'm done with this piece... I'm just going to throw the sheet music it up on the Internet (via my site) and see what/who picks it up (most likely, only one or two people, but you never know.).

Is this a way to get even a microscopically small amount of exposure? You bet your ass it is. Will it fall flat on it's face. Big chance of that, yes. Do I care? Oddly enough..... not really.

Anyway, I'm still writing this thing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Good Feelin'

What a nice little buzz I got just now - working on some revisions to a cello quartet I started back earlier in the summer. It was a pretty good little tune (which, considering the way I wrote it, might tell me something about my normal process, but that's another tale) with just a few niggling issues. I took a nice step towards fixing those issues (in theory, anyway), and it was a really good feeling to write this stuff down, know what it was doing to correct stuff.

Just something I wanted to mention.

Friday, October 14, 2011


It's interesting how an off-the-cuff jest makes one think... which is what happened tonight before work.
I've always been pretty vocal about how I never believe that what I write is any good (which is usually a lie, but its just how my brain works sometimes), but it was at least connected to the fact that, while I felt that what I was writing was not of quality, there was a prodigious amount of content.

That hasn't been happening in the last few months.

Yes, I've been working on projects, but most of those were almost all differing degrees of arrangements, with little to no original, creative writing (I'm not saying that arrangements are un-creative, but it is a different kind of creativity) happening. Or, to be more accurate, little to no 'quality' creative writing.

This is annoying the living crap out of me.

Now, we get to the realization.

Sadly, I'm not the source of this light bulb - that honor would have to go to my roommate who, in his usual manner informed me of my laziness, pointing out all the time I've wasted on digital entertainment when I could be working, churning out music or just outright working on my piano skills (which are lackluster as usual).

I've come to this conclusion before, but for some reason I never seem to learn the lesson, and I'm not sure why that is... maybe because of my younger age at the time (two or so years ago seems to be a stretch of the term 'younger') I didn't honestly pay attention to the reality of things. Looking at this situation now, in relation to my unfolding life, makes things clear - I need to step up or shut up.

If I'm going to be a composer, I need to compose. Often. Crappy music, amazing music, mediocre music, etc. Yes, I can have fun once in a while, but I need to be writing way more often.

Maybe this all is a warning, that the floodgates of sub-par music (the things that I keep away from everyone because I feel it doesn't 'measure up') are about to be opened up. I apologize in advance.

And maybe I'm missing the point, but I can't afford (creatively, or career-wise) to assume that I can get away with the usual operating procedure. Not anymore.

So it's time to, as some people say, shit or get off the pot. Being a professional composer isn't just going to fall into my lap.

Now Playing: Whatever is on 105.9 FM in the Boise area...

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Apparently, things happen when I don’t constantly post to my blog.

Nothing big, except for moving to Boise. You know, the little things.

Luckily, this really hasn’t impeded my writing too much – I’ve churned out two arrangements, a guitar/cello duet, started transcribing a song and finished up the Polar Express medley since moving about a month ago. Not too shabby.

Granted, have some time at my new job (and bosses that don’t mind that I write when I have free time) to work on music is quite cool, and I’m looking forward to getting even more stuff done.

I’m currently looking for musical things to do in the Boise area (and if they paid, that would be quite a bonus!)… there’s a choir that I’m going to look into, among other things.


Now Playing: “Hotel California” – The Eagles - Hotel California

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Short update

Just a quick progress update. More detail this weekend, I think...

1. Some progress on the Military Variations for Fife and Drum. They might be ready for revisions.

2. Symphony: I'm going to be starting an official "draft 2" when I hit a milestone on this next project.

3. Working on a medley of music from the movie "The Polar Express" for the University of Idaho Holiday Concert. Voice parts are almost done (draft one), then quick revision phase and delivery, then I can work on all the instruments (between 17 & 26 posts, depending on doublings and what I decide to end up using). I've made some VERY fast progress on this one, considering how slow this could be going at.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Little Things…

…like finishing a tune. What a concept, eh?

It’s where I find myself right now, trying to wrap up a few different projects. I’ve got an arrangement, some fife and drum variations, a song, and continual work on my symphony. And it’s amazing how much life can get in the way. By life, I mean excuses. Video games. Movies.


What’s gonna be fun is trying to see if a weekend away from the distractions can help at all. Taking a piano keyboard and a computer to an area without internet access will, hopefully, force me to get some work done.

I’ll let you know about the results of this experiment when I get back from it.