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Role that expectation plays in listening to music — an insight

 Okay, so this is a little woo-woo. Or maybe a lot. But here’s what happened. I sat with hubby Bear on the couch while we listened to a mostly-done version of my  Otherworld piece — and he was hearing it for the first time. Of course I had heard it many many times! But for me the experience was as if I had never heard this piece before either! It started easily enough, but then there were shocking sounds, dissonant sounds, and it was somewhat upsetting and troubling, like watching a violent YouTube video. What?! I took a look at Bear’s face, and yes he looked a bit troubled. Then the music got to the part where the french horns are playing a beautifully consonant, uplifting melody & harmony, and I felt this huge sense of relief and comfort, the stress was gone. But I could feel it ended too quickly! Having arrived at such gentle power, I wanted to stay there. And suddenly I got an image of listening to this piece from within an orchestra, embedded near the french horns.  The piece

Working on "Otherworld" again!

I'm very happy to be composing on this piece again -- I started it in 2010, soon after getting back from an October weekend spent in the live-in adventure that is Otherworld. Sleeping in a cabin in just above freezing temperature, out in the sun (it warmed up!) all day long, traipsing around looking for treasure, looking for clues, solving puzzles, as the story came to life around us. I attended with my sister Lucy. It was immersive, totally engaging and captivating, and the challenges were amazing to face. Truly life-transforming. And I can't say more because maybe YOU would like to attend, so I don't want to spoil the experience in any way! Otherworld.org is the URL — check it out. The piece languished for over 10 years because I envisioned a pretty large orchestra, with percussion instruments including a music box and a marimba, and a mixed choir too. When was I ever going to have a chance to hear the composition come to life played by real people? I just got discouraged

Light in Winter performance video!

Amazingly enough, I found the DVD that contained the video for Water Bear’s Light in Winter performance, and Tim Reppert, my hero, was able to edit it and mix the sound, and now it is up on our YouTube channel. This is the only significant footage that exists of any Water Bear line-up, and it pleases me no end to have it resurrected. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSrdkE0TZt_O_Id2r8wcY5vSt9xD9-Uoo We collaborated with the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, whose book “Evolution for Everyone: “ I read and absorbed. Then I developed Name Music pieces that could bring to life three concepts from the book: Individual differences, social control, and expanding the circle of cooperation. In between our pieces, David gave two talks on the state of evolution and its application to daily life. David says in the talkback section at the end, that the dress rehearsal where he got to hear what we had prepared was a revelation to him, and led to him adjusting his talk to complement t

Music Library submission activity!

 Back in January of 2009, Crucial Music started accepting my Water Bear trio and quartet recordings for pitching to TV & film placements. It took 4 years before my pieces were placed anywhere, but in the years since, these wonderful performances have appeared in TV shows like Touch (Fox), Agents Of Shield (ABC), streaming shows like Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), cable TV (The Magicians on SyFy), and an indie film (In Search of Fellini).  It's sporadic, but not only do I receive the initial placement fee (I’ve received anywhere from $75 to $2000), but also royalties ongoing from ASCAP domestically and internationally. These royalties often surpass the initial placement fee amount but take far longer to trickle down to me after the shows air. Recently I’ve been on a kick to supply Crucial Music with fresh material — they haven’t placed any of my pieces since 2019, and I suspect there’s been lots of changes in their business model. There seems to be so much music created by synth

Now I’ve had success revising “Ginny” !

 Every now and then I play through older pieces that I never finished for one reason or another, and Ginny is one of these pieces. It was written to honor a close friend of Jerome, the financial client and friend I took care of in 2017 in what turned out to be his final illness. When I met Ginny I was very struck by her strength and determination, her stubbornness and out-front character, as well as her inner kindness and fortitude in taking care of her husband with his health issues. So I wanted her piece to capture all of this! Perhaps I set the bar too high?  The A section I wrote in 2017 came out beautifully, but while I had a basic germ of an idea for the B section, I couldn’t get it to come out right, and basically wore a groove in my brain with that part, such that I couldn’t hear a different part emerging from the A section. Oh no! I was in a composing rut! Over the years since 2017, I’ve continued to tug at this puzzle in Ginny: what was wrong, and how to fix? I would sometime

Surprised by changes from minor to major when composing harmony line for “Grant”

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So I’ve been working on a piece to honor Grant McFarlane, the wonderful accordion player and composer in Paisley, Scotland that I’ve been emailing with and exchanging compositions.  Using the pitches that spell out “Grant”, I found myself writing in Am. I was struck by the similarity to another Name Music piece — yes, Anthony! They share some of the same beginning letters! So I tried out rhythms for the pitches that were DIFFERENT from what I had done with Anthony. The melody seemed to flow out of me easily, with an A section in Am, a B section in Dm, a natural-sounding structure of AABB, a waltz rhythmic feel, and all was well. I entered my hand-written notation into Sibelius right away, because I had arrows all over the place with the ideas for each section, it was not in very good linear order and I didn’t want to have to work too hard to re-create the order! Then, I worked on the chords right away. To do this I usually have my computer play the notation while I pluck the chords on