Posts

Progress with Name Music piece in memory of Bette Caddis

 Yesterday I was successful at warding off various potential distractions from emails, workmen painting the outside of our house, and scheduling changes for various appointments for myself and Bear! Instead I played violin early in the morning, and found myself (surprisingly) able to compose quickly and easily, the flow was happening! What came out was in a waltz rhythm, and in the key of E major (using the D# was an idea that had come to me a day or two previous, arising out of learning to play a piece that Peter Blue wrote for me, called Reel de Mer, which somehow got my fingers going with staying in a straight major key), and suddenly the whole piece made sense. I like how the piece seems so much more cheerful and spry, which is how I think of Bette, and also seems extroverted and sociable. But an odd little phrase showed up in the middle that I recognized from somewhere, an interval that evoked singing somehow. It took a little bit for me to realize that this snippet came from the

Tune exchange with accordion player in Scotland!

 My fiddle tune The Wild One has had its own remarkable life — it’s been recorded 15 or so times by different groups, including one I only recently discovered, a Scottish band called CherryGrove. They released a 4 track EP in 2015 called No Time Like Now (enhanced edition), where the first track paired Midnight Cruise to Inverie by Patsy Reid with my piece The Wild One, in a rousing rendition — very fun!  https://projects.handsupfortrad.scot/folkwaves/wild-one-by-cherrygrove/ I wanted to find out how these musicians knew about my tune, so after some intensive google research I was able to send off emails to a couple of the members of that group (by finding their names associated with other groups!). I suggested a tune exchange, and sent them Into the Light. Well I heard back early this last week from Grant McFarlane, the accordion player, who liked my Wild One tune very much and also enjoyed Into the Light. The tune he sent me was a big delight, a jig called Paisley Welcomes the Royal

More on the piece Joy, experimenting with an Irish Slide rhythm...

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The saga continues! I was challenged by this same musican/performer to notate my piece as a Slide, in 12/8 with equal subdivisions of 3,3,3,3.  So I googled what Irish Slide means, and listened to some examples. I've played a fair amount of Irish fiddle music, but I don't think I'd ever played a slide before, so the research was illuminating. Next I took my piece Joy and re-wrote it as a slide, although I'm not following the form as strictly as I should.  Here's what the first 2 measures look like:    After playing it through, I do think it has a cute feel to it, and it rips right along, which is one of the points of a Slide, from what I can tell! However, it is a very different piece now, compared to my original Joy. Fun experiment!

Gave a house concert! And made a video of me playing a new Name Music piece!

 On Mother’s Day I gave a short house concert for 3 listeners, in our living room (where I usually compose, play, notate, etc.) — and it was very fun. Bear wanted to honor Helen with me playing her piece for her, and she invited a friend to come as well. I was focused in that way I remember from years ago on all of the setup, like seating, and where would I play, and what feels comfortable. All so that I could feel supported and free to express, and the audience would be supported and free to listen deeply. And it all worked well! The event lasted about 45 minutes, with maybe 25-30 minutes of playing, and I got to talk about how I compose, and I even made up a piece for the other guest based on his last name to illustrate how the process works, and lo and behold a reasonable piece was coming out of my fingers. I was in the flow! Afterwards I was still elevated from the experience, and very happy that it turned out so well, and that I was able to speak easily and manage my reactions to

Recorded two solo violin pieces over the weekend for submission to Crucial Music

 I needed to finish composing one of them, an older piece I originally sketched out for the Kitchen Theatre’s production of The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, but never ended up using — it turned out to be the wrong feel for the scene — Balcony Dance. But I recently re-discovered the pencilled notation for the main section and have enjoyed playing it and messing around with it, and then on Saturday suddenly all the stars lined up and I could compose a bridge for it. My experience of composing is often a sort of mixture of divine inspiration or channeling, where I’m taking down what I hear in my head for the melody, and then doing what feels like the “work” of notating it, fixing any less-than-ideal melodic lines, figuring out what chords I’m hearing, playing it for rhythmic feel, learning what the piece is really expressing. All of these activities are lots of FUN and create big joy in my life! But I don’t always know in advance which type of activity I’m suited for on a particular day/hou

Success with The Mechanical Licensing Collective submissions for royalties! And other business...

 Yes, I now have 61 pieces registered at MLC, it took several tries to do the bulk upload correctly, but all due to errors on my part in preparing the spreadsheet, and I was very impressed that their interface caught the errors and let me cancel and start over. Nice! We’ll see if this leads to any remuneration — there is always a delay in payments, but supposedly coming up in June 2021 will be the beginning of the MLC making the back payments for uses that were never paid out over many years at Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Pandora, etc. The MLC received millions of dollars from those Digital Service Providers, and once they receive all the data on the uses from them, will attempt to straighten out who is supposed to get what. This sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Well-intentioned. The MLC starts with the data from the Harry Fox Agency, so anyone who didn’t register their pieces with HFA needs to do it directly with MLC. I hope The MLC is successful.

My Legacy Project

 One benefit of the pandemic universe we have been living in is how it has brought our lives into focus by the reality of death — and for me, this has led to what I think of as My Legacy Project. What do I need to do to give my music (recordings, compositions) the support & structure they need so that when I’m gone they can continue to have life and provide joy to listeners and players? Kind of like launching children into their lives as adult, how best to do this for my music, but also encompassing how to make it easy for the executor of my estate to manage it all when I’m gone, and also including how can I have the most fun with it all while I’m still here? Tim Reppert has a huge role in this revival of my musical “ambition” — he is such a fan of the music we created together in Water Bear! And his interest in coming to Ithaca (from Boston) to have playing reunions really re-ignited my sense of what might be possible, even though I’ve got finger issues and neck issues that hamper

Improvisation sections in The Mountains Swimming!

 One big effort I made to improve The Mountains Swimming 4 horns and piano arrangement, to bring it up to snuff, was to create a section for the horn players to improvise, and another section for the pianist to improvise. For the horns I gave them the easier, more intuitive chord progression section, and divided it up so either Horn 1 or 2 gets to improvise and Horns 3 and 4 are playing backup along with the piano, and vice versa: a section for Horn 3 or 4 to improvise with Horns 1 and 2 doing the backing lines along with the piano.  And the pianist gets the harder chord progression to improvise over, with all 4 horns doing backing lines. I also made it so the improvisation sections can be skipped entirely, and the piece will still make sense. I got a big kick out of doing all of this intricacy like a chess game: if I make this move here in this part, what else needs to change? Does Horn 3 have a chance to breathe if they play this section and then have to play right away in the next s

My piece “Joy” transformed from 3/4 time signature into 12/8

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 A couple of weeks ago I played with some new musicians, and one piece we tried together was Joy, which I had notated in 3/4 time. Of course the pianist sight-read it as a waltz, and it was very much the wrong feel! I played for her how jaunty the melody should sound, and she got it — heard that it was almost more in 2 beats per measure rather than 3. She suggested I notate it in 4. I could hardly wrap my mind around that leap, from 3/4 to 4. However, I was also suffering from bad brain fog from the second vaccine (I realized afterwards!). When I was able to focus this morning, I realized that yes I go back and forth every other measure — first measure is in 6/8, next measure is in 3/4, for almost the whole piece! So the lightbulb went off in my head, why not notate it in 12/8? And then do the beaming of the eighth notes in the pattern of 3,3,2,2,2. And once I looked up how to do that in Sibelius I was able to make that transformation, and even find a measure that was very difficult to