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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Composing on the go...



It's warm(er) out and I'm sitting in DUMBO with some unexpected free time, contemplating composing at the piano vs. composing on the laptop.  This is something I keep going back to in my mind, now more than ever because I actually have the laptop and can compose anywhere…like, I could be composing right now but instead I'm typing this blog.

There are many reasons why one would prefer to compose at the piano, ranging from the practical to the more aesthetic.  One practical reason is that when composing at the piano, it's a lot easier to tell if the stuff you are writing is playable and that there are no voice crossings or hand crossings or ridiculously large chords (piano music) that might require inhuman Rachmaninov-type hand stretches.  You can get pretty carried away with a computer program that will play back anything you input, using professionally recorded samples of every instrument imaginable.

Aesthetically speaking, the stuff you play vs. the stuff your computer software plays back from what notes you input is a lot more inspiring.  There's something about playing an actual instrument.  You can get lost in playing it and just record yourself and transcribe later.  You can play the lines with a lot more artistry and feeling than a computer can and are therefore more likely to come up with something more musical than mechanic.  Plus, since improvisation on ideas is a huge part of my own compositional process, actual playing the lines is essential.  In this way, it certainly helps to have at least a MIDI keyboard plugged up to my computer when I'm composing with the computer (something I can't carry around with me as easily right now).  Otherwise, you're basically just inputting values with the computer keyboard and tweaking them this way or that without regard necessarily to all those practical things like voice crossing, hand crossing and whether or not any real person can play the notes.

Having a laptop to jot down ideas, though, is invaluable these days.  Ultimately, I've saved time if I can put something into Sibelius while at work and then have something to play around with when I get home to the piano.  But that having been said, I do get to a point where I've done as much as I can, or care to, with the laptop and I just want to bang things out on the piano.

The piano which now sits at the foot of my bed.  I really need to get into a routine of just jumping up and playing piano first thing in the morning after turning off my alarm.  Only, of course, on mornings when I wake up after my cousin has left for the day.

So starting tomorrow afternoon, then.  Barring any unexpected work.  I got called in to Technicolor a few times this week so that blew out a lot of my plans for what I have to get done.  One of the other things I can only really do at home ultimately, voice over, being one of them.  I was able to do some test records in my room and wrestle with the noise floor and the acoustics.  Synopsis: I really need to put some stuff on the walls to tone down some of the reflections that are making their way into the portable audio booth I built.  I have all of my scripts together though for the Narration Demo and only really need to get a couple better takes for the Documentary Demo and I'll be ready to do some more coaching with my old voice coach, the one who also volunteers at Learning Ally.

So, at this point, I think I'm going to compose the piano and electronics piece I'm working on out here for a bit and maybe work on logistics of performing said piece.  I've decided that it's pure insanity, not to mention severely limiting and somewhat impractical, to do all the sampling live. I'd be better off taking a recording of her playing and chopping it up and doing all the processing (reversing samples, etc.) at home and then having it ready to perform alongside her.

So wish me luck.

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