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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, March 27, 2012

Scoring process...

I've started work on the new film score #1.  "The Feed."  Currently, my focus is on spotting, or the process of basically figuring out where the music is going to go in the film.  It's kind of like tracing the route you're going to take on a road map and plotting all the stops along the way, before setting out.

The first step is to meet with the director and get their ideas about where they think music should go and what important plot points there are.  This is where I start to draw the map.  Then, the next step is to go home and essentially write out what is essentially a travel itinerary.  The spotting notes.  I get specific and write what has to happen at each time code and what emotions the characters are experiencing and how important the music is at each hit point.   This could be the equivalent of deciding what to do at each of the stops on my itinerary.

Now that I've done all this, my next step is to start writing out some musical ideas and start working with timbres and textures.  Since I composed a short piece already for the director to give him an idea of what I might write for him, I have some stuff to mine from.  He liked the ideas that I put forth so I'm going to tap into a lot of that.  This score is going to incorporate a lot of sound design type stuff, background noise, white noise and FM synthesis.  Also some guitar effects (nothing that will be recognizable as guitar) and perhaps some acoustic instruments like piano and cello or violin.  It will be mostly atonal but I plan on having a few relatively tonal melodies break through at certain points.

The film itself is only about 13 minutes long but there is a great deal of character development.   All the characters in this dystopian future when the film is set have a computer linked to their brain and are experiencing a constant stream of information.  We talked about having a theme for when the Feed is connected and one for when it is not.  I'm considering themes for certain characters too.  But I'm not quite there yet.  That's for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm liking this road map metaphor.   I'll see how far I can extend it though.   Tomorrow I get to decide once and for all which instruments I'm going to use, as I actually sit down and start working melodies and themes.  Kind of like deciding which model of car I'm going to rent for the drive.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


It's been an exceptionally foggy day here in Brooklyn.  First day of Spring...go figure.  I've been quite happy with the weather as of late though.  It's turned, almost with the calendar, warmer and sunnier.  Jackets and shoes I haven't worn in months are out of the closet and I even had on short sleeves last night.  I went on a date to Barbรจs to see Slavic Soul Party last night.  (These guys are pretty amazing live and this was not the first time I'd had the pleasure of seeing them).  I love that I can walk only 10 blocks up from my apartment and be at a world class music venue with a great atmosphere.  In fact, harping on the benefits of my location again, on the walk up there alone, there are some five awesome looking restaurants/bars/cafes that I am really intrigued by and totally want to try. 

All in time.  April is going to be a very busy month.  In this week alone I've been offered two film scoring gigs, both of which have deadlines at the end of April.  It's truly feast or famine, it seems.  But I'm so psyched to be a part of both of these projects.  The first is a 90 minute documentary about trailblazing nuns that were arrested for their humanitarian work.  The second is a short drama about a future where everyone has the internet constantly streamed into their brains.  Two very different projects that will require very different scores. 

Meanwhile, I'm still writing the underscore for "The Life," a dramatic series about the sex trafficking problem in NY.  That's a fun project too.  I'm realizing that it's been a while since I've gotten to do some basic underscoring.  All the processes behind that are fun; figuring out specific hit points, how to stay out of the register of the dialogue and not overpower it, and then of course, there's the dance of trying to develop a theme in a certain amount of time, working with tempo and creating melodies (where needed) and structures that fit with the length of a scene.  It can be fun but it can be tedious as well. 

I've put the music for my cinematographer friend's promo and his narrative reel music on hold for a bit while I wait for him to get back in town and for those projects to be finished.  But that should be soon.  He's out shooting the last thing that he intends to put on his reel right now and I think he intends to finish editing the promo shortly after. 

And Lacy and I are talking about gigging soon.  So, there's no sight of famine around here for quite some time.  I absolutely have to go to sleep now.  Yoga at 8am. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

NC and Brooklyn, again...

I've been meaning to post about this since last weekend since it's sort of a follow up to the previous post about the Greensboro (in this case NC in general, specifically Winston-Salem) - Brooklyn connection.  I went to a party with my friend Steve, a cinematographer/director for whom I've been writing music, somewhere in Greenpoint at his friend's audio mastering studio where they were having a fourth anniversary party. 

I arrived later than I had intended because the L train wasn't running all weekend, so when I got there all the alcohol was pretty much gone except a few liquor bottles and I knew no one except Steve.  I hung around though and we went to a bodega to pick up some booze and brought it back.  As the party started to dwindle and people left, I started to think it was going to be a bust.  I had been hoping to meet a lot of new people, and some of them industry people but I had only really had a chance to speak to a few of them...one of them the girlfriend of some drunk jealous hipster.  When the party was down to about 10 people and everyone seemed to be engaging someone else, I got talking to a guy named Amos, who offhandedly mentioned something about North Carolina.  When I asked him if he was from NC, he mentioned Winston Salem and having attended the NC School of the Arts, a program I had auditioned for some 11 years ago.  Incidentally, he also auditioned for my Alma Mater, UNCG.  Funny, if things had been differently, we might have gone to school together.  He studied music as well, was a clarinet player.

So, I've made another musician connection and another NC-Brooklyn connection connection.  Incidentally, when he sent me a friend request on Facebook, I checked it right away on my phone as we were all walking from the party to the G train.  We had 6 mutual Facebook friends, most of them old dorm mates of mine from freshman year that he went to high school with. Small world. 

Anyhow, beyond serendipitous run-ins, the world of the composer is still humming with much activity.  I'm still technically on retainer for "The Life" and there's a chance I may have to write some more to the cues that I've already submitted.  Steve's music is nearing completion on my end, hopefully.  Both the promo and the music for the narrative reel.  I'm enjoying both processes as always.  There's yet another exciting film music opportunity potentially on the horizon but I don't want to say too much about it yet.  It's not certain yet. 

And beyond those projects, still, I have to complete composition on the piece that Tania and I will be performing on May 10th at Galapagos Art Space. This is going to be the toughest because not only do I have to complete the piece I have to work out logistics for performing it but I think I know what I'm going to do.  I'm going to test out the viability of sampling her during the performance and then if it doesn't work, I'm going to save recordings from our rehearsal and use those as material for the performance.  To catch you up, my plan is to use recorded samples of her performance, cut into chunks and manipulated, as material for the second half of the piece...where things are going to get interesting.  Sorry, that's all the preview you get for now. 

Meanwhile, the voice over career has not seen anymore excitement since the Aereo project but I've been submitting to voice123.com feverishly every chance I get and even working out ways that I can submit auditions while on the go, as long as I can find time in one of the edit bays at work and I have my laptop.  Also, currently trying to figure out how to install Windows on my Mac so I can use Sound Forge anywhere. It's a Windows only program but it has the easiest to use noise reduction plugin that I can find anywhere.  If I am at work and I get an audition that I can submit to on my break or before I clock in, it would help me immensely to have Sound Forge at my fingertips since I've already created the best workflow with it here at home.  And back here in my home studio, I've streamlined my process even more to the point where I can submit as many as two auditions in under thirty minutes.  Most of that is because of being able to leave things half setup but also, it comes from years of using this software and equipment. 

For now, I'm going to get going.  Lacy should be here in a bit and we'll be rehearsing all afternoon.  We're performing at Pete's Candy Store's open mic tonight in Williamsburg.  Come if you can, it starts at 6, I believe. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leap day...

Been thinking a lot about the UNCG/Greensboro - Brooklyn Connection lately.  This past weekend, I saw an old Greensboro friend on the subway platform at Jay Street-Metro Tech.  Because I wasn't expecting her to be in that spot at that time, I second guessed a few times whether or not it was her but meanwhile, she and her friend kept on walking down the platform toward the stairs to the A train platform.  She was gone but I couldn't shake my curiosity so I emailed her on Facebook and asked her if she was in my city or if I was crazy.  She was.  And texted me almost immediately.  She was going to be in Park Slope the following evening watching her friends' band play at the Tea Lounge.  So I got there a little early and hung around watching the first band play.  When she arrived, her friend's band was getting set up and she mentioned going to high school with them.  When she pointed toward the stage I looked up and realized that I had gone to college with these guys, hadn't seen them in about 10 years and had no idea they had been living in my city for the past 5.  So it was a great reunion.  The band Runaway Dorothy has been doing quite well for themselves.  Check them out.

In addition, to running into all those Greensboro friends, I had coffee with an old friend today from the UNCG days (Masters degree days around 2005), a fellow musician friend I met while I was still working at Tate Street Coffeehouse.  Caitlin recently moved to Brooklyn and we've been trying to catch up for a few months now.  The East Village and Mud Coffee on E 9th Street is usually my go to spot to meet people who are new to the city, as it was one of the first good coffee shops that I went to when I first moved here and it quickly became one of my favorite spots in the E. Village.  Strangely, Caitlin had walked past Mud a few days ago and wanted to go there but didn't get the chance.   Now Mud has a new fan.

We have a great story of how we met, involving me helping her break into her mother's car because she locked her keys inside, while I was supposed to be closing Tate Street Coffee.  She came in asking if we happened to have a coat hanger and then when we produced one, she admitted that neither her or her friend knew how to jimmy a lock with one.  So, I assisted as best as I could, joined shortly after by two younger guys who were trying to help as best as they could.  When they got desperate and started trying to open the trunk with a pocket knife though, I realized I'd better do something quick.  The car, a late 90's model Chrysler Sebring convertible, had its front door handle on the inside on the top of the door, so I grabbed a sturdy branch off a nearby tree and slid it in between the roof and the driver's side window, wedging it under the door handle, opening the door from the inside.  Having saved the night, Caitlin was able to get home without her parents knowing she had the car (at least I hope).  She was 16 at the time.

Anyhow, this was about the only thing that went to plan today besides getting the bass and guitar tracks for Steve's music recorded in the morning.  At 8 am, I got a call from my boss to cover the overnight tonight and tomorrow, which means overtime pay and overnight premium, but which also means lack of sleep.  I ended up having to cancel plans with another friend at night, cancel my volunteer session at Learning Ally and rearrange my afternoon so I could pull off a mini rock star nap (2 hours, not bad).

Luckily, I have work I can do here on the overnight, music work.  It's adding a few more hours of wakefulness and productivity so, in a way, it's a bonus.  With that said, I think the next thing I'm going to work on is the music for Steve's promo and then, possibly, a new newsletter…it's about that time.