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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. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Performing vs Composing...

Am I becoming more of a performer than a composer?  Is that a good thing? And am I becoming a different kind of composer in that I'm composing different genres of music now than what I was composing years ago?

Okay, weird questions, but they've been cropping up every once in a while and I thought I'd address it tonight because, in a rare moment of solitude and relative tranquility, I actually have the time to stay up late blogging without worrying about getting enough sleep.  Tomorrow (Sunday, which is today because it's taken me this long to finish this blog), I literally have nothing planned except an afternoon yoga class I may not even attend because I tweaked my wrist a few days ago and it's not exactly easy to do things like plank pose and hand stand or any arm balances for that matter.

So, to hell with going to bed.  Lately, I've been thinking about not getting to compose enough  of my own stuff and how it's affecting me.  Not only that, but I've also been thinking about what I've been composing now versus what I've been composing over the last few years.  My enthusiasm is waning for some types and all but gone for others while I'm becoming much more enthusiastic about still others.  I remember a time when I first moved here and I was still fresh out of academia imagining that I would be writing chamber pieces and symphonies and having them performed and blah blah blah.  Those things never really crystallized and somewhere along the line I sort of abandoned the contemporary music scene.  I started to realize (shortly after my last premiere with Tania) that I was tired of spending so much time composing and rehearsing something that would be performed maybe only a handful of times and be seen/heard by a only a few people and which I might get a good recording out of that I could throw on my reel.  Beyond that even, I wanted something that I could relate to as well and that would have some kind of staying power.  Something maybe that I was performing myself. 

And then, on top of that, I wasn't even sure I was connecting with the music I was trying to write.  In a way, it just stood as sort of an exercise, like grad school itself, to learn how to compose, arrange, rehearse an ensemble and put on a concert.  I started to realize, however, that this stuff I was writing was false.  It wasn't organic.  To some extent, it was even a stretch that I was writing it.  And I mean mostly the particular genre: contemporary academic art music.  Something about the audience, the venues and the ultimate end product just doesn't speak to me anymore.  And I'm not sure it was ever my scene. 

What really hit me is that part of what was wrong is that in a lot of these cases I wasn't the one performing.  It's not music I would necessarily perform on the instruments I can play and the genres in which I started out performing, i.e. rock music (guitar) and classical music (piano).  Okay, so with this song I sang in the bass section when it was performed and with this piece I sampled Tania's piano playing and performed the electronics live.  But ultimately, I'm writing these pieces for instruments I don't play and trying to get other people to realize them and hence it doesn't come across as organic to me.  It doesn't always turn out like you want it.

It's funny because it reminds me of back when I played in rock music and I first found my motivation to start composing my own music and stop collaborating with band members in a one for all, all for one kind of approach to song writing.  I was tired of having to bow to other people's desires about how a song should turn out so I wanted to write my own stuff but now I realize that composing ensemble pieces, even where I'm the sole composer, represents its own challenges.  Challenges I've no doubt learned a considerable amount from, but challenges nonetheless.  That was really a sidebar though.

What I'm getting at is that in the last few years, I've started to accept that the music I write really ought to be a lot more personal.  That's a lot of what this journey has been about.  Some of the best work I've done, meaning that which I'm most happy with, have been works where I played every instrument, recorded, produced and mastered everything.  But that's not to say that I haven't had some wonderful collaborations.  Working with Murat Keyder on this one was one of my favorite experiences since I moved here.  And working on the score to Sword in the Shadow with the amazing Japanese flute player, James Schlefer, was great experience.  

But what's more personal than Tim Daoust writing rock and electronic music?  Things like this song that I wrote over 10 years ago.  And this song that I also wrote almost 10 years ago that I recently revamped.

Granted, none of this is to say I won't ever write for the contemporary concert hall again.  I may someday.  But right now I want to revisit that side of me and performing again with Lacy has made me remember how much I enjoy performing in popular genres versus academic esoterica that nobody gets but I swear people pretend to like just to seem worldly and educated.

Lucky thing is that the music for my next project, the finished pilot episode of "The Life" is so guitar driven that it comes extremely easy to me.  Once I zeroed in on what George wanted for the underscore and the main title theme, everything fell together.  And I'm really happy with what we've done so far.

More than that, I'm happy in general now that I've come full circle, gotten the experience in composing orchestral music and working with exotic instruments and come right back around to composing the music that I enjoy but with a dusting of influence from everything I've touched on along the way.  Mind you, this doesn't mean that every score I do is necessarily going to be guitar based, but it does mean that the stuff I write for myself is going to be a lot more focused on guitar and electronics and is not going to bow to the standards of academia that I felt were boxing me in so much.

Of course, now the thing is finding the time to finish the songs I've started.  And when will I perform them?  Stay tuned.  I really need to sleep now because tonight, the night after I started this blog, I still need to get up early the next day.  My last regular day at CNN for a while.  I'll be starting at TruTV on Tuesday.  Wish me luck! 

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