Thursday, January 17, 2008


I just wanted to plug the wonderful composer Bruce Adolphe's book The Mind's Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination. It's such a great book for training your inner artist. He takes some of the concepts that are taught at the Juilliard Acting School and then expands them and applies them to music. The book has really helped me to clarify my ideas.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Guerilla Tactics

I was really impressed with Mayke Nas's piece No reason to panic (2006) not only is the piece a great listen, it's also a great staging idea! Here's the general idea
Unannounced to the audience, No reason to panic served as a surprising entr'acte during a stage changeover in which the strings of the orchestra had to make way for the grand piano, that slowly rose from the catacombs.

Here' a review
"And suddenly this fresh music sounded, right through the hoisting of the grand piano. Flutes that played their ascending lines in different time-divisions, sometimes together with a piccolo. Pulsating double basses. Percussion, that was enlarged with a lion's roar, a howling drum. The conversations died down, the audience feasted upon this spicy intermediate course. The explanation came during the break. The composition turned out to be a commissioned new piece by Mayke Nas (1972) with the fitting title No reason to panic."
(Bela Luttmer in Volkskrant, 7 oktober 2006)

How cool is that! And what a great idea for new composers as a way to get their music performed by orchestras and heard by new audiences! I really believe that these guerilla tactics might be the way to go. It reminds me of those little outtake gems(outros) that you used to find between the Beatle's songs especially on the Stawberry Fields Forever album which Michael Gordon of Bang on a Can used as the basis of his piece "I Buried Paul."
The outro starts at around 3:30

Also this is completely unrelated but I think I just found one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I've ever heard it's called Twice as Pretty I don't know who the artist is but it's just so moving and the lyrics are so well written.
Enough rambling from me...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hot music for cold days

Let's see... I spent most of my Winter Holiday listening to African music, especially Jeli Moussa Sissoko's Kora playing and Moroccan gnawa music- Hassan Hakmoun's The Fire Within: Gnawa Music of Morocco and Mustapha Baqbou's album Djema El Fna- great stuff. I've been trying to capture the rhythmic flavor and playfulness of this wonderful music in a new solo guitar piece called "Falling Through the Cracks" I've also made some good progress on my orchestral piece- a piece that keeps getting put on the back burner. It seems to be one of those pieces I need to write through- like a sort of phase- and once I get through it I can finally climb out on the other side.

We did the traditional Japanese New Year's celebration eating osechi ryori(Japanese New Year's food) and going to the shrine for hatsumode(the first prayer of the new year)- it was pretty relaxing. I don't remember much of the shrine- had a little too much sake. One of my resolutions for this year is to communicate more to people in person- I feel like I spend too much time on e-mail and not enough talking to people in person.

Here's a little something I found of Hassan's on youtube

Rolfe's Barber Shop