My thoughts and out loud thoughts on composition, performance, and many things musical.

Musical Affirmation

Today was one of those days where I received the support that solidifies any doubts I may have had. I should state, first, that I am quite humble when it comes to talking about my musical abilities and drive. Humility is a suit best worn all year long.

I am confident in what I do, but rarely will I acknowledge that out loud. That’s not my style.

So to backtrack, this past weekend I met the man who will record and produce my album. He’s a perfect fit. Musically, technically, and mentally he’s the missing piece. He’s also a fellow Mid-Westerner, so naturally we got along just fine. He was excited about the music I had him listen to, had specific ideas and compliments, and was generally intrigued about the approach I was taking.

As for the music, I have everything finished and ready to go.  All I need to do is solidify rehearsals more and more.  For some tunes, I have the right musicians. Others, I need to search outside of my immediate surroundings. I know that will not be a difficult task, but financially that is foreign to me: hiring musicians. I’ve never really had to hire a musician. But for the sake of musical integrity, of course I will do just that.

Furthermore (still backtracking before I get to the point) I have committed to the idea that I will go to grad school for Composition. (NYU would be so great.)  Am I good enough? I have no idea. But I also have a while to hash that concept out. I am creative and intellectual enough, that I know. Time is on my side, however, to learn and retain the necessary tools expected from a higher learning institute of credibility. As for what I have to say, musically, oh I have a lot.

And it’s the boiling kettle I’ve had to turn down to simmer, because I don’t yet have a grasp on the most effective way to pour the water out. I can pour it out; the music is leaking out of me, but I must let it out in a mellifluous, cohesive, organized way.

AS TO this affirmation I aim to talk about, I had quite the experience today and yesterday.  Yesterday I rehearsed a piece of music for guitar + brass quintet. It’s nothing analytically fancy. It’s not difficult. No new music theory buff would pay any mind to this. It’s all tonal, in the same key: it is a song. It’s your basic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song. Alas, it’s sound nice, or I think it does, that’s why I even present it.

But the confirmation came when my brass quintet wore looks of surprise and had nice things to say about the tune. My trumpeter admitted to getting emotional over the song. Moments like that remind me that, while I insist on remaining humble, and forever remaining a student of my craft, I’m doing something right.

Today I finally got a chance to rehearse my tune for woodwind quintet + voice. Right off that bat it’s a sincere song, with no room to hide any feelings or opinions. It’s one of my most honest tunes, and thus one of the most frightening for me.

I received similar reactions to this piece, compliments and feelings alike.  My favorite part of playing that piece was that the musicians had suggestions to make, notationally and overall analytically, that I absolutely agreed with. It was such a learning moment. They pointed out things that, in my mind, justify or correct why I write the way I do, and what I need to be on the outlook for next time, and how to edit.

My bassoonist, a talented composer himself, said that my tune reminded him (“positively speaking,” he added) of Barber’s Summer Music. THAT is a gold coin I will keep with me. Granted my tune is nothing like the gem that is Barber, but I get where he was coming from, and I so deeply appreciate it.

After all, I still am pretty new at successfully writing out all the sounds and notions I have in my head. I get better at it everyday. Today my friends confirmed to me I have it. That is the most wonderful feeling.

I’ve had interactions with some of my best friends, all of whom are fantastic musicians, in similar venues. We critique each other honestly. It’s educational, it’s fulfilling, and it’s loving.

I have a general time frame I have to work with, and I never know what’s in store for me in it. I could have all the time to perspire these musical urgencies from inside of me, or I could be sent to different country with a rifle in my hand and have little time to woodshed.

However, I always get to keep that kettle hot, waiting for the day I bring it back up to a boil, and finally serve the world a cup of mine. 

For anyone who has supported me, thank you. Image

Leaving home liberates the creative faculty to convert sorrow into art.


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