I woke up composing a song

Sometimes I wake up too early. It's rare, but it happens. The sun isn't up yet. Sometimes I can't get right back to sleep. So I open the little Chromebook and have a little gander around at what's going on. A little Facebook, a little songwriting forums, a little bit of this and that. I had an email with a brief looking for a gospel tune, I figured, I'll listen to the a la's. Watched a little Jane Austen and when I felt sleepy again, switched it all off, and lay down. I started imagining a gospel song... came up with a title, could kinda 'hear' it in my mind... imagined the hook in different settings, and then once I had the chorus I was imagining the choir coming in under the lead singer with some cool harmonies and the lead kinda doing that embellishment and ad libs, I had this whole chorus going on in my mind. Then I opened my eyes and looked at the clock and realized I'd been snoozing for almost three hours. I'd been composing in my sleep. ~

Did I do anything today? Ummm...

Monday, nearly time to go to bed. I cast my mind back to ask myself what, if anything, did I achieve today. I have to think about it.

Well, I walked. And I have had some difficulty walking but I am slowly getting better and I walked further than I have before. That felt good. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing cold from the sea.

Yesterday, an Easter sale tempted me, and I updated my Tracktion 7 to Waveform 9. I like already. Then I sat and went through 8 intro videos, rather doubtfully at the start, since I've been using Tracktion for years. But the videos were great and each one had some tidbit or other that was of interest.

Today there was another film scoring challenge from a group I belong to, due this coming Sunday. This time I didn't wait, I downloaded it, watched it and sat noodling on the piano for awhile. The idea is to find a motif and then expand it. Although I didn't noodle anything that stood out for me, it was fun to noodle and try things out.

Then I went back and listened to my entry for another composing contest. Funny how when you put these things away for a little while, when you listen to it after a break, you sometimes start to see the potential. Now I have something I like I just need to orchestrate it.

I signed up for a songwriting workshop at the end of the month with a songwriting coach I respect. I sent in a song for review. I'm considering recording it for submission to film/tv opps and it would be good to get her feedback on it.

And, I find myself watching American Idol. A few years ago, I did a blog for a couple of seasons, I'd give my thoughts on each show and performance. I stopped doing it because it was a lot of work and also I didn't like some of the negativity on the show. They made fun of people and embarrassed them. And I felt like they promoted the 'big voice' at the cost of authenticity.

I feel like the show has changed. They are more about telling the story of the singers, and pretty much only show the successful auditions. And you get see how someone really talented chooses the wrong song, or can't find the courage on the day, or has overworked their instrument, and in the end, may not make it. Anyway, I find myself enjoying the show for the storytelling and the ability to watch the singers receive their coaching and feedback.

I've been working on going through stuff, boxes, desks, drawers, etc. Watching a little AI helps the job get done.

Not bad for a sleepy Monday. ~

Still dreaming

Tonight I watched the movie 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.' I wanted to see it because the main character and his day dreaming reminds me of me. I have been and probably always will be a dreamer. Imagination is a wonderful thing. It helped me survive many a bad time. That and music, movies, books, writing, singing... probably eating, too, lol. Somehow the message of the film - gentle in its lesson - got me to thinking about my own struggles.

You see, I love film music and film scores. And I have been told that some of the music I write is not particularly suited for television where it needs to lie under the dialogue and not call attention to itself. Be interesting, move forward, have ear candy, but be.. well, kinda unnoticeably awesome. It's been suggested by a couple gate keepers that my creative take on briefs isn't suitable for the end user in television... but that my style might work better in film. Ha. As if.

Yet, there is something in me that hungers to try writing to picture just for the challenge of it, to try to add to the story with a sonic tapestry.

But, given clips to score, I find myself frustrated with what I am doing. I think I evolved a little the last couple of days, though. Yesterday I was happy with one section I did. I said, that was enough for the day. Today, another section started to take on life. I said, that was enough for the day.

I remind myself of the Hans Zimmer masterclass I took last year. I loved Hans talking about how he gets hired to do a movie, gets into the studio, sits down at the keyboard and says something like, 'I think they better hire a real composer cause I got nothin.'

He talked about his musical diary. That he just writes, every day. He has to, or the fear and doubt will take over. And it was fascinating to hear little snippets of his diary be developed for use in the score for the film. Great inspiration and I really enjoyed the masterclass.

Back to me and allowing myself to write a little, let it sit, come back and write a little more, and trust this process will lead me somewhere.  ~

Orchestrating a day...

"I’m going to change who I am and become a winner." ~ Charlie Brown

A day in the life of a composer: In looking at three projects I should be working on, plus my teaching and other responsibilities, I realized that the calendar in my head is simply not enough. Yes, I have schedules for this and that, but they are jumbled together in my mind. I get frequent spurts of 'omg did I remember whats-it'. How I currently orchestrate my time is simply not good enough.

The calendar in my head doesn't plan for time off. Now, given the determination to be prolificly creative as well as be doggedly producing good quality cues, it might seem funny that my first thought was about 'time off'. Acknowledged.

One of the problems is, I love music. It's my art, my heart, my soul, my breath. The thing that lights me up inside. So when I have 'time off' what am I doing? Probably music. Or writing, as I like to pen stories, poems, lyrics... ah, blogs.

So I created a calendar using googlesheets. Oh, I know there's a google calendar but it doesn't work for me. I want something that looks like an old-fashioned appointment book where I can put 'music' at 1000 am and draw a line to 200 pm. I worked very hard on the calendar, setting it up for the rest of this month and one of the purposes of doing this was to be sure I had at least one day a week without commitments of any kind.

Because without that 'waking up with nothing to do' on a regular basis, I can't find the serenity to let things go and just be for awhile. I know I can find a couple of hours on a work day. But a whole day off is a completely different flavour.

I updated my website, soundcloud, etc, adding new tracks and removing some that felt too old and not as representative of who I am today. As we write, we evolve. Our knowledge and foundation is stronger. What was good before is still good. It's just not at the standard of today. One hopes.

After I finished that, I watched some videos on music theory - chords and major modes used in film composing. Some of it is still difficult to grasp but when I sit down at the piano and play a scale in Phrygian Mode, I start to hear it. Diatonic, eh?

To me this is a lot like grammar. I feel I have a fairly good grasp of syntax and composition in the English language. I know what a verb is, of course, but if you asked me to name off all the titles given to the words and phrases we use, I would be... well I'm ok with conjunctions and prepositions, but when you start talking past participles and stuff, I'd be lost ;)

Modes and scales of different types are like that. I've heard them, played them, and sometimes composed in certain modes, but without a clear idea of what made them different and what they are best suited for.

I also watched videos on what to practice and this is one thing I need to add in - more practice on the piano. Play the cycle of fifths. Now play it in first inversion. Play the scales in different modes. Now play a major triad in different modes and sing the intervals.

I was once told by a jazz teacher to just play the cycle of fifths every day. You might not see what it's teaching you but you obtain clarity over time. I think that is true of all of this stuff. Seems boring and arbitrary and then one day you're tinkering with a chord progression and inversions and something clicks. Like a language you suddenly understand.

Then I wrote up project notes for the three items I have on the task list right now, and began work on a new track, experimenting with textures. It's a work in progress. I will put it away for a few hours, and will come back to see what the muse and the ear wants to add. And then on to mixing, as it sounds muddy and unfocused to me at the moment. https://soundcloud.com/hummingbird-26/barbarity-wip-sketch-mar-11-18/s-TpYva

That's what I did in my 'time off'.

Make Stuff Happen

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. What I do today matters. What I do today will not, in most cases, come to fruition today. I will see the results of today and tomorrow and the day after in my evolution two or three months from now. But if I do not engage today, if I do not change today, if I do not perservere today, I will not evolve past today.

Today I taught students. Today I chatted about filmmaking, scoring to picture, producing cues for television, resources for composers and filmakers, & singing. Today I watched youtube videos on music theory and the music biz. Today being International Women's Day I especially listened to music written & produced by women.

Today I walked by the ocean.

Today I tried for the fourth time to come up with ideas for a film scoring challenge. Am I too dismissive. Am I editing too much. Is it all 'grist for the mill'? Or, am I doing as Hans Zimmer suggested, keeping a 'music diary'...

I don't know, but at least I 'made something happen', on this day.