Miss Music Nerd Abducted by Aliens!!!

Yikes! 11 days into 2008 and this is my first post of the year! (My previous post says January 1, but it was still New Year’s Eve where I am when I posted it. My time stamp comes from somewhere over the Atlantic ocean…)

The reason the only sound coming from this blog has been crickets (as opposed to cicadas) is that I’ve been working feverishly, day and night, to finish my Concerto for Theremin and Chamber Orchestra, which will be premiered in March by the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, with my good friend Scott Paulson playing the theremin solo. I finally reached the coveted double barline today!

There’s still plenty more to do — making the score look nice and preparing the parts for all the different instruments, for example. But those tasks are pretty straightforward, which is not to say easy… they’re mainly painstaking and time-consuming. But they don’t require inspiration, the cooperation of the muse, that certain je ne sais quoi that makes every creative project take approximately 3 times longer than you expect. If only it could be like building a brick wall — you just lay brick after brick, steadily and consistently, until you’re done. Nope, composition doesn’t work that way. The process goes in fits and starts. Some days I’ll worry over 10 seconds of music like a dog with a bone… other days I’ll write two minutes of music in an hour and then head for the beach! (Well, not in Michigan in January, but you get the picture.)

I’m not denying that there’s a discipline and routine to it — the bottom line is, you just have to sit down and get to work — but sometimes “work” looks like staring at a blank page trying to decide whether to tear it up, poke holes in it with your pencil, spill coffee on it… or write something, anything… and keep working it til it works. It’s a mysterious and beautiful process. It’s easy for me to say that now, because I’m not right in the thick of it… I’m done, woo hoo!

…unless the conductor hates it. In which case I’ll be back with some wicked conductor jokes. (You can take most any lawyer joke you know and substitute conductors… or violists… 😉 )

By the way, the software for music notation and audio editing uses every last drop of RAM and CPU power the computer can muster; I joked with a friend today that my compy was running on a hamster wheel. He sent me a link in response — some brilliant person has built a Hamster controlled MIDI sequencer. This is not a joke! You can hear the musical results, and they sound like quirky minimalism! Heh heh, I know that’s a terrible thing to say about minimalism — that’s another story for another day… 😉

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    A Nerdy Playlist for New Year’s Eve

    UPDATE 12-30-09: This post is from two years ago; I have an updated-for-2009 NYE playlist that you may also enjoy!

    The end of 2007 is upon us! Hard to believe, isn’t it?

    You can find plenty of New Year’s Eve playlists if you search online, and many of them are compilations of the best and/or most popular songs of 2007. (Not necessarily the same thing! 😉 )

    I wanted to do something more, shall we say, timeless. That’s a fancy way of saying that I bounce around on the continuum from hipster to old fogy, so I’ll leave the current lists to those who are more up-to-the-minute than I am! Anyway, here are some selections that fit the topic of New Year’s, or related topics like 1) the passing of time and 2) drinking (please do it responsibly!).

    Les Classiques:

    Here are a couple of operas that are traditionally performed around New Year’s. Neither of them has anything directly to do with the holiday, although one of the plots does center around a raging party.

    Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel is based on the familiar fairy tale, which never really seemed like a nice little children’s story to me, but then many of those old fairy tales are kind of dark and twisted if you take a close look at them. An aria from the opera that might be familiar is Gretel’s “Brüderchen, komm tanz’ mit mir” (“Brother, come and dance with me”).

    Now, about that party – Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss II, features lots of good old-fashioned champagne-soaked fun, including the mistaken identities, extracurricular flirtation, practical jokes and payback for same, and sassy servants-smarter-than-their-masters hijinks that you expect from our venerable operatic/theatrical canon.

    Click Mr. Readmore to continue!
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