The Composer Life

/The Composer Life
Jun 29 6/29/19

What It’s Really Like Being LGBT+ in the Arts

By | 2019-06-30T00:33:08+00:00 June 29th, 2019|The Composer Life, All Things Educator, Real Talk|

  Pride month—one of my favorite months of the year—is coming to a close. It’s been, as always, a delightful chance for my LGBT+ friends and me to celebrate who we are, be more open about our usual selves, and in some cases even come out for the first time. Though there are still many people out there who would rather have us not exist, and the fight against discrimination both legally and in everyday life is far from over, we have come a very, very long way since the dawn of the new millennium. And I’m excited to play [...]

Jan 31 1/31/19

Think That’s “Not Music”? Take a Lesson from Marmite.

By | 2019-01-31T01:57:59+00:00 January 31st, 2019|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

  The other day I was searching for music to use for my fundamentals class' composition evaluations this semester. Basically, throughout the semester I give them links to ten different pieces on YouTube (ranging from medieval to modern) and ask them to write about the different elements of at least one of them. It's a fun project, and I intentionally try to find things they haven't necessarily encountered before. Some of the pieces they love (Shostakovich's Symphony no. 11 is quite popular), while some they're almost guaranteed to dislike (Messiaen's Apparition de l'Eglise eternelle has few instant fans) and yet others divide the [...]

Oct 16 10/16/18

Why I’ve Stopped Caring About My “Perfect” Pitch

By | 2018-10-17T00:16:18+00:00 October 16th, 2018|The Composer Life, All Things Educator, I Smell Theorist!, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

Yes, I'm THAT guy. I'm the guy you hated in school who was a natural at sight-singing. The guy who tested out of his college ear training courses in record time and never had to show up for those classes. The guy who didn't have any trouble transcribing things, detecting errors, and hitting tricky intervals on his instrument out of thin air. Because I was the guy who could hear it all in advance. Yep, that's right. I have perfect pitch: The ability to identify any note once it's been played or to sing any requested note on command. Or at least... [...]

May 5 5/5/18

Four Facebook Groups to Hone Your Craft (And Why You Should Be Careful With Them)

By | 2018-05-05T18:40:31+00:00 May 5th, 2018|Tips and Tricks, The Composer Life, I Smell Theorist!, Real Talk|

  You've gotta love social media. The perfect place to post current events, vent about current events, vent about people who vent about current events, post pictures of food or cats or children, vent about people who post about food or cats or children, vent about the people who vent about people posting about food or cats or children, etc. But that's not all! You can be invited to events you never intend on going to, share events your friends have no intention of going to, add people to self-promotional groups they immediately turn off the updates to, gripe about [...]

Feb 18 2/18/18

When Your Art is Smarter Than You: A memoriam for Parkland

By | 2018-02-19T12:10:33+00:00 February 18th, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk, Hey, What's New?|

Last night I had the pleasure of revisiting one of my favorite older pieces in concert, Epics and Heroes. When I say "older pieces," I mean that I wrote this as an undergraduate in college eleven years ago, and while many of the works in my portfolio from that time have fallen by the wayside, this one has stuck around. It's a piece that (I hope I can make this make sense...) still sounds like me, talks like me, and acts like me, no matter how much my sound and style have evolved since then. This piece has a strange—and [...]

Jan 22 1/22/18

Why Failure is Wonderful

By | 2018-04-03T21:15:29+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

I remember in my undergraduate composition lessons learning a development technique to quickly hone my writing skills… You start by taking an honest look at your portfolio. In that process, you analyze your writing style based on six different parameters: Melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, texture, and form. After careful consideration, you ask yourself, “Which of these elements is weakest in my writing?” Maybe you’re not satisfied with the melodies and themes you write. Maybe your chord progressions feel blasé and basic. Maybe you can’t get the timing of your form quite right. Whatever the circumstance, you pick an element that [...]

Jan 6 1/6/18

Atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia

By | 2018-02-01T21:34:16+00:00 January 6th, 2018|The Composer Life, Let's Pretend I'm a Philosopher, Real Talk|

Happy new year, everyone! It’s a brand new year, a chance for a clean slate. And isn’t that terrifying? I’m an avid journaler. There were points in my life, mostly in school, where I would take the time to write in a journal every single day. These weren’t short entries, either—average length of each entry was two pages, and my handwriting is tiny! I highly recommend it to anyone in an artistic or educational field: a chance to flex the creative muscles, organize your thoughts, and do some valuable introspection on who you are and what your mission is about. [...]

Oct 29 10/29/17

Ten Things You Should Do if You Want to Write Choral Music

By | 2018-02-01T21:44:18+00:00 October 29th, 2017|Tips and Tricks, The Composer Life|

Throughout my entire composing duration, I’ve always found my experiences writing for choir to be my most gratifying—and not just from a money-making standpoint. There’s something special about writing for a choir. It’s at once grand and simple, and something about human voices makes both the works themselves and their performances more vulnerable than writing instrumental music. Whenever I need to be reminded how much I love composing, I usually default to writing another choral piece. On multiple occasions, I’ve been approached by a student or peer asking me how to “go about” writing for choir, either in the context [...]