Music Inventor

The rantings of a man who composes what he thinks is "new music," in the 21st century.

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Location: Venetia, Pennsylvania, United States

Composer, private instructor, music typesetter, and performer. Currently attending CMU School of Music, working on Masters Degree in Composition.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hiatus

Music Inventor has been extremely busy with his studies, homework, and composing, and regrests having no time to blog lately.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Back to school...

I was back in class as of last Monday (8-29). The time has flown by at an incredible pace, as I look back to my first day, a year ago. Before I know it this year will be over, and I'll be contemplating either more schooling or finding a composition gig somewhere. I'm looking forward to the courses I've taken this term, especially an Orchestration course. It's been over ten years since I've had a good refresher in orchestration, and the course offers great potential. This is also the term that my main compositional obligation is due. I will be writing an orchestral piece under the supervision of Alan Fletcher. This piece is also slated for performance in March of 06. I will share more as the semester progresses.


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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Palm size Digital Multitrack Recorders

I'm pondering which of these two 4track recorders I'd like to have. The first one is the Zoom PS-04, the second, and what seems to be the more versatile of the two is the Korg PXR4. The simple fact that both of these devices will fit into my bookbag, take up minimal space, and allow me to practice at school with headphones makes them both sought after. The Korg though, has a USB port which would be great for quick file downloads while the Zoom doesn't.

There's also practicing at night. Even when I'm turned down very low, my wife can still clearly hear the Stick upstairs. Either one of the devices will eliminate that problem immediately! Plus, there's the ability to capture those fleeting moments of inspiration one gets while practicing.

Both units have a built in mic which presents possibilities of recording acoustic instruments while at school. There is an entire orchestra and more, so finding players should be no problem. Hmmm...Which one should I get? And when I've got it, what to write, what to write...


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Monday, August 15, 2005

Experiment

I'm currently working on a short piece for Fl., Ob., Cl., Vla., and Cel. The point has been reached where the piece moves to a new area. I decided to draw the shape of the opening section as an experiment, to see the texture of the music. Using a different color for each instrument I did a rough sketch of the shape' of each instrument's part. Each part was drawn relative to the others, highlighting the texture of the aural space while also showing where particular events would occur.

So I've decided to draw the next section before composing the music. I'm going to start by creating a catalog of textures and from there develop a few. I can see the concept in my head but not sure yet how to get it on paper in a non-musical way. Once I have a way to describe the musical events through drawing, the transference to music should be easy.






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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Back to School...

Thankfully the Summer is coming to an end. Beginning August 29, I will be back at CMU for my final year of classes. I am so looking forward to that! This has been, to quote my wife, "The Summer of my discontent". Although a productive time compositionally, I found that being out of the social realm can make a person really get to know one's self. Sometimes great, other times not so great. I think that we should all take some time to look inside at our disposition, attitude, and beliefs, and weigh these on the scale of objectivity. If you're truly open to discovering the "real you", and honestly question what you feel to be "right", you may find that much of what you think is founded on false assessments of your surroundings. One of the most intriguing aspects of our existence has to do with the fact that all of us harbor the beliefs of others, and not our own. Our parents, teachers, preachers, etc. Tell us from childhood how we should act, think, and what we should believe, always admonishing any questioning of these set standards. I find it extremely important to always question the impressions that enter the eyes and ears as much of this is fodder meant to distract and herd us into conformity. Some of you reading this will say that what you think and believe are your own thoughts. Before making any kind of judgment step back, pick a though or belief and trace it back to it's origin. You may be unsettled by the results...

Monday, August 08, 2005

My experience with DELL'S "Award Winning Service"

A little more than a week ago I ordered from Dell, a 1gb memory module. I was charged $228.99 for this module. This morning I checked the Dell site and found the same product listed for $209.99 on sale for $167.99!

So I call Dell...I ask them to change the order to reflect the price currently listed. My original order hadn't been shipped yet, so a quick change of the invoice and we would be done. Not going to happen. It seems that the folks manning the support center somewhere in India didn't have the ability to alter an order. From what I was able to gather, there isn't a person working for Dell who has this power. The only alternative I had was to cancel the first order and place a second order for the same part at the new price. No problem. Except that now I have to wait until August 23 before the new order ships! I wonder how long it would have taken my sales representative from Dell to change the order price had I been a business...Ponder that one.

So I'm chatting with the customer service guy and I ask him if we could roll the module from the first order onto the second order. Seems this can't be accomplished either as this part is shipped from a "partner vendor" who Dell must lose contact with after the orders are placed.

As a result of this encounter today I now have six new phone numbers for Dell, along with a seven digit extension that is "no longer in service". I enjoyed that part so much I want to share it with you; 1-800-915-3355 ext. 7469937

The unfortunate part of it all appears as indifference on the part of the customer support people. They are thousands of miles away from the U.S. and their indifference to our situations is proportional to that distance. They all speak what I've come to term "Dell Speak" , and when posed with a question that doesn't have a stock answer they pass you off into the void of pre-recorded explanations and bad music.

Out of curiosity I decided I would contact Dell's Complaint Department. You didn't know Dell had a complaint department? Well, don't worry to much...They don't! Your complaint is taken by the same group at customer support, who originally sent you to the void and back in the first place. I think it very clever of Dell to combine Customer Support with Complaints, this way they don't have to pay someone to resolve issues of discontent. They'll just send you off into the void maybe never to be heard from again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Schillinger System of Musical Composition

Back in the 40's many American film composers were utilizing a theoretical system created by Russian mathematician, and musician Joseph Schillinger. The work, titled "The Schillinger System of Musical Composition", applied a mathematical description to musical events. From rhythm, to melody, chord's to orchestration, musical events are given a numerical basis for the relationship each has to the others. When a piece of music is viewed in this manner, broader relationships begin to present themselves such as, the relationship of the music to the form or structure, in which the music is presented.

Eventually, as this "school" of individuals passed away so to did knowledge of the system. This led to a lack of interest among most musicians and a dwindling of the materials over the years. The text, which spans to large volumes, started going out of print in the late 70's. Today only volume two is readily available. Two great artists of that period, George Gershwin, and Benny Goodman were both students of Schillinger. Gershwin composed "Porgy and Bess" utilizing Schillinger's method, as did Goodman when composing his "Moonlight Serenade".

I was introduced to Schillinger in the 90's while studying with Robert Doak. He gave me an article about the system describing how to utilize one of the techniques. The article showed step by step the creation of a rhythmic setting, and over-laying a pre-selected chord progression onto this setting. I was hooked. I hunted down the two volume set of books and eventually found both volumes in a book store in Wisconsin.

The two volumes each contain six of the twelve books comprising the system. Book 1 deals with rhythm, and becomes the basis for the remaining methods, described in the following books.

Lately there has been a rise in interest regarding the system. However, there remain to this day no true teachers of Schillinger's system. Schillinger trained several individuals during his lifetime with Richard Benda being the largest proponent of the system. Theses links show leaves advertising Benda as a teacher of the system; 1. 2. 3.

Having studied ,and utilized techniques of the system, I find it a misnomer that the system is a method of composing music, using math equations. The math is no more than a ruler for the music, placing abstract concepts into concrete, measurable concepts. However, there still has to be someone who understands the abstract concepts, and has the ability to write music. The system does not teach you how to compose, the system only provides tools and techniques which are utilized in the music you create.

For anyone interested in learning the system definitely consider purchasing both volumes. Used books occasionally show up on the internet and I've only found one place offering a reprint of the two volume set. The essential material is contained in volume one. Before purchasing, spend some time learning or brushing up on music theory as there is the presumption that you already know this material.