Monthly Archives: March 2012

An end is a beginning…

I am now just over one month into my second semester for my Music Composition Masters at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  My first project, for last semester, is over (at least for now; I do want to eventually finish the whole thing).  In the four semesters I have, I want to learn all that I can so I am focusing on a different project for each semester.

This semester, the ensemble in residence for the upcoming August residency will be a string quartet with optional piano to form a piano quintet.  This medium seemed ideal (at least mostly) for one of my project ideas, which is a dance suite.  However, this will not be any old dance suite.  Given my enthusiasm for ballroom dancing, this will be a ballroom dance suite for piano quintet, which now seems not quite right when I think about the “rhythm” and latin dances.  Strings conform beautifully for the Waltz, Tango, and even Foxtrot, but Samba, Swing, or Cha Cha?  How would that even work?  Well, I could have the musicians use their instruments in non-traditional percussive ways when needed, but would they be willing to beat on their instruments for that long?  Could I use clapping, snapping, stomping, or something else for percussion?  Something on the piano?  This is still a conundrum for me, but I really want to try to figure it out creatively in my own way.

My plan so far is to have a sort of Prelude/Warm-Up movement for the musicians and the dancers (yes, I want this to actually be dance-able).  That will be followed by the following dance movements:

Foxtrot

Samba

Rumba

Tango

Waltz

If I get those movements done, and if I still have time left in the semester (I sincerely hope so!), I will add these dance movements:

Viennese Waltz

East Coast Swing

Cha Cha

If I get ALL THOSE done, then I will add these last dance movements:

Paso Doble

West Coast Swing

Mambo

Night Club Two Step

All of these dance choices, apart from one, I know at the very least the basic stepping rhythm and character of the dance, if not more, since I’ve been dancing for about one and a half years now.  I’m still in the studying and preliminary writing stage, but I hope to have the waltz fleshed out (maybe done) by next week.  And I promised myself that before I give any more updates on this new project, that I will to post the recordings (either on here or MySpace; I’ll let you know) that I got from last semester’s project.  Soooooo…stay tuned, my friends.

Rethinking the Whole Music Blog Thing

I seriously envy my sister. She is in the arts like me, only as an illustrator, but she is far more gifted than I am in many other areas besides her chosen craft. The area I envy at the moment is writing. My sister’s art blog is witty, entertaining, sometimes deep, relevant to topic, and I love reading it: http://drawyoudrawme.wordpress.com/  I, on the other hand, have not that natural gift.  My best writing was the boring research and thesis papers I wrote in high school and college.

So now I wonder, and maybe my sister can give me some pointers, how do you have a cool, entertaining, successful, etc. music blog/website?  Do you post music all of the time?  Do you talk about music all of the time?  Do you relate it to life?  Do you do all of the above?  Am I too busy, or worse yet, too lazy, for all of that?  Should I just say whatever I want to and not care who cares?  Should I change visual themes a lot, not at all, or in between?  Do visual themes even matter if I’m talking about music?

Besides all those logistical questions, I’ve moved to a new music teaching facility, created a new email address, started a new semester with a new project (while still getting clips of the recordings together from last semester to share with you), and started writing a song with my band (whose numbers are now dwindling down to three, but are also now more serious about our musical endeavors).