Blog Archives

I am Master, and I shall call you Padawan.

In August, I graduated with a Master of Fine Arts!  Consequently, I “feel” like a Jedi Master of Music or something, especially because I currently have students.

I feel like I have a thousand more ideas now too, but first I have to” work.”  I have a freebie children’s piece that I’m doing for a friend, and I have some transcribing and editing work that is paid!  I’m trying to write an orchestral piece (originally, I wanted a symphony) for a contest next month.  I’m also busy with my students, my “little padawans” as I now sometimes refer to them, with festivals, holidays, and recitals coming up.

This time around graduating, I’m thankful that I haven’t gotten much post-graduation depression, as I have in the past.  I’ve still had many ups and downs, but thanks to my many friends (mostly musical) and family, I have a lot more hope for my future of making it in the world.  I feel more prepared, but I have also learned that I’ll never feel perfectly prepared for anything worth that is trying.  So, I have to just remember my support system and take leaps of faith.  Not too hard, right?

Busy, busy, busy, but not much getting done…

Wow, it has been a while.  Sorry.  I’ve been getting busy again…new students, two student recitals coming up, more homework, past homework catching up with me, habitually taking on more than I can handle, etc…

But I finally have it posted on YouTube! (The contest’s short film that I wrote music for.)

Hope you enjoy.

Also, I’ve been seriously considering (finally) getting my own domain name.  Unfortunately, I just ordered 500 more business cards with WordPress in the domain name.  I guess that will have to wait a bit.

Self Promotion

Yes, like the title says, I’m advertising myself right now.

If you haven’t “liked” me on Facebook or “friended” me on MySpace (www.myspace.com/annachapman), please do so.  You can also follow me on Twitter@ACMusic101, YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/AnnaBoomMC), and LinkedIn.  I’m also on Music2Deal.com, MusicDealers.com, and AudioCatch.com, but only recently with these.

I have a piece of my short film score (the credits music) from the recent competition that I entered posted on my MySpace page, and the filmmaker has given permission for the entries to use his film with each original score for self promotion.  I will have it up on YouTube soon with my score, even though I was not chosen as one of the finalists.  (But one of my fellow classmates is a finalist in the competition!)

On another note (haha-I haven’t yet gotten tired of using that pun), one of the non-musical things that I do is photography, where I consider myself an amateur: http://www.annachapmanphotos.printroom.com/

That’s it for now.  Happy browsing. 🙂

I never get tired of these musical geniuses.

Oh, Jazz…

Well, I did end up writing two pieces for the jazz ensemble at my Vermont residency in February, but there was not enough time allotted for me to get to hear them both.  One was an arrangement of the percussion piece that I mentioned in the previous post, and the other was a tango, which was the one I chose to hear, have performed, and have recorded.  I am still trying to put the sound files together for the mix that I want for this tango, and also for the percussion piece.  So, hopefully, I will have them available for listening this week sometime.

Between homework for my new (and final!) semester and the craziness that comes with spring for my music students, I’m kind of overwhelmed right now; hence the short blog.  But I’m going to try again, God willing, to stay more steady with my blog (and updating my online presence as a whole), even if that means this is all you get each time.  Thanks for still supporting me in my musical and life goals!

“So, I’m composing a dance suite.” “Oh, with an Allemande and Minuet?” “No…it’s…um…Ballroom actually.”

Finally, I have posted the Ballroom Dance Suite that I worked on in the last six months (this last semester)!  It is five dance movements for Piano Quintet (2 Violins, Viola, Cello, and Piano).  You can listen to all the movements here (whether or not you have a MySpace account):  http://www.myspace.com/annachapman

Here is a little bit more about them.

Foxtrot-“Don’t Know What To Do”

Since this dance was invented in the early part of last century, it’s typical music has a big band sound and a medium slow swing tempo.  This was the dance that I did not have specific musical ideas for.  But I was helped by remembering the sounds of dance orchestras in the early part of the century (and in the old black and white movies), especially the string sounds.  After much trial and error, I finally came up with two flowing swing melodies, off-beat piano accompaniment, and a whole step key change.  The two themes then just take turns and dance around each other in bouncy delight, at least that was the intent.

Samba-“Do You Know How To Samba?”

This dance is the most percussive of the ones that I chose.  I tried some special effects on the string instruments that I “hoped” would be percussive enough (without making the musicians too upset about hitting their instruments).  In the result, the sounds were percussive but not loud enough to balance well with the piano and full violin melody sounds.  This might have been the most difficult movement for me to write.  It is the dance that I know the least out of this grouping, but the layers of rhythms in the music were also a mystery to me until I did some in-depth study of the Samba.

Rumba-“So It Does”

Surprisingly, I’m starting to love this movement more and more even though it was the last one I composed, and I was very rushed to get it done.  However, I do feel the need to, at some future point, change the instrumental texture that is under the melody.  Once again, I have the strings playing quieter effects against the louder timbre of the piano, which isn’t always a good mix.  I used some of the rhythms that I learned for the Samba in this movement too because they are similar Latin dances whose main (and most obvious) musical difference is tempo.

Tango-“March of the Tango”

I soon found out after composing this movement that “Tango” can mean several different things to different people.  For me at the time, I wanted it to mean smooth and staccato, affection and tension, and cohesion and conflict…opposites for the most part.  That became a tall order very quickly, but I finally formed it in my mind and got it written down.  I was very proud (and still am proud) of it and what it represents in my compositional journey.

Waltz-“Honey Waltz”

In contemporary classical music, the Waltz does not seem to be a standard or prevalent form of music.  In Ballroom Dance, the Waltz is is considered one of the classic standard dances.  In both cases, I identify the Waltz as old-fashioned, not modern, but still valuable because it is a past form.  When I originally wanted to write a waltz, I had thought that I could “update” it for the contemporary classical era.  To do that, I  thought I would have to abandon much of the standards present in the most famous and popular waltzes that I knew of.  However, the most essential part of waltz music for dancers is the rhythmic stability that it has, so I needed to keep that.  I also could not truly depart from the beautiful and classic/romantic harmony and melodies that the vast majority of waltzes have.  But I did have to keep the tempo slower than many of the famous Waltzes to fit the true Ballroom dance style of the Waltz.

The Half of a Masters Degree

One week later than promised, but here it is…

My second semester project is complete, and my first year of graduate school is almost over.  Quite a feeling, mixed feelings actually, but mostly consisting of happiness and contentment at the moment.

My project turned out a little shorter than I expected, and much shorter than I wanted, but I met the 10 minute minimum requirement of music for the semester.  I am excited about that; it is the most music that I have ever produced in half a year!  I am exceedingly proud of myself, but I also look at (and listen to) my fellow students’ work and immediately see how much I still have to learn.

It is hard for me to describe what I wrote this semester; I feel the need to explain the dances because each dance movement that I wrote is connected so much in my mind to it’s specific dance.  But I’m going to try not to take up space with that, unless I really need to.  If you want to know about each dance, please look them up; there’s plenty of information online and off.  My music (the instrumentation that I chose), I very quickly found out, is unconventional for most Ballroom Dances.  The usual music is more percussive and like pop music than my chosen medium of string quartet and piano (piano quintet).  Therefore, my dance movements sound much different than typical Ballroom dance music.  But I still attempted to capture the musical styles and techniques used in the typical music for each dance.  Each of the five dance movements that I wrote will be recorded during my residency in August, and I will post them as soon as I can afterwards.  Until then, I will try my best to describe the music.

Some (especially dancers) have asked why I chose the five dances that I did, since two of them are classified as “smooth” dances and the others are classified as “rhythm” dances (just as different in look, character, and music as their categories imply).  I have two reasons.  For four of the five dances, I had specific musical ideas in mind.  In my dancing experience, I did not have any musical problem with “smooth” and “rhythm” dances being next to each other in a dance line up.  And I wanted it to be a sort of line up, but more actually a “suite,” like it could be a little dance party in and of itself, like dance suites used to be, especially in the Baroque Period.  So, I chose the dances and ordered them in the best way I thought possible, musically, rhythmically, and so as to not purposely fatigue the dancers.  Consequently, the mix seems a little random, but I have thought it out and am happy with it.  The order is Foxtrot, Samba, Rumba, Tango, and Waltz.  Stay tuned for their descriptions.

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).

Under Construction

“Hello, World!”  I’m in the process of constructing this blog, which will mainly serve as my website with an added feature blog about my musical exploits, adventures, and thoughts.  I plan to blog my thoughts about teaching music, performing music, and composing music.  I would love to read your responses and thoughts on the same as well, so feel free to comment.

Along with this webpage, my life at the moment is also “under construction.”  I am recruiting more music students for additional income, sharpening my performance skills with a band, and have started a Masters program in music composition with lots and lots of homework.

So, my thought for the day?  Homework.