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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?

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 (, please do so.  You can also follow me on Twitter@ACMusic101, YouTube (, and LinkedIn.  I’m also on,, and, 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:

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):

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.

What’s behind creativity?

My new goal is to post once a week…about anything, even if it’s not about my own music.  So here goes!

I had a great conversation with a fellow artist in which her main point was: Great and true art is 2% doing and 98% thinking.  I’m finding this to be more and more true of my own compositions.  The more I think each composition through until I finish it, the better it turns out.  My fellow artist is finding this to be true in her art as well, and she is also still a student like me.  It’s like looking before you leap, thinking before you act; the result always turns out better than if you hadn’t done the preparatory thinking or looking.  My only hindrance with this new knowledge is that it still takes me a very long time to think things through in my compositions.  The more I let it “simmer,” so to speak, the more good ideas I can sift through to find the right ones needed at the time for that composition.  But right now, and for much of this current semester, I am rapidly running out of time for my slow thinking process.

In the rest of our conversation, my fellow artist split art into two main categories, based on how it is produced and perceived: Fine Art (art with a deeper meaning attached to it that causes you, the observer or audience, to stop and think) and “Shiny” Art (her term, which means art with no deeper meaning initially intended; it just looks cool).  The 98% thinking and 2% doing is most evident in the Fine Art, and as she listed off contemporary artists and their seemingly strange (at first glance) works, I easily recalled contemporary composers and some of their strange musical works that fit into the same kind of “98% thinking” art category.  The obvious obstacle in this kind of Fine Art is to the uneducated lovers of the arts in the general public because of the intellectualism of the art.  In much contemporary classical music, the sounds are very different (and many times repulsive) from the usual classical music sounds that the general public is used to hearing.  To some, those sounds make the music more interesting instead of being boring classical music.  Certainly, the contemporary classical composers feel this way about the new sounds (yet they never ever call classical music “boring” and always respect the great composers who came before them).  But back to the audience…if the musically uneducated audience has trained their ears to “pleasant” musical sounds (as my ears have been originally trained also), new (harsh and repulsive) sounds filling contemporary classical compositions very often confuses the listener.  However, if the audience listens more carefully, getting past (at first) the initial negative emotional response to the sounds, and is musically educated in thematic listening, then the themes, flow, and structure within the piece become clearer to the audience and the composer’s intents in writing the piece can be illuminated.

Fine Art may almost be coming out of this phase, finally (I believe).  I have learned to appreciate these intellectual pieces; however, my ear (and heart) still mostly yearn for tonal (nicer sounding, in non-technical music speak) music.  As for it coming out of this phase, I have found that more meaning (more easily understand by the general public) is being composed and inserted by design into more recent pieces, giving the audience more direction, creating a clear path for them to begin their musical journey within that piece of music.