Sunday, September 21, 2014

#140 "Crackly"

This is the second audio-visual collaboration between myself and Matt DeFord.  Matt created the video, and I created the audio.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Expansion of Format for the Year of Song Blog

I've been giving this some thought, and I have decided to expand the format of the Year of Song Blog.  The project began when I was in the middle of the second year of my Ph.D. program at LSU majoring in music theory and minoring in composition.  I began to realize how much I missed writing music as I wasn't making the time to work on the many ideas that would pop into my head.  I focused on "songs" with the blog, which I defined as any musical work including voice.  Since musical theatre is a huge area of interest for me, the idea of writing and recording songs was very appealing to me.

All in all, I have found the project to have achieved many successes.  It rekindled my passion for composition, prompting me to switch composition from my minor to my major.  It has led me to compose more experimental pieces.  It has led to having songs performed by several great performers including Gracie Stean, The Solution, Kelly Riely, Shannon Roberts, Yumi Suehiro, and Viola Yip.  It has also led to me composing pieces in a variety of instrumentation and styles, performed by such artists as the LSU Symphony, the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, the Vine Orchestra, Thomas Piercy, Vilian Ivantchev, Maksim Velichkin, the West Winds, Juan Maria Solare, Robert Botti, and upcoming performances by Suzanne Mueller, Pamela Sklar, Susan Mendel, and Kenji Haba.  Additionally, it has rekindled my interest in musical comedy, and although I first achieved my childhood goal of having a song played on the Dr. Demento Show in 2007, I have appeared on the show an additional 20 times since the beginning of the Year of Song project in 2012.  Finally, the chain of events that began in January 2012 with the beginning of this project has led to me becoming the music composition instructor at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

In the past month, however, I have found that I'm having much more difficulty keeping up with the one song per week goal (I have to record two today to catch up with the original goal), and I've spent some time in introspection to understand why.  Ultimately, I believe that the success of the project itself has contributed to the mental stress the project's format is now causing me.  I chose to compose and record one piece of vocal music per week, because my love of composition began with sitting down at the piano and writing songs, inspired by my love of musical theatre, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones (primarily).  However, since I have felt the emotional uplift of writing and enjoying the success of the project, I have written a number of other pieces, instrumental, experimental, sound art, and so forth, in addition to the weekly song recording.  Since I have expanded in so many different directions with composition, I feel much more pressed for time in writing and recording a (vocal) song every single week.  Whereas I feel that I have learned something from writing and recording each week's song, I have sometimes felt that I didn't produce the quality product of which I am capable, and for which I am striving.

On the other hand, I look back at the 139 songs in the project and am thrilled and gratified that I have such a diverse portfolio of recorded works of my own, which are available to share with anyone at anytime.  It is such a wonderful thing for a composer to have.  And although I feel as if I'm tiring somewhat of the grind of the project, I really don't want my portfolio to slow in its growth.

To address these issues, I am making these changes to the format of the this blog:

1) Although the name will still be "Year of Song," I will expand this to include instrumental works and other types of "sound art."  This will diversify my composition portfolio and allow me more time to focus on works that don't necessarily fit the definition of "song."

2) Instead of strictly requiring myself to compose and record one work per week, I will make the goal to compose and record 52 weeks per year.  The ultimate result is the same, but this will (at least psychologically) give me the leeway to expand and contract a bit without feeling like I've not lived up to the standards of the project itself.   I might post three recordings in one week, for example, or occasionally take a week off.

3) I will be putting more effort into collaborating with other wonderful musicians, allowing them the freedom to interpret and record my pieces as they are inspired.  I have no doubt that I can learn a great deal from relinquishing some of the control of the final product, and it will also take some of the pressure off of me.  Of course, I'm going to do the best to return the artistic favor, by recording their works, or providing some sort of creative service.

I believe these changes will ultimately be a positive thing for me and the project.  I still plan to write plenty of songs, but now I will be free to write other types of music as well.  And I will be able to do this without feeling guilty about "giving up" on a project, which has already far exceeded my original expectations.  Thank you all so much for listening and supporting my music!