Finishing Work

I am in desperate need of two things: first, a good music editor. Someone who can proof-read scores, who can find all of the small little errors in notation that need to be ironed out before a piece is handed off to the performers. Someone who is so good and creative themselves that they can figure out the distance between what I meant and what I actually wrote. I need an Aly, but for scores. Actually, Aly can probably kick ass at that, too.

Next, I am realizing that I am in desperate need of fixed deadlines. I went to final print today on the piece Our Father, Vindicate and copies are being handed out to the choir next week. I was sitting there next to the printer literally marking out edits and making changes as the sheets were printing out. If it were only up to me, I would probably spend another 600 hours on the things and still not feel done. I need someone who has the power to rip things from my hands and say, “You’re finished. No more.”

35 thoughts on “Finishing Work

  1. Scott

    What do proofreaders earn?

    Seriously. I’m too busy at the exact moment, but if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s catching tiny problems. Ask Shack.

    I’m in, if you can wait until May.

  2. Eric

    Mike, I have some experience, and would be happy to help in any way I can. I’m afraid I am still using Sibelius 3, so you’d have to save in an older format or send a pdf file, but I’d be honored to be involved.


    P.S. Gratis, in case that wasn’t clear.

  3. michael lee Post author

    Scott, I’m prepared to pay up to $2 dollars per hour, but because you’re a friend I’m expecting a 25% discount on that rate. Shouldn’t take more than 30 hours, tops.

    You in?

  4. Scott

    If it were $2 per dog hour, I might consider it.

    Friendship goes both ways, you know. Can I borrow 800 bucks?

  5. Chad

    I finally actually read this one, and I can tell you that arbitrary deadlines and art are excellent playmates. People who disagree strike me as people who don’t make any money with their art.

    I say this wholly from an artistic point of view, as well as an economic one. Deadlines, even arbitrary ones, force choices, and choices are inextricably intertwined with great art.

    There was a season in the creation of the new Dailies record where I was trying to write a new song every three days for a month, and was actually pretty successful. There were a few phrases here and there that I just couldn’t get settled, but even the act of “Finishing” the song with a phrase or two incomplete was empowering. Gotta move on, more fish to fry.

    It was far easier, two or three weeks up the road, to come back to it with 98% of the work done. Most of the time, the lyric that had so eluded me was now plain as day.

  6. michael lee Post author

    Chad, I agree with you. I’ve been writing a lot for ensembles around APU (part of my secret long-term career agenda. I’ll tell you when you’re older), and I’ve been telling the conductors of the ensemble to bust my chops on getting the thing done. It really does help to have an “end date”.

  7. Chad

    I keep hoping some hippy dippy will come on here and start waxing about how you can’t rush anything and you have to wait for The Universe to give you the song.

    And then I will berate them.

    Go, hippy, go!

  8. Scott

    “…arbitrary deadlines and art are excellent playmates. People who disagree strike me as people who don’t make any money with their art.”

    I do not disagree. I took 2 years to write an arrangement once, and part of that was because I was given a lot of leeway. However, your follow-up may as well have been “people who disagree strike me as people who have freckles.” So? Is there anything inherently bad about not making money for your art? I think that if selling your art is your primary source of income, then you’re foolish to wait for the Universe… but for those of us who have a day job and write as a hobby (and occasionally earn a little something extra for it), I don’t see what’s wrong with letting the creative process move along at its own pace.

    Go on, call me a hippy-dippy! You know you want to!

  9. michael lee Post author

    The only people who “aren’t trying to sell their art” are people who make crappy art. They are people who make a virtue out of necessity.

  10. Scott

    That’s ridiculous. I think you’re lumping two different kinds of people together under one big banner.

    I would agree that MOST people who aren’t selling their art are usually crappy artists who have some crazy notion that it’s ONLY art if they don’t take money for it. Or, they have a martyr complex.

    I believe there also exists a handful of people that enjoy crafting EXCELLENT art with no intention to sell. Not to make a point, not to be glorified as a suffering artist, but as a gift, an act of worship, or just to please themselves.

  11. Chad

    I actually think making art for art’s sake is cool, myself.

    However, I will push back and reiterate that creating art is all about making choices, and living with those choices. Deadlines force choices, and so on and so forth. I would go so far as to suggest that deadlines actually create art. Art, IMO, captures a moment, or a season, so deadlines are inextricably tied into the equation.

    And, yes, when there’s a dollar amount attached, you start to gain additional clarity on this reality. Time is money, and money changes the game, and not in a bad way. If there’s money involved, that means that someone is serious.

  12. michael lee Post author

    Scott, I think the sort of person you’re describing is a mythical hypothetical beast, like a two-horned Unicorn, or a sober Zack. It’s technically possible, but none actually exist.

  13. Scott

    I think ^^someone^^ found rat droppings in his Raisin Bran again this morning and he’s taking it out on the rest of us. His mom’s art probably sucks.

  14. Zack

    Mike, I am nowhere near as think as you drunk I always is. You sonofa motha mehdh8a7g#…

    ::staggers, takes a pull off of a Ralphs-brand whiskey bottle::

  15. Faith Kathleen

    Mike and Chad:

    1. Do you consider everything you’ve been paid for doing to be great art?
    2. Have you ever made/wrote/crafted anything that you thought was excellent or beautiful but never made any money from?

    Just wondering.

  16. Chad

    1. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I’ve sung passionately about Barbie Dolls, French Fries, and even one time about the Statue of Liberty having balls of brass.

    There is no doubt that the presence of money does not art make. I think my point is that the engagement of a dollar amount in the artistic process guarantees that SOMEONE is serious about what they’re doing, and it accelerates the completion process, which was the original root of this discussion.

    2. Yes. Absolutely.

    However… to quote Heath Ledger’s Joker, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”

  17. Chad

    That’s soooo weird.

    I was thinking about this thread today, as I posted a Facebook rant on a church that I work for on a monthly basis that is seemingly incapable of paying me in a timely fashion. I’d finally just had it today, as today was the day that they, for the sixth consecutive month, failed to pay me in the time period that we’ve allegedly agreed upon.

    I thought about it on my run, and my thought was this: a significant factor in the “Why money is important in the artistic endeavor,” discussion is that it forces the artist to simply get better at their art, or someone else will steal their gig. The economic realities actually force the artist to excel and grow.

    Conversely, in my situation, it’s about to force the artist to lay it on the line, and force the patron to decide if they value the art provided enough to make payment a priority.

    The more I think about it, the more I think money and art are totally important bedfellows.

    Speaking of bedfellows, those are REALLY cool quilts, so what the hell do I know?

  18. sharolyn

    Chad, everything you’re saying makes sense to me. You could apply it to any capitalist scenario, such as “It forces the producer to get better at making widgets, or someone else will steal their consumers…”

    I intrinsic-ly appreciate the quilts, largely due to their history, which I do not depend on to feed my family like your art does. So, I think it’s like apples and oranges…

  19. Chad


    You’re totally right… I guess I’m really just articulating capitalism 101. I think that’s one of the problems with musicians and appreciators of music, is that they somehow think they’re outside such things, but last I heard, I’m pretty sure John Lennon accepted money in exchange for his art.

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