Category Archives: art and culture

Book of Eli

What we do, part 2.

This was done by a freshman. He stripped the existing music from the film trailer for “Book of Eli” and rewrote his own score. I’ll say it again. This his first year, first time he’s ever taken a music class. He came to APU on a football scholarship, took music fundamentals last semester and found out he was pretty good at this stuff, and then 3 months later, this.

Beat It

It’s the end of the year, time again for student projects. This was done by my Production Techniques class. Everything you hear, all of the instruments, the recording, the mix, everything was done by our students. It was arranged and produced by Sean Beck.


Beat It

This is what we do!

O For A Thousand Stacks

I am supposed to be writing a piece of chamber music, which has to be finished, like, yesterday. I am, therefore, of course, doing anything and everything but that. Here’s today’s little time waster. By the way, singing through a hymn 20 times is a great act of meditation and contemplation. Those words start to take on serious meaning.

O For A Thousand Tongues

30/30 Logic Challenge

You ready?

  1. You must start with a blank Logic file – no templates
  2. You can only use internal Logic sound, no external sample libraries
  3. You get 30 minutes from launch to bounce
  4. The final project folder has to be less than 30 MB.

Post it here or wherever you can, then drop a link.

THE 30/30 Logic Challenge is ON!

Here’s my first entry:


Here’s the logic project file. Enjoy!

Click Clack (zip file)

High / Low Split

The two music creators (arrangers / composers / orchestrators) that I hold in the highest esteem have never met each other, but I was reflecting today that they have something in common when they talk about music. I’ll call it the high / low split.

When they talk about big M “Music”, it’s clear that they have a deep reverence, and highly personal resonance with music, that it touches and moves them in a way that seems altogether different than how you and I hear chords, melody, timbre, and rhythm. They dive so deep into it, and come up with new insights every time. Music for them is always unfolding, never unfolded, eternally discoverable and mysterious. Let’s call that the high side.

The low side happens when they talk about any particular piece of small m “music” that they are working on. Then, things get very, very pragmatic. This works. This doesn’t. I like this, but the producer didn’t, so we did this instead. Yes, they can sing this, but it doesn’t feel good when they do, so write something they will like and it will sound better. Why did you skip the chorus after the bridge? It’s called a formula because it works!

I love that. I think that high / low split is a really good way to thing about a lot of things, especially things we create.

The NAMM Rules

I know many of you are making the trip down to NAMM this weekend, and for many of you APU students, it will be your first trip. You should know that NAMM is a vapid, soulless wretch of a trade show, carefully designed to make you feel alone in the world and bereft of value, not unlike the Amsterdam redlight district. It’s also the biggest music nerd field trip of the year, so enjoy!

To help you navigate the treacherous waters of the trade show, here are a few guidelines.

Don’t wear swag. Just don’t do it. Unless you’re getting paid to be there, and the company you’re repp-ing insists, don’t drag out that awesome Pearl Drums shirt to shown everyone that you’re a drummer. Everyone there is a drummer.

The only exceptions to this rule are faded Fender swag (Fender has reached a level of awesome that transcends all rules) and vintage swag (if you have an emagic logo cap from the late 1980’s, do it!).

Everyone else, there are three NAMM outfits.

1) Black t-shirt, jeans, TOMS shoes. This is the standard outfit for anyone under 30 who has no reason to be there, but bribed their local music store for extra passes.

2) Rockstar casual, dark sunglasses. This outfit will be worn by people you recognize from their one hit 10 years ago, who are there to play on small stages in front of banners promoting the instruments they are shilling, while they try desperately to figure out what catastrophic career decisions led them to this point.

3) Polo, khakis, dirty tennis shoes. These are the people who actually make the gear and write the software.

Nobody there cares who you are or what you do. Don’t let that stop you from passing out your demo and card to everyone wearing outfit #2 or #3. If you’re looking for an endorsement deal, by all means, bring your Grammy with you.

If it’s on a table in a bowl, it’s swag.
If it’s on a table and bolted down, it’s gear.
If it’s being handed to you, it’s swag.
If it’s being handed to you and it’s plugged in, it’s gear.
If it’s edible, it’s swag.
If it’s wearable, it’s swag.
If it’s stickable, it’s swag.
If it’s edible, wearable, and stickable, it’s probably some new bread-based modeling guitar from Line 6. It’s gear.
If it’s swag, take it.
If it’s gear … take it. Just don’t get caught. If you do get caught, see the section below titled “EYE CONTACT”.

If you are handed an instrument to play at any point during the show, please show taste and musical discretion. Ask yourself this question, “Is there perhaps some way I can test the expressive tone of this new guitar string polish without resorting to an Yngwie Malmsteen solo?”

Everything interesting at NAMM happens in back rooms that you are not allowed to enter, and that you probably can’t even find. This thought will haunt you throughout the entire show.

If you are wandering through the exhibit halls and you happen to see someone who looks like your music tech prof, wait patiently for him to make eye contact, and then respond with a subtle head nod of recognition. Then, do not go over and interrupt him because, dude, we’re not gonna hang out.

When the shows shuts down for the night, the sickest players on earth pack into the clubs and theaters surrounding the convention, and music gets made. This is where you want to be. Do anything, anything you can to get into these shows. Bribe the Yamaha drum guys to find out where the superband session is happening, sneak in to the club through the kitchen, stand against the back wall the whole time if you have to. You will hear things that you didn’t think humans could do. It will be staggering. Thank me later.

These are the rules. Enjoy NAMM.

Bread of the World

Found a great hymn this week, arranged it for viola and piano. The tune is “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger” and the words are as follows:

Bread of the world in mercy broken
wine of the soul in mercy shed

By whom the words of life were spoken
and in whose death our sins are dead

Look on the heart by sorrow broken
look on the tears by sinners shed

And be your feast to us the token
that by your grace our souls are fed

O Holy Night – Instrumental

I know, it’s a few weeks late. Just bookmark it for next year.

A few hours before our Christmas Eve service, I knocked out an arrangement of “O Holy Night” for tenor sax and piano. It came out … pretty well, I think. Jonathan Proctor played, and that guy has turned into a very fine player indeed. Great tone, phrased the part wonderfully.

So, in the fine tradition of this blog, and in recognition of the fact that printed music publishing no longer exists as a viable income stream, I present the arrangement here for your perusal and use. The lead part is simple, you’ll find it useful even for high school players. The piano part is written for me, so basically nothing is written out. Enjoy!

O Holy Night – Bb Tenor Sax

O Holy Night – Score

If anyone wants the Sibelius file to print parts for other lead instruments, shoot me an email on the contact page.