Tag Archives: video

Professionals, Again

I spent yesterday editing down the tutorial video from the Our Father, Vindicate recording session with our very own Mr. Zack Mathers (so expect some swearing in the comments). For those of you who do not eagerly memorize every detail of my life with rapt attention and a pavlovian frenzy, I wrote a song, wanted to do a big recording session of the song, and the only way I could afford to do it was by getting a grant to fund the demo. To do that, we had to engage in some mild academic trickery, and tell them that the whole purpose of the recording session was to make an instructional video for students.

So, Zack brought some cameras along, recorded the whole session, and yesterday we editing all of that down into a 10-minute tutorial on how to record large-ensemble composer demos with no money down and only 8 singers.

I know I’ve said this before, but yesterday was another reminder: I am always shocked when people I know, people who are just, like, my people, friends, drinkin’ buddies, when they also turn out to be stone-cold awesome at what they do. I felt the same way the first time Aly edited something I had written (the proposal for this same grant, by the way). I felt the same way when June brought down a painting for my office. I felt the same way when other florists started ripping off Gretchen’s work and claiming it as their own (a true indicator of awesomeness). It’s been the same with Cory, Chad, Rosy, almost everybody (hey Bobby).

It’s always fun to get to see people who are your friends as they are perceived by their clients, and to realize that the reason they do what they do is because they do what they do. They didn’t just hang a shingle, they became professionals.

Our Father, Vindicate This!

Well, it’s finally happening.

About a year ago, I started working on a choral piece based on the text of The Lord’s Prayer. I posted some early examples here and here. In November, I thought it was finished. Then, I did a composer workshop where actual people sang through it, and ended up throwing out the entire ending, rewriting it from middle section on out.

In January, with the help of Aly and Phil, I wrote a grant proposal to do a demo of the piece, and to use that same recording session to record a tutorial video on how to record this particular kind of composer demo. It got pushed back, and further back, but finally, at last, the day has come.

On Friday, I get to go into a huge studio with a world-class group of singers, the kind who can sight-sing awkard and atonal lines with the same fluidity and accuracy that you’d expect of a real musician (instrumentalists), and we get to record the demo for this thing.

I am more than a little nervous. The singers on the session are guys from the LA Master Chorale, LA Opera, heavy hitters. I am not a conductor, not in anyone’s imagination, but there it is, I’m the only one there to do it.

In large part my anxiety stems from the fact that I care about this piece so much. I’ve invested a year into it, countless hours writing and re-writing, more time than I’ve spent on any piece of music. I think it’s the best work I’ve done as a musician, and for me it represents a way forward from being a gigging keyboard guy to being a legit composer, with commissions and everything. I am deeply invested in the piece, personally and professionally.

The night before the session, I have a 3 hour rehearsal until the wee hours of the morning for yet another LA singer songwriter doing yet another hollywood scenester gig, and the sheer exhausting will probably prevent me from being anywhere close to competent for the actual session. The irony is not lost on me.

For those of you who are into such things, here is the final version of the score.

Our Father, Vindicate

The Phreakiest Phriday: La Pequeña Sarah Palin

So, Phreaky Phriday seems to have run it’s course. People have pretty much figured out where to find weird stuff on the internet, without needing the soft guiding touch of the roadketeers. I feel a little sad, though, that we didn’t give it a proper burial.

I can think of no better way to close out a fine tradition that with this video. This is, undoubtedly, the phreakiest phriday. Ever. Ladies, Gentlemen, Bobby, I give you:

La Pequiña Sarah Palin

Warning: this video contains some scenes that may not be suitable for children, undergrads, or persons with strong objections to hideous mental imagery. Enjoy!

15 Hymns: Go Tell It

I forget how quickly “everyday” comes around. Today’s “15 Hymns” offering is just a quick piano romp, flipped the MacBook Pro camera toward the keyboard and hit record. I’ve always liked watching the hands of people who play piano. Hopefully you all do too.

Sharolyn, there’s a little something in here toward the end that’s just for you (and no, I’m not talking about the sloppy pinky technique on the top end of the runs). Enjoy.

(NOTE: if any of my students are following along, this is NOT appropriate piano technique. This is me farting around on a piano for 10 minutes. If you’re looking for an example of good piano technique, you check this guy out.)

Sophia Rocks Out

So, one of the classes I teach is all done through video podcast. It’s a class on how to produce a studio recording, and so, of course, I thought it would be appropriate to compose and record the crapp-tastic-est theme song ever for the show. Here it is:

It turns out, this is Sophia’s favorite song ever. This is a video of her rocking out to it, again and again and again. This, basically, is how we spent out entire evening tonight. In the middle of this, while the camera is pointed at my chest, you will hear her saying her new favorite word, “More?”.

Class Intro

So, this was kind of fun. I started classes on Thursday, and I opened up my first lecture for “Intro to Music Tech” by playing this video. Picture 20 kids in a room, with the speakers turned on full blast, and this rolling. It was very fun.

I apologize for the compression of the video – it looks awful on the upload.

Also, for any of you interested in following along with the class lectures (nerd!), the whole semester is being podcast.

“Let Your Justice” & 30dropframe

Some of you might be interested in this. Starting tonight at about 8 PM, I’ll be re-tracking the song “Let Your Justice Roll” over at 30dropframe.com. You can check out the live webcam feed from the studio.

I’m using one mic (borrowed from Chad – thanks!) and one piano (a huge yamaha concert grand), but overdubbing to build a full orchestral track. The strings will be bowed piano strings, percussion will be me plunking and banging the thing, and the big explosion at the end will be me taking an ax to the leg of the …. (just kidding, phil).

All that to say, I think it will be cool. It’ll probably go from about 8 PM until 3 or 4 in the morning. Come, hang out, making witty banter with Ash and Aly on the webcam.

30 dropframe

I won’t be active here much in the next few weeks. Remember this? It’s now this:

30 dropframe

I’m doing a record of my own songs this summer, and opening up as much of the process as possible to anyone who wants the voyeuristic thrill of watching somebody create an album. Stick, I know you, in particular, would love to know how records actually get produced. You can watch streaming video from the studio, subscribe to podcasts of the songs in process, with daily updated mixes.

The thing that will be hard for me, but I think interesting for other people, will be letting people see how much of the proccess is just plain ugly. Quick sketches of half-broken ideas, themes that aren’t quite thought through, pushed into demo form, then reworked, and reworked, until they emerge as the things we all listen to and love. Being, as I think most creative people are, inherently insecure about what I do, I usually wait until something is finished, polished, mixed, and shrinkwrapped before I even acknowledge that I had a hand in it. I want to preserve the idea of the inscrutible artistic muse, the illusion that inspiration strikes, and what emerges is just the song of the heavens echoing down through us. I’d rather not acknowledge the part of creativity that’s just plain mundane craftwork, from sometimes ugly raw material to finished product.

I think that’s a copout. It’s a way of distancing ourselves from the object of our work. If our hands are muddy, then we own the thing, and good or bad, it’s ours. On the other hand, if it was sprung full-grown from the head of Zeus, then we get to remain the amanuensis, and the criticisms don’t really belong to us.

Not this time. I’m in this thing. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, my hands will be muddy all over it.

So, the website is 30dropframe.com. Come check it out. It’ll either be spectacular, or a complete tragedy. Either way, it’ll be interesting to watch.