Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I suppose you could call Fifteen "the triumph of the obsessive need to create over pain, broken bones, and inconvenience."  My right arm's been in a sling for a few weeks, after I broke my clavicle in a mountain bike accident, rendering me unable to play any instrument until January.  As miserable as this makes me, I  was able to redirect my energies towards writing music on the computer.  I am nothing if not stubborn and focused.  For those who don't know, I generally write orchestral music like this by writing the notes on screen in standard staff notation (using Cakewalk Sonar) and then manipulate each note's MIDI parameters to adjust velocity, dynamics, etc.   It was slow and painstaking to use my left hand only (I'm right handed!) to write and manipulate all the notes for each of the many individual instruments in my virtual orchestra to play, but I'm happy I stuck with it.  Many of the melodies in the horns and woodwinds I was able to play on keyboard, which helps them to feel more natural.  It's important for me to be able to listen to any of the isolated instruments and have it sound "right" on its own.

Fifteen is not exactly a sequel or a companion to Thirteen, but it's cut from the same cloth.   It explores a variety of different ways to subdivide fifteen beats or fifteen notes.  It goes on a meandering journey to different keys and tempos, and eventually finds a way back.  I had originally started working on this piece earlier in the year.  I had about the first minute done, but I had no idea what else to do with it, and had basically abandoned it.   Fortunately, I had many new ideas when I came back to it with one good arm and too much time on my hands. 

As I've said before, I continue to study and learn how to write more effectively for orchestra.   I'm happy with the orchestral colors I created here, but I'm sure I have a lot more to learn.  For now, I continue to revel in combining flutes and violins, cellos and clarinets, basses and tuba.    The sound libraries I used are LASS, Berlin Woodwinds, and Cinebrass.