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Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Want Candy

Yes, I blog on Saturday's too!

I actually wasn't going to blog today, but a good friend of mine inspired me by misunderstanding a facebook status update. Before I begin this topic, which as always is up for debate, here is what was said....

Alright, so on the surface I can understand how that would sound like I'm saying don't try to get things you want because you won't get them. But of course, that's entirely NOT what I meant.

I'll use a classic example of what this refers to. Let's say a man has a dream to become a world champion runner in the olympics. But one day, he's in a horrific car accident and loses the ability to lose his legs. Realistically, he will never become that olympic champion so if he makes that his goal in life he'll only find himself disappointed and bitter. However, if he levels his goal and uses modern technology with the belief that one day he will be able to walk again - well, that is a goal worth fighting for. He never got his initial dream, but perhaps his ability to walk using modern technology in prosthetic has made him happy. Do you consider this 'giving up'?

On a more personal level, it has always been my dream to write music for movies. I have never given up completely on that dream, but I have placed it on the back burner because in my heart I know how unlikely it is. The percentage of composers who make it big in the film industry is very small, and let's face it - I live in Indiana, with 0 connections in California. I would love nothing more for that to be my job some day, but I have to think rationally about this. I have come to conclusion that I am not going to pursue that dream full-steam, rather I am in college getting a degree in what I love - and what will result in many different options. Maybe some day someone in Hollywood will notice my music and give me the call, but for now - what I am doing is making me happy. Does that mean I 'gave up'?

Speaking of giving up, I have given up on any possibility that I will ever be able to trust our president. In recent news, it seems that several top officials of the Taliban, the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11, in exchange for arranging peace negotiations in Qatar. Perhaps I don't understand all of the political mumbo jumbo in this, but the two words that stand out are 'peace' and 'terrorist'. Aren't those words an oxymoron (key root being MORON)? Have we forgotten what happened ten and a half years ago?

Anyway, if you'd like to read more on this issue you may do so here.

Well, I finally went out and bought what I've been wanting to buy for several months now: A Larger Computer Monitor. I got an Acer 23 inch that was on sale with $50 off the regular price at best buy. It was still pretty expensive, but I consider this a smart purchase because it will enhance my ability to write music.

I know the picture doesn't make it look like anything spectacular, but I can see at least 8 more staves now and it makes have to skip across the page a lot less when adding music. It will be particularly helpful for larger scores.

damn you auto correct funny iphone fails and blunders

Didn't laugh at the 'penetration' part nearly as much as I did at the 'Good N Plenty' part. Do they still make good n plenty? That was such a disgusting candy. How many people actually remember that? I know it was pretty popular in the 80's and early 90's. I used to get pissed when I went trick or treating and people would throw that brown, pink, white candy in my bag.

Speaking of forgotten candy bars: What about Whatchamacallits (HOLY CRAP! You that's a legit word because google chrome didn't recognize it as a spelling error!)?

I never really bought those candy bars, but you have to admit - I did remember what they were called. That's a smart advertising plan right there. I feel like they could market these candy bars again, and people would buy them in bulk.

It's also bad that I vaguely remember the commercial jingle that would should during EVERY FREAKIN COMMERCIAL BREAK. I couldn't have sang it until I searched for it on youtube. Thanks, youtube, for once again bringing possibly the most annoying commercial jingle back into my life. But hey - I was the one that did the searching - no one to blame but myself!

Ahhhhh the 80's. I was pretty young, but I still remember quite a bit. Also because the 80's fads bled through to the 90's for a few years. I was highly disappointed when running a name-that-tune game with my residents the other day that everyone knew the song 'can't touch this' but the four of this particular group couldn't remember who sang it. Perhaps we should bring back 'hammer time' and make it popular again!

That was a legitimate sign defacing on Jennifer's street that was worth my time to take a picture of. This is what happens when unemployment is high and people have nothing more to do with their time....

Well, that does it for today. Much more ample blog than yesterday, and I hope you enjoyed reading. And now, to finish my 80's rant a video you won't want to miss! How many do YOU remember??

Friday, January 13, 2012

Just How I Like It: Black and Bitter

It's freakin cold outside. I mean - I'm sure it was this cold last year too. But when just a week ago it was in the 60's, anything below 40 will feel miserable. But I think the most annoying this is that the weather people still haven't gotten it right. I will never understand why the actual temperature is listed in big, bold letters but the 'feels like' temperature is in small fine print.

Who the hell really cares how cold it actually is when it feels like its three times colder???

But the most frustrating thing is that my car has a leaky radiator, and I've been told that this can be really really bad in the winter time. So basically, every time I drive my car anywhere I feel like I'm sending a boy with pneumonia on a walk to the grocery store in a rainstorm in December. Fortunately, I have decided to enter the car market again because I feel after eight long years the Saturn is ready to retire.

I call them 'racing stripes.'

Interesting enough, while in Community Advisor training last August, the associates from the Career Development center at IU Southeast gave a presentation on personality vs. career focus. One of the questions asked for each personality type was "what kind of car do they drive". When on the category of 'artist', this question was asked and I joked 'A crappy green saturn'. The lady smiled, then informed me that it was actually pretty accurate because artists typically pick cars that 'run' and don't focus on any other categories.

Although, I plan on putting a lot of hefty thinking into my next car.

SOLD!!! Lord knows my Saturn can't handle the 1.21 gigawatt of electrical power needed to generate a nuclear reaction.

So several months ago, I made commentary on the speculation that there may be a Thundercats live action movie in the near future. Well, in case anyone is now wondering what the might look like, I have found the fan made trailer....

I'm not gonna lie - this looks pretty badass. Too bad its only fan made, and no project has officially been announced yet. Apparently there was a CGI project being worked on, but personally I'd rather see a live action film. Not totally sold on Brad Pitt playing Lion-O, but Vin Diesel as Panthro? EPIC!

Alright, well I've run out of things to talk about today, so I guess this will be it.

Till next time!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Era of 'Isms'

Well I have officially experienced all of my classes for the 2012 spring semester. I will say that this should be a fairly easy semester, though I do have quite a few classes that intend on piling up the homework assignments. Probably my most challenging class will be Theory IV (surprisingly). That being said, I am however very excited about studying 20th century music - the broadest century for musical innovations. Or as Tim Miller calls it 'the era of isms'

Speaking of isms, I was trying to figure out to which 'ism' my style of music belongs. If I would have to pick, I would probably suggest that I am somewhere between impressionism and neo-classicism. It was Dr. Stem who actually initially put the idea of impressionism in my mind, but I think he said this when referring to my opening to Fantasy on an American Folk Hymn. The faster sections do imply a sense of neo-classicism, although particularly more conservative than that of Igor Stravinsky. But who isn't more conservative than Stravinsky?

Foreign words? Well.....impressionism, like art, focuses on a gentile emotion with soft, flowing sounds much like the paintings of Claude Monet, who used soft colors and indefinite line contours to give you a relaxing feel. Probably the best work to share when discussing impressionism would be Claude Debussy's (Claude....would that be like Christopher in French, in terms of being the most common name?) L'apres-midi d'un faun, one of my favorite works. now, see if you can tell the different between that and the below video.

Completely different styles. But with neo-classicism it was the description that I read on wikipedia that caught my eye. The idea of mixing tonal, classical harmonies and forms with 20th century styles and techniques. I feel I do that quite a bit in my music, particularly because I am stubborn and refuse to abandon the melody. A 20th century scholar may tell you that there is melody in the works of Pierre Boulez, but they are likely to be on drugs. So let's experiment with this idea. Watch a few minutes of the below video, and then see if you can sing the 'melody' back after its done.

I wouldn't say that this kind of music is bad, but it is a safe assumption that the emphasis on melodic value is severely weakened in late 20th century music. It seems composers are more focused on experimenting with timbres and rhythms. Which is ok, because the thing with innovation is that you don't have to like what the innovation is to be able to appreciate how innovated the person is.

But when ever I listen to this kind of music, instinctively i think.....

But if you like that kind of music, more power to you! I just like to be able to sing stuff back. Maybe I could make a good living writing memorable jingles for radio commercials.

So the Louisville cardinals basketball team....

It's really funny to see how Louisville fans are reacting to this. Just a few days ago, while they were slightly disappointed with the loss to Notre Dame they acted as though it wasn't coach Pitino, and that these players just weren't trying hard enough. And now - the fans are calling for his head. I suppose 'lil brother' is an appropriate nickname, considering our fans act just like the ones 80 miles east of us. This, of course being one reason why I have chosen to focus on more important things than sports. I'll still watch games, but I refuse to act like a sports game is the be all - end all in my life. Such a poor way to live if you ask me.

I missed the game yesterday, because I was in orchestra rehearsal - definitely the better place to be. Especially with the music we will be playing. It's great literature, but I will need to spend some quality time with my trombone woodsheddin' the toughest parts. That's what she said....

But the feature piece is none other than Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Pretty excited about that piece, especially because for the IUS 70th anniversary concert we will be using actual cannon. This concert will be May 18, at Warder Park in Jeffersonville, IN.

In closing, feel free to watch this wonderful performance by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Semester, New Challenges

Today is the first day of the new semester, marking my fourth semester of a six-piece run at Indiana University Southeast. This of course means that I am halfway there, and considering I'm holding onto a 3.6 GPA - it feels pretty damn good. And I honestly believe that last semester was my toughest semester, and now that that is behind me (I finished the semester with a 3.5, btw) the next three semester should be relatively easy. Needless to say, I'm in a terrific spot right now and there will be no greater feeling in the world that I will have than the day that I earn my degree.

One of the greatest achievements was having the IU Southeast Concert band premiere my composition, 'Fantasy on an American Folk Hymn', on November 6, 2011. Despite some minor balancing issues that were much more apparent in the recording, and a few missed entrances the performance was a huge success, and probably could not have gone much better. The next step, which I have been working ambitiously with Don McMahel on, publishing!

Anyway, in case you missed the performance you can watch a video I put together with some pictures showing while the band is playing.

What's next on the schedule for me? Well, Carrie Ravenscraft, a very very talented clarinet player, will be performing my clarinet solo 'Perceptions of Strife' at the first ever IU Southeast Student Composers Concert scheduled for April 16, 2012 (I don't believe in the doomsday prophecy, but I still get a chill every time I write that year). Aside from other works by the many talented composers at IU Southeast, I will be writing a piece for Alto Saxophone, Tuba, Piano and Timpani. The performer line-up I have planned for that concert is New Dynamic Records musicians Krista Wallace-Boaz (piano) and Cory Barnfield (Alto Saxophone), as well as New Albanian area musicians Russ Shartzer (tuba) and Stewart Brewer (Timpani). It should be a pretty amazing performance!

Speaking of Krista Wallace-Boaz and Cory Barnfield, check out this interview where they talk about their new album 'Journey'. I'm so honored to have these musicians agree to perform one of my works!

However, the big announcement I am making is that I am writing a piece for orchestra, which will be my first PERFORMED orchestra composition! I won't say a whole lot about it, except that it will be Superhero themed! The scheduled performance date is November 18, 2012 (--shiver-- see there it is again!) at 3 pm, and the group will New Albany's very own IU Southeast Orchestra, directed by Dr. Joanna Goldstein!

Oh yes - an even BIGGER announcement. I am now going to announce that the date for my senior recital will be March 17, 2013 (whew...hopefully we are all still here by then!). The recital will feature a maximum of two already composed compositions and a minimum of three newly composed works! This means for the next year, I will be BUSY BUSY BUSY!!!

Ok, so I usually put a portion in here where I rant about sports but I haven't been paying as much attention over the past few months - so I will just throw in a popcorn ramble.

1. The cards football team finished the regular season 5-1, but then blew it by losing to an ACC team, which was probably the most inconsistent team in the nation. It wouldn't be the Louisville cardinals if they didn't get that team on their A day.

2. That's ok....the Big East struck back when West Virginia embarrassed Clemson in the Orange Bowl by winning with a score of 70-33. 70 one has ever scored that many in a BCS game, and there are only a handful of Division I games that see that kind of a score in a decade. The thrill of talking conference smack is gone when the team that shows up is leaving anyway, however Louisville did defeat WVU on their home turf earlier in the year.

3. The Louisville Basketball team? Meh. Yes....we've been plagued by injuries, but after muscling through to 12-0 we had high hopes for the team. Then we lost the Georgetown...and then to Kentucky....oh hey we beat St. Johns on the road at Madison Square Garden!.....and then lost to Notre Dame. Not really sure where our team stands right now, but I'm hoping by now we realize that defense doesn't always win games (doesn't that work more in football, anyway?).

4. This is older news, but what kind of a world do we live in where a guy who bets on dogs to fight and kill eachother gets 18 months in prison, but a guy who beats and rapes women gets a 4 game suspension? And after last nights game....we know who the better QB is.

5. Speaking of did bring a smile to my face seeing him get owned by a Rookie QB out of Florida. Even I might jump on the Tim Tebow bandwagon.

6. How about dem cubs? Yes - we wouldn't be cubs fans if we weren't getting excited about the upcoming season four months before the first game. But we have a new man who is cleaning house and his name is Theo Epstein. His deep pockets and his thick resume (he's helped win two World Series championships with the OTHER previously cursed team) are doing some positive damage in the windy city, and don't be surprised if the cubs curse is the next on the chopping block! Perhaps its wishful thinking, but will 'next year' finally be here? Until then - GO CUBS GO!

Well, that wraps it up for today. As always, thanks for reading!