What music looks like these days

November 13, 2007

I’ve been working a big 12 minute scena for the dramatic musical that I’m working on (how’s that for a fusion between opera and musical?!). I’ve composed the score using Sibelius (music notation software) and am orchestrating it electronically using Apple’s LOGIC. The image below is a teeny tiny version of what I see on one of my 30 inch monitors. I color code the music depending upon sections, or colorist or style changes in the music so that when I sit down with Mel, we don’t have to talk about measure 237, he can say “in the orange section, there is a sound that…” and we can communicate efficiently. Mitchell asked me whether the color was coded so that related material is related with color. I disappointed him saying no.

All of the synthesizers, er, virtual instruments, are inside my computer. Gone is the wall of blinking lights and stacks of synthesizer modules. They’re all in the basement now. Sigh. The soundtrack for this project is all prerecorded. If it’s a hit, I’ll rescore it for live musicians, but in the meantime a small pit band of 3 or 4 will suffice.

Actually, this is the most stylistically out of control piece I’ve ever written. To me, evidently, writing a musical means I can draw on ALL of my influences: country, opera, rock, Stravinsky, recitative, arias, chamber music, electronica, Byrds, and tons of world music. This range of influences doesn’t really fit into any musical style I know, but as I said the other day, I’m not gonna worry about it.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brad Wood November 13, 2007 at 9:25 am

Scriabin would go bonkers.

On the consolidation of things into computers, I know the feeling. I remember seeing an ad for some electronic development software that showed a highly stylized putative office environment, with very little in the way of features save a prominent state-of-the art monitor and keyboard/mouse on the starkly modern desk. I thought, how can they do anything?—where are the books, equipment, and the rest?

But years later I do more work at the machine than anything else, and while still surrounded by books and still scribbling on paper from time to time, most of the work is machine-based. Most component data is retrieved on-the-spot using google or its ilk.

It’s also true that my software tools are efficacious as much due to my understanding and experience as due to their intrinsic power—there are really few shortcuts to genuine insight, even fewer to real creativity, and the software can bypass true insight and foster laziness when placed in the hands of the naive and easily-misled.

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