Stripping away

March 27, 2009

I’ve been in Palm Springs for the last five days, re-orchestrating FLASHPOINT/STONEWALL using my Mac Pro tower with a large screen monitor. The computer doesn’t have wifi, so the only way that I’ve been connected to the internet is through my iPhone. M.D. tells me that devices that small will be the future of computing. Hmm, well, I think I’ll still want a bigger keyboard for lengthy sessions or a damn good dictation device.

My muse seemed to want me to not be on the internet. I tried to post using my iPhone three days ago, only to lose it. I sat for a half hour outside of a Starbucks because of the strong signal. But I pushed the wrong button and lost the whole post. What I was telling you then was that I was once again in my hermetic mode, working from 5 am to 10 pm with breaks for short naps and meals only. No movies this time. I continually blogged to you, but I couldn’t, so I just pretended I did.

My re-orchestration involved taking the original orchestration, which was for four synthesizers, bass and drums, with solos and men’s chorus, and re-thinking it for piano, bass, drums, tenor saxophone and marimba. The marimba gives it a very different feel. In this piece, I was still going through my “american baroque” period, where there are lots of running sixteenth notes, and baroque shaped figures, but no actual bleeding quotes. In this process, I strip away excess orchestration to find the core accompaniment. Sometimes it’s a single voice; sometimes two or three.

The marimba sustains by rolling, or tremolo-ing. To the average listener, this may evoke a “come to Jamaica man” kind of vibe. If so, this was unintentional. The playback feature that my software provides for marimba is hilarious (I converted the original Finale files into Sibelius, which I call FinBelius): two note rolls are at one speed, three at another, and four are positively manic.

I am SOOO blessed to have a fast computer, a large screen and great software. I finished the orchestration and half of the piano vocal score in four days, and hope to have the rest done by Monday. To do this by hand would have taken two months of all-day copying.

I’ll be sending the chorus PDFs, which is less hassle for everyone. Hurray for the brave new world!

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