Ch ch ch ch ch changes

January 2, 2007

I have no cosmic announcements because our planet completed one revolution around our sun, or because the last digit in our year has increased by one. But being a teacher, I get some time off every year at this time and I have to say that it is a fine time to kick back and do nothing.

I felt sanctified having worked very hard this year. I gave myself permission to do nothing. When one studies meditation, the teacher encourages the student to clear the mind of any thoughts. This is very hard for us to do. Playing Sudoku comes closest to doing that––blocking out all other thoughts but the puzzle at hand. It is a very calming, centering activity.

Less calming or centering was all of the partying and celebrating we have done over the past three weeks. We both had birthdays, many holiday parties and dinner parties, and new years eve eve eve, new years eve eve and new years eve and new years day brunches and dinners. Now that all of that is over, it’s back to work and looking at the new year.

Twenty five years ago I moved to Los Angeles on a traveling fellowship from Harvard to pursue a career in film music. Leon Kirchner told me that Stravinsky had encouraged him to do the same thing, and to avoid academia. Leon never took his advice. Good thing, he works so slowly it never would have worked. I learned a lot that year. Hollywood doesn’t care. It is fickle. There is no tenure. If you are in one year that is no guarantee that you will be in next year. I pursued an academic career and over that period have scored music for five feature films and five short films. Each of the directors came to me, not the other way around. In the spirit of Beethoven, my philosophy is that Napoleon (Hollywood) can bow to me; I refuse to bow to Napoleon.

After I moved to LA, I had arranged a meeting with Lionel Newman and John Williams who agreed to listen to my demo tape and meet with me. I’ll never forget Lionel advising me to not follow in Bernie’s [Bernard Hermann] footsteps and avoid all that “goddam counterpoint.” John said “Roger, you have everything it takes to be a great film composer, but I’ll warn you: the first 15 years are the hardest.” John was called “Johnny” when he was paying his dues and played piano for many scores before he became “John Williams.” Now, 25 years later, I face the very real likelihood of scoring three feature films and three short films over the upcoming year and a half. Is it really happening? Will I make that transition? Hmm… how fun to think about changing focus as a composer after thirty years of life as a concert composer. I won’t announce any of them here as I’ve learned how mercurial Hollywood is. (One of the short films will be coming out this month.)

As you may notice, there are some changes that are happening to this blog. Daniel will be fusing my current website with this blog. With that change, I’ll be dropping the name RED BLACK WINDOW and calling it

[Photo © 2005 by Roger Bourland. From the Puerto Vallarta set.]

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July 17, 2007 at 11:22 pm

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