In 2012 I wrote a piece for the Okemah High School, which is where I was teaching at the time. The students wanted to play something "epic," and this was my attempt at that. :) In November I began experimenting with moving the piece into Logic and arranging it for orchestra. I learned a lot from doing this in that virtual instruments seem to be less forgiving when it comes to blending. I found out while working on this project that arrangements intended for Logic need to be a little thinner. My previous Logic Pro projects were fairly simple, so I didn't run into any issues. This one turned out to be much more difficult to mix due to the large instrumentation. I decided it was a good time to try out EastWest's "Hollywood Choir," and that was a learning experience in itself. The choir sounds are impressive, but it took many hours of tweaking to get the pronunciations somewhat accurate. Once again, I feel like I was being too ambitious. I used EastWest sounds for the entire project, and I have to say their "ComposerCloud" is most likely the best product for the money. After using them for a few years now, I can say that like any instrument, virtual instruments require practice. I can't write for them the same way I write for live instruments. It's a little like taking something written for trumpet and moving it to flute without making any adjustments. The flute player might be able to play it, but the overall effect will be sacrificed. Virtual instruments can give a better idea of what live musicians would do, but in the end, you can never replace real musicians. (We should all be glad about that, right! No one wants to be replaced.) This is why I find it best to write for either live instruments or virtual instruments. In some cases I feel like live instruments can exist a long side the virtual instruments, but I'm finding that it is actually possible to write music that is, for lack of a better term, "idiomatic" for virtual instruments. Writing specifically for these instruments seems to allow them to shine the way EastWest intended, which makes for a more realistic recording. Anyway, the video is posted below, and three more piano pieces were uploaded to YouTube today. I'll discuss those later. There are a couple of more projects on the horizon, and I'll talk about that at a later date. Until then, stay safe and warm out there. It was around -10 in Northwest Oklahoma last night. Yikes!
The soundtracks for "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Man in the Bowler Hat" have been remastered and posted to YouTube. Check out the channel HERE. There were a total of 15 tracks uploaded, and I'm excited to move on to new projects, which will also be uploaded in the near future.
The dissertation and the symphony are finished. It's been an interesting (and sleep deprived) two years. I upgraded my software and computer and bought new plugins for Logic, and I had already decided I wanted to experiment with the new gear once I finished the degree. I was initially planning to start by remastering the scores from The Monkey's Paw and The Man in the Bowler Hat, and I'm still working on that project. Once it's finished, I'll upload it to YouTube.
However, my priorities changed as our world's situation evolved. There was already a lot of stress and anxiety involved in finishing a degree, but the events of 2020 certainly made things more complicated. Like many people, I found myself struggling to understand all that was happening. I ended up writing a simple piece I titled "Novus Dies" in order to work through my emotions. Shortly after finishing the piece, I had some issues with my eyes, which have prevented me from looking at a computer for almost two months. Obviously, my eyes have recovered, which is exciting, and now I'm ready to get back to music.
I recently collaborated with Augustine Christian Academy on a film titled Man in the Bowler Hat. Taylor Drake teaches film there, and he was the director. I wrote the music. Everything else was done by students, and they did a phenomenal job. I've been really impressed by this school! I'm looking forward to tonight's premier! It's at 7pm at Augustine Christian Academy (6310 E 30th St, Tulsa, OK 74114). There's a $3 entry fee. Seating is limited.
I am flying to New Jersey to defend my dissertation proposal. I have research scheduled for Sunday and Monday (February 18-19). Unfortunately, I will need to cancel the sessions on those days.
I am working on a Ph.D. in Music Composition at Rutgers University, and as part of my dissertation I am running a study that will hopefully define relationships between music and the individual perception of said music. I am seeking volunteers willing to participate in this research. I will be posting periodic reminders as the study progresses. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
It's hard to believe, but we've been back in New Jersey for a month. (I'm taking a German course...not for fun. My degree requires it.) I time here has been incredible. Perhaps my favorite moment so far was seeing "The Children of the Light" trio (Danilo Pérez/John Patitucci/Brian Blade). I love Danilo Pérez! (Here's a recording of Bright Mississippi.) I'm looking forward to seeing the Dave Holland Trio at the Village Vanguard this weekend. We've been incredibly busy, so check out Instagram or Facebook for more pics. I caught a picture of the sunrise over New York City this morning, so I included that here. We'll be here for another two weeks, and then we start our week-long journey back to Oklahoma City. We're going to take the long way home in order to visit all the states north of New Jersey. We'll also make a stop at Niagara and cross into Canada. We'll be in Oklahoma for two days, and then we leave again for Florida. The SCU jazz combo is playing at Youth Quest in Orlando. This summer is brutally busy!
Anyway, the real reason for this post concerns Finale and Sibelius. I have spent around six months finalizing scores and exporting them from Sibelius. I'm hoping to finish this week, so I can upgrade my MacBook. Once it is upgraded, I'm going to try Finale and see if I like it. I've been using Sibelius for over 15 years. I know I have friends that are interested in learning more about Finale, and I assume there are other Sibelius users out there that may be interested as well. Granted, it's not so much that I'm "switching." I will still have Sibelius on my computer, but I will not be paying the yearly fee...if I like Finale. If Finale doesn't work for me, I'll continue to use Sibelius as my primary notation program. Once, I use Finale for a few weeks I'll post my findings.
This is concert season, so there are a lot of options this time of year. Last night Bekah and I traveled to Weatherford to hear the SWOSU Wind Symphony. It was an impressive concert. They played Grainger's "The Gum-Suckers" March, which is one of my favorites. They performed two fairly new works as well. Paul Dooley's "Masks and Machines" was fantastic, and its climatic ending was especially striking. Steven Bryant's "Ecstatic Waters" was not like anything I have ever heard. It combined computerized sounds with live performance, and it involved an especially wide dynamic range. We enjoyed it!
Tonight we're attending the final University of Oklahoma Wind Symphony concert conducted by Dr. William Wakefield. (Dr. Wakefield is retiring from OU. He has been there for over 30 years.) It will, no doubt, be a moving concert. They will be playing works by Maslanka and Grainger.
Sunday the Southwestern Christian University choir performs at 3pm. I'm looking forward to hearing Dr. LaCombe's group. They always sound great. Monday night the SCU jazz ensemble performs a fusion jazz concert at 7pm. Our guest artist is trumpet player/composer John Shell. I cannot believe this year is almost over!
Michael has experience writing music for film, band, orchestra, choir, percussion ensemble, and various chamber groups. He is the Director of Bands at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.