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Music

Time Gone By: When I Knew How to Score

I finished cleaning up the score for my newest choral & piano piece based on Psalm 40 today (I limited to myself to SATB–four parts only!), but since I still don’t have a solution for Sonar, the printed manuscript will have to sit in my binder for a bit longer while I start on the next project (haven’t decided what yet…).  Of course, Sibelius has decided to start acting up now. *rhe*  Nothing much–I just can’t set the Devices to use the MIDI input from my keyboard (it locks up when I try to close the dialog).  Which means I have to “type” in all my notes instead of playing them in–that means typing “A” on my laptop keyboard for an “A”, a “3” to stack the note a third above an “A”, and a “4” to stack a note an interval of a fourth above that to get an F chord in first inversion and then using Ctrl-up or down to adjust to a different register if necessary instead of simply hitting all three notes in the correct octave at the same time.  Slightly more time involved, but it works.

Since I finished a piece and didn’t feel like deciding just yet what I’ll start on tomorrow, I decided to take the time to hunt down a few of my old .wav files.  Ah, when I knew how to score!  When I could make a mock up without even trying, hardly!  *sigh*  Of course, maybe if I had bothered to PRACTICE more during the last three years, I’d still be able to, neh?

First, the final assignment for my Dramatic Scoring class my first semester in grad school: Lydie Breeze.  The scene was NOT something I wanted to watch twenty gazillion times (necessary for writing good score), but I managed to write a pretty decent piece, anyway.  I’m not sure whether or not I should be horrified that I did such a good job…  Since I don’t like the dialogue that came with the live recording at the concert, I made a MIDI mock up while listening to the live recording and trying my best to match it. *happy sigh*  I LOVE my muted string samples!!  Oh, if only I could make mock-ups like that all the time…  
Listen to the wave 
And, of course, the score 🙂 :Lydie Breeze

Next, the piece that, with Lydie Breeze, I submitted for the ASCAP/Mancini scholarship competition: Motorcycle Chase.  This one was third semester, Music & Movement.  The assignment was to take elements from Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Don Davis’s Matrix score, both of which we had just studied, and create a one-minute action piece.  I had fun with this one. 🙂  I never cleaned up the score, since the assignment was purely for the audio, but here it is if you’re brave: Motorcycle Chase  And the .wav

Last one for today, and then I’ve got to go make supper. 🙂  Also from the Music & Movement class, a chase scene from Bullitt.  This was composed to an actual scene, but I can’t find the video on my external hard drive…so music & score only, I’m afraid.  Same story on the score, so again, if you’re brave: Bullitt  And the .wav

Enjoy! 🙂

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Cross Medley

As promised, I actually have an old piece to post!  It’s actually a comparatively recent piece, having just been written near the end of 2010…but it’s not on this site yet. 🙂

I chose this piece in honor of the season (we sang most of the songs in the medley at the Remembrance Service at church last night).  Listening through it today to make sure I had the correct file (can’t find the exported .wav for some reason…), I’m not as pleased with it as I remember being when I wrote it.  Probably has something to do with it being one of the pieces I wrote when I was rusty and trying to get myself back into both composing and creating mock-ups…Unfortunately, as expressed in my previous post, I can’t exactly go back into the mock-up right now and fix it, either, so we’ll just go with what I’ve got. 🙂

Hymns included in the medley:
At the Cross
When I Survey
Lead Me to Calvary
The Old Rugged Cross

You can find the .mp3 here: Cross Medley

And here’s the PDF score: Cross Medley


Technical Difficulties & Uncooperative Schedules

It’s been a while since my last post…and here I planned to post something, even if it was old, once a week!  So much for good intentions, I guess…

I have a “side job” of substitute teaching, and even though I’ve resolved to take fewer assignments so I can have more time to compose, it doesn’t always work out that way.  And even when I don’t sub, there’s no guarantee I’ll work on music!  I have a house to clean, a dog to walk, bookwork to do for the business my brother and I own, grocery shopping to do, and all sorts of distractions that are built in with working at home.  In the music time I’ve managed to squish in, I’ve been working on revising a cue for an imagined movie scene from the beginning of David Weber’s book On Basilisk Station.  (Basically, I scrapped everything except the main theme from my previous cue and started over, which wasn’t such a big deal since it is only a minute and a half long, but it does take additional time to come up with everything when you’re as out of practice as I am!)  I finally got the music written in Sibelius, but about the time I was ready to make the mock-up in Sonar–which was going to be a pain since there’s no way my laptop could have all the samples I wanted loaded at the same time, which means doing it in pieces–my husband persuaded me to invest in a really good deal on a new laptop from Newegg.com, so I decided to wait to do the mock-up until I had the new computer with FOUR gigs of RAM (as opposed to the 1-2 GB on the old laptop–not sure it was really using the extra gig I put in a couple of years ago…).

The computer came about a week later…but then we had to install everything, which always takes forever, and THEN we had to convince my old programs to work in Windows 7.  When we finally had things working–or so I thought–I opened the cue in Sonar and started loading samples.  I loaded 32 with no error messages about low memory and potential issues for my computer.  It was great!…until Sonar and Windows 7 decided they really can’t get along, and Sonar began its protest against the new OS by causing Windows to give me “Sonar has stopped working” messages with disturbing frequency and at the most inconvenient times–since mock-ups in Sonar are all about making existing music sound like music, rather than creating anything new, I mostly work continuously.  There are very few good “pause and let me think” times when it is natural and easy to save and when I won’t have to sit and wait for it to complete the save while I’m in the middle of something.  So either I waste lots of time saving every 30 seconds, or I run the risk of losing several minutes worth of work that I will have to redo later if Sonar quits again before the next time I save.  Add the lost time waiting for the program to unload from the processes so I can open it again, and then wait for it to load the samples so I can start working again…and you have a very inefficient use of work time.

Solution?  Probably going to be buying an external USB audio interface that will double as a better sound card and a MIDI/audio adapter (so I can record! Once I get a microphone) and comes bundled with Sonar LE, a newer version of the software that is actually compatible with 64-bit Windows 7 and hopefully has all the basics that I need for what I do.  But it’s probably going to be at least a couple of weeks before we can coax the money for that out of the budget, so in the meantime, it’s back to the piano to work on a choral piece based on Psalm 40 and to trying to remember to track down .wav files for older pieces that I can post on here (since I’m trying to get away from Soundclick.com and therefore may as well post some of my good oldies over here). *sigh*  I love my piano, but…I was reeeaaally looking forward to getting that mock-up done.  What I hear so far sounds SO good, and I’m SO excited about hearing the finished product!  I wanted to get it done first…but no sense wasting time when I could do it more efficiently later. *sniff*

And that’s my pathetic explanation/list of excuses for why I haven’t posted in several weeks–or is it a month yet?  Hopefully, I’ll have an old piece soon.

Till next time,

Marie


My Jesus, I Love Thee

I was sitting in church a few weeks ago, following the words in the hymnal because I had a sore throat and it hurt to sing, when we turned to “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”  I’ve always loved this hymn–the melody is lovely, and the words are earnest.  Yet as I listened to it, I realized how carefully one has to pay attention to the words on some verses to grasp their full meaning.  The melody and harmonization/accompaniment are the same on each take, but the thoughts behind them differ.  The rhythm of the melody is fine on some verses, but on others, it doesn’t emphasize the sentence structure very well, and meaning is lost if one is not carefully analyzing the words as one sings (or listens).  “Hmm,” I thought, “I should make a choral arrangement of this song.”

With this intent, I copied down all four verses on a piece of paper during the offertory, and on Monday morning, I began work on the quickest choral arrangement I’ve ever written (since I have sooo many to compare it to…).  My goal was to fix the problems I had perceived as best as I could with an eight-voice choir and everything I ever learned in Dr. W’s classes about text painting, the memory of every nuance Mr. S ever insisted on for the peformance of a piece in Cathedral Choir, and all the film music emoting and “timeless” techniques I learned at CCC.  The purpose of music, after all, is to express, and as both Dr. W and Mr. S were fond of reminding us in class and choir, the purpose of music melded to words is to express the meaning of the words more fully than the words can do by themselves.  The music should support the words and give life to them, not simply offer a pretty setting so a choir or congregation can happily sing them without processing them.

If you read the lyrics below, you’ll see that I ran two phrases together on the second verse.  That wasn’t a typo–since I chopped out two beats in the arrangement to make it more apparent that the two are part of the same thought, I couldn’t quite convince myself to separate them in lyric format just for the sake of tradition. 🙂  I hope you enjoy the arrangement, performed by EWQLSO strings, which can be heard at this link (this is a newer version that what some of you may have been emailed): My Jesus, I Love Thee

Here’s the link to the .pdf score: My Jesus I Love Thee

Lyrics:

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
For Thee, all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior, art Thou:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now;
My Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee, Jesus, Savior.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death.
I will praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath.
I’ll say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever (ever) adore Thee (adore Thee) in Heaven so bright.
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, if ever I loved Thee,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”


New Piece: Prayer of the Broken

All right!  This piece has lyrics by a good friend from Uplift Mountain–she sent them to me about ten years ago, back before I knew anything about writing music, and I created a horrible arrangement for it.  Every once in a while ever since, I’ve tried to come up with a better setting (and failed miserably!), and I finally found one in December which I finished in January and of which I made a string mock-up this last week.  Here’s the link to the .wav audio:

Prayer of the Broken

And the link to the .pdf of the score:

PrayeroftheBroken

Lyrics (tweaked slightly!):

Soli Deo Gloria, Soli Deo.
Soli Deo Gloria, Soli Deo.

Weary, worn, and heavy burdened,
My heart is sinking to the depths.
Tried and torn and ever-failing,
Oh, dear Savior, give me rest.

Raise me up on wings of eagles;
Plant Your joy inside my heart.
Give me peace, and give me comfort;
Restore Your hope unto my life.

Soli Deo Goria, Gloria.

I watch the days unfold before me,
Your ever-gracious gift to me.
Make me live out my salvation;
Give me strength to follow where You lead.

For my ways are wrong and often futile;
The steps I take lead me astray.
Reach down Your loving hand to guide me
And help me step by step (step by step), each slow step by step (step by step), to find the way.

Raise me up (for Your glory) on wings of eagles.
Plant Your joy (deep) inside my heart.
Prince of Peace and Lord of Comfort,
Restore Your hope (Your blessed hope) unto my life.

Make my life a sweet aroma;
I lay my life before Your throne.
Give me ears to hear Your wisdom, my King.
Your will alone, for Your glory, Your will alone, my King, be done!

For Your glory, Lord, Your glory! (Raise me up on wings of eagles)
Only for Your glory
For Your glory, Lord, Your glory! (Give me peace, and give me comfort)
For Your glory be all things.

Soli Deo Gloria (Make my life be)
Soli Deo Gloria (only for you)
Let me live
Soli Deo Gloria again.