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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Concert vs Popular Music

I've had people asking me if I expect my concert music (symphonies, string quartets, etc.) to be as popular as my Rock stuff for Lyraka and the answer is "of course not!". My symphonies, for instance, are by nature not going to be especially popular even by the broadest definitions of the term. I knew that when I began writing them. However, due to this capitalistic, MTV-led society we live in I feel I should expand upon my otherwise succinct answer.

Concert music is a way of taking what I sometimes consider the handcuffs of Rock forms off and taking flight with a vision that is entirely Andy-made and Andy-led. With Popular music (to clarify, by Popular music I include Rock, Metal, Country-Western, Hip Hop, MTV...you get the picture), you're typically given so many bars to make an impact, otherwise you start making the composition into something that isn't Popular music (i.e., not particularly liked by the majority of folks). Popular music requires adherence to a set of rules (I know, sounds like the philosophical opposite of what many people define as Rock music). Film scores are often the same way, aligning strictly with what's on the screen (though film composers like John Williams and Miklós Rózsa have many times in their scores pushed the envelope into art music with highly sophisticated and creative composition, harmonic deviltry, and idiosyncratic orchestration).

With concert music (I'll include the avante garde genre along with the abovementioned symphonies, REAL concerti, Kammermusik, etc.) one has the opportunity to make one's own rules according to inner experience (witness how my symphony writing rarely if ever conforms to the Classic/Romantic rules of structure, as my creative spirit won't settle for that kind of outer imposition...and yeah, I'm aware and couldn't care less how pretentious that sounds).

Some would read the above and wonder why I would share these non-Rock compositions with others if they were deeply personal and not necessarily adherent to forms that people know and deeply love. Well, I do want people to hear this music, for one my concert music is some of my most potentially enduring. Lyraka was written with sophisticated composition only peripherally in mind (I had to exorcise the rock guitar muse that was a big part of my getting into music in the first place), and I'm quite proud of many of the compositions there. However, that music was ultimately all about Jasmine's story and in no small part a gift to her and the magic she's brought to my life. My symphonies, etc. are for the far future, or however long humanity has before we either blow each other up or the climate finishes the job itself. I must also point out that my Composer's Sketchpad series was designed for both music students and fans to have insight into what Martin Popoff referred to (in his review of Lyraka Volume 1) as the "partaking in the thought process of a great songwriter".

Anyhow, after this burst of hot air, I hope everyone who didn't fall asleep gets the point 😝.

Here's a ten year old photo of me to lighten things up😏:

                                                                                   

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Modern Composer, Pt. 2: More on Synthesizers

Or: "Learning Your Chosen Synth As Thoroughly As Possible: The Ultimate Option/Solution for Not Blowing a Ton of Money on Myriad Synths and Regretting It Later", aka:


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Choose a synth that facilitates expressing your own, individual style as closely as possible. If you haven't learned yet what constitutes your own, personal style, I suggest doing a lot more writing, perhaps using free synths until you can figure it out (not to mention finding out for sure if you really want to do this on a long term basis, even if it's just for you without any guarantee of personal financial gain). Then, exploit that synth's potential as much as possible, progressively becoming more its master as time goes on.

For me personally, once I completely owned Zebra/HZ, I found myself stuck with a ton of stuff I didn't need anymore (including Omnisphere). If I had instead opted to completely learn Omnisphere, it's more than possible I would have felt the same way about that synth. The intensive studying I did with Zebra was hugely beneficial in a musically holistic way as well; not only can you apply what you learned to other synths, but you'll find certain other facets of your writing, arranging, and engineering will have gained from the study. You might even find a free synth that allows you to express yourself in such a unique way that it becomes your "secret weapon". Don't be a victim of the spend spend spend craze, after I did my thing I sold everything but Blue 2, Nave (vst version), and XILS 4. And I really don't even use them much. If you get the right synth (and the four I mentioned along with Omnisphere are all decent to perfect candidates), engrave the user manual in your craggy mind, watch (say) ADSR tutorials until you need toothpicks to hold your lids open, you are going to stand out from the crowd. You'll be the master of one of the most important instruments in the past century. At the least, you'll no longer be among the laptop people whom (though they will viciously deny it, even to themselves), are just treating music as another game.

Ultimately, it's up to you to see in your heart and know both what moves you in music and what motivates you to create beyond yourself. Learn everything needed, then take off with the wings knowledge has granted!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Modern Composer, Pt.1: Sources of Learning and Attitude Towards

It's obvious to anyone with a computer that the resources available to the modern composer today seem vast compared to even fifteen years ago; YouTube, Google, and composer forums can make things so much easier. But please allow me to strongly recommend the books "Study of Orchestration" by Samuel Adler (it helps to buy mp3s of all the examples in the book), and "What to Listen for in Music" by the super composer Aaron Copland. These two books can be a huge help on many levels, the latter helps give you something that modern schools seem to have cheated this generation: a more conscientious appreciation of music. Such appreciation can have an immeasurably positive, inspiring effect on your own writing.

Let's get this out of the way: synthesizers have had the most profound impact on music today, bar none, like it or not. If you are deficient in your knowledge of this instrument (regardless of the genres you're looking to work within) then you are going to end up left behind. I started out as mostly a rock and heavy metal composer with some knowledge regarding the classic instruments (and electric guitar), but found myself wanting to replicate the "new" sounds I was hearing in superhero soundtracks. This led me to the revelation offered above, and from there I began intensive synth instruction. Now, I must single out the courses on ADSR as having been extremely helpful for me, the site often has very low priced specials on lessons and can be both thorough and engaging. Sometimes you have to bear with an irritating voice or three, but I believe that many of those videos will really help you on your way. Though it should go without saying, most user manuals today are truly treasure troves of information...don't let natural cantankerousness (or as my lady calls it "being a man") lead you to try flying by the seat of your pants (at least not most of the time, because breaking free of the rules is part of being a trailblazer).

One of the things I've heard people say is how they are afraid of learning a specific synth because it will make them sound too much like the person who is known for using it. This is a myth, but only if you take a significant amount of time to learn how to program the synth (not go through all the presets ad infinitum, ad nauseum) as thoroughly as possible.

Also, please learn from something I've already been through: don't either elevate your heroes on too high a pedestal, or sneeringly think you can dismiss them out of your own sense of hubris. Both approaches can lead to extreme crashes, resulting in profound disappointments in both yourself and those enshrined. Learn what you need to know to do your own thing, i.e. what you want to express as an individual. Beethoven's late string quartets and piano sonatas are widely regarded as like unto a musical autobiography of the composer's last years, they are fantastic lessons in personal expression; one could even say they are the way Beethoven immortalized his personality. Listen to those with headphones on in a very quiet room, a place where you will be undisturbed (the "Heiliger Dankesang", or third movement from opus 132, and the slow movement of the Hammerklavier taught me so much).

If you're going for the cash, fine, if the art, fine. If just the art (or a combination of the two), then know in advance that the chances of making a living off of that kind of aim today are minimal. And then make up your mind whether it's worth doing just for yourself.

Finally, never let the opinions of others unduly influence you, even if it's your hero(es). People are people, and quite a few people (even successful ones) lead very small lives in little corners (that they often cleared out themselves). They might try to have you share their little corner with them, because that's the only way they can feel bigger.

Ultimately, other's opinions are only worth the value you put into them; in general what other people think about you and your work is none of your business. I recommend only paying attention to criticism which seems constructive, weed out the wheat from the chaff, and make sure you can tell the two apart.

Take what you can use from what I've written, throw out the rest (if not all)....and FLY!



Saturday, July 9, 2016

"A SOUND OF THUNDER!" Nina Osegueda Recruited For Lyraka Volume 2

LYRAKA – A SOUND OF THUNDER’s Nina Osegueda Recruited For Volume 2

Metal siren Nina Osegueda has been recruited for Lyraka Volume 2, the follow up to Lyraka's well received first album. Nina, already an established (and classically trained) vocalist as member of the widely revered band, A Sound Of Thunder, will be assuming the role of Lilliput in what been termed a "Wagnerian Opera Metal" project.

The opera's composer, Andy DiGelsomina, states: "The role of Lilliput has been fumbled by many singers due to the need for singing in odd time, as well as applying a small amount of acting and creativity into the performance. Both Jasmine and I are confident that Nina is more than capable of not only acing this role, but owning it." Here is a portrayal of the character Lilliput by reknown fantasy artist Ken Kelly, see below for further details on Lyraka Volume 2.




In respect to the release of Lyraka Volume 2: "I'm sorry, but I don't have a definite release date as of yet. The performances of certain participants were very disappointing and had to be rectified through firing, which has made completing this album more and more like a Moby Dick saga than an album production. It is the main reason this album cannot be completed at this time. We are also refusing to release the album without having metal guru Chris Tsangarides putting the last, finishing touch on the production and engineering. The music has developed into something way bigger, more involved, and rocking than it was ever originally intended to be, and we would be totally cheating our fans by not holding out for Chris, who is ready whenever we are. To all of our amazingly loyal fans, I send my greatest gratitude and metal hails, you people are absolutely the most awesome in existence. This will be finished, and it will be everything you wanted and more.

I would also like to send a shout out to Tiina Teal (former Détente vocalist) fans: “Yes, Tiina will be involved in an upcoming recording project for Lyraka, she's not going anywhere if we can help it!"

Tiina:       


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Help For Victims of Toxic Family Members

I continue to be a victim of a toxic family member, and this person's abusive nature happens to be the subject of part of my opera, so I feel compelled to put this up. The most tragic part of dealing with a toxic parent is the fact that such toxicity never goes away, the person in question will always fall back on his or her ways, attempting to pull you into their own, poisonous black hole of self-unforgiveness and hate. This organization is one well worth supporting, at times it's been like a life preserver for me. One of the things I learned from it is how to try and not let my heart get in the way too much; that there is truly no other choice in the matter but to ultimately leave that person out of my life, a decision that might even work toward the other person's favor as well. The last is important because I DO still love that person...even if my closing him out of my life seems cruel, even if I'm just telling myself it's for his good as well as mine,..then at least I can get on with my own life, and this site helped me understand that there's nothing wrong with that. Most of all, I hope no one has to go through the rejection and abuse my little brother and I did. It's horrible to experience contempt, vicious physical and emotional abuse, and rejection from someone who helped bring you into the world, I wish it upon no one.





Monday, June 13, 2016

The Day After Orlando: 50 Dead

Persistent feelings of sadness...things like this can actually make me ashamed of being a person. I can't understand, perhaps I'd rather not.




Here's how to help, even a little is a lot:

https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund