Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Evolution of a Composer: A Pictorial (Part I of II)

  • In fifth grade (1989) I wrote and submitted my first composition ever, The Proud Beagle for solo cornet. I wrote it for cornet because I played cornet, and I played cornet because my hands were too tiny for a trumpet. This piece won second place in the school's yearly Reflections contest, and my clever sequence of sixths in the B section earmarked me as a tyke to keep your eyes on. (I washed my ear soon after).

  • I didn't write again until tenth grade where the high school pep band had a repertoire which consisted of a grand total of four (4) songs and a power chord someone had made with the leftover whole notes in the music budget. For added shame, one of the songs was called "Bread Man". To remedy this situation, I decided that I would write the biggest book of pep band arrangements in the history of pep bands and avidly wrote to publishers and composers in search of music that could be arranged for zero money down. Remember Return to Zork? It was a retarded video game but it sure had some great brass fanfares (one of which John Williams borrowed to write the theme to Harry Potter). This pep band book was a dismal failure because I blindly rushed into it knowing nothing about any instruments. (For completeness, I DID, in fact, finish the world's largest pep band book in 1998 made up completely of original compositions or compositions that sounded "a lot like" popular tunes but not close enough to warrant a fifty dollar arranging fee . I roomed with Beavis when I wrote most of them).

  • After my junior year, I went to the Governor's School for Visual and Performing Arts (And Humanities Because Virginia Is Too Poor To Give Them Their Own School) for trumpet where I had to write a 16 bar melody for a theory class. It went over so well that they had me turn it into a brass fanfare, which I painstakingly did without a piano or MIDI keyboard -- I had to click one note at a time into some archaic Apple IIgs program. They played the fanfare at the closing ceremonies which was a nice egotistical kick, although the horn players apparently disliked that the fifth note of the piece was a high B. I would later learn a secret in Music Theory classes (which are like Sex Ed classes without the sex) that horn players will protest mightily if they ever have to ascend higher than an F. In my defense, the note WAS an E before it got transposed up a fifth by the Apple computer, so don't blame the composer.

  • Following that stirring experience, I wrote a new song every month for the next year and half -- some more musically sound than others, and some just for fun (Bubba's Fried Chicken Stand). Writing music was fun and novel and I never cared about whether or not my songs would change the world. Occasionally I would send my scores to my old band director for commentary. I really didn't consciously know this melody was a "lift" but I guess I did steal from John Williams. And the circle of life continues...
  • To be concluded tomorrow...

    Blueprints for hijacking Air Force One posted
    Monster bunny on the loose
    Energy, immigration, it's all the same thing

    tagged as memories | permalink | 9 comments


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