Some Success, Surprisingly

Over the course of my foray into music I have taught my self to not suspect success in any form,

In these affairs my motto is “hope for the best, plan for the worst.” because high hopes don’t write music, neither does ambition or regret, writing music and writing music alone writes music. But when success comes my way, I don’t question it and enjoy it when it lasts. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should explain that I seem to have picked up more over the course of my first semester at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music than I thought I did. There was no light bulb moment, I’m not suddenly turning out opus after opus of mighty works, but things are coming easier somehow. I can manage to get the ideas in my head out onto the page, and the experience of confusing failure has been replaced with that of understandable failure. Of course editing and revision is still part of the writing process, but where before I would stare at a block of notes and itch as they sound awful, I now look at a block of notes as they sound awful and see and hear where I went wrong.

Marginal success! Hooray!

So there’s music. I’m writing it, so I know that for sure. In fact, for the first time in the history of ever, I am finding myself ahead of schedule, with hundreds of measures of good solid drafts written out in just a number of days. Lets read and write together about what some of that content is, I’ll talk about 3 pieces in progress:

1. Penny, Pound, Inch, Mile – A pretty straight ahead bebop style tune with a overly elaborate form, which I am calling:

[Intro][A][A][B][A][alto sax concerto][trombone solo]
[C][trumpet solo][A1][Tenor solo][D][bass solo] [Sax soli][AABA][Ending].

For this one only up to the alto sax concerto is written, and the rest is planned out. When I say “concerto” I mean soloist against a section. So a written out solo played against written out accompaniment. It’s like a sax soli, but the relationship between the top alto voice and the rest of the section of reeds is as such that I feel there is a clear enough distinction that I need to call it something other than a soli. Concerto was a word that I knew that meant something pretty close to what I was planning. Ta-dah!

Issues with this piece is getting a lot of milage out of the melodic material, tying it in and making it sound like the song is this song specifically. I’ll need to do some serious big band listening to brain storm solutions. If you’ve got any let me know! I’m going to listen to Main Stem (Duke Ellington) now that I’m on the brainwave (sorry Malher). I’ll write a piece about my love for Main Stem some other time.

2. An arrangement of the traditional song Maid on the Shore. I wanted to write an arrangement of a tune that had lots of verses, so I picked this one. I don’t think I’ll give the tune a vocal treatment at all, as right now I lack those writing skills, and I don’t want to make it obvious that it’s a east coast hat tip. Needing to work with accents of singers and delivery of text in a jazz setting isn’t a fight I want to fight right now. It’s Liam Vs. Liam, either way I loose.

3. Wet Work (Dirty Work). Oh the most dirty of blues’. This one is the kind with a baritone saxophone lead line. The head is written out for this one, as well as the main riff that the piece is based off of. This is the piece that is currently getting the full composition plan treatment. This one is going to get really ugly with belching bass trombones and big beat 4. It’s got what I feel like is some of my best contrapuntal writing in it as well.

Well that’s the update. Until next time.