Throwback Thursday September 2021 Recap

September 2nd 2021

This Week’s #throwbackthursday piece is related to the event I’ve been excited about that is happening this weekend: MNKINO Film Score Fest!(BTW- It’s this Saturday at 8 In Mears Park, St Paul MN if you can come).A few years ago, in 2017, I wandered to an event that I had heard about on a podcast called Composer Quest called the MnKino Film Score Fest Meetup. It was at an underground bar in the middle of Minneapolis- or was it St Paul? As is tradition for me with trying new things, I had no idea what I was getting into. Also, meeting new people in groups still terrified the bejeebus out of me, but there I went. At the time, I was starving for creative opportunities outside of my mundane day job and, although it scared me, I reasoned that the best way to make this happen was to step out of that comfort zone and talk to strangers. Somewhere in the large crowd a, talented yet also introverted and kind animator named Beth Peloff talked to me and decided that I was going to be her composer (YAY!).Together, we created a little film called Blob’s Adventure. You can watch it here:https://vimeo.com/218081763

September 9th 2021

Do You remember looking up at the sky on a carefree summer day, imagining the pictures and scenes in the clouds? Today’s #ThrowbackThursday piece was written on such a summer afternoon. When I used to work at a printer factory, I’d come home and need to decompress. Being that the job left little time for much else between driving home, eating dinner, and sleeping to wake up early and do it all over again, there was a 30-minute window that I’d have to myself. I chose to walk from my Dad’s trailer home to the end of the road and back most evenings after scarfing down my meal. That day in 2010, I admired those picturesque clouds in the sky and imagined what it could sound like. At the time I was listening to a lot of Debussy piano music as well. Cumulus Humilis- The scientific name for the type of clouds that I saw that day- is the name of this piece. It was premiered by Jimmy Knezetik- a pianist I knew in undergrad who has the most sensitive touch of any pianist I’ve known. Listeners enjoyed it because it is easy on the ears and my theory teachers loved it because it uses something called Locrian Mode. (Note- I did not do this on purpose. It was a happy coincidence). A few years after composing the piece, Avguste Antonov recorded the piece and did a wonderful job. It is included on his debut album, An American Journey.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/cumulus…/21854853…#pianomusic#newmusic#solomusic

September 16th 2021

In 2009, around this time, I started my undergrad degree at Youngstown State in Ohio. At the time, I had just met my – unbeknownst to me- future husband. He took me to one of Youngstown’s greatest hidden treasures, Mill Creek Park, as part of a tour of the area. We walked around on this adventure for a while when a rather large tree branch suddenly snapped, and almost beamed us in the head on the way down from the fall. Me being me, blamed it on the trickster Faeries that obviously got a laugh at almost killing this intruder, .and yelled something unintelligible back at them. Darko laughed, I laughed, and this whole near-death experience is now immortalized in a Trombone and Euphonium duet. Today’s #ThrowbackThursday piece is dedicated to these Wood Nymphs who happened to give me the inspiration to finish the duet I was writing for fellow composer Dan Brandt and I, just in time to not get scolded by our studio professor. #Brass#BrassDuet#Trombone#Euphonium#WomanComposer#NewMusichttps://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/meliae…/21816732…

September 23rd 2021

Who Likes Thunderstorms???…….. Actually, not me. In fact, I sometimes find them terrifying! This week, we had a fairly loud one that kept me up quite late. The loud sound of the thunder hurts my ears and seeing a Lightning strike victim in the ER when I was little because my mom used to work nights and sometimes had to take us with to her job, may have contributed to this uncomfortableness. Thank goodness though. MN needed the rain. That brings me to this week’s #ThrowbackThursday piece.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/reign-of…/21833455…Reign of Thunder is a flute solo and one of my first pieces that premiered at YSU. However, it was written it in the summer before starting my studies Shanyse Strickland , a Fantastic Musician known for her Horn playing and Composing these days, was the Flute Player! Cory Davis did a wonderful job accompanying on piano and I took his suggestion to double the octave in the left hand, thus improving the piece. #Flute#Flutesolo#piano#womancomposer#newmusic

Life Update- Summer 2021 Recap

Just a heads up- the TLDR version for this is going to be: I’ve been VERY busy.

If you stick to the end, Great! Thank you!

If not and you decide to move on, that is ok too. Thank you for clicking and helping the algorithm !

So, what have I been up to this Summer?

Well,

  1. I took a 2 week trip/ honeymoon around Minnesota and Wisconsin with my Husband.

We went all over Minnesota and Wisconsin and did the low cost things that most people who actually live here seldom take time to go do. Some highlights were Duluth, Splitrock Lighthouse, Itasca State Park, Gooseberry Falls, The International Wolf Center In Ely, Crane Center in Baraboo, and Eagle Center in Wabasha, The House on the Rock, Seeing friends and Family in Lacrosse and Baraboo, and Axe Throwing in The Dells. Also, Pantsless Paul Bunion- Seriously- He has no pants!……. Probably No Chill either…. Or maybe he does?!?

2 I’m Back to In person Teaching and have actively been trying to recruit Students.

If you know anyone interested in Studying Piano, Trombone, Composition or Music Theory, please send them my way!

I’ve also been spending time lesson planning and creating videos for students to play along to.

3) I’ve been working on Lots of Projects:

  • This last week, I was finishing the edits on the first incarnation of Painless Parker’s Giant Bucket of Teeth. Now I’m looking for a couple of bands to read through it and receive some feedback before officially releasing it into the world.
  • I’m also working on wrapping up the Mill Creek Concerto Edits….Finally!
  • Finished Edits for The MnKino Film Score Fest. By the Way , if you are reading this before September 4th, and will be in the St. Paul Minneapolis area, you should come. It’s going to be fun.
  • I’ve been working a private editing project….I can’t say much but it has a lot of fun campfire songs in it!

4) I participated in a new to me composition festival

Check out this post on ZFest to see what I did

5) I’ve been Composing!

I only have some sketches at this point but with the busy summer wrapping up, I should hopefully have the time to get more things done!

6) I’ve been creating content.

On my Facebook page, I’m posting a memory a week on #ThrowbackThursday and a piece of mine that is connected to it. I’ll also be combining these into a recap at the end of the month on this blog. Let’s see how long this lasts.

I’m also working on being more active on SM to get out there in general.

7) I’ve been in talks to get my music played more.

It looks like I’ll be working with Calypsus Brass a bit more in the future! Stay tuned for details.

8) I’ve been learning new things!

This summer I made it a point to learn a few new things.

At Z fest I learned a bit more about how to use microphones and work with people across the country. I’ve also been making more of a point to stay healthy and in that journey I’ve been learning how to properly lift barbells at the gym and I’m having a blast. Watch out world!

I’m also learning how to program using a music program called Chuck. It’s been interesting πŸ™‚

9) I got to be a Guest Clinician at YOUth Can Compose again!

10) I’m back to playing in some ensembles–YAY!

Check out the Twin Cities Brass Band website for concert info

I also went to a Swing Sisterhood Big Band Rehearsal and that was fun!

If you made it this far, again, Thank you for reading!

Throwback Thursday August 2021 Recap

Hello Music friends and fans,

If you’ve been on Facebook page at all you may have noticed that I’ve been posting memories associated with the pieces I’ve written or arranged over the years on Thursdays. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them just as much as I have writing them.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about how to add more content here and how to prompt myself to write more, as creativity begets creativity in a lot of cases. At the endo of the month- or the beginning of the next month, I’ll be copying those posts from Facebook and archiving them as blog posts.

August 12th 2021

It’s #ThrowbackThursday! YAY!- So I will be resharing an old memory and a piece attached to it.This past week’s new moon had me thinking bout this piece.https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/lunar…/21815638…I wrote Lunar Tides while I was thinking about my grandpa and how he made sure I got piano lessons when I was a kid after I was figuring out my younger brother’s lesson songs and movie songs by ear. It is because of him (and my piano instructor πŸ™‚ ) that I was eventually able to articulate the music that I was hearing in my head and start the journey to becoming a Composer. Lunar Tides was written under the moon and the underlying broken chord accompaniment flows, much like water. A friend and fellow composer, Carol Ann Smolka once called it “spa music”, which made me chuckle, but I must say the description fits! Give it a listen and you’ll hear what she meant. #newmusic#vocalmusic#solomusic#composer

August 19th 2021

Aah, August: The perfect time to walk into a store and see all of the……Halloween Decorations?!? Not that I necessarily mind of course πŸ™‚This #ThrowbackThursday had me thinking about my favorite holiday and how it was the only time I was allowed out after dark as a kid and could dress up as one of the creatures of my imagination. It was also the time that Mr. Adams, my Elementary Music Teacher would break out the Halloween music and I’d delight in singing the songs that sounded nothing like the cheerful happy songs we sang the rest of the year. Have you seen the Ghost of Tom/ John? My Old Black Cat and You Better Watch Out! are the ones I still sing, sometimes in August, to this day. One year he had a whole assembly/ party where the entire elementary school showed up in costume and sang Halloween songs together. I was a sleepy soccer player ( I wore soccer pj’s and carried around a soccer-ball-shaped pillow- being inventive with cheap to make costumes was something I had fun with), but I specifically remember someone dressed up as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz completely with a metal garbage can body and full metallic makeup.Anyway, enough rambling.Here is the piece/ arrangement that is associated with this memory. Please enjoy, or purchase for your own Halloween-related #Brass shenanigans!https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/…/this-is…/21874496…

August 26th 2021

Happy Thursday Friends and Music Fans,Today’s #throwbackthursday piece brings back memories. When I needed an escape growing up, my way of dealing with emotions like fear anger, and sadness, and needing to feel protected was to find an instrument, usually a piano but in this case a PINK guitar, and just improvise. To this day, I still don’t understand exactly what I am doing on the guitar beyond the names of the basic chords, though maybe someday I’ll take lessons. πŸ™‚Anyway, this was created with a vamp of 2 chords that I would play, and I’d imagine a jam over it.Fast forward to the end of college where I was asked to provide music for a game, but that is a different memory for another day.πŸ™‚ Using Finale, I created an ending theme using this vamp and the jam I heard in my head for all of those years. Although the notation is atrocious, the sonic result is delightful and sounds pretty close to my imagination.https://samanthahogan-composer.bandcamp.com/…/mellow…

ZFestival- a July 2021Adventure!

This past month I participated in the first Composition Festival I have in a long time- ZFestival.

I first heard about ZFestival from a fellow Twin Cities Based Composer, Johnathan Posthuma. When I first applied to participate, as per usual fashion for me, I HAD LITERALLY NO IDEA WHAT I WAS GETTING MYSELF INTO! That was on purpose. πŸ™‚

So what is this festival you ask? ZFestival is an online month long festival where they pair you with artists, composers and musicians from all over the world ( but mostly North America) and tell you to go create something.

They also have workshops and talks with guest artists and It’s all online. That’s right. I didn’t even have to leave my house or wear pants to participate in this event. ( I mean, I did wear pants except for that one time I wore a skirt. It’s just that it wasn’t required.)

Also, unbelievably, it’s FREE to participate.

They had 3 tracks this year for composers to participate in. The one I was chosen for was a multidisciplinary track.

The group consisted of Clarissa Littler, Timothy Leimu Sillman Walters, Tyler Katz, and Myself. So, a group of composers, multi instrumentalists, an amatur watercolor artist , and a computer programmer (Their instrument was listed as Math) who may or may not have doubled on these skills with prior knowledge that that was what they were going to do.

To create the project, we decided to trade pieces and record and engineer them from our own homes. A lot of Trial and Error on my end was had.

The final Gala Took place on July 31st and August 1st 2021. It was amazing to see what all of these groups came up with and celebrate their creativity. Our Project, which resembles a Prog Rock Space Opera with improvised live visual programming , was on August 1st and is the second one on the program.

As a BONUS and for your viewing pleasure, please watch the product of the 48 Hour Challenge I did with Tim, along with the rest of the projects. The prompt was…interesting to say the least. XD

You can learn more about ZFestival by visiting zfestival.org

Bittersweet Covers!

Sometimes, when you write music and release it into the world, you never know the path that it will take and who is going to find it.

Recently, a fellow composer discovered one of my FREE pieces originally written as part of the VGM challenge and transcribed for piano, and took it into his own hands.

Michael Chadwick, aka known as Nebyoolae , covered Bittersweet Memory not one, but TWO times.

This first is with him playing solo guitar:

The second, where he brought the piece to his band is a FULL ON JAM!!

Additionally, a THIRD performance was realized on Piano by Michael Calabris. His Beautiful interpretation of this melody is on YOUTUBE.

This all came from the original which can be heard here:

In my opinion Its an honor when someone takes the time to learn your music at all, let alone cover it!

I hope you enjoy these covers, and that maybe it will inspire you to cover either one of mine or a colleagues melody.

(Reminder: Always ask before posting though!

Michael Chadwick’s Website and BandCamp can be found here:

https://michaelchadwick.info

https://nebyoolae.bandcamp.com/

or you can follow him on Twitter

@mjchadwick

Michael Calabris’s Music can be found at his website

https://michaelcalabriscomposer.com/

Youtube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBG_L8w8ntMIt3Htjz6Qng/featured

or you can follow him on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/michaelcalabriscomposer

Happy Birthday To Me!!!!!

This weekend My birthday is coming up. In addition to asking you all to do something nice for someone and spread kindness, I’d like to ask for something extra this year. I’d really appreciate it if you help support my efforts to build towards doing this Music thing for a living by doing one of the things on this list.

Most of the ways you can help with this are FREE. That’s right. It won’t cost you anything except maybe a few seconds of your time!!!!!!

  • Visit My Website and leave a comment or like a blog post ( it helps analytics)
  • Leave a review of one of my pieces on Sheet Music Plus
  • Recommend me to your band or orchestra director ( I am actively seeking commissions and love to write new music !!!)
  • Recommend one of my pieces to a colleague
  • Help Me find more students by sharing this flyer and telling a friend about my services!!!!
  • Listen to one of my pieces on Soundcloud or Bandcamp. Bonus points if you also leave a comment!
  • BUY SOMETHING from me on BANDCAMP. I’ve got 2 albums out so far and they both cost less than a Starbucks.:)
  • BUY A SCORE!!!!!!
  • If you want to go the extra mile, record yourself playing one of my pieces and post it. I’ll probably share it allover too and include it on this website if you’d like.

THANKS A MILLION AND HAPPY MUSICING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My 2021 Music Goals

If 2020 was a year of dismantling and destruction, 2021 will be a rebuilding year. This coming years resolutions have a lot to do with this, and I aim to rebuild my existence into the individual I’ve been aiming to be since starting this musical journey over a decade ago.

BIG GOAL: Make More Money/ Be able to solely do MUSIC to survive.

I’m sure that this seems like a lofty goal, but the years preceding this one were the steps on the ladder to that loft. Thankfully, I am used to being frugal and making a little go a long way when needed, and am LUCKY to have my SO around to help these days. Don’t worry. I still aim to do my share financially. We aren’t the Rockefeller family after all πŸ˜‰

One of my reasons also has to do with my desire to work for myself and control my schedule. I am much happier when I don’t have to ask permission from someone else and can control my own schedule. Yes I know that to make a music career, it requires more hours than the typical 9-5, but I’ve tried that several times, and found through trial and error that I am much happier immersed in music. That, and I’m wise enough to know that I need to keep variety within the spectrum of music activities to avoid burnout and know the signs much better now.

Mini Goal: Sell 10 scores of my own music. My goal is a minimum of 25 total including arrangements.

For me, joining SMP was a good move in 2020. This has allowed me to start selling some of the arrangements I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for the last decade and allowed me to offer digital downloads. This was something I had been trying to figure out how to do, but the start up cost far outweighed what I can afford, especially given I’m not quite at the point where I can confidently say that my sales would recoup the cost. Originally, I joined because 2 distributers I had contacted in January of last year decided I wasn’t for them but ironically recommended each other for me to contact. I guess I’m ……unique?

So far, I’ve sold far more than expected, but because most of my sales have been arrangements, I’ve made just enough to afford 4 cups of Starbucks coffee in commissions. It’s definitely a start though!

In 2021, I’ll be updating my FB page weekly as new arrangements and pieces come out. If you have a request for an arrangement and it’s on the SMP list, please contact me and let me know.

I’ll be curious to see how this pans out as I add more.

Mini Goal: 15 students by June

While I don’t like putting a number on people, this is the realistic number I’ve calculated to be able to pull my weight financially and still be safe on average. This is of course after calculating taxes and rent.

As of now, thanks to a Festivus miracle, (actually some amazing people providing referrals) I am only 5 away from this goal.

Ultimately, I hope to grow this number a bit beyond 15. This is my benchmark for the moment.

BIG GOAL: Get to know more people

Mini Goal: Contact 2 new people in music/ month minimum

As an introvert, this is not easy to convince myself to do. I often think about it and even draft emails in my head but never get to it for whatever reason. 2 people a month is manageable. I might even surpass it if I can safety attend some music gatherings in 2021 ( and convince myself to do so of course :P). I’ll be keeping a checklist in my journal to remind myself.

Big Goal: Write 3 hours minimum of music

In my journal I will have a thermometer and every time I finish a piece ( even if it’s something that might not see the light of day), I will color it in. If I remember, I’ll even update you on my progress at every check in post.

Mini Goal:Create more creative opportunities

Talking with more people will hopefully help with this!

Big Goal: Be even more giving and spread more JOY

Mini Goal: Send more notes in the form of cards and emails

A few months ago I started picking a composer on my social media friends lists every few days and listening to their music. In 2021, I will continue this as I’ve gotten to hear so many wonderful creations and gotten to know my colleague’s music better. I will be letting composers know I listened to their work and send more encouragement in the form of DM’s and emails.

Mini goal: volunteer my time in a musical capacity at least 4 times

Time will tell how this shapes up. Maybe I’ll perform for a charity event or just for my community. Or, maybe I’ll be able to help out a fellow musician some random way. Who knows.

One of my goals for my teaching studio is to have at least 3 recitals this year and am hoping to stream at least one to a retirement community. Fingers crossed this works out (and that I have some willing fellow volunteers).

So, what are your 2021 Music Goals? Please let me know in the comments and may 2021 be a WINNING year!

Happy Musicing!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2020 Goals – How Did I Do?

It’s that time of year again; the end of the year review where I scrutinize my goal list from the beginning of the year and give my performance review. Boy was 2020 quite the year for this! Let’s look at the list, shall we?

BIG GOAL: Pay off the last of my student debt

Did I succeed?- HECK YES, and just in time for the pandemic to hit and rendered me jobless for a bit. This goal has been 6+ years of sacrifice. I’d read these reports of people paying off their debt on “just 30K”- Which, congratulations to them. I’m not knocking them one bit. But to give you an Idea of what I’m used to living off of, I just topped 25 K for the first time in my life last year and before that was working lots of hours ( more than 40 most weeks) to bring in 20K or under most years, , and overpaying on the minimum of my student debt every chance I could. Maybe I’ll have to post about the journey sometime.

All I have to say is that I am grateful for my SO splitting rent and putting up with my frugal ways. Now we get to tackle THEIR debt together !!!!!!

Mini Goal: Actually get better at marketing

This is still a work in progress, but I will say that I’ve been improving. My Facebook Page saw a lot more activity than the previous years combined.

Mini Goal: Finish setting up the store and sell some gosh danged scores (at least 5)

Did I succeed- Yep πŸ™‚

A few months ago, I bit the bullet and began selling on Sheet Music Plus, as well as setting up separate pages for each piece to sell both physical copies via this website and digital downloads via SMP. These pages are still a work in progress what won’t likely be 100% finished until May of 2021, but they are all set up and ready for a preview of each piece. Now it’s just a matter of adding freshly edited perusal scores and store links once they are done. I’m about 75% of the way there so far.

Ironically, I’ve actually sold a lot more arrangements of other people’s compositions than my own works so far, and made just enough to buy 2 cups of Starbucks coffee in the endeavor, but it is definitely a start!

Also, in the beginning of the year, before the pandemic hit, a couple of people bought some Trombone works and I got to send them physical copies with the Coffee Seal of approval.

If we count arrangements and compositions I’ve actually tripled this goal. Now to raise it for next year!

Mini Goal: Increase teaching studio numbers

Thanks mostly to Laura Dietrich of Maestoso Music referring me to several new students, and a few others found through Toastmasters, I’ve succeeded. Next year the bar is raised further because I’d like to be able to add this to my portfolio career and be able to teach enough to make a full time income from it. Also, I’ve found I honestly love it and, as evidenced by the progress and enjoyment of all of my students, am pretty good at it too.

BIG GOAL: Be more giving/ pay things forward more

Did I succeed?- Yes, but not as much as I would have liked. The pandemic threw a bit of a wrench in things for obvious reasons. I did my best to spread joy in other ways, like sending notes, stickers to my students, and making more phone calls. While I still feel that I fell a bit short, particularly remembering to get to everyone, at least an attempt was made. Next year I will try to do better.

BIG GOAL: Participate in at least 3 speaking, conducting or solo performance opportunities

Did I Succeed?- Um, maybe? Before the pandemic, I was slated to conduct the Minneapolis Trombone Choir again and at least got to rehearse with them. Back in July, Sakari had me guest speak/teach at YouTH Can Compose. Also, last January, I was invited to speak at Brass Chix . That counts for 3, right?

Mini Goal: Participate in at least 1 Collaboration

Well, I got a horn piece composed this way with Bill Richter. Once the premier happens officially next year, We’ll get to share it with you all! As an added bonus, I’m working on my first flex band piece and collaborating with a local band director and his students to write it. It involves a bit of aleatoric percussion. More will be posted soon!

Mini Goal: Finish all Current Works in progress and don’t add any new ones if you are over 3.

I finished all but 2 but have not released them yet. 2021 should have you see a lot more piece releases from me- more than I’ve had since my college days.

I also inadvertently stuck to the guideline, mostly because for awhile I had lots of time. When the motivation was there, I was able to get a lot done in a small amount of time, because I tend to get in “the Zone”.

BONUS: Last year, I set decade long goals. Here is the progress:

  1. Go to Grad school- FOR MUSIC-and not go into debt to do so- N/A.
  2. Pay off All Debt One Check. Check two will be when we are finished with my SO’s.
  3. Attend some composer retreats and workshops– I attended one hosted by Alexandra Gardner and Meghan Ihnen last month online focusing on Music Business stuff. More will be added to this list. Hopefully I have the privilege of attending at least 1/ year.
  4. Teach at a high profile event or music camp– N/A, at the moment. YouTH can compose was definitely a start and may become ” high profile” in the future. You never know. Sakari is pretty amazing at what she does.
  5. Be able to travel a few times a year for my Ideal music β€œjob”– N/A
  6. Write my first symphony and compose at least one Big piece a year (with premiers and commissions of course)– No Symphony , yet, but I finished a band piece and a half. This year made premiers darn near impossible so, check mark with an asterisk- kind of like those years in baseball records where everyone was making historic records but there’s an asterisk because all those players were taking steroids.
  7. Be able to make my living composing, teaching, and performing/ occasionally conducting by the end of this decade– N/A but I am absolutely working on this.

To Summarize, 2020 was an unusual year to put it lightly, but at least some good things happened. With any luck, this test will have shaped me up for the coming decade. Only time will tell.

What’s New Here?

Hello Music Friends and Fans,

A couple of weeks ago I posted about giving my website a facelift.

After A LOT of work and COFFEE – here is the result. It looks way cooler, is a bit more organized, and several of my pages have been updated.

If there is something that you want, and the page is not complete, please email me. I will likely move it to the top of my priority list and can probably give you an in process perusal score to look at in the meantime, along with an estimate of price and completion timeline.

Full disclosure: I am still working on the editing project I began in the summer. At the rate of 1 piece every 1-2 weeks, this will likely not be complete until May of 2021. But, All pieces that will be added/ edited in their entirety have a page and as much information as I can provide.

These pieces are effectively finished from a music standpoint but need a bit more TLC before they are pretty enough to be presentable. Past me was very inexperienced with engraving and present me is learning so much and has much higher quality standards these days. πŸ™‚

SECONDLY – I recently Joined BandCamp and am adding lots of things for you to listen to with the option to purchase tracks if you wish to support me in a relatively inexpensive manner. I will be adding some of the Midi Realizations of concert music to laugh at and/ or enjoy along with things I’ve written that don’t quite fit the concert music genre but are otherwise lovely to listen to. Please Become a Fan to get notified when I release something new.

My BandCamp URL is: https://samanthahogan-composer.bandcamp.com/

Here is my favorite Album from the two that I have uploaded so far. You can also find them on the Miscellaneous Films, Games, and Albums Page.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to updating you with more…uh… updates!

Extra-musical Effects: What are they and how can we use them?

Recently, my friend and fellow composer Sakari invited me to guest teach her class “YouTH Can Compose.”

For the focus on the class, we talked about Extra-musical effects and discussed how they can make their way into our compositions.

So, what are extra musical effects? The Definition that we came up with together was “Anything that isn’t the music itself that can influence our compositional decisions.”.

Some examples might be:

Elements from nature like wind or the sound of flowing water

People

Memories

Sound effects- like those in Cartoons

Places

Colors

And even in some cases music.

In the class I had them listen to Of Wizards and Dragons and we listed and discussed extra musical influences in the piece. Wind- which one student mentioned before we started listening- found its way into the enchanted forest section and was illustrated by windchimes for example.

Another Student mentioned that thinking about their family when they write helps them create. That is another Extra Musical influence for sure!

Tying into this insightful comment, I talked about how Bernard, who used to teach African Drumming as a way to bring people together and was a great human being, was added into the piece when Fredonia wanted to premier it. I added a Djembe part that was not there before to honor him.

We also watch and listened to Blob’s Adventure, a film that I scored and I talked a bit about the process of receiving the film with no sound and having to draw on extra musical influences to score it.

The Students observed some of my tricks of “Mickey Mousing” – for example using dissonance on brass instruments to sound like car horns, and using the bass drum and melody direction to imitate what was happening onscreen. I also showed them the part with the bicycle and explained how the Queen Song Bicycle influenced my decision to use a rock drum beat and repeated scales.

We discovered how we can use timbre and various instruments and their abilities as a tool to illustrate what we envision sonically.

For their project, I read a short story (I Wish I Were A Butterfly) and they each picked a character to write a theme around.

Their pieces illustrated the way insects flew by having the melody hover or flutter, or echoed ( in the case of the Frog and the Cricket echoing his ugly thoughts). The colors of laughter or mud were illustrated cleverly through timbre as well. Some drew on the illustrations themselves to create their pieces.

Overall, this was a great experience sharing this technique with these aspiring composers and I hope reading this helped spark some new ideas for you.

So, fellow composers, what are some extra musical effects that you can think of and how have they found their way into your music?