Music

Is this the future for corporate video music?

Film composer Jeff Rona released a music library composed specifically for film trailers and television promos. Jeff has scored a number of feature film and won a couple of awards. So, intrigued, I quickly scanned a fair number of the tracks and I must say I am highly impressed. This is not your run-of-the-mill electronic plinky-plonk library music. Jeff and his co-composers used real orchestras, choirs, instrumentalists and a top notch film music recoding engineer on this library. So are we going to hear this music on every film trailer in the future? Or even worse....:

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Take your coaching or producing to the next level

Ray at mixing desk
That's me on the right
Recently, I spent an entire weekend locked away in a recording studio, recording a number of songs with a local amateur ensemble. Later that week came two intense afternoons of mixing. After listening to our preliminary results, I am impressed with what I heard. After all, these are not trained musicians, and the challenges I set them were substantial. Last week they set up a presentation for themselves that I sadly could not attend, but their own reactions were great as well (pride, a feeling of accomplishment!). Now its of into the next stage: mastering, the making of a video and the public release in September. Throughout the project my role has changed: first the preparatory meetings, then writing the arrangements, next assisting at rehearsals as a co-conductor. And finally (in recording and mixing) as producer which is what I want to explore in a somewhat larger perspective here:

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Big Band Close Formation presents new songs

dancing
Photo © by: dekay
In September "my" big band will present a new addition to its program: ballroom and latin dance music. During our gigs we often received requests for ballroom or latin dance music. Given the current popularity of dancing and the fact that many big bands were also dance bands, we decided to add this to our program. So a while ago I started writing new arrangements of some well-known dance tunes. During the summer these new additions were rehearsed and now we're ready to get them on the road:

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Can music change the way we think and act?

Occasionally I browse the search queries that bring people to this site, and the question in the title was one of them. It made me think a little bit more serious about this: can music really change the way we think and act? Obviously, I believe it can, because otherwise I wouldn't have written the post on Howard Shore's music. And I'm not the only one who thinks so: "Of all the fine arts, music is that which most influences the passions, and that, therefore, which a legislator should do most to encourage. A few bars of moral music, composed by a master hand cannot fail to affect the feelings, and have much more influence than a well-written book about morality, which convinces our reason without altering our habits." (Napoleon Bonaparte). So, obviously, there is some effect, but how does it work?

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Harry Potter goes green!

I stumbled upon this announcement by Reuters today that 65% of the first printing run of "Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows" will be printed on FSC certified paper. Boy, is the environment hot these days! While I agree that action should be taken to preserve our planet, I also noticed that it is used as a marketing instrument as well. And looking at the prospective buyers of the HP novel, I think this is a brilliant move! (Hey, they've got me blogging about the book...!) I'm no expert in the publishing industry, but a quick roundup on the 'net suggest that generally around 30% of books is printed on FSC paper, so this is quite a step ahead. On a different 'note'...

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A new Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical

I think it was 1982 when I saw "Evita" in London, my first 'big' musical and I remember being totally overwhelmed. Especially those by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. "Cats" is my favourite musical to this very day. I don't know how many times I've seen it, studied the score or listened to the cd. I wasn't as impressed with "Song and dance" and "Starlight Express" (even though both contain some good songs), but I still remember the excitement when "The phantom of the Opera" was announced... Along with "Evita", "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Cats", this musical has had a profound impact on my writing style. But after "Sunset Boulevard", I kind of lost touch with his work. So now I came across this announcement on BroadwayWorld.com:

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Howard Shore's significance

Did Howard Shore do more than write brilliant filmmusic? According to an article by Michael Beek in Music from the Movies, Shore's "Lord of the Rings Symphony" is "fast becoming something of a musical and cultural phenomenon". And I think he has a point: the music from Lord of the Rings has reached many, many more people than orchestral music usually does. People from all walks of life; young and old. How is it possible that this work (the Symphony is in it's fourth year 'on the road') still attracts packed houses all over the world? It's even more remarkable since "Lord of the Rings" is no simple music! So what is it that creates this effect?

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Conducting a choir again (after quite a while)

Today I've been 'co-leading' a day-long rehearsal of Vocalgroup Ringfield: their regular conductor (Harry Boom) took care of the soprano and alto voices, while I worked with the tenors and basses. Twice during the day we "re-assembled" the entire choir to bring everything together again. What made it great was that everyone was very motivated and focused, so it was an intense day during which we were able to cover a lot of ground. Time really does fly when you're having fun!

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Composition catalog: almost there!

I've been getting my hands dirty on some xhtml code again, and I'm quite pleased that the catalog of some of my compositions is almost ready to be rolled out. Maybe as soon as tomorrow! Most of my compositions thus far have been exclusive to specific bands or certain occasions, so I'm rather excited with this opportunity to present some of my work to a broader audience. The first composition will be for big band, but other ensembles are sure to follow. Be sure to stop by often over the coming time as new compositions might be added rather quick. And please offer feedback on them!

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It was sixteen years ago, today...

in

... that I decided to see if it was possible to earn a living making music. I had been dabbling in music since I was a child and in the years before it had grown into a very serious hobby. Still, it took me almost another six years before I was ready to take the plunge, so in effect, this is my "10 year anniversay" as a full-time pro (actually, that was in May). It has been an exciting ride so far, with some serious ups and downs and I'm sure looking forward to the next 16 years! For all the people that helped me along the way: THANK YOU!

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Exhilarating evening!

Stage right Yesterday I conducted big band Close Formation at the Sportsgala in theatre "de Maaspoort", where sports-related awards were presented, and what an evening it was!

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What were they thinking?

Strange gig yesterday... We ("de Bloeiende Rammenas") were hired to play at a rather large consumer fair. I wasn't too happy with this gig since it required that we play only 15 minutes and than take a 30 minute break, and so on for a couple of hours. And when we got there, it turned out that we were only allowed to play 10 minutes every hour! To make matters worse, we were asked to play as quiet as possible, since booth occupants were already complaining about the previous act (a singer with backing tracks).

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