Musical Meanderings

This is a blog centered around some of the musical encounters and experiences that I come upon in my daily life as a musician.

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Location: Alameda, California

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Benefit Concert with Isabelle Yawning

Early Sunday morning. My head is hurting. Thank god for coffee this morning!

Friday night Isabelle and I performed at a benefit concert for the San Franciso Aids Foundation at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. We were first on the bill, at my request, but the show did not start until 7:30. Isabelle is pretty tired at that hour, even though she would never admit it. She had also been sick for the whole week, like everyone else around here, so she didn’t feel that great and was acting a bit out of sorts, like children do when they don’t feel well, frowning when you asked her a question, hiding her head in her coat when someone new would come up and talk to her...

So, anyway, we finally played our four cello duet pieces. She played well, not missing a note, but everytime I looked over at her, she was yawning. It was pretty cute, I have to say, if not the best stage presence. The wonderful man who was in charge of the concert, Valdez Hill, awarded us with gift packages for performing, filled with Easter goodies, and off we went to sit with dad in the front seat and listen to the rest of the variety show type concert.

It was kind of a refreshing concert filled with variety, true to it’s name. So, there was a dapper young man singing some tenor arias and filling the church with more vibrato, bravura and volume than it might have ever known before, there was a young woman (girl?) playing some kind of a modern oboe piece, there was man with salty hair and a white beard singing opera selections, complete with hand and facial gestures, there was an African American woman singing some long and slow gospel selections with an amazingly wide vibrato, and the last performance before the intermission was a Vivaldi picolo concerto, with an alleged allegro that started off somewhere in adagio, and as the sixteenth note passages came around, it tended to get slower and slower.

Isabelle was fast fading. She was laying back against me, clutching her new stuffed Easter bunny. She kept asking me, "mommy, when can we go home?" She also had this celophane bag that was filled with chocolate easter eggs that she kept rattling throughout the concert.

It was kind of fun being in this community setting, for the evening.

Last night, I played with Ana Nitmar’s latin band somewhere in San Francisco. It was a fundraiser for some school, I didn’t catch the name. The music was loud! Too loud, as is often the case with bands that play electric. Too loud! I’ll say it again. That’s why the headache. At least I got to play next to my pal- buddy seven string guitarist Robin Lewis, who is always good fun at these kinds of events. Last night, I labelled him a silly intellectual, as he did a goofy dance to the music. That’s the silly part. The intellectual Robin is the guy who took a look at one of my new compositions and suggested that instead of modulating from C major to C minor, which I was perfectly happy with, that I try to go into five other keys there, and see what I think. (I chose A flat minor after that experiment, unbelievably.)

So, anyway, now I lost my train of thought. I had a bit of a headache and drank a marguerita that Ana gave me. That made it feel better for a time.

But now, this morning, it’s back again. And I have to teach.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Title Song for the new CD!

The title song for the new CD has been born! Yesterday I started humming the tune and it kept going through my head. I am working it through and through, upside down and inside out. I don't have the whole thing yet and it will take some doing, but I love the part that I do have. It's melodic and moody. Yes.
This composition is not coming easily, as some do. I will have to put some time into it and think and feel it out both musically and intellectually. In my own little musical world, I envision this creative process to be similar to that of Beethoven's. (Did I just compare myself to Beethoven?)
Sometimes a tune will come naturally. Easy as pie. Smooth. It is already complete when it comes to you. Up there in the universe, just waiting for you to sing it and play it and write it out, maybe. Like Mozart. He didn't have any trouble writing music. But he had other troubles.
I am excited about this title composition. What shape will it take? When will it be done? What's it going to sound like, ultimately? I recorded a rough version of it, with the melody going several different ways, and put it on my computer desktop, so I can listen whenever I feel like it. This will help me to keep in mind the different twists and turns that the song might take. We'll see where it goes.
Tonight I have rehearsal with the Portugese fado group, Ramana Vieira's Ensemble. We are in the process of recording a new CD in a San Jose studio. Rehearsals take on a new meaning when you have to make decisions for recordings, choices that you will have to listen to and be responsible for for a long time. It's certianly not like a musical choice for a single performance!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New Recording!

Well, here I am, very early in the morning, trying to work out a new piece for my upcoming recording project and program it into Sibelius so that I can print it out for tonight's rehearsal with the percussionist. I am new to Sibelius, and so this is all very exciting to me. To have a beautiful score to hand to fellow musicians is an amazing feeling, not to mention that changes can be made without having to write the whole thing again.

But it certainly is time consuming. The recording for my new CD will take place on Thursdays and Fridays in April and May. Most of the music is written but needs to be arranged and programmed into Sibelius. And the musical group is not hired yet.

I am just kind of going on a whim this time. Reserve the dates first, and then let the whole process fall into place. It's a little scary, but exciting. I have not recorded my own CD in quite awhile, and so I felt I needed to jumpstart the thing to get it going.
So now it is taking shape! And I have to go work on it.

Instrumentation for this project will be: cello, guitar, percussion, clarinet, violin and maybe string quartet.

Bye bye! Talk later!