Wednesday, 29 February 2012

And so it’s over

I’m feeling almost crestfallen. RPM Challenge is over, the album is done (huzzah for all of us!) and while I’ve got a ton of work to push on with, I’m feeling kind of sad. I’ve absolutely loved these weeks of working with my friends, both old, new and somewhere in between. It’s been lovely to write for specific people and try to make something that fits with what I know about them and their art, and  mostly I think I’ve succeeded OK. Several people have said how much they enjoy their pieces, and that’s what really matters.

I know I’ve learnt an incredible lot this month. Just look at all the new things I’ve tried: improvisation, extended techniques (blowing into the flute, multiphonics, flutter-tonguing, finger vibrato on the recorder), I’ve used trills for the first time (I think) ever, pushed the range of dynamics I usually use, used quarter-tones, written for guitar, created a graphic score (that I actually intended to make, as opposed to Carrion Comfort, which was an accidental graphic score), set a poem that rhymes, written for a solo brass instrument – and got up the courage to ask for muting (and very glad I did). I suspect I’ll be experiencing the aftershocks of this project for weeks and possibly months to come.

And I can’t say how much I think it’s done for my brain, to have to work so quickly, come up with ideas and just work with them. Twice I started with ideas I initially thought were rubbish and was either able to salvage them, or discovered that they worked, but not until I got them onto the instrument for which they were intended.

Of course, until now, too, I could count the usable recordings I had of my music (meaning well-performed, well-recorded, and that I have permission to do anything with) on one hand. Now I need both hands and a foot! This means so, SO much to me. It’s one thing to write music, but quite another to have someone bring it to life for you, and let you hear it. The performers have all been amazing, and I hope I get to write for them again in the future.

But enough burbling. I’m sure I’ll write a blog post over at sometime soon about specific lessons learned, but here is for the present, so I should run through today.

Of course the big news today was receiving the last 2 tracks. Jennifer Mackerras’ Triptych for One is in three movements, and she sent me an assortment of takes so I had a lot of fun wading through them and working out which takes to use of which movement. And they came together quite well in Logic too – a bit of crossfading helped the transitions and a little DeNoiser helped with background hiss on the first two movements. This one’s an odd piece. It still takes me by surprise. I think it only revels itself properly after a few listens. Maybe the movements should have been a little longer, perhaps. I might explore that idea in another piece. I love the multiphonics on the treble recorder – they have so much character! Definitely going to have to use those in the piece I’m writing for Jen’s recorder quartet, Pink Noise.

The other piece which went up today was Francis Western-Smith’s Egg the Eleventh. I’m delighted that the whole corrupted fugue thing worked with this one. It could have gone so very wrong, but I like the crunchiness of the harmonies and to me (I don’t know about anyone else) it’s channelling a lot of Satie, especially at the end. Or possibly I’m just thinking that because the style of this piece is a complete throwback to my uni days and the first few piano eggs I wrote, The Four-Egg Omelette. I always loved those pieces – they’re still some of my favourites – and it’s nice to know that I haven’t moved impossibly far away from that style.

I decided on the track order too today, which is mostly based on the order the pieces were completed in, but I switched I Want It To Kill Them and Triptych for One around, so the recorder piece comes directly after the slide-guitar-and-crunchy-tape one, which seems an odd positioning, but it actually seems to work. Once I had the pieces in order, I discovered that the reverb I’d added to Nest and Solitary Fanfare was a little excessive – the rest of the album, while the spaciousness of the recordings varies, sounds like it was recorded in small rooms, while those two tracks seemed to have moved into a concert hall and it just sounded odd. So I dialled it back on both of them & “rehoused” them in a room rather than a hall, albeit one with a bit of space to it. I think this improves those tracks within the set. Hopefully the performers agree…

I still haven’t got to the lever harp piece for Shana, but I will. It’s on my list for this month (although probably later this month as I have the brass quintet and a piece for Carla Rees and her quarter-tone alto flute to complete ASAP). And it’s the only piece I didn’t get to write. I’m glad that I thought to finish off the Pieces of Eight arrangement for her while I was concussed though – it fits well with the other tiny pieces, and it meant that nobody missed out entirely. Every performer got something to play that was made especially for them. Even with the concussion, so I’m feeling rather pleased with myself.

Tomorrow, then, is CD-burning-and-posting time. I guess I don’t really have to, but it’s just going to really symbolise the end of a project that started out on a whim, ended up bigger than Ben Hur and which I think I have to add to my list of most-amazing-musical-experiences-of-my-life-so-far. So it’ll be sent. And then I’ll look at posting the whole thing to BandCamp. It’s going to be a bit of a package – all the album tracks, plus all the scores, plus this diary. I saw that Chrissie Caulfield included her RPM diary in the download and I think it’s a great idea because it gives a real picture of how the work was created, for those who are interested. Hopefully someone will be…

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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The album has a cover

Yup, having settled on “Lucky Dip” as a name, and not having heard back from the owners of the Flickr image I wanted to use, I decided to draw my own, using the photo as a rough model. I drew the blackboard outline, a little bit of shadow on the back legs, the fringed border and the board itself in charcoal on half a sheet of A2 paper (I’ve been caught out by A2 paper before – far too big to fit on the scanner!), then pulled the scanned image (after cleaning up in Photoshop) over to the iPad to add colour and text. The final layout I did in Photoshop, after sending the coloured image back to the computer again.

I may tweak it later but as a first draft, I’m pretty pleased and I’ve put it up as the album image on SoundCloud.

Lucky Dip album cover art

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done any drawing, and longer still since I did any with actual paper rather than just the iPad, so this was a really fun project. The whole album’s feeling really real too now – there’s only one more track to come in, with two possible replacement tracks. Guess I should think about what order I want them all to go in too. At the moment they’re just in the order the recordings came in, but I’m thinking that shuffling them around might be more effective.

Today I received Kim Hickey’s recording of her piece, Flit, for flute. I am just amazed at all the great performances I’ve been getting for these pieces – so little time to prepare them and yet everyone’s done a really good job of capturing their piece and getting it recorded. I haven’t had to put on a stern face & tell anybody to try harder, nothing’s turned up sounding like it was recorded underwater in a bathtub in 1902. A couple of pieces have needed a touch of reverb to really bring out the tone of the instrument, and Kim’s recording needed a tiny bit of hiss reduced, but that’s been it, which has been both wondrous and a great relief because I’m no skilled recording engineer.

But I digress, here’s Kim’s piece:

I also posted an update of Alun’s tango – the original for some reason came through very very soft, so he’s adjusted his recording slightly and sent me a slightly louder one, which really makes a difference. It’s still fairly quiet, but there’s a bunch of tiny details in there which eluded me in the previous version.

Sam also sent me copies of some of his rejected takes for I Want It To Kill People. I found it absolutely fascinating to listen to the various approaches. They’re all good, but somehow the final take he settled on just interacts with the tape part a little more effectively than the other versions of the graphic score. What was particularly interesting was to hear the take on which he improvised, without the graphic score – that’s a really interesting piece. It’s not the piece that I Want It To Kill People became, but something else. It’s more enmeshed in the tape part – he’s taken some of the gritty sounds and used them as inspiration for the guitar part – whereas my vision of the piece was that the guitar was this soft and lovely thing with depths of aggression, Sam’s version is more like watching the soft and lovely guitar be corrupted by the aggressive tape part. Really fascinating. He’s also sent me just the guitar recording from the final version and I really think I will have a go at tweaking the tape part – there’s a blob of notes about a third of the way into the piece that really feel like a stumbling block, so I’m going to see if I can make them less intrusive.

So that’s RPM for today. No, the harp piece hasn’t happened yet. Yes, I’m hoping to get to it tomorrow. Today was full of client work and physiotherapist and – at the end – half of a wonderful concert by Joby Burgess at Wigmore Hall and a lovely chat with @stevegisby and his girlfriend. I managed to get there for the end of it (thank you, Central Line – not!) and got to hear Gabriel Prokofiev’s ‘Fanta’ from Import/Export and Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, movements II and III played on a MIDI xylophone, which was interesting, although I think I prefer the electric guitar version I have on CD in Sydney. Very much enjoyed the Prokofiev piece though – inventive, fun and very much a serious piece of music, in spite of the amusement factor of being played on glass bottles of Fanta. I did wonder, though, how long it’ll still be able to be played for – what happens when they no longer manufacture glass bottles of drink??? I guess it’s just a piece that embraces its own ephemerality.

I seem to have come out of the day with a Proper Job too. And the best sort of proper job – mobile web dev, working from home, for about a week, for a client who used to be a colleague when I was at LBi and who has now set up her own UX business for financial services companies. Really looking forward to this one.

One day to go. One recording to come in. This time tomorrow night, RPM 2012 will be complete!

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Monday, 27 February 2012

So very close…

And with 2 days to go, we’re rampaging down the home stretch! Today’s inbox saw another three recordings – from Rob, Shana (who’s recorded the pedal harp arrangement of Pieces of Eight I sent her while I was concussed) and Jenni. Rob’s very kindly offered to do some re-recording, which has given me the opportunity to tweak a couple of things in the trombone score, but what’s he’s sent is great so I’m considering that one done, and we’ll just see if he has the time to do the update.

But Shana’s (Pieces of Eight) and Jenni’s (Nest) recordings are up on SoundCloud now, bringing the total tracks on the online album to 6.

Alun has also sent me an updated version of his track, which came out extremely soft this end. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this update yet because the employment monster demanded my attention with a possible short mobile web-dev contract I need to quote for, but will definitely look at it tomorrow.

And, alas, contrary to plans, I haven’t started on Shana’s proper piece for this project – just shattered today after 4 very fun but exhausting days with a friend here from France so I just did what I could and am hoping to get to that tomorrow. Suspect there’s no chance of it being included in my official RPM Challenge album though.

The album also, finally, has a title. At first I was going to call it Miscellany 2012, but that seemed kind of obvious and dull and like I hadn’t made an effort. I made a set for it on SoundCloud, waved it about on Facebook… and then promptly realised that a much more appropriate name (although probably still not that imaginative) would be Lucky Dip, after which I found that while I could change the title of the set I couldn’t change the URL so the address of the album didn’t match it’s title. A small detail but one that bugs me, so I’ve deleted that set, made another one and redistributed the new link. Aargh. Messy. But probably better to deal with the mess immediately rather than potentially let old & broken links float about the internet too much.

So Lucky Dip it is. I figured it was kind of appropriate because it was a lucky dip for me, finding out what instruments I’d be writing for, and of course a lucky dip for the performers with what piece they’d get (if any), and finally the pieces have all turned out so varied that I think it’s also a bit of a lucky dip for the listener too. And then I found this photo on Flickr and that pretty much sealed the deal. I’ve had to write to the photographer to ask for permission to crop it, tweak it and whack my name over the top, but I’m hoping they’ll agree. If not, I may use it for inspiration – maybe do a drawing of their photograph or something??

2 days. 3 pieces to come. So close to the finish line!

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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Just popping in

A quick post from me – I’ll be back on RPM work tomorrow – but today’s seen another two recordings come in, incredibly different from each other, and I’m really very excited by them.

Finally we get hear Sam’s slide guitar + tape piece, I Want It To Kill People (for the story behind the title, pop over to the SoundCloud page!). I really love what he’s done with it – he’s managed to take my rather brutal tape part and convey what I was hoping for – the idea of something soft and gentle that has great depths of aggression. I’m not so pleased with my own work on the tape part. I think I may go back over this once the project is done and pull back at least the volume in a couple of places, possibly the grittiness too – the solo instrument really needs more room to speak. But while I think *I* could have done better on this one, I’m pleased with the piece as a whole – it was a big experiment for me and I’m really enjoying what Sam’s done with it.

The second piece is Alun’s A Tiny Tango for 6-string bass guitar. I was very worried about this one – I am a complete guitar novice, and writing something for solo guitar which has a couple of different levels of stuff going on did feel rather ambitious and I half-expected Alun to send it back with red corrections all over it! However, he’s been able to play the whole thing, which I’m amazed by, and I’m delighted with the result. I particularly like the percussive sounds + harmonics section about 2/3 of the way through.

And Alun has very kindly offered to write some performance notes – and tablature! – to help guide other bassists through its “Twister-like bits” (Alun’s phrase :-D), which will be brilliant – and hopefully I can learn from them too.

And now to bed – tomorrow I’ll be hard at work on a piece for lever harp!

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Saturday, 25 February 2012

First recording is in!

Well, I am totally STOKED, to use an Australianism I never use, but which expresses my delight rather well. The first recording for my RPM project is in! And it’s WONDERFUL.

Charles Turner has sent me the recording of the tiny song I wrote for him, To Fortune. It uses a text by Robert Herrick, which I posted here a little while back. I was quite pleased with the song when I did it – and especially considering that when I started it it was 2 in the morning and my initial verdict was that while it wasn’t terrible, it was deeply embarrassing. But I salvaged it and sent it off, and I think Charles’ lovely performance shows that I was right to do so. He’s captured some lovely nuances in there and I’m totally thrilled beyond words with it.

In other RPM news (because I’ve been a little slow with the updates the past few days, having a lovely friend to stay), I finished and sent off Rob’s trombone piece yesterday. I’m pretty pleased with it. And he seems to think it’s all technically possible, although I’ve left rather small gaps to put in/remove the mute – looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

So there’s just one piece to go – Shana’s lever harp piece. This one may be just scraping in as I won’t be able to do anything on it till Monday. But I’m hoping I can get it done in time.

And today I sent Diabolus off to the New Lens Concert Series call for scores for piano trio or subset thereof. I hope they like it – it would be lovely to hear a proper performance of that one.

Anyway, if you haven’t already, listen to Charles singing his song! It’s fabulous!

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A pair

Well, it’s insane o’clock so I must be quick because I have a huge day tomorrow – a lovely friend who I’ve never met (!) is coming to stay for a few days, so I need to up and about fairly early. And in the evening we’re off to the London Composers Forum workshop on writing for guitar, so I’m going to want my wits about me.

But the important stuff: the bass guitar piece is finished and sent. I’m expecting it to be returned with red markings all over it because I really don’t have a clue about writing for guitar (hence workshop attendance!) so I’ve been flying blind a bit. But I’ve tried to set it up so the most prominent possible-issues should be able to be relatively easily resolved. We will see what Alun says is playable and what not. Here’s hoping it’s not the entire piece that isn’t!

And I’ve written a trombone piece for Rob. I do feel a little bit like I’m cheating on this one because it uses the opening of the piece I’m writing for brass quintet at the moment (due to be premiered in April), but it goes in its own direction, so I hope that’s OK. I may actually steal some of it back for the quintet! I’m exploring tone colour in this one, mostly, and have chucked a couple of mute directions in there because I’ve never worked with brass mutes before and I think it might work well and give it a more defined shape than it has on its own. So the form of it is done, and I think it just needs to be slept on, followed by some minor tweaking. I’m hoping to send it off tomorrow, but I suspect that may be a little ambitious, and Friday is more likely.

Which leaves… one. The last one is for Shana’s lever harp, and today she sent me part two of her amazingly useful Tiny Treatise on writing for lever harp. This one details how to set the harp up to use the octatonic scale. How much fun will that be?! I’m not entirely sure when I’m going to get to write this one, I have to confess – it’s going to be a real push to get it done before the end of the month, but after the concussion, the harp piece sort of by default ended up on the end because while I couldn’t really compose during that week, I was able to lay out – and what I laid out was the pedal harp arrangement of my Pieces of Eight, so Shana has that and is planning to record it. If I get the lever harp piece finished, then Pieces of Eight can be a bonus track, otherwise at least I have my ten tracks, even if one of them isn’t strictly new. And I’ll be doing the lever harp piece regardless because, seriously, who could resist an opportunity to write octatonic music for harp?

So close!

In other news, I am now finally a full writer member of PRS for Music. Am I a real composer now? 😀

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Creeping towards the finish line

Going back a step to very, very late last night, I am delighted to say that SAM’S SLIDE GUITAR PIECE IS FINISHED! It was starting to look like it would be one of the earliest ones I started on and that he wouldn’t actually get it by the deadline. But no. ‘Tis done and sent so now we’ll see what he makes of it when he gets time to look at it later this week…

Today I have gone in a completely different direction and written the outline of a tango for 6-string bass guitar. My challenge now is to mash the multiple lines of ideas I have for it together, and enliven those parts which I feel are a little on the dull side. There are bits I like very much but others which are a bit boring. Interestingly, this has gone in the opposite direction from what my pieces usually do – start out interesting and need perking up towards the end. This one is significantly more interesting at the end than it is at the beginning, so now I need to find a way to brighten the beginning without it then not relating to the stuff at the end which emerged out of the stuff at the beginning. PHEW. So far it’s got some nice syncopation happening, some harmonics and a whiff of percussive effects.

I am, though – and I freely confess this – somewhat clueless about guitars in general, so I’m flying a little blind here. I know from Alun’s recordings that he’s capable of some amazing feats where it sounds like he’s playing 2 lines at once, without overdubbing, but I don’t understand enough about the instrument to be able to confidently write out what I want. So I’m going to be rather dependent on him to help me out with that. But that in itself will be a pretty new experience for me – I’ve rarely been able to work with a performer to develop a piece, so it’s going to be grand to see where it ends up.

I do find it somewhat ironic though, that my self-imposed deadline (so that all the performers have time to learn their pieces and record them for the RPM Challenge deadline of 29 February) is tomorrow/Thursday morning, when on Thursday night I’ll be starting the London Composers Forum’s Writing for Guitar workshop, which will hopefully teach me how to do what I’m trying to do right now. Looking forward to a few “oh THAT’s what I needed to do” moments.

In other stuff, I have renewed my CV. The employment monster loometh, but I’m actually not as bummed about it as I would have been a couple of months back and I have much higher hopes, after this month, of being able to maintain a decent amount of compositional activity after-hours than I usually do. And I’m rather looking forward to being out of the house for a while and working with other developers. Hoping for a nice juicy mobile project. Cross fingers pls?

And my Da is OK! His tests went off just fine and they couldn’t see anything untoward. Huzzah!

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Tuesday, 21 February 2012


And another one! Yesterday I was really struggling. I knew Jen was going to be in London with her recorder today and I really wanted to have something for her to play. I wrote something, but I really thought it wasn’t terribly good. I was trying to get the sound of the recorder into my head – so very different than a flute or clarinet or anything I usually write for (coming to the conclusion that writing for recorder is more like writing for really flexible brass than orchestral woodwinds) – but it didn’t seem to be sticking and everything felt wrong and blech. Then I woke up this morning and was completely convinced it was rubbish and I’d have to start again, but as I’d put so many extended techniques into it – flutter-tonguing, multiphonics, singing into the recorder, quarter tones – I figured I might as well see what she made of it and hear what these effects really sounded like.

Well, knock me down with a feather. She started to play, and it all coalesced! We needed to do some tweaking on the third of the group (she gets a tiny triptych) but the first two are pretty much as they were when I first wrote them last night. And while it’s an odd piece, it grew on us as she played through it more and now I think I’m rather fond of it. And that’s number 5!

Right now I’m waiting for Windows to fire up so I can scan the multiphonics fingering page out of Walter van Hauwe’s The Modern Recorder Player (Vol. III) to send to Jen with the score. This has been a really useful book, for the multiphonics in particular – lovely strong, clear sounds. It’s a real joy to use them. There’s loads of composer-friendly info in there, and while it’s aimed at performers who want to play these effects, it’s also really useful for working out what’s possible for writing them. The other resource I found really helpful for getting me started was Australian composer & recorder-player Ben Thorn’s quick introduction on the Orpheus Music site.

I sent a quick update out to the performers today. Seeing as people seem to be enjoying their pieces, even when they’re bewildered by them, I’m going to compile them all into a single volume and send out a hard-copy to the performers to thank them for their hard work. After all, I just have to write the stuff (and, obviously, choose the fonts. Very important, that) – they’re the ones who need to play it and get it to a decent-enough standard to go out into the world with their name on it! So I thought it would be a nice thing to get them properly printed and bound up, all as a group.

And now it’s half-past twelve and I’m not quite ready for sleep. My Da’s gone into hospital in Australia tonight for ‘tests’. God knows what they’ll find. Hopefully something easily fixable, but sleep’s a tricky thing under these circumstances, so it’s back to  more work on the slide guitar piece. Graphic score, I will subdue you!

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

No. 4! Half-way!

Another surprise piece – they’re just popping up like rabbits! Today’s offering is a piano piece for Francis Western-Smith. I think it will do well on the organ too, but it’ll need some work – as it stands I think some parts are out of range and others are just going to sound muddy, but it should work just fine on piano, so I’m sending it as is and will see if I can manage an organ arrangement in a couple of days.

If you know my piano eggs at all then the style of this piece will be familiar to you – it’s Egg the Eleventh, if you’re keeping score (only 2 more to go and I’ll have the Baker’s Dozen I’ve been planning for my CD-in-progress) – and this one is a naughty fugue. Not naughty in the show-your-knickers sense, but naughty in the sense that it started out being a fugue, and it is mostly a fugue, but I’ve rather taken liberties with it, so it’s by no means strict. It consists of flowing melodies with syncopated moments and I’m hoping Francis will be able to have some fun with it. We Shall See…

This is also exciting, because with Sam’s piece being now more than half-done, I am officially halfway through the project! Add in the improv piece I wrote for myself before I started this, and I’ve written 5 1/2 pieces this month – which is 1 1/2 more than I originally planned to write. And more pieces (indeed, more minutes of music too) than I wrote in the whole of last year. Go me!

Today, I have to say, has been MASSIVE. For a quiet rainy Saturday at home it’s really been very exciting. Because I had an email from a friend in Limerick saying that she has chosen my Three Whitman Songs for contralto and piano to be performed at a concert her ensemble is giving in April. This is super-exciting because I never expected those songs to be performed. They were written over a long period of time – The first two songs were the last thing I wrote before freezing up and not being able to write anything for a couple of years, and the third was the first thing I wrote during my recovery. Because of my low mood at the time, I couldn’t see the point of writing for any ordinary voice type. I wanted to hear what I’d written, so I wrote them for my voice, which is unusually low, so I never thought I’d find a proper singer with a similar range, but LO! There is one in Limerick! I can’t wait to hear what she does with the set because frankly I’ve made a bit of a hash of them, being an untrained singer and out of practice toboot.

The other exciting thing was that today was the day that the London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra was having their first read-through of the pieces for their workshop at the end of March – including my Carrion Comfort. And most unexpectedly, I started chatting with a new friend on Twitter and discovered that she’s in the orchestra! So she trundled off to rehearsal and was kind enough to give me some feedback afterwards, saying that it went well and sounded very solid. She was even kind enough (after asking if it was a new piece or if it had been played before and getting the answer that it’s shiny and new and my first real attempt at an orchestral work) to say that it didn’t sound like a first attempt. Well chuffed, I assure you. Can’t wait for the workshop. And it’s on my birthday too!

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Back to it

Well, this is all very stop-start. And time is pressing on. I’m getting a bit worried about my own personal deadline, to tell the truth. My plan was to have all pieces written and sent out before my friend arrives next Thursday, so all the performers would have a full week or more with their pieces, and I’d be able to have a lovely chilled time with my friend. And if I could get back the week I spent concussed, I’d be calm. As it is I’m a little stressed, but I’m just going to go full speed ahead, and see what happens.

This evening I’ve been back at work on Sam’s graphic score for the slide guitar piece. I think I’m sensing a pattern here – the last piece I wrote for real instruments + tape took me forever to do the score too and I think it’s because I really don’t like transcribing random sounds and hoping I note them in the right place and that others can interpret my squiggles for what they are. Yes, procrastination has been hard at work here.

However, this evening I’ve finally got a rough first draft down of the tape part. I’ve tried to keep it pretty simple, noting mostly where notable things happen. I think I’ll need to put in time markings too, to give some context, then I need to work on the guitar bit, which I kind of have in my head but just need to get down on paper/iPad. This initial version I’ve done on iPad because rubbing out is easy when I get it wrong 😀 I need to work out a neater way of dealing with the audible text moments though, in particular. But just so you can see that this piece isn’t actually a myth, here’s the work-in-progress snap:

Draft tape part visual for slide guitar piece

There’s a chance I may need to cut it up a bit and spread it out some more, but I just needed to get something down. Mostly spreading it out would allow for more detail in the guitar part, so I need to think a bit about how much detail I want to put in there. This is mostly new territory for me, both technically and stylistically. I guess that’s why it’s taking so long.

The other exciting development today is that Jenni sent me her preliminary recordings of her oboe piece, Nest! SO exciting to hear the piece taking shape. I don’t think I’ve ever had real performer feedback on a piece while it’s still so fresh from the writing, so this is fantastic.

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