Yearly Archives: 2008

MCMLXXX a.D., or Shinkyoku Moratorium, Eigoban

A while back, I made a series of posts on Twitter describing ways I would cover some songs. Let me list them here:

  • Bruce Robison’s "Wrapped" in the style of U2’s "Stories for Boys"
  • Duran Duran’s "Planet Earth" straight-forward with lyrics in Japanese
  • Janet Jackson’s "Miss You Much" in the style of Alice in Chains
  • Linda Ronstadt’s "Hurts So Bad" in the style of Garbage.
  • Marilyn Manson’s "Tourniquet" in the style of Enya. (Actually, I ended up covering Neutral Milk Hotel’s "The Fool" as an a capella piece.)
  • Roberta Flack’s "Closer I Get to You" in the style of Explosions in the Sky and mono.
  • The System’s "Don’t Disturb This Groove"in the style of Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly

As much as I’d like to think these interpretations are beginnings of a cover album, I don’t get much of a thematic thread from them. The source material is all over the place, and their planned interpretations are incongruous. It wouldn’t feel like an album to me.
Now there’s another wrinkle.

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Video killed the studio star

Huh. I never had much of an ambition to be a filmmaker. At most, I’d maybe want to write something for TV, but the whole idea of creating something to watch from the ground up? It doesn’t fascinate me as much as getting into the minutiae of a piece of music.
Music videos are a long way from a feature-length film, but two videos I made in the last couple of weeks have gotten me wanting to experiment with the medium further.
Hell, I’m already thinking of making a DVD album out of Original Confidence.
I’ve spent the last weeks experimenting with 2-D animation software, even though I haven’t drawn anything on paper since high school. And I also looked up what it takes to make greenscreen effects. I even caught myself looking up prices for camcorders. Yeah, that bad.
So I’m just going to jot down some of the ideas I have for future videos, since I seem to be heading down this path already.

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The cup runneth way, way over

Of all the software in my home studio, the one used the least is Sibelius. I have a bunch of old scores from my days as a would-be composer that I’d like to transcribe or re-transcribe, but I haven’t squeezed out that time yet.
So to justify the expense of having bought the software, I created scores for NaSoPiAlMo 2006. I originally recorded the MIDI playback of those pieces for the album, but now I’d like to record them live. I thought to myself, "Wouldn’t it be neat if I could work off of a score book, like my Beethoven and Bach pieces?"
Sibelius doesn’t do book formatting, but QuarkXpress does. So I exported my piano scores to EPS and fashioned a book out of it. Then I went to Lulu to see about printing it up. After poring over the help section of the site, I added a cover, title page and copyright page to the book. Then I loaded it up.
Huh. That was easy. What else can I get printed up?

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Shinkyoku moratorium, part the third, phase two

I usually declare a shinkyoku moratorium in the fall, as a way to curb the amount of music I produce in a single year. These moratoriums are usually broken the moment I start working on something new. Technically, I broke last year’s moratorium back in February, when I wrote a few measures of a new string quartet.
I haven’t worked on it since, and now that I’ve launched a label and a publishing company, I don’t think I’ll get back to it any time soon.
So I’m extending the shinkyoku moratorium from September 2007, or at least, I’m not considering it broken. Launching the label forces me to look seriously at the current state of my catalog, and adding to it just doesn’t seem appealing. Now that I have a means through which this music can be (somewhat) properly distributed, I need to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be.
That means recording and editing vocals, finalizing arrangements and closing outstanding bugs issues.

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Existential Eureka Moments in the Seismic Context Shift

From two messages posted by a friend of mine on Twitter, I posited that Existential Eureka Moments in the Seismic Context Shift would make a good fake title for a Guided By Voices album. I’ve since grown an attachment to the phrase and will use it on something for Eponymous 4 instead.
Is it hazardous to have a title before an actual idea?
From Acadia to Zenith, another title I’ve vowed to turn into an Eponymous 4 project, sounds great, but now I have to contemplate what kind of work would be suitable for it. Perhaps I’m putting the cart before the proverbial horse.
Existential Eureka Moments in the Seismic Context Shift almost sounds like a greatest hits collection, though.

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From Acadia to Zenith / 四重奏

Cedar and oak allergy seasons happen back to back in Austin — from January to May — and I’m usually a basket case at that time. So I’m not tempting fate by going into the studio. That leaves me with free time to contemplate what’s coming up for Eponymous 4.
A number of weeks back, someone on Metafilter posted a link to an old Harpers article by Dorothy Thompson, titled "Who goes Nazi?" A single phrase jumped out at me — "from Acadia to Zenith" — and I feel compelled to work that into an Eponymous 4 project. I’m thinking it’s going to be the title of the next album, but I’m not sure what that album is going to sound like.
So we’ll see how From Acadia to Zenith inspires me.
I’ve also been listening to a lot 20th century string quartet repertoire. Before I announced the annual shinkyoku moratorium, I considered recording an album of string quartet music for NaSoAlMo 2007, an idea I’ve had for quite a while. I’ve been wanting to do my homework first, studying scores of other string quartets. But I haven’t really gotten around to acquiring many scores.
For now, I’m just absorbing all the different ways composers have approached the medium. I listened to all of Dmitri Shostakovich’s quartets in 2006, and I delved into Béla Bartók’s quartets last year. I’m revisiting Terry Riley’s Salome Dances for Peace, and I even sought out the Samuel Barber quartet from whence the Adagio for Strings came.
My first string quartet, which I wrote when I was a teenager, wears its Shostakovich and Barber influences on its sleeve. (I had just discovered Kronos Quartet around that time.) I would like this next string quartet (or two) to sound more like, well, myself. Whatever that means.

Be it resolved, 2008 edition, or the non-resolution resolution

My New Year’s resolutions in the past have pretty much been inclined to creative endeavors, something I’d like to continue for the foreseeable future. They were terrific resolutions to make at a time when I wasn’t doing much creatively, but in the past five days, I recorded incredibly rough — no, make that incredibly ROUGH takes of vocals. I got through about 26 songs, and I still have about 19 to go.
In short, I don’t need a New Year’s resolution to spur me to work — I’ve got more than enough. Yes, I could make a resolution to get through that work, but last year, I made one which was immediately sidelined by a pinched nerve. I know the work needs to be done, and no amount of resolving is going to change the fact it’s going to get done.
Rather, I prefer New Year’s resolutions that challenge me to try something new, like when I took singing lessons for a month or learned how to play bass guitar. If I were to make a New Year’s resolution, I would probably start with forming a band.
If the exercise of laying down vocal tracks is any indication, I am not a singer. Even my sister said I need singing lessons. I think these songs need more than my meager voice to do them justice.
And even though I’ve recorded everything with keyboards, most of the songs I’ve written are really geared for live musicians. I just don’t need a singer — I need guitarists and a rhythm section as well.
But I’m not resolving to do form a band in 2008. I have this perception of a band as being a life-turning commitment — once it’s formed, I have to spend a number of years making it work. And like any kind of relationship, it requires time and money. The former, I probably have too much of it. The latter, not so much.
Of course, just because I don’t make a New Year’s resolution to do something doesn’t mean I won’t end up doing it.

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