The road ends, but the journey continues...

Category: Swimming with Swans (Page 1 of 6)

vignettes of our three year journey between homes

SwS project status & my basic music score editing process

4/6 'Final Finals' music scores 100% finished!

4/6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores 100% finished!


First off, I’m thrilled to announce that 4 of the 6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores mentioned in the previous post are 100% finished. Nestled in their respective PDFs, each are ready to be distributed in multiple media formats when the time comes. Their timing is intertwined with the release of both the vignette and recorded music parts of related content from the overall SwS project.
That said, the Goat Suite (Saga) scores are not even ‘Final Finals’ yet even though the music has been recorded and ready for mastering since 2017 and the related vignettes are now nearing the formatting stage for publication. The original scores are still scruffy with scribbles from the recording sessions.
Given that Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) will be the first section of the project to be released, those scores are now top priority for beginning the Final editing process. For a sense of what’s involved, my Goat Suite (Saga) is written for 2 classical guitars, mandolin, 12-string acoustic guitar and rain stick. I have the Master Score pretty much done, but the details specific to each individual part need to be entered onto each of the extracted part scores.
Here then, is an overview of my basic music score editing process, as promised.

  1. Enter original hand scored piece in NOTION – just the notes, no dynamics, interpretive suggestions, fingerings, etc.
  2. Fix weird quirks that NOTION places in score regardless of how info is entered (ie-stem direction, rests, location of text info, etc.)
  3. Print it out and play from that score to approach fingerings with a fresh eye and jot down
  4. Add fingerings, and simple dynamics in NOTION, print out for spacing/alignments and jot down by hand extra needs for score as play through it.
  5. Continue with edits (#2, #3 & #4) with an eye for keeping the score uncluttered and easy to read for the player yet filled with the needed information.
  6. Add title, composer, dedication, copyright, etc. info and arrange text nicely on score, sometimes defying NOTION conventions.
  7. If composition has more than one instrument, extract each part from Master Score for individual print out.
  8. Print Master Score and any extracted parts scores to PDF and print out to proof.
  9. Proof as needed.
  10. Repeat #5, #8 and #9 until becomes a true FINAL, then print to PDF.

Using my arrangement of Mo Giolla Mear as an example, here are photo’s of the process continuing from its mention in a previous post.

The following two score photos correspond to steps #1, #2 and #3 of the basic process overview:

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

My hand scored copies alongside (then) newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear


Mo Giolla Mear excerpt

The next score excerpt photo corresponds to steps #5 & #6 – check out measure 8 for an easy to see example of a stem direction fix in addition to the overall inclusions of fingerings, dynamics, etc.

Mo Giolla Mear edited excerpt

 This last score excerpt photo corresponds to step #10 and is from the final PDF:

3 Mo Giolla Mear Final Excerpt

 Whew! I hope this answers some of the questions you my readers have asked about what it means when I mention ‘doing score edits.’ Much like literary edits, it can be tedious but the end result is the pot of gold at the base of a very beautiful rainbow.

(He)art at its best

Just finished a fantastic time on the practice stool with the Prisloe.

Again.

(He)art at its best.

I’ve had a long string of days blissfully playing and practicing, composing and creating, with a focus on deep working through pieces yet to be recorded.
And all profoundly satisfying with more in store tomorrow and the next day and the next…

(He)art at its best.

Jude, their polydactyl cat

Jude, their polydactyl cat


Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)

Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)


Since settling in our daughter Michelle and son-in-law David’s home – house and pet sitting during their reunion vacation in Cote d’Ivoire* – my music has been asserting itself from deep within, taking center stage.

(He)art at its best.

Before leaving FloTown, I worked through fingerings, adding dynamics and interpretive notation to my scores for use in the Swimming with Swans Music Folio part of the total SwS project. I focused entirely on the task of getting those scores closer to publishing perfection. Often with the Prisloe in one hand and the other on the computer keyboard entering it all on the NOTION score program. Then taking that needed info and tweaking it on the page so it looks nice and uncluttered**.
This is the grunt work that occurs after the ‘fun’ part of creation. Kind of like the next-to-final, another next-to-final and yet another next-to-final edit before the truly-final edit of an author’s WIP***.

(He)art at its best.

I promised myself I’d get back into the delights of daily practice focusing on technique, exercises, etudes, sight reading, exploratory composition and learning new repertoire once we left FloTown and arrived at our destination.
I promised my music (and the Prisloe) this same reward for waiting patiently even though her cries for attention were persistent and enticing.

(He)art at its best.

And you know what? The music is rewarding me! Unleashing continuous waves of inspiration, direction and ‘living water****’ spilling forth from my (he)art through my fingers and into being.

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

~~~~~

END NOTES:

* Michelle has been gathering her last batch of data/research for her PhD thesis these past months in Cote d’Ivoire and David is joining her for a final week vacation before their return to the States.
** click here for a great article on how much notation is enough notation, if you’re a composer/musician this will be interesting for sure.

*** click here for a similar process as applied towards visual artists
**** “(S)He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his/her innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
Yes, He is my source…

Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle #3

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalms 34:8

Inside view of my 'loaded brownies minus one ingredient'

Inside view of my ‘loaded brownies minus one ingredient’


This edition of the Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle answers the question presented in the first VBSC post: What exactly is the missing ingredient in my ‘loaded brownies minus one ingredient’?
In a word: Lavender. In a story?

—Ooo-La-La Lavender Brownies—

was the number one fav vignette of my little list* for 2012. Since then, I figured out the proportions to be 1/8 cup crushed dried lavender buds added to the Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix, using a large egg in the prep. (see recipe here)
Personally, if I eat more than two, I’ve found that they don’t settle so well on my tummy…kind of reminiscent of their alluded to ‘cousin’ edible. Continue reading

On Doing Final Drafts

Silly me.

I thought the final drafts and final rewrites of pieces critiqued by two different writers groups in two different states, edited, reworked and rewritten over a time span of close to four years would be the easy part of finishing my Goat Suite Saga set of 7 vignettes. Never mind the larger project of Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes set of at least 2xs that amount.

Silly me.

While I’ve stamped four of the seven vignettes as final, it’s this fifth one that’s got me up against the wall as mentioned in a previous post. It’s a good thing I took that quilt break as it helped refresh my writerly juices to get back in the game.

However, it seemed like I just wasn’t making any progress. So, the other day I decided to passively gather data on how long it’s taking to actually do specific rewrites.  The numbers were kind of scary.

Let me explain.

There’s this one musically technical paragraph that I was told was confusing to non-musicians. However, I insist upon it staying as it’s important to the totality of that particular vignette. One paragraph, out of one vignette with an approximate word count of 2000 words took me over 12 hours to rework, reword, rewrite and stamp as final.

One paragraph.

Waiting on the final studio mix of my lone recorded piece (out of four total) left to be mixed before sending all to the mastering lab has been frustrating. Yet, it gives me an excuse to focus on the written part of the GSS of which an abbreviated form will be featured in the cd insert booklet.

Never did I ever figure on spending so much time on one paragraph.

Silly me.

Me as Composer

About 6 weeks ago, while planning our extended stay in Colorado to continue the hands-on process of getting Dad’s estate settled, I contacted a longtime colleague about collaborating with me on the recording of my Goat Suite (Saga).
Her willingness to work with me under challenging circumstances – finding snippets of time to rehearse, then laying down tracks at the recording studio – was refreshing.
So, tucked in between sorting files upon files of papers, packing up shelves of books, trips to drop off never ending donations at ARC, lining up realtor interviews, meeting with tradesmen for quotes on needed repairs on Dad’s house, working around my brother’s schedule to get certain estate things done; as well as working around my colleague’s own teaching and wedding gig schedule, we did indeed get started on the recording of my Goat Suite (Saga).
Sometime during our only rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon before our Wednesday recording session, my colleague tossed out a casual comment about ‘working with the composer’.
Say, what? Are you talking about me? Continue reading

Me & the Board & Moving Forward

Me & the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society, Inc Board Left to Right: Ada Lyn Jones, Donise White, James Boyd, Laura Bruno Lilly, William Remmes (President), Louise D. Bevan, Rev. Carnell Hampton, Ruby Jean Boyd

Me & the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society, Inc Board
Left to Right: Ada Lyn Jones, Donise White, James Boyd, Laura Bruno Lilly, William Remmes (President), Louise D. Bevan, Rev. Carnell Hampton, Ruby Jean Boyd


I fully intended on posting a ‘thoughtful article on my first SwS presentation’ as mentioned here. Obviously, I haven’t been able to quite pull one together. Yes, the June 3rd featured event at the Goodwill Cultural Center was a huge success and the thrill of introducing the public to my Goat Suite (Saga), the related creative process and how it all occurred while in the midst of our non-traditional between homes journey was some kind of high. But what really makes this experience stand out for me is the fact that all of the Goodwill Educational & Historical Society, Inc board members attended it.  In the world of the working musician, this is quite an anomaly.
I keep perusing these two photos* taken afterwards. The genuine expressions of joy shining through the faces of those photographed remind me of the spirit of the place; the delight of the moment.
On the steps of the Goodwill Cultural Center Mayesville, SC

On the steps of the Goodwill Cultural Center Mayesville, SC
Left to Right: Laura Bruno Lilly, Terry W. Lilly, James Boyd, William Remmes


I have long since done my own personal ‘performance assessment’, ferreting out solutions to challenges encountered during the actual performance. Specifically: in the transition from spoken word performance to the focus required in performing on an instrument – a very real hurdle for the brain in switching gears.
Quotes and clips have been gathered for use in future marketing and grant proposal endeavors; bits of prose and musical phrases have been tweeked; new contacts have been made and old ones reignited…I’m ready to move forward!
*photos by Jayne Bowers used with permission; content of photos used with permission

39 Years is A Loooong Time: lots of years to grow stronger and in love together

As I sit here sipping the last of my Pinot Noir from dinner, the eve of our Wedding Anniversary, I’m reflecting on 39 years of marriage to the same hunk of a man, my TWL. As mentioned before in a previous post, he’s my James Taylor of a guy back in the day when we first met and has morphed into my stalwart protector, staunchest supporter of my (he)art and deepest devoted Father and Grandfather of our progeny.

TWL is the ‘name’ we jokingly refer to in e-mails and snail mails to each other, letters defining his initials. It is also part of the name of a solo classical guitar piece I composed and dedicated to him on the first Christmas (out of three) during our between homes experience: Gift: for TWL (actually performed in context with the Goodwill Cultural Center Swimming with Swans: the music program presented on June 3rd).

In honor of our 39th I present to you a favorite youtube representing one of his special passions: sailing. Keep in mind that the video shows ‘motoring’ rather than actual sailing, regardless of the sung lyrics!

Enjoy and celebrate with us.

Ormai la frittata è fatta!

Cheers!

Goat Yoga – MamaGoat, TerryScape and Larry woulda loved this!

Saturday, I introduced the public to my ‘Goats in the Garden at Midnight by the Light of the Full Moon’ experience. Complete with slides, commentary, creative process steps, hands-on musical demos and a ‘performance’ of my Goat Suite as the Finale.
It was a huge success! (with much for me to contemplate for further improvements on the presentation as a whole)
I thought this video would be the perfect ‘placeholder’ until a thoughtful article is completed on my first SwS project presentation.
FYI: Dodger in the video is a Boer Goat, as were MamaGoat, TerryScape and Larry (and Tater)

Enjoy this slice of goat bliss – ommmmm!

 

My SwS Project: from there to here

My blogger-buddy Anna visited Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first time a few weeks ago and posted a few photos and thoughts on the desert.  What a treat to see the familiar through her newbie eyes.
How serendipitous!

Mama Goat, Tater & Kids

Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater


I’ve been immersed in that period of time during our between homes journey lovingly referred to as living ‘on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico’.  Place where my Goat Suite Saga was born.
In less than two weeks portions of my Swimming with Swans project are going to be presented for the first time to the general public. MamaGoat, Tater, TerryScape and little Larry along with all of us humans and critters of the compound will be introduced to a group of locals as far away from life in the desert as one in the US can get. I often joke that we came from a Mile High here to the Swamplands…but we also came by way of the High Dry Desert.
Most readers of this blog know that I received a Puffin Foundation Grant for the recording of my Swimming with Swans: the music. One of the requirements for gaining the grant involved the pre-securing of a venue in which to present completed grant-proposal material.
Here’s the thing, The Goodwill Cultural Center found me.
Goodwill Parochial School with restoration sign

Goodwill Parochial School becomes The Goodwill Cultural Center


If not for Camden Writer and author, Brenda Bevan Remmes, I would have never known of this special spot nestled within an isolated area between Mayesville and Sumter, South Carolina*. Steeped in a long history of struggle, nurture, and yes, healing – The Goodwill Cultural Center aka The Goodwill Parochial School was recently restored to serve as a local heritage and arts center – offering historical, cultural and educational events to the public.

Brenda introduced me to this gem in the swamp about two years ago when the GCC held one of their first sponsored events by the Magnolia Singers from Charleston – shortly after the Emanuel AME Church shootings. I was amazed at the group’s desire to reach out in their hurt and offer insights into their culture while spreading a healing balm through their talented singing.Goodwill Cultural Center logo

WINDOW TO THE WORLD

REFLECTING ON OUR PAST AND ENVISIONING OUR FUTURE, WE AFFIRM THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE GOODWILL SCHOOL THAT OPENED DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY IN 1870, AND THAT IS A WINDOW TO THE WORLD TODAY THROUGH THE GOODWILL CULTURAL CENTER.
(mission statement)

I don’t pretend to understand the South. However, I have found a slice of something I like to call the ‘true spirit of a southern community’ in the Goodwill Cultural Center.
Over the course of these two years in attending various events at the GCC, I’ve observed the interactions between the locals. It’s obvious to this outsider the love and commitment these individuals have towards each other and towards working through its own healing-path. A sort of living reconciliation rooted in historical interconnectedness which touches me deeply.
This is a slice of the South I admire; a slice of the South not often seen by outsiders.
As such, I am both humbled and honored to be a small part in the GCC’s continuing legacy as a featured guest on Saturday, June 3rd.
 *about a 45 minute drive SW of FloTown

Peace Post: Max Richter, Herbie Hancock and Today’s World

Like many others, I feel at a loss to shape words into coherent phrases expressing outrage, sorrow, compassion and balanced thinking in the midst of our current flood of events in today’s world.
In light of this, as always, my medium of choice is music…and music as protest/social statement has a long history. Yes indeed I, myself, did the singer-songwriter scene in my early adulthood.  Coming of age in the midst of another time of social unrest – I still embrace that genre.
Life goes on and in today’s world, my own current brand of compositional expression tends towards instrumental music. Personally, I feel it allows for individual interpretation, un-dictated by lyrical suggestion.
Which leads me to Max Richter, a favorite contemporary composer of mine.
Some time ago I stumbled upon an interview-article with Max published on Fifteen Questions. This on-line journal engages “production experts, performers, journalists, scientists and composers to discuss what music means, how it’s made, where its limits lie, and why it affects us all so differently and yet remains universal” rather than discussing the private lives of artists or their latest releases.
Here are a few of his thoughts to which I relate and are relevant to the subject of this blog post. I encourage those of you interested in musical composition and the driving forces behind it to read the full interview.

Max Richter – interview excerpts and short musical clip

Recomposed: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Spring)

What do you usually start with when composing?
Music for me is storytelling, so I usually start with an intention or something I want to say. From there I kind of struggle around in the dark, trying to find ways to say that. Sometimes it’s a linear thing where I have an idea and then go about trying to find ways to express it. Other times I will discover things along the way and the idea ends up turning into something else altogether. It’s a mixture between intention and chance.

I think the reason I write music is because I’m trying to say things that I find difficult to encapsulate verbally. Music is its own kind of language and it’s very good at saying things that words struggle with, so that’s often the impulse for me.

The role of the composer has always been subject to change. What’s your view on the (e.g. political/social/creative) tasks of composers today and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
Music is a social art, kind of like talking, but in a way, music as a vehicle for political critique has evaporated in the last 20 years and that’s disappointing.
I think if we’re talking about something in music, we should be talking about the big things that are worth talking about and those things are: the state of the world; how we live and how we spend our time. That’s something that really drives me. For example, the track The Shadow Journal on Blue Notebooks, for me, is a protest song. It was composed and recorded the week after the first big anti-Iraq war march in London. And even though Czeslaw Milosz’s words are actually describing the Second World War, the imagery he used resonated with me at that particular moment in time and so social comment was most definitely the primary motivation behind this piece of music.
Generally speaking though, people are not thinking about music in those terms anymore, not if you compare it to the counter-culture movement of the sixties, when social commentary was one the absolute driving forces of music. It’s a shame and a lost opportunity in many ways.

Herbie (and the Headhunters) Hancock – interview excerpts and musical clip

And then there’s Herbie. Rummaging through some of my paper files a few weeks ago, I came across a Music and Musicians (June 2010) article I kept on hand entitled, “Herbie Hancock: Imagining the future with a plan, a piano and a vision of peace.”
I first heard of him as Herbie and the Headhunters in 1973 during my second year of college (University of Colorado at Boulder, 1972-1977). I fell in love with his ‘new’ funk sound while listening to his Chameleon on the then ‘underground’ Denver radio station KLZ FM.
Give the piece a listen as you continue reading excerpts from that article.

What did you set out to do with this (The Imagine Project) record?
I wanted to make a global record. Although I’ve recorded with artists from other countries at various times, this truly was about emphasizing global collaboration as a path toward peace. I started thinking about America basically being an immigrant country.

Most of us have ancestors who were not from these shores. So we have these issues that are happening now about immigration and closing the borders and locking things down. I understand the motivation – the fear from 9/11 and terrorists. If you couple that with the insecurity that has come about because of the economic downturn, it’s drawing people into a state of chaos.

They’re trying to find ways to blame something, to put it on somebody. I think it’s time to stop looking outside for who to blame…now is the time to proactively begin the process of creating the kind of future we want for our children and for our children’s children.
How did you translate those ideals into music?
The first thing you have to do is be willing to be open and to embrace cultures outside of our own. The second thing is respecting the cultures and the people of those cultures. What other ways can we show our respect for other cultures? One of them is through language. It’s why I decided that if I truly wanted a global record, the record couldn’t just be in English…

Today’s World – in conclusion

Max and Herbie’s comments reveal the motivation behind much of an (he)artist’s work.
Communication – whether of a personal social statement or expression of some inner emotional response to life’s experiences – is often the result of a composer’s work; intentional or not.
For most musicians, even if performing non-original pieces, interpretational nuances shape one’s own message to be received by the audience as a gift from the heart.
For myself, my Swimming with Swans project is one such work…to give voice to the fact that those of us who have experienced or are currently in the midst of a period of displacement in a living situation or even state of mind, are not defined by that but live day-by-day and create works of beauty regardless.  And share it with all who will listen.
That’s just who we are and what we do – we count, we matter and we make a difference.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

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