Creating Music (Notation) Together

My wife, Angela, stud­ied music for the first cou­ple of years at col­lege. She plays the flute and still per­forms a few times a year (most­ly at our church). How­ev­er, in all the years we’ve been togeth­er, we’ve nev­er actu­al­ly played any music togeth­er. In fact, we haven’t real­ly cre­at­ed many projects togeth­er (aside from two kids and numer­ous DIY house projects, of course). 

Well, a cou­ple of weeks ago Angela was asked to play a short piece of her choos­ing at a Wednes­day night church event. She decid­ed it would be fun to have out daugh­ter and anoth­er young per­son from church, both of whom also play flute, to play a wood­wind trio. Angela picked one of her favorite hymns and asked me to tran­scribe it using Mus­eScore. Oth­er than help­ing the kids search that site for some piano sheet music, I did­n’t have much expe­ri­ence with it or the desk­top application. 

After a few min­utes, I had the piano tre­ble clef tran­scribed in a file. I dupli­cate that part into two copies. Then came the fun part. Using the arrow keys to start re-arrang­ing the piece. When I told it what instru­ment would be used for each part (in this case, a flute trio), it hand­i­ly would col­or code notes that were get­ting out­side the range of that instru­ment. Now, I don’t actu­al­ly play the flute and aside from that note range and the knowl­edge that a flute can’t real­ly play one than more note at a time, I con­sid­ered this a first pass. Angela then went through the piece and indi­cat­ed what notes need adjust­ing (a lot of them). She also bor­rowed from the bass clef and added in some flour­ish­es of her own lik­ing. The play­back isn’t per­fect (you’d nev­er think you were list­ing to any­thing oth­er than syn­the­sized instru­ments) but it’s very help­ful in arrang­ing. What’s more, Angela and I got to work on some­thing cre­ative together!

The three of them played the piece last night at the can­dle­light ser­vice. I though it sound­ed great but as I end­ed up as the litur­gist, I did­n’t get to record them per­form­ing. But, you can at least see and hear the piece here:

Today We All Are Called to Be Dis­ci­ples Flute Trio by amdy­er

Shiny Bowie

My kids love the Moana sound­track and who can blame them? Lin-Manuel Miran­da is amaz­ing. So back in Feb­ru­ary I intro­duced them to the Hamil­ton sound­track. Turns out, there are a lot of kids who love Hamil­ton (despite the not-at-all-age-appro­pri­ate mate­r­i­al in many of the songs).

So, giv­en that music link­ing suc­cess (I’m get­ting burned out lis­ten­ing to Hamil­ton every day), I decid­ed to try my luck with some oth­er music. My son loves the Moana song Shiny which is sung by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Con­chords fame.

The song has a def­i­nite David Bowie feel, some­what influ­enced I think by Flight of the Con­chords Bowies in Space.

So, any­way, I fig­ured he might be inter­est­ed in some clas­sic David Bowie. So, I let him lis­ten to both Changes and Fame on the way back home this evening. He seemed to enjoy them (well, at least he did­n’t ask to lis­ten to any­thing else), so who knows maybe I can get them inter­est­ed into a lot of dif­fer­ent kinds of music. That will def­i­nite­ly save me from get­ting burned out on just a small hand­ful of songs.

Amy Winehouse

Out of nowhere, I got into the mood to lis­ten some Amy Wine­house this after­noon. It struck me as a real shame she nev­er got to record a Bond theme, among the many dis­ap­point­ments of los­ing her. Wine­house just had the per­fect sul­try, throw­back voice for a Bond film intro. I real­ize that it was ‘attempt­ed’ and, hon­est­ly, hav­ing a duet by Alishia Keys & Jack White is a pret­ty good con­so­la­tion. “Anoth­er Way to Die” is a great song, but I can’t help but won­der what could have been…

Beatles Versus Led Zepplin

I always though the only things the Bea­t­les and Led Zep­plin had in com­mon was that they were both genius, Eng­lish rock bands who had a pen­chant for mis­spelling. While that is prob­a­bly still true, what would it have sound like had The Bea­t­les writ­ten “Stair­way to Heav­en?” Well, it might have sound like this:

That’s the Aus­tralian trib­ute band, The Beat­nix, per­form­ing on a tele­vi­sion show in the ear­ly 90’s (via BoingBoing).

Five Fun Things Friday — Mid-June Edition

Okay, so this is turn­ing out to be more of a bi-week­ly thing than any­thing else. I don’t recall ever promis­ing any­thing — as who would I promise it to?

Five things that have been on my radar ‘o fun over the past cou­ple of weeks:

  1. This is a great music video by a for­mer­ly-not-known-to-me Brit indie Bats for Lash­es. I like the kind of creepy, haunt­ing sound of the song which match­es per­fect­ly the Don­nie Darko inspired video imagery (via Boing­Bo­ing).
  2. Angela and I have been watch­ing Judd Apa­tow’s “Unde­clared” via Net­flix. It’s not near­ly as good as “Freaks and Geeks” but still bet­ter than your aver­age com­e­dy. Most of this, by Apa­tow’s descrip­tion is due to the fact that the real­ly good stuff that goes on at col­lege can’t be shown on net­work tele­vi­sion. True, that. Any­one want­i­ng to go see Knocked Up, please give me a call.
  3. Last night, we went to see Son Volt at Lewis Gin­ter Botan­i­cal Gar­dens. Last week was Big Head Todd & the Mon­sters. Two real­ly good bands. Frankly, I did­n’t have too high of hopes for the Son Volt show as the “reunion” of that band feels a lot like Jay Far­rar cash­ing in on the rel­a­tive suc­cess of the band as com­pared to his solo career (espe­cial­ly last mon­th’s new album, which I found dis­ap­point­ing). How­ev­er, I real­ly like Far­rar’s songs, be they Son Volt, solo career, or Uncle Tupe­lo – all of which got some play-time last night. 
    Uncle Tupelo Cover
  4. Per every­one-I-know’s rec­om­men­da­tions, I read the late Kurt Von­negut, Jr.‘s “Slaugh­ter­house Five” recent­ly. Well, after hav­ing read the book, of course the next thing to do is see the movie (no, not real­ly – I think it’s a shame that the gen­er­al notion seems to be that the high­est sta­tus a nov­el can have is to be made into a film). So last week­end, I watched the 1972 movie based on the book. I was fair­ly pleased with how it got por­trayed and appar­ent­ly, Von­negut was, too.
  5. Last, but prob­a­bly the most impor­tant, Angela and I real­ly enjoyed the baby show­er our friends Hol­ly and Meg threw for us at also-friend Jes­si­ca’s house. It was great and we were sim­ply amazed at how gen­er­ous our friends are. We clear­ly have no idea what we’re doing with this whole baby thing (appar­ent­ly just like every­one else, knowl­edge that has kept us going). How­ev­er, in addi­tion to the real­ly great gifts that every­one went out of their way to get us (and mail us, too!), hav­ing peo­ple to count on is a big deal. Thanks, everyone.

Five Fun Things: May 18th Edition

I’m try­ing to make this a week­ly thing, but who knows how long it’ll last.

Anoth­er week flew by me and I’m not sure where it went. That’s more the norm than not I sup­pose. Here’s a few things, in no par­tic­u­lar order that have been inter­est­ing and enjoy­able this week:

  1. Get­ting to see inside me by hav­ing an MRI done. I’ve been learn­ing some about med­ical imag­ing in the past few months with baby ultra­sounds for Angela as well as x‑rays and MRIs for me. It’s all amaz­ing stuff and makes me real­ly appre­ci­ate mod­ern med­i­cine and our abil­i­ty to see what is hap­pen­ing inside us with­out ever open­ing us up. Of course, the cost for all this imag­ing is still high enough to make it as com­mon as I expect it some­day will be, so that makes me appre­ci­ate hav­ing good insurance.
  2. Hav­ing a good boss. Okay, he does­n’t read this so don’t assume it’s for his ben­e­fit or any­thing. How­ev­er, I’ve had some bad jobs before and I’ve been lucky to work for peo­ple sense col­lege that allowed me to work in my own style instead of some rigid frame­work. Work has been insane­ly hec­tic for the past cou­ple of months and that’s going to con­tin­ue for a while in the future. How­ev­er, my boss nev­er beats me up about it. He’s demand­ing, but not unrea­son­able and that’s about the best you can hope for in this kind of work.
  3. Okay, just so you don’t think this is some thanks­giv­ing list, I’ve also been lov­ing three new albums I down­loaded this week. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky is kind of a con­tin­u­a­tion of A Ghost is Born; some quirky and soft melodies punc­tu­at­ed with some rockin’ moments. Not hav­ing lis­tened to Mod­est Mouse for all that long, I can’t say if We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is much of a pro­gres­sion for that band since their last album, but I can say I like it a lot. After see­ing The Avett Broth­ers last week, I can see why my friend Chris likes them so much. Their live album on iTunes – Live, Vol. 2 – seems to cap­ture a lot of their live shows and “Pret­ty Girl From Annapo­lis” has been stuck in my head for days, now. I need to pick up their new album as well.
  4. I got on a Futu­ra­ma kick a few days ago and have been watch­ing a num­ber of episodes off of Com­e­dy Cen­tral (I only occa­sion­al­ly watched it first run in my pre-TiVo days). It’s best moments are using Fry & Co. to make com­men­tary about mod­ern life (this must have been the inspi­ra­tion for Idioc­ra­cy…). It’s most bor­ing moments to me are show­ing once again how annoy­ing Dr. Zoid­berg is or how crass Ben­der is.
  5. This week­end is the Lebanese fes­ti­val in Rich­mond. Angela went to lunch there with some of her co-work­ers, as did one of my co-work­ers, and they said it was great. Angela is going to take me to din­ner there this evening. I haven’t enjoyed it just yet, but I know I will!

Stephen Simmons Show

Stephen Simmons Show 1

The Coal Men were sup­posed to be play­ing in Ash­land tomor­row night (the fourth), but as things hap­pened, that show fell through. How­ev­er, Tues­day before last, Dave called me up to let me know he’d be in town with Stephen Sim­mons to play a show on the 27th. I real­ly enjoyed Stephen’s show last time and this time even more so, since I had been lis­ten­ing to a cou­ple of his albums and knew the music. I tried to take a bunch of pho­tos, but I still real­ly suck at low-light stuff. The best of them made it to Flickr. Speak­ing of pho­tograph­ing live music, if you haven’t seen Scot­t’s pho­tos of Mojave 5 from that same week­end, you should check them out. I’m going to have to hit him up for some advice. 

Five Random Songs

This is blog meme from a long time ago and I’m just now get­ting around to post­ing it, even though it was old even before I did it, as at least one of the songs indi­cates. In keep­ing with the idea of the meme as I first read it, I one day just put my iPod on Ran­dom and hit play, with­out start­ing any playlist or select­ing a genre. Frankly, I was some­what sur­prised with what came up (as I fig­ured it’d would be some iTrip sta­tion selec­tors or a pod­cast). This was the first time I did this, and here were the first five songs that came up:

  1. Good Grief by the Foo Fight­er’s epony­mous album. While they’ve vir­tu­al­ly crossed over intot he pop genre, the Foo Fight­ers are still a pret­ty sol­id rock band. My only dis­like about the band: Dave Grohl no longer plays drums.
  2. Hey Now from Fin­ley Quaye’s sopho­more album, Van­guard. Quaye bor­ders on trip­py, but nev­er los­es a melody in this slow-paced song. Also, his atten­tion to detail has always been some­thing I liked; slight changes through­out a song keep it from becom­ing monotonous.
  3. I Like It from the Dix­ie Chick­’s lat­est album, Tak­ing the Long Way. Yes, I do like it. I would have out­done Rick Rubin on this song by real­ly mak­ing the final cou­ple of cho­rus­es epic sound­ing, but it’s a good song any­way. These ladies are the top of pop-coun­try, even if that’s real­ly not their fit so much anymore.
  4. Piehold­en Suite from Wilco’s much unap­pre­ci­at­ed album Sum­mer Teeth. A melody more than a sin­gle song (as the name sug­gests); this one seems to be Wilco’s take on the sounds of the 20’s. Sum­mer Teeth was my first Wilco album, and maybe that gave me a some­what dif­fer­ent win­dow to view them through.
  5. Left A Slide from Son Volt’s Straight­aways. Jay Far­rar just behind Jeff Tweedy; the sto­ry of his career, right? Prob­a­bly not, real­ly. Far­rar is exper­i­men­tal in his own right, even if not push­ing the same bound­aries that Wilco does. Like the pre­vi­ous Wilco song, this one might not be my top pick from this artist, but it’s still a great song from one of my favorite artists.

Just for the record, although I don’t know that it’s worth going into more detail, here was the next ten:

  1. Retrieval of You — The Minus 5 — Down With Wilco
  2. Hold Yr Ter­ror Close — The Go! Team — Thun­der, Light­en­ing, Strike
  3. Cool Blue Rea­son — Cake — Pro­long­ing the Magic
  4. Jet Pilot — Son Volt — Okemah and the Melody Riot
  5. Words So Leisured — Franz Fer­di­nand — Eponymous
  1. Hum­ble Me — Norah Jones — Feels Like Home
  2. Stum­bling Through the Dark — The Jay­hawks — Rainy Day Music
  3. Lose Some­thing — Veloc­i­ty Girl — Gild­ed Stars and Zeolous Hearts
  4. Punch Drunk — Uncle Tupe­lo — Steels Feel Gone
  5. Come To Love — Math­ew Sweet — 100% Fun

I sup­pose I could have kept on, but at some point you have to just stop and say ‘this is prob­a­bly way more than any­one else in the world cares about.’ This is about that point for me.