Music Composers Unite!
As you all know, I have been incapacitated with extreme pain over the last year (since October 2010), so I haven't been at all capable of composing any music, which to me, is painful in itself. Now that my skin grafts are healing (or at least some of them are) and I am now being prescribed a realistic amount of analgesia, I've tried to get a couple of things together.
There have been three big problems with this. The first is that I have had to get used to Windows 7, Cubase Artist 6 and EWQLSO Gold. Getting used to new software is a pain in the neck (metaphorically), especially when I have not been able to use the old software that I had got to grips with (long story). The other big problem is that with having lymphodoema, I can only spend about half an hour at the desktop, before I have to lie back on my bed with my feet raised for two hours. As you all know, it takes half an hour to get into the swing of whatever you're writing, so I had the added obstacle of losing my momentum. The third and final problem is that I seem to have lost my mojo (inspiration, ability, imagination...etc, call it what you like).
Anyway, I've come up with a couple of short pieces (both unfinished, as I still have a lot to learn on the Cubase front, and I would also like to develop them a bit more). The first one, is actually a melody that I have used before. This was because I just needed something or anything to get my teeth into. The second short piece is from scratch.
I hope that you at least find them listenable, and I would welcome any criticism, negative or otherwise.
I agree with Frederick, nice stuff with interesting ideas. Funny how composing is like riding a bike, getting on is the hardest part. Will you be more creative after you've been back in the saddle for a while? I'm certain of it. These are impressive efforts considering you haven't done anything for a year. welcome back! Give us more!
Very much in your style and great sound production now too.
To me the first piece was easier to follow, but glad to see you are gradually getting into the swing of things. Hope you get your music played this year or next year.
Thanks for your generous criticism. It all helps. I've just listened to them as posted on this site, and they seem to be too quiet. Also in the second one, during the horn choir playing a succession of chords, there is supposed to be a group of cellos playing the main tune, and it's missing, which is a shame because I put a lot of effort into its expression, and it sounds beautiful. I'll swap it shortly. Thanks again for listening.
Ok, Simon, there is nothing wrong with your mojo, I assure you.
Like Adrian I prefer the first piece, which to me seems more logical in its progression. But you say they are not finished yet, so I wait for the complete versions.
At the very moment I wait for my new notebook with Windows 7 64-bit, an Intel i7 quad core CPU and 12 GB of RAM, and a full version of Cubase 6. Christmas gifts from me to me. Maybe we can share our experiences with our new toys in a technical forum here.
As most of the members in this community know: Composing a piece of music is one thing. Making an impressing sound file out of it, is another (very hard) one.
Your music sounds great. Now I do envy your sound production, because it sounds fanastic. The percussion is very crisp and the violins sounds very smooth I almost expected to hear the musicians' breath. Wow! My favorite is the first composition.
RE: possible mojo loss.
report is as follows...
"reports of loss of mojo are greatly overeggagerated"
PS - i liked the first one more, my view of structure overall is very childish and incomplete, so I hear what sounds like "multiple bridges" coming in and out seamlessly. soft pretty quiet parts, and bigger heavier louder parts. changes in tempo/texture/everything.
I recently got introduced the idea of what i think of as "blending keys" for effect and to fight listener fatigue (my stuff is harmonically bland, the classical equivalent of the 3 chord pop model, lol)... what I think of as the part of the track that makes it "harmonically interesting" in the one part, late in the third quarter or thereabouts... th4n somehow that is used to "bust" into that arabian, whirling dervish sort of part...
really cool... it has that "accomplished" overall sound to it that makes it very good in my mind...
PS - could you not while puttin your legs up in bed for 2 hours per every half hour writing music... not invest in a killer laptop and play around to get it to where maybe you can write in bed with the laptop on your lower abdomen or something, your laser mouse on a coffee table book next to you in bed?
just throwing out ideas...
but yeah... you still "have it" if thats whats worried you.
I just got to this, because I'm not on Internet as regularly as many people. I'm glad to learn of your progress, and your will to carry on as a composer - even in great physical pain.
The first piece seems to have an immediate appeal to everyone who has commented, and I would agree with that. Your work is easy to listen to, and well-constructed - at least by my ear's standard. I was never lost, and it all made perfect sense to me.
Your second work was perhaps not loud enough for me to give a friendly critique. I listened to it, but my room is off of Times Square, and when it got really soft, I lost things. When you finish it, we can look forward to a score. I think both works are a result of your convalescence: the first being "back in the game;" the second being a meditation.
My ex-, who just turned 72 has a problem with edema. He is a professor-writer. He has two computers: one at a desk, and one in his bedroom. The bedroom computer is on a simple desk that allows for a leather reclining chair to rest under it. He keeps his legs on an ottoman, also of soft material. This is where he does most of his writing. Still, there is no substitute for getting up every hour and walking around, and exercising.
I had a friend who had such ulcers as you have endured, and they took a long time to heal. He was like you: Mojo was intact. He could not walk like he once did, but he was constantly at work doing something interesting in the home.
Mojos, in general come under question at many junctures in an artist's life. When there is small public demand, one has to create an insular, appreciative audience in his/her head, and on the Internet (which is real). Maybe taking some time to put MP3s of your music on various modern websites will help raise your spirits - a little extra notice would not hurt. I tell everyone to get a YouTube channel and use it to demonstrate your craft. [I make short films, and write the music for them, for instance.] Consider giving some of your music away for general use/ creative commons.
I destroyed almost all my compositions from the late 70s to about 1992. I think 3 surivive. It was a reason to write some new ones. I'm sorry I lost a few prickly fugues that might entertain me, but the rest is not missed. The specter of depression threatens my future in just about every way. My liver is cirrhotic, I've got HIV/AIDS, I'm Bipolar/Borderline - what else could a guy want to supply grist for the mill? I can write disappointed, ironical music if I feel the need, which I do sometimes. But I have considered the painful lives of great men like Schubert, who had his success (only) at songwriting, mostly. He wrote some awfully sad songs - but most of his work remains delightfully sunny and kaleidoscopic, harmonically. He wrote against the pain.
Physical and psychic pain, if well-endured can put great import into the works of a composer who can harness these raw (not necessarily ugly) feelings. Best wishes in your recovery. -sylvester
Your "mojo" hasnt swayed a bit my-man great great job.
Where did the word "mojo" come from and when did it come into common currency?
Thanks again for all your great comments. They're extremely encouraging. I just really wish my foot wouldn't keep nagging me when I'm trying to invent melodies and orchestration. But the foots getting better (I think).
At my last visit to East Grinstead (a 100 mile train journey) a couple of weeks ago to Queen Victoria Hospital for Plastic Surgeons, they took photographs of the ulcers that had been skin grafted and it seems that the large ones on my ankle and top of my foot were partially successful (they're getting smaller, but mysteriously just as painful) and my big toe (which was really bad, has recovered completely. The only trouble, when it was bad ii shifted over to the next toe which is the big problem with my foot at the moment. The good news is that my foot will be saved, but there is still a chance of a toe amputation (which I could very easily live with, especially as it is not my big toe which is more important to people's sense of balance than they think).
Anyway, it is still really bloody painful, and I'm still on copious amounts of Morphine, Dihydrocodeine, Diazepam, Diclofenac (suppositories), Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) and Pregabalin. But they told me to keep dressing it as I am, keep it clean, and come back and see them in 3 months whereby they will compare it with the photos that they took and consider another skingraft.
The biggest problem is that they insist that I give up smoking (cigarettes), even though I've already cut down and that was difficult enough. I just wish that they realised that smoking provides much therapeutic help when I'm suffering.
And I know that the doctors and everybody else say that they believe me when I tell them how bad the pain is, I'm still paranoid that they're not convinced just how painful it is, even when I'm biting into a towel sometimes with tears rolling down my face.
However, I'll keep trying to plug away at Cubase and keep you posted, and thanks again for all your comments.
p.s. Sylvester, I'll write you a personal message when I have the time. You've sort of humbled me a bit.
In the song 'LA Woman' by The Doors, the lead singer keeps repeating the phrase ''.....Mr Mojo risin'....'' by way of an accelerando crescendo where the middle 8 would usually be. However, as much as his tone, the clever instrumentation from the rest of the band, and the singer's latterly amended lyrics (..."gonna keep on risin'....") reflect his wish for his ''mojo'' to rise and expand across the fold, on closer examination the listener will eventually depict the fact that ''...Mr Mojo risin'..." is nothing more than an anagram of his name..... Jim Morrison.
That's personally where I believe it came from, but I could well be absolutely totally wrong.
Jon Corelis said:
Wikipedia talks about it:
The explanation there is pretty congruent with ones I've read elsewhere, though I can't remember the sources. The word still doesn't seem to be in most dictionaries, oddly, since it's been common in US popular culture since the 1960s.
Adrian Allan said:
Where did the word "mojo" come from and when did it come into common currency?
Thanks Chris. Funny you should say that because I still haven't managed to create a decent template on Cubase Artist 6. My Finale chops are coming along nicely though. I'll soon be marching down to the printers with symphony in hand, ready to send out to all the orchestras in the land.
But thanks for your comments. They cheered me up no end.
Chris Alpiar said:
Man, Simon, your DAW chops have grown a LOT since you started posting your music here. I know its been a really tough year for you and I cant tell you how happy I am that you are seeing it through and hanging in there and making music! As always I want to hear this played live, but you know its pretty listenable in its current state and let me enjoy your musical notions instead of being distracted to no end by the fakeness. Keep it coming!