Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dragon Fire

Another original composition by me!

At the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in the Summer of 2013, future legend of animation Annie Wong (http://anniewongart.tumblr.com/) was busy creating a super fun stop motion animated movie called "Dragon Fire" wherein a knight and dragon involve themselves in an epic struggle of sorts.  She asked that I provide music and sound for this student project which was pretty exciting since that's why I chose to attend the same school in the first place. 

I was given free reign to work in whatever direction I chose and these variations on a traditional theme were the result.  The music was created in Logic Pro 9 using stock and Jam Pack instruments and the sound effects were recorded at home with a Logitech Rock Band microphone.  The kazoo was performed by me and the ukulele by Annie.

"Dragon Fire" has since been presented at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival and in the living rooms of several family members.  I can't say which is more satisfying.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Life Under A Rock

Another original composition by me!

Musical musings from the downtrodden and insects alike, this song was written very quickly for my better half, the magnificent Annie Wong (headexplodie.com), who in 2001 asked for my help with an art project. A graphic design student at the time, she was creating CD artwork and liner notes for class based on the theme "Entomophobia" and wanted to include an actual CD with relevant music recorded onto it. I wrote my lyrics, put together some chords, and recorded it in the rather primitive Cakewalk Home Studio 7. I don't remember her grade and she since changed majors (and schools), but I liked the song and decided to record it properly one day.

One day came 11 years and 8 months later following a semester in Travis Kasperbauer's Pro Tools class at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Better 140 months later than never, I always say.

The beautiful acoustic guitar you hear sparkling in the rhythm was performed by my friend and in-class rival, the unstoppable Erik Jennings (www.youtube.com/user/kissingforeignfishes). Without his having joined in on the fun, I'm not sure this song would have come out a quarter as well as it has.

Monday, April 15, 2013

180 NM

Another original composition by me!

The music here was created as an entry to a Spring 2013 video scoring contest at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.  I took on this project in my first semester as a student of the Music Production and Sound Design department before I knew anything about scoring or editing sound for video at all (I spent forever trying to figure out how to export the video with the sound properly!), but sometimes it’s best to learn to do something by just jumping right in!  I ended up quite happy with the piece although, to my knowledge, no use ever came from my entry or anyone else's.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Another original composition by me!

Another assignment from Lenny Kiser's Logic 9 class (see my "Rhapsody in A minor"), the aim here was to take the work of a fellow fledgling student and manipulate it beyond all recognition. The chords and piano motifs at the beginning came from the mind of classmate Charles Semko whereas the production and arrangement are my own. It was a great experience being asked to mutilate the work of another student because I'm sure I would have been much more precious with my own material and perhaps not come up with something quite as interesting.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rhapsody in A minor

Another original composition by me!

This rhapsody for piano and violin was inspired by an Itzhak Perlman concert my Dad took me to in the late 1990s. Until then, I'd only heard people describe how emotionally expressive a violin could be but never fully appreciated the instrument's full potential until that performance. In recordings, the best performers are certainly captured getting the job done, but it is only when one has the opportunity to be there in person that the full effect can be felt. After experiencing Perlman's masterful playing accompanied by his tremendously talented pianist whose name I wish I knew, my mind was set then and there on trying somehow to approximate that beauty in my own way. Well, as it turns out, Itzhak Perlman performances aren't created from scratch overnight, and at this point, I am still trying to reach that goal.

The recording here is not of a violin and piano but, rather, an oboe and piano. Being without access to any skilled violinist, I used an oboe patch from Logic instead because there was no way to create a virtual violin performance in a DAW full of all the expression and articulation that I wanted. This is not to say that I settled on the oboe as if oboes are by default less expressive or beautiful, but they are certainly easier to manage in a virtual musical environment than a violin.

As for the music itself, the motifs were created on the piano in the Loftin Student Center at San Antonio College in the Fall of 1999 during my first try at higher learning. I wasn't much of a piano player then (nor now), but the ideas were satisfying and I held onto them while waiting for the chance to record them properly. Something of this chance came in the Spring of 2013 during a much more recent college stint at San Francisco's Academy of Art University. In a class on using Logic 9 taught by the inspiring Dean of Dopeness known as Lenny Kiser (lennykiser.com), I was tasked early on in the semester to play with Logic's MIDI recording and arranging capabilities in order to get a feel for how it worked. With a no-pain-no-gain attitude in mind, I decided to give this old Rhapsody in A minor a shot figuring if I could make it sound good in Logic straight out of the gate (this was following only the second day of class), I could use Logic for anything. It was quite the challenge but I did learn a lot about the software and ended up, at last, with something that sounded fairly close to what I'd wanted to create back in 1999. One day, perhaps, I will finally have the violin/piano arrangement I've been longing for but, until then, I'm very happy with how this turned out. Also, I think I got an A so that was cool.