21 days to go...

shopping-cart-hiHappy NZ Music Month! A week has gone already and that means my music month project is well underway. Here is an overview of the first things I have considered... WHAT AM I GOING TO USE The biggest decision, which could make or break this project is what software I am going to use. There are three options:

  • Manual - things could just be listed on the website with purchase details and if someone wants to buy it they will notify me and we will organise payment and distribution. That's far too much work - not a good option.
  • Shopify - is an appealing option, I can still host it on my site if I wish, can have automatic PDF downloads, automatic payments, manage on my iPhone and more, much more - it's a great service! But, it's so expensive. US$348 a year for the most basic option - I'd prefer to keep that money in my pocket.
  • Shopp - this is a platform that you install on your Wordpress site and you can do everything you can do on Shopify (basically!) and all for just a single license of US$55. There will be a bit more work on the backend, compared to Shopify, but it still makes it the absolute best option for me.

WHAT PIECES AM I GOING TO LIST I've decided on the following list of pieces to start with. Generally my most popular pieces and a nice whole number of ten. A mix of orchestral, choral, chamber and solo pieces:

  • bubble (wind orchestra)
  • blimp (orchestra)
  • Wild Daisies (choir)
  • Dancing Lilies (choir)
  • Dancing Thistles (strings)
  • In Their Light (string quartet)
  • as pen meets paper (viola)
  • This Day (piano)
  • Picture for Emily (piano)
  • A Holiday Thought (piano)

Very soon after, my microscores will follow, but this is a good place to start.

NEXT STEP In the next post I will look at:

  • What to think about as a publisher.
  • Editing the listed pieces.

A project for NZ Music Month...

In 2011 I celebrated NZ Music Month in style by writing 31 microscores in 31 days. It was a huge success, they all got recorded, are hugely popular and I use them almost weekly when talking to students about composition and instrumentation. In 2012, while I was involved in many Music Month events, I didn't have a music composition project and I was pretty disappointed about it.

So in 2013, it's back!

NZ-Music-Month1

What I like about this project is that usually all of my time is spent on other people's music - an absolute joy and honour - but it means I never get any time for my own composition. So NZ Music Month is a great annual opportunity to make sure that I work on my own music and have something worthwhile to show at the end of it.

I have debated for some time exactly what I would do this year - more daily microscores, weekly ensemble pieces, fortnightly larger pieces - or perhaps something slightly different.

I'll go for something slightly different.

For a long time, years in fact, I have wanted an online store to sell my own music - easily and automatically. Aside from works for professionals, I have a lot for students, community and school ensembles - and there is a great market for this. Sure, people can already buy it - through SOUNZ and by emailing me - but that doesn't quite cut it. People should be able to search on the internet, find a piece, discover and experience it, buy it, download it, play it. And I don't want to just export or print a version from the latest Sibelius file, I want to have properly published music - finalised, stylised, done, dusted, complete.

Initially, I thought I would finish a collection of piano music to sell - editing the current four pieces I had and writing four new ones - but I decided that I was still avoiding the most important step of all - to get this online store of music up and running and full of the music that I already have. So, now it's going to happen.

By May 31, my birthday and the final day of NZ Music Month, people from all around the world will be able to buy my published music easily and automatically from this site.

Here are the main things I will need to consider:

  1. What to publish
  2. Editing and publishing
  3. Selling method, charges, etc
  4. Cataloging
  5. Promotion and launch

It's going to be a big month - I've got an Auckland Philharmonia premiere, Auckland Symphony rehearsals, the 48 Hour Film festival, 10 days in Australia, a trip to Hawke's Bay, plenty of music prep, arranging and teaching commitments, and my 30th birthday!

It'll be a big month, but I'm really excited and I look forward to writing several posts along the way - addressing the points above and no doubt discussing the setbacks and triumphs. Stay tuned.

I survived 2012. This is how it was!

The New Year means it's time to have a look back over the past year and see, through my blog posts, what has taken shape and what I have to say for myself! January started with a very well deserved "Shout-out to VaultPress" after they marvellously got my website back up and running after a meltdown!

3100508059_5c99a0f9e1_zFebruary is the start of the school term and I posted about the preparation work I do for schools.

My typing fingers must have been tired at the end of March - it started with two popular posts, iOS apps for music professionals and Digital music stands vs iPads, following on from, again, two very popular posts I did in 2010.

2012-05-15 APO Open Days 236

Following that were four posts on current projects - "Working on workshops" looked at some teaching workshops I was involved with, "An opportunity to make the floor rumble" talked about my upcoming new work for the Auckland Philharmonia and the Auckland Town Hall Organ. I conducted at the Bay Of Plenty Music School once again and my post, "Bay Of Plenty music school hit Rotorua!", pre-empted my visit there, and finally "Opening up an orchestra" reviewed the first two Auckland Philharmonia Open Days were I ran the "meet the composer" area.

In April I reviewed my time at the Bay Of Plenty Music School in "Making music in Rotorua" and posted photos in "Checking out the pipes" after an inspiring tour of the Auckland Town Hall Organ.

My Confession image May is music month and "A month of New Zealand music" checked out the events me or my music was involved with. It's also 48 Hour Film Festival time and our film this year was "My Confession…".

In June I talked about my involvement with Auckland Symphony's "Night Of The Proms" concerts in "Promenading in the colony" and I posted "Questions for a composer" after answering questions for a student's school assignment.

In July I posted my one word review of each piece from the "Nelson Composers Workshop 2012" where I was very happy to go this year as a mentor.

APO "Tiraki" workshopAugust is KBB Music Festival time and I also posted on the ongoing saga regarding the future of Sibelius in "What the heck is happening with Sibelius!". My piece, Tiraki, started to take shape after another workshop with the Auckland Philharmonia.

September was rather dormant on the blog front but in October I reviewed “What Lurks Among Saints” after being invited by a student I met earlier in the year.

The-Hobbit1In November I had the privilege of "Playing my role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", and I posted about the experience.

December was busy with a number of projects. In "Little pieces of Christmas" I talked about a bunch of Christmas arrangements I did for the Auckland Philharmonia and Auckland Symphony orchestras. I also talked about a film I was involved with, called "Sounds Perfect" and its selection into the Tropfest final in “Sounds Perfect” to be in a final". I then prepared music for some very fine New Zealand singers and talked about it in "Preparing for some legends!".

christmas-musicFinally, no year is complete without a "Merry Christmas" post thanking you for all of your support during the year and the compliments of the season.

Another year ticked off the list, another year doing my absolute dream job - let's get ready for an even better 2013!

Merry Christmas

christmas-musicAnd just like that another year is gone! Thank you all so much for your support this year - for coming to concerts, for the opportunity to write you music, for being let loose on your own music, for letting me teach you, for your emails, for commenting on my blog, for the tweets and posts, and for everything else.

I hope you have a wonderfully relaxing Christmas, don't eat too much and enjoy spending time with your family and friends.

This time last year I was late night shopping and battling the crowds - culminating in writing "A Holiday Thought":

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/31108271" params="color=19c540&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

This year, however, I am feeling more along the lines of this - ready, chilled, content:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/16536009" params="color=19c540&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

I look forward to connecting with you all again in 2013 and making some music!

Merry Christmas!

A month of New Zealand music

NZ-Music-Month1New Zealand Music Month is here again. Make sure you get out and enjoy some New Zealand Music - well, more than usual, I hope! You may remember for last year's Music Month I wrote 31 microscores in 31 days. It was a huge success and loads of fun. Check out this post to read about the project or listen to the microscores.

This year I don't quite have a project like that ready to go, but here are some events that my music is involved with this Music Month:

3rd May: William Green performs This Day this Thursday

As part of Auckland Central Library's FREE Thursday lunchtime concert series, William is playing my piece, This Day, as part of his "NZ piano music of the 2000s" concert.

Thursday 3rd May, 12:10pm until 1pm. Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne Street - don't be late, my piece opens the concert. Click here for the lunchtime concert series brochure.

9th May: Auckland Philharmonia Tiraki read-through

The Auckland Philharmonia reads through the first drafts of my piece, Tiraki, written for the orchestra and the Auckland Town Hall organ. You may like to check out my post on the project or my photos from a recent tour of the organ.

18th - 20th May: Making music for V48 Hours

I will be working again with Sideways Productions, making music for their production. You may like to see my post from last year's film.

31st May: Hook Line and Sing-along

Every year the NZ Music Commission runs a competition for school students to write a song for Music Month. The song is sung by schools across New Zealand at 12pm on the last day of Music Month. The idea is to get as many people singing together as possible - for fun and to focus on the fundamental pleasures of life, music, and the importance of music education.

This year the song is 21 Degrees by Bruce Taiapa. I typeset the lead sheet and created an arrangement for a variety of instruments so instrumentalists can play along with the track as well.

Download everything you need here.

Have a good month.

2011 through the eyes of a blog

And just like that, another year is gone! Here is a look at my posts for the year. thinking web picThe blogging year started in March with my favourite book arriving, "Behind Bars", which I preordered in 2010. It is definitely the most used book on my shelf! I then talked about two approaching projects:

In April I introduced my new work, "blimp", and reviewed two projects - a song I helped a friend create and my work at the BOP music school:

May was a busy month, so in June I talked about what I had been up to - writing 31 microscores and the premiere of "blimp":

In July I posted the video I worked on with Sideways Productions:

In August and September I covered my involvement in the KBB Music Festival and some composition tutorials that I held in Kerikeri:

October was the kick off of the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand, I talked about my involvement in the opening ceremony and also made a post about what exactly I do when "preparing music" and why you would need someone like me to do it:

December means Christmas and I posted some Christmas carols that I prepared for my students. I also composed a new "holiday" piece for my Christmas post:

Happy New Year everyone, bring on 2012!

May Microscores - a ginormous month of tiny things

During this year's New Zealand Music Month I wrote 31 musical microscores, and far out, what a month it was! I decided back in this post that I would do the project - each microscore would be from 30 to 60 seconds and I would do them in a maximum of one hour each day. I was initially unsure how it would shape up musically - would they all be completely different, how would they relate to each other - but once underway it was clear that small sets of microscores was going to be the way to go.

Another thing I was unaware of was the difficulty of taking one hour out of an already extremely busy working day, especially for 31 in a row. I made it though, with a few catchup days here and there.

It was interesting to see the voice that came out through the compositions and how they relate to each other even when they are for very different instruments and based on a very different idea. Some I wrote for instruments I know well, others I wrote for instruments I have not worked with much.

Below are most of the microscores - have a listen. The rest are still on their way due to technical disasters.

Below is the full list of microscores:

FOR PIANO, a response to my piece for orchestra, “blimp”, which was premiered on May 1 at the Auckland Town Hall by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

  • May 1: “the pilot” Yes, it is about the pilot of the blimp.
  • May 2: “the view” Yes, it is about the view from the blimp.
  • May 3: “the flock” Yes, it is about the flock of birds that hit the blimp.

FOR VIOLIN - Alexey Kurkdjian, a set about memories from Brazil.

  • May 4: “Carrão” About a metro station in São Paulo where we spent a lot of time.
  • May 5: “Liberdade” About a district in São Paulo - the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.
  • May 6: “Rocinha” About a favella we visited in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 7: “Pão de Açúcar” About the famous Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 8: “Terra Brasilis” About our hostel in Rio de Janeiro.

FOR PERCUSSION, a set about living in Auckland.

  • May 9: “a moment last week” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 10: “a moment out west” for marimba.
  • May 11: “a moment of rain” for xylophone.
  • May 12: “a moment of colour” for xylophone.
  • May 13: “a moment of grit” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 14: “a moment of quiet” for xylophone.
  • May 15: “a moment to share” for triangle and crotales.
  • May 16: “a moment imminent” for marimba and crotales.

FOR TROMBONE - Peter J. Russell, a set based on the fact that some frogs can be frozen solid, then thaw out and continue living.

  • May 17: “he freezes”
  • May 18: “he thaws”
  • May 19: “he lives”

FOR FRENCH HORN - David Kay, a set of three based on the three sleep stages referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM).

  • May 20: “NREM sleep: N1″ This is the light sleep stage where it is common to experience restlessness and hypnic jerks.
  • May 21: “NREM sleep: N2″ This is the medium sleep stage where the sleeper can be easily awakened.
  • May 22: “NREM sleep: N3″ This is the deep sleep stage where night terrors and sleepwalking can occur.

FOR CLARINET - Yvette Audain, the original name for butterflies was flutterby.

  • May 23: “flutterby I”
  • May 24: “flutterby II”
  • May 25: “flutterby III”
  • May 26: “flutterby IV”
  • May 27: “flutterby V”

FOR TRUMPET - Brendan Agnew, a set of three about a flea circus.

  • May 28: “flea circus: opening night”
  • May 29: “flea circus: race day”
  • May 30: “flea circus: the escape”

FOR PIANO, the development of my favourite idea from all microscores written in May. And I also happened to sit on a rather large swiss ball to write all 31 microscores.

  • May 31: “sitting on a ball”

Microscore May

May is New Zealand Music Month, a chance to celebrate all things NZ music. I have always been involved in extra activities during the month, but I decided that this year I would do a project of my own - write 31 musical microscores in the 31 days of May. I will write one and then post it online every day - no exceptions! Miniature harpI am very much looking forward to it, but am in the process of thinking how exactly I will go about it, so I thought the big wide world may be able to help me. What I'm pondering is:

  • What instruments should I do it for? A different instrument each day? Select perhaps six in total? Have only one instrument?
  • Are there any performers out there who would be keen to perform them through the month?
  • Any ideas on a theme that could tie them all together?

I look forward to any thoughts or comments.