Music composition

Summer and time

It will soon be (or is today) a year since I’ve been out of school, completely free from formal education. It’s strange because time passes much more quickly when you’re not really waiting for summer to come. When I was in school, I was always thinking about future due dates, and I always had the next break or three-day weekend lingering in my mind, looking forward to it so I could sleep in. My mental schedule was always full; I was always anticipating something. Without all that schedule aniticipation, the days have really flown by. I once read somewhere than one reason time may seem to fly by as you get older is because you don’t experience new things as often, where as when you’re young, the days are often filled with new experiences. I think not anticipating anything, not consciously waiting for anything also makes time fly. I can vividly remember sitting there in a classroom listening to a boring teacher blather on and on and looking at the clock, realizing school wouldn’t be over for another three or six hours, and just suffering. Watching the clock makes it tick very slowly. Better to spend time doodling in the notebook if you can get away with it.

That said, I don’t mind at all how fast time is flying by! It sure beats going to school.

What I admit I don’t like is hearing about around this season is other people’s vacations; it makes me want to retire. My last real vacation was 8 or 9 years ago to Disney World. But these days it seems like a pain to go on vacation. You have to secure time off work, do all this packing, take a long trip, and sleep on a dirty hotel bed (they don’t wash the mattresses), and the fellow vacationers might be annoying to share a hotel room with. And you have to spend a bunch of money. And then there’s the trouble of a vacation coming to an end. I think it’d be better to retire first, and then go on vacation . . . and never come back. Or have a job that requires travel so you don’t have to pay for it.

Anyway, I’m still spending my free time composing music for my album (or watching Hulu). I have around 6 pieces started, not sure which one I’ll finish first, but whichever one it is will be Opus 50.  Bwahahaha! (I’m really already over 50 pieces if you count all my work, but I’m only counting the ones I have listed on my MP3s page, and the three I’ve already finished for my album). So far the plan of having the album complete in two or three months is looking good! Hope you don’t mind my constant blathering about it, I’m really not up to much else. I’d probably get a bit more done if I didn’t sleep in at every opportunity though. My body still naturally wants to stay up all night and sleep until 1 PM.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Why e-books stink

Technology opinion

I keep hearing mention of the kindle and other e-readers, and I see them at book stores on display. They do look nice, definitely better than reading from a computer screen. They’re small and look easier to carry around. They look pretty darn convenient; I’d like to have one. Unfortunately, they stink.

The main reason I think they stink is because, to read a book, I would be paying for a digital file. So . . . what if I don’t like the book? Can I return it? How much control do the e-reader makers have over my collection of digital files? Can I copy them to a new e-reader if I get one from a different manufacturer? Can I copy them to my computer and copy and paste text I like? I can re-sell my old books, but what about some old digital book file I don’t care about anymore? I wouldn’t be able to get a penny for it, would I?

I currently have a part time job at the local library, and I’d say about 66 to 75 percent of the books I read are from the library. Because they’re free. If I really like a book and want to keep it, I’ll buy it, but I’m very hesitant to pay money for a book from an author I’m unfamiliar with. I use the library to “demo” books. And, as long as no one else has the book on hold, I can demo it for however long I want. Unless a similar structure could be set up for e-books, where I can freely “check-out” books for an unlimited amount of time, I won’t be buying an e-reader anytime soon. The costly monetary disadvantages outweigh the spacial ergonomic advantages.

Also, another thing I would love to have with an e-reader is the ability to underline or highlight text, and then view the writing with or without the highlighting. When reading traditional books, I always have the urge to highlight certain sentences. But I don’t highlight, either because the book is from the library, or because I simply don’t want to create distractions for my future self if and when I ever go back and look into the book again. The ability to view my books with or without my own highlighting would be a major selling point. (But I’d still want the ability to have complete control over my files, no DRM crap.)

My first album news

In other news, I finished composing my third piece for my album, and I’m calling it The Dragon King (Opus 49) … bum bum bum! But, like Dragon of the Mist, it doesn’t sound threatening; it’s not an evil dragon. (I also subtly slipped in the melody from Dragon of the Mist for a couple measures, bwahahaha!) So, about 16 minutes of music is now finished for my album (White Castle Waltz, On the Edge of a Dream, and The Dragon King). I’ve got quite a few other pieces started that I’m still working on (one is over 12 minutes long and will most likely become the longest piece I’ve ever written). I’m hoping to have the album out by mid-August. Right now I’m focusing all my creative energy on it.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Whining about composing woes

It’s been quite a busy week.  I don’t have a full-time job yet, but I have a part time job at our local library, and I’ve had to work pretty much every day this week.  Plus we have company in the house, some family members in for a visit, which is nice!  But it does make the non-working hours busier than usual.  (And I’m trying to be quieter at night, instead of popping popcorn and watching TV at 2 AM as I often do.)

I’m finally working on some new music, which is of course really fun.  Not sure what I’ll call the piece yet, but I’ll think of something.  It’s about 3 minutes so far.  I hope to put it on my album.  The weather has been really hot here (in the 90s), and my parents don’t use the air conditioning enough in my opinion, and I have found it’s hard to compose when I feel too hot.  Quite annoying.  So I turn my desk fan on, but it’s noisy, so I can’t orchestrate things quite right unless I turn it off, and then I get too hot again.  Isn’t that just terrible?!  Also, I need new headphones.  I have some nice Sennheiser wireless headphones, which are awesome for just about everything, except composing.  The bass is too loud with them, and when your computer plays really loud or soft sounds, it automatically lowers or raises their volume.  I think that’s great for movies and games; there’s nothing I hate worse than a loud noise suddenly piercing the ears (and most of the time you don’t even notice it).  But it’s not good at all for orchestrating.  It also almost sounds like they add a tiny small amount of reverb to everything, which is also annoying.  Lastly, they’re wireless, so they’re never really completely noise free, which, again, is really only a problem when composing.  So I need even better, more expensive headphones for composing.  (The reason I love the wireless headphones so much though is that normally I always break headphones by messing up their wires.  I roll the chair over them, yank them, twist them, tangle them… for most purposes, the wireless headphones are the best solution.)

Haven’t been up to much else lately.  I still won’t have much free time this week either.  Boo-hoo.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

I’ll pay you to whistle

I’m not really desperate for more melodies to compose with; I’ve got plenty of them (although I haven’t updated my site FreeDailyMelody in while, mostly because it does take time to properly format the melodies, but I do want to get back to updating that site sometime, but who knows if I ever will… I want to write a novel someday too).

Anyway, for my The Worlds Inside project I’m allowing submissions from composers with completed works.  But then I thought… hmmm… what if “non-composers” could get in on the act too?  If someone could whistle or hum an original melody, wouldn’t it be fun to hear what it sounded like orchestrated and developed into a full piece?  So The Worlds Inside will now also accept submissions of just plain old whistling and humming (details here).

I’m working on a little demo to show off what simple whistled melodies can be made into… it’s quite fun.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

A magazine of music albums

Hope you had a good Easter!  I had a nice Easter here, complete with too much candy eaten at once.  Yum.

When I was in college, I submitted a few short stories to a magazine and I thought: “Gee, it sure would be nice if I had somewhere to send my music for editors to buy … but, alas, there are no music magazines like there are literature magazines.”

Now that I’m out of college and I have the time, I’m going to pursue this.  It’s not quite ready for “prime time” yet, but if you’re a fan of my music and/or a composer yourself, I’d love to know if this looks at all interesting:

http://www.wizardwalk.com/theworldsinside/

The concept of The Worlds Inside is to create a series of music albums that are treated like a magazine; a series that listeners subscribe to and receive a constant flow of new and outstanding music on physical CD albums.  The Worlds Inside allows listeners to easily discover the works of new talented composers by featuring multiple fresh composers on each album.

The The Worlds Inside also gives composers an opportunity to sell their music.  The composer pays nothing to get their music on an album and available in online stores.  This allows a composer to do something with his work when he doesn’t have enough material to create a full album on his own and doesn’t want to wait.  Finally, because the space on each album is shared by multiple composers, the talents and audiences that each composer brings helps “advertise” the talents of others.

Lastly, The Worlds Inside encourages the creation and sharing of new inspirational cinematic music.  So often it seems organizations and institutions striving for “new” music seek more “avant-garde” works.  While we certainly have nothing against such institutions, The Worlds Inside shows that there is still much more to say with the traditional tonal palette.

I’m still working on the details of the business plans, but I’m also rubbing my hands together with excitement…

Anyway, I’m going to keep it “rabbit week” for one more week since it was just Easter.  Any suggestions on what noun next week should be?  (I just do it for stupid fun.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fiction books

Reading and writing and blah blah blah

Been a while again, eh?  I submitted my short story, Oberon’s Paradise, to yet another publisher, this time online magazine Strange Horizons.  They publish stories about once a week on their site free for anyone to read.  The story’s been rejected three times so far, but it never hurts to keep trying.  I’m also trying to get back into the habit of critiquing other people’s work through Critters, a free online writing workshop, and I’m hoping to put my newer short story, No One Was Abendsen, through the critique line.

I also finished another orchestral piece for my album which I call On the Edge of a Dream.  So far my album is up to a bit over 20 minutes, so I’m about a third of the way there.  One song that will be on the album, White Castle Waltz, is already available on iTunes and CD Baby.  I must say, it’s pretty cool seeing one’s work on iTunes, even if they’re not really a selective distributor.

I finished reading Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, and I have a few quotes from it to put up on my Book Quotes blog.  It was a very good book, definitely worth a read if you’re interested in non-fiction.

I also finished reading a fantasy book by Kage Baker called The Anvil of the World.  It was a short book that came out in 2004, and I think it’s out of print now.  I wanted to read a book by Kage Baker because I had read a few of her short stories and enjoyed her style.  It was pretty light reading; the plot never got extremely thick or dark and the world never seemed very complex, but it was still engaging and believable and very humorous.  Not a bad read at all.

I’m still reading The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition), a nice all-in-one volume I got for Christmas, but now I’m also reading T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, the book of the legend of King Arthur, which has definitely been enjoyable so far, especially since I already know how parts of the story go, and this book kind of fleshes things out.

And… I think that’s really all I have to blather about for now.  Kinda boring, eh?

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

A CD single

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In this blathering, I talk about my experiment of creating a CD singe with kunaki.com.

I also mention my plans to try to get this piece on iTunes and elsewhere with CD Baby.  I’m mostly experimenting with these services because I don’t have the patience to wait until I have an entire album finished before seeing what they’re like.

Finally, I mention Derek Sivers’ website, more specifically his music advice page.  There’s a lot of good information there for any maker of music.

Oh yeah, here’s the kunaki product page for the CD.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Daily melodies

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First of all, you might notice I added little picture of me in the corner there.  I made that with a website called befunky.com.  The site allows you to upload a picture and it tries making a cartoon out of it, though just how cartoony it looks is up to you.  It’s not nearly as good as a real artist doing to work, but it’s fun to play around with.  So that’s how I made my stylized picture up there.  Doesn’t it look great?

Second of all, I just launched a new site.  Do I really need yet another site?  Yes.  I started FreeDailyMelody.com, where I hope to release a new melody every day into public domain.  I have hundreds saved up right now, so I have no worries content-wise, I just hope I can keep up the energy posting them.  I hope it will be a good musical resource for someone out there; there’s no way I’d be able to use all the melodies I have saved up, yet I’d hate to see them go to waste.  If nothing else, the site will serve as a nice public archive.  And I’m releasing the melodies into public domain, so they’re really free for the taking.

Lastly, I finished composing that waltz this morning.  Woohoo!  First piece completed for my album!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Failed that test

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Yesterday I took that C programming test I mentioned as part of my application for a job to a game development company… and failed!  *gasp*  The test basically consisted of writing two functions.  They said they hoped it would take three to four hours, five at the most.  I wrote the first function successfully, but it took me four hours.  I spent an hour on the second one, then just gave up.  I’m sure I could have done it if I spent a five to six more hours.  Designing the algorithms for the functions weren’t that hard (definitely a bit tricky, but not impossible… kind of fun actually), but doing the actual coding in C slowed me down a bit since I haven’t done it in a while.  I guess it was a good refresher though.  The functions used a lot of the “char” data type, which I just haven’t used much recently; I’ve been using Java lately (mostly because that’s what classes in college used, those traitors!) which I suppose has sort of spoiled me because it makes things like dealing with strings much much easier than the archaic way C deals with them.

My awesome desk

My awesome desk

So, I guess I can’t have a job with that company!  I wonder how often chars are used in the modern game development process?  I really can’t imagine it being used much… so it’s too bad I blame them for my downfall.  Anyway, I’m still keeping my eye open for game programming jobs that look interesting, and I hope they won’t test me too much on dealing with chars.

Anyway, I’m working on composing yet another waltz.  Not sure what to call it yet, but it’s sounding good.  I give a little excerpt in the podcast.  I’m hoping to make it a part of my upcoming album, coming sometime in 2009, at least an hour of all new music… I hope.

And… oh!  I joined TwitPic.  Kind of like my Twitter account, but with pictures.  In fact, I guess I should add links to those on the side.  A fun way to use my camera since I don’t really go anywhere.  I’m a hermit.  And I don’t have any money.  I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.  Somebody help me.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Driving home from work

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I recorded this driving back from the place I drove to during the last podcast.  The sound quality is awful because I recorded this in the car again.  You don’t have to listen!!  In this episode I blather about:

– I orchestrated a tune called The Cornish Wassail for the free album A Garritan Community Christmas.  I put the piece at the end of the episode.  It’s my first orchestral piece to utilize the piano!  What do you think?

– Saw the book The Complete Guide to Blogging.  Looks interesting, I’d like to buy it, or get it for Christmas.

– I failed NaNoWriMo at 34K words, but continue to work on The Book of Harbringer.  I blather for a bit about my writing experiences.

Sorry for the horrible quality, my car made a lot of noise.  Zoom, zoom, zoom!

By S P Hannifin, ago