Friday, April 13, 2018

On scales of dynamics

A composer deals with music notation. There is always a balance between accuracy of notating ones musical ideas and the allowance for musicians to have self-expression through written music.

In notation composers have used different scales of volume. It started with a notation of loud and soft in the mannheim school with F and P, and has evolved to a system where we generally use 6 steps of volume - PP, P, MP, MF, F & FF - from really soft to really loud. But some composers, notably Tchaikovsky uses really soft as PPPP or more P's and really loud as FFFF or more F's. But Tchaikovsky's scale of dynamics can't be softer than really soft or louder than really loud. In the notation  of six dynamics it goes from really soft to really loud, as does the scale of ten dynamics with four P's and up to four F's, so in interpreting volume in music one need to be aware of such things as if the composer notates for example ten different dynamics or six. An F would be softer in a scale of ten than a F in a scale of 6 dynamics. The more dynamics the more gradual the scale.

The more dynamics the more gradual the scale.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Musical Mind has no words

When truly playing music the mind is like a blank slate in between the notation or response to sound and the making of the musician's sound. Words get in the way, description, instructions and all notation are best done in a simple symbolic way so as not to access verbal thought; just keeping the focus on sound creation.

Monday, September 7, 2015

On Successful Conductors

I have had a long career in orchestra performance. I believe I have worked under the baton of over 100 conductors. Those that I consider most successful start with a warm sound approach. They lower the base sound of an orchestra to a warm mezzo-piano. Starting with this warm soft dynamic a conductor can achieve wonderful blends of instruments and tone qualities. Then the musicians when needing to play loud have a nice soft base to build upon, and the contrasts can be huge, and at the same time, the loud can be non-forced, but beautiful.

If a conductor were to start by saying "I can't hear you, play louder," which is what most conductors do, we generally have an escalation of volume and a loss of warmth. Yes, there are times when the expression of the music needs harshness, but to start with a sense of beauty makes the music much more emotional.

I have seen a few conductors also start the rehearsal with creating the phrases that he or she feels in the music. This is a fantastic trick, or tool that a conductor can use. Step one is reduced the volume to find warmth and blends. Step two is to suggest a few phrases. Once the musicians are listening for blend and approaching the music with warmth in their tone, the phrasing of the first two phrases carries through the piece and with two simple approaches the orchestra starts to sound as if they have music in their souls.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Burdick's Chamber Symphonies

After more than seven months work I have completed all 10 demo videos of my Chamber Symphonies.

This process that was quite a lot of work; getting the music into "Sibelius", some transferring from the program "Encore", and some entering from the handwritten score.

I wrote quite a few new movements and revised even more. Improved orchestration and re-orchestrated.

After the score is done, I record them in Digital Performer adjusting the sound files and recording the horn parts. From there, the video is extracted form Sibelius, the cover art is created and the film is put together in Final Cut Pro with the aiff (sound) files.

At the same time, while I am working on the video, I get the parts edited and uploaded to for download.

This process of finalizing the scores to all ten symphonies (40 movements) for chamber ensemble or chamber orchestra has been one of coming to terms with who I have been and one of really finding what it is that I like in my music. I still like quite a diversity of musical styles, but a few of the items that prevail through all of them have been stabilized for future works.

To see ones output of works that spans 33 years is quite significant.

The whole play list can be found on youtube:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Specialty Stores for the Arts

We each have our own unique passion.

Every arts organization (AO) and business (B) needs advertising.

As I started this idea of finding good sources of funding for an orchestra, I thought about how successful the book sale was for the two orchestras in Saskatchewan, but this needs a lead person to organized book, price and co-ordinate a book-sale event with a store front.

I then realized that there are many possible items that could be donated to an AO not just books, but even high-end value items like jewelry and cars.

Seeing then that if an AO starts a book sale, or other “sale” program they may be just challenging the viability of existing business such as used bookstores. It is an obvious switch to work with the local businesses as donation sights for the arts organization.

So the idea is that local specialty stores like jewelers and used car lots accept donations of items that would be resold to support the AO.

If an AO sets up official donation/resale locations both the AO and the B could benefit from mutual advertising. The B could improve its “class” by being associated with the AO, there would be an increase in merchandise and customers for the B plus both would increase profit assuming the B was give a percentage of the sale of the donated items.

This system seems very simple to me, an AO’s passion is obviously not that of a bookseller.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Authentic practice in Classical Music

Authentic practice has evolved into a snobbery of elite researchers, that their way is suggested by someone in his treatise and therefore they are doing it right.

Felix Mendelssohn is the person who from what I understand started the idea that musicians should perform the music the way the composer wanted and not the way they wanted. This one idea that in the 1830s the idea of the composer being correct means to me that at that time and before there was much more free interpretation of music. This makes sense since a lot of parts had to be hand copied as they were shared and spread around. Mistakes obviously happen in these copies, so the musicians would fix it in unique ways. Not only that, there was someone who made a simplified version of Beethoven symphonies fixing some of the more dissonant chords. This is a good example of non-authentic practice.

If the case really is that musicians make their own versions of music before the 1830s, then authentic practice really is making your own version and changing it however you feel!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A dream of a human resources based economy.

I wanted to comment on the general idea that it's a person is not being paid what they deserve to be paid.

We have an economy that used to be based on gold reserves. Now it seems to be baseless. I'm not an economist so I really don't know but I have been trying to figure out the idea that if a economic system can be based on gold, which is an arbitrary basis why can't it be based on human resources?

A business with happier energetic workers accomplishes more than if they had unproductive workers. The happy energetic workers are worth more and add more value to the company. They then add more value to the local economy and perhaps the country. A country with more qualified workers then might be considered a richer country.

The higher quality of musician in an orchestra the more value it could have to the community. The community would be considered wealthier with a quality orchestra.

I don't see why, a smart economist couldn't figure out a monetary system based on human resources.

I can see how something like this would promote a greater general feeling of self worth. People would migrate to the locations and type work closer to their passions. They would work from a sense real connection, not just doing a job to pay the bills etc. And each person working passionately would add more value to the economy.