Sunday, December 30, 2007

What's going on

My trip to Chicago was very nice. In case I haven't told you, I was the tour escort for the orchestra from this school. It was not a terribly work-intensive job, so I had a fair amount of time to venture down to the Hilton and participate in the sober portions of the Midwest festivities.

The time available to spend with dear old friends was woefully insufficient. But I was able to get a lot of very good information about a new musical pursuit that I have been considering. I will fill you in on that as it develops. Just know that I'm very excited.

After way too much time away from my woman, I returned to Athens for way too little time with her. Then I was off to Forsyth County for time with my folks.

Christmas has changed quite a bit since my brother has had kids. It has changed more drastically since he moved his family to Nashville. For the first time I remember, there were no gifts exchanged on Christmas Eve (or "Christmas Eve Day" as my Granny would say) or Christmas Day. It was very nice to spend no-pressure time with my parents and grandmother. I miss them very badly, and have realized more as I age how good they have been to me. I hope I give them a bit of that back.

Meghan came to Forsyth County moments after my brother and his family arrived. The "stuff" portion of Christmas ensued, along with all of the pandemonium that typically accompanies it. Between my renewed appreciation for my folks and the joy of being with Meghan, it really was the best Christmas I remember. I am hoping for many, many more like that one.

"Stuff-wise" (which seems increasingly insignificant every year), it was also very nice. My folks gave me an 80 Gb iPod to replace the one that has been tits up for about a year. They also gave me a portable tailgating grill, which I know will get a great deal of use in the coming years, and a cool rolling laptop desk for the den. I also got some great clothes and some arranging/theory texts, which are to me as a stuffed toy is to a dog. My brother and sister-in-law gave Meghan and me a gift certificate to Farm 255, where we have really wanted to eat but haven't wanted to finance. Two dear friends also gave me a framed print of "Seven Tubas," which I have wanted for years. More gifts to come soon.

I've got friends in town now for the new year, and I can't wait for the Sugar Bowl. I also have a turkey sandwich sitting beside me that isn't going to eat itself.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Overheard at Midway (by many)

||: "The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... The moving walkway is ending... " :||

Unpacking, laundry, recovery, and packing today. Home tonight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December Demons

This complaint is two-pronged, and really silly. I suspect it is born out of a little-self confidence issue that comes from not being formally trained in my current occupation, along with a tendency in some to find fault easily and in others to find sources of amazement easily.

I recently have been writing an arrangement for a saxophone ensemble (and three, two, one, snicker at a volume of your choosing). As I began, I thought carefully about the key in which I would write considering the range of the melody versus that of the instruments for which I was writing, the intonation tendencies of the family into which those instruments belong, and the form of the arrangement (which in this case would include a significant modulation). Without too much effort, I chose the key of F Major - a key that any decent wind arranger will use on a frequent basis.

As I began writing, I began thinking about the key of F. And it occurred to me that even "F" wasn't a great choice, as the notes F and C are terrible notes on the E-flat and the B-flat horns respectively. On the other hand, the notes A and E are wonderful notes on the same instruments, and they would play key functions (no pun intended) in the arrangement because of its jazz style and the frequent occurrence of major-seventh chords therein. Thus I began looking for another key that would fit the guidelines that I set forth at the beginning, including the presence of a nice key a minor third above the tonic for the modulation.

In this quest, what I found was that there isn't any great key. I could find a significant amount of problems in every key I considered. That brought me back to the spring in which I was writing for a grade six high school band, and the director wanted to rid the arrangement of the two B-naturals in the tuba part (I almost always write them up when I encounter them) which where not at huge moments in the show. And as I thought about this, I grew even more frustrated at the complications of the horribly imperfect tonal system that we have, and began to be convinced that I simply didn't know what I was doing.

Last evening, I was in a discussion with an undergraduate student who studies music at a university within my region of the country whose Director of Bands is an arranger of note (again, no pun intended) and someone whose work I have admired since I was in middle school. The student was talking about taking the arranging and orchestration course with this professor, and I became pleasantly jealous of the opportunity has we was receiving.

As this student continued to rave, he was using large words - strong words like "unbelievable," "amazing," and "mind-blowing." As he did so, my jealousy began to fade just a bit. I can count on two hands the "amazing" musical or academic experiences I have ever had. And short of the discovery of new buttons on an instrument or a groundbreaking-ly effective system of making students able to implement the complexities of interesting tonality in a simple manner, I found it very hard to believe that the course was that amazing.

And then, the Midwest Demons crept in. And they began to tell me what they tell me every year at about this time. You have no idea what you're doing. There is a world of information that everyone but you possesses, and you can not have it. You're a fraud.

It happens every year. And I hate it.

At the end of the day, I know it isn't true. There are handshakes and pieces of paper that lend instant credibility to some, whether they actually warrant it or not. Though I realize this, I often find myself unable to stop thinking about how some components of my professional life might be different now if I had focused more diligently or chosen a selected mentorship or two more carefully.

It happens every year and I am far too young, even still, to be asking questions like this.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to give me a suite at the Hyatt, but they did. I hate that I will have to enjoy it alone.

Man, if FDR were here, he would be all over some room service.

Also, my group isn't even here yet, and they're already an hour and forty-five minutes behind.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dan Fogelberg exits.

David D0ver introduced me to his music. While it was a bit on the soft side, I liked it more than I ever admitted. Rest in peace, and thanks for the tunes.
I'm off to Chicago, with an entire football season's worth of unwritten blog entries awaiting attention. I am really hoping to get some of these out during my travels.

For those of you who are Chicago-bound: I will be there, but will working for the travel company. So I won't be around a whole lot, and I most definitely will not be participating in our traditional downstairs-bar-tomfoolery... until Friday. I'll be over around 9pm Friday night. I hope I catch you there.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Adjudication Sheet - NHHS

Music - I (Comments on tape)

Visual - I (Comments on tape)

General Effect - I (Comments on tape)

Arrangements - III (Comments reviewed every night when I cry myself to sleep)

Interview - II ("Found someone?" Where? In a shoebox? Didn't T. Nichols find something in a shoebox once?)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Helluvah Mayor of Norcross

In case you haven't heard, there will soon be a new mayor of Norcross. And yes, it most certainly is that Bucky...

... and not this Bucky...


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The B(C)S

I am sure that Georgia will get its title in the not too distant future. And I am sure that I will be excited when it happens. I will unfortunately have to pinch myself before I get too many drinks into the celebration. I will have to remind myself that there is no national championship.

The "Football Bowl Subdivision" is too big to determine a champion, which is exactly why it is the only sport and division in which the NCAA does not recognize a champion. So we're all, myself included, getting worked up over something that doesn't exist.

But I did take a few things from this weekend:

- Kirk Herbstreit and ESPN are both whores.
- LSU made a mistake by giving Les Miles an extension. They caved and they will regret it. Les Miles sold his soul to the Devil, and he should begin feeling a special warmth in his ass-area any minute now.
- Georgia has every motivational item they will need for the Sugar Bowl, and every game next year (especially the LSU game). I am not the first to say that I hope they associate the disappointment they feel tonight with the way they played on October 6.
- I would be remiss if I didn't say that the BCS is bullshit. Ask a Mizzou fan.

Mark Bradley says it better than anyone in a column that insures that I will continue to read him for some time to come. It took me four words of Terence Moore's column to remind myself why I am not, however, a subscriber.