pew pew pew…

my brain is firing in about eight different directions right now. these should be written down somewhere for myself if nowhere else.

1. my wind ensemble piece entitled beauty…beholder is almost done. I feel a lot better about it than i did about a week ago because things in the end finally started to click into place. It’s not my best work mainly because i’m out of practice writing original stuff for large groups – the last large ensemble piece i wrote was somewhere around ten years ago, and between 2004-2009 i wasn’t writing any music at all. I’m happy enough with the piece generally, it’ll just need some revision if i ever get it performed again. Hopefully it’s well received, i’m a bit tickled with the shock moment towards the end of the piece. John Cage would be proud.

2. This spring i’m going to try to start writing a percussion quartet for the Portland Percussion Group. Originally i was going to have it be all thematic about my family, but these days i tend to do better writing music based on a musical concept that i then translate to a real one as opposed to starting with a real concept that i then translate to a musical one. I think that will change as i start writing more music again and get reacquainted with how my voice translates to solid ideas.

3. Also this spring i’m planning on putting the pieces together for my musical internet installation project. Basically what i’m planning on doing is buying some muscle wire and playing with it in the hopes that i can attach it to some guitar strings and have a mechanism for heating/cooling the muscle wire and a mechanism for playing the strings that is controlled and activated by both random and controlled actions from the internet. This is very early experimental stages so i can figure out what’s possible.

4. Aside from my nienteForte concert happening this spring, Mark and i had a conversation earlier about trying to pitch playing a percussion duet for the percussion ensemble concert run by Doug Walsh, and we’re already talking about trying to write a duet for the nienteForte concert in 2014. I already have a guest ensemble tentatively lined up for that, and i want to write a piece for *that* group too, which i’ll probably start in early summer right after Jazz Fest.

5. Also in mid-spring i’m going to start thinking about marching band arranging again for Hermiston. Paul was very happy with what i did this past season, so i don’t doubt that i’ll be able to write for the group again.

6. I’m planning on putting together a new music seminar class sometime in the spring semester, a volunteer thing since i can’t officially register a course with the university at this point. I just want to get people excited about some of the music that got me excited in college as well as going out there and finding other music, newer stuff that i don’t know to keep my own creative brain fresh and current.

7. Also this spring i imagine that i’ll be in some final talks with Galaxy Interactive to figure out exactly how my contract is going to work for TerraLife, a project that they anticipate will start occupying a lot of my energy this summer.

8. Sometime a year ago, Tyler and i talked about trying to put together some sort of DDR reunion this coming summer. Originally it was going to be another sight-read tournament, but the context for that sort of thing has died out as far as we’re both concerned, so more and more i’m thinking about making it into some big Johann Sebastian Joust competition or something.

I know i’m missing something, but that’s okay. Brain will continue firing off on all of this probably until next fall. Then i can relax.

In general something that’s come to light from this past fall is that I shouldn’t try to tackle a lot of creative projects in the fall. Thankfully i had the foresight to turn down an opportunity to write a piece for Kim Walker’s fianceé who wanted the piece by around christmas. I said no mainly because i knew that the wind ensemble piece was going to take a major chunk of my time, but the thing that i didn’t anticipate was how busy the fall season was – partially brought on by my rather sudden medical issues, but also because the marching band season was much busier than i anticipated it would be and i didn’t have a whole lot of energy to devote to independent projects.

Granted, it’s not like my spring and summer isn’t occupied a great deal as well, but the method behind that busy is much more in line with creative and original efforts as opposed to the fall semester teaching and administering a marching band organization. Clearly a lot depends on exactly how the football schedule falls out, but i’m starting to come to the conclusion that my creative calendar should be much more dense in the spring and summer than in the fall.

We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, much needed website updates coming soon, time to try to send my Timpani piece off to another publisher for consideration of publishing, and keep the ball rolling.

Mendel Lee

I'm a composer, musician, and music educator residing in New Orleans, LA.

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