Posted on Leave a comment

On Super Bowl LIII TV!

I don’t know if you happened to catch a glimpse of a certain Super Bowl promotional video that aired about an hour and a half before the start of the game. But if you did, you might have caught a glimpse of me playing with the CMG Music Recording orchestra on site at Warner Bros. Studio, at the famous Eastwood Scoring Stage, where all the famous composers of the Golden Age of film recorded their music!

Superbowlendgif
The grand finish!

It was a unique experience and I am so honored to have been asked to participate. 🙂

Check out the full video below, and enjoy not only the video screenshots but a few backstage shots as well!

Posted on Leave a comment

A Note About Cognitive (Musical) Bias

Disclaimer: Please note, I’m not in any way knocking the budding talent of young Alma. This particular instance only serves as an interesting example of the cognitive bias we all encounter at various points in our lives…

Also note– the mistake elaborated on below could be as simple as her mind seeing B as B-flat– in old-school German notation B is B-flat, and B-flat is H

So here’s an interesting discussion– at the very beginning of the video, the first random note given is a B, not a B-flat. And she does call the B, “si” which is the accurate term for Fixed Do Solfege. Even so, she plays and sings a B-flat.

It’s very natural for musicians and composers to fall into this kind of “cognitive bias“, hearing/seeing the note you really want to, instead of what’s actually there. How many times have we as students and performers done this? ;-P

One time I wasted an entire part of a recording session because I was playing an original folk melody all in a minor tonality, even though it was written in major!!! Luckily I realized my mistake in time to re-record everything–I would have hated to have the composer hear the recording of their work done in an entirely “opposite” mode from what they had intended!

The human brain is powerful but subject to limitations. Cognitive biases are often a result of your brain’s attempt to simplify information processing. They are rules of thumb that help you make sense of the world and reach decisions with relative speed. (source)

Initially in the video, Alma mistakes the B for a B-flat, then, I think seeing the E-flat later reinforced that notion for her.

Theory-wise, she probably “hears” a B-flat, because it will go so much more easily (tonally) with the E-flat two notes later. That interval is a Perfect 4th. The B-natural to an E-flat is a Diminished 4th — much more challenging to work with, especially with an A in the mix, creating sort of a lowered 7th scenario if we were in B Major. In fact the A to the Eb is a Tritone that, again, is easier to “explain” in traditional theory if the B is flatted. (For more on intervals, visit my Music Nerds video on the topic.)

Personally I love the idea of using the Eb as, say, a lowered third in the realm of C Major or A minor (thereby keeping the B natural) and would have loved to see how she might have handled it. But kudos to her for playing with notes and music patterns as she does!

Posted on Leave a comment

Huntington Library Adventures

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of exploring the Huntington Library for the day. What a throughly refreshing and calming experiencing! I recommend anyone who’s in town go and see it! 😉

I’ll post a gallery of all the photos I took that day at the bottom of this post, but there was one specifically amazing exhibit I took video from and that I wanted to share…

NASA’s Orbit Pavillion

Satellites that study the Earth are passing through space continuously, collecting data on everything from hurricanes to the effects of drought. What if you could make contact with these orbiting spacecraft, and bring them “down to Earth?” Visitors can do exactly that [at] NASA’s Orbit Pavilion… [Orbit is] an innovative “soundscape” experience representing the movement of the International Space Station and 19 Earth Science satellites. Inside the large, shell-shaped sculpture, distinctive sounds are emitted as each satellite passes overhead…

I have always loved the sounds of space, ever since I first heard the “interstellar music” of the complete Voyager sound recordings in the ’90s. So, when I experienced the Orbit exhibit first-hand, I can’t tell you the total joy and enthrallment I felt encountering it… I tried to capture just a taste of what I was experiencing with this short video you can view below… I hope you enjoy it! ^_^

 

Posted on Leave a comment

“Shady Oaks Takedown” – The Trailer

UPDATE: We were selected by the audience to go on to the second round of screenings for the Audience Award!!!! Check out the details here!


Presenting the trailer for “Shady Oaks Takedown”, the super fun, collaborative bonding experience that comes from creating a short film from scratch in 48 hours!! I had the immense honor of being asked to create the music for our buddy-comedy, martial arts genre film… That is, 5 minutes of music, created on the fly in only about 8 straight hours, watching the film for the first time and composing music for each scene and hit at the same time, all starting in the wee hours of the morning before dawn, haha!

Want to join us for the screening of our 48 hour film? Get your tickets for Screening Group G here, and join us for the event TOMORROW at 5pm in L.A.!!

And, as a special treat, you can listen to all my “Shady Oaks” film clips at the Novel Soundtrax Audio Page for a limited time!

Posted on Leave a comment

New “Leviathan” Multimedia Experience!

UPDATE: This ebook is now available as a multimedia, online presentation! Experience it for free here!


Did you know about the extensive, mythic story behind the 2008 electric violin concerto, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep”? Well, now you can enjoy it in epic, literary form AND support the official recording project!

Announcing the newest addition to the Ultimate Leviathan Recording campaign

leviathan-book-cover
Get the eBook today – name your price; all funds support the recording project!

 

Explore the myth behind the Leviathan concerto in this artistic ebook! Available in both epub and mobi formats.

This original picture-book and poem by Sarah features the three movements and subsections found within her 2008 concerto for 6-string electric violin, EWI, synth, and orchestra, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep,” allowing the reader to dive into the mythology that built the musical work. This ebook even includes audio clips from both the digital demo recordings and the room recordings of the live performance premiere, illustrating each section of this poetic epic with its matching segment found in the Concerto.

Name your price – all proceeds go toward funding the Recording!

Enjoy a few preview pages below… Thank you for your support! 🙂

Posted on Leave a comment

“The Oracle” – An Experiment in Aleatorism & Formula

I’m in the middle of composing a real neat piece right now for a July 1 deadline… I’m calling it “The Oracle,” and it’s for flute/piccolo, Bb clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.

matrixoracleWhat I’ve done is set up a complex set of “rules” that guide my writing based on the random drawing of tarot cards… But it’s turned out to be both an aleatoric and a highly flexible process that leaves me with a lot of artistic possibilities, though I’m being guided in the overall structure by the cards I draw and their placement in the spread I’ve chosen.

As you might imagine, knowing me, I’m having a ton of fun with this. There’s something thrilling about the mixture of using both a pre-compositional process that prevents me from fully anticipating the outcome of a work combined with that process allowing for a vast amount of contextual freedom!

Enjoy a sample of the work at the end of this post…

Continue reading “The Oracle” – An Experiment in Aleatorism & Formula

Posted on Leave a comment

Leviathan has a Cadenza

Hooray! I just finished writing my cadenza for Leviathan‘s 3rd movement! Funny story about that…

When I first wrote this work for my Master’s degree thesis back in 2008, I had been working so much on the first two movements that my deadline was getting down to the wire and I wasn’t sure if I’d even get to have a third movement at all. But I was determined, and in a fit of desperate inspiration I created movement three in only two weeks! I just love it! The convenient catch was, I wanted to have a cadenza in there, and that meant I could get away with not having to actually write 3 minutes of music, hee hee….! So, my poor concerto sat there for almost a decade without a cadenza…

Well, no longer! I will be releasing soon a special edition of the solo part with my suggested bowings, fingerings, and the new cadenza! Let it be known, however, that I still encourage soloists who are daring enough to tackle this work in the future to create their own cadenza! 🙂

Come to the WORLD PREMIERE and see/hear the spectacle for yourself!

In the meantime, here are some fun photos….

IMG_0839.JPG
I just discovered that my Baroque bow is actually the perfect bow for this instrument! Who knew?

IMG_0835.JPG
Here’s a shot of the most challenging spot for the soloist, in the 2nd movement… Total insanity!

Posted on Leave a comment

What I’ve Been Up To: Part 1

These past several weeks have been insanely active for me, with one project after another, after another… So all good stuff, honest! And, good memories, too… These next few posts I’ll be making will share some of these awesome experiences I’ve been able to have lately…

First up… The COACHELLA Gig. ✌🏻

Yes, via a contact from college, I got the great opportunity to work with EDM DJ Deorro and his team in preparing a special appearance during his two performances at Coachella this year.

It all started with the idea of adding live string players to the performance during two songs; the only hitch

At rehearsal, haunting drummer Travis Barker in the shot. http://t.co/4fQ0gdslM9
At rehearsal, haunting drummer Travis Barker in the shot. http://t.co/4fQ0gdslM9

was that – since it’s all about the #PandaFunk – the musicians needed to be wearing panda heads. Which means, actual live playing on-stage becomes very much impossible (just trust me on that).

So what I was able to do, was compose an all-original string trio (2 violins and a viola) part to accompany Deorro’s two songs, “Feeling Pretty Good” and “Tell Me Lies.” I then had a BLAST visiting the Long Beach recording studio of “sound ninja” Remo Portman – Independent Puppy Recording – where I recorded and overdubbed myself playing all three trio parts to the original mixes. It was SO much fun, and a very successful day!

That taken care of, I enlisted the aid of four of my wonderful college students to don their tuxedos and Panda Heads, and go on-stage to bring the recorded tracks to life for the audience! I am so proud of them; they totally rocked the house! 🙂

Enjoy a few of these shots I’ve grabbed here and there of our Panda Guys; I’m sure there must be more floating around the internet… Try to catch ’em all! 😂