Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hot For Teacher

I got a jeerrrrrbbbbb!

Teaching guitar and bass is ultimately more rewarding than I expected it to be. I currently have 3 (well, 4) students: the 50 year old dad who yearns to be a rock star, the 13 year old who just started playing bass and the 2 Indian children who's father probably forced them into it, as well as math camp, science camp, camp, camp, camp campcampcampcamp.

The kids are quite humorous; the way their lesson is structured, I teach the younger one for 20 minutes, and then the older one for 40 (allows the dad to save that 5 extra dollars by not giving them 2 half hour lessons). My first lesson with them was Saturday. I typically like to start off new students who have been taking lessons with the last thing they've worked on, just so I can get a feel for their skill level. The first one comes in, I do my whole teacher schtick (still perfecting it) and have him play this musical passage he's been working on for what seems like a couple of weeks.

For the sake of this post, let's say it's like this:

"Ok, play through the piece."

"Ok, not bad...let's work on left hand technique. I want you to press down on the frets this time."

"...alright. One more time."

"...ok, that was...work on that this week."

I know I can't expect them to shred the guitar up after a few lessons, but you can definitely tell when kids have the talent to actually get good at the instrument. And this one does not have it.

His brother was better, thankfully; we rocked out a jerky version of Eye Of The Tiger and a couple of other things. I was breaking down his practice schedule for him, and asked, "so, how often do you practice guitar?"

"Oh, Mondays and Fridays, usually."

"...how long do you practice for on those days?

"5 minutes."

Yesterday I went in for my bass student's lesson, who I had previously had on Friday, so I wasn't expecting him to have made much progress, given the level of skill of the other guitar students. It was only his second bass lesson, after all. I had him run through the stuff I'd given him (chromatic scales and a bit of a blues progression).


He actually practiced and sounded better?


By the end of his second lesson, this kid could already almost play an entire blues progression and didn't sound half bad, especially considering he only had 2 LESSONS. That's when you know somebody has raw talent, or is at least willing to sit down and actually work for it.

I'm so proud *sniff*.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Don't Wanna Be an American Idiot (except I do)

I'm gonna take a little break from my favorite subject to blog about on this blog (me) and focus on someone different for a minute. But only a minute.

Sadly, not her. It's never about how I got to meet her.

I'm assuming you all know Leila Hegazy. If not, you're doing yourself a serious disservice. Wonderful friend of mine, and probably one of the best singers I've had the pleasure of working with. She's a pretty damn good songwriter too, and is working on releasing her first full length album this summer. Of course, that means Kickstarter! I wholeheartedly support Kickstarter (having gotten paid extra numerous times because my clients have overfunded their projects) and think it's an awesome tool for those of us who have to provide our own hype and pay for our own projects.

Again I go with my opinions, blah blah blah. Fact of the matter is, Leila's stupid talented and deserves much more than the paltry $2800 she's asking for, and YOU, dear readers, can make that happen. But let her tell you that, not me:

Ok, back to me.

In the ever-increasing frenzy to find a job so I don't stay broke forever, some interesting ideas have turned up. The first being, auditioning for a gig on a cruise ship. 6 month contract, $1900 a month, free room and board (shared, of course)... what's not to like? Granted, there's totally strings attached, like how they don't mention they're an agency and will take a decent portion of what I get paid, but that's better than nothing. The second (and most attainable) option: teaching guitar. I've already gotten a call back from a place in Rye about the possibility of joining the staff, and hopefully a meeting gets schedule that will lead to that. What's that line again? "If you can't do, teach."

The third, most exciting, hardest to achieve option: guitar for American Idiot's second tour.

I got my audition material through the email already (along with the 138952458348 other guitarists I'm sure applied) and hopefully can find a film major kind enough to make a professional looking video for me. Who knows? I could be on the road in 4 weeks, touring around the country.

It's the longest shot ever, but ain't gonna stop me from tryin'.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carston Früm, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write Ambient Music

Hope you're all staying cool on the hottest day New York has had in a long time. I've never been so happy to be sitting at the desk answering phones at my internship; free air conditioning! When I'm in the city I share a room the size of a closet with no A/C, so fat guy + A/C = I'll do whatever you need, so long as I can keep my rolls cool.

Last week I put out an EP of music I'd started during my last week of college. Bear with me, it's sort of a big deal. One, because I'm actually selling it (which I never do with my music). Of course, there's still the option to download it for free; nobody has any money anymore, and I'd rather have people listening to it and spreading it around and not making any money off of it than them not getting it because of some set arbitrary amount (originally, I tried a $2 minimum, which lasted all of 15 minutes).

Two (and this reason's actually kinda cool), it's the first time I sat down every day and forced myself to commit an idea to "paper". Each song minus the bonus track was started in a succession of days, and was finished once the impending doom of graduation was dealt with. As such, some of the music is tense, uncertain, sorrowful, what have you. The regular gamut of emotions one runs through right before starting the rest of their life. 

I talk too much. The music's my take on ambient (so, ambient film score, sort of) with fittingly Swedish band name to match. The name was born out of the idea to have our names pronounced entirely wrong with what was written. Carston Früm was a take on Christian Frahme, one of my housemates; of course, it helps that it looks like Sigur Rós.

^My personal favorite track, and the one that started the whole project.

Download, listen, spread, enjoy, and if you like it enough give me money! That gives me more incentive to do these types of things, or at least lets me buy things to do them better.

One last thought before I go: caught Prometheus on Tuesday. Apart from a rather refreshing take on film score in a major release, I'm still trying to decipher why the film was made. It looked incredible, sure (possibly cause of the Imax 3D and all of the subwoofer), but I didn't see the point. Between all the mouthfucking aliens and Charlize Theron's bodysuit (admittedly awesome), it seems like Ridley Scott missed the whole idea of a movie: it has to have a point. Which I feel Prometheus did not.

Though it did allow me to whisper "Spaaaaaace" at every possible moment.

Pictured: Space. And robot Michael Fassbender.

I'm done.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Post-Graduate Crankiness

I suppose I don't blog as often as I should. Considering I'm interning at a place that requires me to put in anywhere from 2 to 5 hours sitting in front of a phone waiting for it to ring, I should have time to update. Said time is usually spent reading and re-reading Cracked articles, and now with the recent acquisition of Netflix, watching mind-numbing TV shows.

Too much time wasted.

Being an intern 4 days a week isn't really where I envisioned my life going. We all have these lofty aspirations to be hired straight out of college, touring the world or scoring that big budget Hollywood movie and walking down the red carpet to the Oscars (hey, I can dream). Reality sets in soon afterwards when you realize how few and far between music jobs appear. All the musicians I graduated with are still jobless and I know more than a few are contemplating other career paths.

Yes, I'm well aware that I only graduated from college less than a month ago (a point that's hurled at me every time I complain about working for $10 a day), but the future's scary. I spent enough time working at a snack bar over the past few summers to know that it's absolutely miserable, and I don't want to have to stoop that low again just to get by.

Bitch, moan, bitch, complain, bitch, etc.

On a couple sidenotes: I took a stab at writing "ambient" music where I started a track a day right before graduation. Those 5 tracks will be out soon, once I get the artwork for the album. I'm also involved in an upcoming webseries called "Mock Justice", whose 5 minute pilot is set to be completed this weekend and entered into competitions next weekend. I'll have updates for both of these next posting cycle (which hopefully won't be like the last update, 2 months ago).

In the meantime, I'm going to see Amanda Palmer in 2 weeks, where I paid far too much for StubHubbed tickets but don't really care, because it's Amanda Fucking Palmer. Watch this video (still one of my favorites),.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Welcome Back Kotter

Hi again, blog world.

It's me.

A whole lot's happened since July 7th, 2011; much too much to go into detail on here, especially at 1 in the morning when I've been writing charts since I woke up at 11. Let's just say it was equal parts business, laziness, craziness and time.

But I'm back. For how long, I'm not sure. Is it because I currently only have 1 and a half hours of class a week? Perhaps. Am I trying to promote the crap out of an original musical? A valid point. Freaked out about my future as a freelance musician? You better fucking believe it. It's high time to vent to something, to provide another output for my creation, and really, just to write because it feels like it's time to write.

So for at least until showtime, if not more, Composing While Colorblind returns.

And as always, there will be music. Lots of it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Word is Worth a Thousand Notes

Work has been continuously chugging along on Alice Unraveled for the past week or so. It appears I found my muse in an in-progress cover of "Cannibal" by Ke$ha. Sometimes all it takes is the realization that you had the first chord of the chorus confused to spark ALL of your work to completion. The latest arrangement brought to the party borrows heavily from Phil Spector produced groups, namely The Rhonettes and is my take on that 60s girl-pop sound. It's somewhat hard to convey with my sample set, but hopefully the idea gets across well. James Perrella was kind enough to quick-mix it, and it's not indicative of his actual mixing prowess at all. But he's a much better mixer than I, so even a couple of hours put into it equals days of me trying to mix it. Lots of problems with this rendition, but hey, it's a first draft. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Who Are You? by Michael Hart

And as always, pimp my music out!

Really, though, I wanted to share an insight with you that happened upon me just last night. All throughout my life, and musical career, I never put much value into lyrics. If they were good or bad, sure, I'd take notice and be able to determine if they were good or bad. But it wouldn't affect my interest in the song at all. It's played a small part in how my music has turned out (hey, there's no lyrics in film scores; I'm an awful lyricist), and when asked to do arrangements I'd keep them in mind but ultimately not pay too terribly much attention to them.

Kelly Izzo and I hit a few mishaps during this whole process of arranging for Alice Unraveled, where she approaches things from a very simple, very minimalist point of view and I... well, do not. I love my bombast. I was re-listening to the demo tracks last night to try and get arrangement ideas and I hit the title track of the musical. Which, if you haven't heard it, is absolutely phenomenal. So I was listening, blah de blah, it finished, I had an idea when something changed. Something resonated in my head.

"Something was lost, when I couldn't see/with the lights turned off".

I don't know why it struck such a chord, but I listened to the song again. And really listened to the words this time. By the end of the song I was shaking. It finally all fell into perspective; here's a musical about a girl who's thrown into an awful situation by herself and lays her heart out for the whole world to see, only to have no one care. It was an incredibly moving moment.

Again I go back to this point I've made before, but this time with a new perspective: for all of our mass produced, synthesized, hugely arranged pop, electronica, anything with a club kick... does it matter what they say? Hell, even singer-songwriters do it too, drowning the message in washes of guitar layers and strings. Far too many are concerned with a pristine sounding record, how loud it gets, how deep the bass is, whether or not it'll move a million units.

Valid points? Sure.

The only points? Fuck that.

Sometimes it only takes a girl with a guitar, recording into a Macbook camera mic, to make you realize how vulnerable you really are.

I'm still in awe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Really, All You Need Is Björk

It starts with a link.


And ends with you listening to it.

Really, I have nothing more to say other than forget Volta, forget that weird thing she did with Thom Yorke, forget that weirder thing she did with Dirty Projectors (though that wasn't as bad). This is the Björk we know and love.

Just listen, fuckers.