Hi everyone,

Two weeks after the premiere of Concert Etudes I, the piece is now on youtube. Please note that movements I, III, and VI, were performed due to the timing of the recital. I hope to have this piece performed in it entirety very soon.

For now, enjoy!!

Last semester, spring of 2011, I competed in Michigan State’s Composition Competition. The judge for this competition was none other than David Maslanka. We received an email of Maslanka’s comment about our pieces, and one of the comments that he said to all of us was the following: “I want to say to take everybody’s computer away and make them write by hand. [In other words], Learn to hear internally and at the piano without [the] benefit of computer playback” – Maslanka, email.

I did not actually experiment with this method until two months ago when I began writing the third movement of The Two Siblings (sax/euph duet). At first I thought, “This is taking forever!” But shortly, I realized that this was easier for me to compose than using Finale from start to finish. Before I go on, I’m not here to say those who exclusively compose by Finale or Sibelius are wrong, but I’m comparing the pros and cons between the two methods.

Compose by Finale/Sibelius

One of the benefits of using music notation software are the large assessment of tools that a composer can use. They are quite accessible and easy to use. In addition, they are a great way to make music scores look professional (as long as you know what you are doing). You can also change the size of the paper, score, everything in the music with a couple clicks. In addition, you can erase and edit in a short amount of time (even though it still takes forever to edit). Now for the cons. The main problem with music notation software is the playback. I can imagine that many of you reading this are thinking “But that’s the best part of Finale!! I do not need to play any instruments. I don’t need to listen to a band. I don’t even need to think! I just sit back and enjoy the sweet sounds of video game music right in my ears!!” I can not emphasis this fact any more: the playback will disorient the natural sounds and capabilities of the instrument, therefore the composer will assume that if the particular motive sounds good on the computer, then it will sound amazing in person. In other words, it’s not real! In addition, MIDI playback is absolutely HORRIBLE!! (really!) MIDI, along with other sound libraries, can deceive your ears by making music sound either disturbing, or somewhat decent. The point is that these sound libraries, such as GOP4 and COMB2, try to recreate real sound to help the user on how his/her music will sound in person, yet even if they sound exactly like an authentic Saxophone, it will never match a live instrument. Another problem are the tools used in these programs. I might be contradicting myself here, but the available tools on Finale/Sibelius are amazing: convenient and easy, but it is very easy for someone to get distracted by these tools and not pay attention to the realistic results to the real musicians. That is why so many young composers’ sounds so fragmented. You have so many options to work with, along with playback, that when you hear a motive that sounds so EPIC, you will use that motive REGARDLESS OF WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON IN THE PIECE!

Though I bashed this category quite a bit, I still use Finale, but only when I’m “publishing”/editing my pieces, and/or arranging music.

Compose by Hand (Old School)

There are many benefits to composing by hand. One of them is flexibility. Although you can not control how your staves look, you can add any marking just the way you want it, such as adding aleatoric boxes, customizing time signatures, omitting barlines…anything really! In addition, Sibelius/Finale contain a lot of tools that you can use to write music. One benefit, in my opinion, to composing by hand is the lack of distractions to writing. Finale is amazing in so many levels, but there’s too many options for me to choose, and sometimes they make composing much more complicated than it should. By hand, I can focus a lot more on only the ACTUAL composing part of the process. As far as how to hear your music, you can either play your music on a piano, play it on your instrument (if possible), or you can give it to a musician who would be willing to check your music out. One of the cons for this method is the editing process. Since you write in pencil, you will be erasing literally all the time. In fact, time is a big problem when writing by hand. When comparing finale to hand, it could take about 10 minutes or less to write 10 measures on finale where it could take about 20 minutes, or more to write 10 measures by hand.

I highly recommend writing by hand, however I would also consider using Finale/Sibelius for editing purposes. Everyone has their own preferences about which method is better. The only way to find which method is the right one for you, is to try both methods out.

BTW: the recordings from the Premieres Concert are here, so I will post Concert Etudes I on Youtube tomorrow!

This Tuesday on November 1st is the first Premieres Concert of the 2011-2012 school year! Originally, the first Premieres Concert would have been October 18th, but due to a lack of pieces, the concert was cancelled.

I am very excited for this premieres concert in particular, because this is the first time that my music is in a concert along with six graduate colleagues of mine! In addition, this premieres concert has a variety of chamber ensembles: from a piano solo to a piece that requires 5-10 TVs and DVD players!! I will be premiering Concert Etudes I which I started to write earlier in February. With Sangmi Lim playing my music for the THIRD time (personal record!!), I know that this piece will go well. (side note: I asked Sangmi yesterday to play this piece, because the pianist before had a fever, and still does.)

Unfortunately, since all of the students who operated on the webcast of many premieres concert are not at Michigan State any more, there is not a webcast for this concert (if it does, I’ll let you know), so what I’ll do is that once the CD is complete, I’ll post the piece on Youtube and on this site. For those that live in the Mid-Michigan area, I hope you can attend this concert; it is a concert that you will NOT want to miss! Hart Recital Hall, East Lansing, MI. Michigan State University.

Hello everyone!

So far, I am enjoying my semester as a graduate student at Michigan State University. My schedule is not as busy as my undergraduate years, but still busy. I’ve met a lot of new graduate composition majors who I get along with very well. Overall, I’m very excited to see what this semester brings to me and the comp studio!

On November 1st is the Graduate Premieres Concert at 7:39pm in the Hart Recital Hall. I will be having my most recently finished composition on the program: Concert Etudes I. Today, I will be giving the score to Chia-Ying Huang, who from I’ve heard is a great pianist! I will keep you posted on further updates to the event and composition. Until then, have a great week!

As the summer break is winding down to the final minutes, I’d like to reflect the many events that have happened over the summer.

  • I worked for my Dad from Day 1 of the summer break until yesterday. I am very glad that I not only earned some cash, but I was able to help the family as well.
  • I was able to collaborate with Gretchen Renshaw, University of Arkansas euphonium performance masters student, on Fantonium. Unfortunately, I have not been able to double-check this piece in a while since I had work and a few other obligations in the way.
  • I finished Concert Etudes #1 for piano, began working on the saxophone/euphonium duet, and making progress on the woodwind trio.
  • Despite not having much progress on composing new works, I was able to arrange a piece for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. The performance was well received and JSO director Stephen Osmond told me that the JSO will definitely consider me for any future projects.

Now, this school year will be my first year as a masters student!

I am looking forward to the many opportunities that will come up. I’m also looking forward to studying with Dr. Ricardo Lorenz, who will help me with whatever is necessary to become a successful composer, musician, person, and product!

I hope that all of you had a great summer and have a great school year!

As of yesterday, I have finished the Concert Etudes I for solo piano. Currently, I am working on the second movement of a woodwind trio consisting of flute, clarinet, and cello.

While working on the trio and the orchestration for the Saxophone Concerto, I am having a hard time deciding my next project. I have a few ideas, but I don’t know which type of medium I should write for first. Here are the ideas:

Voice and piano (preferably mezzo-soprano, alto, or baritone voice).

British Brass Band

Brass Quintet

duet for saxophone and euphonium

unaccompanied solo for clarinet

small chamber ensemble (instruments TBA)

The poll is below this post with these choices. I’m planning to choose the leading pick on June 4th, so this will give you 7 days to decide what is best. Please feel free to give me ideas and I will be more than happy to add them to the poll.

Have a great weekend!

Two days ago was a huge milestone that I walked over; I graduated from Michigan State University! I am now an MSU Alumnus, though I will return to MSU for studying Masters of Music Composition under Dr. Ricardo Lorenz. I am looking forward to the new chapter that awaits me at the end of August!

Now, Compositions!

I am very close to finishing Concert Etudes #1 for solo piano, which  is a set of six etudes that represents a certain motive. Each etude plays with a motivic idea and tries to expand it based on the properties represented by ONLY the initial motive.

For instance: Etude I. involves two pitches: G# and A; an interval of a minor 2nd. Etude II. focuses on the E Major/Dominant 7th chord. Etude III. is a battle between Bb Major and Bb minor. Etude IV. is based on three pitches: E,F,G. Etude V. is based on five pitches and the dotted eighth sixteenth rhythm, and finally Etude VI. focuses on the control of the pedal. In addition, I was inspired by John Corigliano’s Etude Fantasy when writing Etude VI.

The second piece I’ve been working on during the semester is a trio for flute (doubles on piccolo), clarinet (doubles on bass clarinet), and cello. I’m currently working on the 2nd movement of this piece. The first movement focuses within the treble clef range where all three instruments can feature different timbres while phasing out from one another.

Shortly after a successful performance of the Concerto for Saxophone, I’ve began the process of orchestrating the piano accompaniment for wind ensemble (2,2,Eb,3,Bass, no saxophones, 2,4,3,1,1, double bass, percussion (the instrumentation is not official at this time)). I will let you know later how this project is going.

My goal for this summer is to write a piece for voice and piano. All I have written so far were works for instrumental music and to begin writing a piece for voice is quite scary. Despite this project sounding a bit difficult, I am looking forward to the challenge and I will let you know how this project is going.
Have a great summer! (if not, have a great week!)