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Another year, another blog entry

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

It’s been a while since the last one, for many reasons.  First, as I tell everyone, a new change in command at TUSAB.  It seems like a lame excuse, but new command means new workflow, and it’s an adjustment, no matter who the new guy is.  For some reason, this year was much busier than usual, and no hope for better this year.  This year, its an inaugural, next year it will be Pageant of Peace.  Left, right, left.

The other reason is that I didn’t feel like I had much to say, particularly about music.  I didn’t write much of anything last year.  No commissions, which was fine for a change because I had lots of other work to keep me busy, as well as my day job.  This year, as of this writing, I have 2 pieces to write, 3 if you include the Symphony I’m working on.  What the heck, I’ll write more about that later, once my panic attack subsides…

Actually, I do have a lot to say about music, but it’s more than can be easily written (typed) in one sitting.  I also had one of those self-censoring moments where I wondered if anyone actually read my blog, or if I even had anything to say, about music or anything else.  The problem with a blog is that it’s tempting to write what you’re actually thinking.  If I did that, it would be mostly complaints and lists of things I find ridiculous about the human species.  That just makes you sound like an asshole, and I’m not an asshole!  At least I hope I’m not one.  BUT that seems to be what people want to read.

2012 did have some ups and downs.  The Mayan Apocalypse apparently came and went!  I had one of the tougher bits of copy-work come across my desk on the Kennedy Center Honors (blasted Prokofiev!).  I went hiking, went on a few more wine tours, spent some more time with my camera & sweet lenses, got to see my family at Xmas for the first time in about 12 years.  All in all, a good year.

I do have some exciting gear upgrades in the works.  I’m going to get a copy of the new-fangled Band in a Box, with the real tracks and everything.  Also looking forward to trying the EZDrummer series of products.  Looks promising.

I would also like to do a review of some ZOOM products.  I like my ZOOM stuff.  More to come.

Finale Tips – Custom Transpositions

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Today’s Finale tip has to do with transposing instruments, namely the Bb & Eb instruments.

For some reason, Finale’s threshold for sharps is a little high. It will automatically switch a Bb instrument to flats if the key signature is higher than 4 sharps (E, C#min). For the Key of E, however, we’re stuck with 6 sharps. For Eb instruments, it happens in the key of A or F#min. Some people prefer to display the key as flats; if you are one of those people, or you’re engraving for someone who is, here’s how to get it done:

In order to get the Bb/Eb part to display flats instead of sharps, we have to perform some “black magic”, and it’s slightly different depending on the situation. There are 2 ways to do it:

1. If the key doesn’t change throughout the piece

This is the easier/simpler of the two. All it involves is changing the rules of the transposition on each stave, and in effect making a “custom” transposition”. There are 2 numbers we need to change: the first is the interval, the 2nd the key adjustment. The interval just moves the notes up and down. The key adjusts the number of sharps and flats relative to the current key signature. Finale transposes by some mathematical equation that adds up to 11, with the center being 0 (I think).

SO, in the staff attributes, click the “Select…” after “Transposition”. When the Staff Transpositions dialogue box appears, select “Key Signature”, “Simplify Key” should already be checked, now enter the following numbers:

Bb Treble: Interval -2, Key -10 Bb Bass Inst: Interval 9, Key -10
Eb Treble; Interval -1, Key -9 Eb Bass Inst: Interval 13, key -9

2. If the key changes or moves around throughout the chart/piece

The downside to creating a custom transposition is that it now translates EVERY key change that way, so something as simple as F becomes Gbb major, and that’s just freaky. So, let’s say you only need to be in the Key of A or E for a few bars, then it’s right back to simple ol’ F major; what to do?

Remember the settings from above, because they’ll be used here as well, only in the form of a custom Staff Style. Under “Staff”, select “Define Staff Styles…” and create a new one. Every box should be unchecked, so do it if it isn’t, or if you duplicated it from another; select the transposition tab as you did above, and apply the settings above. Use as necessary.

*one slight wrinkle, the last time I used this, I ran into difficulty copying notes from a non-transposing staff to the staff-style-transposed staff, which was easily fixed by re-applying the staff style. While it isn’t perfect, it will get you where you need to go.

“Eviler Elves” picked up for Windependence Series

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Well, looks like my stint as a self-published band composer has come to an abrupt end! “Eviler Elves” has been accepted to be part of the Windependence Series of band literature, published by Boosey and Hawkes, and will be advertised as such in the Fall of 2010. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it is under the advisory of Craig Kirchoff, a fantastic conductor I had the rare privelege to play under the baton of while I was at the University of Minnesota.

Here is the link if you want to read more about the series:

http://www.boosey.com/teaching/series/Windependence/10130

Keep your eyes open for it the Fall of 2010!