It feels to me that a shift is happening in my music. Over the years I have seen how I go in cycles. For many years I focused much more on writing (in particular, writing tunes) than playing. For around 7 years it turned around and I focused almost entirely on playing and did very little writing. Then, around 5 years ago it was like a creative dam burst open and I focused heavily on developing concepts and writing for mid-size ensemble. NOW, I am feeling a shift back to tunes.
While I like to write for ensembles, it has been my feeling for quite a while that my most creative work is in my tunes -- in particular, the ones that defy a conventional genre classification.
David Arivett is going to make solo piano demos of some of my tunes that have not yet been recorded. We are going to start with "Samba da Aguia Pescadora". I will add the recording to my site as soon as it is ready (might be several weeks). Stay tuned....
A composer friend suggested to me that I try Patreon as a way to enable friends of my music to give their financial support to one of my projects. Patreon is similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo in how fans can collectively raise money for an artist's event or project. However, Patreon gives artists an option to seek funding for a stream of smaller works as well as for a single big event.
My Blues For Lester Recording Project is a collaboration with David Arivett. David created a demo recording of my Blues For Lester score for mid-size jazz ensemble in 2014. The recording gives one an idea of how the score is meant to sound. However, all of the instrument tracks in the demo were created electronically (including the drums).
David and I are in agreement that having a real drummer will greatly help to bring this music to life -- in particular, in the series of drum solos in the score. Additionally, I experimented with a violin as the soloist on the demo recording however I now think that it would work better to have it played by a trumpet. We believe that adding the new tracks and remixing the recording are worth the $500 cost of the project.
My profile at Patreon (see below for link) has a full description of the project as well as a video that enables one to follow the pages of my Blues For Lester score while listening to the music. As you listen, imagine how much better it can sound with a real drummer and trumpet player added to the recording.
If you would like to contribute to this project, please become a patron through Patreon. Any level of support is appreciated! As a thank you, I will send MP3 recordings of my originals to all of my patrons.
I have been composing for many years. For whatever reason, I have become frustrated with music lately and it feels like I am a dog chasing its tail. Trying to understand why this is happening, several insights came to me today:
1.) One of my music goals is to have recordings of my originals heard by a broad audience. Happily, this is working well for me online. My website has many visitors each month and a selection of my music is played on a variety of sites (internet radio, youtube, soundcloud, etc). No frustration there!
2.) Another goal is to have more live performances of my music. My creative process is to focus on composition and have others perform it. While my originals are receiving some performances, widening the scope to have the music played by more musicians has been a challenge.
3.) Digging deeper into #2..... When I started to compose again in 1989, after being away from music for 12 years, I focused on writing tunes. That is, I did not write for ensembles for close to 20 years. In 2009 I began to write for ensembles again and in 2010 I became immersed in developing my concepts for mid-size jazz ensemble. It was like creative floodgates burst open.
The scores I have written for mid-size ensemble have a wide stylistic range -- from American roots music to avant-garde -- and my use of flexible instrumentation enables the music to be performed by many kinds of instruments. While it might seem that high school and college ensembles (as one possibility) would be ideal for playing my scores, this has largely been a dead-end. It appears that there is not much interest in mid-size ensemble music as it falls in the cracks between conventional big bands and small groups. The difficultly in finding ensembles to perform this music has been frustrating.
4.) I am deeply grateful to the music friends who are recording my music. This enables people in many countries around the world to hear my work. One of the bright things that happened for my music in 2014 was stumbling upon David Arivett in a Facebook music group. Impressed with his arrangements and recording production, I commissioned him to make demo recordings for my mid-size ensemble scores. While these are electronic demos, David's studio magic gives one a sense that they are listening to a real band.
Thanks to David's recordings, people can now hear my mid-size ensemble music. In recent months I used these recordings to create videos so one can follow the pages of my scores while listening to the music. I also created a video that presents a 24-minute virtual concert of my music for mid-size ensemble.
5.) As I thought about all of this, an intuitive vision came to me: to think of my website as a performance center where people from many places can come and and listen to my music.
If the people watching my Virtual Concert video use their imagination, they can experience my music for mid-size ensemble as how I would like to have it in a live performance. In a similar way, my website currently has 33 recordings of my originals for people to hear and explore. These recordings have many musical styles and combinations of instruments from a solo guitar to a 27-piece wind ensemble.
What this vision tells me is to take a path of less resistance and make the most of creative ways to present my music on my website. What happens then? That is where the Universe comes in. The only thing I can do is to trust that the people who will feel a connection with my music will find their way to it -- and that my music will find its way to them.
This is part of a message that I received today in an email from Bandcamp: "If you give fans easy ways to directly support the artists they love, they'll take you up on it every time". Is this statement true?
During the years of vinyl recordings, and later with CDs, music listeners purchased a physical product. Now, in today's world of digital music -- while one can purchase music downloads from sites like ITunes, CDBaby, and Bandcamp -- many people listen to music without paying for it on streaming sites like Youtube, Jango, etc. These sites make money through ad revenue but the musicians, whose music draws people to the sites, typically receive no or little money for the number of plays their music receives. This is a departure from radio and TV where composers receive royalties for the use of their music.
Musicians need financial support from those who listen to their music. Fan-funding is a simple concept and it can work: If each person who is inspired by the music of a particular musician gives just a small amount of money -- like purchasing several mp3 downloads (often around $1 per track) -- the collective contribution can help the musician to make more recordings and create new music. I do not think that is too much to ask.
It is rare for me to ask friends to share a post. However, if you agree with this message please share it with your friends. Somehow the decline in music sales (especially, for music that is not mass-marketed) has to be turned around. We're all in this together!
The Bandcamp message:
"Fans have now given artists $100 million USD through Bandcamp. Fans give artists $3.5 million every month on the site, and buy more than 16,000 records a day, which works out to about one every five seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sales on Bandcamp are up 30% in the last 12 months, at a time when the rest of the industry is down 11%. We see this growth as proof that if you give fans easy ways to directly support the artists they love, they'll take you up on it every time. So a big, big thanks to everyone supporting artists on Bandcamp."
One of my goals for this year is to focus more on music licensing. Composing for film or TV does not interest me. I have a different kind of creative process. However, a while back a music friend told me how she thought my originals could do quite well as placement music in TV & film. That inspired me to work on this new direction.
If some of my work can receive placements, the money will help to fund new recordings of my music. (And, the musicians on the recordings will receive a share.) Music placements is a way that can enable this new music to be heard. Please see the Music Licensing page on my website for details.
A video for New Tango No. 3 has been added to the Music Licensing page. This video is a sample of how my music can sound in TV and film. New Tango No. 3 is one of my pieces that has done well with a broad audience. It was in the #1 spot on the Top Songs chart for 6 weeks at Hardcoremix Radio and received 60,784 votes in 2013.
Buttons for Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Vimeo, and RSS Feed have been added to the header of each page on my website. Use the Contact page for email.
After using Youtube for many years, I have come to prefer Vimeo for sharing my music videos. Currently, I have 13 videos at Vimeo. More will be added over time. In addition, the embedded videos on my website -- such as on the Virtual Concert page -- have been changed from Youtube to Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/raldridge
Roger Aldridge, jazz composer living in Olney, Maryland.