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#3141388 07/28/21 08:24 PM
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I just finished this, it's a cover of Philip Glass' Opening from Glassworks, for two pianos. Sorry, it's long, but I guess it's as long as it needed to be. Just happy this monster is finished and want someone to hear it!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wdspnf5jbwoy1hx/Glass%20Variations.wav?dl=0


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

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Hi, Jim:

I rarely listen to the posted clips here in the Composer's Forum, but I did listen to yours, weeks ago, actually, right after you posted it, and have been meaning to comment.

I heard of Phillip Glass quite a few years ago, but my knowledge of his work is scanty, to say the least. I tried listening to a few pieces of his work in the past. Whichever selections I wound up listening to, I did not care for. I then assumed I wouldn't like any of Glass' music.

Your performance of GlassWorks has, however, changed my opinion. I think your performance of GlassWorks is AWESOME.

After listening to your performance, I listened on YouTube to Glass's original work as performed by Glass's ensemble, and was surprised the entire work is not solely piano - solo piano - I discovered a variety of other instruments play on various parts of GlassWorks. I did not make a study of it, I did not listen to the entire piece, lost interest when the sections with other instrumentation began.

With regards to your performance of GlassWorks (I believe just the Opening Selection of it) I hope you'll answer some questions…

Q1: Is your performance of a commercially available transcription of GlassWorks for solo piano? Or did you create a different transcription of your own?

Q2: Did you perform GlassWorks live (is what we hear you playing the notes on the keyboard yourself), or is some of it programmed? It sounds to me as though at least some of the performance may be programmed playing. Or maybe this is because you (I believe) are playing a digital keyboard of some kind. (?)

Q3: What software piano did you use to make the sound of the piano? (Or am I really totally off the mark? Did you play an acoustic piano?)

A Side Note:

It really is amazing how differently people react to music.

I think your performance of GlassWorks and the music itself is terrific.

My husband, however, I was shocked to learn, finds the piece you recorded - Glass' music - irritating - too repetitious while I, on the other hand, enjoy and appreciate the entirety of it.

I do find some composer's music too repetitious, but GlassWorks is not too repetitious for me. The way the music develops, changes, seques and transforms with the different accompaniments and hints of differing musical styles that weave in and out throughout, I think, is really great, and I think I prefer your performance of it, over that of Glass's official recording.

Thanks, Jim for posting your performance of GlassWorks.

smile

Jeanne W


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I wholeheartedly recommend Philip Glass's autobiography, Words without Music. Philip tells the story of how he worked tirelessly at composing, all the while working odd jobs as a plumber, truck loader, or taxicab driver in New York City. His job as a taxicab driver was his favorite because he could disappear on tour for months at a time, come back into the depot, throw his hack license into the dispatcher's slot, and get a car. One day, the dispatcher says, Glass, Glass, I haven't seen you in a while, to which Philip replied, my mother has been sick. The dispatcher said, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure, and threw him the keys.

I don't love all of his music but I like quite a bit of it. I have respect for people who follow their dreams, no matter the cost.

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Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Hi, Jim:

I rarely listen to the posted clips here in the Composer's Forum, but I did listen to yours, weeks ago, actually, right after you posted it, and have been meaning to comment.

Well, what a nice thing to come across today! Thanks for the kind words.

Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Q1: Is your performance of a commercially available transcription of GlassWorks for solo piano? Or did you create a different transcription of your own?

I didn't use a transcription at all, I picked it up by ear, which is actually extremely easy for this piece. My piece is a theme and variations on the Glass theme from the "Opening" movement of Glassworks, and I don't involve the other 5 movements at all. So only the very beginning of mine is the original Glass composition. Everything after 1:10 is my own variations. (And in fact, I halved the number of repetitions in the original piece, so if I were to have played the main theme as written, it would have been 2:20, not 1:10!)

Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Q2: Did you perform GlassWorks live (is what we hear you playing the notes on the keyboard yourself), or is some of it programmed? It sounds to me as though at least some of the performance may be programmed playing. Or maybe this is because you (I believe) are playing a digital keyboard of some kind. (?)

It is all programmed, actually. I can play it, but it's much too time-consuming to work up my own compositions for never-to-be-realized live performances. I'm more interested in writing music than performing it. In fact, I never perform live - I freeze up, it's a thing. Also, this piece (and the entire album it will be part of) is actually written for two pianos, so even if I did work up one of the parts, I'd need another player.

Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Q3: What software piano did you use to make the sound of the piano? (Or am I really totally off the mark? Did you play an acoustic piano?)

Yeah, sounds great, doesn't it? The sounds are coming from a digital instrument package called Play, by a company called EastWest.
http://www.soundsonline.com/
I subscribe to an annual package called Composer Cloud, which avails me of every instrument library they make, literally thousands of instruments of all genres and ethnicities. Of those thousands of instruments, a handful are these great fully realized pianos. In the right ear you are hearing a digital Yamaha and in the left ear a Bechstein. I also have half a dozen or so other pianos I could have chosen.

I am writing using a DAW called Cakewalk, which I've been using for over 30 years now (it was the first application I purchased and installed on my very first computer in 1989!), and a few years ago it became free.

If someone ever wanted a transcription of the pieces, I would be happy to provide one if they were really planning on performing it live for an audience. (They would also need a partner and a rehearsal space with two pianos!) I would love that, actually. But I don't perform live and don't know of any pianist duo who want to play it.

Glass' work is of course repetitious, that's like saying Metallica is loud. The repetition is part of the point. Your husband's irritated initial response is quite common for Glass. It's a mindset thing. One could also claim a serene mountain lake is boring because not enough is going on. It challenges the listener to find the beauty in the repetition. Maybe you could have him listen to a Glass piece while looking at a modern office building. Storey after storey of the building looks exactly the same, yet most of us can see majesty and beauty in that sameness. My wife and I love Glass and have played him around the house probably more frequently than any other music.


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

I have a website I never remember to update: www.jimofseattle.com

Also jkoseattle@comcast.net
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Hi, Larry.

Finding time to devote to what we really want to do is a challenging balancing act. Glass rose to the challenge.

Jeanne W

P.S. It's good to see a fellow Pittsburgher here. My husband and I both hail from The Steel City.


Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

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Hi, Jim,

I hope you'll share a bit more about how you created your recording.

You say you picked Glass's music up by ear, played your own variations and, further, that the entire performance is programmed.

Do you mean you entered 100% of the performance note by note into software using a computer (not piano) keyboard?

What I'm asking is what exactly do you mean when you say it is all programmed?

If what I'm thinking is true - you tapped in every single note from a computer keyboard while improvising at the same time, I have to believe that would hamper creativity/improvisation and be incredibly tedious.

???

Jeanne W


Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

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Jeeane,

Not exactly. I played everything on a digital piano, but rather than hitting record and playing it through, I played in tiny increments. Imagine a regular composing process in every way, except that instead of physically writing ideas down, I record them from the piano into the software. Then maybe I move stuff around, re-play sections that weren't quite right, adjust notes here or there, do multiple takes, etc., until I'm happy with something. A lot of time and effort is spent both moving around sections to find the correct flow, as well as massaging individual notes in individual passages. Maybe I played a section a little ahead of the beat, or played too hard, or the balance between the pianos wasn't quite right, or something played in one piano really belonged to the other, that sort of thing.

So, I did play it all myself on an actual instrument, but it was in hundreds of individual takes, each of which is recorded in the software. Imagine a player piano roll, but the little holes in that roll are actually objects I can select, move around, adjust, delete, etc.

Example:
I play back starting at bar 183 in the software. I listen to that phrase, and I don't think it's quite right, so I delete bars 183-186, then go back to bar 182, hit Record, and play a new attempt at 183-186. I like it, but I played it too loud, so I select that section I just recorded and lower the velocity of all the notes by about 20%, go back to 182 and play it back again, now I'm happy with it, though I realize I flubbed one note in a chord, so I drag that wrong note to where it's supposed to be. I play back again and I'm now happy with bars 183-186. Make sense? It's actually much easier to get into a creative/improvisational flow than it would be if I had to write things out.


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

I have a website I never remember to update: www.jimofseattle.com

Also jkoseattle@comcast.net
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Well, it seems a lot of work to me. But the result is good. It is like a landscape, and I enjoyed it.
And doesn't sound like stitched together (mostly). ;-)


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This was a pleasant surprise. Like many others I find Glass' music repetitious and boring. I know all about minimalism and how it evolves in small ways over time, but I never found those small evolutions enough to satisfy my brain's need for substance. I was almost ready to kill the playback when your first variation started and it was enough evolution to hold my interest. The variations built from there and I finished delighted with your music. There's a good chance I'll listen again. Jim in Seattle as a fellow composer I think we have a lot in common based on what you've posted recently. I really should stop by more often.


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Thanks Steve! That was terrific to wake up to! I listened to the first movement of your Symphony, Yesterday is History, and found it pretty delightful. The opening fugue is cool, could have developed even more. Also, to those "in the know", it's so very Bartok Music for Strings-ish, I noticed. I especially like the little glimmers of major key tonality that crept in like little slivers of sunshine.

I also listened to Consolation, which I liked too, though not as well, as I felt it could use some more rhythmic variation, awful lotta quarter notes in there. Still, a pretty easy and super fun fix that would be :-). And I liked it well enough to continue with the Symphony, so that's saying something.

After all these comments I also went back and listened to my Glass piece for the first time since I wrote it, and my reaction is the same as it always is when I revisit pieces I've recently finished, and that is that so much of my attention to detail is lost on me once I'm no longer swimming in it anymore. Good to remember. I really value those rare moments when I can hear my own music as if I didn't write it.

In defense of Glass himself, I think that if those small evolutions aren't enough to hold your interest, you're "listening too hard". Case in point. My wife and I have always loved Einstein on the Beach, but this track is one we've always skipped. We find it unrelentingly irritating, as you certainly will if you click on the link. When we were finally fortunate enough to be able to see the opera live, however, it turned out to be our favorite scene in the whole five hour show. What changed was that there was something to look at to pull our attention away from the music alone, so the music had a chance to do its thing on us subconsciously.
https://open.spotify.com/track/5Aa9RmKPwpempydW3acBhi?si=e996bba778434fae


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

I have a website I never remember to update: www.jimofseattle.com

Also jkoseattle@comcast.net
mydp #3148978 08/23/21 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mydp
Well, it seems a lot of work to me. But the result is good. It is like a landscape, and I enjoyed it.
And doesn't sound like stitched together (mostly). ;-)

I'm confused. What seems a lot of work?


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

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Originally Posted by Jim of Seattle
I'm confused. What seems a lot of work?

Sorry. Maybe I didn't understand well your process.
What I understood is that you record on your DAW a few notes or phrases each time in, to quote your own words "hundreds of individual takes". Of course, if you are writing for two pianos you have to record the four hands, I took that independently. That seems to me some kind of giant sonic jigsaw and, since I am no good at all at live recording (because I am a quite basic pianist), it seems a lot of work to me. I am rather a score man myself. Although I am trying to teach myself how to use a DAW, I don't think I will ever master it.
Does that make sense?

Cheers,
Juan


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Yeah, I know where you're coming from. Comes down to what one is comfortable with I suppose.

Imagine that you are ok with the basic features of your DAW. You are sitting at the piano and work out some passage or other that you really like. Now, you can either pick up a pencil and jot it all down on paper, or simply hit the record button and play it into the DAW. The latter is much faster, and has the added benefit of being copy-pastable, and you can listen to it without having to play it yourself. In this example that's not much different, but once your piece starts to get long, it starts to get a lot. Add to that that most DAWs nowadays have pretty passable score transcription features, so you can still work from a regular score if you prefer.


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

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Originally Posted by Jim of Seattle
Comes down to what one is comfortable with I suppose.

Yes, I suppose so.


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Originally Posted by Jim of Seattle
Thanks Steve! That was terrific to wake up to! I listened to the first movement of your Symphony, Yesterday is History, and found it pretty delightful. The opening fugue is cool, could have developed even more. Also, to those "in the know", it's so very Bartok Music for Strings-ish, I noticed. I especially like the little glimmers of major key tonality that crept in like little slivers of sunshine.

I also listened to Consolation, which I liked too, though not as well, as I felt it could use some more rhythmic variation, awful lotta quarter notes in there. Still, a pretty easy and super fun fix that would be :-). And I liked it well enough to continue with the Symphony, so that's saying something.
Hi Jim,

Thanks so much for listening. Yeah, the Bartok was on my mind when writing the beginning of that piece. As for Consolation, it has a very specific purpose, balm for the soul. If it doesn't do that for you that's okay. I played it at my father's celebration of life earlier this month. It got lots of positive comments (though I wish I'd played it better). As for Phillip Glass, we may have to agree to disagree, but I still like your piece.


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Jim:

Thank you for explaining your process further. I'm guessing the kind of tasks involved in perfecting your recording are in some ways somewhat similar to some of the kinds of tasks recording engineers perform. But, as you are also composing the piece of music, that's an additional layer of work. Congrats again, on the great results.

And, Steve, I'm glad you joined the discussion. I expected you might have a few insights to share. If you've posted here recently, I missed it, and I got to wondering if you are still lurking around these parts. It's good to know you're still "out there" and visiting the here every so often.

Jeanne W


Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

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Steve,

Sorry to hear about your father, and now of course I feel bad for dinging it in any way. I wrote a piece for string quartet and piano for my niece's funeral a few years ago that was well-received, but I listen now as pure music not associated with the event and it sounds totally different. Weird how that happens.


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
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Hi, Jim:

You said:

"It is all programmed, actually. I can play it, but it's much too time-consuming to work up my own compositions for never-to-be-realized live performances. I'm more interested in writing music than performing it. In fact, I never perform live - I freeze up, it's a thing. "

I so relate to that. As far as piano is concerned, I've never considered nor wished to be much of a performer. I tend not to practice nor perfect performance of my music. Composing is my focus, what I most enjoy, and…

When it comes to any kind of public performance, public speaking, etc. I've always had massive stage fright. My fervent wish has more or less been to disappear in the background as much as possible. It's held me back in various ways throughout my entire life.

I've only played piano publicly a few times. One of those times my legs and hands shook uncontrollably - both at the same time. So delightful!

Jeanne W


Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
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Originally Posted by Jeanne W
Hi, Jim:

You said:

"It is all programmed, actually. I can play it, but it's much too time-consuming to work up my own compositions for never-to-be-realized live performances. I'm more interested in writing music than performing it. In fact, I never perform live - I freeze up, it's a thing. "

I so relate to that. As far as piano is concerned, I've never considered nor wished to be much of a performer. I tend not to practice nor perfect performance of my music. Composing is my focus, what I most enjoy, and…

When it comes to any kind of public performance, public speaking, etc. I've always had massive stage fright. My fervent wish has more or less been to disappear in the background as much as possible. It's held me back in various ways throughout my entire life.

I've only played piano publicly a few times. One of those times my legs and hands shook uncontrollably - both at the same time. So delightful!

Jeanne W

We are SO on the same page. I don't get stage fright so much though, I've never really been like that. I sort of look forward to public speaking even. But when I sit at the piano and people are there, it's like I can't remember a damn thing. It feels like I'm soaking up too much of the human energy in the room and can't focus on the piano.


My work is available at https://greenmonkeyrecords.com/jim-of-seattle/
Also on Spotify, Apple, all those subscription places under Jim of Seattle.

I have a website I never remember to update: www.jimofseattle.com

Also jkoseattle@comcast.net

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