Saturday, November 28, 2015

Music topics

So, I'm still trying to get back on the band wagon with this blog. I have been brain storming topics for posts I intend on writing about in the future (hopefully at least monthly). Before I even start delving into the subject matter, I will say that all of these topics are based off of my perception and experience. The ever popular IMHO ("in my humble opinion") comes to mind.

Here is the list of topics:

  • How I start a piece of music/jazz chart/song
  • What I've learned about social media and social networking
  • How I write for big band saxophone section
  • Cross pollination and not restricting onesself to just music
  • Small ensemble reduction arranging
  • Constructive criticism and its necessity
  • Use of octaves/unisons
  • "The workspace" - what my studio has in it
  • Use of parallel 5th/4th outside of music theory
  • Writing on a deadline: "high art" and gut instinct
  • The independent bass line (in classical, jazz, and contemporary)
  • "If it sounds good, it is good."
  • Planing chords / block chords / drop voicing / parallel coupling / line writing
  • Music and technology: programs, apps, mixers, speakers, etc.)
  • Grading scales for scholastic music
  • Time management and related advice I've been been given over the years
  • Chordal instruments in composition and arranging
  • Score study vs. practical application vs. critical listening
  • Time signatures: why is use time changes to keep interest 
Surely more topics will be added to this list, so keep tuned in for the first of many discussions!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My last update was a year ago...

So. My last update was November last year. I have failed considerably in that respect, but it's time to get back to work. (That's not to say I haven't been working...but that's beside the point).

My son, Samuel, was born in May. He's such a good baby. Now my family is complete. Looking toward the future.

I finished my Bachelors of Arts in Music degree from Thomas Edison State College. After 11 long years I finally finished. Unfortunately, I missed my graduation application deadline, so I won't get to graduate until December. But alas, it is what it is. 

My final course was called a Liberal Arts Capstone, which is essentially a thesis or dissertation research paper. I coupled the paper with a creative project. For this project, I decided to investigate something I eventually want to do: compose music for film. Saving all the boring details, here is the paper  and project can be found here on YouTube. 

I have written several arrangements for Mike Filkins and the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra in the last year, and its projected I will be writing a couple things this year as well. I also wrote some arrangements (alongside my colleague Leon Williams) for Samantha Crawford to be accompanied by the aforementioned CSO.

Now that college is done, I will be more time to actually dedicate to composing.

I started working on several concert band compositions last year, and even more possibly from 2013, which I was never able to finish, mostly because of college, so my plan is to attack those compositions full force and add them to my repertoire fully. Expect those hopefully by the end of the year.

Additionally, all of the online branding/marketing I have neglected over the last year will be put on a regular schedule; most notably my blog and getting my compositions uploaded to my website and hooked into my entire social network grid. It's time to get things back on track.

Let the games begin. <shameless plug>If you like my stuff, share it, like my Facebook page, or listen to some of my current developmental stuff on SoundCloud.</shameless plug> Stay tuned!

Also, more playing and recording guitar/vocal stuff. That's something I haven't done in quite a while.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm back!

So, here we are, many months after my last journal entry; much has gone on.
Let me start at the beginning:

So, February, I believe, was my last entry, and I was in the midst of submitting a Staff Arranger package to the "President's Own" Marine Band. I was immediately rejected, which is fine, I guess. At least I tried for it. I knew the insurmountable odds, but I would've kicked myself for NOT giving it a chance. That's how I felt about the missed opportunity for Marine Band Audio Engineer. I did not get the spot, but it was a good experience and I'll be ready for the next one.

Audio engineering:

I have gotten more involved with the audio engineering side of my job as of late, probably more so than composing or arranging. I've done a fair amount of recording and live sound in order to get back into the weeds with engineering. Soon, I'll be purchasing the PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2AI (which is coincidentally what I use at work, except that it's the 32 channel model) for my personal studio and finally get it off the ground.

Production studio:

Talking about my studio, I also purchased just recently a Yamaha YPG-235 keyboard to help aid the compositional process as well as just to have to keep my jazz voicing chops up to par. I'd have preferred weighted keys, but I basically got it for free (thanks points!), so I really can't complain.

Additionally, I finally got the Sibelius 7.5 upgrade and of course, the latest update for it. I don't necessarily notice a functionality difference, except that the program doesn't crash as much (Sibelius 7 crashed ALL THE TIME). But so far, so good in the couple weeks I've been using it.


Now, as far as composing and arranging goes, I've done several brass quintet pieces to include a hymn called Abide With Me and one I'm working on now that is inspired by the theme for a certain espionage favorite (for which I'm still working on a name). I've also done some stuff for show bands; mostly adding horn parts to older stuff (ie: China Grove, Born to be Wild, etc.).

To expand my compositional vocabulary, I've begun experimenting with dub step and electronica elements, possibly in combination with more classical pieces (a la Two Steps From Hell) or just for the sake the genre and having stand-alone tunes. I started writing a couple possible concert band pieces based on a couple different movies (more on that process) which I use as a baseline/template/inspiration. They're coming slowly, but I'm being a little more meticulous because there are specific stories behind each. Those pieces will be completed somewhere by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.

Additionally, I have been playing guitar more frequently and I'm picking up pieces of old songs that I started writing years ago with the intent of finishing them and creating new songs. I definitely don't have the chops anymore but it gives a different elements of composition (read: songwriting) that I do enjoy very much.

Locally, because of my associate AJ Rasure, I'm getting involved in photography commercials and advertisements (specifically with the Fredericksburg Photography Academy) and hopefully it will be a lasting relationship. This is the first advertisement and seconds-long teaser for a series of photography classes for which I wrote a theme for (same link that's on my Facebook page).

So there's a lot of things going on with the business. I look forward to also making some new connections via local musicians and organizations in the coming years.

Here's the shameless plug: if you like my compositions and arrangements, please share my Facebook page, my blog, my website, whatever you'd like, with friends and family. I would greatly appreciate it. And as always, if anyone knows any high schools of colleges that would benefit from some original concert or jazz band music, send them my way.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It's happening!

It's finally happening. I recently found out (about a month ago) that the "President's Own" Marine Band is hiring: the Staff Arranger position. So needless to say, I've been to the grindstone writing and editing four arrangements and one original piece for their review. I am submitting the package in a couple days and I am so excited. I was pretty stressed out for a while, but now I'm just excited. I won't hear anything until near the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Goodies

Well, folks, it's a new year, and with that come new goals, but first, let's recap some of the events of 2013:

  • graduated from the Naval School of Music Unit Leader Course - which grew my confidence in a lot of not only musical ability, but leadership as well. Especially important: my confidence in composing and arranging music.
  • finally got a new website up (the previous hadn't been updated in well over a year) with new content being added at minimum, quarterly.
  • updating and building a fan-base on SoundCloud, and I'll soon be making a push to Reverb Nation and Band Camp.
  • To caveat on the point above, for a long while, my website ( was neglected because of SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but now it stands as the hub of all these social networking and music sites. 
  • Arranged a piece for the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra of Cadillac, MI titled O Fair Art Thou, originally written by Alessandro Grandi, and it was performed in November 2013.
  • Wrote 24 arrangements for the Quantico Marine Corps Band's small ensembles for the Christmas Caroling season. 
  • During the winter break, I finished my Music History class with an A, and puts me one class closer to finishing my degree (6 more left!) and I also have been composing "tunes" nonstop since my class concluded.
  • Registered my first two pieces (concert band) with the U.S. Copyright Office in December.

Some stuff to expect in 2014:

  • I have about 10 concert band pieces I've completed, but only about four are ready to sell/buy (mostly because of editing and formatting), but also to find any last minute mistakes before they're committed to finality when submitting to the Copyright Office. Likewise, I have jazz band charts and chamber pieces I need to push the final touches on and submit those as well. All these things equal original compositions for many different ensembles that will be ready for the public to purchase, or *hint* we can work out some sort of arrangement for educational institutions…..
  • Adding MORE content to my website (additionally, external music sites like Reverb Nation and Band Camp).
  • Get my resumé up and running and also extend my services on,,, and also investigate a little more in-depth - all of these with the intention of collaborating or providing music for film, television, photography/videography spots, and more.
  • I will be reaching out to local high school about custom marching music and field shows in a collaboration with AJ Rasure of White Umbrella Photography for the upcoming Fall season.
  • I'm going to write as music music, preferably original or public domain works for as many ensembles as possible and for whomever will play them - so get your requests in NOW!
  • I'm going to be recording a CD of saxophone quartet music during this next year that complies with the point above.
There will undoubtably be more goals I add to my list throughout the year, so stay tuned. If you haven't spread the word to your fellow musicians, friends, or anyone interested in supporting original compositions, please send them to my Facebook page or website and we'll connect!

Take care, all. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Alas, finally an update! It has been some time since my last blog post, but in my defense, I have been very busy.

Two BIG pieces of information I must share with you all:

  1. I was recently commissioned to arrange a piece for the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra from Cadillac, MI. A big thank you to Gabe Filkins, his dad, Mike Filkins, and the Cadillac Symphony Orchestra for giving me this awesome opportunity. The piece will be premiered on November 24, 2013 and will feature Soprano Nicole Philibosian Gentry.
  2. My new website is finally up and mostly operational. I have not added any audio engineering samples yet, and I have a small collection of wind ensemble and jazz ensemble pieces up and ready to be listened to. Another shout-out to AJ Rasure of White Umbrella Photography for the help designing the website and images. 

Other than those things:

  • I've arranged about two dozen holiday tunes for woodwind quintet, saxophone quartet, and clarinet choir.
  • My sound crew has completed the stressful Band of the Year recordings.
  • Still working on my tunes for my compositions lessons.
  • School is going well - it's a lot of work, but I'm learning a lot.
  • I'm also going to get into the weeds with conducting again - I really miss being in front of a band and the rush it gives me!

I will try to update more often! Adieu!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time warp.

So it's been about two months since I've updated my blog. I don't know where the time went.

Here's why I've been so busy: recordings! I've been driving pretty hard on mixing down recordings of my unit at work for various competitions that happen every year between Marine Corps Bands. It's been fun getting into the weeds with my sound gear and training my sound crew. I forgot how much I love audio engineering. I've probably mixed 50 recordings in the last couple months (that may be an exaggeration, but only slightly). 

I've definitely been neglecting my writing chops. I've been slowly combing through old big band tunes and trying to give them a fresh spin. I have three I'm currently revamping and should have them completed this weekend. I'm also working on some holiday music for woodwind quintet and some new music for brass quintet. Also, showband and party band I'm going to start focusing on now.

I've been doing some rough analyzation of Eternal Father, Strong to Save today while the wife and kid have been asleep. It's been very nice to focus on this so I can get myself into gear and go down the arranging rabbit hole. 

I'm also back into college to finally finish my Music degree. First up: Music History. In my 15+ years as a musician and attending college off and on for a decade, how do I NOT have music history credits? 

I've also been getting a new website layout to work with. Very minimalistic, but it will allow easier access to all of my compositions in one place rather than 10. It will be the hub finally after 7 years having my .com.

Take care and keep an eye out for some new(ish) jazz tunes and a new website!