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Topic: Unique - The Discussion

  1. #1

    Unique - The Discussion


    Let me introduce myself properly, since, some of you may not know me. My name is Nikolas Sideris, a freelance composer and almost done with a PhD in music composition, from Royal Holloway, University of London, supervised by Brian Lock, head of composition in the university. I work in computer games, as well as composing music for commissions for 'concert hall music'.

    In the next few days I will be composing a piece for Solo Piano and Trumpet, which will be called Unique, for several reasons to be explained later in this post.

    My purpose is to compose a piece, based on digital instruments, and myself as the composer, performer, and producer and showcase the whole process in the forum, by updating regularly a thread (this one, or another, to be decided yet, probably one in the listening forum). I wish to expose myself and the practices I use, in this specific occasion (which is not what I do normally), for educational purposes.

    I hope to keep this thread for all discussion regarding the piece, ideology behind it, and everything else which needs talking about, and keep the other thread (to be created in 12 hours or so), clean of any discussion. Just to keep things tidy.

    Here's a few first thoughts to begin with:


    1. The piece will be composed for Solo Piano and Trumpet, for several reasons. First of all I'm a pianist, so it actually suites me quite well. Second of all, I've decided to research on the 'most realistic VI instruments' now and it does seem that the Garritan Steinway, along with the trumpet, from samplemodelling were the two candidates. Plus I really like what I'm listening in my head.


    Listening in your head?

    Ahm... yes, indeed, listening in my head.

    See, at some point I sat on my grand piano, upstairs (we have three pianos in total, in my house in Athens, Greece), and improvised some heavy, dissonant and energetic stuff. After 5 minutes of playing, I got rather tired, let it go, but the tune stuck with me.

    Decided that this would be an ideal situation for trying and work on a piece via improvisatory techniques, rather than the normal pencil and paper route I take. An improvisation is easy to be updated, easier to be worked on and rather easy to have a constant feed on the Internet (a forum: NSS forum).

    But while thinking about all the different variables of this situation, I kept listening this piece in my head. I'm not sure I would be able to write it down on a score, since it's rather complicated (as I suspect it, at least), but I surely can imagine it.


    So wait. Is the piece an improvisation, or not? You've had it in your head long enough...

    Yes, guilty as charged! It's not 100% improvisation, since I have something like a main theme in my head for quite some time.

    It's roughly something like THIS <-Click here

    Since I do have to play at around 10 minutes, I'd say that it does qualify as improvisation, even if the main theme is already in my head, and I have some ideas on what I'd like to listen to, and play and have performed.


    The piece will be called Unique for a couple of reasons.

    The first reason is that the end product, the final version of the piece, will not be available to the public; neither to the Internet, nor to anyone else. Anyone will be able to get a finalized version of the piece, but the one, the totally final version will not be available to anyone, apart from the owner of the piece: A dear friend of mine. It is his present!

    To battle that, since I'm a big fan of education, for my peers, for my students and for everyone else interested, I've decided to do something which is not so common amongst composers: To release my work process and let anyone interested to follow as closely as they wish.


    So WAIT, once more! You will have us follow and follow the threads and then not give us the ending results! COME ON!!!!!!!!!

    Not exactly, actually. I do plan on releasing the final version, but in a lousy compressioned mp3 format, not the high quality 24-bit WAV version. Plus I do hope that by releasing my working process, it will compensate for the lack of a better quality audio file in the end.


    How did you come up with the idea of Unique anyways?

    I went to a few art galleries, near London (Windsor, if anyone is interested), and I noticed a few galleries, were they were selling 'numbered copies' of artwork (paintings). Technology of canvas printing has enabled artists to create more copies of ones work and provide numbered opportunities for different people to acquire them. So it hit me that music is exactly the opposite of that. Music thrives to be heard as much as possible, to be spread out and some times numbers involved in viewing/listening gather to hundreds of millions (literally).

    There is another rather famous case of the French composer of electronica Jean Michel Jarre, who created his Album "Musique pour supermarche" in one single copy, later on destroying all prototypes. The Album has in the inside cover pictures of him burning the reels. A few weeks later, he broadcasted the whole album through an AM radio station (AM stations are known for the poor quality of broadcasting, actually) with the title "Pirate this". The bootleg versions of this album can be found on the Internet, and Jarre has made no attempts to discourage people from up/downloading the album. The original version, however, is worth several thousand euros and the current owner is anonymous.

    So the goal of this little project is How to create a unique piece of music, which will be unique in copies, held by a single owner, but also enjoyed by all the audience, albeit in lower quality, possibly.


    The truth of this whole deal is that there is a single counter argument which makes the whole thing crumble dangerously: Why on earth perplex things so much and not just give a single concert to someone: It's unique, anyone who's there will feel unique, and the rest will be able to enjoy the specific concert only through recorded means, which are, in fact poor photocopies of the real, live event?

    The answer to this is that while, indeed, live concerts are unique, and there's no doubt to that, I'd like to challenge my self and try something towards recorded media, rather than live performance. I do think that the future of music lies in recorded media, but not in the current situation. Rather in a situation were recorded music will have conquered a place as an independent art, rather than the oxymoron half brother of another.


    My hopes are that this will be an interesting project to give to the rest of you. It's not much of a tutorial, I'll confess, since it's not geared as such, but it is hopefully a step for people to understand the "whys" and the "hows" in such a process. Maybe some might start enjoying contemporary music a little more because of this, or maybe others might be inspired to compose in similar manners.

    This is all I can share now. It's past midnight here in Athens and it's time to handle the rest of my problems and dealings now. I'll be back in less than 12 hours, and hopefully (it's the future, nobody can be sure, can they?) I'll also have the first version of the piece, with a solo piano, uploaded for you to enjoy. Later will come the score, the trumpet, edits, more edits, electronic temperement and finally... the finalization of the piece.

    Thank you all for reading this lengthy thread.


  2. #2

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    Hello Nikolas,
    This sound like a fascinating experiment. I'm interested to see how it unfolds and what I can learn from it. I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary music, but I'm always open minded.

    I get where you are coming from in regards to the recording and distribution of the final piece. It makes good sense to me and your friend should be honored to be the sole recipient of the final polished version.

    All my best,

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  3. #3

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    I think I remember you had started a thread some time ago about "uniqueness" in art and mentioned that you were working on a related project. I'm guessing this is it, and it looks very interesting!

    But I'm still not quite sure I understand your intentions... for a piece of art in an art gallery, the art is something tangible: a canvas with paint on it. Music, on the other hand, is always something that needs to be recreated somehow recreated, whether by live instruments and performers' interpretations, or by speakers receiving electronic instructions from something. That just seems like something that's inherent in the nature of the art; I'm not sure it can really be changed. I guess perhaps I am subscribing to a "counter argument which makes the whole thing crumble dangerously" ....

    Anyway, it still looks like an interesting experiment, so I will follow this and see where this ends up...

    And I suppose you're actually doing at least two experiments, the other one being chronicling your journey as a composer, which, as you mention, is not done often. I will definitely be very interested in this. I've tried to go back over my previous works and do something like that with my composing podcast. I've also tried to record myself talking about what I'm thinking while composing, but that resulted in a few boring hours of me talking that didn't seem very interesting, and, since I use headphones to compose, couldn't think of a good way to record both what I was saying and what I was hearing at once. And since you'll probably be composing in a style I don't compose in, it will be doubly interesting to see what you have to say about the process!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  4. #4

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    I've always been interested in knowing how a composer thinks while writing a piece so this insight will be much appreciated.

    Steve Winkler

  5. #5

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    Hey Kevin. Glad to know you will be following! And really glad to see that the idea of having a unique final product makes sense to you! Makes me feel... at least right for some people!

    Sean. You remembered! YES! This is it. The thread back then was me wondering. This thread is me taking action.

    I think that music is all about communication in the end. And it is my hope that communicating the means for creating such a unique piece of art, would be enough. Maybe I'm wrong, but this is my way of experimenting, I guess.

    My hypothesis involves the following idea:

    Two cases:

    Case I
    An art canvas with a painting unique. Problems associated with this is the exact opposite of music: Illegal copies, copycats, fake paintings etc. In order for someone to view and "enjoy" the painting they need to either Go there and see the painting (an art gallery, a museum, someones' home, etc), or Get a copy of the painting (a postcard, a photograph, etc). I think (without having access to bibliography at this moment), that looking at the authentic painting on the wall of a museum, or even at your home, it completely different than looking at a postcard, even at the size of the canvas, or a printed canvas, a fake painting.

    In music I'd replicate this by: Having a unique piece of art which can't be replicated fully. It will be spread out via means of postcards/fake paintings (canvases): (mp3), or looking at the owners home: (listening to the authentic version). Since I'm planning on releasing the score as well, there's not much left to give to the owner of the authentic copy, except for the manuscripts and any kind of notes which might make specific sense on the score. Score distributed on the net: Perfect Finale score. Score in the ownership of my friend: Perfect Finale score, with hand written notes. Manuscript.

    Case II
    In art you also have numbered copies. Dalli was a master at that, and maybe earlier artist. Today we have (as I already mentioned) the canvas printing, which makes things easier, and much more marketable. Art, itself, is breaking loose of the idea of the uniqueness, the authenticity, the one copy and the problems associated with that.

    In the case there isn't a problem really. You just make as many copies as needed and then distribute them. The owners, as in the above scenario, are responsible for keeping their one copy unique, or not.


    I do hope that my way of reporting my thoughts, and composing process in this piece will be 'enjoyable', or even 'understandable' by you guys (and gals of course).

    Hopefully you'll find these chronicles interesting.

  6. #6

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    The first version (First Take) of the piece can be found here: http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...348#post609348

    Thanks to all who are following. I hope it will be worth it.

  7. #7

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    First of all I really like the piece. It reminds me alot of what my composition teacher would write on occasion so I'm reminiscing a bit.

    I'm looking forward to hear what type of dialogue you create with the trumpet. I completely understand your dilemma on working this way and the need to write a score. I don't envy the transcription job ahead of you.

    One thought I had was to import it into Finale as you did, then add another grand staff below what you imported and work almost as a copyist. You probably wouldn't be able to use much copy/paste functions but at least you'd have the notes and could determine the best way to notate some of that. Then again maybe what you get is such a mess you wouldn't be able to make sense of it at all.

    I'm always interested in the form of a piece and how one decides what the form will be. Any insight into that?

    Steve Winkler

  8. #8

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    Yup, transcription will be fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by swinkler View Post
    I'm always interested in the form of a piece and how one decides what the form will be. Any insight into that?
    Yes, sure thing, just that I will have to delay the reply a few hours until I get seriously started with the score. I tried to put some kind of program and see when I can post, when I can't and how much time to give to myself to actually finish the piece. I won't forget it though.

  9. #9

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    I looked at the pdf you posted on the other thread and that will be a challenge.

    I'm making an assumption (maybe incorrect) that the notes during the 'A' sections are less important than the rhythms. In other words the biggest challenge might be transcribing the rhythm and the clusters would probably be notated with a graphic rather than specific notes right? There are certainly some structural points where notes are important and probably the middle and ending section sound like they should be specifically notated.

    If that's the case I wonder if importing into Finale with different midi transcriptions selected might make the rhythmic transcription easier (mixed vs. triplet, etc.). One transcription method might be closer than another.

    Steve Winkler

  10. #10

    Re: Unique - The Discussion

    Hi, Nikolas - You've been a Forum member for a long time, longer than me. And though you've always been such a good, positive force here on Gary's bulletin boards, I know your schedule is always very busy, and has prevented you from posting music and being as active as some others.

    So that's why this is really good news, that you've sketched out a project which will keep you Very visible as this process evolves which you've outlined here. Great! - THANK YOU for coming up with this idea, and for the time and effort it will take to maintain the on-going project you've started.

    In regards to art, copies, the nature of ownership - the whole complicated ball of wax you've included in this post - It is indeed something all of us contend with who want to share work online without losing complete control over it. The good news is that statistically very few compositions are stolen out right. Whether or not we want low resolution MP3s to exist of our recordings is up to us--most of us deciding it's beneficial to us to share work that way without losing control of the broadcast quality versions.

    And so on.

    I see the companion thread to this is up in The Listening Room. I'll be going over to take a look/listen!

    Randy B.

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