Now – which version of absolute pitch did you claim to have again, precisely?

Tuning and pitch really are just floating in space, and utterly, completely dependent on our point in time, and our point of view.

A really interesting comparison of the opening of Beethoven’s E flat major in Eroica, performed throughout the last century by a varriety of excellent orchestras.

Maybe Einstein had it right after all. Everything – especially music – is relative.

So – which version in the above collection of Eroica openers is best? Does it matter? Are any “wrong”? These are all really interesting questions that I’ll let the “musicologists” haggle out.

As for me, I’ll just say that I love Beethoven, and although I enjoy some performances more than others, most that I’ve been to have been competent enough to give me pleasure. And maybe that’s all that really matters in the end.


Happy New Year – the apprenticeship continues…

2011 has been a good year for me, composition-wise. So I thought I’d write about what happened, where I currently stand, and what my goals for 2012 are.

2011 – my first year apprenticeship!

Firstly, I’ve been accepted as a fully represented SOUNZ composer, which is wonderful news. More info on that to come: my forms have only just gone in.

To be a fully represented composer, I needed to have had 7 performances, plus international performances, prizes and recordings. I’ve done all that, thanks to so much support from people all around the world who have loved and shared my music, so everything I’m starting to achieve right now is due to you all, and your decisions to perform and record my music, as much as anything I’ve done.

Thanks in particular to RMIT Occasional Choral Society in Melbourne, Australia, and to Grupo Talliesin in Brazil, who have been there from the beginning. Both groups have been incredibly supportive not just of me, but of other aspiring musicians and composers. We need more awesome people like you in the world, willing to take a chance on those of us who are still building our name and credentials.

This year, I’ve written and published about a dozen pieces of music. I’ve had over 60 performances around the globe, more than one a week, and everywhere from Brazil to London to Pennsyvania to Shanghai!

Every performance I hear of is a thrill to me – it’s wonderful to know that my music is being performed and enjoyed around the world. It’s also very humbling to receive so many emails from so many lovely people.

Thankyou thankyou thankyou!

Some of the places I’ve been performed I’ve had to look up on Google, so it has been an education in other ways besides music, because I’ve learned more about where people live. Every city and town I’ve heard from I’ve looked up on Google Earth, and learned a bit more about it. The world really is a village now, and we can connect with one another through music.

When I began 2011, I thought of this year as my “first year of apprenticeship”, learning to write music as a composer.

There is so much to learn, and the more I learn, the more I realise I’ve a lot of growing to do. But I do feel like I’ve learned a huge amount, and that I am growing and developing my skills. Pieces are happening more quickly and naturally now, and the flow is easier.

Overall, I do feel like I’ve learned as much as any music student would have, by doing my own “private apprenticeship” at home.

If I can write music at home, anyone can. If you’re reading this, and you’ve ever wanted to write music, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. You can do it!

So let your music ring out and light the world up!

Goals for 2012

2012 will be my second year of my “apprenticeship”.

I’ll continue to study scores by the “Great Composers”: everything from Mozart to McCartney.

I’ve been starting to get more interested in the Russian dudes – Russian church music is so beautiful. And in early music. Plus anything from anywhere I happen to think is good. Lady Gaga, for instance, is a master of the ear worm, and I’m starting to take her music to pieces, and see how it operates: there really is a calculation and method to it all.

That’s the beauty of studying and learning by myself – I can pick and choose what I want to learn from! I don’t know of any course that compares Wagner to Gaga – but they should! The two have a lot of similarities in how they “hook” your ear, and it is interesting to compare methods and techniques in the writing styles.

Goals for 2012 include finishing a Christmas Song Cycle which I have already started. I’m planning for it to run between 15 and 20 minutes in length, and be set for full choir plus piano. As far as I know, no New Zealand composer has ever written anything like this, so I guess it’s up to me 🙂 Yee haw!

That’s my major goal. I’m also planning to write a few solo pieces, and start writing instrumental works. A big part of the plans involves setting up a recording studio here at home, and organising a group of singers and instrumentalists to do some recordings. I just have to find some talented people who are interested.

Another goal is to try writing some children’s music. I’d like to write some nursery rhymes, and have had some ideas jotted down for a while now, but haven’t got around to filling them out. They’d be in unison with piano, with maybe a few simple splits here and there.

That’s probably enough for 2012. If I achieve all that I’ll be doing really well.

So here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May 2012 be peaceful, joyful, and filled with music for everyone 🙂

Beethoven’s red telephone

Something that a lot of people suspect but do not know: Beethoven had a red telephone. A hot line, straight up to heaven.

So sit back, and have a listen to proof: The Pastoral.

They say that Beethoven’s odd numbers were the best. I disagree.

For me, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. I’ve memories of it as a child, watching flying horses dance through clouds in Disney’s Fantasia.

But though the Disney artists did a brilliant job, their artwork never came close to the beautiful colours that form in my mind when I hear this music – the deep sea green of the G chords, and the rich navy blues of C and purply-greys of D, moving up to the bright golden yellow of pure A.

Okay, I’m weird. But music is colour, and every note, every chord, has its own colour and shape and texture. And Beethoven was, along with Van Gogh, one of the greatest masters of the colour and taste and the scent of the world around him that ever lived.

His music is beautiful because it reflects the best of the world back at us, in perfect clarity.

And yes, he wrote beautiful choral music too. Listen to “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage” (“Meeresstille und Gluckliche Fahrt”) – one of the few pieces to give me choral orgasms for days on end while singing it, in preparation for a performance at the Sydney Opera House a few years ago – a performance I will never forget.

(I’m going to go kill myself now)