My parents and I
watch a lot of procedural crime dramas. Law and Orders of all varieties, NCIS,
CSI, The Closer, and recently CK and I discovered Crossing Lines on Netflix.
But my parents are obsessed with Criminal Minds. It’s basically all they watch.
They’re either watching Criminal Minds or going to Menards.
In episode 8 of
season 3, shortly after Gideon is replaced by Rossi, Morgan and Rossi are
having a conversation in which both of them, at some point, utter the phrase
“I was giving you an opportunity for personal growth”. This has
become part of the Vanderburg lexicon, usually said in some sort of sarcastic
way. Or, whenever dealing with things is hard.
I’m writing this
percussion and saxophone piece. As it turns out, writing for multi-percussion
is really hard, in really stupid ways. Despite having a basic background in
percussion (go PBHS Drumline!), picking instruments was impossible. Where do I
start? In an instrument group that includes basically anything I can imagine
(and some things I can’t), how do I narrow down the number of instruments to
something that is both engaging and logistical?
A second issue deals
with the difficulty of the music. If I usually write rhythmic music, and
percussionists are all about rhythm, then I need to up my rhythm game and write
something nigh-impossible, right? Right?
The piece started out as a groove piece–like so much of my recent pieces (see also: Earmarks, Austerity, Joyride…). How do I keep from making this whole piece a groove piece? Or should it be?
Also, relying on
computer playback for things like “swirled superball mallet” isn’t
really a thing.
Most of these
problems are mental–It’s seemed like I’ve been trying to drink from a
firehose. Some of the problems have gone away by introducing boundaries. It’s
like Stravinsky said, “The more constraints one imposes, the more one
frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain
precision of execution.” This was often expressed in my graduate lessons
as “Give me limitations and I’ll give you the world”.
Some of these problems are solved by research–Steven Schick’s lecture “On the Bridge” helped tremendously, as did just listening to percussion things on YouTube.
Some of these
problems are being solved by technology. Recording samples that I want to use,
then dropping them into Pro Tools instead of using Sibelius, and then notating
Overall, it’s a fun
project–and an opportunity for personal growth.
CK and I agreed that
we wouldn’t travel much this summer. Maybe a conference, visit some family, but
no 25-state road trip and no taking 300 high schoolers to Europe.
That idea was short
lived, because here’s what we ended up doing:
I’m going to paste a bunch of pictures, since I couldn’t do that before but now with WordPress I CAN!
The summer travel
extravaganza started with CK judging the Musical Merit Competition in San
Diego, while I drove to Missouri to visit my parents. CK joined a few days
later, and we did our usual visit to Elephant Rocks and Johnsons Shut-ins. I
broke down and finally bought an iPhone. And then it was back to Fargo.
Where we almost
instantly put an offer on a house.
We’d been wanting to
not live in an apartment since the moment we moved into our apartment, and we’d
been surfing Zillow for months, and we’d spent a few weeks looking, and the
night we got back from Missouri–after a day of driving from Omaha to Fargo, we
unloaded our bags and went and looked at three houses, putting an offer on one.
The offer was accepted, and then we…left town again.
Trip number 3 was CK
going to Madison for the MACRO theory conference. Trip number 4 was me flying
down to Oklahoma to work with Jonathan Nichol and Marvin Lamb to record
Marvin’s expanded Tenor Saxophone quintet, Woodcuts (previously: HERD!). Three
incredibly busy days spent in OU’s recording studio before flying back to
Here’s Marvin’s Woodcuts and Bartleby:
Shortly thereafter we headed west to Montana to visit CK’s family. Since our travels were far from over, we took Bartleby to stay with the Keoghs for the summer. Bartleby wasn’t thrilled with the car ride.
But I got my annual
picture of Woodbine Creek
And Woodbine Falls
And, you know,
And then it was back
The sixth trip was
the big one. The International Clarinet Association’s CLARINETFEST® was held in
Oostende, Belgium this year. Last summer, CK asked if I’d be interested in
writing a clarinet-saxophone-piano trio for NDSU’s Boreas Ensemble, to be
premiered in Belgium. I said yes, knowing that if it got accepted I’d get to
write a fun piece, and if it didn’t, I’d get credit for being agreeable. Well,
it was accepted, the piece got written, and on the fourth of July we landed in