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.