Music and Video

Music: I Think it was Hovhaness

Just putting the final touches on a new sketch… Number 5.

But first, I’d like to explain, why “sketches”. Why not “impromptu” or “elegy” or, something more meaningful, more elegant, more descriptive of the effort.

Clarification: I’m not truly a composer in the classical sense, which means that although I studied music theory at Uni (University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus), I sucked. I was terrible at music composition and theory: I was lazy, I wasn’t focused, I played instruments horribly badly – except perhaps the french horn – and… did I mention I was lazy? This was back in the early 70s, poor Dr Durham.

Subsequently, I went to Europe for a while, ostensibly to study music but it became quite clear almost immediately that musical endeavours were never going to happen, and music creation took a back seat for over forty years. Music appreciation never left me: I learned to like French and Greek music and ragtime and later, some of the more contemporary composers, like Alan Hovhaness. But creation? Not so much.

When I got interested in making videos, I realised that in order to have the background music I wanted, I’d have to create it myself if I wanted to avoid a DCMA takedown at YouTube or Vimeo. At first I would transcribe… did a bit of that, as one can see on my Musescore page. I created my own scores of who I was totally enraptured with at the time: Carl Reinecke and Joachim Raff. Didn’t get very far with Raff, although I did study his scoring.

Software of the day is: Musescore… free software to write your own music! What an amazing find! With IMSLP, I had access to thousands of pieces, limited only by the date the composer died plus seventy years, or something like that. Therefore, Johannes Brahms sheet music (original only, not transcriptions or variations) or that of Joachim Raff or Carl Reinecke or even Claude Debussy or Maurice Ravel are all public domain, now… again, only the originals, not arrangements or any other derivatives. Gold Mine!

I was into Reinecke at the time, so I busily transcribed Reinecke’s Serenade in G, and then used that transcribed Musescore (and later, Reaper) “performance” in a video.

But as the notes went from PDF to Musescore, I began to wonder if I should try to maybe try to create something of my own, perhaps. I still sucked at theory… still do. I was going by sound alone. So, I thought I’d just play with sound, see how the different combinations of instruments would work out.

Sketch One wasn’t the first try: Sac A Dos was, but there was a lot of learning to do, so instead of giving pieces actual names, I went with simply calling them all “Sketches”. Sort-of scribblings, but with musical notation:

Sketch 02

With Sketch 2, the emphasis was getting back to simplicity: just a piano, albeit ragtime-ish.

With Sketch 3, I sort-of went French-cafe:

Sketch 3

Through zeFrank01 hilarious videos on YouTube, I was exposed to the finer moments of Telemann’s Tafelmusik, specifically the Suite in E minor. Not aspiring to be a Telemann, I thought I’d have a go with a harpsichord, anyway:

Sketch 4

It was a worthwhile exercise, even it it’s a bit rough: after all, this is why these are all just “sketches”. And so now, as tribute to how Hovhaness sounded to my Visigoth ears:

Sketch 5

I’m no longer investing in sound libraries, hoping to get that ultimate sound. It’s about improving my music creation skills, not about acquisition. A better camera doesn’t make you a better videographer, nor does an awesome sound library make you a better composer. Still a lot of growing to do at 68. 🤔