The World continues to feel Dusty, and more!

Graduate school and the gigging life have pretty much eaten up my free time recently, so it’s been difficult to set aside some time to blog and what not, but never fear! I’m back for the time being with regular updates, music theory musings, and whatever the hell I feel like posting up here. In case you were interested, I’ve kept my performances page more or less updated in the previous couple months, with upcoming performances in New York at Spike Hill, Arlene’s Grocery, the Bitter End and the Middle East in Boston over the next couple months with a variety of different artists.

My main composition project in the month of April was undertaking an orchestral re-composition of Aaron Copland’s setting of the Emily Dickenson poem “The World Feels Dusty.” I did a small ensemble reimagining of it last year and posted up a little analysis and sequence (with Emma Boroson singing), and when presented with the opportunity to write for studio orchestra, I decided I wanted to revisit what I did with that tune again and see where I could go with it. It seems like a rather odd choice for a grand re-compositional statement, I know, but whenever I get an idea that I like, I tend to keep hammering at it well beyond the point of good taste.

I keep saying “re-composition” and not “arrangement” because I feel like I took the whole piece of music in enough of a separate direction to be wholly different from the original composition, owing more to my original ideas than to anything specific in the original composition. A brief reharmonization of a small section of the melody became the basis of an entire 3 minutes of music, and the number of tangents I get off dramatically alters the original feeling and point of the original, which is a short, contemplative 1:30′ song. The only things that were (more or less) in tact were Aaron Copland’s melody and the poem, although I took great liberties with placement of the melodic rhythm and repetition of the lyrics.

I went all out with the orchestration available to me, because realistically, this sort of thing isn’t going to crop up all too often in my composing career, so might as well make the most of it. The Manhattan School of Music’s Jazz Philharmonic consists of a big band (5 Sax, 9 Brass, rhythm section) plus 3 percussion (+ Timpani), strings (9 Violin I, 7 Violin II, 7 Viola, 5 Cello, 4 Bass), Woodwinds ( 2 Flute, 2 Oboe, 2 Clarinet, 2 Bassoon) and Harp. On top of all this, I added a couple soloists, Alto Natalie Galey singing and guitarist Elliott Klein shredding. That’s a lot of people playing my music, way cool!

Here’s a video of the reading session. Considering that it had about 15 minutes of rehearsal beforehand, I’d say it turned out pretty good! Apologies for the poor video angle. The great honorable Jim McNeely presiding over conducting duties.

In completely different news, The L Train, the busking band that I play with, has inadvertently taken on a life of its own, completely now with a residency at Spike Hill for the month of May every Sunday at 11pm. We started doing it just for fun and to make a little money on the side, but we’ve spent enough time and energy rehearsing and performing tunes in the subway that it’s sort of snowballed into getting actual gigs. Huh, how about that? Check us out then, and also watch this video of us jamming on Blue Suede Shoes.

And on one final note, I’ve been working with the start-up pop rock band, Christine and the Bad News for the past couple months now, and we’ve been in the middle of recording the debut EP. We’ve recorded everything on the extreme cheap – all the tracking we did ourselves with MIDI drum kit and a producer/guitarist Michael Hazani’s home Logic studio, and then outsourced the project for mixing and mastering. I just got a chance to hear the rough mix of our tune Come and Go, and WOW! It’s amazing to hear how far technology is come and what can be done on zero budget. The drum samples used for Shawn Crowder’s electric MIDI drum set sound unbelievably convincing, and the clarity of the (almost overboard, but not quite) vocal harmony arrangements is insane. I don’t have the rough mix to share, but stay tuned because we’ll be releasing it in a couple weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this video.

Anyway, I think that’s a rap. I’ve had quite an exciting time in the past couple months, and I only expect it to get better!



1 Response to “The World continues to feel Dusty, and more!”

  1. 1 Mark Simos May 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Adam: Did you include the actual link to the fully arranged version in your blog?

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Welcome to Adam Neely's blog/website. Check out his compositions, links, and information about lessons on the top bar, and enjoy the music!

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