A shiny new website

Yes, I know it looks the same as the dull old website, but believe me, it’s pretty shiny! And the benefits are going to be easier and faster updates, more ways to find stuff, and ultimately more stuff to find!

The improvements I’ve made include:

  • Automating much of the work related to putting up a new piece, including automatically adding in SoundCloud players in both the works list (mini Flash player) and the page for the new piece (HTML5 player)
  • Categorising pieces so that, say, from one piece for flute you can easily jump to a list showing all the other pieces that have a flute in them, or to a list of all solo or chamber pieces, giving you new ways to discover pieces that may have escaped your notice before
  • A new Projects section (under Music) which lists current projects, along with blog posts pertaining to them, and the details of significant past projects such as Lucky Dip and On Harrowdown Hill
  • A new page listing some of my other writing about music, including articles, other website content and even a published book!

So I hope you enjoy the new site – please let me know if anything you expected to be there has gone missing, or if you see something else amiss. Or for that matter, if there’s something you’d like to see in there that hasn’t been there before!

A shameless plug: If you’re interested in getting a shiny new easy-to-maintain website of your own, why not hop on over to Raspberry Blue Ltd, my freelance company and see how I might be able to help you out 🙂

For the geeks, who may be interested in what I actually changed, what I’ve done here is to convert the site from its former hybrid PHP/WordPress existence into a 100% WordPress implementation. The design has also been converted so that it is responsive (although I’ve yet to create and implement an alternative design for mobile devices – that’s on the list). Even shinier, I’ve set up WP so that the URL for every page in the site matches the one I used to promote the old page, to minimise the chance of broken links.

ENO Mini Opera: Calling for choral singers!!!

Today’s a bit of a red-letter day, because not only have I completed the draft score and prepped the click-tracks, but I’ve got soloists for all three major roles! Charles Turner singing The Inspector you know about from an earlier post, but today’s new recruits are counter-tenor Andrew Pickett who is having a go at The Advisor and tenor Nick Allen who is tackling The Journalist.

And now it’s time to get the chorus happening! So far, I have a chorus of 3 altos and one soprano, so I’ve designed the choral bit to be pretty flexible. The video below (best viewed in HD and full screen to see the detail and be able to read the score) runs through the same music three times and the idea is that everyone will record at least one run through – the first time round everything is on A, the second time on C and the third time on E. If you can sing those notes in multiple octaves, or feel like recording several passes through them, please do – the more voices and pitches we have, the lusher the sound will be.

If you do want to participate, here are some pointers for your recording:

  • Please record at the highest quality your equipment can handle – for preference WAV or AIFF files rather than MP3, and the highest bitrate setting you can find (44.1kHz for preference – that’s CD quality)
  • Try to record in a ‘dry’ room – if there’s a lot of resonance in the recording it may be hard to combine them convincingly – adding digital reverb to dry recordings can help to make it sound like everyone’s in the same room.
  • Please include a good chunk (about a minute) of silence in your recording – this is so I have some ambient sound from your environment in case I need it for the mixing.

The video shows the score playing along in Finale and includes a click track (the snare drum sound) to help you keep track of the beat. Just put on your headphones (volume not too loud! Don’t want it coming through into the recording!), set up your recording gear, play the video and record yourself singing along.

Yes, the accompaniment feels very heavy-handed at the moment. That’s because it’s still a draft and hasn’t had any orchestration done to it 🙂 And the “Who” chords feel clunky because it seemed easier to just get everyone to record the notes on the beat and I’ll spread them out when I mix it, rather than messing about with odd rhythms when I didn’t even know how many or what voices I’d have 🙂

Interested? Hurrah! Tell your friends! Recordings need to sent to me no later than Friday Sunday 22nd July (get in touch and we can work out the best way for you to send it) as I’ll need to mix everything in and prepare the file ready for submission on Monday the 23rd.

Alas, it seems I wasn’t clear enough as to what the chorus needs to sing in this – it’s the line directly above the piano in the video, with the words “Who”, “Who”, “Is it this man?”, “Is it this man?” and each run through is just on one pitch – A, C or E (there are three repetitions of the section in the video)…

Want to download the choral score or get the video offline(warning: it’s about 17Mb!)? You can download them here.

Three Whitman Songs today in Limerick!

This afternoon (Sunday 22 April 2012), CoMA Limerick is giving the world premiere performance of my Three Whitman Songs for contralto and piano. If you’re in or near Limerick, please do go along! I haven’t been able to travel for this one, but It should be a great concert – and it’s free!

The concert starts at 3pm and is happening at The Hunt Museum in Limerick, Ireland (map below).

Want to get an idea of what they’ll be playing? Here’s a recording of me singing the Three Whitman Songs:

Can’t make it to Limerick today? In London next weekend? Come and hear the world premiere of my brass quintet, Knots and Mirrors!

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April performances

This month sees not one but TWO performances of my music! If you have a chance please come along and support me – and the other marvellous living composers on the programme.

22 April sees my first performance in Ireland – CoMA Limerick are performing my Three Whitman Songs at the Hunt Museum in Limerick. I don’t have full details yet, but will post updates here when I know the time and what else is on the programme. This will be a world premiere performance.

27 April is the premiere of my recently completed fanfare for brass quintet, Knots & Mirrors, which will be performed by Riverside Five in London at St Michael’s Church, Chester Square, SW1W 9HH at 7.30pm. Tickets at the door £12/£8 (concessions for students, LCF members). Advance tickets £8. Full booking details are on the London Composers Forum website, under Concerts.

In other news, Carrion Comfort was workshopped by London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, which was a very helpful and enlightening event. It was lovely to meet up with the other composers and hear everyone’s work and the feedback from the orchestra.

Lucky Dip is complete!

My album for RPM Challenge is complete! It’s called Lucky Dip and you can download it for free – and get all the scores with it! – from my BandCamp store (email is required for the download because there will be updates to both the tracks and the scores over the next few weeks – if I know who you are, I can tell you there’s a new improved version).

I’ll be blogging about the experience of writing 10 pieces for 10 different performers in a (short!) month soon – it’s been incredible and I’ve learned a vast amount from this project which I’m sure will affect the music I write for weeks and months to come.

For everything about the project – to find out more, to listen or download – go to the Lucky Dip page at http://caitlinrowley.com/projects/luckydip

Carrion Comfort workshop & RPM2012

I’m delighted to say that Carrion Comfort has just been chosen to be one of the 10 orchestral pieces (out of 16 submitted) that the London Contemporary Chamber Orchestra will be workshopping on 31 March. I’m really excited about this – after all the time spent on pulling it together, it’s fabulous to know that it’ll get an outing with a real orchestra. I hope they like it.

I’m also thrilled to report that my commission project for RPM2012 seems to have met with a great reception and is now fully subscribed. I’ve even written and sent off the very first piece!

Let me write you a piece!

As you no doubt know by now, I am doing the RPM Challenge this month, which requires me to record 10 tracks or 35 minutes of music over the course of February. As my last blog post here explains, part of the reason why I’m doing this is to work on being able to write more quickly and to experiment a bit, and this is where YOU come in!

I want to write you a piece of music. Just a little one, but for whatever instrument you play.

The only thing I ask is that you only sign up for this if you can commit to sending me a recording of the piece by the end of February.

Interested? Read on for the details:

  1. Most pieces will be under a minute long. There may be some technical challenges but I’m aiming to keep them feasible within the limited time frame you’ll have for learning & recording.
  2. If I write a piece for you that requires an accompaniment, I will provide a MIDI-generated recording as well as all parts, in case you don’t have a pianist or harpist or whatever lounging around with nothing to do.
  3. Recordings don’t have to be studio-quality but they should be at least pretty clear. I don’t much care what you record on, but the higher quality the happier I’ll be. iPhone/iPad recordings are fine. Cassette tape isn’t because I don’t have anything to play them on. If you’re thinking of using your phone or computer mic but haven’t tested the quality, please test before you sign up to make sure that you can deliver at least a reasonable-quality recording.
  4. Recordings will be made public, on SoundCloud, my website and the RPM website, so please make sure you’re happy with your performance and recording before you send it. It will have your name on it.
  5. If you can’t commit to getting a recording to me by the end of Feb, but you’d still like me to write for you, we can talk about scheduling something. I’m ALWAYS happy to write for people, but the aim of this project right now is to end up with 10 actual recordings by the end of the month.
  6. I reserve the right to not manage to get around to writing you a piece – it’s entirely possible I’m biting off more than I can chew here. First come, first served, up to 9 people. If you’re within those 9 and I don’t manage to fit you in during February, I’ll try to write you something anyway when I have a moment later this year.
  7. In the interests of variety and experimentation, I will write no more than 2-3 pieces for any given instrument. Don’t want to end up only writing for piano!
  8. If you play the sort of instrument that has a number of different ranges – e.g. Recorder, tin whistle – please specify which one you want me to write for, e.g. Tenor recorder, whistle in D
  9. If you ask for a piece which isn’t a typical member of the orchestra and therefore unlikely to be found in a standard orchestration text, I may need you to provide additional info such as range, special considerations, effective techniques, recommended recordings. I will try to ask for these early on.
  10. If you are open to the prospect of a graphic score or free form elements, let me know. I will only include these if you are interested in dealing with them. Other pieces will be fully notated
  11. And finally… I reserve the right for some of these to possibly not be terribly good. As mentioned in the blog post, the idea is to experiment with writing quickly and using some techniques and approaches that I don’t usually use, so there’s no guarantee of a quality result. But I will do my best and if there’s something you feel I could use some advice on, I will be extremely happy to receive any gentle feedback you may care to give.

Still keen? Then sign up! Leave a comment on this post with your name, instrument and any other details, then join the mailing list or update your details if you’re already on there – that way I can easily keep everyone updated on progress. You can always unsubscribe later if you’re not enjoying the experience 🙂

Carrion Comfort in Colchester! Free!

7.30pm, Saturday 3 December, Colchester – skip down for full details

OK, so not the orchestral piece – it’s still not quite done, but I’m super-excited about this performance anyway because this is the graphic score of Carrion Comfort! The one that I talked about in the latest work in progress post – the intensity map I created to help me understand where I wanted my fully-notated  orchestral piece to go that became this piece by Stuart Russell. And I’m super-excited that it’s going to be performed by Midnight Llama because I just know they’re going to come up with something totally unlike anything I’d have notated and I can’t wait to see where they take it.

So it’s going to be an awesome night – come along! It’s FREE! All you need to do is RSVP via the Facebook event (everyone’s on Facebook, right? You’re not? Well, just let me know how many will be in your party and I’ll tell the powers that be).

So what’s the event about? Well, lots of exciting shiny new and exciting new music – acousmatic, electronic, live and a mixture of all of the above. Midnight Llama are the headline act:

“we specialise in doing stuff that other people often shy away from or think is too loud or weird for them.
We will hit cheap fiddles with paintbrushes, we will put acoustic instruments through rock guitar pedals, we will involve the audience and we will put on a show instead of just sitting around staring at dots while playing”

As well as Carrion Comfort, there’ll be music by Stuart Russell, Lauren Redhead, Alan Parsons, Norah Lorway, Sam Grinsell (who’s doing a set based on the music of Bach, Ornette Coleman and Bill Drummond) and Chrissie Caulfield, the Llama’s electric violinist.

Chrissie is also going to be holding a composers’ workshop on writing for 5-string and electric violins at 2pm on the day of the concert, so we can learn all about writing for mad distortion pedals and hearing exactly what can be done with and to these instruments. Read more about the workshop on Chrissie’s blog.

Where and when?

It’s called New Music Against the Grain and it’s happening in Colchester, at Slackspace: St James House, Queen Street, CO1 2PQ Colchester, United Kingdom

7.30pm this Saturday, 3 December

Read more and RSVP on Facebook!

Did I say it’s FREE? 🙂

Improvements to caitlinrowley.com!

If you’re a regular visitor, you may notice I’ve been making a few changes around here. In particular, after a sudden realisation that I have over a decades’ worth of blog posts hiding in this site, I’ve reworked the News and Articles pages to include only summaries instead of full articles (to make them easier to browse) and to include a full-blog search, so if you couldn’t find that article that particularly spoke to you several months back, hopefully you can now!

Other improvements:

  • ‘Recent posts’ has been replaced by ‘Popular posts’ – this is because I figured the recent posts were easily found in the category pages, but it’s not always so easy for new visitors to tell what content has been most interesting for other people.
  • Using SoundCloud’s new experimental HTML5 code, released this week, all the sound files in the site should now be playable on your iDevice, whether iPad, iPhone or iPod – hope you enjoy it! SoundCloud is working on some issues with older versions of IE and I’ll keep an eye on what they’re doing, but in the meantime, if you can’t play a file, and for some reason can’t access it on SoundCloud, please let me know
  • I have implemented a new plugin for comments which will (should!) allow users to log in to the site using their social network of choice rather than having to type in their name and other details every time. I’m hoping that this will make commenting easier and encourage more discussion on the site rather than just on the individual social networks where I publicise posts – let me know what you think of it, please? Perhaps by leaving a comment!

To celebrate the new SoundCloud code, I’ve also put up another recording onto SoundCloud. It’s not a new one, I’m afraid, but it may still be new to you unless you’ve explored the depths of the Music section of this site.

Full live recording of Pieces of Eight!

Finally, I get to announce that there’s a live recording up on SoundCloud! It’s of the premiere of the piano version of Pieces of Eight, which Luca Tieppo performed at the London Composers Forum lunchtime concert at St Mary’s in Putney on 7 October. It’s only 2 minutes and 22 seconds long, so make it an excuse to take a tea-break – you’ve been working hard 🙂

Pieces of Eight (piano version) by caitlinrowley