For those of you who know me, you probably know me as a performer - I'm mostly a singer and occasionally an actor and pianist. I'm also a very busy music educator and run my own private voice studio.
But probably not many of you know me as a composer. It's something that's been a part of me since I was very little writing songs on the piano in my living room. I took a big plunge in high school, writing for my school choir, church stuff, and some other chamber groups. Then I wrote a good deal in college, mostly as part of music theory classes. In grad school, I got very focused on performing, and composing virtually disappeared from my life.
In 2006, I decided to get more serious about writing music, and I took an extensive retreat for several days by myself to write. I returned home with several original songs, which became the seed of my debut CD, "Devotion." It was produced by my friend Michael McBride and released in 2008.
Meanwhile, I was approached in 2007 by a friend to co-write a Christmas musical called "Every Man Heart Lay Down." I wrote several songs and oversaw the music for the whole production, which has now been produced 3 times in Houston, Texas. Additionally, I've done some arrangements off and on for church choirs, handbells, voice students, etc.
However, the past few years writing has taken a back seat to performing, teaching, getting married, and moving across the country.
So I've decided it's time to reacquaint myself with "composer Dan." Thanks for coming along for the ride. :-)
- Compose something every calendar week for all of 2013. It doesn't need to be elaborate or complicated, but it does need to be something original.
- Minimum length of 30 seconds.
- Record and publish what I've written each week on my blog.
- I reserve to right to write something but not make it public if I choose.
- I am going to leave open the possibility of writing an arrangement of a preexisting tune or quoting material from other writers. (I'm still pondering this.)
Also, I sort of wanted to come up with a name for this project other than "I'm composing this year." Abby and I talked for a bit about this, and we realized I'm just trying to create musical sketches and ideas. She suggested "52 Ideas." So that's the current working title...
- Jon Steinmeier is a a composer and member of multiple bands in Chicago, and he's an old friend from Wheaton College. Jon created a project a few years ago to write and record a song each week, which he did for 2 years. While his project was a bit more ambitious than mine, I always thought it was a super cool idea and it's been in the back of my head ever since. A short article about his project
- Andrea Rosselle is a visual artist and good friend of mine in Portland. When Abby and I first moved to Portland, we lived with Andrea and her husband while she was furiously working on her MFA thesis project. She said to me, "Many people take certain labels like 'painter' or 'writer' but so few of them are actually creating art on a regular basis." What she said stuck with me, and I realized that just because I've composed in the past does not make me a "composer." I want to be active.
- My parents and wife are a huge support to me. My dad in particular has always been a cheerleader for my composing. He regularly asks me if I'm writing and encourages me to "stay after it." And my wife, Abby, is my hero for getting so excited when I suggested this project in the first place.
- I am a member of Playback Theater Portland, an improvisational theater troupe in which I act and make music every week. There's many things that make this group really extraordinary, but I always feel grateful knowing each week I will create something new with Playback.
- Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way" is awesome and is very close to my heart. Abby and I had a creative cluster going through this book a few years ago in Houston, and that group, led by Jacque Darragh, feels like a gang that's always in my corner.
- Anne Lamott's book "Bird By Bird" is one of my favorites. I specifically love how she encourages creators to start small and simple.
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It'll be going into GarageBand on my Mac.
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