Towards the end of last year I decided to try out a demo version of Steinberg’s Dorico Notation Software, as I had heard great things about it from some of my friends at Chigiana. I loved it so much that I bought a full version once the demo expired. How I wish that I had been able to use it while I was in Berklee’s program. It’s so much more enjoyable to work with than Finale, on so many levels. 

While I found some great tutorials on YouTube and Groove3, it wasn’t the same as doing a real project, from start to finish. For this I chose to create a project that would combine a few things I had been wanting to do for a while. 

First, notate a full orchestral score in Dorico, while using Note Performer (which I hadn’t really used yet). Secondly, analyze and recreate some of the scores in composer Ryan Lynch’s “10 ESSENTIAL Orchestral Scores You Need To Study” list. For this project I chose to focus on Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G minor.  

Based on the original score found on IMSLP, here is the version that I created (first five minutes of the piece):

And here is the audio via Note Performer (and some processing in Logic using UAD’s Studer A800, SSL G Bus Compressor, Fairchild 770, and Ozone 9): 

Below is the analysis that I put together, based on Ryan Lynch’s template:

Overall, I really enjoyed this project as it helped me to get more familiar with Dorico while giving me an even deeper appreciation of just how great Mozart’s music is. Just amazing!

Hope for the Hopeless

One of the highlights of the Fall 2022 Term was a collaboration that I did with fellow Berklee Online students Adriene Mixon and Parker Sanders as part of the Project Management For Musicians course we were in. 

The song features Adriene’s beautiful lyrics, Parker’s well-crafted guitar solo, and me handling the rest. I really like how this one turned out. 

Thank you, Adriene and Parker, for working on this with me!

Photo by Joseph Driscoll on Unsplash

World Music Composition Styles

This course was my favorite class of the term, actually, I think it is one of my favorite classes that I have taken with Berklee Online. That being said, it was a very challenging class in terms of the amount of material covered over twelve weeks. Very ambitious, as you can see from the weekly lesson plans below.

I was fortunate to have the course author, Phillip Sheeran, as the instructor for this class. He was excellent, in all regards. His knowledge and experience were vast and deep, and his personal music was masterful and beautiful, yet he was super humble, helpful, and approachable. I enjoyed his classes and the material that he shared with us. Just fantastic. 

Here’s what we went over during these twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “World Music and Instrument Classification”, Jun 27 – Jul 1
Introduction, World Music Styles and Genres, Meet and Greet, Melody and Ornamentation, Harmony and Tonality, Tempo and Meter, Rhythm and Accents, Instrumentation and Form, Quiz 1.1: Styles and Genres , Classification of Instruments, Idiophones, Struck Idiophones, Struck Idiophones: Bars, Struck Idiophones: Tubes, Struck Idiophones: Vessels, Struck Idiophones: Gongs, Struck Idiophones: Bells, Concussion Idiophones, Shaken Idiophones, Scraped Idiophones, Lamellaphone Idiophones, Friction Idiophones, Stamping Idiophones, Workshop: Idiophone Catagories, Membranophones, Tubular Drums, Tubular Drums cont., Frame Drums, Vessel Drums, Friction Drums, Mirlitons, Workshop: Membranophone Catagories, Chordophones, Musical Bows, Zithers, Lutes, Lutes cont., Lyres, Harps, Frame Harps, Harmonics, Harmonics cont., Workshop: Chordophone Categories, Aerophones, Free Aerophones, Free Reed Aerophones, Whistle Mouthpiece Aerophones, Blow Hole Aerophones, Single Reed Pipes, Double Reed Pipes, Bagpipes, Labrosones, Organs, Workshop: Aerophone Catagories, Electrophones, Electric and Electro-Acoustic Instruments, Transducers, Electromechanical Instruments, Devices, and Sound Processing, Analogue Electronic Instruments, Digital Synthesizers, Software, Mechanical, Workshop: Electrophone Catagories, World Music Production, MIDI, Continuous Controllers, Virtual Instruments and Sample Libraries, Samples and Instruments, Sample Types, Exercise 1.1: Hardware Software Installation and Signal Flow, Workshop: Loading Virtual Instruments, Assignment 1: Analyze and Define the Characteristics of “One Love”, Recap

Week 2 – “Celtic Music from Ireland, England, and Scotland”, Jul 2nd – Jul 8th
Introduction, Roots of Celtic Music, Roots of Celtic Music Examples, Listening Exercise: Celtic Artists, Melody and Form in Celtic Music, Modes Used in Celtic Music, Melody Example 1: “Caitlín Triall”, Melody Example 2: “Down by the Sally Gardens”, Melody Example 3: “Famine Irish”, Melody Example 4: “Ships are Sailing”, Melody and Form, Ornamentation in Celtic Music, Ornamentation Types, Ornamentation Examples, Quiz 2.1: Melody in Celtic Music, Workshop: Types of Oramentation, Harmony in Celtic Music, Common Chords and Progressions, Common Chord Progression Examples, Workshop: Celtic Chord Progressions, Tempo and Rhythm in Celtic Music Styles, Tempo and Rhythm Example 1: The Reel, Tempo and Rhythm Example 2: The Jig, Tempo and Rhythm Example 3: The Hornpipe, Workshop: Celtic Tempo and Rhythm Styles, Celtic Rhythmic Accompaniment, Rhythmic Accompaniment Example 1: The Reel, Rhythmic Accompaniment Example 2: The Jig, Rhythmic Accompaniment Example 3: The Hornpipe, Exercise 2.1: Progression to a Jig Melody, Instrumentation in Celtic Music, Aerophones: Bagpipes, Aerophones: The Great Highland Bagpipes, Aerophones: The Scottish Smallpipes, Aerophones: Uilleann Pipes, Aerophones: Celtic Flutes and Whistles, Aerophones: Accordions and Concertinas, Chordophones: Acoustic Guitar, Chordophones: The Mandolin, Chordophones: The Irish Bouzouki, Chordophones: The Fiddle, Chordophones: The Celtic Lever Harp, Membranophone: The Bodhrán Drum, Workshop: Celtic Instrument Matching (Part 1), Workshop: Celtic Instrument Matching (Part 2), Workshop: Celtic Instrument Matching (Part 3), Workshop: Celtic Instrument Matching (Part 4), Discussion 2.1: Impressions of the Irish Group Altan, World Music Production: Working with Dynamics, On-Velocity, Volume, Expression, Modulation, Workshop: Working with Dynamics, Workshop: Celtic Terms Review, Assignment 2: Celtic Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 3 – “Flamenco Music from Spain”, Jul 9th – Jul 15th
Introduction, Roots of Flamenco Music, Roots of Flamenco Music Examples, Harmony in Flamenco Music, Common Chord Voicings, Phrygian and Major-Phrygian Mode, Flamenco Mode, Cadences Used in Flamenco, Flamenco Tonalities, Modes and Keys Used for Cantes, Quiz 3.1: Harmony in Flamenco Music, Melody in Flamenco Music, Cante Flamenco, Flamenco Melody Example, Falseta for Soleá, Microtonality, Glissando, and Ornamentation in Melody, Guitar Ornamentation, Rhythm, Tempo, Meter, and Form in Flamenco, The 12-Beat Cycle, Soleá Compás – Rhythm and Chords, Solo for Soleá, Alegrías, Tangos, Exercise 3.1: Count, Clap, and Record a Compás, Discussion 3.1: Impressions of Flamenco Music, World Music Production: Miking a Nylon String Guitar, Instrumentation in Flamenco Music, Chordophone (Fretted Lute): Flamenco Guitar, Flamenco Guitar Notation Ranges, Struck Idiophone: Cajón, Percussion Idiophone: Clapping, Stamping Idiophone: Dancing and Singing, Workshop: Continued Listening, Workshop: Flamenco Terms Review, Assignment 3: Flamenco Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 4 – “Middle East: Sufi Music from Turkey”, Jul 16th – Jul 22nd
Introduction, Origins of Sufi Music, Origins of Sufi Music: “Whirling Dervishes”, Discussion 4.1: Impressions of Sufi Music, Melody in Sufi Music, Non-Tempered Tonal System with 24 Tones per Octave, The Ezgi-Arel Notation System, The Turkish Chromatic Scale, The Makam Tetrachords and Pentachords, Thirteen Basic Makam Scales, Workshop: Turkish Music Makam Comma System, Melodic Structure and Form of Sufi Music, Three Types of Melodic Directions for a Makam, Melodic Example: “Beyati Pesrevi”, Transposing a Makam, Beyati Makam in a Composition, Melodic Example: “Beyati Pesrevi,” Full Excerpt, Melodic Example: “Beyati Taksim”, Workshop: Transposition Practice and Melodic Directions, World Music Production: Microtonality in Your DAW, Exercise 4.1: Microtonality, Harmony, Tonality Keys, and Modulation of Sufi Music, “Beyati Pesrevi” Analysis, “Segah Makam” Analysis, Tempo and Rhythm in Sufi Music, “Düm” and “Tek”, Usul Patterns, “Ferahfezâ”, Exercise 4.2: Usul, Instrumentation in Sufi Music, Aerophone: Ney, Chordophones: Tanbur, Chordophone: Klasik Kemence and Violin, Chordophone: Kanun, Membranophones: Aski-Davul and Kudüm Drum, Membranophones: Daire and Bendir Frame Drum, Workshop: Sufi Music Terms Review, Assignment 4: Sufi Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 5 – “West Africa: Music from Mali”, Jul 23rd – Jul 29th
Introduction, Roots of the Mande People and Manding Music, The Epic of Sundiata, Malian Social Classes, Quiz 5.1: Roots of Mande People and Music, Harmony in Manding Music, “Mama” Harmony Excerpts 1 & 2, “Mama” Harmony Excerpt 3, “Iyo Djeli” Harmony Excerpt, “Iyo Djeli” Harmony Excerpt, Continued, Quiz 5.2: Harmony in Manding Analysis, Melody in Manding Music, “Iyo Djeli” Call and Response Excerpt, “Madan” Call and Response Excerpt, Discussion 5.1: “Madan” Melodic Analysis, Rhythm, Tempo, and Meter in Manding Music, Pankeke Pattern: Excerpt 1, Pankeke Pattern: Excerpt 2, Sabada: Standard Pattern, World Music Production Tip: Setting Up Reverb on an Auxiliary Bus, Exercise 5.1: Pankeke Pattern, Instrumentation Used in Manding Music, Membranophones, Idiophones, Chordophones, Chordophone: Electric Guitar, Discussion 5.2: Continued Listening and Research, Workshop: Manding Music Terms Review, Assignment 5: Mali Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 6 – “South Asia: Music from India”, Jul 30th – Aug 5th
Introduction, Roots of Indian Classical Music, Part 1, Roots of Indian Classical Music, Part 2, Introductory Musical Examples, Instrumentation in Indian Music, Chordophones: Tambura, Chordophones: Sitar, Chordophones: Sarod, Chordophones: Sarangi, Memranophones: Tabla, Aerophones: Bansuri, Quiz 6.1: Instrumentation in Indian Music, Rhythmic Structures in Indian Music, Rhythmic Communication, Bol and the Tabla, Most Common Bol Strokes, Common Tala (Patterns) on Tabla, Quiz 6.2: Indian Rhythms, Exercise: Matching Tala Patterns on Tabla, Melody in Indian Raga Music, The Indian Raga Melodic System, Microtones and Unequal Temperament, Quiz 6.3: Sargam, Northern System for Sargam, Six Thaats (Scales) of the Hindustani System, Four Additional Thaats (Scales) of the Hindustani System, Musical Example Using the Bhairav Thaat, Exercise 6.1: Write a Melody Using a Thaat, Southern System for Sargam, Carnatic Raga Scale No. 66, Ghavāmbhodi: Raga Scale No. 43, The Full 72 Scales, Exercise 6.1: Write a Melody Using a Carnatic Raga, Ornamentation, World Music Production Tip: Incorporating Indian Musical Concepts in Your Music, Discussion 6.1: Impressions of Music from India, Workshop: Indian Musical Terms Review, Assignment 6: Compose a Piece Incorporating Indian Musical Concepts, Recap

Week 7 – “East Asia: Traditional Japanese Music”, Aug 6th – Aug 12th
Introduction, Roots of Traditional Japanese Music, Roots of Traditional Japanese Music, Roots of Traditional Japanese Music, Exercise: Japanese Style and Instrumentation Matching, Exercise: Japanese Instrumentation Matching, Harmony and Modes Used in Japanese Music, Harmony Example: “Haru no umi”, Japanese Scales and Modes, Japanese Pentatonic Scales, Japanese Pentatonic cont., Harmonic Analysis: “Haru no umi”, Quiz: Japanese Harmony and Modes, Melody in Traditional Japanese Music (Hōgaku, Sokyoku), Stable and Unstable Tones, Melody Analysis: “Sakura”, Melody Analysis 2: “Sakura”, Melody Analysis 3: “Sakura”, Melodic Analysis: “Rokudan no Shirabe”, World Music Production Tip: Producing Realistic-Sounding Ornamentation, Workshop: Sokyoku Melody, Rhythm, Tempo and Form in Sankyoku Music, Sankyoku Ensemble Piece: “Yaegoromo”, Sankyoku Analysis 1, Sankyoku Analysis 2, Instrumentation in Sankyoku Music, Chordophones: Koto, Chordophones: Shamisen, Chordophones: Shamisen Tuning, Aerophones: Shakuhachi, Discussion: Impressions of Traditional Japanese Music, Exercise: Japanese Musical Terms Review, Assignment 7: Japanese Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 8 – “Caribbean: Music from Cuba”, Aug 13th – Aug 19th
Introduction, Roots of Cuban Music, Roots of Cuban Music Examples, Introductory Musical Example, Quiz 8.1: Roots of Cuban Music, Tempo and Rhythm in Cuban Music, Types of Claves, Exercise: Rhythm and Tempo Matching, Cuban Music Styles, Son-Montuno, Bolero, Guajira, Exercise 8.1: Write a Chord Progression, Melody in Cuban Music, Son-Montuno Melody Pattern 1, Son-Montuno Melody Pattern 2, Exercise 8.2: Write a Son-Montuno Chord Progression, Harmony Structure and Form in Son, Harmony Structure and Form in Bolero, Bolero Analysis: “Dos Gardenias” (Part 1), Bolero Analysis: “Dos Gardenias” (Part 2), Quiz 8.2: “Dos Gardenias” Bolero, Instrumentation in Cuban Music, Labrosones: Trumpet, Chordophone: Tres, Struck and Shaken Idiophones, Membranophones: Bongos, Tumbas, Batá, Timbales, World Music Production Tip: Miking Congas and Bongos, Discussion 8.1: Continued Listening and Impressions of Cuban Music, Workshop: Cuban Music Terms Review, Assignment 8: Caribbean Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 9 – “Latin America: Music from Brazil”, Aug 20th – Aug 26th
Introduction, Roots of Brazilian Music, Carnaval, Samba, Choro, Bossa Nova, Quiz 9.1: Roots of Brazilian Music, Workshop: Brazilian Music Styles Matching, Instrumentation in Brazilian Music, Chordophones: Cavaquinho, Chordophones: Violão, Chordophones: Viola Caipira, Samba Percussion of the Bateria: Idiophones, Samba Percussion of the Bateria: Membranophones, Samba Percussion of the Bateria: Membranophones cont., Aerophones: Flute, Aerophones: Saxophone, Aerophones: Clarinet, Labrosones: Trombone, Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 1), Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 2), Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 3), Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 4), Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 5), Workshop: Brazilian Instrument Matching (Part 6), Up-Tempo Styles: Samba Batucada, Up-Tempo Styles: Samba Canção, Up-Tempo Styles: Samba Partido Alto, Mid-Tempo Styles: Bossa Nova, Mid-Tempo Styles: Baião, Exercise 9.1: Brazilian Rhythmic Patterns, Harmony in Brazilian Music, Upbeat Samba Harmony, Harmony Used in Bossa Nova and Samba, Harmony Analysis: “Chega De Sudade”, Moody Intros and Altered Harmony, Exercise 9.2: Bossa Nova, Melody in Brazilian Music, Samba Melodic Example: “O Pato” (Part 1), Samba Melodic Example: “O Pato” (Part 2), Baião Melodic Example: Aparição (Part 3), Baião Melodic Example: Aparição (Part 4), Exercise 9.3: Melody and Harmony, Discussion 9.1: Impressions of Music from Brazil, Workshop: Brazilian Music Terms Review, Assignment 9: Brazilian Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 10 – “Latin America: Tango Music from Argentina”, Aug 27th – Sep 2nd
Introduction, Roots of Argentine Tango Music, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Birthplace of the Tango Style, Introductory Musical Example, Discussion 10.1: Research, Astor Piazzolla, Rhythm, Tempo, and Meter in Tango, “Ausencias:” Tango Rhythm Example 1, “Ausencias:” Tango Rhythm Example 2, “Street Tango:” Tango Rhythm Example 3, Workshop: Rhythm in Tango, “Adios Nonino” Harmony Analysis (Part 1), “Adios Nonino” Harmony Analysis (Part 2), “Adios Nonino” Harmony Recap and Performance, Exercise 10.1: Write a Tango Chord Progression, Melody and Form in Tango, “Milonga Del Angel” Melody and Form Analysis 1, “Milonga Del Angel” Melody and Form Analysis 2 (Part 1), “Milonga Del Angel” Melody and Form Analysis 2 (Part 2), Chromaticism in the Bass and Melody during Variations, Ornamentation in Tango, Quiz 10.1: Melody in Tango, World Music Production Tip: Sequencing with Multiple Tempo Changes, Instrumentation Used in Tango Music, Argentine Tango Ensemble Instrumentation, Quiz 10.2: Tango Instrumentation, Discussion 10.2: Impressions of Tango Music, Workshop: Tango Musical Terms Review, Assignment 10: Tango Music Composition Arrangement, Recap

Week 11 – “Oceania: Music from Australia and Oceania”, Sep 3rd – Sep 9th
Introduction, Roots of Indigenous Australian Music, Musical Example of Indigenous Australian Music, Quiz 11.1: Roots of Indigenous Australian Music, Rhythm, Tempo, Meter and Form in Indigenous Australian Music, Metered, Unmetered and Tempo in Wangga Songs, Unmetered Excerpt 1: “Wilumen Tulh”, Metered Excerpt 2: “Wilumen Tulh”, Even Metered Excerpt: “Yagarra Delhi Nye-bindja-ng Barra Ngarrka”, Isorhythm and Cyclical Rhythm Excerpt: “Bangany-nyung Ngaya”, Noncyclical and Cyclical Melodic Phrases Excerpt: “Bangany-nyung Ngaya”, Form in Wangga, Quiz 11.2: Rhythm, Tempo, and Meter in Indigenous Australian Music, Workshop: “Bangany-nyung Ngaya” Form Matching, World Music Production Tip: Making a Sampler Instrument, Melody in Indigenous Australian Wangga Song, Scales and Modes in Indigenous Australian Music, Tetrachords Species, Melodic Shape and Range, Melodic Excerpt 1: “Bangany-nyung Ngaya”, Melodic Excerpt 2: “Truwu”, Melodic Excerpt 3: “Truwu”, Exercise 11.1: Indigenous Australian Melody and Accompaniment, Instrumentation in Indigenous Australian Music, Aerophone: Didjeridu, Idiophone: Concussion and Stomping, Quiz 11.3: Indigenous Australian Instrumentation, World Fusions, World Fusion Song Example: “Treaty”, “Treaty,” Excerpt 1, “Treaty,” Excerpt 2, World Fusions Concepts, Discussion 11.1: Impressions of Indigenous Australian Music, Workshop: Indigenous Australian Musical Terms Review, Assignment 11: World Music Fusion Project, Recap

Week 12 – “Orchestral World Fusion”, Sep 10th – Sep 16th
Introduction, Celtic Orchestral World Fusion: Braveheart, String Introduction, Cadence Derived from Mixolydian Mode, Instrumentation of Braveheart, Discussion 12.1: Celtic and Orchestral Elements Used in Braveheart, Flamenco Orchestral World Fusion: The Mask of Zorro, Flamenco Mode: Melody and Harmony, Andalusian Cadence, Flamenco Instrumentation and Rhythm, Full Orchestration, Discussion 12.2: Orchestral World Fusion, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 1, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 2, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 3, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 4, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 5, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 6, Workshop: World Fusion Elements, Excerpt 7, World Music Production: Mixing Orchestral and Non-Orchestral Material, Orchestral Production Material, Non-Orchestral Production Material, Any Type of Mixing or Material Tips, Assignment 12: Final Project, Recap

Here’s the audio for the piece that I put together as a Final Project. The full score follows below.

Orchestration 2

This was the second class that I took with Ben Newhouse. It is the follow-on course to Orchestration 1 and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more than its predecessor. There was a lot of information covered in just 12 weeks. And just like the previous class, everything was clear, logical, laid out really well, with each subject building on the previous. In fact, he mentioned in a live class that he designed these two classes to be two halves of one large 24 week course.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience Professor Newhouse’s classes and to have him as an instructor. He might be the best teacher I’ve ever had, on any topic. Just fantastic. As I said in a previous post, if you get a chance to study with him you should take it. He’s that good.

Here is the material we went over.

Week 1 – “Color Choices”, Apr 3 – Apr 9
Introduction, Course Structure, Group Instruments by Color, not by Range, Approaching Color Choices Systematically, Alternative Organization – Instrument Structure, Waveform Structure, Color Choices in Appalachian Spring, Treatment 1, Treatment 2, Treatment 3, Treatment 4, Treatment 5, Simple Gifts Summary, Doubling and Its Effect on Tone Color, Orchestral Mockups: The Two Circles, Assignment 1: Tone Color Orchestration

Week 2 – “Orchestrating Dynamics”, Apr 10th – Apr 16th
Introduction, A General Framework for Dynamics, Orchestrating Accents I, Orchestrating Accents II (Part 1), Orchestrating Accents II (Part 2), Orchestrating a Crescendo or a Diminuendo, Orchestral Mockups: Battling Computing Limitations, Computers, Using Multiple Hard Drives, Incorporating Hardware, Adding a Hardware Sampler, Adding a Second Computer for Sampling, Using MIDI Over Ethernet, Purging Unused Samples, Audio Interface Buffer Size, Latency Compensation, Freezing Tracks, Sample Rates and Bit Depths, Bypassing Reverbs, Checklist for Notated Scores, Assignment 2: Orchestrate a Diminuendo

Week 3 -“Orchestrating Lines”, Apr 17th – Apr 23rd
Introduction, Dovetailing Dictated by Range, “Mercury” by Gustav Holst, “Fireworks” by Igor Stravinsky, Dovetailing Dictated by Playing Limitations, Lines for Single Instruments and Doublings, Single Instrument Treatment, Doubling, Segmenting a Melodic Line, Line Segmentation, Pointillism, Note Segmentation, Orchestral Mockups: Note Transitions, Sustained Chord Progression, Sustain Common Tones, Overlapping Notes, Humanizing Note Starts, Add Automation, Assignment 3: Orchestrating a Line

Week 4 -“Orchestrating Harmonic Material”, Apr 24th – Apr 30th
Introduction, Voicing Chords for Full Orchestra, Combining the Families, E.T. Strings and Percussion, E.T. Families Combined, Combining Wind and String Chords, Additional Examples of Chord Voicings, First Inversion, Second Inversion, Unconventional Voicings, Dense Voicing in the Low Register, Sustained Harmonic Accompaniment, Rhythmic Harmonic Patterns, Rhythmically Repeating Chords, Combining Sustained and Rhythmic Harmonies, Extended Harmonic Passages, Orchestral Mockups: Combining Samples, Assignment 4: Orchestrating a Harmonic Progression

Week 5 -“Orchestrating Single-Layered Textures”, May 1st – May 7th
Introduction, Tutti Statements, Variety in Tutti Statements, Homophonic Statements, Inexact Doubling, Orchestral Mockups: On-Velocity, On-Velocity, Fixed Decay Instruments, Assignment 5: Homophonic Writing

Week 6 -“Orchestration in a Two-Layered Environment”, May 8th – May 14th
Introduction, Creating Separation, Maintaining Balance, Focus – Guiding the Listener’s Attention, Separation, Balance, and Focus in a Two-Layer Texture (Part 1), Separation, Balance, and Focus in a Two-Layer Texture (Part 2), Orchestral Mockups: Continuous Controllers and Dynamics, Dynamic Samples, Volume, Expression, Modulation, Assignment 6: Foreground and Background Writing

Week 7 -“Orchestration in a Three-Layered Environment”, May 15th – May 21st
Introduction, Foreground, Middleground, and Background Material in Tannhauser, Wagner Treatment 1, Wagner Treatment 2, Foreground, Middleground, and Background Material in Bolero, Ravel Treatment 1, Ravel Treatment 2, Ravel Treatment 3, Ravel Treatment 4, Ravel Treatment 5, Foreground, Middleground, Background in Tchaikovsky 4: Treatment 1, Foreground, Middleground, Background in Tchaikovsky 4: Treatment 2, Tchaikovsky Example Summary, Orchestral Mockups: Quantizing, Quantizing – Choosing the Rhythmic Interval, Quantizing – Additional Options, Flexible Tempo Maps, Workshop: Quantizing, Assignment 7: Foreground, Middleground, and Background Writing

Week 8 -“Complex Textures of Four or More Layers”, May 22nd – May 28th
Introduction, Limits to Human Perception, Stravinsky’s Fireworks (Part 1), Stravinsky’s Fireworks (Part 2), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring I (Part 1), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring I (Part 2), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring I (Part 3), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring I (Part 4), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring 2 (Part 1), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring 2 (Part 2), Extreme Complexity: The Rite of Spring 2 (Part 3), Controlled Chaos Textures, Orchestral Mockups: Horizontal Placement, Orchestral Mockups: Spread, Orchestral Mockups: Sampling Implications, Assignment 8: Sequencing Chaos 

Week 9 -“Horizontal Relationships I”, May 29th – Jun 4th
Introduction, Horizontal Relationships, Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky 5, Part I, Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky, Part II, Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky 4, Part I (Treatment 1 and 2), Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky 4, Part I (Treatment 3 and 4), Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky 4, Part I (Treatment 5), Horizontal Relationships in Tchaikovsky 4, Part II, Orchestral Mockups: Reverb Background, Digital Reverb, Convolution Reverb, Sampling Considerations

Week 10 -“Horizontal Relationships II”, Jun 5th – Jun 11th
Introduction, Horizontal Balance, Horizontal Balance in Beethoven (Part 1), Horizontal Balance in Beethoven (Part 2), Horizontal Balance in Orff (Part 1), Horizontal Balance in Orff (Part 2), Horizontal Balance in Tchaikovsky, Orchestral Mockups: Reverb Routing, Individual Patches, Sampler Instances, Reverb on Converted Audio Tracks, Using Sends, Busses and Aux Tracks, Multiple Outs From Your Sampling Software, Review of Key Concepts: Global Considerations, Review of Key Concepts: Single-Layer Considerations, Review of Key Concepts: Multi-Layer Considerations, Review of Key Concepts: Horizontal Relationships

Week 11 -“Hollywood Textures I”, Jun 12th – Jun 18th
Introduction, Sustained String Cues (Part 1), Sustained String Cues (Part 2), Mystery and Magic Cues, Theme Cues I, Orchestral Mockups: Vertical Placement, Delay, To Delay or Not to Delay?, Predelay, Assignment 11: Final Project Continued

Week 12 -“Hollywood Textures II”, Jun 19th – Jun 25th
Introduction, Theme Cues II: Treatment 1, Theme Cues II: Treatment 2, Bouncy Comedy Cues, Action Cue 1, Action Cue 2, Action Cue 3, Orchestral Mock-Ups: Mastering, Compression, Compression Considerations, Limiting and Multiband Compression, Assignment 12: Final Project Continued

I’ve posted the score and audio for my final project below.

Thanks for another great class, Berklee!

Project Ice

In early January 2021 a classmate of mine from Berklee Online, Richard Kahn, reached out and asked if I would like to collaborate on a project he was thinking of doing. He had a musical fragment of an idea to use as the basis of a soundtrack for a short ice skating film he wanted to make. I loved what he came up with and wanted to see what he had in mind.

We met over FaceTime and started to brainstorm what we might do. A short time later we had a Logic file that had everything mapped out and we started to build the piece up. Each of us would work on the parts that we had talked about and over the next few weeks it started to take shape. To share the file we used “Splice” as file management and sync/version control. Overall the project went really well and we got a lot done in a relatively short amount of time stretched out over January and February.

Unfortunately, the lake that Richard was hoping to shoot the film on had already started to thaw by the time that the piece was complete. So that part of the project will have to wait. Nonetheless, I really like what we came up with and wanted to chronicle the experience. 

Here is “Ice” as a standalone audio piece. Perhaps someday it will be fully realized as a music video/ice skating film.

Thanks for reaching out to and collaborating with me on this, Richard!

Photo by Kelly Sikkemaon Unsplash


The fourth class that I took this past term was “Music Theory and Composition 1”. This was by far the most involved class in terms of workload, so much information was covered each week. If I wasn’t familiar with most of the material already I think I would have really struggled with this class. 

That being said there was plenty of information that was either new to me or needed clarification: box notation, identifying motifs & phrases, figured bass, counterpoint, free organum, harmonic analysis, imaginary bar lines, stable & unstable tones, classical voice leading, chord function harmonization, reharmonization, modal interchange, voice leading 7th & extended chords, drum set notation, writing walking bass parts, chord scales, passing tones, neighbor tones, non-chord tones, tensions, tension substitutions, dynamic markings, hybrid chords and score layouts.

There was a lot covered each week and time management became a crucial factor in getting everything done. Once the coursework was completed I needed to write, record, edit and mix at least one new composition a week. At times I got lost in the details and needed to fall back on what I had learned about time management from corporate life. Creating a “Plan A” (best case scenario) and “Plan B” (worst case scenario) helped me to get refocused on what needed to be done, how to do it and how much time it would take. The great thing about this approach was that I often got Plan A results in the same amount of time Plan B would take. I really need to remember to revisit this process with future class assignments.

For the most part I really enjoyed this class and am looking forward to taking MTC 2 in the Winter 2020 term. 

Here are some of the pieces that I put together for various assignments.

Fly on the Wall (Film)

My wife, Rachel, found this fantastic video of a live orchestral film scoring session on YouTube. It’s a 2.5 hour film done @ Air Studios in London, England. Very inspiring to see how things are done at this level of professionalism, expertise and excellence.

Thanks to Christian Henson and Spitfire audio for making this available for all of us to see. Very cool, indeed!


“Enchantment” is the first song from the upcoming “Equinox” album. It is also the first symphonic piece that I’ve done in a long time.

Video footage taken while visiting Mt Tamalpais (Marin County, CA), Municipal Rose Garden (San Jose, CA) and the Pulgas Water Temple (Redwood City, CA).

Here’s the backstory…

I had been wanting to do an orchestral/symphonic piece for many years now. Fortunately some of the tools available nowadays makes it possible to create something that sounds pretty compelling in terms of authenticity. 

This song started as a simple chord progression with me humming the melody. Here’s the original sketch:

Once I had decided that I was going to work on this song idea for the concert, I made a full chart with lead melody and chord progressions:

While working on pre-production of the song I watched two very helpful video courses on Groove3:

Creating Realistic MIDI Strings

Creating Epic Cinematic Compositions

The latter being particularly useful as I ended up mirroring a lot of the approach outlined in the course. 

Here are some of my notes that I referenced while bringing the track up:

  • Follow the “Rules of Harmony” (this video by Rick Beato was particularly informative:
  • Determine parts per section (e.g. Strings, Horns, Woodwinds, Percussion, misc.)
  • Create new alternate version in Logic per section (to free up CPU resources when using the virtual instruments)
  • Stack multiple virtual instruments per section w/ different articulations to create a fuller sound
  • Quantize, humanize then scale % of quantization applied
  • Use mod wheel to write expression automation
  • Bounce to align (if necessary) 

Parallel Processing

In the past, I was pretty much an “all or nothing” type of person when it came to studying, writing, recording or performing. Meaning, I would exclusively focus on one area, say studying, for an extended period of time, at the expense of the other areas that are important to me. The great thing about that is you get really focused on a particular subject. The bad thing is all forward motion in any other areas stops completely.

For a long while, I had been wanting to divide my time between study and production. Ideally studying early on in the day with some sort of production later.

So one of my main goals for the first quarter of this year was to do exactly that. Once I got a workable schedule in place, I loved it. It was tremendously rewarding to see progress being made in so many different areas that interest me.

I think the key to allowing all of that to happen was to limit how much time I gave any one area of focus. That made space for everything else.

For my studies I continued with my 5 minutes per subject approach for a variety of subjects: ear training, guitar studies (music reading and chords/rhythm parts), bass, keyboards (scales and chords), songwriting/chord progressions, notation and vocal exercises.

Along with that I started incorporating online studies with courses on (Photoshop, Omnisphere, Battery, Performing with Ableton Live) and (Superior Drummer, Ableton Live 10 Explained, Creating Realistic MIDI Strings, Creating Epic Cinematic Compositions). These were super helpful in preparing for the album and concert.

I also began alternating days of focus. One day of new material, with the next being review of what I had already done. This kept everything very manageable and enjoyable. So much so that I looked forward to studying every day.

For songwriting/production I would do something similar by only allowing 30 minutes per song per day. This helped keep the songs new and interesting throughout the process. It also helped get me “unstuck” when I felt blocked. As soon as the timer went off I would move on to the next song and get positive momentum going again. By the time I came back to the song I was having an issue with I was in a different space and usually found a solution within minutes.