2011 through the eyes of a blog

And just like that, another year is gone! Here is a look at my posts for the year. thinking web picThe blogging year started in March with my favourite book arriving, "Behind Bars", which I preordered in 2010. It is definitely the most used book on my shelf! I then talked about two approaching projects:

In April I introduced my new work, "blimp", and reviewed two projects - a song I helped a friend create and my work at the BOP music school:

May was a busy month, so in June I talked about what I had been up to - writing 31 microscores and the premiere of "blimp":

In July I posted the video I worked on with Sideways Productions:

In August and September I covered my involvement in the KBB Music Festival and some composition tutorials that I held in Kerikeri:

October was the kick off of the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand, I talked about my involvement in the opening ceremony and also made a post about what exactly I do when "preparing music" and why you would need someone like me to do it:

December means Christmas and I posted some Christmas carols that I prepared for my students. I also composed a new "holiday" piece for my Christmas post:

Happy New Year everyone, bring on 2012!

Music preparation - what and why!

I often talk to people who are surprised at the types of music preparation jobs that can be done, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to talking about my work as a copyist and what I can do for you!

Why do people need someone else to prepare their music? Can't you just do it yourself? What do you pay for?

  • Expertise. Those experienced in music preparation have the eye to prepare beautifully clear and accurate music, and the ability to spot and resolve potential issues prior to it being rehearsed or performed. They also have extensive knowledge of theory and notation, the styles and conventions of different genres and specific requirements of different orchestras.
  • Meeting a deadline. Music preparers often get the music incredibly late (or be working on the start as the composer finishes the end!) and a deadline has to be met. Just recently I worked through the night to prepare the score and parts for a piece and a couple of hours later it was being rehearsed in Paris.
  • Efficiency. With extensive software knowledge, work can be done considerably faster and without hassles.
  • Assurance. You can pay many thousands of dollars to have musicians sitting there ready to record your music, or you could have worked hard for many years to have an orchestra perform it in a concert. Whatever context, when the players sit down or the conductor studies his score you need the assurance that everything is clear, accurate and very simply - it must work!
  • Ability. Many composers still write by hand and then pass it on to be prepared. Likewise, many composers and musicians don't know how to write notated music, and will pass on MIDI files from other software to be notated.
  • Independence. To publish your music, traditionally you would have had to pass your music over to a publisher to have it expertly typeset and prepared. But you would have had all of the commitments of having a publisher and would only get a fraction of sales. Now, with composers having their own websites, people are publishing themselves and just need their music expertly typeset, edited and proofread - that's where we come in.

What sort of things can be done?

  • Typeset music from handwritten manuscripts (or scribbles!).
  • Edit and/or proofread music that is already set.
  • Prepare instrumental parts - sometimes just as PDFs and emailed, other times I can provide the library service where I will print/copy and organise/distribute the parts at rehearsals/recording sessions.
  • Singers often need their pieces in a different key - I can transpose these with a very quick turnaround.
  • Tidy and typeset music from programs such as Logic or Pro Tools, adding all of the dynamics, articulation and other technical considerations.
  • Recreate a missing orchestral score from the instrumental parts - can be a lifesaver!
  • Transcribe music from audio.
  • Create reductions of larger scores - such as a rehearsal piano part for an opera.

How did I get in to this?

When I was studying composition with Anthony Ritchie at Otago University, he asked me if I would be interested in setting a set of Christmas carols composed by his father John Ritchie. I loved it, and gradually discovered that this area could in fact be a career in itself.

January update

Hey everyone, well it's been AGES since my last post so this is a little update on what has been going on. I just noticed the last post I did actually, the one about the recording with four bass clarinets and four contrabass clarinets. Well a few weeks later the composer Austin emailed with some recordings which I said I'd love to hear in the blog. So thanks for that Austin.

Had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, if you missed our Christmas video, check it out here. Have been back working long days for two weeks now as have a lot of work to get through which is fantastic. Of course I have my wedding approaching fast so want to clear as much work as I can before then. To save waffling on too much, here is a list of what's been going on:


  • Have been typesetting two works for New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie. Have completed his Flute Concerto and am working through a choral work.
  • I wrote "This Day", a new piano work. This is for the "entry of the bride" at my wedding. Have also been preparing some other backing tracks for use at the wedding.
  • Have been MIDI orchestrating some tracks for Alexandros Pappas in Greece.
  • Am writing a new choral work for the "Souls of the Righteous" for premiere next month I think.
  • Next week I'm conducting at the Opononi Summer school up north. Should be great fun, and I'll be sure to post a blog following that.
  • Have been discussing several exciting projects with Alexey Kurkdjian and his Sphaera Ensemble in Brazil. Stay tuned for info here.
  • Have been MIDI orchestrating a track for Vladimir Krasojevic also.


So it's a good start to the year so far and of course expecting it to only get busier from here. By the way I got the video from "In Their Light" premiere in Athens last November. I've added the video below:


Speaking of YouTube, I'm planning to get a bit more modern this year, so am starting my video blog. More details soon, but it will be all linked into this blog so can just see it all here.

Alright well that's all for now. Stay well and make some AMAZING music for the world!!