A Mid-Summer Music Update

I wanted to share update on my recent musical life. This summer, I’ve been participating in an intensive that’s about composing for the North Indian drum, the tabla. I’ve been working on an 8-minute piece for tabla and percussion ensemble, and in August it’s going to be workshopped and performed by some amazing musicians. Writing this piece been an all-consuming activity and I’ve had less time than I anticipated this summer to focus on my electric guitar project. It’s been all-consuming not only because writing for the tabla is new to me but because I decided to use this project as a chance to shake up my composing process a bit. For the first time I’ve been sketching ideas directly in a MIDI piano-roll editor (I’ve been learning FL Studio) rather than standard notation. I’ve also been coming up to speed on the state of the art in virtual instruments, and it seems that I’ve been pulled (quite happily so far) into to the whole ecosystem around Kontakt.  This has allowed me to sketch my ideas much more rapidly than I could before and has also let me generate audio renderings of my work that are more convincing than I could before.

Here’s a medley of ideas that couldn’t fit into my 8-minute workshop piece, so I decided to combine them into a separate piece:

And here’s another offshoot of the project. It doesn’t have tabla. It started as a sketch I wrote when I was figuring out how to write for other instruments in the percussion ensemble: marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, cymbal.




Here’s an image of the moon rising of Revere Beach around 10PM on June 29, 2018. I’d like to use it as an album cover someday, perhaps.

I got to Revere Beach just as the moon was rising and struggled to set up my camera equipment in time to capture the dramatic moment. As the moon emerged above the horizon it really was shockingly, gobsmackingly red. But I couldn’t get it into focus and my first dozen shots didn’t capture any of its red brilliance.

As the moon continued ascending, it became brighter and easier to photograph, and its color change to golden and eventually white.

Straight out of my camera, the shot here was underexposed and much less saturated than in the edited version I’m presenting. In a sense, the red here is artificial. When the moon had reached the height shown in this image, it was not nearly as red. Still, this processed and fantastical image represents something of the drama of the scene as I experienced it, with that intense red from the first moments of moonrise lingering in mind even as the color progressed toward white.

This next image is probably the most technically good photo of the moon I’ll be able to capture in a while. I took it on June 20, 2018 in East Boston. Since my last blog post where I wrote about photographing birds without a telephoto lens, I’ve actually acquired a telephoto lens, and this moon image is one of the first things I’ve been able to do that I couldn’t do before. It’s shot on a 50mp full frame camera at 600mm. 1/320 sec at f / 6.3. ISO 125. Tripod. Manual focus. Remote shutter release. Post-processing to adjust brightness and contrast. Cropped.

I’ve tried a few times just to get another photo like this, but I’ve been encumbered by clouds, fog, wind (leading to a shaking tripod), and other hindrances that made it non-trivial to just go out and get this same photo again. I have a teleconverter that can get me up to 840mm but I’m not yet sure the optical quality is good enough to make the extra reach worthwhile for moon photography. So here’s what I got for now: