Thursday, December 31, 2009

What do you wanna do with your life!?

There was a time, way back in the day, when MTV (Music Television) actually played music videos instead of constant re-runs of "The Real World", "Parental Control" or "MTV Cribs". Who cares about these pathetic people? Anyway, one of the classic videos was by a hair band named Twisted Sister. At the beginning of the video a boy of about 13 years of age is in his bedroom with his father spewing angry verbage at him, saliva flying everywhere. After mentioning something about carrying an M-16 in Vietnam the dad concludes his diatribe with the question "what do you wanna do with your life!?"

As I was in the early stages of this project I did a lot of listening to "Rite of Spring" and lots of following along with the score. Each part was quite different in melodic material, harmony, tempo, instrumentation and length. This would beg the question as to what I wanted to do with this part. Some parts are quite difficult to figure out what to do with in arranging it for a jazz band. Others a little more obviuos. Part two, "Dances Of The Young Girls" was painfully obvious. And the answer was the same as the one given by that 13 year old boy in the Twisted Sister video. "I wanna rock!!!!!"

Yeah, that's right, I wanna bang my head. The basses in the orchestra are sawing away, all powerful downstrokes, on these open fifths, the notes E and B, sounding much like an overdriven electric guitar slung down to the knees of some long haired, pimply face teenage boy rocking out in his parents basement. Well guess what? A jazz band has an electric guitar. And drums!! The French Horn punches get coverd by most of the horns like a second guitar punching in some crunchy power chords. A dancy little stacatto line by the English Horn is played by three saxes, playing it with more punch and some rhythmic variation making it more syncopated. The basic chord over the open fifths is an Eb 7(#9). Nice dissonance. The over that the bassons arpegiate a C major triad and an E minor triad. This is covered by tenor 2 and bari, again with a little rhythmic variation. The oboes play an almost fanfare type line. How much fanfare can an oboe produce. Enter 2 trumpets double by screaming guitar.

Now an eighth note part in the cellos in covered by trombone 3 & 4 and a triplet part in the violas is covered by trombone 1 & 2. The parts are typical string parts in that they play without break and the rhythm remains static. I not only syncopate the rhythm but I also turn it into a hemiola. Both parts play a three against four figure. The bass is covering the actual Stravinsky bass part and is also playing three against four. However, it doesn't really have anything to do with what the bones are doing. On top of that trumpets 1 and 2 cover an arpegiated line in the piccolos and A and Bb clarinets. The saxes are continuing the english horn part and this all stacks up into some serious rock and roll cacophony.

Now trumpets 1 & 2 play a high descending line and the whole band comes together for two punches and we are back to the intro vamp for four bars. And now ladies and gentlemen, the guitar solo. A screaming solo on Eb 7(#9)/E. Backgrounds used are figures from the piece. A bassoon line again for the saxes. And again the rhythm is changed. Little bleaps and blops in the piccolos are given to the trumpets and become more forceful. The solo climaxes with two fermattas on #9 chords. Then it's off into double time swing. A descending line is handed off through the sections as it descends further. The same english horn line from before appears and now the syncopation is changed slightly to make it a swing figure. The same strange bassoon arpegios are there two played by the tenors with a new alteration to include a change in placement using anticipation.

At this point in the score the first real melody of this part appears in the french horns. I give it at first to the trumpets. A swing version, but a singable melody. Finally. A few little odds and ends appear and the melody gets repeated. Here I give this line to the saxes 1-3. I do it in cannon form. The three parts stack well. Here another melody emerges in the C trumpets in two part harmony. This melody will appear again in part four. I score it for trumpets. Imagine that. Meanwhile, the bones are again playing a three over four type figure.

These melodies suddenly stop and the violas begin a tricky chromatic sixteenth note line. I'm in double time so the 16ths become 8ths. The line is too long without fro horns to play without a break so it gets handed back and forth between couplings of alto and tenor sax. Now the first "melody" gets screamed over a dominant pedal and we send the trombone off on a solo excursion. Typical background figures, sometimes relating to the piece, accent the last solo chorus. After this solo the band is in overdrive to the end. Couplings of saxes play a melody echoing back and forth. The bones play an E min 7 (b5) and D7 back and forth in swinging punches. These were french horn chords. The bari, piano and guitar cover a viola line, two different groups of four descending notes, which becomes very swinging. I just have to put in small breaks so the bari player can breathe. The oboes have a chromatic 16th note line that goes up and down over four beats, covering an interval of a minor sixth. This gets played and repeated by the trumpets. Trumpet 1 takes it up an octave every other time. The bass is playing a written line of quarter notes and the drums are swinging hard with a back beat at this point. The band is at a full romp.

This romping feel reminded me of a recording by The Either/Orchestra of a Henry Threadgill composition called "The Hard Blues". On their version they come to a tight, hard ending. It cuts quick and short. However, it's a false ending. They come back in with no prep and end it again. Then once more. Perhaps a tip of the hat to Basie's "April In Paris" without the "One more once". I decide this is a good idea for this chart and have three false endings with varying lengths of silence before the music returns. The fouth time is a charm. (The real ending)

So, Twisted Sister just might dig this part. And if I ever do a video of Rite of Spring for MTV perhaps I'll spoof their video and have a little talking head of Igor pop up and shout, "I wanna rock!" But I'm not about to wear spandex.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Vacation

So, it has been 12 days since I've written in this blog. During that time I have received twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a leaping.......FIVE GOLDEN RINGS. (Had to get to that part) Well, you get the picture. It's Christmas time, in fact, it is Christmas day, and I've been a bit busy. As usual, the gigging picks up a bit during the holidays with all the corporate parties and church gigs, including non-paying gigs at my own church. And then there's the holiday shopping and gatherings. And we got a wonderful snowfall last weekend. 18 inches to be exact. So I've spent a good deal of time with a shovel in my hand.

I wonder if Stravinsky ever had to shovel snow? In fact, I wonder many things about him, especially during the time that he was working on Rite Of Spring. Did he do any gigs? Did he have other writing projects that he was working on? What sort of family commitments did he have, if any? Was he teaching any private students? (I've been far too lazy and/or busy to reseach anything about Stravinsky's life.) Did he take a Christmas break? Did he even celebrate Christmas at all? Especially while writing such a "pagan" piece of music. Perhaps I'll do a little reading about his life after finishing the project. Anyway, these are all things that I have been dealing with as I continue this project. I teach saxophone students at Towson University. I teach woodwinds at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore. I teach at home. I gig. I have family commitments. I've been doing other writing. That's why I thought the two charts a month goal was pretty lofty. It gives me lots of time to miss my deadline and still be done in time. I'm very close to my schedule as I just finished and printed part 11 three days ago and part 12 I think will go quickly.

But back to Igor. What demands did he have on his time. Did he take time off from his writing. Did he find inspiration when he did other things. I have have had many of my best ideas come to mind while far away from the house and anything musical. Often while driving the car or even more often, while walking my dog in the woods is when I have got some of my best ideas and inspiration. For both original compositions and arrangements of other people's music. The recent snowstorm gave me lots of time to think while I was shoveling, though I can't say I really got any ideas this time. And the holidays have taken away available time to write. But in the end, I think this will be good. A little layoff from the writing often yields some fresh ideas. It seems to be the same with playing. It feels good again.

So, the holiday season is here and it has slowed me a bit. No big deal. I have lots of time between Christmas and my New Years Eve gig to get some Stravinsky and other writing in. As long as my wife doesn't have me scheduled otherwise. (She works for the school system so she's home, too!) And before you know it school is back in and the college semester starts and the students come and......... At least January is a slow gig month.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who gets the bassoon solo?

As you might expect, I know quite a few musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. Some pretty famous, others are doing well though not among the "elite" and others more your "day laborer" type like myself. I have had the opportunity to talk about this project with many of them. I've had nearly as many reactions to the news as peole I've shared it with. Some are amazed. Others amused. Some curious. Others just can't believe it. "You're doing what?" Most say they want to hear it and want to know when the performance is. Others are curoius as to whether it will be recorded. But there has been one question that has come up more than any other during my interactions with musicians. And that is "who gets the basson solo"?

This of course leads to the whole problem of choosing lines to be played. How will they be played, as written or altered to fit a "jazz style"? Will the key stay the same? What about form. How do I get inprovised solos in there? What parts get omitted. After all, there are forty some parts in the original score and I'm dealing with 17 players. Obviously the bassoon part up front needs to be played and at least introduced in it's original form. But by bar two of my score (middle of bar one of Stravinsky's score) I've already slightly altered the line and introduced jazz inflections. Bucket muted bones cover the french horn line which also has a slight rhythmic change. I use tenor and bari to play the clarinet parts, again with alteration. I also begin to introduce the sound of a rhythm section, adding drums with brushes creating a "wash"on the snare. The whole bassoon intro is cut a bit short and a true tempo starts after the first fermatta.

Now the altos play a flute melody line with a sixteenth note feel and the drums play time with the bass, piano and two bones playing a more "groove-like" version of bassoon parts as a bass line. Harmon muted trumpets play a stacatto oboe line and the tenor sax picks up a D clarinet melody. After a few bars chords are established for the first time using an implied harmony from the french horns. (I write an E major 7 #11) Here lies an ongoing problem. There is often an indication of one harmony or tonality from one section or group of instruments while another is implying something else. Sometimes a slight variation. Other times something vastly different. There are numerous times when the bass repetitively plays two notes a tritone apart. Which note is the "root"?

I decide here to also introduce the first improvisations by allowing the tenor to fill in some space with some ad libs. The tenor then plays a short melody leading in to an actual solo space. There is a crazy 32nd note line here in the bass clarinets that I change a little and give to the 2nd tenor and bari. With my tempo and feel it is a 16th note line and turns into something slightly funky. We are now in an E minor tonality. Minor is definitely in keeping with this piece.

The introduction of a solo brings about another question that has to be answered throughout the entire work. What about backgrounds. Do I introduce my own ideas and material? Do I use variations on Stravinsky's part? Do I mix and match. My first background is use of material already in the score. There is an interesting triplet line in the flutes and english horn that I again change to sixteenth note feel. I slightly alter the harmony and score it with muted trumpets, flugelhorns and alto saxes. That is answered by my own part for the trombones.

As the tenor solo ends the score leads me to do something I wouldn't normaly do in a big band chart. The rhythm section comes in and out for a few one and two bar segments. The thin-ness of Stravinsky's score in those spots inspired this. Right after this the altos change to flute to cover a "unique" flute part from the score that leaps though octaves and slides in and out of the key. Again this line is altered. The rhythm section now is at it's most driving with a solid four to the bar. The flugels join the flutes with a line that continues to leap through the octaves. And now comes this obnoxious D clarinet part. High, dissonant notes popping out with a lot of force. I give this to the trumpets. After a few repititions the lead takes it up an octave and I alter it's ending into a blues based lick. Here the piece climaxes as the bassoon solo that returns is given to the entire ensemble with lots of paralellism in the horns and two seperate ascending bass lines.

Up to this point I have avoided all the string parts with the exception of looking to the basses for harmonic cues. Now the violins have a sixteenth note line of D flat, B flat, E flat, B flat. After the climax I use this over a mellow E flat minor groove. The tenor blows a little more here and the string line gets various permutations in the bones and then saxes leading up to a fermatta at the end.

The ending brings about yet another interesting dilema. Rite of Spring is a ballet and is played as a continous piece without breaks. The endings of most parts are less of an ending then they are a transition to the next part. What do I do about that? The answer varies from piece to piece but here that violin line gets slower and more drawn out with my variations and creates it's own natural ritard leading to the final chord. It ends up being a good mood setter for the larger work.

So, that's some of the nuts and bolts of how I got through the first part. Each piece presents it's own obstacles but getting through the first part helped me to set a "system" for dealing with the others. That system includes A LOT of deleting of parts and great liberty in how the lines are presented. And solos can be whatever I want, just like a jazz arranger does with "regular" jazz arranging. It was a great feeling to get the first piece done and an even better feeling to hear it played the first time and have my instincts be supported by the end product. And those instincts included giving that famous bassoon solo to the tenor sax.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reading of part 5-10

So, this past Tuesday I brought six more completed arrangements in to Ft Meade to be read by The Jazz Ambassadors. They were kind enough to give me an entire two hour rehearsal to run the music. It was especially kind since they have rehearsals and a performance this weekend at The Kennedy Center as part of the Kennedy Center Honors that they needed to prepare for. They get to play with Dave Brubeck as he is one of the honorees. Not bad. However a little bird told me the chart that was provided for them on Take Five is not that good and that certain past or present Jazz Ambassador arrangers would have done better. (Just a little fodder there for the tabloids.)

The band played quite well as the music is rather difficult. Not necessarily from the standpoint of the player needing to be a virtuoso, but instead because it is difficult from a conceptual standpoint as well as the blend and balance needed to pull off the orchestration. I have an affection for writing across the band as it is. That is, not writing so much tutti material for one section but instead having one idea played together by members of different sections while another idea, or two or three is being played by other instrument combinations. Most "traditional" big band music is not written this way. Generally, saxes are all playing the same figure, whether unison or harmony. The same goes for the trumpets and the trombones. Sometimes the different sections play different parts, other times they have a tutti figure for all the horns. This type of writing makes it easy for the player to hear and play together with those that are playing the same figure. As I mentioned, I have a tendency to do things a bit different. And The Rite of Spring is written such that it is even easier for me to decide to go that direction. This means that, for instance, the second alto might be playing a melodic line with the guitar and two muted trumpets. Now the second alto, instead of listening to his lead player next to him, has to "find" the other players that are playing with him and blend and interpret the line with them. And so it goes for several other sets of instruments.

The Jazz Ambassadors have been playing my music long enough to know to expect that from me. However, these figures are a bit different. There is a different harmonic orientation as well as some different sorts of melodic material. Often there are notes or lines that make you uncertain if you played them right. Or, if you know you played them right, you wonder if they are written right. This is why one player commented on my Facebook page that the music is cool but also hard as @%@&*%!. I take that as a compliment.

So, besides being hard there were the usual few editing errors on my part. Two trumpet parts had a wrong note. That was a unison that was cut and pasted from one part to another. The same thing happened with a figure in the piano and guitar parts on another tune. And there was a small enharmonic inconsistency in the sax parts in one chart. That was the tune that drove me crazy trying to get the sharps and flats spelled out in the most readable manner. (Key signatures, or the lack thereof, are a whole other story with this piece!) And now I'm down to just four more charts. I've yet to get started on part 11 which puts me ever so slightly behind in my scheduled goal of a January 31 completion date. But that date also allows for finishing quite later and still being on time.

So, as I had mentioned in my first blog, I intend to write a bit about the nuts and bolts of what I have done with each part of Rite of Spring. And since I had a face to face request for that the other day, next time I will talk about the first part/chart. I don't know if I'll get through it in one sitting or if it will stretch to another writing. We shall see. It's kind of like writing the music, I just get going and who knows where it will come out in the end.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Of NYC, Maria Schneider and Don Sebesky

Yesterday I made a crazy trip to New York City. A friend and I hopped on a train at the Amtrack BWI station at 3:50 in the afternoon, travelled to New York, grabbed some food, saw a show at The Jazz Gallery, went to a later show at The Jazz Standard, ate a late night slice and hopped on the train home getting in at 6:24 am. I'm a bit tired but also quite inspired.

At the Jazz Gallery I ended up sitting right in front of someone I knew from my days as part of The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. I particiapated from Sep 2003 to July 2005. Naturally the Stravisky project made it into the conversation. He instantly replied that that had always been a dream/goal of his to do. He had purchased a score many years ago, looked at it and put it off. And it is still off. He did say, as have others, "I believe Don Sebesky did a version of Rite of Spring." And that is true. However, neither myself nor anyone else that has mentioned it has actually heard it. It is something he did for Hubert Laws on a CTI record from the 70s. I have looked it up to find it is all Sebesky arrangements of classical pieces. The Rite of Spring piece is 9 minutes and 10 seconds long. Quite obviously not the whole work. I've sampled the track on itunes but the free 30 seconds doesn't tell me much. I can't purchase the individual track although the $4.99 for the whole album might be a good deal. Anyway, The Marcus Gillmore Quintet with Mark Turner sounded great at that venue.

At 11:30 I was in my seat waiting to hear a big band play the music of arguably today's greatest jazz composer, and my personal favorite, Maria Schneider. Her band holds forth every year during the Thanksgiving week. What a fantastic show. Two friends from college, Greg Gisbert and Donny McCaslin play in the band. Both played an amazing solo that set. And the music gave me goose bumps and moved me very nearly to tears on several occasions. She opened with Concert in the Garden. Ben Monder played another mind bending solo. She followed that with Gumba Blue. Gisbert, Steve Wilson and Ryan Keberle tore up some minor blues on that piece. The Rich's Piece featuring Rich Perry. She closed with Hang Gliding, an amazing musical excursion. Donny played his tail off as did Ingred Jensen. After the set he was apologizing to Maria for his poor playing. She didn't buy it, telling him that his worst nights would slay most other mortals. Great players never seemed to be satisfied with their playing.

After the set I was able to talk to Maria for a bit. I suppose it would be a stretch to say we are freinds. Perhaps acquaintance is the correct word. But I have had numerous opportunities to interact with her. I even shared a table at dinner one time. And she does give me a hug every time I see her. (I know, you're all jealous.) Anyway, last night I actually gave her an invite to the premier of Rite of Spring for jazz ensemble. (May 12, 2010, Baltimore's Contemporary Museum) One of the first things she mentioned was "Don Sebesky did a version of Rite of Spring." We ended up talking a bit about that. She told me that Bob Brookmeyer was on that date . He has told Maria that the first rehearsal was a disaster. But Don knew what he wanted, communicated it and drove on and got a good recording. Her point was to not be thrown off or discouraged by a poor initial reading. Sometimes that can freak a composer/arranger out and make them worry about what they wrote. Point taken.

Anyway, it was an inspring night in NYC. Some great food, great playing, great compositions, great conversations. This type of music is always a boost to my playing and my writing. It makes me want to keep at it. As a matter of fact, it is making me anxious to finish this project so that I can get to some original material for a change. And I'm not to worried about first readings of the music. (I get six more charts read on Tuesday and I'll probably post about that) I have enough new pieces read to not be bothered by what an intitial reading may sound like. But I may just pee my pants if Maria was to actually show up at the premier performance.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Law of Intertia

That's me in the picture. I'm the one with the "bottle". That's outside a theater in downtown Parkersburg, WV. We had time to kill before a Sunday matinee performance. As musicians tend to do, we entertained ourselves.

Now, I'm no scientist, but if my memory serves me correctly, the law of inertia goes something like this: A body at rests wants to stay at rest, and a body in motion wants to continue in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force. Now, that's physics. In other words that's a law for physical things. But we all know that the same principle really applies to more abstract things such as the emotional or physical energy to get something done. It's sort of like going to the gym, getting started is half the battle.

For the past 10 days I was a body at rest. I intended to take a weekend off. That's a good thing. I can devote time and energy to other things like my wife and the yard. Those leaves they are a fallin'. No problem. But then something crept in. Just one more day. Then another. Then it's Wednesday. I'm gone from 8 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. teaching at Towson University and then Archbishop Curley High School. I'll get back to it Thursday....nope. And so it went through a second weekend until today.

Finally, back to it. I take a listen to the playback on Finale and everything sounds cool so far. The problem is, it ended with the saxes playing a figure that spills over to the next phrase, but I had no idea where I was going with it. A few more plays and no recollection. So, now I not only have to interpret all this Stravinsky and translate is to a jazz piece but I have to translate my own writing as well and produce some sort of logical continuation of what I have just done. It becomes something like different people writing a story by one person writing one paragraph and passing the manuscript to the next person who then writes the following paragraph. I was really quite stuck for a while. I did manage to finally figure out what to do and how to keep moving.

I have now basically finished my tenth chart on this project. "Mystic Circles of the Young Girls" is now ready for lots of proof reading and tweaking (enharmonics, consistent dynamics, etc.) and then eventually part extraction and printing. But better yet, inertia is now for me, not against me. I have once again become a body in motion. I will continue to move in the same direction unless some outside force should start to work against me. I've got the ball rolling again and will be able to keep working with much less effort.

Perhaps this calls for a nap

Monday, November 16, 2009

What The Heck Is That ?

Let me start by saying I have no classical training at all. I have not studied it on my instrument nor have I taken classical theory, analysis, or music appreciation. (Music appreciation classes are generally misnamed as they are usually a class in the history of western classical music to the exclusion or near exclusion of all other music.) I am a jazz musician. In my two years at Berklee College of Music I was never made to practice or study the Creston or Ebert sonatas or the like. Personally I think they are of just about zero value in helping a player whose goal is to play jazz. Arguments for technique development are unfounded. Basic practice of scales, technicals studies and the like cross both the jazz and classical worlds. And if a saxophonist can practice and learn a Michael Brecker or Charlie Parker solo up to tempo he will gain as much technique as anyone playing "saxophone literature". Did I say I have no background in classical music?

All that being said, I do appreciate classical music. Amongst my nearly 1,000 CDs I do have a small "legit" collection. Beethoven and Bartok string quartets. Mussorgsky, Grieg, Copland, Tchaikovsky, etc. I enjoy some more modern things put out by the ECM New Series by composers like Valentin Silvestrov. (No choral music. Just doesn't do it for me.) And when asked to do this Rite Of Spring project I actually already had a recording in my possesion. But what I needed was the score. Easy enough. I went to Dale Music in Silver Sping and got one, opened it and nearly passed out.

First, it's pretty overwhelming to look at the 153 pages, some of which are rather condensed as I later found out, and realize that I have to figure all this out and create a way for this to be presented by a 17 piece jazz ensemble. I tried following the score a little bit along with the recording and started getting lost. That's when I began to discover the way in which the publisher tried to save paper. If an instrument is not playing, it disappears from the score. You may be following an oboe part that's three lines down on the score and turn the page to find that it is now five lines down because the piccolo and alto flute have now joined and their staves,which were previously non-existent, have now pushed the oboe down. Sometimes the score reads straight across the page. Other times the score itself has three "lines" on a page because very few staves are being used. This can be very frustrating.

And then there were the "what the heck is that?" moments. What is "C. ing". Or "Cl. in La". Or "Cl. in Re". Or "Corno in Fa". It was easy to tell that Cl. was clarinet. A little thought and it became evident that the solfegge terms were being used as well. Cl. in La was an A clarinet. Corno in Fa is horn in F. Or a French Horn as we uneducated jazzers would call them. Cor. ing. turned out to be English Horn. I had already figured out that Fagotto was a Bassoon. Plenty of juvenile jokes surround that instrument and it's alter ego. I know the Fl gr. part is flute, but what does the "gr." stand for? Haven't figured that one out yet.And then there's those transpositions as well as clefs I am unaccustomed to like alto and tenor cleff. Hoo boy, this is gonna be fun.
So, I think I have figured out what the heck everything is. And as I have been going along I have been slowly figuring out what the heck to write and who to write it for. I have figured out how in the heck to get improvised solos in the pieces, how to get some hip chord changes, how to deal with form, etc. Now, what the heck am I going to eat for lunch?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rite of Spring as a work for Jazz Ensemble

So, I have been meaning to start this my first ever blog for quite a while now. I have however, procrastinated quite well. In fact, in much the same manner as I put off starting the project that I am now blogging about. And that is the daunting task of arranging and orchestrating Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" for jazz ensemble. Or "big band" as these groups were called as they emerged as popular American performers in the 1930s. The genre has not disappeared although they have become a fringe group, at least as compared to rock & roll, country or hip-hop. But they continue to survive as jazz ensembles, jazz orchestras or even the good old word big band. I don't like big band so much as it has too strong of a tie to bands like Glenn Miller that were playing dance music and never digging in to really play some jazz. But, now I'm off on another tangent.

About November of 2008, Brian Sacawa, curator of the Mobtown Modern concert series in Baltimore approached me with an idea. Why not present Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as a jazz piece. Being an arranger and composer as well as a glutton for punishment I said, "hey that's a good idea." Well, nothing more was said until the following February or so when we more or less said the same things. "Let's do it." And off it went into the recesses of my mind.

Well, sometime around April or May I googled Stravinsky, rite, jazz, etc and what do you think I found. The website for Mobtown Modern with a performance date for Rite of Spring "as arranged by award winning composer/arranger Darryl Brenzel". Panic!!!!! Now there's a deadline. May 12, 2010 at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. A little more procrastinating and pen finally starts to go to paper in July. Well, actually, I start to input my first notes in the computer.

Anyway, I am currently about 2/3 of the way through the actual writing. I have heard a rehearsal of about 40% of that. My intention with this blog is not only to keep you posted on my progress and all it's inherent hurdles and rewards, but to backtrack through some of the process to let you in on what has happened along the way. And to perhaps even re-think things myself. My goal is to update at least two times a week. We'll see how that goes. Anyway, I hope Igor is not rolling in his grave. I kind of like to think that he would appreciate what I am doing. And I hope on May 12, 2010 that my audience does as well.