Saturday, April 24, 2010

It Is Finished

It is finished. I feel perhaps a bit blasphemous stating those words. After all, they are so closely associated with Christianity and the bible as the last words spoken by the Christ on the cross right before he gave up His spirit and breathed His last. Even those who hold other religous beliefs, or even no religous beliefs at all know those words and their connotation. But they are in another sense just words. Words that get used all the time in the English language and could be used to describe anything. It is finished. The TV show is through. The semester is done. The meal is completed. (Either by the cook or the eater!) The presentation is over. Rite of Spring for jazz ensemble is finished.

What's that you say?? You're finished? Why, indeed I am. And just in the nick of time. I ended up far from my goal of finishing by the end of January. But it is done in time for a few rehearsals and then the performance. I was so close to my goal. Thirteen of fourteen charts done by around January 20. Then came snow. Then came other projects. Then came inertia. Remember that from a previous posts? A body at rest wants to stay at rest. And stay at rest I did for too long. And then when I came back to it, it felt a bit foreign. And to top it off, part fourteen was without a doubt the most complex and difficult section for me to do. But on April 18, 2010 the world's first adaptation of Rite of Spring for big band was completed.

I'd be quite curious to know how much time I spent on this project. And how would I count the hours? Just the time with my keyboard and computer and score? Or do I add all the many times I spent listening to a recording of the original work. And to that do I add the many hours I was mulling ideas over in my mind as I was walking, or driving, or cutting the grass, or shovelling snow, or lying in bed or whatever. (If I was a lawyer I would certainly bill for all those hours) And there is all the time after a chart is "completed" where I'm proofing it for consistency with dynamics, articulations and other such things a well as the best rendering of accidentals. If I figured 20 hours per chart times 14 charts, that's 280 hours. Seven solid work weeks. But there is no way to do this in seven straight weeks. At least I don't think that's how the best work gets done. All these things need to simmer. I feel any arranger does his or her best work when they take some time and don't crank everything out in one burst of impatience. Sure, some arrangers still do great work this way, but I don't feel it is their best. Of course, sometimes an assignment or deadline may dictate doing this. Then you do what you have to do. Anyway, the hours were countless. I bought the score in December of 2008. Perhaps that's my starting point. You do the math.

And what is a good pay rate for arranging. I think in the vicinity of $50 an hour is a real bargain for such a unique talent and skill set. Now let's round up my hours from 280 to 300. I mean, that's still a low estimate. Now, we'll multiply 300 by 50. Hmmm....let's see....carry the one..... OK, $15,000. That's not counting all the extra curriculars surrounding this project. And you want to know what I'm getting for this? Well, I don't know if I can exactly tell you. Mobtown Modern has no money to spend on such a project. We did however get a little from Meet The Composer. And that is for all those extra-curriculars actually. If you multiply what they are giving me by 20 we are getting close to that 15,000. (In case you haven't figured it out, arranging is really a labor of love.)

There is one thing I can quantify. And this might upset the tree huggers. I can tell you how many pages of music I generated between the scores and parts. 951. That's a pretty hefty stack. And since I made copies of everything you can pretty much double that. And then there are the misprints, re-prints, jammed paper, whatever. I guess I'll need to go plant a tree in honor of my mass consumption.

And I've certainly used up one score. It is thoroughly marked and highlighted. Notes to myself all over it. Useless no to anyone for anything other than an artifact for this acheivement. Maybe the Smithsonian will take it.

You would think I would be more excited about the finishing of the project. But there are details to be taken care of still. I have yet to hear parts 11-14. That happens soon. Monday, May 3 to be exact. Then two rehearsals. May 8 & 10. I'm yet to procure a location for the May 8 rehearsal. Then on to the big show. There is also two more masterclasses to give. One at Towson University and the other at Peabody Conservatory. And a pre-concert talk that I need to be prepared for. And a podcast for the Mobtown Modern website. This list goes on.....

.......perhaps it isn't finished.

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