Orchestral Notes, Two

Posted: August 29, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Every orchestra in America that isn’t serving it’s community with music composed by living composers, and programming that does not engage or reflect the ethnic diversity of its city or community at large, should be terminated. Any orchestra not serving it’s community and/or humanity is misusing the power and gift of music! It’s no good.

Conductors and programmers alike should be fired; as many are no doubt working against the culture rather than with it.

Why be a part of something that doesn’t act toward the interests or benefit of the people? We need new orchestras! We need new orchestras led by forward thinking programmers, conductors, and musicians who appreciate all music, and who are willing to develop orchestras for presenting fresh ideas on top of a respected, proven foundation.

 

K!

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Orchestral Notes, One

Posted: August 29, 2017 in Composing Insights

When an orchestra decides to program a particular orchestral work by a composer, generally that means they are committed to honoring the instrumentation.

After seeing the L.A. Phil perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad”, I refuse to let ANYONE convince me of diminishing my designated instrumentation for any piece I’ve composed!

To all you composers out there, be bold, and write the damn music that you envision being performed. Do not, under any circumstances, rescind and make it less than your true intentions. The instrumentation for Shostakovich 7 is 3343/8661/timp+7, 2hp, pf, stgs, and it’s duration is 80 minutes. Be BOLD!

What do you say to that?!
Write the damn music that you want to hear!!!!


K

Guanyin of the Southern Sea - Nelson Atkins Museum 2Kerwin Young composes Guanyin of the Southern Sea, a fantasy for guzheng, women’s chorus, and orchestra. Young is no stranger to Chinese instruments, having composed solo works for zheng, as well as suites for pipa, erhu, and guqin. His work has been performed by Music From China, and he’s also been honored by the Chinese Music Society of North America. A student of Chen Yi and Zhou Long while at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Kerwin made plans for the current work in 2012; though it has taken quite awhile to begin working on it.

Historically, Guanyin is revered as a goddess of mercy, compassion, and kindness, and a guide for those who travel the sea. She also represents purity, harmony, and peace.

When asked what inspired the work, Kerwin responded with the following:

My mom and I, while visiting Savannah, Georgia, sometime during 2005-06, heard this beautiful instrument resonating along the waterfront. I stepped away from my mom and walked toward the sound I was hearing. From a distance, I noticed a canopy, and underneath saw an old man in a white tee-shirt playing a long, table top zither. At the end of the song, I approached the elder musician and asked what the instrument was, and how it was tuned. I learned that it was the guzheng, and that he was from China. I’d never heard anything quite like it before, and since then have been drawn to its warm sound. I collected the notes I received that day, and eventually added to them while studying at UMKC.

While in college, I befriended quite a few zheng players; many who were invited guests of Chen Yi and Zhou Long. I studied with Chen Yi from 2009-2015, and really absorbed quite a lot. I composed three solo works for zheng, and in 2012, had a successful premiere of I Walk Alone at the Nelson-Adkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo. At the time of the premiere, the Nelson-Adkins Museum had on display, a giant, life-sized statue of a Guan-yin (see the photo above). I was awed, and began fantasizing about a prospected work for zheng and orchestra.

Kerwin originally intended for this work to include two full-sized orchestras; one Chinese, and the other western. That idea, although a great one, was significantly chopped down as Kerwin began to flesh out some of the orchestration for his thematic ideas.

He did retain some Chinese instruments within the work, and those are the yangqin, yunluo, diyin daluo (better known as the tam-tam), xiaogu, and huapengu.

Both the brass and percussion sections are heavily stacked. The sopranos and altos, being the core of the women’s chorus, add a wealth of sonic flavor. Kerwin explained how his choice of instrumentation is necessary for telling a variety of stories within the overall work. He says, “On one hand, you’ve got the main subject of the Guan-yin representing her basic descriptives/attributes, and on the other hand, the mythology amongst cultures from Southern India to Japan; which open up new doors for my artistic expression.

2017 has been quite busy for Kerwin, who since January, has composed three major orchestral works: Symphony No. 5, Season of Autocracy, and Bolivar, totaling approximately one hour and ten minutes worth of music. Kerwin expects to complete Guanyin of the Southern Sea by late October 2017.

 

Ka’ness M’dolothongo – Author, Biographer

One of our era’s brightest composers of prolific orchestral works, Kerwin Young again puts the pencil to the paper for his third orchestral work in 2017. On the heels of Symphony No. 5 and Season of Autocracy, there are no signs of Kerwin slowing down anytime soon. His new work, Bolívar, is well underway; with an expected completion in September.

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A short orchestral work inspired by the life of Simón Bolívar, Bolívar, when completed, will serve as a grand prelude or overture to Kerwin’s collected orchestral works. When asked why the sudden outpour of creativity has his attention, Kerwin replied,

“I’ve always composed mass amounts of music concurrently. Always! No one’s been paying attention to my career. While no one is commissioning me to compose new works, it should be noted that none of my orchestral works have yet to be performed. I refuse to allow any of these to deter my passion. Besides, I enjoy telling stories through music, and I’m taking advantage of what time I’ve got, as I await to acquire film scoring opportunities for feature films.”

Kerwin, who composes an average of two to four minutes of music daily is proud of this capability. Though it may seem rather small, I assure you it is quite the opposite. Kerwin admitted that prior to composing in this fashion had shown a lack of self-trust, and had a constant battle between what he wanted and what has been accepted as standard. Once he abandoned from the traditional path, his own way was made clear.

I’ve totally dismissed anyone’s view of how things should be done musically. I’ve got my own way. When I’m composing a new work, I’m free from having to accommodate the personal wishes of a film producer, director, featured performer, or commissioning party.  I can let loose and really dig into what I want to say musically, and I also have the freedom of choosing any instrumentation I want. I don’t really care if these works ever get performed, but I will make certain to compose and orchestrate my works according to my tastes. And, these works will have a life of their own because of it. Screw any adherence to any standard instrumentation. If you’re a composer, and you hear the most odd; yet unique instrumentation for the work you’re writing, you ought to follow along with that notion. To ignore oneself is slavery, because that is a sure sign that you are governed by an outer force. When you don’t trust yourself, that right there is a problem. There can be no true self expression; no freedom of expression with such limitations. You cannot be afraid. Write! Compose! Create!

Big salute to Kerwin as he continues his work, and by the way, he’s got eight orchestral works to follow. Among the slated eight are two opera’s, another symphony, two suites, an orchestral fantasy, and two dramatic shorts.

 

Ka’ness M’dolothongo – Author, Biographer

Image  —  Posted: July 1, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

New Orchestral Work

Posted: June 26, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Within a few days of completing Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance), I began a much shorter work for orchestra, Season of Autocracy; which I’ve just completed.  With a duration a little north of nine minutes, it’s now edited, compiled, and ready for marketing. I feel quite confident about this work being programmed by major orchestras during this life on earth.

Next on the plate is a long overdue work for zheng and orchestra, followed by more works for orchestra.  Yes, I enjoy composing for the orchestra; but more importantly, I enjoy telling stories through music. Whether or not any orchestra commits programming my work, I will continue to compose the music I hear; regardless of the instrumentation.

I’ve written several epic orchestral works fit for an over-sized film studio Regardless as to whether I am commissioned to compose these works, it’s all about the artistry and the freedom of expression. I will continue to write whatever I feel like writing. A lot of people scrutinize my passion, by stating these works will never be performed and such. But hey, these works could also be a source of musicological study for future generations. I’m writing a serious book of orchestral literature that will speak to many. Composition is the best meditation; plus it’s great practice as it keeps me learning/studying scores, various textbooks, recordings, conducting techniques, films, etc…

Until next time….

 

K

Desperately Needed Gear

Posted: June 12, 2017 in Press, Studio Buzz

The most agonizing moment is when you’re right in the middle of mocking up a bad-ass orchestral cue, and your computer freezes! That just happened to me! Luckily, I’d already saved the session. After re-booting, it froze twice more.

I’ve long needed a new laptop! Fortunately, the current mock-up is part of my daily mock-up regiment (daily mock-up exercise); whereby I merely do film cues so that I’m prepared for the real thing. Had this been an actual gig, I could handle the glitch. It’s imperative that I freeze the midi tracks (bouncing to audio) once I’ve settled on an idea. This would eliminate a computer lock-up; or at least minimize a re-occurrence.

So, mock-up practice is a great exercise for composers; especially when moments like this occur. Being prepared for the unexpected, and knowing how to handle the situation is a necessity for any assignment.

But, still, the main point here is that I need a new laptop. It’s exceeded its life expectancy. I also plan to go back to Mac! I started with Mac, and then went to PC.

Someone asked in a chat, “why do you practice mock-ups?” The main reasons are:

  1. You’ve worked up a catalog of cues that you can use to promote yourself
  2. You’re prepared for when the real work comes
  3. You’ve grown accustomed to your gear (DAW(s), sound libraries, and fx plugins, and hardware)
  4. You’ve developed a work flow and have built a diverse template that ensures for a successful final product
  5. You can develop a method for transferring midi data to notation, and vice-versa; working between your DAW and notation software.

 

Speaking of notation software, I’ve been using Sibelius since 2002, and I absolutely love it. I’m still using 7, and I haven’t found a need to update beyond that point. As a college professor, I had to learn Finale for lecturing purposes; though I hate using it. Steinberg’s Dorico isn’t quite there yet if you’re writing huge orchestral scores. Although the engine is awesome, it still lags behind. Notion by PreSonus is great, and it would be far greater if it were built into the Studio One software; making it compatible with Digital Performer and Logic Pro. I also find Notion to be what Dorico hopes to be. The score editors in DP and Logic Pro are decent; in fact, these two DAWs are complete!

Depending on the type of project you’re working on, or if you’re asked to conduct a demonstrative lecture, having DP, Logic Pro, and Studio One at your disposal would prove quite beneficial. I plan on incorporating all three to fulfill live demonstrations, lectures, tutorials, and basic client fulfillment. I’ve already got Pro Tools, which I use solely for post production. But, for the purpose of lecturing, and cross-platform collaboration with others, it’s imperative that I use all three. Each one offers a unique attribute that another lacks. For example, Studio One, DP, and Logic Pro can all import video/film, but not all can export MOV, AVI, or MP4 files.

In a conversation this morning with an artist/producer I know from Roosevelt, Strong Island, I mentioned “managing a music publishing company is like managing a farm. There are many facets to attend to; more than you think.

 

K!

Quote  —  Posted: May 27, 2017 in Press

2Q17 Update

Posted: May 26, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Symphony No 5 Cover PageI just wrapped up Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance). It’s approximately 46 minutes, and it about wraps up my lengthy orchestral works for awhile. The next group of orchestral works I’ve got lined up are all single movement works, and a lot shorter than my five symphonies. However, Symphony No. 6 has quite a large percussion section.

I can slow the pace down a bit now, taking my time to write the slated works on my to do list. There are about 9 works I’ve got slated. Until I lock down a major motion score, I will continue to compose works based on either a non-fictional subject/character, folk-lore, current events, or my Kasuf series. Like Bartok or Penderecki, my orchestral works could easily be adapted to any motion picture. Though, they do need to be performed and recorded first; which is another drama in itself. Knowing that most orchestras haven’t evolved to accept the works of living composers, having one’s work programmed, performed, and recorded is quite a task, and requires strong political connections. Seriously!

Today is May 26th, Miles Davis Day, and I’m playing some Miles of course. I’ve got some edits to make to my violin suite. I really need to get the score done so I can market it.

Stay tuned, and hopefully the next blog I write will make mention of a film I will be underscoring.

 

K!

Symphonies and Film Scores

Posted: May 18, 2017 in Press

photo 2I’ve just completed the fourth movement of Symphony No. 5. I’m working on movement two now; then I’ll be left to make final edits, which I do along the way. So far, the work is 40 minutes long. When finished, it’ll be a little under an hour. I’ve got enough extra material for 4 more orchestral works. BUT, I’ve still got my work for zheng, orchestra, baritone and choir to complete. And, there’s also Symphony No. 6. Both works are rather short compared to Symphonies 1-4, and Reclamation.

Over the past year, I’ve finally accepted the fact that I ought to screw the idea of waiting on orchestras to program or perform my works! Media offers the greatest opportunity for musical innovation and opportunities. Although I’ve been scoring films and television since 1994, the opportunities as a media composer continue to outweigh those offered by any orchestra…anywhere.

My daily routine consists of the following not in any specific order:

  • Compose for a few hours (either at the piano or without; with a dedicated project moleskine and a Tombow mechanical pencil.)
  • Score studies & conducting (classical rep)
  • Film studies (film analysis and musical accompaniment)
  • Music production (cue mock-ups and recording projects)
  • Several tea breaks
  • Early morning exercise
  • Check out the work and blogs of my contemporaries
  • Net scouring for new gear and tech

I continue to push forth as a composer of feature films, television, and games. I want to team up with a bad-ass filmmaker who’s creating some awesome stories! Epic status!

K!

Recent Concert Works

The recent success of Songbirds: Suite for Violin and Piano, has had seven performances since January, and it is my first breakout piece EVER. Inspired by its success, currently, I’m simultaneously composing Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance), and Symphony No. 6 (Deeqo).

        Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance) has gone through so many drafts since the first sketches in 2015, but finally the first and third movements are complete. I’m halfway to completion, and should wrap up in the fall of 2017.

This work is about the resilience one must possess to forge through life’s challenges. In a recent interview with Spitfire Audio, composer Dario Marionelli stated, “as a composer, you’ve got to be strong“.  Damn if that aint true! Symphony No. 5 is a journey through hard, lonesome times; arriving at a place much better than before; but quite uncertain of its stability. So, it’s a lingering drama! Damn I wish I were writing this for a film!

As for Symphony No. 6, it will be a one-movement work in honor of Fadumo Dayib (a/k/a “Deeqo”), a recent presidential candidate for the country of Somalia. She is also that nations first woman to run for president. Although she did not win, her bravery and self-determination sparked my imagination to compose a work dedicated to her. Symphony No. 6 is now 3 years in the making, and I should be complete by January 2018.

In-between my symphonic writing, I took time to compile a near 3-hour tetrology based upon my Kasuf character. Compiling four related orchestral works, the Kasuf Tetrology concert works order consists of:

1. Escape from the Evil Empire
2. Symphony No. 1 (Empire of Kasuf)
3. Symphony No. 4 (Kasufhetep I)
4. Symphony No. 2 (Khemet West)

What an exciting, epic concert this will be! 

 

Music Producer/Recording Artist

Another new album recording will be released shortly. This one, a tribute to my Caribbean heritage, influences, and recording producers as Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Lee “Scratch” Perry; along with the many friends representing the islands of Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Barbados, British Guiana, and Saint Kitts.

The album, Caribbean Heights is another soundtrack album project, displaying my talents as the one-man band, and multi-genre composer/producer. Why the soundtrack album format? Because I want to showcase a diverse array of my genius, and in what better format is there to do that? Huh? Multi-media! My fascination with film, huge landscapes, and fantasies will continue to drive such diverse projects.

 

Media Composer

Following Spike Lee’s 1989 cult classic, Do the Right Thing, the first film to include a song produced by Kerwin Young was the movie Green Card (1990). The first weekly television series I composed for was in 1994 (New York Undercover), and the first film I scored was in 1997 (Tar). For me, it’s been a brutal up-hill climb to have more opportunities as a media composer; especially securing projects that are not ethnic specific, but rather more diverse. It’s been twenty years since I scored my first film, but I’m almost there to where I will have a steady flow of films to score. I’m thankful to have a steady career in music; though not as stable as I would have liked thus far. But, steady and consistent is far greater than never working at all. I’ve never had any representation, so I think I’ve done pretty good as a self made man.

 

Mix Engineer

Just for kicks, I recently mixed a song for a buddy of mine; just to keep busy. Not bad…not bad!

 

We have to keep busy no matter what, and stay positive. I’ve got more exciting news coming soon about a residency I will begin!!! So, stay tuned!

1Q2017

Posted: January 9, 2017 in Press

nkm_album-coverJanuary 2017 is under way, and I’m releasing three new albums. Each is designed to highlight my film scoring chops, and I hope, will appeal to seasoned filmmakers and film composer agents. Two albums, Nkrumahand The Night Of…, are concept albums composed for an imagined film. No picture exists for these, but the product is an excellent vehicle to promote my score reel. I mean, why wait until a scoring opportunity arises, and then suddenly, I realize there’s not enough existing work samples to convince the interested party that I’ve got the chops for the gig. From a business point of view, this fixes that dilemma way in advance. And oh yeah, the third album, Un-Released Film Scores, showcases unreleased film scores from four independent films I scored between 2007-2008.

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With the 60th anniversary of Ghana being celebrated this year, I planned to do a special project for the event as far back as 2013. With drafts beginning in 2014, I decided to use that for my proposed opera about Kwame Nkrumah. I pitched my initial project idea to New Music Alive, but it was not among the recipients; so I took some time to consider other alternatives. The result is this concept album, that highlights the life of Kwame Nkrumah from 1957-1972. The album is a unique blend of symphony orchestra, afro-beat, and funk. As I previously mentioned, I wanted to create something that would interest filmmakers; whereby, my music would accompany her/his work. However, with the Nkrumah album, perhaps interested Ghanaian diplomats would want to engage in some sort of collaboration. The door is wide open now.

The Night Of…! Imagine a lone biker, sort of like Mad Max, but not living in a world of nuclear aftermath. Now, imagine this biker dude on the run; from whom or what is uncertain, but he rides. He’s got issues indeed,  but it all takes place in just one night! Lots of great films have stories that take place in only a day; I thought I’d do that.

Edna Sophia is featured on the title track, Late Nite Drive. Gotta have a female vocalist open up a hot-ass movie!! Skyfall with Adele? Diamonds are Forever with Shirley Bassey? Uh huh! Or, even a falsetto. The Delfonics’ tune “Stop, Look, and You Have Found Love” from the Netflix series Luke Cage has grown on me in a great way. Also, this concept album fuses rock-soul with the symphony orchestra…VINTAGE KERWIN YOUNG!

UNRELEASED CD COVER DOC - SWIRL NAME.png

Unreleased Film Scores showcases work from my intermediate stage, while I was still inquisitive about orchestration and harmony. In retrospect, that was a sixteen-year period, from 1994-2010. Just so you know, I began writing notes to paper in the spring of 1994. I scored my first film in 1997, after some ghost writing and smaller projects in-between. In 2000, my orchestral pursuits intensified, and after being denied by the Paris Conservatory in 2002, because I was “Too Old”, I really went IN! All the while, know this, I never discontinued music production! And, I’ve always played several instruments, as well as reading music since my single digit years. Facts. I’ve always been a student of music, and that won’t ever change. I listen to it all.

Of course, I saved the best for last! None of these projects would have been done if I hadn’t composed Songbirds: Suite for Violin and Piano for Tami Lee Hughes. That commission took me on a musical journey through time. I learned so much from the research and analysis while composing that work. By the time I was done, I had figured out the harmonic workings (progressions and stylizations) of almost all popular music genres. Thank you Tami Lee Hughes, and thank you Sphinx Organization! By the way, Songbirds premieres this month (January 2017). Click HERE for details.

Finally, I’m halfway complete with my fifth symphony. It’s got that thing!!!! Symphonies 1, 2, and 4 form a trilogy, and are composed for large forces with choir. Symphony No. 3 is a time piece, reminiscent of the years 1759-1817. Symphony No. 5 is untitled (a first), does not include choir; but I manage to include some of the oddities from previous works. Simply, because I can, it’s MY work, and MY sound. Forget about emulating anyone else, or another composers’ approach. The style of those people are all taken; so I must represent me, Kerwin Young. You should do the same. No one can be you, but YOU.

I’m now composing Symphony No. 5 in the second dedicated Moleskine sketchbook. I’m enjoying it. I compose and study in the day, and I’m producing other projects in the evening. My days and nights are LONG.

Until next time.

K!

Closing Out the 4th Quarter Strong

Posted: December 23, 2016 in Press

Just wrapped up two…nope, make that three film score albums for the 4th quarter 2016;
which I plan to release during the first quarter ’17. Two of the three albums were composed, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered in 3 weeks! Yeah man! The third lp is a compilation of un-released film scores from 2005-2007.

2016 closes out with the recent Chuautobiography-of-mr-chuck-2016ck D release of the 20th anniversary Mistachuck lp, If I Can’t Change the People Around Me, I Change the People Around Me.

This January, Tami Lee Hughes will premiere Songbirds, the commissioned suite for violin and piano.

For now, I’m back to composing Symphony No. 5 while I await any new assignments.

K!

4Q 2016

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Composing Insights, Press

Entering into the 4th Quarter 2016 presents orchestral recording sessions with the launch of the Atlanta Scoring Group. I’ve been honored as the copyist and orchestrator for Origin-Creative and the ASG. The ASG is the first orchestra in the southeast United States, dedicated to recording for major motion pictures, television, and AAA video games.

 

As the NBA season is about to begin, expect the release of the Spencer Haywood documentary and soundtrack album! Gonna be awesome! I’ve had the honor of composing an original song for the film, with Chuck D and Spencer Haywood. I’ve produced a handful of songs on the album as well.

 

Symphony No. 5 has been put on hold while I grapple with the completion of the new violin suite for Tami Lee Hughes. Entitled, Songbirds: Suite for Violin and Piano, the work celebrates five iconic, African-American women. In five movements, each movement is dedicated to one of these women: Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Leontyne Price, Mahalia Jackson, and Missy Elliott. Funded by the Sphinx Organization, through its Sphinx MPower Artist Grant, the work summarizes over one hundred years of music, exploring various genres as the blues, sacred blues (better known as gospel), jazz, opera, and rap.

Having completed one full draft, I’m now re-working the suite so the violinist will have ample time to learn the work. Concert premieres are already being lined up for the 2017-18 season.

Once the work has been completed, I plan on orchestrating a version for orchestra and solo violin.

 

I’ve recently composed an art piece for orchestra, called What I Think of Academia. It’s performance is meant to be played for 50 minutes. It’s a satirical work reflecting my disgust for what has been termed contemporary music.

 

Also, in November, the USC Aiken Wind Ensemble (Hayes Bunch) will premiere the wind band version of The Nebraska Plains. The original version was composed for brass quintet in 2011, and it recently received its Chicago premiere this February, by the Fulcrum Brass Quintet. Two performances of any work are great!

 

That’s about it for now…until next time!

 

 

K!

 

 

The 3rd quarter is always challenging!! However, I’m well into writing the violin suite for Tami Lee Hughes. The first movement draft is complete, and I’m currently composing two of the middle movements simultaneously. Mind you, there are five movements; each depicting an iconic woman vocalist. I’m going through lots of old scores and am listening to a load of recordings. It’s fun, but tedious.

I should be working on my opera; however, I’ve got the itch to compose my fifth symphony! And, I may do just that. This time, I’m favoring more toward the route of Barber, Harris, Havergal Brian, or Sibelius, to compose a one movement symphony. For this work, I’m considering omitting the use of a choir, as I have previously done with my symphony no. 3. The instrumentation will be large, resembling the force from my most recent orchestral work, Reclamation.

Commissions

As the third quarter 2016 begins, work as a copyist with Origin has been pretty amazing. The constant work assignments keep my transcribing chops up, as well as my DAW to notational software acumen. Composing for major motion pictures, television, and video games couldn’t be any sweeter than this. I’m thankful to finally have some level of constant activity in the industry. “Big ting a come“, but that will be a surprise!

Thanks to the Sphinx Organization’s Mpower Artist Grant, Tami Lee Hughes (violin) has commissioned me to compose a violin suite honoring five (5) iconic women. I’ve begun my usual research process; studying and the like, which for me, constitutes the composing process. July and August will find me particularly busy at composing.

 

Business

I’ve also been quite busy soliciting my orchestral works to several orchestras. Below is a diplomatic approach to stating the problem and solution to achieving this goal, I think. Well, at least for me. Orchestras are pretty set in their ways, and one has to be a “pain in the ass” to really get their attention; regardless of one’s demographic. In that process, I’ve written this:

I love composing for orchestra!
My music is tonal and melodic!
I do not create soundscapes of bleeps and blurps that are forgotten,
and/or complained about by patrons and supporters.
For me, the orchestra is like an old wheel with no intentions of integrating new parts.
Can we work together to tweak this?
I’ve spent the past 16 years seeking to have a relationship with a professional orchestra,
but she’s not budging at all.
She teases me with encouragement, but no commitment to any sort of relationship.
Orchestra, how can we go on a date? How can we develop a relationship?
Let’s cut to the chase, “Orchestra, Will You Marry Me?”
Is there one orchestra interested in this composer? Hmnnnn…
Perhaps this can be the premise for a commissioned work?

Albums / Concerts

Spaceship Chronicles (album cover)

Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement released its 7th album, Spaceship Chronicles. It’s been doing exceptionally well, receiving great reviews internationally. This will be the last Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement studio album. I will be releasing a Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement Greatest Hits album for the 1Q2017.

I’ve recently posted videos for the last two concert premieres; Cry of the Queenless King, and Cellét.


 

 

Video  —  Posted: June 30, 2016 in Composing Insights, Press, Studio Buzz

Spaceship Chronicles (album cover)It’s been almost 7 years since releasing the last Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement album. During that time, I completed both a bachelor and a master degree in music composition, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, studying with Chen Yi, Zhou Long, and Bobby Watson.

By no means did school prohibit the release of any album recordings. During that time, I managed to produce 9 albums, score a stage play, compose the theme music for two weekly television series, score independent films, and compose over 4 hours of music for the concert hall.

So, what was the cause of the hold-up? It was mere politics that held up any subsequent Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement releases. You know, people trying to stop my productivity. Where are those jerks now? They are off of the scene, like jazz on 52nd street. Adding to that, a series of crappy artist agreements that only an idiot would sign; so I’ve decided that I ought to do this myself. Kinda like when the Isley Brothers left Motown and cut It’s Your Thing. I see this as an identical moment. When you’re around bad business, you get the hell on….you get to steppin’…. I’ve never been one who waits on others to do for me, what I can do better; and do for myself. I enjoy working with others, but in this “I-Age”, comradery is scarce. And in business, especially the music business, jealousy and envy run rampant.

The forth coming lp, Spaceship Chronicles will be the seventh Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement album released since 2000. This also marks twenty-one years of Kasuf; since that first sonic encounter in 1995. As with Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement’s debut album, Blackopolis, this album also includes sides from the first Kasuf recording sessions in 1995.

Details? Hmnnnn…..there are 13 songs. This album is a soundtrack for the world! It’s got legs!! It will get around!! It’s everything that all the other albums weren’t. It’s what Bitches Brew was for Miles Davis. A new direction? Not necessarily, but it is a clear path!

Get Ready!! It’s landing on all 7 continents June 24th, 2016!

 

K

The month of May brought forth three premieres, including one documentary film (Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story), and two concert premieres (Cry of the Queenless King and Cellét ). All were very successful! Cry of the Queenless King premiered at the annual Composers of Color Conference at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, performed by Dr. Carl Dupont (Bass-Baritone) and Qiao Zheng Goh (Piano). I was on hand for the concert via FaceTime; which was a first. The experience was awesome, the performance was amazing, and to have it premiere alongside other newly composed works by my peers and contemporaries was an honor.

Cellét! St. Louis! Wow! This was my first stay in St. Louis, aside from Greyhound Bus layovers, or airline transfers to/from Kansas City or Springfield. Catherine Lehr Ramos put together a wonderful cello fest. The musicianship was superior, and the hospitality was awesome. I had a great time.

Cellet Premiere Concert 1

Catherine Lehr Ramos seated, Moh & Ja Ghraiz at far right, Kerwin Young at far left

The program kicked off at the Webster University Community Music School on May 30th.  Cellét  featured two Palestinian pop-lock dancers (Moh and Ja Ghraiz). Cellét  was conducted by David Commanday.

Currently in the Works

With a commission from Tami Hughes, via a Sphinx Organization MPact Grant, I am composing an untitled suite for violin and piano, inspired by iconic African-American female vocalists from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Other work includes my duties as copyist/orchestrator with Origin-Creative, as we prepare for our initial launch with the Atlanta Film Score Orchestra. I’m currently preparing conductor scores and parts for our first studio recording session. I’m excited to be working in the motion picture and game industries! It’s taken me 22 years and a lot of b.s. to get this type of film work. But, persistence overcomes resistance. Next will be scoring those epic films and games, and having a score agent!

SlamJamz Interview

Posted: May 5, 2016 in Press

Click HERE to read the interview!

Click Here to read the interview.

Link  —  Posted: April 29, 2016 in Press

April 2016

Posted: April 24, 2016 in Composing Insights, Press, Studio Buzz

Just finished composing Cellét, a masque for ten cellos that will premiere 30th May 2016 in St. Louis, as part of a cello fest organized by Catherine Lehr Ramos. Cellét was commissioned by Catherine, and will include choreography. A little over ten minutes, it’s been edited, revised/re-worked for its premiere.

 

I’m also wrapping up production on the Spencer Haywood soundtrack. I co-wrote two songs with Chuck D; one of which will be featured in the film. I’ve also produced a handful of additional songs on the album in various musical styles, including Hip-Hop, Reggae, Afro-Beat, and EDM!; for some legendary artists.

 

My orchestral suite, Reclamation is almost complete. I’m not yet done composing the lyrics. This work will cost a lot of money to program, and I am committed to continue composing large works such as this. Reclamation could easily be my fifth symphony, but I will reserve that slot for a much larger work. Reclamation consists of five movements, and is approximately twenty-eight minutes in length. A great companion piece alongside my master’s thesis, Escape from the Evil Empire, both works offer a magnificent program for any large orchestra with mixed chorus. Their combined performance time is forty-two minutes.

 

Upcoming work on my first opera is still in motion. It will NOT be done next year as planned, and I expect it to pose several challenges.

 

I’ve also been re-building my studio, piece by piece! I’m definitely feeling the west coast…I’m rockin’!! Won’t allow the concert-world blues to bring me down.

 

K!

 

 

 

Still 1Q2016

Posted: March 15, 2016 in Composing Insights, Press, Studio Buzz

Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement’s latest album, Spaceship Chronicles, is completed and mastered! Be on the lookout for its debut in the coming months.

In the film world, I’m producing new music for Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story. New music will be featured in the film as well as on the soundtrack album.

Check out the trailer!

 

In the concert world, Cellét, a commissioned work for ten cellos will premiere in St. Louis on 28 May as part of a grand cello fest. I’m still working out various ideas for the new work.

Stay tuned in!!

 

K

1Q 2016

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Press

January and February have presented new music in film and television, with Dirty Grandpa, and American Crime Story: The People V O.J. Simpson (episode 2).

February 28th, the Fulcrum Point New Music Project, with support from New Music USA, the National Endowment for the Arts, Chicago Academy of Music, and Art Works will kick off its INTRO-IT!: The Black Composer Project. Fulcrum Point Brass will perform 5 works for brass quintet:

Introit by Jonathan Bailey Holland
AC’s Turning by Trevor Weston
The Nebraska Plains by Kerwin Young
Brass Quintet by Anthony Davis
Saóko by Tania León

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Wrapping up the 1Q 2016 is a commission for a new work composed for 10 cellos accompanied by dance. The work in progress, Cellét, will premiere 30th May 2016, as part of a cellofest in St. Louis, Missouri.

Reclamation, my latest orchestral suite, should be completed by the end of March. It’s just under thirty-minutes, and I’ve been working on it between other projects. To be honest, as I observe my output of orchestral works, I always question whether or not these works will be performed. Having a residency with a major orchestra, or an influential entity to champion my works is a necessity.

And oh yeah, I’m wrapping up the mastering of my long overdue Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement album. Just touching up a few edits.

 

K!

With Baton in Hand

Posted: December 22, 2015 in Press, Studio Buzz
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Since graduating from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in May 2015, I’ve had more time to study scores. In so doing, I’ve begun conducting through several scores, marking them with my colored pencils, and really getting deeper into the subtleties that various recordings display; many times quite different than what’s written on paper.

To name a few of the scores:

  1. Miklos Rozsa – Three Hungarian Sketches, op. 14
  2. Alberto Ginastera – Pampeana No. 3 (Symphonic Pastorale in Three Movements)
  3. Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10, op. 93
  4. Ye Xiaogang – Song of the Earth
  5. John Mackey – Redline Tango

The best available recording of Rozsa’s op. 14, has 4 bars missing from the first movement; that’s a professional recording. I wasn’t expecting that. The most difficult of these for me is Shostakovich’s tenth!! That second movement is a beast!!!! His tenth symphony, in particular, poses several problems (tempo, dynamics, and time signature changes). I thought John Mackey’s work would pose a lot of problems with the many time signature changes, but the pulse is steady; though if you looked at the score alone,  it appears more difficult than it really is. It’s those works that have an innocent look to them that are the most difficult.

I totally enjoy having the time to do this, as there is no doubt I will conduct in public in the near future. I was asked why am I looking at large works. My reply contained the following: I compose large works, and I’ve been composing large works and studying scores since 2000. It’s nothing new to me anymore, and this is where I’ve progressed to. If I were fresh/green to this process, and completely ignorant, I would definitely be consumed with studying choral works, and scores for chamber ensembles.

From 1994-2000, I spent those years transitioning from hip-hop, r&b, rock, jazz, and house music to symphonic writing. During that time, I began studying instrumentation and orchestration on my own. Also during that period, I was doing a lot of transcribing (John Coltrane, Gil Evans, old 1970’s soul classics that had lavish orchestral accompaniment), and I was studying Rimsky-Korsakov’s Principles of Orchestration. The first orchestral work that I studied was Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe. I then proceeded to studying the works of Alban Berg, Manuel de Falla, and Aaron Copland.

I say all of this to show my gradual progression. You’ve got to walk a while to get to where you’re going. So, yeah, I’m composing, producing, teaching, and getting into the groove to add conducting to the list of skills. Plus, since I enjoy composing large orchestral works, someone’s got to conduct them!! That is, if no one chooses to. It’s better to be prepared than to not be. To add to this, working in film, television, and interactive media, conducting also has its rewards. I’d rather be prepared, and I would feel much better having devoted the time to take on such a task.

 

K

 

I thought I was done composing! I was wrong. After completing Symphony No. 4 (Kasufhetep I), I composed a 7-minute work about a doll collection over a span of three days. It’s a haunting, awe-inspiring work if you ask me. It’s written for percussion, harp, celesta, children’s chorus, and strings.

Below are the current books I’m reading.

 

Music that I’ve been listening to recently are Guan Xia’s “Requiem for the Earth” and Dmitri Shostakovich “Symphony No. 10“. It’s a no brainer that since I’m reading O’Callaghan’s book that I’m listening to and re-studying Jerry Goldsmith’s film score to the 1968 classic, Planet of the Apes.

Well, that’s about it as I push to add concert performances to my schedule, acquire new composer commissions, film scoring/orchestration and video game scoring opportunities.

 

Until next time

K!

 

As 2015 draws to a close, I’m happy to mention that I’ve completed two symphonies this year, Symphony No. 2 (Khemet West), and Symphony No. 4 (Kasufhetep I). Symphony No. 4 is approximately 47 minutes, and I really love it. Composed in only two months, I’m reminded of how Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Symphony No. 8 in just two months, between August and September of 1943. There isn’t any need to spend much time with editing, as I’ve edited while importing my sketch into Sibelius.

The process for composing Symphony No. 4 was fairly simple; however, I sketched everything out for piano with orchestration notes; similar to if I were composing a film score to submit to an orchestrator. Once my sketch was complete, I created the appropriate template to accommodate the desired instrumentation. The next step was inputting the music into the notational software (Sibelius), distributing the notes to their assigned instruments. Many hours at a time, but I enjoyed it.

How I see it, regardless as to whether I’m commissioned to write a new work or not, if I have an idea to write something, I must start it and finish it. Dirty-Grandpa-600x925Ironically, several unfinished works have generally been collaborative efforts, that for some reason have subsided.

Together with Symphony No. I (Empire of Kasuf) and (Symphony No. 2), my fourth symphony completes my Kasuf trilogy. The combined running time is approximately 2hrs’30mins of music. It’s going to cost a lot of money to program.

In the world of motion pictures, I’ve landed a song in Dan Mazer’s upcoming film, Dirty Grandpa. Although I’ve enjoyed Bomb Squad produced music in other recent films (Straight Outta Compton, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and American Gangster), this is the first major motion picture since Spike Lee’s 1998 release of He Got Game that will feature a song written and produced by Kerwin Young. The film co-stars Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, and the scheduled release date is January 22, 2016. Check out the trailer below!

51ZdWPgD4KL__SX326_BO1,204,203,200_In 2015, I’ve also made some literary contributions as well! I am a contributing editor to Tim Grierson’s recent book, Inside the Terrordome; discussing the inner workings of what it was like producing and working with the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted rap group, Public Enemy. Having been around them from late 1987-2008, I had much to contribute. The book was released in May 2015. It’s a great book; so go and get your copy!

While on the subject of books, I’m currently reading T.M. Krishna’s, A Southern Music, discussing the depths of Carnatic Music. An incredible, modern classic!

Before signing off, I thought I’d provide a list of the orchestral composers who inspire me. These are not in any order of preference, neither are they alphabetized.

  1. Lalo Schifrin
  2. Jerry Goldsmith
  3. Dmitri Shostakovich
  4. Akira Ifukube
  5. Bela Bartok
  6. Miklos Rozsa
  7. Ottorino Respighi
  8. John Williams
  9. William Grant Still
  10. Maurice Jarre
  11. Maurice Ravel
  12. Sergei Prokofiev
  13. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  14. Alberto Ginastera
  15. Eleanor Alberga
  16. Sofia Gubaidulina
  17. Esa Pekka Salonen
  18. Tan Dun
  19. Brian Tyler & Robert Elhai (in collaboration and individual)
  20. Alexandre Desplat
  21. Liu Yuan
  22. Zhou Long
  23. Takashi Yoshimatsu
  24. Ye Xiaogang
  25. Sergei Rachmaninov

Movement three was completed this evening, and once again, edits were made while drafting and orchestrating. It’s an in-your-face bolero, bringing the total running time to just under thirty minutes. The third movement is nine minutes, and I’m quite pleased. The music seems to be writing itself.

Concerning movement three, the flute section and harpists may hate me, but challenges make way for great performances. I’ve orchestrated these parts carefully, so that even if they’re not articulated properly, they’ll still create the overall, desired effect. This movement also requires six percussionists, which I’m proud of! I’ve decided two years ago that I will compose music that I want to hear and see performed, regardless of what may be deemed as standard.

Over the next few days, I’ll begin to organize and analyze any unused material for the fourth movement. I do have a few drafts already, but all of these must be organized/outlined.

It would be great to be on a film scoring team either as an orchestrator, copyist, or composer of an epic screenplay, but  my orchestral works are my film scores for now. These are my epics, whether they’re programmed or not. Below are a list of works I intend to compose following the completion of Symphony No. 4.

Upcoming Works (in this order):

  1. Piano Quintet (working title) – This untitled work will be for my good friend Wen Zhang (pianist). I plan to compose a virtuosic work of no less than fifteen minutes. Of course, there are several other pianists that I will deliver the final product to, but I hope that it doesn’t end up as my work for bass/baritone and piano, “Cry of the Queenless King“, which is still unperformed. I hate writing a great piece that everyone loves……….but it never gets performed.
  2. Guanyin of the Southern Sea – I’ve been planning this work since 2012/2013, and it finally looks like I’ll get to it. I’ve got quite a few ideas and sketches for this already. This work will be extremely challenging, and may take up to six months to complete. I could definitely use some sort of grant, gift, or residency to complete this one.
  3. Doll Collection of Mrs. Wynn – Since graduating college in May 2015, I’ve been residing with a host family until I get myself into some steady work. The home owner has an incredible doll collection in a room all to itself. I thought, “hmmm….why not compose something for this!” I don’t have any sketch for this yet, but I plan to write a 3-4 minute work that could fit its way into a concert.
  4. Osagyefo (an opera projected for a 2019 completion) – I’ve begun the planning in 2014, and since March 2015, I’ve been researching my subject.

There are two other works-in-progress that are awaiting sponsors, but if that doesn’t happen, those two works will be placed on the shelf until a later time.

Symphony No. 4 Update

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Press
Tags: ,

Guess what? I’ve managed to complete the first two movements of the my fourth symphony within the past month. I’m on a roll! I’m editing as I go to reduce the amount of post editing I’ve been accustomed to with previous large scale works for orchestra. I’m currently working out the material for the remaining movements.

Initially, I intended Symphony No. 4 to be a one-movement work, but since getting under way, I’ve decided to partition it. I’m expanding my musical language with this symphony. I’m loving it so far, and I find myself being extra careful with what remains -vs- what I omit. I’ve omitted at least fifteen to twenty-minutes of music already. What remains of the combined first two movements is approximately twenty-minutes of music.

Stay tuned for more!

K!

As a composer of orchestral music, which follows many years of composing and producing popular music (hip-hop, soul, rock, country, funk, jazz, house, reggae, etc…), several concert programmers assume that my orchestral and chamber works are mere re-generations of the pop music I once made, or am still creating. This, I believe, is a contributing factor to me not being received or welcomed at the table, alongside today’s recognized and/or commissioned composers.

As I compose my fourth symphony, symphonies 1-3, along with several other large works remain unperformed/unprogrammed. I’ve been encouraged to compose several chamber works, which I have done, and continue to do. Yet, those too have not been performed. Reaching out to performers, ensembles, and conductors is a necessary and easy task, but the boomerang effect most often returns with no response. No matter how many solicitations are made, nothing changes. These various groups haven’t even heard the music, nor have they read through any of my scores; yet there are no responses. I can totally understand if one hears the music and she or he doesn’t like it. That’s NOT the issue here. It’s like I’m being downsized in a sophisticated way. Why is it like this? I’ve considered various scenarios that may be contributing factors. Here are a few.

  1. I have not won any awards for music composition. I began composing concert works beyond the age of 30; thus considered too old to apply to several opportunities restricted by age. Basically, I’ve been deemed too old from the time I began.
  2.  I may be type-cast as a composer of popular music. A background in pop music doesn’t sit well in the classical world; though it shouldn’t hinder anything. But, maybe it does.
  3.  Perhaps my ethnicity is a contributing factor, since orchestras generally do not perform or program the music of black composers outside the months of January or February (the times for Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and/or Black History Month). Furthermore, black composers are often stereo-typed as being composers of jazz, gospel, and the blues, and nothing more.
  4. No one is a champion of my music. No conductor, no musician, not a college professor; no one. How does a composer get their works noticed when NO ONE responds to their solicitation?

I realize that it’s difficult for ALL composers! Yes, I do, but where’s one’s chance? Do you have to pay for it? Is it hidden in one of those call for scores opportunities that comes with a hefty entrance fee and an age limitation? Is it based on some dark, inside relationship that one must commit to? This is something to think about. What are the deciding factors?

I also have a beef with conductors who hand me their business card, and say, “email me”, or “phone me”. Yeah, I’ve followed up each time, reaching out to several conductors who seemed inviting with well intentions. However, my efforts after the follow-ups seemed like a teaser; like a woman leading a man on, only to lead him in the wrong direction. It’s a joke….it’s all one big joke! Several of these people, but certainly not all, are pretentious. And, do you wanna know something? Just for kicks, I contact numerous conductors, just to test the waters that there might be a scent of interest for one of my original orchestral works to receive a programmed performance. But,…..ha haaaaa……it’s like knocking on a 4-foot, thick door. No one’s listening.

I feel like this…..if music is your practice, then you ought to be a harmonious being; accepting people and music from all corners. You should also practice common courtesy.

It’s like an old, well-built, sturdy machine telling the people, “Hey, come play with me. I’ll be your friend. Bring me your music, and I’ll program it for you.” So, you engage this machine, but the machine doesn’t really want you. It’s programmed to act like it does want you…..that’s how it keeps afloat……….by keeping you interested and enticing you to engage it. It’s like that woman I mentioned earlier.

Someone mentioned to me that conductors are extremely busy people. Oh? Really? Well, I’m busy too. Composers are busy people, most often busy dealing with a lot of b.s. at promoting themselves and their work. I too study scores, and I spend numerous hours  composing music. I record, produce, teach, eat, sleep, and handle other personal responsibilities, just like a conductor. So, what’s so different? What is it? I often think about this, and perhaps, many conductors just do not have the freedom to program works by living composers, simply because those who are funding the orchestra prefer to hear the usual Bach, Brahms, Haydn, Beethoven, and……you get where I’m coming from. I would like to believe this to be the main reason, instead of it being a sort of holy territory, where only deceased composers or friends of conductors thrive.

It’s a lot to consider. I’m also talking about the wind band world as well. I once was told that the wind band arena would be more inviting than the orchestral realm, but both are equally biased. Friends conduct the music of friends. It’s all a game. You’re either someone’s friend, or you’re kissing someone’s ass to get ahead. It’s the truth, and that’s madness to me.

One hopeful outlook is that there’s an increasing number of young conductors coming on the scene, who possess a progressive interest in musical diversity. Unlike those I’ve previously encountered, I hope these emerging conductors are more engaging. Perhaps these will be the ones to dismantle the old machine. Things cannot remain the same if we are to move forward.

K

Kerwin Young Composing a Fourth Symphony

Posted: October 18, 2015 in Press

With no present work assignments to interfere with my time, I’m writing my fourth symphony. About a week ago, I was averaging one-minute of new music a day. Currently, I’m averaging about 3 minutes per day. Without a doubt, I will complete this work before the new year, leaving me with a few weeks for handling the edits and engraving. It won’t be as long as my symphonies 1-3, or as large, but it’s a happening work. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands to compose, while I continue to secure my niche in the classical field.

Upcoming performances include a November concert of  Evan Cooper (violist) performing a new arrangement of Music for Steven Spielberg’s Next Film. Originally composed for alto saxophone and piano, the latest version for viola and piano excites me. I’m looking forward to hear it. it seems like this will be the last of my concert performances for 2015.

Other planned compositions include a piano quintet for pianist Wen Zhang, and an orchestral work celebrating the life of O’Sensei Ronald Duncan.  Other works slated between 2016-2019 can be viewed on my website, under Concert Works.

Stay tuned!

K

Yes Yes Yall, it’s the latest release of Kerwin “Sleek” Young’s Beats Breaks & Rhymes Vol 2! Peep it HERE.

Chopped Herring Vol 2Closing out 2015 with the second Chopped Herring release of some hot, unreleased hip-hop flavors from the 1990’s. Recorded at the legendary Public Enemy studio , and at my studio in Roosevelt, Strong Island, these cuts reflect just a glimpse of my hip-hop production back in the day.

and……YES, there’s a book in the making as well. Stay alert!

K

Babies and Masters

Posted: October 10, 2015 in Press

I just want to shed some light on those of you who want to get ahead fast. Many of you have done your studying of past artists and their success. You’ve studied the music and the business. Many of you can run down the history of how a particular song was written, produced, recorded; where it was recorded, and so forth. You can even go into great detail on how certain artists were screwed over in their career(s). Many of you were screwed over in your career. You also know what is fair in business, but many of you show a total disrespect in business. You speak what people want to hear, but you practice trickery.

What do I mean? If you’re a young songwriter, or even a seasoned veteran, you should give the proper song credit reflecting the contributors for each song. And, if the credit is something you would NOT be comfortable with, do not expect anyone else to be comfortable with the same. In fact, you may have ruined a potential business relationship because of a poor choice/decision based on greed. Don’t practice the same bad deeds that were done to you.

As a veteran composer, recording producer, and musician, it’s my duty to ensure that those coming up in my midst do what’s right, and receive the necessary information that will ensure positive growth. Not all will, and in fact, not all have. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in this business really fast. I’ve met some artists when they first began, who’ve toiled really hard to enjoy the success they have today. I’ve learned a lot of great lessons from such masters who have endured lengthy careers; people as Abbey Lincoln, T. J. Anderson, Roy Haynes, Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones, Kenny Gamble, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, and Luther Campbell.

In nearly all the lives of those who are successful, the ability to work as a team with others is a common factor. What does that mean? Well, you have to know when to pass the baton/the ball/the duties, when you are not competent in a particular area. You must be willing to share with others. That means sharing the ownership of the music. Can you do that? Will you do that? Or are you a greedy one? Do you mis-use others because they lack a certain knowledge? Do you share knowledge with those you work with so that they may grow? Are you a two-bit hustler in slick attire who’ll take 99% of a song and give your sister or brother 1%? Which are you? This reminds me of a song Chuck D and I composed and produced on the Muse-Sick-N-Hour Mess-Age album, “What Side You On?” You must acknowledge the contribution(s) of your constituents, and be fair with them.

I recall a certain rapper who, when interviewed, would never mention the producers or song-writers with whom he collaborated. It was as if the music just happened. It is everyone’s duty to assist in the building and development of one another. This is how careers are made. And, in that process, when one is lifted up, and that individual does not acknowledge their beginnings or the people who helped them to get where they are; well, then you must check them…..cal them out! If I would say I knew no one who fit that description, I’d be lying.

Those of you who fit the description of the unfair one, it’s not too late to change. You’re still young in mind. Maturity hasn’t yet set in, wherein you realize that the journey is a long one, and not a short one. The road to success is a long hike, and it’s not an overnight camping trip. If you want good to come to you, you must do good toward others by being fair in business relations.

K

Just on the heels of completing a third symphony, I’m now composing a fourth. I’m averaging about 1-2 minutes of new music per day with this one. It is a prequel to Symphony No. I (Empire of Kasuf). Until I am commissioned to score an epic major motion picture, I will compose these grand, larger-than-life symphonic works.

Amendments to my recent symphony, Khemet West, has undergone multiple text changes and challenges. I’ve been waiting on 7 people versed in Afro-Asiatic languages in east Africa, to translate the tempo text from English. Friends from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea committed to the task of translations; yet no one has translated one word. I didn’t want to use any standard European tempo text. However, it’s been almost a year since requesting these services, and I must say that I am not satisfied with the lack of commitment. So, guess what? All tempo text will be presented in Italian. Perhaps someone will come in the future to make these translations for me. It’s my longest work to date, at sixty-six minutes. It’s the perfect prerequisite for my planned operas.

I’ve got several works in planning, but until I begin to get the current completed works programmed/performed, I won’t be writing much……unless there’s a handsome commission. I’ve been re-orchestrating several of my existing chamber works to solicit for performances.

Gustavo Dudamel!! Where are you?

That’s about it for now.

Stay tuned!

Being active in the recording industry for more than 25 years has exposed me to a lot of scenarios, hustlers, liars, etc… It’s necessary for anyone new to the recording industry to speak with the right people! If you’re fortunate to meet someone in the business that is willing to show you the ropes, and teach you about the business, by all means, allow them to do that. If the relationship proves beneficial, you should remain loyal, continue to ask questions and learn.

Be aware of fast-talking hustlers who can make shit seem sweet! I’ve come across lots of characters that can spit game, gaining the trust of young talent and mismanaging, misdirecting them.

Know too that if you receive a contractual agreement pertaining to the recording industry, you would need an industry-licensed attorney to look it over for you; not a real estate attorney, or any other attorney outside of that practice. Find and locate the right people who specialize in the very thing in which you are involved. Talk to the right people.

If you’re a performing artist or producer looking to sign to a recording label, find whether or not if that label has an internet presence? Do they have a website? Are they looking to pimp you, or is their interest in you an honest one? Do they mention all of the people involved on a particular song or project when engaged in an interview? If there’s a song-writing session, are split sheets distributed? Do they openly discuss business so that everyone is on the same page? What forms of compensation is there? At the end of the day, do you have a share of the song? Is the situation benefiting your financial progress or theirs? Is it a balanced relationship? Is everyone eating from the same plate, or are you one of the pawns in the game, watching the label heads benefit from your efforts and genius? Were you promised something that still has not materialized? Is it in writing or just by word of mouth? Who are you talking to?

If you are looking to set-up a publishing company, are you going to speak with someone who’s owned one for 25+ years, or are you going to speak with someone who appears to know about it, but really does not? Or with someone who has very little publishing experience? I’ve seen lots of newcomers become fascinated by individuals merely by the way they dress and speak? It’s amazing! But, individuals in search of knowledge, will totally ignore the individual in their midst possessing the proper knowledge. Who are you talking to?

You should always spend time studying, researching what you’re into. I spent the first 4 years in the recording industry without knowing ANYTHING about publishing, and didn’t own a publishing company. I did no research, and acted as if I knew what I was doing…….seeming to know everything. I was green, and didn’t know the components of the recording industry. I worked on some of the most popular albums and motion pictures during that time; many of which have become cultural classics.

1Fear of a black planet2album-amerikkkas-most-wanted3Pawns in the game lp 26Banned in the USA (original)9Don't Sweat the TechniqueJuice_PosterSister+Act+2+sisteract2backinthehabitmoviep

You should know what you’re getting into before you set foot in it. Take it seriously, as it is your livelihood and source of income.

Hope that this benefits many!

K