Archive for the ‘Composing Insights’ Category

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; 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

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!

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!

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.

3Q2016

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

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.


 

 

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!