Archive for the ‘Press’ 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

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.

Music Publishing

Posted: May 27, 2017 in Press

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!

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!

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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!