Last weekend I upgraded my Finale to the 2014 program. It was usually $450, but on sale for $99. A friend had just told me how useful it was for scanning scores into the program, and then working from that score. I could see using it that way. As I am trying to finalize formatting my NamePieces, this new program might simplify my efforts.
I wasn't sure about how to get the pieces in the old Finale program over into my new Finale, but the Professor, instructed me to just open the old pieces by going to File, >open, and then > on the old piece. Simple. I was admonished sternly never again to open any pieces in the old program. (Try to remember this).
I started formatting Matt and Alix (without the names written on the score), finalized the dynamics, tempo markings, adjusted for the newly composed sections, and how they impacted the format. I timed myself to go for 30 minutes, and then stop, so I wouldn't get cranky. This worked. With confidence, I planned how I would attack the rest of the day, and the remaining pieces.
After the 30 minute bell, I went back and worked on formatting the Matt and Alix piece with the names written on the score. I would not use dynamics or tempo markings on this, so it should go easily. The letters were already on the score, so I tweaked their position so the letters lined up perfectly with the notes. When I went back to check my work, the letters weren't positioned as I had left them, even though the staff line was locked in. I wrestled with this letter placement, but my time was soon up.
When I dutifully returned 30 minutes later, I remembered that I needed to be sure the music notation in the two scores was the same. I had eliminated some rests, added the new accompaniment, and extended the time of some notes, and when I went to change this on the "names score", the score and notation rebelled. I couldn't get the select music to work, though I kept trying insistently.
I spent some time reading tutorials and support forums about templates, thinking I could make the first score a template and then open it up, and use it to add the letters of the names. My timer was well beyond 90 minutes, and I decided to call Finale support.
I reminded myself to be pleasant- voiced with the support staff. The operator instructed that the phone was only for real tech problems (like crashes). I could look for support on the forums and tutorials, but they would (grudgingly) help me, this one time. The frustrated cur in me wanted to be let off the leash.
The connection was poor, and I had a hard time understanding the fellow who was trying to help. I asked him to slowly repeat his directions, which did not work. We tried and tried, and then he blandly mentioned that the template function really shouldn't be used for this purpose. It was to save notation formats, not scores. He said I could simply rename the new score to get two different scores. I said that had not worked for me in Finale 2012, as the first score was automatically renamed whatever the new score became. After discussing this, I had spent another hour on the phone, and realized I was getting no where.
That was it for the computer and my vista of accomplishment. I left it for the rest of the day.
Next morning, I am not returning refreshed , but I have a few ideas.
1) Watch several tutorials on Finale 2014 each day. Do not breeze through the materials.
2) Copy and paste the entire no names score onto a new score, and add LYRICS not TEXT.
3) Try an experiment on a "made-up" score, to see if I can keep the original intact, and simply rename the new score.
4) Try to scan the no names score in, and then use that for my template and add names. (Learn how to scan).
5) Think about how complex this is becoming, and omit some of the ideas. (No legato markings, no leadsheets, no more composing or note changes. etc.).
I took part in a Deborah Henson Conant webinar, "Play With Freedom", and she told about learning to play jazz, and how a seasoned musician told her that she had to always follow the bass player. That was an arresting thought, and when she asked for participant’s takeaways, I considered it with respect to my life, and I thought; Do I have a melody, and is there an accompaniment and bass, and how do they play off of each other, enhance each other, support each other? And do I follow the bass, and/or the melody? Which do I listen to, which do I emphasize, and when? How to understand them as parts, and as a whole.
As a teen, I bought one of those albums that had been re-issued by a connoisseur’s label: an album featuring the legendary Gerald Moore, one of the great accompanists of the 20th century. He was not an accompanist who played in the background or who just played non-essential notes. He took the accompanist’s part and shaped it, all to put on display, compliment, and show off the melody; his accompaniment made the melody. He knew how to feature the melody, and the accompaniment was essential to make the melody the best it could be. As a result of listening to this album, I started to love accompanying and learned how to dress up the melody. Later on, singing in a choir helped me hear the parts of the whole.
The lessons I learned from Gerald Moore, hold true for harp ensemble and session playing. And it also impacts how I play or compose a solo piece. The accompaniment is a major element that transforms the melody. I want to use all the notes, both melody and accompaniment to say what is to be said.
I often fall in love with the accompaniment, hearing it as important an element as the melody. The melody can start sounding tired, shrill, and shopworn, whereas the accompaniment can keep the melody fresh and interesting. The accompaniment is not so obvious as the melody, and there lies much of its charm. I have heard other musicians sometimes suggest that "the bass accompaniment is too loud" ( that is probably me they are talking about; and an indirect request for the accompaniment to be toned down). Sometimes the accompaniment can overwhelm the melody, but if the accompanist’s part is well-written, it is the foundation for that melody. I want to hear the melody sing, and I want to undergird it with real substance, not simper in the background. And when I am playing the melody, I am listening for that accompaniment to be there and to be heard.
But back to business. How do I develop the quality of accompaniment that I compose? And what does the quality of accompaniment mean? I am wondering about this, as I edit/re-write the NamePieces for my book.
Red Riding Hood: I traipsed off to my mother’s nursing home to practice. I found my mother in the dining room and told her I was going to run through some music.
The Wolf: My mother said, "Maybe I shouldn’t practice there. Residents might not want to hear me". She had to prevent her child, who just didn’t know any better, from erring. What's wrong with this daughter? Why would she assume that residents would want to hear her play the harp?
Red Riding Hood: I responded mildly to the Wolf, that I was 61 years old, and she didn’t need to worry about whether the others would be offended by my music. I asked her if she wanted to hear me play, and she didn’t answer.
The Lumberjack: Rosetta, who has a feeble memory, asked me where I was going to be playing. She seemed intent on hearing me play, and repeated her question several times.
When I started playing, residents and visitors immediately sat down around me and listened. And Rosetta was sitting in the front, and my mother nowhere to be seen.
Red Riding Hood: Playing at the nursing home provides the additional layer of self-awareness from playing to the public, and the opportunity to find out where my performance weaknesses are.
The Lumberjack: One of the women in the audience hummed along strongly to Thumbalaika, and I repeated it several times for her. And she knew several of the other jewish melodies I was playing. Some in the audience were unaware/asleep, but a few were listening and engaged.
The Wolf: When I was finished, I checked my mother’s room, and she was there in her recliner, fast asleep. She had asked her aide to wheel her past the Family Room where I was playing, and put her to bed. She would not appreciate my efforts. It might offend others, and she did not want to be responsible, or have my playing to reflect on her.
Another Wolf Shows Up: (Have I assumed this same perspective with respect to my playing and my compositions? I was raised that we don't talk up our accomplishments. I should not assume that others want to hear me play the harp).
The Happy Ending: I went ahead with the practice and this helped me, and pleased some of the residents and staff.