Friday, 28 March 2008

Incoming: Weekend

Thinking up titles for these posts is getting difficult. On my personal journal it doesn't matter so much, but I'm trying to keep this blog at least a little bit professional.

This week I have been practising and doing paperwork, mostly. I found a part-time job to apply for, and did so. I don't know that I'll get it, but I think I'm in with a chance. I also dreamed up a job here in the Trinity library that I'm quite hopeful about but it does depend very much on whether funding is available, so I'm not sure it's going to happen either. In any case I've done lots of work on my both my CVs (what is the plural of 'curriculum vitae'?) and had a bit of practise at writing cover letters, all good to do.

I should be able to pick up my new phone tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. Of course, I'll need to hang on to my borrowed PAYG sim for a few days because of my temporary number being the one on my CV and job application. Ugh.

Practising is going well. I had made a very tidy chart of all the excerpts I need to learn for this year's final and the plan was to get copies of them all and put them in a big ring binder, but I was stalled at the 'get copies of them all' stage for ages. Since they are all in two books that I already have, I've just started at the beginning of the probespiel and will work my way through, and when I'm done that I'll start on the Mel Bay anthology. Sadly I can't find my Mel Bay at the moment but I'm sure it's in a box or a pile of music somewhere in my room, and I'll be at least a few weeks getting through the Probespiel anyway. Good things about starting at the front of the Probespiel: playing the Quoniam from the Bach B minor Mass, which is excellent. Bad things about starting at the front of the Probespiel: playing the Quoniam from the Bach B minor Mass, which is high and tiring. Good warm-ups are essential when working on repertoire like this.

The pianist I've been working with on the Brahms horn trio seems to have dropped off the face of the earth this week. I hope it's just that he hasn't got internet access or has gone home for a few days; getting hold of willing and capable pianists is not an easy task and it would be a shame to have to start over with someone new.

Degree-related paperwork continues slowly. Flathunting has been completely absent this week, which isn't so good. If I'm going to move I want to do the bulk of it before classes start again in two weeks. I've still only barely worked on any of my personal compositions or arrangements, though I've been thinking about them a little more now that I have some space in my head.

Plans for tomorrow: getting my website in order, picking up my phone from the DHL depot, and some social stuff.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008


Sweden was wonderful! Except for losing my phone, and being delayed on the way back which cost me three and a half hours of teaching. Oops. On the whole it really was lovely, though; I spent time with a good friend, and got to play in the snow, and ate lots of good fish.

I didn't end up using the practise horn while I was there as it was a bit loud but buzzing on the mouthpiece for a while every morning does seem to have helped; practising this morning was much better than last Tuesday, when I'd been away from any playing at all for three days. Mouthpiece buzzing is such a small thing, easy to do and just as easy to forget, but it really does make a big difference.

This week I will be mostly chasing paperwork.

Some of the things I need to do:
-find a summer job
-research various music summer schools
-student loan forms (ugh)
-sort out new phone, reconstruct contacts list from backups and people I can get hold of in other ways
-various degree-related paperwork
-non-degree compositions I've been putting on the back burner for far too long.

It's not terribly thrilling or exciting, really, but it does all need to be done.

Maybe if I have time I'll get around to some sewing. I'm going to need summer clothes sooner or later...

Thursday, 20 March 2008

CBDE seminar

Creative Business in the Digital Era
Seminar by Open Rights Group

(Written offline: 2008-03-17-19:30)

I went to this seminar today. On the whole, I really enjoyed it.

I think for me the most useful part was the section on community-building, and the general emphasis on that aspect of building up a fan base. Maybe that's because nurturing and gradually building up a community is something that I can do now, whereas the nitty-gritty "Which license should I use?" stuff is further into the future (perhaps when I have an actual product to license, for example).

I met some interesting people, as well. I will, of course, have forgotten all of their names by the time I get to FaceBook. Oops.

I'm not going to give an in-depth analysis and summary of the seminar, because Open Rights Group will put that on their wiki anyway. Instead you get a sort of thought soup of things that I managed to jot down or remember, in no particular order:

-the idea of applying a co-operative business model to producing a major work, for example a feature film. The way it would work in film would be to send out trailers, ads, viral marketing etc. and get people to bid for shares in the film based on the trailers. The highest however-many bidders would each own shares in the film; it would then be in their best interest to promote the film, as they'd profit from box office takings, DVD sales and so on. The work itself would be CC licensed in some way, and shareholders would be able to contribute ideas for business models (for merchandising etc) and possible sequel films.

-SO MANY MACBOOKS. I don't think I saw a PC there. I left mine at home, which was silly in some ways as I could have done a touch of live-blogging but good in other ways as it forced me to talk to people instead of hiding behind my computer.

-Beware the T&C for websites with user-generated content. Some of them are quite mercenary in their claiming of your copyright.

-It's very difficult to tell in any individual case whether pay-what-you-will models work 'better' than ordinary ones. Taking Radiohead's recent release, In Rainbows, how can one tell whether the album would have sold as much had it not been available online for free? Comparing to past albums doesn't work, because no two albums are going to be alike.

-technobrava, I've just jotted this down on the corner of a page. I think it's a group or movement in Brasil where the musicians basically encourage the street-corner pirate CD sellers to burn and sell their CDs. I need to look this up.

-James Lyndsay seems an interesting character. He's busy compiling a manual of skills over at On the back of his business card are Seven Principles (Completeness, Community, Resilience, Quality, Diversity not Dogma, Ideas not Instructions, Values not Morals) and Eight classes (Health, Technology, Sustenance, Organisation, The World, Man, Art, Moving on). I'm not entirely sure what to make of that.

-Building community is about tapping into communication between people who are passionate about a subject or project. To do that you need to give them a way to talk to one another, and you have to present yourself with passion, authenticity and transparency. Talking about yourself is as a human being is the most powerful way to communicate with people. Talking about the creative process will fascinate those not in your industry. Talk to people as peers and equals. Who is your community? Who are the people who are your target audience, which social tools/networks are they in? Twitter and other microblogging = "ambient intimacy", can be good for building a sort of light-touch presence, giving people a feel for what's going on without them having to read 39 pages. Insight and presence lead to loyal communities. Loyal communities eventually lead to sales but are rewarding in and of themselves. Balance is important; too much blogging becomes spam, too little leaves you forgotten or irrelevant. Concept of 'attention economy'; competition is for attention (vs. attention going to other activities), not against similar artists in same genre. Community nurture and flaming: author involvement in comments sets tone for discussion. The more care you take the better people will behave.

-Podcasting? I know what this is but still not really much of how to do it. I should look into it; not everyone relates to words on a screen the way I do. There's no reason I couldn't do a tune a day/week/whatever.

-Magnatune: Successful musicians on Magnatune are self-marketing and unusual. It is not going to be enough to sign up/send in work/whatever and then just forget about it.

-small businesses do business with other small businesses.

-Where Are The Joneses? Used existing media services as much as possible: Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Wikidot, Wordpress and so on. Made 5 minutes of video per day for 90 days. 5 minutes isn't actually all that much. I could do something similar with sound recordings... this project was very much about trying to spread a message rather than trying to make profit, as it was sponsored already, so it was Creative Commons with commercial copying allowed.

-5 next steps. Useful prompt to get us thinking about what to do while it's still in our heads! I've decided I'd like to become more involved with Open Rights Group, though I'm not sure in what capacity. I also really ought to be updating this blog at least twice a week, so I'm going to start aiming for that. There's plenty for me to say, I just don't always take the time to say it.

Other things to look into:
-is there some website a bit like a cross between and eBay? What I'm thinking of is something where you could say, "When X number of people have contributed funds/When funds reach Y amount, I will do thing foo," where foo could be making some sort of creative work and releasing it to the public under CC license. The money thing would be along the lines of "it costs this much to produce an album and I want to get paid this amount for my labour"; when the total is reached the sponsoree gets a first bit of the money, and when the work is complete and released the sponsoree gets the rest. People could pay more into the fund such that if you asked for, say, £400 up front and £200 on completion and that was reached, people could keep putting money into the fund until it reached quite a bit more than that amount, so that as you get more popular your financial pay-off for completion gets higher. The site would make money by basically taking a cut of the interest while the money piles up. I guess you could also use it for personal goals like quitting smoking or whatever. It would probably work best with some sort of community or ratings system, because you need to verify that a) the sponsoree is not just a crook and b) the work is finished (or the quitting smoking has happened, or whatever), but a certain amount of that will happen fairly naturally; people are more likely to give money to someone with a credible and well-known blog than to someone who just walked in out of the blue, so we're back to community-building by artists again. But, yeah. If this website doesn't exist, someone should write it, because I want one.

About that worm...

I think today perhaps I am not the early bird, but the worm.

I made good progress on my arranging assignment yesterday, but not as much as I would have liked, so I'm still working on it. I got up early enough and worked on it. I left the house, came here, and I'm working on it.

This irks me because I really like to get some solid practising in between 8am and 10am, and today I will be unable to do that. I've booked a room for 11.00-13.00 but how much of that I'm able to use really depends on how much I finish first.

After that, I'm zipping up to Finchley to teach, and then I'm off to Sweden until Saturday night. Trinity is closed on Easter Monday so I'm looking at four days away from my instrument. Ugh. However, all is not lost: I have a nifty little practise horn, made for me by Peter at Starborne Works. I might try to take some pictures of if this weekend. He's only just starting out at this business, but he does good work, so if you want something made, large or small, then it's definitely worth talking to him.

Time to go keep working on my assignment, before the birdy eats me. I really had planned to get this one done a week early...

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Today I woke up, inexplicably, at 5am. Ugh. I got up, washed henna out of my hair, pottered around a bit and got in to practise at my usual time.

Practising went much better this morning than yesterday.

I've had a look at what I need to do for my end-of-year exam. It's a matter of lots of orchestral extracts, lots of scales, and one piece. The choice of pieces is actually rather narrow, which is good in a way: it means I'm unlikely to shoot myself in the foot and play something which I'd rather have saved for my final recital next year.

My arranging assignment continues to go smoothly but take ages; even with advanced tools it takes a long time to do data entry of music notation, because there's just a lot of data. I'm finding myself disliking the layout aspects of Sibelius; nothing new there, and I've been meaning to fix this by learning Lilypond for a few years now... perhaps over the summer I'll have the time to work on some of my transcription projects. In the meantime, the arranging assignment must be handed in as a Sibelius file, and some of the composition tools are useful.

In about a half hour I have the first rehearsal of the Reinecke trio Op. 188 for horn, oboe and piano. I'm looking forward to it; it's a good piece, without too many technical challenges for the horn, and while I've not yet met the pianist in person I know I have enjoyed playing with the oboist in other ensembles.

This evening:
J.S. Bach - St John Passion
Trinity College of Music Chamber Orchestra and Chorus perform under the baton of Richard Egarr.
7.30pm, Old Royal Naval College Chapel, SE10

I'm not sure whether I'll go, it depends how tired I am, but it would be a shame to miss. I had been planning on doing some flat-hunting tonight but have decided to leave it until next week, when my arranging assignment and the long weekend will both be far behind me.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Practising was unpleasant this morning. I've had three days in a row of not playing, and things never sound or feel quite right after that. It went reasonably well, though, so I think I'll be on track again by tomorrow.

The reason for my non-practising yesterday is that I was attending a seminar presented by Open Rights Group, Creative Business in the Digital Era. The curriculum and various other useful information is all available under Creative Commons licence from the CBDE wiki, and participation is encouraged, so please do add your tuppence worth.

Last night I wrote up some of my impressions of the seminar in a fairly loose and unstructured manner, but I won't be posting that today as I've left the laptop at home.

Classes are officially over until 14th April! Most of this week my focus is on getting my last Arranging assignment finished, and some chamber music rehearsals. I'm also looking at moving house again, sadly. Various things have not been going well, and I need to either move now while I don't have classes or wait until after exams.