Trigonometry :: ARRANGED

It’s finished; OR; I guess a better thing to say would be, “It’s been sent.”

What a strange sensation it is when almost an entire month of busting a** comes down to only 16 megabytes. Such a crazy world we’re livin’ in!!?? I mean, at least a score is printed on paper. Really, does 16 megabytes even exist!!!???


It’s quite remarkable HOW MUCH time and patience it takes to be an artist.

I’m still not 100% satisfied with the guide to notation (above).
It just seems like there’s never quite enough time or money to do every little thing.
(I just noticed that I spelled some words wrong… for F*^cks sake)
To be fair, in the past I probably wouldn’t even have made a page like this.
There’s actually something to be said for just letting (really good) musicians use their imaginations when it comes to graphic notation.
But, because their time (and probably money!) will also be limited, I had to be as comprehensive as possible on every front.
Another good example:::


I can almost guarantee that the arrangement will end up sounding worse if they just start the first rehearsal at the first measure. This isn’t always the best approach in rehearsals. But I can also guarantee you that Gary Schwartz doesn’t have time to analyze the score in depth before the first rehearsal!! The guide to rehearsing the chart is probably almost as valuable as the chart itself.
[I’ll have to ask Gary, cause who knows; he might not even use it.]

All I have to say is that COMPUTERS ARE  A PAIN IN THE ARSE!

Original plan = “sketch” everything out on paper and then do the final score digitally.
However, the paper “sketch” turned out beautifully.
All of the music was there, and it looked nice (enough).
Given the fact that there’s NO conductor, they don’t really NEED a score anyway.
Following my original plan, I sat down in front of the computer and started inputting the score into (one of the big two) notation software programs.
It took me about 5 minutes to realize that what I was doing was ridiculous.
Simply put, it was the wrong tool for the job.
I realized that the arrangement would be better off if I hand wrote the parts.
I made sure that this was a good idea by doing a couple quick tests.
Check. Good Idea. For Sure. Email Schwartz.

I wrote a short email to Mr. Schwartz saying…
“unless you strongly object I’m going to hand-write the parts.”
To make a long story short, he objected.
Now I HAVE TO do this with notation software.

**A quick word to the wise:
When you’re making a deal for an arrangement, make sure to take into account the time you will spend inputting everything into notation software.
These days it’s just assumed that you will.
HOWEVER, it is my opinion that they are two different tasks.

ANYWAY, pretty much every aspect of getting this score into digital format was a serious pain in the arse!!!! Man, it got pretty bad (after staying up until 5am three nights in a row).
I hate to say it, but computers can be such a pain in the A*&^%$#sss.

Music Notation Software = A Pain In The ARSE!!!!!!!!

–>compared with using a pencil… even putting in SLURS=PainInTheArse
–>Layers, layers, layers… Inputting DRUMS=PainInTheArse
–>Computers need to space everything mathematically… PIANO=PainInTheArse
–>Then once everything has been input… CLEAN UP=PainInTheArse!
–>Great, everything is clean… FORMATTING=PainInTheArse!!

There is just SOOOO much to be said for using a pencil and writing by hand!!!!!!

Unfortunately, here’s another good example…
If you look at the hand-written scores below (in the previous post), you can see a graphic that kind of looks like a skateboarding quarter-pipe.
I had a great plan for drawing this graphic notation into the parts.
But once I was required to do it digitally it all fell apart.
There was just no way that I could put this crap into the score!!
It’s so frickin’ kitsch!
It was definitely 5am, but I still can’t believe I even made that.
maybe I should get it tattooed on my forehead as a reminder of my complete lack of talent.
I ended up using a decrescendo and a line;;;
Totally sucks compared with what I was going to draw.

ANYWAY, there is of course two sides in any situation, and there were some advantages to using the notation software after all… Most everything looks nice and crispy clean.
In the end (after a few all-night extravaganzas);
All of the FINAL parts and the score look REALLY great…
Here’s the first page of Erik Hove’s part.

**I’m not going to put the FINAL score/parts in their entirety online for a variety of reasons.
But, we can work something out if you’re interested in checking ’em out!

Staff Paper & Pencils & Erasers & Rulers


So the arrangement of “Trigonometry” (for LETTINGO) is down on paper.

Literally; 7 pages of hand notated A3 staff paper.
Getting to this point was an interesting process.


This is the baseline that starts above…

and ends below…


Some Thoughts, Notes, Quotes, and Sketches.

What turned out the be the most important thought:

A couple random snippets from my notes:
“Solos ONLY if it’s the last logical option…”
“What seems like it will cut vs. what will actually cut”
“REALLY get into the insides of the horns:
“think about textures like a painter or chef”
“BIG scope… long ideas… volcanic explosions are possible”
“USE SILENCE in the arrangement”
“This group is NOT a big band”
“Solos where people want to clap afterwards =  NO”
“no conductor/limited rehearsals = CAREFUL!!!!”

This Ornette Coleman quote was constantly hovering around my brain:
“—There is a music that has the quality to preserve life”

An Early Sketch:


So now it’s time for music notation software… right…?

So here’s something I’d like to talk about.
—>Hand Writing vs. Notation Software<—
Let me take a brief moment to regail you with a small parable of two budding composer/arrangers…

It was our senior year at Boulder High.
Matt Vorzimer and I were co-composing our first epic masterwork for the big band.
We had countless “creative explosion sessions” and the chart was all down on paper.
The best music teacher I’ve ever had thought it would be a good idea for us to put it into (one of the big two) notation software programs so that we could make the parts quicker and clearer.
We literally spent hours in this stinky little room trying to put in the first 8 bars.
Eventually we got so frustrated that we just said f*** it, and decided to hand write ALL of the parts.
What did we loose?
valuable time learning the ins and outs of early notation software-isms.
What did we gain?
infinitely more??
who knows.
What I do know is that the entire process was enough to change my life.

Now I’ve used my fair share of notation software.
I’ve produced many breathtakingly clear scores, and had people ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ at my parts.
But I’m realizing more and more, every single time, that something just gets lost.
Turning all of that raw creativity into 1’s and 0’s has an effect.
Some would say that this is ludicrous (and part of me agrees with them), but the other part knows better.

For this arrangement I WILL be using notation software.
I’m actually using it as an opportunity to learn ‘the other’ one.
But I don’t want young budding composer/arrangers to think that this is what they should be doing.
It always depends on context, but there always has been and always will be something to be said for HAND WRITTEN MUSIC.
You come through.
come through.
Did Beethoven use notation software for the 9th?
Would he have if it was available!?

Just like a carpenter spends his or her days with their hands on wood, so must a composer/arranger spend his or her days with their hands on music.
The score is not music<–
It’s usually just white paper with black dots.
Maybe the process of composing/arranging is the closest music ever comes to really having mass?
Of course music exists physically; sound is waves traveling through air.
you know what I’m saying?

I could go on and on…
And I will when I finally get into “Vers La Flamme”
But right now, it’s LETTINGO.
So music notation software here I come!!!
I wonder if it will be as good (or better?) than the hand-written rough draft?
Hopefully I’ll find out.

Gary Schwartz’s LETTINGO

Gary Schwartz
So I’ve been commissioned by Gary Schwartz to write an arrangement for his amazing project entitled LETTINGO (instrumentation::: trumpet/flugelhorn, alto sax/flute, soprano/tenor sax, tenor/bass clarinet, violin, 2 keyboardists, electric guitar, upright bass and 2 drummers). To start the process I did a bunch of research…
Thankfully, WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE and everything I could possible need (and more!) is just a couple mouse clicks (or finger taps!!) away.


You can stream an entire LETTINGO concert (in great quality) at the following link:::


I’ll be arranging “Trigonometry” composed by Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny.



This group is capable of creating and achieving extreeeeeeeeeeemely unique sounds live.
The catch is that it’s an ensemble of 11 and there’s NO CONDUCTOR…
This will pose serious challenges.

Slamsterdam // 2011 Meditations On Eurydice // Fokker5000

So Zuluwannsago made it back from Morocco.
All in all, it was an absolutely un-believable/life changing experience.
Sooooooo many lessons;;;
As always, I learned 10 ‘don’ts’ for every 1 ‘do'<<
Here’s a short snippet of Zuluwannsago from the outdoor show at the Tanjazz festival 2011…
At this ‘universe moment’ I was filming AND playing trumpet — as you can see/hear!
Only after the camera goes down (on my trumpet case) can you hear me playing.
Tooooo bad it wasn’t the SoulPower2011line. That would’ve been epic. (I’ll put that line up in a later post so that you have some idea about what I’m talking about)
ANYWAY, this clip is very near and dear to my heart; it really documents a place and time.

The sub plot of the Tanjazz experience was that I met this fashion designer from Philly named Taji Naal. We met, We talked, We did a session, I did the music for his fashion show. Now it’s being turned into a documentary. More on that later.

It was an absolutely incredible trip in so many ways, but I’m actually really glad that it’s over! BECAUSE…

I came back to Slamsterdam and jumped right into the second segment of the Live Cinema residency at STEIM studio. I worked (a little too) hard to present 2011 Meditations on Eurydice (October 2nd, 2011 ).
So so so so much can be said about this performance.
I will have to go further in depth at a later date.
Highlights included; the string 4tet sounding amazing, late night conversations with jos about trusting artistic decisions, refining/smoothing the live cinema process into a science, the toe, the rug, the beverage being involved, and the toe.

Eventually, there will surely be an overload of propaganda concerning this performance on my official live cinema website:::
<< >>

Now I have officially transistioned into what I have come to term Fokker5000.
I’m back in Studio1, finishing the microtonal piece composed for the Fokker Orgel entitled “Ode Aan Het Ij” (premiered at the Gaudeamus Muziek Week in 2010.
I’m working on a stereo piece (1 for speakers, 1 for headphones), and a full on electro-acoustic 8 channel version.

Holy Moly.
Just writing all of this down has fried my egg.
Tomorrow is another big day.
must rest.
Tot ziens.


Morocco // Zuluwannsago

Zuluwannsago made it to the Tanjazz festival in Tangier, Morocco…
That to me is proof that G-d exists!
Traveling with this band is really like being part of a circus.
Only one bag, and allllllllllmost one passport were lost on the way here.
Thank the lord for that beautiful Spanish flight attendant.
Because of her one musician avoided being introduced to Africa by the police!
Oh yeah; how could I forget? We almost missed the first flight that left from Amsterdam.
I have no idea how road-managers do their job!?
Fortunately I’ve traveled enough to feel confident navigating HUGE airports and complicated scenarios encountered en-route…
Me, my trumpet, my crucials, and my luggage all made it here safe and sound.
Here’s Yusufu (I found out he actually has a ‘u’ at the end of his name on the plane) at the palace showing the ladies some dance moves. great moment : )

Maintenant, je vais parle francaise parce que je suis dans le morroc.
No no no no no, not enough energy for that right now.
demain peut etre.

Tomorrow night we play at the Tangier palace at 1am.
I really think it’s going to be one of the best shows we’ve ever played.
I’ve decided to make it my new mission to bring as much positivity to this group as I can.
I’m the youngest cat in the group so I can still get away with being a little naive ; )
It’s just sooo difficult being surrounded by sooo much negativity sometimes.
A few of the guys in the group are really religious, and I think it’s starting to rub off on me!
This morning the guitar player, Sam Sawadego, and I were discussing life…
It’s really easy to say that people SHOULD be a certain way;
It’s another thing to actually live your life like that.
Being kind, compassionate, trusting, and optimistic can actually be quite difficult!
There’s just so much stress/drama in this world sometimes!
It’s hard to know when to speak up, and when to just keep my mouth shut.
check this extract from the meeting we were having earlier today…
(yes, the meeting was on the beach; yes, it was glorious; yes, yes, yes)

my impression is as follows;
Yusufu is the fire; raw/un-tamable.
his energy is so intense that usually it just causes confusion.
but that is not HIS fault.
being a good listener can be invaluable when someone is trying to explain their ideas.
especially when they’re from a creative space.
again, it’s easier to say than to do.

Anyway, is officially online!
I put it up the day before we left.
It’s very far from perfect, but it’s up and running.
I hope it makes Yusuf’s life easier.
That guy works so hard; it’s about time he starts getting some back.

One Live,


crazy days in Amsterdam, crazy days!!!
Just finished the first part of the Live Cinema residency at STIEM studio (I was in Studio1 from the 5th to the 13th of September).
STEIM Studio1 is basically a dream come true.
It’s completely silent; thoughts can reach their logical conclusion.
It’s almost completely sound proof; you can make noise at any time.
(almost) non-stop productivity.

The first thing I needed to do was make a patch that could control where the sound would be output to…
8 channel mixer

Once I had that taken care of, I started in on the “Eurydice Masher”…
This 8-channel installation will greet people as they walk in from off the street.
The raw idea is to expose people to ALL previous recordings of music based on the myth of Orpheus (for this performance I will focus specifically on the Eurydice aspects). There will be a program note with the outline of the myth, people sit down and listen to the “Masher” as they read. The patch is very simple… sample manipulation & spatialisation…

Eurydice Masher

Next on the agenda was the 5.1 introduction.
I’m using video and multi-channel output from Ableton Live.
This short sequence will introduce the audience to the 5.1 surround system…
5.1 Introduction

Jamie Griffiths was also a resident at STEIM while I was there…
she gives workshops about a program called Isadora.
The program is a very cool idea…
Me and Isadora

Then comes PD (Pure Data)
Open Source = Spiritual Ideals
I own my trumpet

Then Jos Heutmekers came through STEIM…
always has great ideas.
great guy.
great to see him again.
Video Geometries…
A portrait of Jos. (He doesn’t look so impressed though!)
Jos Sphered

STEIM studio is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Amsterdam.

I left the studio on the 13th, Moldover came in on the 14th.


The trickiest part is balancing all of this with the Afro-beat band.
videos, text, etc…




The making of Zuluwannsago.NL with Yusuf Nuweku

Went to Zaandam yesterday to work with Yusuf… spent all night filming him and working on the website. I’m realizing more and more how crucial it is for ALL artists to be able to wear ALL hats these days. Web development has become an almost everyday affair. SHED the modes, SHED the scores, and SHED html/css::: I really can’t stress this enough to any “artists in training” out there in the universe who might be reading this.

I’m working on for Yusuf so that the world can really see what a bada*s he is. Once the site is online the first thing you’ll see is the fruits of our labor last night in Zaandam in Yusuf’s basement. This guy has so many instruments in his arsenal. Would’ve taken two days to document him playing them all. I really learned a lot about Yus’s background in the process of making this video; turns out that he’s descended from a royal family of healers in Ghana. People would come from all over Ghana to be healed by his family. The best part was definitely learning that they actually use drums/rhythms (or “languages” as he calls them) to heal people who are in need.

After we finished the filming I turned on a mic so that Yusuf could record a voice-over for the video. Turned into a pretty deep moment. It was about 2am and a lightning/thunderstorm was slowly rolling in. At that point I wasn’t sure if I was recording a voice-over or deep wisdom that should surface in some type of dubstep crusher! It’ll probably end up in both : ) After I turned off the microphone, it was raining and Yusuf was in a really reflective mood. I started to type snippets of what he was saying:

sacrifice different things.
the drum holds everything.
you don’t understand it.
we don’t know nothing about it.
that’s how it works spiritually.
spiritual fighters, spiritual killers won’t shoot you.
they’ll find you when you’re sleeping.
the skin is slipping, it’s week.
only if you have that code,
that will fight your body back.
serious dreaming.
heart is beating.
that’s how things go.
it’s my house.
no monsters in my house.
sometimes people play the music with me.
but they don’t know who I am.
I teach them how to live live.
how to be faithful.
how to love one another.
don’t ever think bad about nobody.
be free minded.
live until you can’t live no more
if you see someone whose  95 years old.
it’s just the free mind, and the free heart.
no disease will come near the tent ever.
the free mind is powerful.
the free heart is powerful.
slowly the heart is getting weaker.
the mind is getting weaker.
not developing to be stronger.
you that you’re week.
very serious sickness.
nothing is going to happen.
be free in the heart and mind.
the worshiping.
who is the powerful?


Amsterdam, Zuluwannsago, Morocco, Live Cinema, Microtonal Schenanigans

Well, here we go; the first official post on my brand spankin’ new blog — mixed feelings.
serious love/hate relationships with technology pervade my everyday life…
A sentiment that is shared by countless cats in my generation.
however, i’m usually more on the love side; hence the blog : )

I’m back in the slamster-dam, gearing up for Morocco with Zuluwannsago.
Yusuf Nuweku (the composer/bandleader) is one of the best musicians I’ve ever worked with.
He’s the fire. raw, un-rated.
Unfortunately, a lot of this world works off of more than universe juice.
I’m in the process of building with Yus so that he can start REALLY hustling the band.
a brief moment of poetry;;;

feelings of entitlement lead to anger and frustration.
be thankful for what you have; not angry about what you don’t.

Everyone in the band seems to be ready to bring the heat to the Tanjazz festival…
I just hope that we can all put aside our egos and play yusuf’s music how it’s supposed to be played.
You can see yus playing the sh*t out of a bunch of instruments in the below video… (Zuluwannsago is rehearsing at Hippo records’ headquarters in Amsterdam)
I really have nothing but respect and love for that man.
I once saw him eat an entire RAW ginger root (the size of a big hand) in the course of one rehearsal.
I’m definitely excited to go to Morocco with these cats.

In other SW related news…
I’ll be doing a two part Live Cinema residency at STEIM studios ( in September/October…
And then another session at STEIM to finally finish what I’ve come to call “Fokker5000”
Right now I’ve just gotta end this post so that I can warm down on trumpet before I make tempura with Enrique Mendoza (
mmmmm… tempuraaaaa

vibrations to whoever might be reading this blog in whatever dimension they might be in.
One Love Universe!