News, Thoughts, and other Words

Here's where it starts 

I'm going to be using this space to share what projects I'm working on, what I've been thinking about, and anything else I find interesting or cool.

I just finished composing some original music for a short documentary film, Beirut on the Bayou, by Brent Joseph and based on the book of the same title by Raif Shwayri. It was great working with Brent and a fun challenge to write music that connected my experience with Arabic music and my time in Louisiana, and I look forward to being able to share the results when the film is available. 

Other things cooking:

I've been writing some etudes for the oud, and hope to make them available to students in the near future.  Anyone who's studied with me knows my love of inventing practical musical exercises for developing specific skills.  As a composer and a teacher, I find it a particularly satisfying challenge to write compositions that explore specific technical and musical challenges while still maintaining a musicality that makes them enjoyable to play rather than mere exercises.

Over the past several years, I've spent a lot of time transcribing music, particularly Arabic taqasim (improvisations).  It's been a great learning experience, and I highly encourage fellow musicians and students to devote some time to it.  While it's certainly challenging at first, it gets easier the more you do it.  It's great for developing your ear and other aspects of musicianship.  As my ear and transcription skills improved, it has actually become a lot of fun.  As a practical matter, it's been helpful to learn music by just listening.  I have a number of thoughts about the process that I'll share in another blog post, and eventually I'm going to make some of my transcriptions available as well as analysis.