Category: Chart Doctor (Archive)

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Creating In Spite Of Your Computer

Ron Hess talks about computers and the creative process

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Strategic Profit Sharing

Ron Hess talk about sharing work vs. doing gigs solo

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Learning Software, Part 2: Upgrading Efficiently

Ron Hess talks about mastering the art of the software upgrade

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Learning Software, Part 1: Creative Cramming

Ron Hess talks about expediting the learning process for software and upgrades

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Orchestration: You’ve Got To Know Your Limitations

Ron Hess talks about successfully dealing with orchestra and orchestrator limitations

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Orchestration: Finding Your Own Voice

Ron Hess talks about how orchestrators can look within themselves and find their own voice

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All Dressed Up With No Place To Go?

Ron Hess talks about musicianship, entrepreneurship, and how they can work together in a career.

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Truth In Advertising For Composers

Recently we looked at the topic of bridging the essentially unbridgeable: music you can hear versus music you can see. One topic we didn’t tackle was the brewing identity crisis spawned by technology which blurs the descriptions of the jobs we do, particularly when it comes to that other, unwritten part of the paycheck: screen […]

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MIDI Transcription: A Workable, Systematic Method, Part 2

In part 1, we made our preparations for our leap across the Grand Canyon that separates the conceptual worlds of music that you hear and music that you see. At this point, you should have a clear idea of the character of the music you are translating and, if your software is thusly adjustable, you […]

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Midi Transcription: A Workable, Systematic Method, Part 1

The worlds of midi performance and notated music, at their essence, are incompatible, and will probably remain so into perpetuity. Because “forte” has many contextual midi interpretations, and a key velocity of 95 has many outcomes based on what it’s triggering, a complete, mechanized translation scheme between the two dimensions simply isn’t feasible. That’s where […]

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Conduct Yourself Accordingly, Part 5: Who’s In Charge Here?

The art and craft of studio conducting may not be dying, but it sure isn’t feeling very well. Of all the cast of characters in the recording process, the conductor is the one which inspires the least automatic respect, and deservedly so. With the advent of random-access digital recording, which is almost always pegged to […]

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To Orchestrate Or Not To Orchestrate: What Is The Question?

A recent thread in Film Music Magazine’s orchestration forum involved a question on the best way to approach orchestrating a piano piece. The conventional advice usually involves trying to accommodate and emulate all the “pianistic” elements by other instruments. Essentially, that’s re-copying, however inspired the effort. True, inspired orchestration, however, must dig far deeper. Unless […]

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Anatomy Of An Arrangement Part 5: Another Intro, and Finishing Touches

For the past several weeks we have examined the steps in accepting a gig arranging 3 tracks on a CD, organizing the necessary melodic, harmonic, and orchestrational assets, planning the form, and creating one of the intros. This week, we will look at another of the needed intros and at wrapping up and delivering the […]

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Anatomy Of An Arrangement Part 4: … And Then Work Your Plan

If you’ve followed along for the past few weeks, you’ve had a general look over my shoulder as I received and negotiated a work call for some arrangements, organized the musical assets from which to draw musically, and planned the basic forms and road maps to follow when crafting the arrangements. I know the sexy […]

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Anatomy Of An Arrangement Part 3: Plan Your Work, And Then…

In our two previous discussions, we tackled taking the work call most effectively and progressed to organizing our compositional assets so that we could hit the ground running when it came time to innovate. This week we look at developing the road map for the whole shebang, still leaving most of the intimate details for […]

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Anatomy Of An Arrangement Part 2: Getting Started By Getting Organized

Ron Hess takes a detailed look at how to prepare for arranging jobs.

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Anatomy Of An Arrangement Part 1: Taking The Call

I was recently asked by a friend and colleague of over 10 years’ standing to arrange 3 Latin standards for his next instrumental solo CD. It occurred to me that it might prove interesting for you to follow along, not with the construction of the actual notes, but rather with the strategy for systematically and […]

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Score No-No’s, Episode 3

I’ve been asked on occasion from what sources I derive my column fodder. Some is the result of reader inquiry (keep it up; I can’t always intuit what you need…). Some is from polling my colleagues, and some is simply the result of going through my musical life with my eyes (and my interest) open. […]

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Music Prep Strategies, Part 4: Words Ain’t Cheap

As a practical matter of music notation, graphic symbols work better than words, hands down. Actually words are symbols too, but they are constructed of building blocks of letters and punctuation that can result in very close to a million viable combinations in English alone. Thankfully, our musical language is much more finite, making its […]

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Conduct Yourself Accordingly, Part 4: Last-Minute Podium Strategy

Consider the following scenario: You’re attending a friend’s scoring session and, while contentedly lounging in the booth with a cup of coffee, a call comes in from the session conductor that some emergency will prevent his arrival. Your friend turns to you and asks you to sub for him. What do you do? Thanks for […]

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When And Where To Optimize

In response to several readers’ inquiries, this week we will examine the topic of optimization in the recording environment. Optimizing is a proprietary term (first coined by Finale) referring to the elimination of empty staves on a score or part to save space. As usual, the default settings with most software packages let you do […]

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NOTATING WITHOUT THINKING, OR WHAT THE COMPUTER CAN DO FOR THIS GENERATION OF COMPOSERS

Last week I said a shocking thing, so it’s probably worth repeating: So entrenched is the sequence-then-notate priority that, to succeed and survive, this generation of industrial composers has come to define compositional limits not as what they can purely imagine, but as that which they can coax a machine to perform. Thanks for your […]

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WHAT THE COMPUTER HAS DONE TO THIS GENERATION OF COMPOSERS

Initially, notation software was just a set of tools to get us away from pencil, pen, and paper, and to get us closer to a look and feel of our output that had been standardized hundreds of years before. The advantages for desktop publishers (self-printing in any quantity, ease of transposition/editing, rudimentary MIDI playback, etc.) […]

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Music Prep Strategies, Part 3: “Not-So-Common Courtesy”

This week, we kneel again at the altar of “Our Lady of the Perfect Read-Through,” at which we must be ever vigilant for anything that can help our players worship with us. Thanks for your interest in The Chart Doctor. The full text of this article is now available in the updated and expanded eBook […]

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Taking A Button And Sewing A Vest On It

I’m sure that reader Douglas Romayne spoke for many in our fraternity when he wrote me inquiring about orchestrational strategies (without sampler skullduggery) that will coax the thrills of a big orchestra out of a more modest one. In his letter, he agreed that “a good orchestrator can make 40 players sound like 60, while […]

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Keeping The “Orchestra” In “Orchestration

I recently attended a symposium featuring a panel of noteworthy composers for video games. In listening to demos of their latest scores, I noticed a couple of things which may prove insightful. For backup, I discussed these observations with several friends active in that wing of the industry. Thanks for your interest in The Chart […]

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When Great Is The Enemy Of Good

There is a well-known but seldom-discussed truism in philosophical circles concerning when headlong pursuit of the optimum is a barrier to the successful achievement of even the minimum. In some quarters it’s called “analysis paralysis,” the mental block built out of oppressive expectations, perhaps traceable to our traditional institutions which cradled our career training. They […]

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Slip Slidin’ Away…

No, I’m not referring to one of Rhymin’ Simon’s great early hits. I’m referring to one of the most easily recognizable instrumental effects available to the orchestrator: the trombone glissando. Hand a youngster his first trombone and invariably it’s the first sound that gets made. It was for me. It’s fun. It’s also uniquely useful […]

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Some Random Thoughts,” er, “Some Thoughts on Random

The other night I saw a documentary on legendary Las Vegas cheats that included a profile of a video slot machine manipulator whose “success” in unfairly beating the machines was based on insider knowledge and experience with the software which ran them and inspired insight of his own into how computers work. Included was his […]

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A Path to Quick and Reliable

It happens to all of us eventually. A client makes a request of you, way late or even after the game, that forces you to do things out of sequence and, therefore, inefficiently; sometimes very inefficiently. You have a choice, deal with it and get it done or make an issue out of it and […]

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