Thursday, March 27, 2008

Printer chat

I am the slightly sentimental and proud owner of an HP LaserJet 5MP printer. It's a laser printer that I bought in approximately 1995. Yes. It still works too. With my 2 year old iMac. Isn't that incredible?

I am not a techno-freak and I don't crave the newest and latest gadgets. Every so often I think it would be a good thing to own a new printer. One that takes up slightly less space, prints faster, possibly one that does photos, colour, 1200dpi, even A3. We think about it and research the options but never end up doing anything about it. This usually comes down to the fact that my printer works well, is a laser printer, and my music scores look good anyway. We don't print photographs at home.

Most of the printers around now seem to be inkjet, and I assume this is because of home photo printing. They are also incredibly affordable, compared to what I paid for my LaserJet many years ago in the US.

What I really want to know is: will inkjet printed music scores look like laser printed scores? Printing orchestral scores on A4 is always a risk, especially on a low-ish resolution printer, because if you have around 22 staves you have to have really good resolution for the size of the little black dots. My printer does 600dpi as its maximum, so right there it's behind the eight-ball in terms of quality for a full size score. However, all the orchestral pieces I've done over the past years have been printed by a copyist (God bless Symphony Services Australia commissions) and sent to me in the post, which is a rather privileged existence of which I am only too aware.

And it's very difficult to work out whether you still need to have PostScript in a printer, if you are a Finale user. I have seen an HP DeskJet 1280 which is A3 size and has PostScript. I think. I usually leave it to David to read the fine print, no pun intended. He's much better at that stuff than I am!

If anyone has advice or opinions on this topic, I'd be very grateful to hear from you!

I think, in the end, that it's really difficult to get a one-printer-does-everything printer. Hmn.

And please, no Finale vs Sibelius backchat! I have already picked a side and I'm too old to learn new tricks. :P

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bridal dance

My sister got married last November. Her husband just put their bridal dance on YouTube. Check it out!

Seven Things

I've been tagged by Em for a "seven things" meme. I don't really know what that is but here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog
2. Share seven facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here are seven slightly dull facts about myself.

1. I have now lived in Tasmania for 10 years. Good grief how time flies.

2. My high school music teacher was Russell Kent in Christchurch, NZ. He said I should go into composition, but I thought all composers were dead.

3. I went to the Alice Smith School when we lived in Malaysia. Last year at pre-kinder, Alexander made a new friend named Oscar. Turns out that Oscar's mum Sally also went to the Alice Smith School. We couldn't believe the co-incidence.

4. I love eating Salada crackers with butter on them. David says it's just an excuse to eat the butter. I don't do this very often.

5. I always crave Asian food when we're travelling out of Tassie.

6. I can't work unless my office is tidy. Of course, this may be yet another method of procrastination.

7. Currently my hair is falling out, has gone virtually straight, and I have lost 19 kilos since having Lillian, my little Liposuctor. Breastfeeding seems to drain everything from my body.

I don't know seven people with blogs who haven't already been tagged for this, so here are a few:
Yid-Ee and Steph

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Google maps

We had to go out this afternoon. Alexander got into the car, and I got into the front passenger seat for a change, as these days I'm doing the driving with the kids during the week.

Alexander: Oh! Dad! Are you driving us?
David: Yes, I am.
Alexander: Where are we going?
David: Just into town to do a few things.
Alexander: We'll need Google maps.

He's four-and-a-half.


Lately I've been thinking about how much I miss my American composer friends.

Thank heavens for e-mail and Facebook, so I can keep in touch with people. But it's not quite the same as being able to pick up the phone for a quick (free!) call, or zip off to a concert together and snigger about the music and the performance, or have a regular lunch date where you could chat about what you were working on or what you've been thinking about.

My two closest composer friends and I still e-mail regularly. It's great being able to communicate so easily, air an idea, ask questions, or just get an opinion. Handy when one friend is a Pulitzer Prize nominee and general all-round amazing musician, and the other is also an amazing musician, and she's like a second sister too so we are usually on the same wavelength!

My husband David is a brilliant soundboard for ideas. In fact, he's always the first person I go to when I feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall. He's an ideas man, is David.

I'm working on a large choral-orchestral piece and I'm trying to settle on a text. I have two poems already, just need to make a decision about a third because the piece has to be around 12 minutes long, and the two poems aren't quite enough. It's really hard because I am not Australian, but I'm using Australian poetry. Mostly because I have been asked to. Having an identity firstly as a New Zealander tends to mean that New Zealand poetry makes more sense to me, so I am having to wrap my head around some new language, tone, pictures, you know what I mean. The bush ballad thing just sounds a little too folksy for what I'm trying to do!

Anyway, I do feel like I am making progress in very tiny steps. It's a wonderful journey of discovery. And it will hopefully be the ideal way to communicate to my audience and performers once the piece is finished. That's the no. 1 goal of this whole business.


Ok so here I am, blogging. This is really just a trial. It’s also a great way to procrastinate when you have a deadline.

Most composers I know have very cunning ways of procrastinating. Cleaning, listening to music, reading something that catches the eye, doing endless loads of laundry, cooking complicated recipes, tidying that drawer that you never open, de-cluttering your closet, emailing, perusing Facebook and various blogs, the list goes on.

I am often asked how I get “inspiration” to write a piece. Generally I have to disappoint people who think that composers live in a dream-world of Wagner cottages with water views, a beautiful grand piano groaning with bits of manuscript paper, and baskets of food delivered to your doorstep. It may be like that at various summer residencies in the US (wish I could go!), but not here.

For me, composing usually takes place late at night, after the children are fed, bathed and put to bed, the laundry is folded and put away, the kitchen is tidy and the lunches are made, a little bit of chocolate is eaten with a cup of tea, the parents have had a conversation or two while watching some inane television show before reclaiming some semblance of “me time” where I won’t be interrupted by someone wanting a piece of me.

Composing is crammed into those few spare hours I have to myself, in solitude, in my hopelessly messy study crammed with books, paper, broken dinosaurs, teething toys, old birthday cards, to-do lists, cables emerging from the computer… Inspiration occurs when I’m doing something around the house or feeding the baby, driving to my next errand, not while I’m looking out of the window at the hills and sky. Then before I know it, there are some dots on the page and gradually over the months it starts to make sense amidst the chaos, hard work, tears of frustration and exhaustion, and all those little deadlines that make up a normal week.

Do I sound resentful? I don’t mean to be. I love being at home with my kids at the moment - well, really, just mostly my beautiful baby Lillian who is 5 months old. Alexander is 4 and now goes to Kindergarten three and a half days a week. In a blink of an eye I have become a mother of two, with a baby and a school run. When did we suddenly become grown-ups?