Updates…. Lots of Updates! – December 2015

Hey All!,

It’s been a while! I’ve been busy this past year and have not been giving due diligence to the site! But I swear the excuses are legitimate!

This past year I have been busy with my new house. My wife and I finally moved out of our tiny apartment last May and bought a house! Home ownership has been a “fun” experience for us and with it comes a lot of change as well! I finally have a dedicated studio with a real piano and plenty of room for me to expand and work on my compositions. Can’t wait to finish getting it setup!

I have a couple new pieces are going to be up soon titled “Dawn” and “City of Fountains”. Dawn is getting premiered December 8th, 2015 by Park Hill High school Symphonic Band under the direction of Ky Hascall. Ky is an alumni of NWMSU and I asked him at homecoming and he agreed to perform it! “City of Fountains” is a brand new fanfare for concert band and I’m still looking for an ensemble to premier it. If you are interested in seeing the score and hearing shoot me a message on the site and we will get in touch! I’d send you a free set of score and parts as long as I get a recording of it!

I also recently won the “Claude T. Smith Memorial Composition Contest”! My piece “Spark!” was selected as the winner and will be premiered at the 2016 MMEA Convention. I will be there as well so if you see me, come say hi! We might have booth as well (still pending on that). “Spark!” is also going to be published with Grand Mesa Music in 2016 so we can get it to a much larger audience. I’m very excited to work with them on it.

Finally, I wanted to give you a heads up on what I’ve been working on. I’ve decided to start work on my 3rd Symphony! This piece has been a massive undertaking for me and I want to keep everyone in the loop on it. Currently there are no ensembles tied to it’s premier so I can take my time with it, but I have started to put out feelers to try to get a commissioning committee or at the very least a performing ensemble to back it. It’s targeted for grade 5+ and is going to be roughly 20-25 minutes long. I plan on doing a video documentary with the piece as I write it to give everyone an insight onto my progress.

I’m really sorry for going dark this past year. New pieces will be up “soon”. I’m just getting them cleaned up a bit.

As always feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]

Sincerely,
Robert

Holiday Contest

We are hosting a contest for the holiday season! Find out more info down below!

In the spirit of the holidays, RLCompositions is having a free music contest! The winning ensemble will receive either one free concert band piece or two free chamber/small ensemble pieces! We want to hear from you and get to know the ensembles we’ve been working with!
We will be accepting submissions between 12/2/14-12/12/14. We will then pick our top 5 and let YOU vote! We will track likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter at @rlcompositions. Voting will be 12/15/14-12/19/14 with the winner announced 12/22/14.
Rules for submissions:
One submission per ensemble.
Send to [email protected] or our Message Inbox on Facebook. DO NOT POST ON OUR WALL.
Name of ensemble
Name and contact information of Director or Lead.
Brief summary of why your ensemble is AWESOME and should win a free piece!
Picture or video of ensemble.

Composer’s Corner – Entry 4 – Let’s Talk Keys… Specifically Those Of A Sharp Nature

The wonderful world of composing has a wide array of tools that are available to us that allow us to make beautiful music. We chords, modes, rhythms and keys. Ah yes….. keys. That dreaded four letter word that most musicians should know but aren’t 100% confident with. There is good reason for that to. Instruments have certain tonalities about them that make it easier (or harder) for them to excel in certain keys.

For example, an Eb Alto Saxophone is a lot more comfortable playing an Ab scale then say a Violin whose strings are tuned to C,G,D,A. Both are well capable of playing the scale just fine but it might be easier for the Saxophone to sight read a piece in Ab then a Violin.

There is a school of thought that there are keys out there that are better suited for a Concert Band vs an Orchestra simply because of the instrumentation. Concert Bands have a history for exceling better in flat keys while Orchestras excel more in sharp keys.

As a composer this bugs crap out of me.

Primarily as a concert band composer I want to be able to use keys such as E major, B minor, and C# Lydian, but ensembles tend to clam up whenever they see sharps. As a musician I can understand that reading sharp keys can be “scary” but with a little practice and patience, sharp keys can be such a wonderful thing.

Does this mean I’m going to start composing in all sharp keys? Probably not.

If I’m writing a piece that will be sight read by a band at a contest, I will probably not choose a multi-sharp key. That’s not the correct time and place for it. If a professional/college level band commissions me, I’m going to want to use those sharp keys more often then not.

Here is a breakdown of the concert (non-transposing) sharp keys that are available and my reaction as a composer vs my reaction as a musician .

  • G Major
    • Composer: Great key! A very bright and happy key.
    • Musician: 1 Sharp? No Problem!
  • D Major
    • Composer: Another great key! I can turn off the flats like a light switch and do some cool tonality composing with it!
    • Musician: 2 Sharps? Ok I might have to hit the practice room once. More then likely going to forget the C# and have to circle it in my music
  • A Major
    • Composer: They all tune to A so why not play in A Major? It’s the key of earth! Long like 440Hz! (For examples of this see my second symphony after I’ve had a chance to post it!)
    • Musician: 3 Sharps? Why didn’t he just write this in Bb? He obviously made a mistake and accidently transposed the entire piece down a half step once he was finished… We will correct this by missing both G# and C# multiple times during rehearsals!
  • E Major
    • Composer: In my opinion one of the most underrated keys out there! Can you say SPACE CHORDS. Also congrats if you can play this, you can play C# minor!
    • Musician: Seriously why does he just not transpose it down a half step to Eb?!?! He hates us right now doesn’t he?
  • B Major
    • Composer: This key can throw off an audience big time. Especially if they band tunes to A and Bb…. Perfect for scary music!
    • Musician: So. Many. Sharps. My brain can’t handle this right now.
  • F# Major
    • Composer: Lucky number 7! If Scriabin can compose in this key, so can I!
    • Musician: *Sobs in corner of practice room*

Whether you like them or not, sharp keys are as important to music as flat keys. If we conquer our fear of them, we will quickly see that they are just as beautiful and easy as flat keys!

Now if excuse me… I have piece in B Major to write… (kidding)

Until next time
-Robert

Composer’s Corner – Entry 3 – In Editing Hell

Ugh.

Years ago I made the switch from Finale to Sibelius. It made my composing process so much easier. The tools were fantastic, the interface was clean, and my scores looked great. The best part was that it was easy for me to convert most of Finale scores over to Sibelius. As the years went on I started to notice a bunch of little inconsistencies in the engraving of the final score and parts. Wasn’t so much that they where errors but they were just tiny little nuances that unless you looked at the piece for a couple hours a day, like I do, you would never notice them. But it was enough to start driving me mad. Here were my issues:

  • Inconsistencies in the size of some of the fonts between the score and parts.
  • Rehearsal marks sometimes not appearing on parts but on the scores
  • Margins sometimes varying between two different parts in the same piece.

These among other things finally reached a point where I decided it was time for a clean slate and to re-engrave basically everything I’ve ever written. So I set up some templates and did a test run with some of my chamber works. It seemed to be working great. Everything is looking like it’s lining up right, looking consistent, and looking professional. My initial reaction to this was joy. This meant that I could move onto my concert scores and start doing them! However concert band scores turned out to be a whole different beast.

I have two different concert band score types (8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17). The smaller is used for anything that is usually grade 3 or lower because of the pretty standard concert band notation. The larger is used for scores that are grade 4 or higher because of more advanced instrumentation means more staffs and I don’t want them to become un-readable to the director/conductor. Now I am challenged with maintaining these 2 template types and making them consistent in nature.

This can be a particularly tricky situation especially with the variations in the number of staffs. Every time you add more staffs to a score, things start getting a little more crammed. At a certain point Sibelius starts asking you if you want to decrease the staff size in order to make the new staffs fit. Normally this would be fine but I my templates were accidently set up to have the text scale with staff size. So every time I added more then 20 staves to my 8.5 x 11 templates, the software would reduce the staff size and take the font along for the ride. So now I had to go fix that in everything that I’ve done so far.

So this is where I stand. I’m stuck in this loops of getting a score close to being pushed out to my website and then finding another little thing that needs to be fixed and then going and fixing it on the rest of the pieces as well. I just have to keep telling myself that eventually I will get back to actually composing music and not editing music and that this is just a one time deal for all my older works. New works won’t have this issue at all since they will be edited only ever once. Until then I’m going to be stuck here in editing hell.

Until next time.

Composer’s Corner – Entry 2 – Aaaaand we’re live!

After months of work we are please to launch the brand new RLCompositions.com. Lots of things went into making the website a lot more user friendly. Below is a list of features you will find on the website:

  • Mobile version for people viewing on phones.
  • Easier way to view and purchase scores.
  • Blog posts and RSS feeds.
  • Share pieces with your friends on a multitude of social media sites! (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Redit, and many more!)

Along with this we have an amazing new logo curtesy of Healther Chatlos of Oprava Studios. She is an incredibly talented designer out of Kansas City, MO and it’s been a pleasure working with her on this. You also might have noticed that there are works still missing from the sight (a lot of them to be exact). We are working on getting them updated and re-uploaded. We have a good chunk of the chamber works uploaded and we will start getting more concert pieces uploaded asap along with jazz pieces as well.

One big feature that I’m personally excited about is the new blog post section. I’ve started a new blog called “Composers Corner“. In it I will post insights into my composing process and various other projects I’m working on. It will be great for me and hopefully be a great read for you as well.

Make sure to throw us a like on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We will be much more active there now and will post new works there as well. Thanks again for visiting RLCompositions. Go ahead and take a look around and make sure to come back often for newly uploaded works!

-Robert Langenfeld

Composer’s Corner – Entry 1 – Building Something Awesome

I don’t really expect many people to see this. So if you’re reading this, congratulations! I’m mainly writing this blog post to keep my sanity in check while I re-design my website. I’ve been kind of away from my website and not keeping it up to date but that’s all about to chance. A lot has happened and a lot more is to come.

First of all, why the redesign? Well the old website was kind of hanging on by a thread and it was really hard to upkeep and maintain. My design plan for this website was to give me something that I could easily maintain and upkeep. The other main goal was about realizing a goal of mine that I’ve had for a really long time.

I have been published now for many years by several different companies. As the years went on some of these companies started to go under and close their doors. The economy was getting bad and it saw the closing of one the largest publishers in the US (Southern Music Publications) close its doors for good. After that several of my smaller publishers had to close their doors because they didn’t have an outlet to distribute their music to. Basically a giant domino effect occurred and it made me really nervous. I wanted people to be able to still purchase my music and be able to see all the other things I could offer them.

So as of July 31st, 2014. I effectively ended my publishing contracts with several of my publishers with the goal that I could sell my music online myself. Thus a new RLCompositions was needed. A logo has been in the works now for 8 months and I have been told it will be done any day now. My plan is to get RLCompositions completely self-sustained in its operating costs and the amount of time it takes me to run it.

This is where the challenge has been. How do I balance my full time job, my family, friends, and run a business and still find time to compose? I haven’t quite figured it out yet. But in the coming weeks as I ready the site for its glorious new launch, I will figure out the most effective way to accomplish this.

With that I will end this post here. Much is left to be done on the site and there are tons of things that need to be decided still. Until next time.

Mind Our Dust!

A wise man once said “Nothing good in life comes easy”. This saying also applies to web design. We appreciate everyone’s patience while we continue to work out the bugs in RLCompositions. A lot of content might seem to be missing right now, but rest assured that it is on its way. The key thing here is that we want to deliver an awesome experience when you visit RLCompositions and its a continuing process.

The big change that is taking us forever right now is that we are busy re-cataloguing all of our works and making sure that they are properly documented, and that each work can be easily viewed, listened to, and purchased. Thus the limited amount of works that are available right now. We promise to get them uploaded as fast as possible for your viewing/listening pleasure!

If you happen to find any bugs while using our website, please feel free to contact us using the contact form or drop us a line at [email protected] and we will help work it out with you!

Once again thanks for your patience during this time! The light is at the end of the tunnel!