TwtrSymphony: Strike while the iron is hot?
13 Jul 2012
Interchanging Idioms

as TwtrSymphony gets ready to release its first track, all eyes are wondering what to expect

The thing about Twitter is it has a very short attention span. So, while it is possible for something to be trending red hot one day, it is just as possible for the topic to cool and be out of fashion the next. Yet, trying to gather a group of classical musicians together, get them music that is unique for the particular venture, and actually get that music out to the audience is anything but a fast project. Back in early March, the iron was right for TwtrSymphony, the fires continued to stoke all the way through April --and yet, here we are in July and still no music.

Another cliche which stems from the blacksmith trade is "Don't put too many irons in the fire." It eludes to the fact that each piece of iron in the fire cools it ever so slightly. Too many irons and the fire cools to the point none of the pieces of iron are hot enough to be malleable. It's also easy to lose track of which piece needs work and which piece has been in too long.

TwtrSymphony is like this too. Our irons include the writing of the music, the creation of parts, generating click tracks, individual sample tracks, answering questions about articulation, tempo, phrasing... Then we add the process of getting the recordings back, often more than one recording per musician as they couldn't decide which 'take' was the best. Editing the tracks to match them with the rest of the recordings, adjusting timing (and tuning) issues, and applying effects and equalization to get the various tracks to sound like they were recorded in the same room. We're also attempting to create a music video AND generate enough chatter about what's happening to keep the coals of interest still glowing.

As Music Director I must balance this all with the rest of my life, trying to compose pieces for other projects (which includes getting something for the miniOpera project for English Opera, and my entry into the Rapido contest), my day job and spending time with the love of my life.

Fortunately, I am not alone in this project. There are sixty-plus musicians dedicating their time to get tracks to me, an engineer working hard to get the final edits done, a volunteer administrative staff to help with publicity, creation of a video and supporting the social media aspects of TwtrSymphony. So, yes, we have a lot of irons in the fire.

What can we expect from this first track?
TwtrSymphony is a new concept in the symphony orchestra --at least that's what our tag line says. Being a new concept is basically code for the many things we are working out as we go along. The audition process taught us valuable information on what was possible (and some of what wasn't) in terms of getting recordings back from musicians. Working on the first track (entering its second month of edits) is teaching us so much more. We adjusted the way we get the music to the musicians. They have adjusted how they approach the music. The major edits necessary to get the parts lined up for the second track was less than half of what it took to get the first track in line. Although I've only just started editing the third track, there is a noticeable improvement over the second track. We are improving! And there are more ideas on how to get even better.

The engineer is finally happy with "The Hawk Goes Hunting" in terms of parts lining up and the over all sound. Now, it's just getting those last few little touches that happen in the mastering process.

I think we need to remind ourselves that getting to this point is a pretty amazing feat. We are blazing new territory together and have a right to feel proud of ourselves for how far we've come. Creating new forms of art is a lot like blacksmithing - you feel the heat, you must strike while the iron is hot, and you will only know you have succeeded when the piece is shaped, pounded and cooled. But also, if something didn't work you can put it back into the creative fire and start again.

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