Tuesday, April 24, 2007

more LA fun

On Saturday I played a studio session for the USC student film composers: as a final project, they each write a cue for an existing movie, and they actually have the opportunity to record the cues with a studio orchestra. Most of the musicians were studio regulars, I guess, but there were several USC students, as well. I was a little nervous about it, since I recognized some good musicians there, and since I gave up a whole Saturday shortly before my recital, but I'm really glad I did it. It was fun! I might as well enjoy living in LA, right? [I realized that the studios we were at are the same that are reflected in the WB logo at the beginning of movies, with the rounded roofs of the lots and the water tower, and was probably more excited than I should have been.] Plus, it was really nice to make the composers happy so easily. I just played the music in front of me, and they were ecstatic to be able to record their demos! I mean, completely overjoyed. It was really cute, actually.

Of course, it started at 10 am, and I had just gotten my instruments out, tested some reeds, warmed up a little and it was time to start. Lo and behold, the first cue had a big English horn solo (I was playing second & EH). Good morning! Welcome to WB, Eastwood studio, now quick, read this solo five times!!! We rehearsed it once, then recorded several takes, trying to get the English horn loud enough, apparently. I'm not sure why they moved my mic away from me though . . . so I just played louder each time, and the orchestra played quieter. Anyway, it wasn't a difficult solo, sort of eastern-sounding (the cue was for Passion of the Christ), and it was fun to play, I really enjoyed it. And the rest of the cues were more relaxing after that. There were a lot of runs that you just have to approximate, since there's no time to practice. To a musician trained in classical music, this is confusing, since we're taught to obsess over everything to make it perfect. But when you have to play something as best you can in a few takes, you play differently, just making sure everything lines up [clic tracks are disconcerting at first, but eventually I came to appreciate them] and the effects come through. Pro studio musicians must be amazing sightreaders.

Playing the studio gig really made me realize how much fun it is to just play without thinking, just to love your instrument. There was no time to think or rehearse, so I just played. Completely the opposite of La Mer, which we're doing in Debut at the moment. The first few times we played the second movement, I totally freaked out about the opening solo, and it just sort of went by without my playing it. Since it's an excerpt I've spent some time with, I had so many ideas about what tempo it should be and where the phrase goes and how the grace notes should be (etc etc etc) that my brain was too bogged down to let me just relax and play the solo. I didn't get it until tonight's rehearsal, when we went back and fixed it. I was thinking, if I could somehow practice it so that I naturally incorporated some of the aspects I mentioned above, and then relax and play naturally and freely like I did at the studio, that would really be ideal. Easier said than done though! Plus, it's really different to play the excerpt than to actually have to take a tempo from a conductor and stick to it! I'm really glad to play the piece, though.

Well, I better get to work on that stupid paper. Or reeds. Goodnight.

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