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In Which Ryan Erik Adamsons Has Several Unfinished Projects

November 2020 | 1:3


Behold, both of our cats in one picture! This is most likely about two seconds before one of them tried to lick the other’s face in an attempt to “help them clean”, fifteen or so seconds before they started fighting and chasing each other around the apartment with the sound of a thousand elephants, and twenty minutes before they ended up back on the couch curled up together and commiserating that they had not received attention or new food for literally dozens of seconds. Apply this to the world as you see fit.

What's Been Happening

Confession; one of my biggest concerns in starting this newsletter is how much I hate reading things I wrote in the past. Music has taught me to be more comfortable with letting go of past mistakes and more conscious that finding those mistakes is evidence that I’m progressing and improving, but somehow with written words that just makes my internal critic point out that with all that improvement I should be really smart by now.

Therefore it’s been reassuring this month to see some things start coming together and turn into actual projects that will see the light of day, or at least of screens in the general public. As I guessed last month, I wouldn’t have been able to predict which of the ideas I had then would bear fruit any more than I can predict right now how those will turn out as finished products, but I’m genuinely excited to hear what happens. After that build up, naturally none of them are in a state to be fully shared yet, but as always keep an eye on the “progress bar” on my homepage for things that will be coming soon. Koopa will be pleased to note that this is a shorter update, but he’ll probably need his editin’ paws ready once the current projects go to the presses.

May your masks smell pleasant and your packages arrive without incident,


Chart O' The Month

KvasirMatt Jefferson
00:00 / 05:17

“Kvasir” is a solo piece I wrote for my friend Matt Jefferson as part of his album Jeffersonian (order your copy here!). Matt is a wonderful bass trombonist, and on top of getting to write for him as a musician I have a huge soft spot for bass trombone so I was really excited for this project from the get go. In keeping with my theme of “successful finished projects may not resemble their initial plans” my original concept was for a totally different piece and I kept getting stuck, so I tried writing something else entirely as a mental palate cleanser. About fourteen bars into the palate cleanser I realized it was the better piece so I called Matt and we pivoted to what became “Kvasir”. I’m really pleased with how it came out, and Matt of course did a fantastic job recording it, but as I’m writing these back stories it’s becoming apparent that it’s a good thing I’m a musician and not an architect.

Regarding the inspiration for the title, Neil Gaiman did a wonderful telling of the Norse myth of Kvasir in his appropriately titled book Norse Mythology, and I’m not going to even attempt to retell it here but I highly recommend checking out the entire book on your own. My piece is far from a literal narrative, but the basic premise behind the myth from Kvasir’s story to the cultural ideals the mythology reveals are fascinating to me and hopefully the music reflects some of that.

Epidendrum 'Pacific Sunset' x 'Pink Rabbit'.JPG

Look, Nature!

For anyone who doesn't know, my wife works at the Chicago Botanic Garden and thus I get to see fun and pretty pictures of plants and nature in general. This is a picture of Spider Island (note to CBG marketing; seriously folks?) taken a couple weeks ago.

This is usually where I put a funny description of what I see, but this is honestly just really pretty.

Education Notes

While there are several plates spinning on the education front per usual, there are two specific projects that are completed or at least close enough to share:

Jazz Repertoire Article: This is the article on evaluating and choosing jazz repertoire I mentioned in last month’s newsletter; special shout outs to David McDonald of the Airmen of Note for being the impetus and Billy Wolfe for some deep thoughts on woodwind ranges. I’m thinking it will be published online soon, but I’m also happy to share advance copies.

Public Domain Holiday Big Band Charts: I’m doing several big band arrangements of holiday tunes for an upcoming project, and specifically setting them up to be virtual recording friendly and public domain so they can be recorded and shared without causing a copyright ruckus. I’ve got three done so far and am open to any requests (time permitting).

As always, please reach out if these are of any interest to you or anyone you know!

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