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In Which Ryan Has Been Doing Normal Things

October 2021 | 2:10


Koopa and Goomba can confirm that even while they grew up on the rough streets of Chicago, they were very interested in whatever I was holding at that particular moment.

What's Been Happening

The past month has seen even more benchmarks pass on the path to normalcy, be it travelling, working on music education projects, scheduling conferences, or simply managing to worry about something other than the seemingly imminent demise of human society. While it’s honestly more stressful to be sorting out the “how” of life compared to the “what” or “if” of the last couple years, there is at least some welcome efficacy to the effort.

Something I just realized as I scanned through my last several months of projects is that almost all of them are unable to be shared publicly as recordings due to copyright (read as, “they’re arrangements of other people’s music so I want to respect their control of their material”). Those projects have been really fun and if I figure out a fair way to share those I will, but I finally also have some original projects on my “official” schedule which is nice to see. Any day spent making music is a good one, but making weird sounds for the sake of making weird sounds definitely has a soft spot for me and I look forward to being able to share those soon.

Chart O' The Month

It's Too LateChicago Composers Big Band
00:00 / 04:46

This chart has actually been on my list to share for a while but I put it off simply because I didn’t want the baggage of the title given the last couple years. Now may not be the perfect time, but since I didn’t do the chart for any particular attachment to the title anyways it seemed like as good a time as any.

This was originally done for the debut performance of the Chicago Composers Big Band, which like many things was a fun project that trailed off during the pandemic. Because it was the first performance, we decided to all do arrangements of songs that were number one on the Billboard charts at some point, which was a surprisingly interesting list when we went to go check it out. By picking this tune I went fairly “off grid” relative to what other people were choosing and my own musical tastes, but I had recently seen the Carole King musical biopic “Beautiful” because my wife’s cousin was performing in the cast and this arrangement popped almost fully-realized into my head. This is weird for a few reasons; I’m not a huge musical theater person or a big fan of Carole King (although I did really enjoy the show), and in particular this song had always felt like a whiny brand of soft rock. That said, seeing it in the context of the musical made me connect with it a lot more and clicked something in my head that led to this version. It feels true to the original, but with enough of a twist and additional elements to be worthwhile, so it’s one of the few things I’ve ever done that went “according to plan” from concept to product and that alone makes it noteworthy.

As a final note, I was also reminded of this chart because “Beautiful” is starting up a national tour, and my wife and I got tickets since her cousin will once again be part of the cast. If you get a chance go see it, or if nothing else go support your local live music as safely as you can.

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

Look, Nature!

One of several trips I got to take with my wife this month was to Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia where we got some cool behind the scenes looks from one of my wife's connections. This particular tree was a destination spot on his tour and the picture is one of my favorites from a great day.

Education Notes

It’s been great to see groups performing and hear that people are getting to make music again! If I have a single piece of advice as I’ve been able to observe people getting back to work (including myself):

Keep making your mental health a priority.

It’s very easy to get back into old habits simply because of the comfort of familiarity. Don’t forget to listen to yourself and make adjustments to your schedule or expectations of yourself if you need to, preferably before it becomes a huge problem.

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