JAN. 2013 NewsLetter

January 2013 Newsletter | Music Composition Lessons in New York City

 Happy New Year

I would like to begin by wishing you a very happy and successful 2013. This is always one of my favorite times of the year. Out with the old. Time for setting new goals. I am determined to make 2013 a musical success, and I hope you are too !

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: I want to share with you one of the most inspiring films I have seen in a long time. It is called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. While the film is not about music composition per say, there is no better metaphor on how to approach your craft than this film. The film is nicely constructed, but it is the story of Jiro that really blew me away. Jiro is a self made sushi chef in Tokyo. He runs a little restaurant  that holds between 10-15 people. There are most likely thousands of these restaurants in Tokyo. But, eating at Jiro’s is one of the most difficult reservations to get in the world. Bookings are required months (even years) in advance. You are only allowed to stay for 20 minutes. Jiro has been awarded 3 Michelin hats which is the highest honor bestowed upon any chef. How did he do it ? He practiced a distinction called “Kaizen” which means the relentless pursuit of perfection. It is the pursuit that is important, not the attachment or attainment of perfection. It is the love of the pursuit that makes the difference. When one is stuck on perfection often times we struggle to get started, or get frustrated at all the phases of imperfection a composition must go through. Also this mindset is one of life long learning. One can always find a way to improve.

Congratulations to Sumi Toonoka: I am so lucky to work with such inspiring students. In September Sumi contacted me for orchestration lessons as she was applying for the American Composers Orchestra/ Jazz Composers Workshop. Sumi is an amazing Jazz pianist. (sumitonooka.com)

The workshop is highly competitive. All participants must demonstrate a mastery of their craft, and orchestration skills, which Sumi certainly has done. She was one of the composers selected to write a new 8 minute composition for the ACO. This is an exciting new direction for Sumi to step into the orchestral composition world. Let’s all wish her luck as she begins preparation for the June reading/recording session.

The Big Arch: There are a few topics that come up over and over again for almost everyone. One of them is how to connect the micro (motives) with the macro (form)

I can tell you one piece of advice that has helped me with my own compositions is this: Think about the big arch.  Here is what I mean. If I were to sit down in a car and begin to drive what is the first question that would pop into your head? Where am I going ? No …. this is not really the most important question now is it ? The most important question is what is my final destination. Where do I need to end. Where you are going (north, south, east, west, turn right , turn left) will be determined by your final destination. But do we compose like this ? Often times not. Rather we leave the end as the last step in our journey. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards. This creates a learning gap. The mind does not like gaps in knowledge and will seek to finds ways to fill these gaps. A “void” however is too ambiguous and no urgency for a resolution is created. In fact we often shut down. Knowing where you will end keeps the ambiguity from being a void, and creating a gap/

Try this:  Write an opening 8 bars of a composition. Now stop. You hear me?… stop.   Write the last 4 bars of your composition. Get the beginning and the end solid. (I personally feel this is easier to do with pencil and paper.) All too often the computer can get us thinking about our compositions in a linear fashion from the very outset and we remain stuck in this pattern. If composing at the computer is your most comfortable method of writing then I suggest you create a scrap file (or a few) that you use to simply jot down ideas that will be expanded upon and developed at a later time.

New Composition

Over the past 3 months I have been updating my commercial music showreel for 2013. I would like to share with you one of my compositions from this reel.


Cutting Edge Concerts

I am finishing up the final touches on a new composition for new music renegades Loadbang ensemble.  I am trilled to be one of the composers selected for this years Cutting Edge Concert Series here in NYC. The roster is a stellar cast of some of the finest composers in the Northeast. All the information regarding this concert can be seen here: welltonenewmusic


Wishing us all a wonderfully musical 2013

Doug Gibson

Interested in music composition lessons in New York City, or online worldwide?

Contact Douglas Gibson


Posted on January 2, 2013 in Music Composition

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About the Author

An award-winning composer, accomplished musician and sonic storyteller, Douglas Gibson resides in New York City, where he composes and gives music composition lessons locally and online worldwide.
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