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I'd like to record and release my debut album: a specially conceived package featuring my recent works for instrumental ensembles.
I'd like to record and release my debut album: a specially conceived package featuring my recent works for instrumental ensembles.
177 backers pledged $7,650 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Studies in Light and Sound: An Album of New Chamber Music project video thumbnail
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$7,650

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Update! Natasha has been doing some spectacular things with silk, custom dyes, and fancy dyeing techniques for the album's artwork. We're also talking about integrating the look of the art with that of the vinyl itself to take this collaboration to a new level! You can read more details (and see some more action shots) here

Fancy fabrics!
Fancy fabrics!

The Goal.

Over the last several years I've written a number of instrumental compositions that reflect my interest in the little mysteries of the world around us. With your help, this Kickstarter will fund studio recordings of several of these sonic and spatial explorations and allow me to share them with you in an elegant package.

Tell me more of these...explorations.

The album will present new studio recordings of three recent compositions. Meet the lineup:

First, we have Jim, Jimi, and James.

J, J, and J was my doctoral dissertation and it was written specifically for the recording studio. Based on the work of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and James Jamerson, it's scored for a large sinfonietta ensemble and presents my own take on their musical ideas. The score was written with a particular approach to stereo in mind, one that needs a studio and doesn't quite come through on this otherwise excellent (mostly) live recording. Conducting the piece will be the talented Brett A. Richardson.

Second on the A-side will be He guards the vision of the sunset sky, a kind of synesthetic take on a particularly surreal sunset for solo alto saxophone and string quintet. Saxophonist extraordinaire Heidi Siberz will be leading the way through this one.

The B-side will be devoted to my string quartet, A Study of Luminous Objects.

Each of the four movements concerns itself with a different type of shiny thing: a flame, fireworks, stars, and fireflies. The third movement is also one of my first pieces to explicitly draw on my background as an astrophysicist by incorporating data on the solar atmosphere. It will be recorded by the incredibly awesome Tesla Quartet, one of whose violinists, Michelle Lie, commissioned the piece.

To tie it all together, the album will feature new artwork by Natasha Heines, who is doing wonderful things while working on her MFA in textiles.

New: meet a few more of the performers by checking out the links in the second official update here!

Why new recordings?

Although all of these pieces have been recorded live for archival purposes, I'm asking for your help to make new recordings in a studio setting. The musicians on the previous recordings produced fantastic performances, but live recordings will always contain a few imperfections - background noise and balance issues, just to name a couple - that can be better controlled with multiple takes, editing, and mastering. I want to make sure that these tracks sound as good as possible.

Vinyl, you say?

Indeed I do. As a medium, vinyl is ideally suited for this project: in addition to sounding great, the experience of studying the album art, watching the record spin (which will be particularly exciting since I plan to have it pressed on colored vinyl), and physically interacting with it to access each side helps enhance the immersive experience I'd like to create.

A few possibilities to whet your appetite
A few possibilities to whet your appetite

This album also makes formal sense as a record. The music I've chosen to record splits perfectly into two sides, thus leading to a well-rounded overall listening experience. The goal isn't simply to make an album of my music so more people can hear it: it's to make a good album that people will enjoy spending time with visually, aurally, and imaginatively.

Of course, I know that not everyone has a turntable, which is why I plan on making the album available for digital download. Ultimately, I'm interested in providing the best introduction to my music that I can, and I want to make sure that everyone can enjoy it.

The Monies.

Because of the number of people required to make this happen, the budget is perhaps a bit larger than your typical debut release. But this is also a good thing: it's very important to me that everyone involved in the project be compensated fairly. Making new music is a tremendous labor of love, and the artists responsible for making this happen will be drawing on their decades of study, not to mention the hours they'll spend in the practice room and recording studio. So with that in mind, here are the details:

Artist fees: $4000 (that's for 29 instrumentalists, a conductor, and an artist)

Recording/Editing/Mastering: $1500

Record Pressing/Sleeve Printing: $2000

These are the big expenses that simply can't be handled without your support. If the Universe is particularly generous to this project, we'll be able to luxuriate in things like more studio time, higher quality vinyl, and cooler packaging, though I'm confident that with this budget we'll have no problem with producing a product we can be proud of.

Risks and challenges

The good news: all the music has been written and is performance-tested. This means there shouldn't be any problems getting things rehearsed and ready to record on the proposed time scale. And since it's all my original work, there are no legal issues to consider.

However, an exceptionally large number of musicians are required to make this happen. While some players have already been booked and many others have expressed interest, there's always the chance that last minute conflicts and missing personnel could delay recording. Likewise, delays are possible with the production of the records, editing, and other stages of the pipeline.

Overall, this is a pretty secure endeavor. An advantage of basing this project in Bloomington, IN is the fact that we have a tremendously talented and deep pool of highly qualified musicians to draw from. Finding top-notch musicians to help out, even at the zeroth hour, is rarely a problem in this town.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    High-quality digital sound file of "Jim, Jimi, and James" plus a special mini digital pack of notes, pictures, and the like relevant to the piece.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    High-quality digital sound files of the entire album plus a full digital pack containing notes and pictures for all of the pieces. Also, your name will be included in the digital pack as a supporter of the project.

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    49 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    The record itself! A special edition, no less, pressed on colored vinyl! Also includes full album download and the full digital pack with mention of your support.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Bonus track! You'll receive a recording of the never-before-heard solo piano work "Hogwarts Sketch Nº 2: The Forbidden Forest" - an exclusive release that will be made available as a download. Also includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, and special edition record.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Follow along with a score and parts! Either the string quartet or "He guards the vision of the sunset sky" - choose one and I'll send a bound copy of the score and complete set of parts. Also includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, and bonus track.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Just like the $75 level, but with the score and parts for "Jim, Jimi, and James" instead. It's...bigger. OR, get PDFs (but not physical copies) of all three scores. Your choice! (Also still includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, and bonus track.)

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Since pressing a record is a pretty groovy process, I'll have a few test presses to ensure the whole thing turns out properly spiraled. One of these special parts of the process can be yours! Also includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, bonus track, and PDFs (but not physical copies) of all three scores.

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    Reward no longer available 5 backers
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Your name in print! Since at this level you're legitimately keeping a musician from starving, receive printed acknowledgement of your support on the album jacket itself. Also includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, bonus track, and PDFs (but not physical copies) of all three scores.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    For the serious enthusiast, consider getting your hands on an acetate dub plate - made directly from the master before the records are pressed, this is the ultimate quality control measure. Also includes full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, bonus track, PDFs (but not physical copies) of all three scores, and printed acknowledgment on the album jacket.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Commission a new piece of music! While all of these rewards come with my undying gratitude, this will let me express it through sounds made to order. Whether you desire a 4-minute symphony, fifteen 30-second miniatures for solo sarrusophone, or anything in between, here's your chance to make it real. Specific arrangements will obviously require some discussion, but in the meantime, as soon as it's available, you'll also receive the full album download, full digital pack with mention of your support, special edition record, bonus track, PDFs (but not physical copies) of all three scores, and printed acknowledgment on the album jacket.

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Funding period

- (30 days)