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An Article on Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes via Phi Mu Alpha on his upcoming premiere "Tribute to Sinfonia"




What goes around, comes around 

Back in the 48109, One of my composition teachers sat me down and opened up a great score. He saw what I was doing (which was terrible) and he showed me what this MAGNIFICENT composer had done. Few weeks later, I told one of my teachers about that score. He subsequently gave me that score. The composition was Beethoven 7th, the teacher in that lesson was Erik Santos and the buyer of the score was James Aikman.  23 years later, I gave that EXACT same lesson Santos gave me with score Aikman bought me to my orchestration class. Thank you Father for Santos, Aikman, and Beethoven being in my life! You all have been such a HUGE blessing in my life. Oh, and GOBLUE!

I Wonder Why I Love Music so much? 

I Wonder

I Wonder Why do I love Music so much?

I wonder

Is it because first and foremost, my father and his sister played the music of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Motown, Patrice Rushen, and many others over, over and over. 
Did my love for jazz come from hearing "Boy Genius" Ray Charles, Killer Joe (perf. by Quincy), and Oh Lonesome Me by Count Basie
Or is it because when I attended Birney Elementary School, in Detroit, MI, my music and art teacher Lawrence Cotter introduced me to a plethora of composers like Leroy Anderson, Mozart, and Beethoven?
Is it because I was inspired by the pen of Dick van dePitte and Paul Riser and power of the DSO?
Is it because Howard House taught me trumpet and euphonium at that same elementary school, supplemented by seeing Wynton Marsalis playing a piece about a carnival on that instrument?
Or is it because when I heard Daisy Gaines play organ at Christ Reformed Baptist Church, I wanted to play like her?

I wonder? I wonder...

Is it because in Concert Band I played Gustav Holst, Granger, Vaughn Williams.  Then you add Elgar, Sullivan, and Britten.  Does this give me a undying love of British Music and its composers?  
Is it because in opera, you learn about Verdi, Leoncavallo, and Puccini. Does this give us a undying love of Italian Music and its composers?  Does it not want to make you go to La Scala?
Is it because in all facets of music, you learn about Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky. Does this give us a undying love of Russian Music and its composers?  Does it not make you want to go to St. Petersburg?
Is it because in jazz, you learn about Armstrong, Bechet, and Marsalis. Does this give us a undying love of New Orleans Music and its composers?  Does it not make you want to go to Bourbon St?

I wonder, I really wonder...
This really has me deep in thought.

Is it because Mendelssohn make you want to know what was he dreaming that Midsummer Night? Or what was in Fingel's Cave?
Is it because I wanted to cower and not go after my dreams, but Bird and Diz said "Now's the Time?"
Is it because Spyra Gyra and Al Jarreau had me dancing in the morning?
Is it because it felts so good to ask Mister Magic about street life during Mardi Gras with Angela looking her Naima in a Taxi?
Is it because Sonny Rollins give me interest to travel to Nigeria while Weather Report told me about Birdland?
Is it because DouDou make me want to learn Djembe or breeze on 6 strings like George Benson?

I wonder, I really do wonder.

Is it because Ellington made me want to Take the A-Train or Basie having me jump when it's One O'Clock?
Is it because Dr. Hailstork reminded me, "I made my vow?"
Is it because Beethoven had me ask my mother, "Who was Elise?" or Smetena wanting me to take a boat down the Moldau?
Is it because I heard Rostropovich play Bach's Cello Suites so flowingly or Andre Watts tickling the ivories?
Is it because Marvin asked what was going on? and I answered, "My pain and headache follows me everywhere I do?"

I really have to ask these questions.

Is it because Mr. Morris told his dear love "You are the sunshine of my life"
Is it because I didn't go to Clarksville, I decided to take that late train to Georgia?
Is it because Benny Goodman had me ask "Where was the Savoy" or Duke Pearson and Eddie Jefferson had me ask "When was the last time I saw Jeannine?" 
Is it because I was busted and I wasted time at the Bay thinking about how funk of a drummer I could be?
Is it because I whispered in her ear, "You're my shining star, always and forever, please don't go way from me?" or is it because I took a soulful strut to Cafe Reggio?

I wonder this at times.

Is it because I love the fountains and pines of Rome or want to ride a faniculi?
Is it because no one must sleep until I find Daphnis and Chloe?

Is it because I find out why Joe was so killing or me trying to keep Freddie from Freeloading?
Is it because I'm running for no reason and I can't hide love from her, who shines like a sun goddess?
Is it because I don't believe He brought me this far giving me melodies from Heaven saying how wondrous is His Name?
Is it because I want to be the Chairman of the Board driving down Route 66 teaching the boy from New York City how to make money?
Is it because I'm on the hill, not just blueberry or sugar, relaxing electrically because my account is paper thin?
Or is it because I had an inner urge to play dominoes and celebrate being Black & proud?

The question is, "Why do I love Music so much?"
I Wonder, I wonder, 
I wonder

© MMXXI Chad E. Hughes

Virtual Performance Video: How Long does it take? 

Many people have asked how long does it take from from "start to finish" to make a virtual performance video. I have to give you an almost full-unabridged explanation so you can understand what needs to be done.  It's not to scare you, but this is not a one-stop shop or an overnight feat!  If someone asks you for one overnight, please allow them to read this.   This is my response to a letter someone asking me," How long does it take?"

1.) Pre-Production: I had to make the click track. This was done by arranging the music of both Lift Every Voice and Sing and Star Spangled Banner.     The average arrangement may take  8 - 10 hours.  Even with my Synesthesia (I see color as I hear the music, which tells me the chord structure of the music as soon as I hear it.)  Some may say it is absolute pitch, but I don't hear it "stacked," I see the overall sound structure.  So as far these arrangements and because the chords are already in my head, the songs took me 4 hours.  It's not just about placing notes, it's about voicings and setting the music to perfectly fit your ensemble. With me having a smaller ensemble, voicing can be complicated.
Total Hours Pre-Production: 4 hours

2.) Editing & Mixing.  This is where a bulk of my time is done.  One could have crappy video, but EVERY expects great audio quality.  What Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) do you have: ProTools or Logic?  With your size band, GarageBand isn't going to cut it. 
So to begin, you can't just take everyone's audio and just drop it.   You'll have to align everyone's audio after you set up your template in your DAW.   That comes to about a minute per track.  Imagine if you were to have sixty people in your group!  Some students had stereo tracks, some had mono.  You'll have to decide how you'll want to do that.  

Some sent 24:44 resolution, some sent 24:48, some 16:44. That's technical jargon on how the music was recorded and how the computer will read it. It's kind of like old VHS recorders at SLP, LP, and EP.  I even had a kid send an 8-bit recording which is the resolution of the first Nintendo Entertainment System.  Translation: All files need to be the same resolution, or you can't play or edit them all together.  If you are curious on what those numbers mean, here's a good link for that:  I strongly recommend recording at 24:48.

You have to give time for the computer to convert all of those files to the same resolution. Some of the students sent files that didn't work so I had to wait on them to resend the audio. You also have to factor in time if the students don't know how to send separate audio and video files.  MOST don't know how.  Even fellow teachers don't know how.  That can be about an hour for every thirty people. This is just PREPARATION to edit.

With all of that, now you must make it sound like a band. With thirty tracks, I had my time cut out for me.  

Lower instruments take up more sonic room.  What does that mean?  
Picture the offensive linemen of your favorite football team. Now imagine them sitting on a bus.  They aren't sitting two in a seat. If they do, it's uncomfortable for them. So with bass frequencies, you must let them breathe. Your bass guitar, string bass, tuba, bass drum, sometimes your trombones/euphoniums, violoncellos, and low range of piano are all fighting to get through the same door.  When mixing, the engineer is trying to find a place to sit for all those low frequencies comfortably.  This is a task. Do you want more tuba or more bass drum?  There's not a right or wrong answer; however, it's a constant fight in your mix especially given the range of the tuba and bass guitar.  You may have to automate who comes out more. This itself is a 1-3 hour process by itself sometimes.  In gospel music, R&B, and house (where bass is more expected), it will definitely take more than an hour.

Now that we have the low-end done, I'm trying to make the rest of the band sound good.  You have to align eighth notes/sixteenth notes which can be tedious.
Prayerfully, everyone plays the right articulation.   I haven't even talked about intonation.  We haven't been in the band rooms so it's hard to expect them to remember pitch tendencies. Decent tuning programs cost about $349 but you really need the mid-level option:

I'll end it there on this section.  I could type more about editing and mixing, but I think this gives you the general idea.  Just with editing along is a 20-40 curve with a 5-10 curve for mixing per song. 

Total Editing and Mixing Time: 26 hours

3.) Video Editing.
You would think this is self-explanatory; however, it's further from the truth. The bigger the band, the more you will have to edit. I only had seven people complete videos; this saved me a bunch of time.  That still doesn't make the work easier; it's laborious no matter what.

Everyone didn't shoot at 1080p; some shot at 720; some filmed at God-only-knows!  Just to make sure we're clear, the resolution is basically how many lines are captured on the camera and how it is viewed on the screen.  HD video (720 and higher) is about twice the resolution as SD (standard definition, what we grew up watching.)  That's why old TV shows can't quite fit on Flatscreen TVs when watching it nowadays.  Therefore, some people's video you will have to stretch/alter the video so it can fit the full view of the screen.  Now you will have a streamlined video.  Lord help us if someone filmed Portrait instead of Landscape. Now we will have to wait for them to refilm it.

Now you must line up the videos, do transitions, and tell a story.  Oh, don't forget to add your title cards, and everything.  All this for a 2:30" video.  For your band since it's bigger than my ensemble, you will need almost three times the amount of time I did for a cinematic feel.   You could "cascade" the separate videos, but that's a hassle depending on how much power you have and those videos are the least enjoyable.  That really should be used for effects.  That's why when we watch professional films and television, they switch camera angles.  Don't believe me? Watch a show and see how often they change the camera angle per minute.  You'll be surprised.

What type of computer do you have?  I have to warn people who desire to do video editing.  Everyone who has a Mac has iMovie.  Problem is, HD video requires a lot of power and memory.  Most people don't have sufficient memory and graphic cards to push multilayers of video. If you don't, the computer will sputter and drop frames.  What I have found is that school-issued computers can barely handle two layers of videos let alone four! So when you have, or shall I say, when you see a video that has six people playing side by side, you need a computer to handle six separate million-color graphic videos at the same time. Go back to our football analogies.   Try placing four offensive lineman in a Honda Civic and you're trying to race.  Not going to happen.   Ever wonder why your phone gets hot while playing certain games or watching movies?  Same reason.  

Oh, you can't do 4 layers in iMovie.  You have to buy Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.  They have two TOTALLY different workflows.  You'll computer will have to also render cuts and the more transitions you have, the more power you'll need.

I had to buy two 16 gig RAM chips so I can run my iMac at Optimum capacity.  My iMac is a 2011.  I really need at least a 2013.  Even at 32Gigs of RAM, it still stutters. Oh, that was additional $320 for my computer. All this for a 2:30" video.

Total Hours: 10 hours

4.) Mastering
I won't get too much into this, but you need to do it. It makes your music wider.  I did a "Cheap" master since I was stuck on time.  No matter what, you need to do it to make sure your music is line-level and reaches the widest and fullest bandwidth.

Total Hours: hours

Grand Total Time for 2:30 video: 41 hours.

Perhaps I was loquacious; however, I had to tell you everything so you wouldn't get caught off-guard.  Remember, I do this for my church and the process is much longer for all of the aforementioned.  Why?  I'm dealing with about 10 vocalists and a six-piece rhythm section.  A Six-piece rhythm section is about 14 tracks (8 for drums, 2 for piano, and everything else is mono.)

 Oh, before I go, I really implore you to have a dedicated workstation for your audio and video.  If I remember correctly, your computer was short on RAM.  The Macbooks from the last seven years can't get upgraded.  The RAM is soldered on the motherboard.  You'll need to purchase a new computer.  The new Macbooks you will need will cost about $5200.  This includes all the cables, adapters, and all the memory (128G) you will need.   You won't be able to do all of that on a Chromebook or iPad.

I ALMOST forgot! How big is your hard-drive?  You will need a separate hard drive to handle all those videos. Why?  If everyone shoots at 1080p (Full HD), that will be about 330MB for a 2:30 min video, or roughly a Gig for 3 videos.  You have 60 people? That's 20 Gigs. That's five DVDs of information. All of that memory for a 2:30" video.  

So, if you do a concert of 8 songs (and the average concert band compositions/movements are 3 minutes long) it could be anywhere from 200 to 400 Gigs of information.  Most computers only come with a 500G hard drive. Now imagine if you do a year's worth of concerts? That's six computers' worth of information.

Love you Frat! Hope that helps. We also haven't talked about microphones and audio interfaces. All this for a 2:30" video.

Musically Yours,
Dr. Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes

Ellis Marsalis -In Memoriam 

This album changed my life. 

This album made me shed the C Blues. It made me think about different ensembles for jazz. I was first introduced to "The Patriarch" on this album, Joe Cool Blues, which I bought because Khalil Jackson and Benjamin Pruitt told me to buy it.
I shedded his solos, trying to swing like him. It was the first time I heard Delfeayo Marsalis on Trombone. I learned that it was possible to switch to from Latin to Swing (if I you wondered where I got it from...although he did in parts where I tend to do it in form). It was then when I said, maybe I can learn how to play jazz on piano. I learned from listening the ever-important left voicing of Eb-A-D for a F7 chord. AdditionallyI wanted to swing like Martin Butler and Herlin Riley on drums. The pocket is killing. It when reinforced what I learned from Buster Marbury. Still, it led me to listening to uber-amounts of Ellis Marsalis. About 13 years ago, I finally got to tell him how much I appreciated him and how he influenced me both in jazz and classical composition. He smiled. I am thankful to Lord God that I got the opportunity to do so. RIP to the Patriarch, Ellis Marsalis. 

PhD/EdD/DMA: which to get and how it goes 

Many people have asked about which terminal degree to get; they want to teach music in college, and asked about funding.  Here are some FAQs that I hope to answer for anyone who is interested.  Hope this helps!

Musically Yours,
Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes, PhD.

Should I get a PhD or EdD (for those in Education)?

At the end of the day, they are both terminal degrees.  You aren’t going to get $20,000 more if you get a PhD over the EdD.

So what is the difference?

The difference is the coursework you take.  In general, you will have more applicable pedagogical classes in the EdD than the PhD.  You will have way more, research, theoretical and philosophical in your PhD study, hence it being a Doctor of Philosophy.  In most cases, PhD also has a foreign language requirement.

Let’s look at two programs so you can see the difference.

Here’s a PhD and EdD program at Kansas State University

As you see, there are more PSYCH classes in the PhD course.  There are, of course, class overlap.  So which one to get?  Your decision.

So which one do I get if I want to be a superintendent?

Once again, I have yet to see a job listing that said PhD only.  Just get ONE of them. One could argue the PhD is more “prestigious.”  That’s just like saying UCBerk is more prestigious than San Jose State. Maybe it is.  Maybe Harvard is more prestigious than said State University.  At the end of the day, did you graduate? Did you get the terminal degree?   Make sure your vita/resume impeccable, completed degree, and be ready with your printed vision in this interview so you can get your dream job. 

So I want to be a band director in college?

So the underlying rule to get a college job is a least a Masters including 18 graduate credits in the subject area.  Translation = you have a Masters in Education as long as somehow you have 18 graduate hours in music.  This actually goes for ALL disciplines.  Events like Midwest Music Conference one can earn two credits. You can earn grad credits by even taking lessons. As long as that course number is 500 (some schools use 5000) and above, it’s a GRAD class.  Most places though still want the terminal degree in subject area.

But (enter name here) doesn’t have a master in music and he’s teaching college?

There are exceptions but exceptions are few and far between (and I do mean FEW).

More than likely, that person is considered staff and not FACULTY.  Plus, don’t try to get in through the back; get your credentials and you can keep you head up high. Also, said person, I promise you a) won’t get a job as a DOB and b) couldn’t get a job anywhere else and even c) is probably getting paid pennies because of lack of credentials.

But I have PhD in Higher Ed?

You still need 18 credits

But I have twenty years experience teaching band?

You still need 18 credits

But …..?

Aren’t you a teacher? Stop complaining and get your 18 credits

Okay, that makes sense.  What about scholarships so I can get this PhD/DMA/EdD in music

If you go full time, there are plenty of assistantships/fellowships for this.

Fulltime? I want to; however, I need to keep my job.

 Boston University and Teachers College at Columbia University are the ONLY online doctorate programs in Music. BOTH in Music Education.  BU is a DMA in Music Education:

Columbia University is a EdD in Music Education

It is true Kansas State and Auburn University have PhD Music Ed programs; HOWVER, only parts of them are online.  It is NOT a fully online program.  They require a residency there.  Also, as a K-State alum, I can tell you the Music Ed PhD program there is through the College of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. It lies HEAVY on the non-music side. Excellent teachers, just heavy non-music. (Fred Burrack is one of the best teachers on the planet)

I don’t want it in Education.  I want it in conducting, composition, or performance.

You are going to have to go full-time.

I can’t go full-time.  I have a job, mortgage, car note….

I understand; however, these specialty programs aren’t made to cater to you.  If you want it in conducting, composition, or performance, you are going to have to go full-time if you want funding.  That’s the sacrifice of getting in to those programs.  And even if you can pay for it yourself, most places want you in residency at least for a year.  Therefore, you may be able to take a sabbatical to accomplish this dream.

Residency? Why do I have to go full-time?

Because they are specialty degrees, they don’t offer them “after-hours” like your education programs.  Therefore, there is no practical way for you to get the degree while working.  How are you going to get to theory at 11:00am and you have band at the same time? Music History at 1pm, applied at 3? And you’re a marching band director! Not going to happen!

So then you might ask why don’t they offer them after hours?  Because school is from 8-5. J  A lot of those programs are thought by adjuncts who are making extra money.   Not so much in music.  Final note: it is really hard to fulfill this degree in seven years part-time.  That’s the timeline for a doctorate. (your clock starts as soon as you start your first class as an accepted-enrolled student)



I really want this conducting degree.  This is crazy.

Welcome to adulthood, again!

So...what is this DMA?
The Doctorate of Musical Arts (A.MusD or D.M.A/some schools have DM) is a terminal degree that typical is awarded in performance areas i.e. Composition, music performance, and conducting.  They might not have as much stringent research as PhD but encompass a huge amount of work in said areas.  If there is a research side, it isn't typically as arduous as the PhD (but still difficult).  For example, you may have to do a 40 page monograph/dissertation along side three huge conducting/performance recitals.

My masters degree in music.  It's just easier if I get a PhD degree in Education. Can I still be a band director on the college level.

The short answer is "yes."  It is usually preferred that the terminal degree is in said discipline; however, you still have the "credential" to teach on the college level.   Just know that you'll be competing with people with Music Ed or Conducting doctorates who probably have some FIRE conducting tapes.

So why did you get yours in Music?

A degree is to help you grow.  I wanted to grow musically.  The time I spent in master's and doctorate program, I practiced and wrote more music than anytime I was working.  Those four years were some of the best in my life musically.  I wouldn't have had that experience being in an Education Leadership program.  It's not my M.O.  I promise you in an Ed Leadership program, you're not going to be talking about Maurice Ravel.  Because I was in composition and conducting, I learned the Ring Cycle, Beethoven symphonies (3,4,5,7,8,9), Dvorak 8 and 9, Daphnis and Chloe, Mother Goose, Danzon No. 2 and countless others as a CONDUCTOR.  This wasn't going to happen otherwise.
It was the first time in my life I could really focus on orchestra. Specifically as a composer, I wrote more (classical pieces) in school than NOT in school.

So let's say I do go ahead and quit my job and get this DMA in conducting.  Why do I have to go two
hours away to get to school?  Why doesn't "enter any school here" have the doctorate program in music?
In order for a university to offer a DMA/PhD, you have to have a large constituency that needs it. This is usually already served by the flagship or designated schools of the state. In order to have said program, the university 
  1. has to offer a Masters program in music 
  2. provide research funding for students and faculty
  3. provide assistantship funding and/or fellowships
  4. have a fully-supported staff, faculty, and ensembles.
Also, most states have rules that say you can't have certain programs next to an adjacent school. OR like I said earlier, certain schools have designations.  UNC-Chapel Hill is the flagship school of North Carolina but it doesn't even offer a PhD/DMA in Music.  That designation belongs to UNCG!  Same with UT-Knoxville.  They don't even have PhD music programs. The TN designation belongs to the University of Memphis.

Now coincidently, some these programs are not fully comprehensive, meaning they don't offer everything. Once again, Auburn's doctorate program is Music Education only.  They don't offer Performance.   T-Town Alabama is the state-designated comprehensive music program.  You can't even major in music at Texas A&M University; you can at UT-Austin.  Some states don't even have doctorate programs in music.   

So that goes back to why you generally have to go full-time to said music program.  If you live in Wilmington, NC, you have to drive three hours to get to Greensboro.   

You gave me a lot to think about!
You're so welcome! Just trying to help!  Now to play angels advocate, if you're trying to be a principal/music supervisor, get it in Education or apply to the online programs at Columbia/Boston.  You can keep your job while you get those letters!

How to Write a Composition/Story Full 

How to write a composition or story

Many people have asked me, "How do you write a story?" or "How do you write a piece of music?"

To answer the question directly, one must storyboard.

Traditionally, storyboard is defined as a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a movie or television production.
In literature, you write out your main points or events.   In music, you may write out what melodic ideas you may have.

Typically in literature, you have three main events (like in music's sonata form, we have three events also): introduction, conflict, and resolution (exposition, development, recapitulation in sonata.)

Now here's the catch: you can write any part at anytime.

You may have at first, the resolution.  Let's say your resolution is "he's reunited with his father."  THAT'S OKAY.  Now that the time to write the rest of the book.
You may have the conflict first.  It could be "Johnny finds out his mom is not his mom."  So now, you have to write the introduction and how is this going be resolved.
Finally, you may have a beginning such "a cellist who wants to over his stage fright." Okay, now come up with the conflict and the resolution.

You can write any part you want first.   If you are unsure of how to connect the two, have people who are readers help you sort it all out.  I was lucky.  I had LaKindra Parker, Althea Hughes Willis, and Earl Brooks making sure I connected the dots.

The same goes in symphonic music.  You must have all three in sonata form.  It's funny how the correlation with art, music, and literature go hand and hand!

Whatever you do, just make sure you put it all together in the end!

When writing your story, one thing to perhaps keep in mind is how long will your story be.  I was CONVINCED when I first wrote my upcoming book that it was going to be a novelette.

Novelette?  Okay, let me explain.

In the whole fiction genre, there are generally four categories as it regards to length.   The Science Fiction Writers of America uses these measurements as their standards:

  • Short fiction: under 7,500 words
  • Novelette: 7,500-17,500 words
  • Novella: 17,500-40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words and up

I wanted to write a smaller story in length (novelette) to tell my story.  Now if I were not self-publishing, this would pose a serious problem.  Why?

Most publishers stay away from the short stories and novelettes because of cost.  Too small to print and too small to make money.  Therefore, if you have a collection of short stories or novelette, it makes it more attractive to the publisher.  Since this is my first book, I don't qualify for that!

What about e-publishing?
There is a market for this, a great market actually; however, the upper-echelon awards require hard copies.  Depends on what you want out of it.   If think your book is Pulitzer-worthy, then get it printed. If not, Kindle it is!

So What did I choose?
Because of my word length, my upcoming project would be classified as a novella.  Contrary to popular belief, there has been MANY of novellas that have been erroneously labeled as novels:

·  "The Body" (Stand By Me, 1986) by Stephen King

·  "Rita Hayworth & "The Shawshank Redemption" (The Shawshank Redemption, 1994) by Stephen King

·  "Apt Pupil" by Stephen King

·  "A River Runs Through It" by Thomas Maclean

·  "The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov

·  "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote

·  "Heart of Darkness" (Apocalypse Now, 1976) by Joseph Conrad

·  "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

·  "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941) by Robert Louis Stevenson,

·  "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells ·   "Call of the Wild"  by Jack London 
 ·   "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
·   "Animal Farm" by George Orwell

Mind you , I didn't say "I want to write 30,000 words."  What I did say was that I wanted to make sure I clearly defined the plots and subplots in my story and I knew it would probably take that amount of words.

As in music, a lot of people miss out on a major thing: character development.   It's important that your protagonist and antagonist have development which captivates the readers.   In almost every great piece of music, literature, and film, these are developed.  (I can only think of one movie where the antagonist wasn't developed and that was Dark Knight.  The Joker's character wasn't really developed if you really think about it.  He was just villainously raw.  However, he gets a pass because a) the Joker is as old as our grandparents and most people already knew what to expect  b) because of Heath Ledger's passing, we came to understand that he was going to return in the third movie which was going to answer if this Joker was Jack Napier, Jack White, Joseph Kerr or neither.  So unless you've writing a character that we've known for eighty years, get to developing!)

In my case, at first, I did not develop one of my characters enough.  My beloved sister Althea (who is a better writer than I and one of the most talented in the family) told me I needed to give this character an out.  If I didn't, this character would be too vile.  Something as small as one sentence gave a hint into the character.

Enter Earl Brooks. 
Earl was like a professor the whole time in my process asking me questions with a stern literary critique.  Although he did not ghost write, his questions provoked a lot of thought which were invaluable to my authorship.  He made sure I understood the ramifications of using certain colloquialisms.  Because of this, Earl made me see what my target audience was.  Another key point we had major discourse on was how deep we needed to go in character development.  Back to Althea's point, I went back and devoted a whole chapter to that character which answered everything Earl asked.  This is what happens when you get a bibliophile English PhD student to critique!

Why do I share all this?
The reason is to show that everyone needs help.  When you write, you don't have to show the whole world.  Just get a selected group of people just make sure you dotted "I's" and crossed your "T's".   Don't surround yourself with yesmen.  Surround yourself with people who can amplify your goals.

The Passes
Really, this should be called,"Don't have an ego"

I'm an emotional artist.  I put some much into every note I compose, every phrase I arrange, and every word I write.  Therefore, I become attached to everything.

With that being said, GET AN EDITOR.  Better yet, get an editor THAT WILL
1) Tell you the truth
2) Change words around i.e. reword a phrase THAT BETTER suits the audience
3) has an eagle eye!

Pass is everytime the editor goes through it.  You'll need MANY passes.  AT LEAST FIVE!
That's right, FIVE.    I've lost count.  I've had to add backstory (Thank you, Althea - Shonell) and more backstory (Thank you, Earl) and even MORE back story (Thank you, Dr. Amber V!)

I prayed for my editor.  She was in my lap the whole time, my cousin Jasmine. She uses so much red ink we have to go to three different stores to keep it in stock.  But guess what? She's GREAT at what she does.

Truth be told, I had people look it before Jasmine.  Kanika, LaKindra, Earl, Shiron, and MANY others.  DO THE SAME!! (If the Avengers, which earned a BILLION dollars [and they thought it would have made $500,000,000] can go through a rewrite, your manuscript can do the same!)
Then guess what!?!?! SHE TOLD ME TO GET AN EDITOR!!!

So I found Shonell to do the final edits.  Boy, she put me through the ringer.  And it was WORTH IT!!  She's amazing.  I call her a Lexicologist.

Take your time. WOO-SAH and don't Let anyone tell you that you can't write a book!


It's been over a year since I've posted.  Dissertation is almost done! THANK THE LORD!!!!!!!!!

Marcus Belgrave 

I've been trying to hold back from saying something but I can't. I've been fighting tears. Marcus Belgrave was so meaningful in my life. One day he gave me and Omar Lateef the biggest whooping ever on the blues at Cass, it lasted with me my whole life. I have many more stories to share. I'll share this other one. He came over to my house and recorded two songs for me with Damon Warmack. He was always helping me out. It's hard for me to listen to this now without being sad. I'll miss you forever Mr. Belgrave.

Michael Jackson: The Quincy Years 

Michael Jackson: The Quincy Years
My brother Brad asked me,"What was MJ's best album?" This is a hard question and almost impossible to answer. My cousin Teshenia says I need to answer things better; however, this is still a trick question. WHY? All three Q-produced albums invoke a special flavor in musical history and importance. So here's my break down:

Off the Wall
This is MJ's most SOULFUL album. Powered by Louis Johnson (bassist, and of the Brothers Johnson), John Robinson on Drums (from Chaka Khan and Rufus), Greg Phillinganes (MJ's Musical Director, Stevie Wonder, Toto, Amp's Cousin, and a DETROITER!!!), Larry Carlton, Marlo Henderson, and David Williams on guitars, Paulinho Da Costa on Percussion, that money making horn section of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, William Reichenbach, Larry Williams, and Kim Hutchcroft, and many others, THIS ALBUMS HAS FLAVOR!!!!!!!!!!!

Why it Could be called the GREATEST: Don't Stop, Working, Rock with You, Off the This songs will inspire anybody to write music and PRACTICE. Try solo in B major on "Don't Stop." Heck, arrange Off the Wall..Eb minor! SMh..too much funk!

One MAJOR note about this album. It is the only one out of the three to have Strings and Full Horn Section on a song. This orchestral sound is not found on Bad or Thriller.

Why it can't be call the GREATEST: two reasons, "It's the Falling in Love" and "Burn this Disco Out." If that wasn't enough, even Michael said he needed to make an album that would be talked about after he was disappointed at the American Music Awards

OK OK OK!!!! It's hard to talk about arguably the greatest album ever produced. But does this make it his BEST album? More Keyboard effects here via Greg Phillinganes and David Paich to give it the new defined "pop" sound instead of "soul." Let's get to the point. The only flaw, and I mean, THE ONLY flaw with this album (from an instrumentalist point of view) is that it makes you want to produce on a higher level. This album doesn't send you to the practice room. It makes you want to get an SM57 mic for your snare drum and a NEVE console to record on, but doesn't make you practice your horn. However, it does make you think about when you make an album, is it sonically flawless? Best PRODUCED album EVER!

Why it Could be called the GREATEST: best produced album ever. 

Why it can't be call the GREATEST: .....well...........just nitpicking, but doesn't make me practice (only diehard instrumentalists will get a kick out of that point!). 

Here's the deal with Bad. You get deeper in MJ's mind. With him writing more songs on this one, you get to hear his creativity. Creativity that was stirring in his mind for years that he couldn't unless at Motown. yeah, he was young at motown, but that doesn't mean he didn't have idea's. The Jackson Five had no artistic control, the Jacksons had a lil more, but on BAD, MJ had total control whereas Q made sure it was tight!

Why it Could be called the GREATEST: MJ's most creative. Some might argue, Dangerous, but....nope. Seven No. 1's!?!? This album also changed the game with subsequent video releases. AWESOME!!!

Why it can't be call the GREATEST: Musically not as invigorating as "Off the Wall." More entertaining (and some darn good videos, even though, "Leave Me Alone" was a lil' esoteric.)

So that is my take! I just thought I'd write some mind-stirring stuff!

Most Musical

 Best produced MJ album
His most self-artistic, strategically-planned album Let's Dialogue!!!

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