Jess Hendricks Composer • Performer • Developer

The latest version of my web presence is now up and running, but like my composition projects no work is ever truly done. The biggest addition is adding a way to purchase scores straight from the site either as bound scores (with or without parts) or PDFs available for download. I already see a lot of tweaks that will be necessary for my Shop, but at least I have something working now. 

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In the course of creating my own website, I have looked at several websites for composers at all levels and points in their career. The importance of a good web presence for a composer cannot be understated. It will often be the first and main portal to a composer for performers or potential listeners.

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As much fun as my Rails/React site was, I realized that I need my web presence to be easier to maintain. So I broke out my work skills and made myself a Wordpress version.

All of my Soundcloud, iTunes, and Spotify recordings can be accessed from here. I will also hopefully post to the news/blog section more often.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I thought it would be fun to write about my ever-evolving process of composing in a series of posts. If anything I thought it might get me into the habit of posting more here, breathing life into my personal website. Although some composers have a rigid process for conceiving and composing musical works, my personal process has been quite different over the years, and is often adapted to what kind of thing I am composing and how quickly it needs to be done.

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I recently completed work on a web application that is a portal to the discovery of new music by composers that are currently living or who have been active in the last half century: the Living Music Database.

My vision is for it to be a valuable way for people to find contemporary classical or electroacoustic recordings. Inspiration for the project came from my own desire to find new music to listen to, something I had neglected and had trouble doing as a student.

To accomplish this I created an algorithm that utilizes the Google Knowledge Graph and Wikipedia APIs to gather a database of composers. Then for each of these composers, available recordings from both iTunes and Spotify are linked. No actual music is stored in this database, just a method to sample the tracks using each service's 30-60 second sound samples along with links to the respective albums or artist pages.

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After a fairly good run of performances, I have been stuck in a lull due to the time commitment required for my Computer Science degree (a math degree, in essence). Very quickly I realized that, unless you are famous, getting performances for my music requires constant pursuit. Along with that, composing is just like playing an instrument: without constant practice it can be very difficult to get back into a groove. In the past I would compose pieces specifically for competitions or calls for scores. As a result, I have a bunch of music with odd instrumental combinations that will never be performed.

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This summer I composed Through the Mystic Woods after reading the A Song of Fire and Ice book series by George R.R. Martin. It is inspired not only by the books, but also by the score of the TV series. In addition to orchestral sounds from the Vienna Symphonic Library, there is a synthesizer part created with an authentic Yamaha DX-7. As part of my new personal composition method, this work was created in Logic Pro instead of with notation software. The idea is to create the music in a more organic way instead of focusing on notation. I find this makes dealing with shape and space easier to conceptualize. ​

In the article “Creative AI: Computer composers are changing how music is made” by Richard Moss, current trends in music composed by computer programs is examined. Artificial Intelligence is an area of research in Computer Science that deals with creating computer programs that imitate (to some degree) the human mind’s learning process. Moss presents several examples of different kinds of computer music composition including: programs that are able to mimic a specific composer’s style (Well Programmed Clavier by David Cope), those based on biology (Iamus), and even one that automatically composes music for video games based on the live situation in the game itself (Mezzo). Many people wonder if A.I. composition can truly be creative, and if it is, can it put living composers out of work? On the latter, I don’t believe that A.I. composition will likely be able to supplant actual human composers. The question of a computer program’s capacity for creativity, however, is a much more complicated and subjective problem to address.

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