As my 2013 graduation came closer and closer, it was inevitable that goodbyes would have be made. A chapter of our lives would close and new beginnings would appear. During this period of inevitable ‘doom,’ one could say, it became ever more apparent that a display of appreciation for those who made my university experience that much more special was overdue.
Thus, when it came time to submit proposals for final projects, I asked to combine two of my classes’ assignments into one. ARCH5424 and MUSI4543 both asked for open-ended project proposals, one requiring a compilation of visual principles that we learned that semester, and the other asking for high quality mixing and production for a single audio track. This culminated in a desire to compose and animate a short dedicated in honor of my cello professsor, Adam Carter.
Adam Carter is one of the few individuals at the University of Virginia that I saw on nearly a weekly basis for four years. He coached in me individual lessons, orchestra, and multiple chamber ensembles. He exercised extreme patience and empathy, frequently to his limit (guess who didn’t practice), and consistently wanted to bring out the best in me. I cannot express how much gratitude I have for my cello professor. He understood on many levels what students were experiencing and what they wanted to do with music, regardless of where their musical talents lay. He never assumed his students’ situation, mentality, or attitude towards both music and their academic lives. Professor Carter, always, prioritized his students in every way possible, and for that, I truly respect him.
In the end, I failed to fully complete the animation project, and while some who were fortunate enough to preview what I turned in for my deadlines (since deadlines are deadlines) would say that it’s pretty good, I feel as if it never got to a presentable point where I would show it to anyone yet. I ended up completing the music portion of the project, so that is what I will mainly share with you today. The scope of the animation ended up spanning too many ideas, which consequently then got narrowed down to one scene, which even by its lonesome, was too much for me to handle within the frame of time I had.
I’ve attached both songs below for your listening pleasure; the first is the animation’s intro while the second is previewed in the youtube video as credits music:
Bolero – Intro (0:51)
What has been attached via youtube, are the ending credits to the animation I made. The story goes as such:
A homeless cellist strolls along a park, looking for a place to sit. He finds an appropriate looking spot, and sets his cello down. After a brief pause, he unpacks his instrument and begins to play, hoping to attract listeners and some free change. After a few moments of playing, a tall man wearing a strange pack on his back approaches. The man sits on the adjacent bench and takes out an accordion. Seeing this, the cellist is enraged. How dare he try to take my business away. I arrived here first. The nerve!
The cellist waves his bow and shoos the accordionist away. The accordionist stares at the cellist with a surprised and concerned look on his face, but quietly packs his belongings and leaves the park. The cellist then returns to his music playing. Several hours pass and the cellist is staring at his feet. No one had stopped to listen. Nobody had donated a cent. Deeply saddened, the cellist stared glumly at the birds fluttering about, and the children who innocently asked if he’d like to play ball with them.
The cellist suddenly hears a clink as a coin drops into his hat on the ground. He looks up to see the accordionist smiling, and staring at him with knowing eyes. Ashamed, the cellist quickly looks away, silently wanting to apologize for his rudeness earlier that day. The accordionist quietly sits down next to him and once again unpacks his accordion. The two musicians turn to each other and with an unspoken signal, begin to play together.
I ended up arranging a couple versions of Ravel’s Bolero, attempting to feature mainly the cello. This was all an attempt to appropriately dedicate an animation/music video to Carter as a graduation gift. Again, in the end, the project was fully completed, but the music reached a point that was pretty decent. All sounds were synthesized except for the cello, which was played by me. I used a RODE NT1-A microphone placed about 1 foot from the bridge horizontally and mixed the sound to MIDI instruments (including piano) through Logic Pro. Both cello lines actually are cut up from about 12+ takes b/c I could never play the whole thing right straight through. What a poor excuse for a cellist, xD. The resulting end credits are symbolic of how the relationship between the two musicians flourish after their initial meeting, with a little UVa flavour thrown in. Maybe in the future I’ll end up completing the actual animation b/c from all the stills, you can see that it’s not tremendously horrible. Only time will tell. Hopefully the quality of the credits scene will be high enough to compensate for the lack of an actual video with story. As a parting note, I’ll attach to the bottom here a picture of some small sketches of sets and locations that I had initially planned on drawing/using for the short. All these grand ideas quickly consolidated into an elevation front view of some park benches. XD