Newest release “Reflections” 2014

As soon as the album completes ‘transit’ with Songcastmusic it will be available through Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.

A brief description of the featured tracks which may be heard currently at http://www.songcastmusic.com/profiles/SuffolkSkies

Reflections_KurtHartle_Coverart_2014

Solemn Places was written with the beautiful architecture and depth of image present in the cover-art photo provided by my sister-in-law. I felt the shot captured something deeply peaceful and grounding. Hence, I was moved to write something to convey that sense of comfort, place, and security.

Savannah’s Song evolved very quickly into something of a sparkle and jump in its character. It is one of those works which I can only explain by saying that, “it turned out to be more than I had originally set out to achieve.”

Farewell to the Sleeping Giant revisits a short work I’d written during my dressage apprenticeship back in 1990. I have arranged it some 24 years later as a keyboard trio (two pianos, and celeste). I included a bit of rhythmic extenuation to lead the ear to a cheerful final refrain for this newer version. The Sleeping Giant is, itself, an anthropomorphic geological feature in the high desert town of Twin Oaks, California. The rocky human facial profile stood in full view of my little adobe house during my years in training. It reminds me of natural beauty and youthful vigour under the aegis of a fine German dressage mentor.

Seasonal Offerings

Dear Listeners,

I recently had a fan of my music ask what the inspirations behind a few of my works were. I found it was a pleasant task to describe things that prompted the creation of certain pieces. In that same vein, and in keeping with the changing seasons, I offer a different line-up of featured works on my music page  www.songcastmusic.com/profiles/SuffolkSkies and a short synopsis of what inspired each of the three pieces.

Autumn Chill…I have long held Autumn as my favourite of all the seasons. I remember, from youth, loving the turning of leaves, predominantly sunny skies with lovely cloud forms, and cooler temps following hot summers. I also remember once winning a poetry competition for creating a Haiku with this season at its heart. The change of seasons marks a turn on a grander scale. The Earth itself, or our northerly latitude at least, tips away from the Sun‘s intensity. What a magnificent phenomenon to inspire a light musical treatment of something so natural.

Sunset Celebration…England’s relatively high latitude lends itself to languid sunsets! The sequence of colour changes is drawn out over a longer period of time than I knew in California. Enough time passes that the changing hues and textures extend in a way I hadn’t known as a boy. I’m sure that many lands enjoy beautiful sunsets and feel the musical expression has wider appeal beyond these shores.

East of England…The region, and Suffolk in particular, enjoys the most sunshine on average than any other in England. There are too many places of outstanding beauty to list. Tourism, agriculture, industry…its all here and living vibrantly with a mixture of traditional and modern characters and values. A lovely place to reside!

Arctic Circle…(description of an upcoming orchestral work for inclusion to the third album, release date next year.) As a very little chap, indeed, I have a memory of falling into a snow drift whilst on a trip to Pennsylvania. It was delightfully cold, bright at the top with ever more blue shades further down toward my feet, and quite suddenly silent. My mother, sister Sherrie, and I had flown out to stay with my Danish grandmother. Snow is largely a novelty throughout most of California. Although I came to know a few very cold, icy winters during my dressage apprenticeship. The sight of ice crystals, snow flurries, incredible ice formations, and the northern lights all came to bear in forging this work. The mystery and majesty are all there and I was able to express, in some way, how foreboding and fascinating frozen water can be. Science and art bear a close resemblance to one another when confronted with such a subject.

I hope you enjoy these few works, and the little stories behind them. And, as always, I extend gratitude for your interest in my compositions!

How to Preserve Artistic Identity When Life Gets in the Way; Finding Peace Amid Day to Day Interruptions

Cover Art for first Album

Here in Southwold, we have a strong artistic community. And, we enjoy strong art patronage. Whether one’s art is geared for personal satisfaction or commercial production it can be a monumental challenge to balance real life interruptions. There are many things that can interfere with our sculpting/writing/painting/composing.  In my own case it took a while longer to develop and collate the works chosen for my debut album than I’d planned. The challenges on my time to accomplish the first release were great. My own perspective as a composer, coupled with a degree of personal awareness of the general creative process, may provide assistance whatever your art medium happens to be.

The challenge lies in finding a way to recapture the mindset you had when you began your work of art before it was interrupted. If you’re retired, possessing bags of time to make progress, or a confirmed professional in your sphere of the art world, you might already have all of the time  resource you need.  Even then, life still chucks distractions at you which may interrupt your creative flow. As I write this, there are interruptions, family needs, pressing matters. *gentle sigh* Life, like music, vibrates. As I squeeze a tiny bit of artistic sensibility out of the crevices of a busy day I actually feel more at peace than hassled and hustled. Life is for living…you can always dedicate a little time later to resuscitate your art or music. Finding a measure of peace in coping with outside pressures is a choice you must make. Here are a few strategies which may help.

We all want to maintain our sense of self but must sometimes tuck our artistic identity (hastily) into a back pocket!  The good news is, you can still preserve your artistic identity throughout the day. Many artists have to hold a so-called day job. That job, which keeps you fed I remind you, may require patience…a great deal of it, in fact. Keep your self-definition as an artist close by. But, try also not to allow the knowledge that you’re capable of so much more taint your efforts at a more mundane sort of work. Your identity and pride in your art can elevate you throughout the day. People around you (co-workers) cannot be expected to reach out to you. Be the first to extend some understanding toward them. Remember to yourself, when you’re feeling pressed upon and indignant, that to be able to relate to those around you will inform your art style and composition to reach a broader audience. It is possible that your colleagues know nothing of your artistic pursuits/talents. Fine, if you prefer to keep a professional distance from them. You may even find the thought of having that little secret about yourself adds some mystique to your work personae. A small change of paradigm can bolster your inner strength. Make efforts to convert a negative into a neutrality…or if you’re pretty good at engaging optimism convert to the positive. The little bit of work you put into this will pay big dividends.

Even if a little tongue-in-cheek, ‘keep your friends close…keep your enemies even closer.’ The truth is there are no enemies at all. And, we all need a personal method for defusing daily tension and stress. Much of that stress is self-inflicted. The moment you realise this, the pressure subsides! We all contribute to each other’s quality of life, even in carrying out small and humble tasks. 

I often start a new piece, drop it mid-flight for some sort of real life ‘urgency,’ and then come back later to renew my engagement of the idea(s). Naturally, if I have a commissioned work I commit to its completion within the given time frame. In that case I have a job to do and I ‘remove myself from other runnings.’ That’s an eloquent way of saying I’ve made myself a temporary recluse to complete a commissioned work. When it comes to my own inventions (pieces written for my own pleasure/leisure) I am able to put them aside and return with no loss of depth to the work. If the circumstance requires me to drop what I was doing, I make mental or hastily written notes. A memory prompt like that takes me straight back to my moment of departure. In writing down a few words I have marked the thought I had at that moment. Sometimes I come back to my quick jot and find it utterly inappropriate…but it always helped to reorient my original idea. Albert Einstein preserved his conceptual brain space by writing notes and said famously (and I paraphrase), ‘why commit to memory [something] which one can look up.’ Lord knows I’m no Einstein. However, using memory prompts serve like a book-mark so that I can pick up on the page where I left off. You’d be surprised how few people use this simple tool.

I have discovered that being made to break from composing can impose an extremely helpful distance from my own works. If I were to remain too fully ‘in love’ with my own ideas I would lose the ability to edit or even abandon a poorly constructed phrase or melody. Take a moment to imagine this paradigm shift for yourself: Tell yourself that you are grateful for the thing/person interrupting your art; Say that you welcome the gap-time from your art (as it lets you view or hear your art from further away); Let yourself be pulled away from that particular project…if it has enough pull it will draw you back like a magnet. The compass will point in the right direction, and sometimes taking a circuitous route proves the more successful path. The map will still be there to read. What you are becoming is a better navigator, able to cope with the occasional/frequent detour! Even if you are playing devil’s advocate, applying this tip will help you to accept the whole process. It will also help to make you easier to live with…provided you care to address the concept of quality of life for those around you…as you may being to demonstrate some measure of good humour. In any case, you are becoming less a victim of life’s little inconveniences and interpositions.

My next secret to share is to place trust in unconscious storage. That means that your artistic ideas sometimes take flight in amazing ways if you allow yourself to sleep/dream on it. Modern man has to cope with many different levels of cognitive performance and absorption. The onslaught of information in this day and age means that our minds aren’t given any ‘processing time.’ In order to come to terms with the barrage of tasks, needs, duties, and all manner of outside interference which forces breaks in my creative endeavours I choose to view such distractions as a helpful part of the journey. I’ve had dreams which provided solutions to problem areas of form or mood in my music. Such moments are rare, it is true. However, I can better make conscious use of problem-solving efforts if I am not wound-up about the last hiatus within my work. [see also; adaptive-reasoning] When I place trust in the physiological process that takes place overnight, i.e. sleep and the ordering/organisation of experience, I know that my ideas and creativity are something still ‘at work’ in my mind.

Granting myself permission to let the music I’d put on hold play out overnight is like a pressure release valve. If my given productive time has run its course, and I still haven’t come up with a solution to a problem area in a new piece of music, the resolution often comes when I’ve allowed myself to let go of it. Or, if I’ve simply run out of time and am too tired to continue I feel better about letting go. Giving oneself permission to rest on an idea eliminates negative conditioning. You will begin to grant yourself rights and freedoms which can unlock the creative process. In this way the artist may better balance the active-and-passive elements to unlock the evolving work of art. This is not to confused with procrastination, nor a lack of work ethic. That condition is beyond the scope of this article! What I’m suggesting here is a way or method of applying a holistic methodology. The human mind at ‘rest’ can be a powerful instrument and unravel problems that had been blocked by various elements during conscious/waking hours.

Actually, for being sidelined for a while, I’ve had a few of my pieces over the years turn into something much bigger than they would have been. There was a measurable increase in quality for the pause. It has taken some time for experience to recommend me this. Thus, I  have shared these suggestions with you so you might recognise it sooner. Conscious or unconscious, isn’t it good to be able to let go rather than struggle to hold a thing too tightly. Life and art doesn’t have to be a constrictive and white-knuckled ride. If you have a new tool, use it for the right reason. Learn not only how to cope with life’s interruptions to your art process, learn to be at peace with them. In these ways you can convert those interruptions into welcome and useful tools!

How to Publicise and Promote Your Own Music

From musical curmudgeons to musical research. ...

From musical curmudgeons to musical research. [A blog post] (Photo credit: markcatoe)

Obtaining exposure for one’s own music and or art isn’t hard. This ‘techno-tard’ is making a start. So can you.

There are a lot of people who are at ease with and possess the knowledge to get started promoting their work online. Most of those are the younger generation who, growing up with computers from an early age, instinctively have the ability to create a webpage and push it forward with networking and specific search engine input. Up to now I’ve spent a lifetime working with horses and riders in dressage and or playing music. Moving into the realm of cyber-space isn’t a natural endeavour for someone like me, very much rooted in terrestrial pursuits and now, with grey temples, invisible to the young. I found the courage to start – awkward or not – for lack of native computing skills.

COLLECTED TROT JAM156

COLLECTED TROT JAM156 (Photo credit: JAMART Art Photography)

All I knew, regarding music, is that I had a strong urge to follow my creative endeavour. You may be exactly the same…. working out melodies, developing harmony and musical form, to create works that, for one fleeting moment, no one else has yet heard. I had to learn to make use of notation software, not only to publish my scores in print but also for playback. Alas, I am no pianist though I use the piano for a majority of my composition process. I passed piano proficiency exams when I was younger, at university, but it’s no close third to actually being skilled on the keyboard. I needed music notation software to print and to also play my works back to me, a tempo, in order to get the flow and phrasing right in my works.

I learnt a few of the available programmes and found Sibelius to be the best. I hope not to disappoint any listener…this revelation is told out of honesty. My music is electronically produced, there, I’ve said it (though many who’ve previewed my works have asked who I got to do the recordings). I’m also proud to have worked at the quality of ‘live playback’ and sculpt the pieces so that they have a real ensemble feel. All of this required time, practise, and a steep learning curve. Through that I rapidly discovered I could orchestrate. The instrument sample sounds are rich enough to emulate human expression, within certain tempo restrictions. Too fast a tempo and all articulation is lost and the instrument voices disappear.

For a sole individual with no capital nor personal connections to orchestras/conductors/soloists willing to try out my sonata or single, electronic music production is a godsend! I learned I could trust my ear and past knowledge of orchestral instruments to interweave texture and form. With persistence, meaning after producing several works, I found I was ever more efficient at this. Back when I was performing music I had always wondered how composers multi-layer their works. Late in coming to this I may be, but it grants a youthful delight to uncover new abilities. Discovery and the natural energy that comes from learning/observing always drove my work with horses. That same process of invention and development invigorates my music now.

Whether or not a work is well received ultimately depends upon the listener and audience. As I said before, the music track takes on a life of its own. But, to give one’s creative works a chance to be heard is the first step. Before any release you should consider a trial period. From the studio to the public ear; that’s the chasm an individual musician/artist has to bridge in some way or another. The internet gives the composer one such opportunity. But your music can take on a life of its own between its playback and how a listener perceives it. Consider preliminary sharing of your works as a chance to explore what effect your piece(s) have on people before a public launch!

Note: I once set out to write a sad melody only to find people who heard perceived it as uplifting…a surprise to be sure and, one I capitalised on this to reform it into a new piece which was eventually the version to publish! One’s intended purpose behind a piece doesn’t guarantee the way different listeners receive that work. I recommend trying out your new works on trial and response. Find some brave soul (usually a long-suffering friend or relative) willing to give your piece a first hearing and you may learn some valuable things (positive or negative) about your creative potency, or lack thereof. Always be willing and able to edit or throw out an idea that isn’t working! Sometimes a fresh take breathes new life and direction into your art.

A brand new (or rather, lacking any brand as of yet) artist has to push through the isolation barrier. Major music labels have a lot of capital and social momentum behind them to promote their chosen artist. The corporate model works by talent scouts and or CEO’s finding individuals or groups who have marketable promise. That route for the artist favours highly marketable (profitable) genres. For example; Hip-hop sells massively in comparison to the numbers generated by Easy-listening.  For the rest of us, standing next to a big corporate promotional machine isn’t going to work (unless you happen to be expecting a call from a record label any moment now). For those of us composing or creating works in  genres that are less remunerative, overnight stardom will never happen. No matter your musical genre, making your own music available to the public simply requires a little time spent searching Google for the right option.

As far as personal marketability, I probably have little to none. I am quite shy as an individual and hardly possessed of the presence required to fill a stage. I am a quiet, thoughtful man. I used to perform,

clarinet

clarinet (Photo credit: trevorappleton)

woodwind instruments as a soloist with ensemble support, or as a classical guitarist. Nerves always got the better of me even if it didn’t reflect in the performance. So, for me turning to composing music felt a sensible extension of my innate desire to pursue music. With no industry contacts I wrote music in isolation. As a body of work emerged, I began to feel many of my pieces ‘wanted to be heard.’ That’s the only way I can explain it. I began to feel a responsibility for sharing the works. I didn’t start out believing I could write sale-able music. It was the melody, or the sound, or the overall atmosphere or the pieces which imbued a sense of emerging confidence.Thus, I have followed up on a genuine desire to assist my musical works toward public accessibility and reception. So, toward the goal of getting my music ‘out there’ I researched a 3rd party to agent the release of my works for online publishing.

For the novice to online publishing, the process requires some careful reading (and re-tries throughout the learning curve). Even this technologically un-gifted artist is beginning to appreciate the online architecture. Web developers have obviously worked hard to orchestrate (forgive the musical joke) a user-friendly process. The online service supports a promotional music page. It only took a bit of time and brainspace for the middle-aged-newby to become acquainted with the lingo and transfer process. You can inject something of your own personality, philosophy, and style into the presentation of your music page. If your product has an air of quality about it you’ll find the confidence to promote your own stuff. All I have to say is kudos to Songcast Music. I was saved from having to learn excess amounts of html or having to pay a costly web-page designer.  Once I completed the uploads it took some patience, waiting for the so-called ‘transit-time’ to complete. However,  my albums are now available on iTunes . I set about creating this blog, Facebook pages (as composer and as my first album title), and took a leap into the unknown by paying a small amount on advertising. Jury’s still out on its efficacy for generating music sales. But, I took a courageous leap in doing it.

On a personal Note: A few have found the online advertising invasive…even investing expletives for how the ad comes to the foreground on Facebook. For that, I can only apologise. I have no wish whatsoever to alienate/antagonise anyone. I have no personal control over how the advert is presented on other people’s pages. That may be a design strength – or flaw – concerning Facebook web-design. But, one kindly person who saw the ad, visited the music page, and had a listen to my new works, defended my advertising presence. She had recognised immediately that it was from an individual, “not a face-less corporation,” and gave it a try. I was so grateful for that defense. It gave me newfound respect for public ability to discern something original from carbon copy. I’ll have to thicken my skin if my attempts to generate publicity for something I believe in stir up a bit of controversy.

In a very short time my work has moved from unknown toward becoming known. Quite empowering. In these ways I have tapped into some very clever methods for publicising my own musical works. After that I must say that I’m very thankful for those who look at my music page, and take the time to hear my tracks. I make these efforts because I came to believe in the product. Effective music sets a scene, tells a story, and transports the listener. I hope you come to feel that way about my style of composition, if you’ve heard some of my works. And, in the spirit of sharing useful tips, I hope you can apply some of the same methods I’ve come across thus far.

I’ve got so much more to learn. However, with just a few simple efforts my music is gaining ground. No easy feat for a burgeoning individual artist.  You might say it’s an impossibility…. I may be changing my mind! Publicising your own music may be easier than you first thought. Just look for the various options available to the budding artist and choose a service that suits you. Meanwhile, I give personal thanks to everyone who has, is currently, or will be taking a look at my music! Thankyou also, for taking time to read this blog posting. Beside the personal anecdotes, I hope I have inspired you to look into certain details you might not have previously known in getting your own work ‘out there.’

Yours,  Kurt Hartle

If my advice, imbedded in memoire/essay form, isn’t concise enough for you I recommend this link for more tips on promoting your music online:

https://www.udemy.com/blog/how-to-promote-your-music/

How to get on iTunes for the new Artist

( June, 2013) My debut album “Suffolk Skies” and its follow-up “Noun; person,place, object, mood” are both finally ‘live’ on iTunes. [and updating; my third album “Reflections” 2014 went up nearly instantaneously…perhaps now as a known contributor] I chose to utilise Songcastmusic.com to agent my work. I found it too daunting to become an independent content provider with iTunes as a private individual. The remedy; Songcastmusic.com offers a great service. And, even if you’ve never uploaded a single or full album before, it’s  user-friendly. Their tutorials and even the process itself make it self explanatory. All you have to do is have your music files and art ready. The membership fee isn’t too costly, though they have other services which one may purchase (to extend their revenue, and perhaps justifiably so as one may purchase online radio-time and other means of promotion).

One of the initial delays for me in uploading was cover-art. I hadn’t even given it a thought as I finalised editing the tracks for their final recording. So, I went in after creating the account only to find I couldn’t complete the process without the graphics to accompany the music. For anyone considering uploading their works, by all means, get your cover art done and ready to upload at the same time as you send in your music tracks.  It can be anything you want it to be; a poignant photo, a sculpture, a unique graphic design, simple text on a colour background. As long as it’s saved as a jpg and is square with minimum (but not much more than) 1500 pixels by 1500 pixels.  Sadly, there is no consideration of back-cover-art so it’s all up front (if you’ll pardon the double-entendre). You can easily edit, enhance, ‘draw,’ or generally add a textbox for titles etc. using microsoft Paint.

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

Everything I’d created, in terms of musical data, was in .wav format. Songcast will only upload mp3 files. So, my next learning curve was to learn that I could burn a demo-CD of my final recordings, then rip my own CD to automatically convert my works into mp3. Such is the relative ease in using media-player. The mp3 format looses a little of the depth of sound quality but is compressed into a much smaller data file. Speaking of files…I recommend you create a new file to put your newly formatted mp3 versions into. Sometimes your computer may look in ‘different’ places if you have multiple copies of a particular track. Or, I have sometimes had trouble with media-player splitting my tracks across different library locations. Be prepared to search through all music files to relocate transient tracks (often arbitrarily named unknown artist, or by series of numbers).

Your final recording should reflect the name of the piece without extra bits of information or misspellings. Thus, I  advise re-naming your track if you had extra information concerning different/previous versions of that same work. There is no editing done at the point of delivery (at iTunes itself) so you must consider making all corrections before it is sent. By the time your work is ‘in transit’ it’s too late. Perform a careful and scrupulous proof-read before uploading.

Despite claims that it may only take a couple of weeks, in my experience it takes a full month for first-time provider’s  works to complete transit for iTunes. It may take longer for Spotify, Amazon mp3, and Emusic. I’ll let you know when it’s up on those sites. In the meantime I’m delighted to have my albums up on iTunes via Songcastmusic.com. It’s given this independent artist a chance to offer his works to the public. So, many thanks to songcast for the service.

I will also let the reader know of the general ‘transit time’ for getting a result with Amazon CD’s on Demand. Many potential listeners would prefer to have a physical copy. Given that, when professional quality CD’s are available on Amazon I will be happy to have covered that base, too.

It all takes time and a bit of effort to make it happen. As I would advise myself, I advise patience with the process. I hope my shared experience helps anyone who is looking to also follow the path to ‘getting your music out there.’ If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please take a moment to follow the link to my music page and have a listen. Share the link, if you’ve enjoyed my musical works, with anyone you feel would also like my style. Together we can launch these new works. And, you’ll find the same gets returned as you try and or learn to make your own art stand out and be heard!

It took a lot of courage to launch each of the albums. I sat on a body of musical work for a while, not knowing what to do with it nor how to promote it. Life and work and various responsibilities often overtook my ability to apply myself to it with consistent effort.

Untitled

In terms of concrete sales, I wish there was more ready-made interest for the modern classical and light jazz instrumental style. However, part of my personal goal in composing original works was to find a method of sharing the works. People from all over the world are now finding my music, and in this way I can share the ideas with the public at large. In the meantime I’m grateful to all those who’ve taken time to listen.

 

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

Related article: http://www.pandodaily.com/2013/08/05/who-killed-the-music-industry-an-interactive-explainer/#royalties2