Web Log

[some people might call this a blog]

wheel of death

How to optimize your computer for audio work

We’ve all been there: project due tomorrow, computer too overloaded to keep up, spinning circle of death, considering either buying a new machine or trashing the current one or both even though we really can’t afford to do that right now… the list goes on. I’ve been there too. One time I bought the highest-end…
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A screenshot of the Wikipedia entry for Nick Norton

I’m on Wikipedia?!

Well this is strange. My friend just sent me a link to a wikipedia page on me. … … … WHAT?! Okay, so since Equal Sound’s corona relief efforts took off two months ago we’ve been getting a ton of good press, and I guess someone looked into us, saw my work, and made a…
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My favorite concerts, period: a youtube playlist

This is a teaser. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZRGwyP_3H6bp5vDxz3o712yK__tMV5Xb Full playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZRGwyP_3H6bp5vDxz3o712yK__tMV5Xb... To view this content, you must be a member of Nick's Patreon at $0.01 or more
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Composer Nick Norton in his studio in Mt. Washington

Interview with VoyageLA

The online magazine VoyageLA recently interviewed me for a series they’re calling “The Thought Provokers: Celebrating Artists & Creatives.” Hey, I’m into being called a thought provoker! Cool. You can read the interview at voyagela.com/interview/art-life-nick-norton.
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On writing elegies

I wish I did not have to write elegies. I composed my first one the morning after my grandmother died, in 2010. It was essentially a first species counterpoint melody for violin and cello, and was performed at her funeral. I felt odd about the piece, because it did not sound like anything I had written before.…
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Blue Hour and writing music for dance

This summer I had my first experience collaborating with a choreographer and dancers, and I completely fell in love with the process and the idea of writing music for dance. Back in 2017 my friend Maura Villanueva, who directs Joffrey Texas, a summer program for young dancers, asked if I wanted to write a piece…
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Two new live videos

I just got two videos back from my show last month at Art Share. It was my first time playing with live projections, which were created by my partner Kelly McGillicuddy. Both use manipulated footage from very very old French science documentaries. For On Geology, Kel used a documentary about liquid crystals – which I’d…
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Nick Norton with his band at Art Share LA

Sequenza21 Review

Paul Muller attended my final PhD concert last week at Art Share and wrote a recap of it for Sequenza21. Enjoy it at sequenza21.com/2018/05/nick-norton-at-art-share. Thanks Paul!
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Huge concert on May 5th, a couple interviews

On May 5 I’m having the first evening-length concert of my music at Art Share. I’m calling it Music for Art Galleries, because it is at an art gallery, and also because that’s the name I’ve been using for my solo set, which will make an appearance on the second half. But this is far…
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Nick Norton and Nadia Shpachenko

Piano Piece on Nadia Shpachenko’s Quotations & Homages

My friend Nadia Shpachenko, a pianist who plays around the LA scene a TON, asked to see some of my pieces a while back. Among what I sent her was my very short piece from 2009, Piano Piece for Mr. Carter’s 100th Birthday. I wrote it after attending Elliott Carter’s 100th birthday concert in London,…
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47 punk songs that made me: a playlist

Something crazy happened to me the other night. I was hanging out at the Silverlake Lounge waiting to play a set with my band The Newports and two people came up and asked if I was in the band. I said “Yeah! Thanks for coming. Who are you friends with?” and they looked at me…
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Some 2017 Favorites

It’s year end list time. Most blogs and such do this at the end of the year, but I like to wait to the beginning of the new year to read everyone else’s lists, see what I missed, and make sure to check those things out. I’ve got a firm belief that experiencing as much…
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Arranging In A Landscape

My favorite John Cage piece is In A Landscape, his piano solo from 1948. Just listen to this: https://youtu.be/hyNGCHImlEk There are plenty of arguments for why it’s an important piece (stunningly static for its time, pre-figures Cage’s obsession with listening, etc. ad infinitum), but they all dissolve into the sustain pedal as soon as you…
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Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro on genre boundaries

I saw a tweet from Timo Andres the other day that had a quote from the author Kazuo Ishiguro in it that I absolutely loved, and did a nice job succinctly encapsulating my ideas about genre. So I thought I’d retype it out here.
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First Honest Iago song in a lot of years

My band Honest Iago, with whom I’ve played since the beginning of 2005, released our first new song since 2009 last week. Here’s a stream:
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The Newports: That's Fine

The Newports’ debut EP is out today

A little over a year ago I was really missing playing rock shows so decided to buy a bass and join the first punk band I found on Craigslist that sounded good (and let me join). That band is The Newports, and oh man, it has been a blast. My initial plan was to essentially…
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My favorite records of 2016

I never like it when year end lists come out before the year is over. In addition to the arbitrariness of dividing music into annual dates, who knows when something cool might drop at the end of December? Isn’t that like releasing a year end movie list before Oscar release season is up? Rant over. Here…
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Idiots are taking over

There’s an election tomorrow, and a NOFX song I loved in high school (George W era) has been stuck in my head all day. It’s admittedly reductive, but it does vent many of the frustrations I feel right now—and have felt for a good long while—in a surprisingly accurate way. It’s not the right time…
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Beat repeat

I think I finally got the electronics sorted for Mirror Smasher. I knew from the beginning that the pianists would need a click track, and that I’d rather pre-record the electronic part than do any live processing. In the spirit of the piece (breaking up material into small fragments), the first set of electronics is…
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Note on rhythm notation

Mirror Smasher, in its nine minute form for November 5, is pretty well done. By which I mean the piano parts are pretty well done – there’s still a ton to do with electronics and engraving. Regarding engraving, I ran into something that I thought might help other composers to know. Here’s an email I…
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My top ten records

Hiya. It’s getting late on a Friday, I’ve been home making parts all evening (save for seeing Ate9 dance company perform Jodie Landau’s mouth to mouth, which was awesome), and I suddenly feel an urge to make a list of my top ten records. This list changes over time, but everything on tonight’s version has…
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Articles on NewMusicBox

At the end of October I was in Chicago for the premiere of my friend and teacher Joel Feigin’s opera, Twelfth Night. When I turned on my phone upon landing I had an email from NewMusicBox’s editor, Molly Sheridan, asking if I’d be up for being a guest columnist for the month of November. Apparently my…
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Trees and the supermoon

I just delivered the score and parts to a new piece, Three Graces at Perigee, to Cadillac Moon Ensemble. It’s been an incredibly busy summer and I haven’t been keeping the blog updated, so I thought writing about this piece would be a good way to get going again. Over the past year or so I’ve started…
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Robert Heinlein on Contemporary Art

I just finished reading Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land for the first time. I loved the ideas it presented, but will admit getting a bit bored by the narrative. In any case, there’s a scene about two-thirds of the way through where one of the main characters, Jubal Harshaw, who acts as a sort…
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Amazing rendition of BWV 147 in a Japanese Forest

[youtube “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_CDLBTJD4M”] I think this is the coolest way I’ve ever heard/seen Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata No. 147. This is technically a cell phone commercial, and I’m a year late, but oh well. Enjoy.
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Darcy James Argue's open letter to John Adams

secretsocietymusic.org Dear John Adams, You are awesome at composing. You’ve written several works that have become pillars of the late 20th/early 21st century canon. Whenever you premiere a new piece, it’s an Event. Your style is hugely influential. Basically everyone out there tries to orchestrate like you. There are maybe, like, two other living composers…
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Darcy James Argue’s open letter to John Adams

I just came across this and thought it deserved to be reposted. This is in response to John Adams being kind of mean to composers like me lately. The formatting for an embedded post looks a little screwy on my website, so – this is from Facebook. Visit Darcy James Argue online and listen to…
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Another photo of my pedal board

But dudes, I just got an Empress Multidrive, and it sounds AMAZING.
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This Old Spice / Super Mario 64 mash up led me to figure out personal criteria for liking a piece of music

I spend a lot of time composing, and a lot of time playing, and practicing, and listening to music, and reading, and doing “career-focused” stuff like applying to festivals, booking, PR stuff, responding to email, you know. When it’s time for a break, I tend to go with hanging with friends, TV (new seasons of…
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The Return of Algorithms

I’ve been meeting with Clarence Barlow a lot lately, a composer who is well known for his algorithmically composed music. It’s something I was very interested in as an undergraduate, but haven’t pursued much since then. Now that I’m getting to know Clarence, I think it’s something I may take up again. Essentially, you write…
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Favorite Songs, Round 1 of Infinity

I was at dinner with a friend tonight and our conversation found its way to the topic of our favorite songs. We started with a top three, but that was too hard, so got up to top five, then started remembering others that should be on the list, and then just talked about a whole…
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Some Thoughts on the Pussy Riot Situation

I am totally on the side of the women in that band and what they stand for in the name of the oppressed, censored, and otherwise unfairly treated citizens of Russia. While the punishment seems harsh, my close friend Hunter Knight asks us all to pause and think about what would happen if you even…
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My mom's thoughts about Pitchfork

Susan Norton, after reading the Pitchfork review of my friend Liam’s band’s new record: Seems to me that a lot of writing about music is quite pretentious. They like a five-syllable word where two would do. ]]>
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My mom’s thoughts about Pitchfork

Susan Norton, after reading the Pitchfork review of my friend Liam’s band’s new record: Seems to me that a lot of writing about music is quite pretentious. They like a five-syllable word where two would do.
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The Saga of the 2012 LA Composers Project

Holy hell, what a week last week was. I was really excited to play guitar with What’s Next? Ensemble for the US premiere of AutoSonata Beta at their fourth annual LA Composers Project at Royal/T. I was honored to have had the piece selected in the first place, and then ecstatic when they asked me…
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Listen to Daníel Bjarnason

When I was working for the American Youth Symphony, they commissioned a piece from an Icelandic composer named Daníel Bjarnason. I watched this video online of one of his pieces, and, to be honest, was pretty blown away. [youtube “http://www.youtube.com/v/QLwyQFthE1M”] I picked up his CD, Processions, but never really gave it a good listen until…
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Pedalboard update

Here’s what it looks like after the aforementioned swap with Matt: In the process I decided to switch the order of the Freeze and the Empress Tremolo, so that I can have the trem going on what I’m playing without chopping up any infinite-sustain type things that may be happening. That’s all for today.
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Electric Guitar Geekery

My good friend and Honest Iago bandmate Matt and I may be swapping pedalboards (not pedals) this weekend, mostly for the reason that his is about a foot larger than mine, but I have way more effects running than he does, and have run out of room. With that in mind, and the fact that…
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CYBER MONDAY COMMISSIONING SPECIAL

ATTENTION EVERYONE! TODAY ONLY! COMMISSION A PIECE, 50 PERCENT OFF!!!! COMMISSION ONE AT FULL PRICE, GET THE SECOND ONE FREE!!!!! See the following guide from Meet the Composer for prices before discount:
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Ch ch ch ch changes (turn and face the strain)

I finally bought a new amp. And I think the process of doing so acts as a strange allegory to my recent thoughts about writing for orchestra. To begin, the amp that I have played with for the last four or five years has been a Peavey 6505+ half stack. For those of you that…
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Melding Plague

A couple of posts back I mentioned my love of Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space series of books. In those books there’s a thing called the melding plague, which infects mechanical devices and causes them to spread to and engulf whatever happens to be around them. I think a similar thing happens in Akira, but it’s…
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Insights from Dinosaur Comics

First of all, read this: It’s from Dinosaur Comics, an online comic strip by a guy named Ryan North, who seems to have all kinds of insights that happen to be pertinent for making and distributing music today. This comic in particular neatly summarizes and/or makes a fable of something I’ve come to wholeheartedly believe,…
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Music of the Spheres

I’ve always been a good bit of a space geek. I grew up loving Star Wars and still rank Empire among my favorite films of all time. I think that Battlestar Galactica is one of the greatest shows ever made, save for The Wire. And when Mass Effect 3 comes out this winter I’m probably…
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Top 5 burgers thus far in my life

1. Ma Nolan’s Cheeseburger in Nice, France, with goat cheese instead of cheddar. The South of France is the goat cheese capital of the world, and when you ask for it on the burger they put on an ENTIRE WHEEL like you might buy at a fromagerie to last for a week (or a day,…
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Spacing

I’ve taken a short break to consider a lot of things in my work on Moon Songs, and during this time managed to write a guitar prelude. It’s totally unmeasured, which is a first for me. There’s a way that I play it, but I’m literally curious to see what other rhythms other guitarists will…
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New guitar

Last weekend I finally bought the ’72 Telecaster Deluxe reissue I’ve been dreaming about. Man the twang on this thing is so sweet. That’s all for now.
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Supporting Human Rights in Iran

This is pretty straightforward. The people of Iran are fighting their own regime for freedom and human rights, and there’s currently a resolution going through the House for the US to support them. And we can all help out pretty easily by taking a second to write our local elected representatives. Please do so by…
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Article in SD Reader/New Essay posted

First of all, check this out: >http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2009/oct/07/blurt4/. Then click here to read a pretty epic rant/master’s thesis essay. Once I get the html for footnotes and a bibliography figured out I’ll set that up as well, but until then you can just assume everything I say in there is backed by tons and tons of…
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I Care If You Listen

The general public is largely unaware of and uninterested in [contemporary classical] music. The majority of performers shun it and resent it. Consequently, the music is little performed, and then primarily at poorly attended concerts before an audience consisting in the main of fellow professionals. At best, the music would appear to be for, of,…
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Nick Norton in the garden at Lupetti Pizzeria in downtown Los Angeles