Project Milestones
SepFinale 2006 notation software purchased.
JanFinale 2006 installed.
Review music theory taught at Humber College in early 80s.
"Re-train" ear.
MarSteep learning curve on Finale 2006 completed using "mock" arrangement.
AprSelf-built Finale 2006 Big Band template fully documented - 100 pages.
MayFinished 1st composition: A Sunny Day.
JunThe Magician done.
My Cha Cha done.
My Heart And Moonlight done.
JulIt's My Birthday done.
AugDancing With My Sweetheart done.
SepDinner And A Show done.
OctLet's Go done.
Studied Pamela Phillips Oland's "The Art of Writing Great Lyrics".
Purchased a dictionary, rhyming dictionary, and thesaurus as recommend in Oland's book.
NovFinished lyric to 1st song: I'm Not Too Young (To Be In Love With You).
DecFinished 1st vocal arrangement: I'm Not Too Young (To Be In Love With You).
JanWhen I Step Off The Train done.
I See You In My Heart done.
FebWhere Are You Now done.
AprCast Your Spell, Magical Manda done.
Purchased large-format 2nd-hand printer: HP LaserJet 5SiMX.
MayHired entertainment lawyer.
Let's Fly Away done.
JunAviator's Music was incorporated.
Night Prowler done.
Cast Your Spell, Magical Manda (Cha Cha) done.
SepAbide With Me done.
Aviator's Music Inc. web site built.
DecMajor revisions to all tunes completed.
FebFirst five tunes published with all notation and improved full-length synthesized audio.
Project Information
Having done some amateur arranging in the past, Doug set out to challenge himself as a composer and musician. Phase I of the project is to compose and arrange some music. Phase II is to record it.
These are his objectives: compose, arrange, record, and produce ten to 15 of his own original works of music in the styles suitable for big bands.  The project may take many years, and there is no guarantee it will ever be finished.  Because the temptation to compromise will be great, and probably necessary, standards and expectations are kept high for as long as possible.  Doug set down these rules for his music:
1.The works of music must be of his own composition. An exception is his arrangement of Abide With Me. Each work is not to be less than three minutes in length.
2.The arrangements for big band must be his own. That is not to say he wonít consult with experts, or read their theory for inspiration and technique. But the music wonít be handed over to someone for completion.
3.Only Doug is to be heard on the recordings playing the traditional big band instruments. These are Trumpets, Saxophones, Trombones, Guitar, Piano, Bass, and Drums. Although many "edits" may be required to produce a quality recording, all of these instruments will be played "for real", by Doug Ė no synthesizer or sequencing in the final versions.
4.Doug should be heard to solo at least once on each of the traditional big band instruments, no matter for how short a time, somewhere amongst the ten or so recordings. The term "solo" is often misused for "improvising", which Doug is not intending to do. As an arranger, he likes to think long and carefully about each note that will be heard, and he wants the result to be melodic, pleasing, and entertaining.
5.Additional instruments may or may not be synthesized and sequenced. At least one arrangement of a more orchestral nature is intended, perhaps strings for pad chords, and harp for colour. But the length of time to learn Violin, Viola, and Cello may not be warranted for such a background role. It may be cost prohibitive to rent or purchase a lot of these background instruments, such as vibraphone, marimba, steel drums, celesta, etc.
6.Doug has no intention of singing on the recordings. He is the first to admit that he canít sing. He knows this more than most, because his ear is excellent, and his own singing really hurts him. Therefore, other singers are allowed on the recordings. At the appropriate time, this web site will solicit singers to audition for the vocal recordings.
In order to be suitably challenged in Phase I, the composing, these 11 composition objectives were set, each to be achieved by a different tune. More tunes have been composed, but these ones met the "minimum" objectives:
Composition ObjectiveTune
A mostly diatonic arrangement in a major key.A Sunny Day
A mostly diatonic arrangement in a minor key.The Magician
A vocal arrangement, including the lyrics.When I Step Off The Train
A ballad (slow tune, no vocals).My Heart And Moonlight
A Latin tune.Let's Fly Away
A 12 bar progression (blues- or boogie-like).Let's Go
A "cool" sounding tune.Night Prowler
An arrangement of the tune Doug previously wrote for his then-wife Sara. Doug later replaced this objective with one for a new tune composed with Sara and his youngest children in mind. The tune turned out to be a lullaby, suitable for a mother/father to sing with her/his child/children. I See You In My Heart
A tune in any style.Cast Your Spell, Magical Manda
The same tune in a contrasting style.Cast Your Spell, Magical Manda (Cha Cha)
Something more "pop" and orchestral sounding.Dancing With My Sweetheart
The genesis of this project can be traced back to the late 1990s, when the Niagara Express Big Band needed to record a demo tape for promotional purposes. As the band member with the most technical experience, it fell upon Doug to rent the recording equipment and produce the tape. The band comprised a mix of amateur and semi-professional musicians. They had limited time in which to record the tunes, so each recording was a single run-through from top to bottom. Not one track was free of intermittent wrong notes and reading errors.  To salvage the recording session, Doug re-recorded the worst sections himself in post-production (i.e. in his living room). He used piano, trombone, and synthesized string bass, and had a lot of fun doing multi-track recordings of himself. He soon realized the dramatic improvement in quality with unlimited "do-overs" and a more controlled studio setting.
The demo tape was satisfactory for their purposes, although it would not stand up to the scrutiny of a professional musician. The quality difference in the re-recorded sections stuck out by comparison. Doug began to wonder just how good a recording could be made if entire tunes were recorded this way. Perhaps a few really good musicians, one on each instrument, could overdub a multi-track recording of an entire 22 piece big band. This would be a time consuming undertaking of maybe seven really good co-operative musicians, willing to embrace advanced technology as part of the music making process. Since these "magnificent seven" didn't exist within the Niagara Express Big Band, Doug gave up on the idea at that time.
The death in 2001 of Doug's friend Wayne Brown, the band leader, spelled the end of the Niagara Express Big Band. But in the four years following, Doug always remembered the fun he had producing that demo tape. In 2005 he decided to do something similar again, and this project began. The so called "one man big band" has been done before, but this project is thought to be the first where that "one man" was also the only composer, arranger, musician, sound technician, producer, etc. Doug's goal is not to produce the best sounding recordings in the world - there are many more capable people for that. His goal is simply to have fun, and possibly exploit his works along the way if there is public interest.  
There are many obstacles and uncertainties still to face. The first concerns the level of skill Doug can attain on each instrument. It will be hard to construct the arrangements for an unknown skill level. If scored too easy, the result will sound juvenile. If scored too hard, it might be impossible to play, and require time-consuming rewrites.
Rewrites will be very difficult, and hopefully unnecessary. This is because Doug plans to record all music on one instrument before proceeding to learn and record the next instrument. Although this places the greater burden on the arrangements, it allows him to "sprint learn" each instrument, forgetting one as he learns the next. It would be impossible for a part-time musician to keep up a professional level of technique and sound quality on all big band instruments simultaneously.
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