Life Just Happens

Life Just Happens

I composed this piece in 2020. It is a string sextet orchestral piece, featuring 3 violins, a viola, cello and bass. The inspiration for this piece came from my Divertimento #2, a musical sketch for the same instruments. I expanded greatly on this sketch and came up with this piece and after I finished it and listened to it, I named it Life Just Happens. 

To me the piece has all the elements of a life lived, happiness, sadness, tension, release and all the other emotions that we humans have as we live our lives. It times out at 7 min. 30 seconds, making it a substantial piece of music. This is quite a departure for me, in that it is more contemporary sounding than  my other works. Having said that, old habits die hard and I still combined a couple of delightful melodies to accompany cacophony that exists in the piece. 

Geek Speak: 

I used the BBC Orchestra Pro in this piece for most of the instruments, but since it has three violins I wanted to have the violins to have their own voice. I used the instrument leaders of each string section (there are two ) in the BBC Orchestra violin section. I used Spitfires Solo Strings and took the virtuoso violin from this library. Once the sounds were assigned, I found that they sounded too much like a sections rather than solo instruments. To correct this I went into the mixer section and chose a close mic and an ambient mic and that narrowed the sonic capabilities to match more of a solo instrument. I mixed each of these instruments one at a time adding only one at a time to give the balance that you hear on this recording. Once mixed I mastered it with Logic Pro mastering button. 

Hear a sample on SoundCloud

Life Just Happens, Landis Maitland-Whitelaw
Landis

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Landis plays hand-built guitars by Darrell Pura, Saskatoon, Sask. Canada.
Classical model: Recitalist
Electric hollow body model: Landis Custom
Acoustic model: OM6

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Life Just Happens

On The Guadalquivir

On The Guadalquivir, Landis Maitland-Whitelaw

A friend of mine Larry Green asked me to set a poem of his to music. The poem was A Moment on the Guadalquivir, which is a river in the Seville region of Spain. The version I made was melody set to guitar chords. 

Once I completed this work for Larry, I decided to take the music and make an orchestral piece from it. I wrote this piece in 2014. 

In this work I use woodwinds, brass, percussion (wood blocks, cymbals & bass drum) and strings. 

You can imagine yourself sitting on the river bank in the early morning and hearing the birds and then the river awakes and you start to hear the ships and the business on the river. The melody enters and is shifted from section to section and interrupted by a mid section featuring the Cymbal and Bass Drum under the second melodic structure. 

Nerd Speak. 

I use the BBC Symphony Orchestra Professional on this recording as with the rest of the orchestral pieces on this album. I utilize 21 instruments split into 4 sections: winds, brass, percussion and strings. I balance each of the sections within themselves and then place them on their own buss. From there I  balanced the 4 sections to blend as a whole. All of this is done in Logic Pro. I use the mastering software which is now part of the Logic Pro suite. 

You can hear a representation of the piece here on SoundCloud.

Life Just Happens

The Saskatchewan Suite-Ft. Qu’Appelle

The Saskatchewan Suite , Landis Maitland-Whitelaw

Ft. Qu’Appelle (2001/2001) Time: 3’07”,was that last of the set to be written. It depicts the city and region known as Ft. Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan Canada. Historically it has a mixture of cultures, Native, French, and European. I tried to depict a harmonious blend of the cultures even though historically it was not all that harmonious but today it is a jewel on the prairies.   

The recording part of this is the same as the other 2 pieces with the exception of the snare, I used LABS for this and I also included the use of Wood Blocks from the BBC Orchestra. 

You can hear a representation of the piece here on SoundCloud.

Life Just Happens

The Saskatchewan Suite-Wind in the Field

The Saskatchewan Suite , Landis Maitland-Whitelaw
  1. Wind in the Field (1997/2005) was inspired by a drive through southern Saskatchewan and seeing the flax fields in bloom, waving in the wind. It looked like water. This version uses the standard orchestra. For percussion I use a triangle and the bell of a symbol . The B.B.C. Orchestra did not have the cymbal bell sound that I needed and so I went to Modo Drums to get this sound. Here I chose the bell of the ride symbol. The piece begins and ends with the sound of wind. I get this effect by assigning the flute, clarinets, viola, cello & bass and then oscillating the volume from very low to high and alternating the effect for every 2nd instrument. This piece runs 3’14” in length. 

You can hear a short clip of the piece here on SoundCloud.

Life Just Happens

The Saskatchewan Suite

The Saskatchewan Suite , Landis Maitland-Whitelaw

The Saskatchewan Suite contains 3 short pieces written at different times for solo classical guitar. The pieces were later put together into the Saskatchewan Suite and later made into an orchestral piece (2005) and was subsequently premiered by the Regina Symphony to commemorate Saskatchewans anniversary, after a call for scores from across Canada. 

  1. North Country (1997/2005) was written to depict the northern part of Saskatchewan. It starts with a percussive section to depict the aboriginal north and then into melody to represent the blend of cultures ending in the percussive section. 

You can hear a representation of the piece here on SoundCloud.

Life Just Happens

Birds at the Bath

Birds at the Bath , Landis Maitland-Whitelaw

The concept of the piece “Birds at the Bath” came to me in 2002. 

I was sitting on the back porch at our home and it has a bird bath in the back. I was watching the birds and a cat came by and the birds flew off until all was clear and then they returned. 

This piece is to recreate this scene in a musical orchestration. 

I wrote this piece in notation software and exported the midi files into my Digital Work Station (DAW), I use Logic Pro.  

For this project I am using the software:  Spitfire B.B.C. Orchestra Professional. 

The process I use is that I put the midi files into the DAW and then assign the appropriate instruments to the parts.  The interesting thing about this software is that it was recorded at London’s famous Maida Vale Studios by the B.B.C. symphony players so you get the ambiance of the studio and as an added bonus you have the positioning of the players.  You do not have to add any more reverb and all you have to do with the pan knobs is set them all to  full stereo and you get the correct positioning of the instruments. 

I go through each instrument one at a time and assign the appropriate articulations to each note. Once that is done I draw in the midi data for the modulation and expressions and fix any volume issues. 

Once that is done I send all of the woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion to their own side channels. I work each group separately and volume balance each instrument with their section. This allows me (once each group is volume balanced) to balance the orchestra through the side channels.  After all of the checks and balances are done I master the piece using the new Logic mastering insert. 

That is what went into the making of this piece which is only 1 of 7 pieces. 

Hear a Clip