Copy and Paste Articulations with Sibelius

There’s an underused plugin for Sibelius that can make a world of difference in speeding up your score prep. If you’re writing anything that uses block harmonies with lots of articulations, like brass writing or big band arrangements, Sibelius has a tool that lets you copy the articulations from one instrument to others in the group. Here’s an example from a piece I’m working on.

The Magi Ride Eastward

I was asked to write a piece for the APU Symphony Orchestra this year. The specific request was to write something “with some fire.”

I started playing with the idea of the Magi returning home, which Mathew sums up with the tantalizing brief line, “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” There’s got to be more to that story.

As the piece unfolded, it took on a swashbuckling, adventure film kind of sound. The percussion bring in polyrhythmic sets, we get lost in the caravan across the desert, as Herod’s men give chase, finally arriving at the climactic presentation of theme from “We Three Kings.” Drawing on the traditional modes of Indian music, the melodic material sounds familiar but also exotic, one step removed from what’s expected.

The introduction to the piece reads as follows:

The amazing adventures of Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior as they flee the murderous wrath of Herod, having seen the Little Prince with their own eyes, having given him Gifts Befitting His Station, and further having explained to the Young Mother the meaning of the Wondrous Star, now flying across the desert in the dead of night to escape the swiftly pursuing riders, and after many close calls and bold feints, arriving at the court of the Grand Vizier to recount to one and all the Wonders They Have Beheld, which story has heretofore been rudely truncated by the otherwise excellent narrator Matthias in his book about the life and teachings of the Little Prince, who grew up to become a man of some renown.


The various transition points in the piece are named as follows:

!. The Magi Make Obeisance Before The Child
2. Balthazar Dreams
3. Preparations Are Hastily Made
4. Gaspar Explains The Meaning of the Star to Mary
5. The Magi Ride!
6. Herod’s Men Pursue!
7. Boasts and threats are made
8. Melchior’s Feint Succeeds!
9. The Magi Recount to the Vizier The Wonders They Have Beheld!

Thank you to the APU Symphony and conductor Christopher Russell for a spirited performance.

Rocking the MGM Grand

Two big corporate events these past two weeks, one for Farmer’s Insurance in the Arena at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was a huge crowd, and once again the outstanding event production by Go West Creative blew the roof off.

This was my first road test of Mainstage 3, and so far I’ve been very impressed. It seems quicker, more responsive, with better control over how data is managed between patches. If I get some downtime later this next week, I’ll post by default starter template that I use for all of these gigs, so that you can download it and check out how I’m using some of the settings.


Film Trailer: Neighbors


Just wrapped up a very busy week of composing film trailer music for the upcoming release “Neighbors” with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. It was a challenging piece of arranging! 10 voices doing an acapella vocal jazz arrangement of “Do You Know The People In Your Neighborhood.” Thanks to some outstanding vocal talent (LA session singers really do rock!) we nailed the piece, and the trailer is out now.

I won’t link to it here, because some of the content in the trailer might be offensive, but you can find it with a quick youtube search.

To the Opera!

vanishing-bridegroomIn 1990, Judith Weir was commissioned to write a new work for the Scottish Opera company. The work she composed was “The Vanishing Bridegroom,” a haunting work that weaves together 3 old Scottish folktales into a story of love, betrayal, death, virtue, and just a touch of magic. The score is beautiful and complex, and this summer I get to dive deep into it.

Originally written for full orchestra, her publisher is interested in offering a re-orchestration for a 10-person chamber ensemble, so that the work is more accesible by smaller programs and regional companies. To that end, I’ve been hired on to do the re-orchestration. Step 1 is to do a full transcription of the 400-page hand-written original score – whew! Fortunately I have some help from two very good student assistants doing the tedious stuff.

I’ll keep you up to date as the project evolves. I’ll try to see if there’s a recording available that I can post, so that you can hear how beautiful the original work really is. I hope I can do it some justice!

Excedrin Tango

Working on an ad campaign for Excedrin. I’ll post the final video once they release it, but for now here’s a peak at the music. It’s a fun spot, kind of a melodrama meets Disney Princess sound. I discovered in working on the cue that it’s really hard to try to capture that Disney Princess sound without accidentally ripping off one of the actual Disney Princess movie cues. Turns out they’ve written a lot of them!

The secret? Strings double choir over horns with glock on top. Throw in some woodwinds for color, and you’ve got yourself a ball gown twirl under twinkly lights!

O Holy Night

This is a commissioned arrangement of “O Holy Night” for solo soprano, men’s chorus, and orchestra. It was premiered by Melanie Galloway, along with the Azusa Pacific University Men’s Chorale and Symphony Orchestra conducted by Harold Clousing at their 2012 Celebrate Christmas concert. It was a privilege to get to work with such great young musicians.

O Holy Night
Arr. by Michael A. Lee
Solo Soprano, TTBB, Orchestra, 6:10
Preview the Score

Christmas Time is Here!

The busy season is upon us! Had the chance to sing last night as part of a choir for Michael W. Smith. His Christmas albums were such a mainstay in my college years, it was a blast to get to perform them. Great orchestra, and thank you to Transparent Productions, who consistently deliver the best promoted concerts on the West Coast.

Sync Sibelius and Logic Pro

One of my favorite work methods is to sync Sibelius and Logic Pro together using rewire, so that hitting play in one automatically syncs up playback in the other. This allows you to use Logic as the production platform and Sibelius as the notation platform for the same project. The tutorial linked below takes you through the process step-by-step. Although it’s written for Sibelius 6, it works the same way in version 7.

How to Sync Logic and Sibelius

One major warning – if the keypad is visible in Sibelius, then every time you stop playback, focus will switch back to Sibelius. This can drive you nuts when you are sequencing in Logic, and it keeps throwing you back to the other window. The solution is simple, but it drove me nuts until I figured it out: close the keypad window in Sibelius.

Good luck, and have fun.

Extended Stay America – Rebranding Campaign

Finished up a cue for Extended Stay America. They’re bringing together multiple different brands under the same name and logo, and launched a new ad campaign, along with a bunch of internal media to inform people of the new rebranding. They wanted an extended cue that was “Corporate Rock,” something that cranks up the energy without being too out front. The result was this: