Mr. Wilson Presents


I spent a day shooting poolside with my friends at Lunatek and their aerial photography equipment. Check them out at facebook.com/LunarTedk.

Stay tuned for a breakdown of the music. This time around it was more remixed than it was composed, so I’ll dive into the DAW and dig around a bit in the world of EDM production.

I talked with EDM producer David Aubin, who performs under the name Divyns, about his writing process, form in contemporary dance music, and his music video “Stranger in Taiwan.” You can find more of his work at:

David puts his finger on the issue that I’m trying to get at with this series when he says “It’s like the difference between a painter and a paint seller … the DJ sells the music already made, already painted. The painter creates.” I’m going to start asking DJs and producers to react to that sentiment as I continue with this series. As Meche Rebelle told me, it’s a capacity that the entire listening public now has to choose music and put it in order, so what is it that distinguishes that kind of musician from the man on the street? To what degree, and in what sense does an act of curation contribute to the material? How is the music different for having been selected and organized?

J. Wilson - Let's write a string quartet!  Update no. 2
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Let’s write a string quartet!


Update number two


If you’re just joining the conversation, last time I set out to write a string quartet on a two-week deadline. This is an audio update, so grab some headphones and mash the play button.

This is a collection of fire dancing footage from 龍洞 in autumn 2012 and 小琉球 this past summer. This compilation has been a long time in the making, so it’s a relief to me to finally be able to release it out into the ether.

Maybe about a year ago, a group of belly dancers asked me for a piece of music for their upcoming performance. I never heard back from them about their performance after they received the music so I wasn’t able to put together a video for you, but I did get a tidy little track out of it. It’s been languishing on my shelf until then, waiting for some appropriate use. That’s the reason you hear the tambourine and finger cymbals here. Musically there’s not much noteworthy going on here. You just have two distinct and unrelated phrases, bookended by a sparse introduction and conclusion in the brass.

Here’s the audio recording and score for your perusal, as usual:
J. Wilson - Let's write a string quartet!  Update no. 1
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Let’s write a string quartet!


Update number one


If you’re just joining the conversation, last time I set out to write a string quartet on a two-week deadline. This is an audio update, so grab some headphones and mash the play button.

Let’s write a string quartet

Today’s challenge comes from Charlie in Minnapolis, who writes:

I challenge you to write a string quartet inspired by autumn. You have until September 1st to send me your composition

Now since September 1 is only a couple weeks away as of this posting, I’m fairly sure that Charlie intends to say that he wants some piece of music for four string players. Nevertheless, on this blog you either do the funky chicken or you go home, as I say, and that means that I’m going to foolishly take this challenge literally and attempt to write an actual complete string quartet from scratch in the two weeks provided.

For those of you who might not know exactly what that means, let’s take a brief look at the form and perhaps you’ll see why this is probably a stupid thing for me to attempt. You see, the string quartet is essentially a sonata for a quartet of strings. The sonata is a long-form piece of music. The sonata is big; even small sonatas are a little bit intimidating. The symphony is another variety of sonata. The form typically includes four movements, each with their own conventional outline. The string quartet requires a lot of writing, and two weeks is probably not enough to get the job done.

For this challenge, I’d like to break from my typical format of one video, one writeup and one audio recording, and instead give you short ongoing updates to try to keep myself accountable. If I’m going to meet this deadline, then I’m going to have to write a substantial amount every day and hopefully the added pressure of having people watching the process will help keep me on track. Stay tuned, and we’ll find out together how this goes.

This is a video that I filmed and scored for Flow Taipei, an upcoming venture aimed at presenting parkour and fitness classes and workshops in Taipei and around Taiwan.

The music came from a 16-measure sketch that I found in my files, left over from the speed writing episode. I had a lot more left over from that project than I showed because I had several false starts. Quite a lot of that was filed away for a later date. I keep my sketches both in notation and in audio format whenever possible, even when I only have partial recordings or MIDI mockups available. The audio record makes it easy for me to review my sketchbook quickly and of course the notation greatly simplifies the task of replicating and developing a sketch in an appropriate style.

In terms of form, when I found this in my files it was just a single phrase, only what you hear within the first minute concluding with not even a half cadence but a mere suggestion of a half cadence. I went on to write out the modulating middle section in more or less the same texture and then a crude retransition. The original phrase is once again referred to, making this a tidy little bar form, and the repetition in the final minute is meant to reinforce the tonic.

I’ve included below the piano part by itself, which I think sounds much more satisfying than what you hear in the video. For the purposes of the picture though, this had to provide a contemporary sound so I added the synthesizer and booming samples just to emphasize the formal structures that were already there in the piano writing. Of course a backbeat is requisite. I felt that the drum kit by itself was dreadfully dull so the auxiliary percussion is there to try to suggest a double-time feel. The first time I sequenced that auxiliary percussion I used a slightly more subtle synthesized drum kit patch, but I couldn’t for the life of me get it to balance correctly in the mix so the tablas were the eventual outcome of a search for a reasonable sounding alternative to that instrumentation.

Here then is the piano recording and the score:

This is Perspective, a short film from Man and Camera Productions for which I did the soundtrack and audio editing last fall. Now that it’s been released, I’m looking back at my production notes to give you guys a closer look at the music and audio that I put into this short, so stay tuned for that.

I’d like to recognize director of photography Scott Almendinger for bringing me in on this project. We worked together previously on another short called Coming to Terms, which you may remember. It seems like more and more of my projects are coming to me through my personal and professional contacts, which, to be honest, beats the socks off of trolling through forums and bulletin boards and working with strangers. You guys, working with friends, working with people I know and trust is not only a more enjoyable experience, but also seems more efficient and more rewarding from a creative perspective.

I’d also like to recognize the lovely and talented Magali Brun-Okroglic, who sang the song that’s featured over the end credits. You may remember her from last year’s concert aria. She’s fantastic.

I was fortunate to catch Kathy Diamond and Maximilian Skiba of The KDMS on their way through Taipei on their recent tour of Asia and quiz them on their songwriting process. You can get more of them at: