Making great scores with LilyPond

Posted on December 16, 2020

Software debates: Finale vs. Sibelius vs. Dorico For many years, one of the main “debates” for composers was Finale vs. Sibelius. Now that Sibelius has been incorporated into AVID (which owns Pro Tools and other programs), I see the name less. The original Sibelius team moved on to create Dorico, which seems to be a popular growing upstart. I’ve been a contrarian in these “debates” (scare quotes fully intentional). They really are up to personal taste. I felt that SibeliusRead More

Late Frost revisited

Posted on December 9, 2020

My “revisited” series takes a look at some of my older pieces. I often revise pieces or use elements in new pieces, so it’s fun for me to look back. I also write these posts to show some of my creative process to new composers. This summer I did some light clean-up and quietly re-released my piano album Late Frost.  I originally wrote these pieces in 2007-8, starting in Atlanta and continuing while living in Belfast. It started as aRead More

Why composers love to cook

Posted on November 25, 2020

It sure seems like composers love to make food and drink. Whether grilling, brewing, roasting, or frying, I’m always seeing composers sharing their latest culinary creations. Since this week is Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to reflect on this music-cooking connection. Creativity Let’s start with the given–music and cuisine are both creative acts. Both involve disparate elements combined in different ways to make a whole new experience. Depending on the techniques and specific balance of elements, each experienceRead More

Experiments with tape loops

Posted on November 19, 2020

This summer I attended a virtual “artist residency” led by Margaret Schedel. The attendees and I had been selected as associate artists at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida. The residency was canceled due to the pandemic, but Dr. Schedel graciously coordinated a virtual version. While originally I would have been at ACA for 3 weeks, with ample time to devote to creative activities, this meant I would be home. I continued working my job, scheduling around ourRead More

What my side jobs taught me about music: part 2

Posted on November 11, 2020

This is a sequel to my previous post about lessons I learned in my random jobs. You’ll see…I’ve had quite a few. Let’s continue, shall we? The limits of technology and order: lessons as a library book shelver My very first job was shelving books at the local library. Once books were checked in, they were placed on different carts: adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and children’s books. My job was to organize a cart, then put the books out onRead More


Posted on November 1, 2020

I write my blog posts well ahead of time, but I am skipping my usual post this Wednesday. No matter how the US elections turn out, it just doesn’t feel right to be business-as-usual. Ironically, this whole blog has been business-as-usual. I have no idea if composers will ever make money, have opportunities for performances, or anything ever again. Even though Joe Biden is projected to win, it’s not like we will immediately cure COVID-19 and bring the economy backRead More

Strategize your catalog

Posted on October 28, 2020

From my composition teachers, I’ve heard two schools of thought regarding a composers’ catalog. You could try to have works for certain ensembles in your catalog, or you could build a catalog based on your commissions and interests. In other words, you can say “I don’t have a brass quintet, so I better write one,” or you can say “no rush, I’ll write one when someone asks.” I think either approach is valid, and while I’ve gravitated toward the latter,Read More

Icicle Harvest cover image

Icicle Harvest revisited

Posted on October 21, 2020

Icicle Harvest by adam scott nealIcicle Harvest by adam scott neal Icicle Harvest is a 60-minute composition. While this might sound like it’s some kind of “magnum opus,” I think of it as just a long-form experiment.  It’s interesting how people equate duration with quality and conceptual weight. An hour-long composition must have taken years to write! And yet I see many prolific ambient composers, churning out album after album.  I’m sure some people consider this type of music toRead More

Band music

Posted on October 14, 2020

Wind band is a genre I grew up playing but didn’t aspire to compose for a long, long time. But my focus as a composer has been not to focus, so inevitably I found myself writing for band. Not sure opera is ever going to happen though. It may be a little cynical, but I came to this genre because it’s one of the few genres with regular opportunities for composers. In other words, band directors want you to writeRead More

About Calls for Scores

Posted on October 7, 2020

You’ve likely had a composition teacher encourage you to submit your music to “Calls for Scores.” These are announcements by presenting organizations who seek repertoire within certain guidelines. Often, selection leads to a performance. Selection sometimes leads to a cash prize. In this post I’ll provide some guidance for submitting to Calls for Scores (CFS from now on). Since I’ve served as an adjudicator many times, I’ll let you know a bit about the behind-the-scenes process as well. Places toRead More

Welcome and thanks for checking out my work! -adam

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