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

About performance royalties (ASCAP & BMI)

Posted on September 30, 2020

I posted my entry about publishing on Facebook, and a friend asked a very important question: if you give your scores away for free, should you still register your pieces with a Performing Rights Organization? Yes, absolutely! Performance royalties should be one of your income streams. It may be small “fun money” for a while, but if you start getting regular performances, the money can add up. This post is written for composers of “classical” concert music. I’m focusing onRead More

New title: Dad

Posted on September 23, 2020

Short post today, as I’m on paternity leave from my job. Yep, paternity leave. Our son, Charles Daniel Neal, was born on 9/11/20! Even with 9 months to prepare, it still seems a little surreal that he’s here, and that I have a new title: Dad. I’ll have more to muse about in the coming months. I think it will really hit home when I need to be at work all day and come home to him. For right now,Read More

Gallery walls: a beginner’s attempts

Posted on September 16, 2020

For a change of pace on this blog, I wanted to share pictures of a few “gallery walls” I’ve put up in our house. I think I’m getting better at it. The biggest tip I’ve learned is to find your vertical center, and keep it consistent. I have hung almost all the art in our house with a center of 5 feet from the floor. That is, the center of each collection is 5 feet. Our living room and diningRead More

What my side jobs taught me about music

Posted on September 9, 2020

I’ve worked a number of odd jobs in my life. There are loads of stories I could tell people about, but in this post, I’m reflecting on the jobs’ connection to music. I didn’t think about this at the time, but these jobs taught me some important lessons. “Nail ‘em!”: lessons in improv as a haunted house monster After finishing my PhD, I moved back to my dad’s house in the Atlanta area. I took on a few part-time jobs,Read More

Welcome and thanks for checking out my work! -adam

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