After a day of proof reading, image straightening, file format converting, conferences, head shots, phone calls, and bios... I lack the focus to add anything of worth. But I'm smiling quietly to myself, I promise you that.
First things first -- I know I owe several people personal emails, and I promise I will tend to these as soon as I can.
Second things second -- There have been a number of questions regarding upcoming releases in the past days. I will attempt to address some of these here.
Q What all is coming out at this point? A One book, one CD.
Q What happened to the idea of putting out a DVD?
A Several moths ago we switched gears for a number of reasons, but the driving force was content. The goal of The Rarities has always been to present something both revealing and beautiful. "Revealing" in that you'll hear music that A) you've never heard before and B) will help you to understand Shore's musical process on the LOTR films. "Beautiful" in that we've striven to present something aesthetically unified and pleasing. More on that in a second...
Q Will The Rarities be a multimedia project?
A Strictly speaking, no, but only because we've decided to stick to an audio presentation. However, within that audio you're hearing orchestral music, electronic mock-ups and spoken word content. I'd say multi-source uni-media, but that's the worst marketing buzz phrase ever.
Q What happened to the video that was shot?
A Some of the audio from these sessions will be on The Rarities. Video qua video didn't maintain the aesthetic we eventually established with this release. That doesn't mean something went awry or that we were in any way dissatisfied with what we had. (You'll note that some of the footage made its way to the Radio City site. And we may end up using it for something else someday, who knows.) The video footage simply pushed TRA too much toward a documentarian goal. It felt too clinical, too much like a museum piece. As the project progressed, we began to favor more of a performance feel. We began to envision something musical that informed the audience, not something informative that had a musical aspect. Video did not lend itself to this, so it was jettisoned.
Q Hours upon hours of music were recorded for LOTR. You're obviously not releasing hours upon hours! What gives!? I don't like you!
A Harsh! Yes, there were hours upon hours of material recorded. But here's how that works... for example:
Prologue Take 1 (30 bars):
10 bars of music you've heard (on the OST) | 10 bars you've never heard | 10 bars you've heard (on the OST)
Prologue Take 2 (30 bars):
10 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1) | 10 bars you've never heard (same as take 1) | 3 bars you've never heard (all new) | 7 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1)
Prologue Take 3 (30 bars):
10 bars you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1) | 10 bars you've heard (on the OST) | 10 bars of music you've heard (on the OST -- same as take 1)
Now, it's interesting to illustrate the progression by including all three takes, I'll give you that. And that was originally what we thought we would do. But you've already got Take 3; it was on the Original Soundtrack. We could put both Take 1 and Take 2 on TRA, but why? Take 2 has everything that Take 1 has, and more! Here's where the aesthetics kick in. Including three takes is illustrative, but not artistic. It informs in a basic step-by-step way, but it dilutes beauty. If we include only Take 2 on The Rarities, you get to hear everything of musical interest--that is, everything you haven't yet heard--in a single composition. But we also get to create a program of music in a pleasing, emotionally resonant shape, because we have one take of the Prologue alternate... which can now lead into one take of the next alternate... and the next... and so on. Now it's informative, but also narrative in a sense. It continues to honor Tolkien's work rather than laying it on a slab.
The one-disc Rarities is designed to allow the unused music to become something artful -- an album that you can put on and either analyze or bask in. Since we were able to find a way to do this without cutting ANY significant material, we were all very comfortable with this choice. The only thing you'll be missing is linear redundancy.
Concisely, we chose listening over list-making.
Q That was a long-winded response.
A I know. Sorry.
Q Ok, what about the packaging options?
A Hit me...
Q Hardcover book versus paperback? What's available?
A The publishers are meeting on that this week. I'm pushing for the inclusion of a hardcover version, even if it's a limited run. They're eyeing the budget. Classic confrontation, though we both respect the other's point of view. I'll keep you informed.
Q The Master Box?
A First, let me reiterate that I was never directly involved in this project, so I'm observing from afar. However, this was explored and explored. At the end of the day, it felt too much like a project motivated by financial gain. Too many franchises have offered their audiences repackaged product in an effort to to re-sell what has already been sold. No one was able to come up with a version of The Master Box that did anything other than this.
I'm not saying that Master Box packaging will never happen, but not until something is designed that actually benefits the consumers. Fans of The Lord of the Rings deserve better. As Shore stated at one point, "It just feels like more stuff to make people buy. That isn't right."
Q This obviously effects other packaging options, such at the poorly-named Whole Enchilada, yes?
Q So what all is coming out?
A The book and The Rarities.
Q Packaged together?
A Exactly. It's funny, we were all excited when TRA got picked up as a genuine album, not simply a supplement for the book. But since life has a crazy circuitous way to it, the different corporations involved decided to work towards a unified goal instead of on two parallel tracts. In the end, the publishing company decided to buy the finished album from the record label at a reduced rate, and then package it with the book as a single unit... thus greatly reducing the overall cost for the consumer. This meant that we ended up with an album, properly produced by experienced engineers and editors, that enhanced the book in a well-planned organic way. And, we lowered the consumers' cost. Good news for everyone.
And yes, that extra year of prep for the album was absolutely necessary. This needed to be something unique. Believe me, that "curator" credit was hard earned. I took years--literally years--to find the materials and shape them. There's an old saying, "To carve a horse take a piece of marble and knock off everything that doesn't look like a horse." But what if you'd never seen a horse before?
Q What are the specs on the album?
A It's been completely remastered in crystal clear 2-channel stereo, and runs just seconds under 80 minutes. Track lists and such will be released when the time is right. Some things you still have to wait for. :)
Q What's the release date?
A We'll debut the book at Radio City in October, but I'm not sure which day. Obviously we'll have it available on Oct. 9 for the first show, but we may also do a signing on Oct. 8. I'm really not even involved with such things... I mean, I'll be there, I'm just letting more capable people plan out the details. I'll keep you updated as publicists inform me.
I hope this clears things up. I know that the transparency with which I've treated this project means that all processes are exposed, and that includes our gear changes. But these changes are a natural part of every project. Just ask the guys working on The Hobbit films right now!
None of the above are last minute alterations. We've been moving in these circles for several months now. I'll try my best to answer individual questions in the coming days, but understand that my priority right now is finishing this project, not promoting about it. Were I a savvier huckster, I'd figure a way to do both. Instead, I'll just promise to keep you onboard as the project changes ahead--now full steam!--and occasionally takes a turn or two.
Radio City is displaying it, so now I can too. This is the full cover of the book. And please allow me to introduce you to our publishers, Alfred, with whom I've been happily working for the past year and a half. This has been an entirely new type of project for them, and though I'm sure my demands have driven them (and continue to drive them) batty, they've absolutely bent over backwards to make this happen the right way.
Ok, back to work for me, but I couldn't pass up this proud papa moment.
The second (and likely final) draft of The Rarities is on its way to me and should arrive via FedEx tomorrow morning. Sleeve and disc art designs and elements have already been delivered to the layout artists. All book edits have been sent off to LA as well -- including a few last minute tweaks to The Rarities' liners, or Appendix B as they're known in the book.
I am assuming that we return to the waiting game tomorrow while everyone digs through materials--either reviewing audio or assembling art--but it's entirely possible we'll be proofing book layout version 3 or first passes at designs during the second half of the day. The "tweak list" is getting shorter and shorter. Still, no detail is too small for careful consideration. We took at least 5 or 6 passes at a single sentence in Track 22's listing in The Rarities' liners today.
I don't think I've ever worked this intently on anything in my life. I can't imagine a more rewarding artistic experience.
This is nothing new, of course, but it's fun for me to see something in a local paper. (I'm Chicago-based, for those unaware.) Click here to read Examiner.com's RCMH Fellowship coverage.
As Timdalf recently noted, we're now under 80 days on the Radio City countdown. My nose has been so pressed to the grindstone, this hasn't really sunk in. Weren't we just celebrating passing the 100 days mark!?
I was going to post this on the 25th as a Christmas in July gift, but Saturdays tend to be pretty quiet around here. And anyway, I've neglected the fine readers of this blog far too much recently. So please allow me to present a well-intended bit of silliness, The Twelve Days of the Ring:
I'll be back soon with more meaningful updates, I promise. The book text/layout is 99% finished at this point. Rarities choices are locked (this will be one full disc!), and we're now approving titles and designing disc art. It's unbelievable to me that we've progressed so far. But we're not done yet, as the post-its I've got stuck to every available surface will attest to. Still, physical production will be our next step, and then we can really let the announcements fly. And let's face it, I'm most in my element when providing teasing glimpses of things to come!
No, this update doesn't really warrant its own post, I just couldn't resist the obvious title. Thought you'd like to know that The Rarities have suffered their first (and seemingly only) cut. The album is know known as The Rarities Archive... not Archives.
Looks like that locked cover is going to have to be unlocked once again while we de-S it. Details, details...
One copy of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth... always good to think ahead :)
UPDATE 7/15: It's looking more and more like "Finals Week" is going to become "Finals Weeks," plural, as there will still be a few items to address after this weekend. I'd rather get everything into place sooner, I suppose, though I certainly won't mind the slightly more relaxed schedule.
The big new today, however, is that The Rarities disc is being mastered as I type this, and will likely be finished some time tomorrow!
UPDATE 7/14: I won't go into specifics out of respect for privacy, but I've just been informed that our chief layout artist experienced a very sad family tragedy over the weekend. If you could all please keep Matt and his family in your thoughts, I'm sure it would mean a lot. Thanks, everyone.
UPDATE #2 7/13: Today was, surprisingly, a bit of a no show. Everyone was so busy digesting the work I sent out over the weekend that I just ended up standing around and watching while they all toiled away. Vaulting ambition which o'er leaps itself, indeed! So to amuse myself in the unexpected downtime, I added a new link in the right sidebar's Amazon lineup. Take a look at the very bottom of the list, and click on Geoffrey Keezer's version of "Gollum's Song." If you ever felt that Gollum could use a velvety suave makeover, this could be for you! Actually, it's very well done. I'm listening right now with a smile wrapped around my face. The perfect end to a strangely calm day. Back in the saddle tomorrow. See you then!
UPDATE 7/13: Enjoying a rousing bout of Hurry Up and Wait as everyone sorts through the files I sent this weekend.
This is going to be quite a week.
The second draft proofing notes are now into the publishers, who will begin tweaking everything tomorrow morning. I'm beyond thrilled with this draft; it's looking absolutely beautiful. They've nailed that elegant handmade quality that we've been aiming for. I can't wait to introduce you al to the team that has put this together, but all things in due time.
On either Wednesday or Thursday, The Rarities Archives will be mastered. After that, the wild ride begins in earnest as we scramble to integrate the disc's details into the book's text, re-proof, and deliver a final product to the printers.
I'm nervous, excited, jittery and worn-out. But if everything goes according to plan, we should have a finished product around this time next week.
Check in often! I promise I'll do my best to keep everyone updated. Fingers crossed!
This popped up online recently, and though the beautiful Kraków Film Music Festival is a now few months behind us, the article offers a fine overview of the event. For your reading pleasure I offer two language options: Polish and Gobbeldy-English, courtesy of Google's well-meaning auto translator.
And if you're not in a reading mood, you can at least enjoy a couple of really goofy-looking of me, including my public service announcement alerting kids to the dangers of locking eyes with Sauron, and my impromptu audition for the last season of The Sopranos. See below...
UPDATE 7/11:Another day trip yesterday meant most business was handled over the phone. However, if you follow the Twitter feed, you'll have already noted that the book's front and back covers are now finalized and locked! You should be seeing them soon... most likely on the Radio City site, whenever it makes its long-delayed appearance online.
UPDATE 7/9: Coffee in hand, and back at it! Checking cor anglais throughout the document. We're down to this sort of minutiae now, and though it's mind-numbing, it's a sure sign that we're almost there. This is the first draft where I've picked it up and felt like "Wow, this is actually a book!" Maybe it's seeing the last name on the spine in golden lettering. Pretty cool!
UPDATE 7/8: Back at the grindstone... though slightly more car-lagged than planned. Working through the text again. Expect updates tomorrow. Goodnight, friends!
UPDATE 7/7: Out of town until 7/7. Keep your eyes on Twitter until my return.
UPDATE #2 7/6 (pm): Don't let anyone tell you otherwise -- proofreading Old English is a chore!
UPDATE 7/6 (pm): Proofreading central -- Getting an early start!
7/6 (am): The second draft is in, and looking good!
Here's one more video from the Italian LOTR Symphony performances, this one from a different vantage point. Thanks again go to Roberto!
Those of you following the Twitter feed or Facebook page (this is getting too diverse!) have seen that the second draft of the book layout is due in from Los Angeles today. I'll be on a 24 hour sabbatical running from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, during which I'll start digging through the revised text. If my phone service cooperates, I'll keep you updated via Twitter/Facebook. I'll be back on the blog proper Wednesday night.
Our friend Maurizio, who was very involved in last week's Rome performances, checks back in with a collection of memories and impressions.
The Rome picture slideshow has been updated as well, and now resides below Maurizio's words.
After one week from the Rome LOTR Symphony premiere, I have some time to share my thoughts and feelings about this amazing experience. It's been quite two wonderful days for me: I had the honour and privilege to meet and know the amazing Howard Shore, as me and my fellow colleagues of ColonneSonore.net were involved by the Santa Cecilia staff in setting up the Pre-Concert Talk on Friday 26th.
The Pre-Concert Talk was held at "La Serra", a sort of greenhouse located in front of the Auditorium Parco della Musica, where the concerts were performed. Me and my friend Giuliano introduced Howard Shore with some brief biographical notes and a short overview of the LOTR scores. Then Howard entered the stage and he was greeted with a passionate applause. The talk was centered around his experience in the LOTR films and the unique approach he brought to the scoring of these films. He underlined the importance of the Tolkien books and the unique relationship he had with the filmmakers. After answering to some questions from the audience, Howard left the stage accompained by another heartfelt applause and then people started going into the Auditorium to attend the concert.
Both performances were GREAT. The Santa Cecilia Orchestra & Chorus were impeccable. All the musicians gave their best on both nights. I was particularly impressed by the brass section--especially trumpets, which had a fantastic, pure sound. Howard was really enjoying himself on the podium. On Friday night the hall was even more packed than the night before and the audience was much more involved. They gave TWO standing ovations!
Also on Friday, Howard did a post-concert CD signing session. The line was huge, there were at least 300 persons who patiently waited to meet and greet with Howard. Although much tired after the performance, Howard stayed until 1am to sign stuff, always happy to shake hands and greet fans.
Hearing the LOTR music performed live by more than 200 musicians is an unparalled experience. This is the kind of music which really trascend to another dimension when listened to live on stage. I was genuinely moved and excited by the experience of hearing the beautiful symphonic architecture Howard Shore produced. The Symphony is a fantastic piece, a beautiful sum-up of the best moments of the Trilogy.
I'm grateful Howard came to Italy to perform the Symphony. It was a long overdue event for Italian fans of both the Lord of the Rings films and Howard Shore. And I felt honoured and privileged in giving my own very little contribution to these wonderful nights.
Now, I'm very much tempted to fly to NY next October for the Radio City Music Hall performance of FOTR Live to Projection... :)
The 100 Days post a few days back really got me. This is all so close to being a reality now. But I felt kind of silly at the same time. If I want evidence of this project's progress, I really don't need to look at anything other than the next couple of weeks! Point in case, look at what all needs to be accomplished in July:
Scheduled for today, in fact. Meeting with publishers, including the project coordinator and the layout artist. I fully expect to be yelled at a few times, but I'll roll with it. (I request a lot of edits.) Once the review is done, work will commence and pages will be delivered in bunches. I fully expect we'll see one more week of late night scrambling, complete with hastily scrawled blog updates. Those of you who enjoyed that energy a few weeks back, prepare yourself for one more go at it. Those of you who found it unreadable... well, consider yourselves forewarned!
Still trying to get the various companies involved to see eye-to-eye. It's not that we haven't etched out temporary agreements to cooperate at this stage, it's the terms of those agreements that need to be settled. Happily, I think we're about to throw one more corporation into the mix, this one a familiar and most-welcome face! You'll see.
As mentioned in a recent Twitter post, The Rarities are scheduled for mastering approximately two weeks from now. This has been an interesting decision-making process. Like so much else on this project, there's no real precedent for The Rarities Archives. Sure, I know we've seen CDs that feature glimpses into the making of Project X or Project Y, but not quite like this one. (That doesn't mean that we're trying anything wildly conceptual here -- I don't think -- just that everything has its own specific energy.) A lot of discussion went into the audio quality of TRA. When we knowingly duck behind the scenes, what audio quality seems natural? How clean should it be? Is there a certain aesthetic charm to a degree of imperfection?
Once again, it was the music itself that led us. Even as a collection of conceptual and unused audio, the music is of such fine quality it needs to be presented in the highest fidelity available. Nothing else feels genuine. So TRA will be mastered by the same exacting standards that were applied to all the music of The Lord of the Rings. And I couldn't be happier! It's now something that's essentially educational in nature, but that functions, in every way possible, as another album of Shore's amazing LOTR music. The last of its kind, in fact -- the final LOTR album! How's that for an excitement-generator?
Final Track Selections
But TRA won't end with the mastering. As soon as the tech end of things is done, some final decisions need to be made regarding track selections. What will play best on this educational collection/album? In all honesty, the selections are 99% made at this point. But there are a couple A/B choices left to be determined. These are incredibly important for the book however, because the text needs to reflect the track selections properly. So that leads to...
There will be a few tense hours following the mastering process. In short order, the track selections must be made, the CD credits must be assembled and locked, this information needs to be ported over to the book, laid-out, and delivered to the printers. All within a few hours. Yes, really! Now there's no reason that this should be a smooth flow of information, but believe me, we'll all be watching our phone and internet connections intently that day, slightly paranoid that technology will betray us at the last second!
Of course, it won't all end there. There will still be packaging and artwork decisions to make regarding The Rarities. Some of these we've already begun considering, but we won't have to make final calls until further down the line. And of course, I continue to hear tell of some hand numbering and autographing that will require attention in the coming weeks. Should that pan out, more time will be dedicated.
With signings being booked, Radio City planning continuing, press releases and pre-orders planned, I fully expect to be engaged by this project until you're picking up your copy in a few months! Or at least until our freshly double-digit deadline enters the single-digit realm. So believe me, when you see a post announcing there are only nine days left, you'll know I'm somewhere really sweating! But if you'll stick with me, I can practically guarantee a ride like none other!
Welcome, July. And here we go...
Two more magnets to go before all nine are available at once. Radio City badges coming soon! Click here to order.
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