Composer Spotlight – Adam Weiss

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This week the Garritan Blog interviews composer Adam Weiss, a 17 year old high school student with an impressive list of completed works. If you’re interested in learning more about how younger generations are using virtual instrument software as a part of their career development, this post is for you…

GB: When did you first begin composing music, and when did you start incorporating technology into your composing process?

AW: I started dabbling in composition when I began playing piano around the age of nine. I’ve always been captured by the ability to create emotion and story with music. It all started with experimenting in sound, and then that began my interest in theory and composition.

Technology has always been a vital part of my composing process. Sequencing/notation programs and MIDI have made it possible for my music to come alive without the expenses of hiring professional players and orchestras, which at the age of 17 isn’t quite an option yet.

GB: What other software do you use beyond Garritan Sounds?

AW: I’m very loyal to Mac products and have been using software like Logic Pro and Finale along with my use of Garritan libraries for the past couple of years.

GB: Do you have any favorite Garritan sound patches that you’ve found to be particularly useful?

I particularly love the various solo instruments available in GPO, as well as some of the larger ensemble groupings and “Moods” that come with Instant Orchestra which are handy when I need to create a quick demo piece.

GB: Your latest large work is “Beneath The Stars: Symphonic Poem for Orchestra.” Can you tell us a little about your process in composing this work and making it come to life?

AW: “Beneath the Stars: Symphonic Poem for Orchestra” has been a project of mine since early this year. This piece was a two-step process involving sequencing, and also full orchestral notation. The piece was written with a live orchestra in mind, but it also needed to be digitally executed so I could have a virtual representation of the music.

“Beneath the Stars” is dedicated to the wonderment and awe of space and the imagery of a clear night sky. I have always found space to be an inspiring and fascinating subject since a very young age.

GB: I’d like to draw the listeners’ attention to time mark 3:25 in your piece “Beneath The Stars”, where you’ve blended many orchestra instruments to achieve a broad sounding finale. Can you speak to fellow orchestrators about the instrumentation choices you’ve made here and offer tips for how we can try something like this at home with our Garritan set-up?

AW: The “finale” section of Beneath the Stars was accomplished with a wide range of instruments to create a full sound. Some instruments that were vital to that section were some rich and heroic French horn and string lines, but also some unique additions like gong rolls for atmosphere, and tubular bells and celeste, which actually play the main melody in that section.

This can be accomplished with Garritan fairly easily with some of the versatile and powerful sounds that are available at hand. I think that including small atmospheric details in the background is what really made this section work so well.

GB: Your compositions also receive live performances, or in some cases, mix live instrumentalists with Garritan sounds. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using virtual instruments while pursuing a career in composing?

AW: There are huge advantages to using virtual instruments as a composer, especially at this stage in my career. Digital libraries can help me create massive orchestral sounds without needing a single instrument at my disposal, which is massively powerful.

Of course, a disadvantage to using virtual instruments is that they are not real instruments in nature and don’t always have the same human quality to them. However, with the advancement of technology and software like Garritan, the difference is becoming unnoticeable.

GB: What advice do you have for aspiring composers?

AW: My biggest advice for aspiring composers is to reach for your dream as soon as possible, and with that, go all in. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; go out and find them and you’ll be surprised at what you might be capable of creating and achieving. Don’t be afraid to step out of your boundaries and try new things. The most important thing is to not give up on what you are passionate about. To be a successful composer I think it is important that you commit yourself to the profession, study hard, and not lose focus on your musical aspirations.

GB: Are you working on another piece at the moment? 

AW: I just finished a (very timely) solo piano piece called “Autumn.” This piece draws from both classical and jazz styles and reflects on the romance of the season. You can listen here:

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GB: Where do you see yourself in 10 years (musically), and how can the Garritan community follow your career?

AW: Right now I am approaching college where I plan to study film scoring, which is what I hope to do as a career in the near future. It has been my dream to pursue writing music for media since I was very young. I’ve been lucky to have made some great connections and have had some opportunities to try my hand at scoring for different local productions in the Washington D.C. metro area. I see myself venturing into film scoring, but video game scoring and other related media scoring also interests me. The opportunities available with the emergence of technology and entertainment are fantastic.

You can follow me at my website or on my SoundCloud page.

Do you have a question for Adam? Leave him a comment below.

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