Music Saving

COVID-19 isolated me, as it did most of us, in ways that we could not have anticipated. I found a variety of ways to not go crazy. One was to rediscover music, not listening so much as making, something I have done off and on for many years since I was a teenager. In the age of non-contact, what I found was notation software, which has come so far it is hard to believe. I started composing again this spring and summer, picking up threads from years, sometimes decades ago and creating completely new ones from scratch. It does not seem to want to stop at this point, but calls constantly. I have to resist in order to get my “work” done.

I’ve put up so far a lucky thirteen pieces at the YouTube channel I created for sharing. The name Ba Ren Chi is something I thought up years ago, the Japanese Romanization, one possible one anyway, for the first three syllables of my last name. It seems apt.

The latest is mean, I mean that’s in the title, Meaner Than That, and the two before were spur-of-the-moment compositional gifts to my mother on her 90th-birthday and my wife on her we won’t say which birthday. Then before that Cool 6, which I find so fun, and then older ones like the zany Zapp, the eclectic Rok Ni Yon, and the sincere September Elegy. And that’s only seven of them.

I am sharing because it’s really all I want to do. Have a listen if you’re at all interested. No pressure to like or become a follower (or whatever the YouTube version of that is). I put little stock in such things. But if anything speaks to you, please drop me a line via comments here. It will make me feel very good.


  1. I kind of remember you played the flute, or was that a dream? I was not aware that you were composing back in the late 70’s when I knew you. You’ve come a long way since then. Very cool name! What music software do you use?

    1. Thanks, Corrie! I didn’t play the flute, but my younger sister did, so maybe that’s what you dreamed. I wouldn’t call what I was doing back in the 70s composing. It’s what my father used to refer to–when I would ask him what he was doing with all those musical instrument parts in the garage–as “fooling around.” Actual compositions didn’t start to take shape until I found the right software in the 1990s. I’ve used various versions of Finale ever since (“fooled around” with Sibelius for a little bit, but I prefer Finale). The software has come a long way, too. I remember Mike Dana saying once that composing on an instrument that one does not play well is not a good idea, and I think that’s also true of the software. Sometimes you have something in your head and you start writing it in the notation software, but because you don’t have the right level of control over the software (you’re not a proficient “player”), it takes you in a completely different direction. That can be good sometimes, but it can also lead to losing the idea that you hoped to develop in a certain way. On the other hand, there are so many different sounds in the instruments now included in Finale that it often opens up possibilities I could not have dreamed of. Easy to lose myself in this.

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