School’s Out!

Put your hands together for the Master’s Class of 2014. Photo courtesy of Berklee College of Music.

Welcome back to the podium, faithful readers! True to form, I blink my eyes, and another month passes.

No, this is still not the long-awaited London update. I promise that I will upload that soon. For now, however, I want to tie up a few loose ends about where I have been and what I have been doing these past few weeks (in case you have not been following my Twitter feed). Just to keep things interesting, let’s do this in reverse-chronological order.

As you can see, the countdown to graduation has run out, and I am now a bona fide Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games (is “Maestro” the correct appellation now?). I will take the time to properly revisit my thoughts and reflections after I have had some more time to process this, but I was proud to take my place amidst my colleagues as we walked across the stage of the Teatro Martin i Soler — one of the first places that we visited on our tour of the Palau complex during Fall Orientation in September — and bid farewell to the school that has fostered and nurtured our creative and academic endeavours over these past ten months. If you happened to have missed the 2014 Berklee Valencia Commencement Ceremony, you can watch it right here, on the podium!

Two nights before, I was privileged to participate in the Berklee Valencia Commencement Concert in two acts. The first was a medley combining a traditional Indian song, aptly entitled “Kanada,” with the jazz standard, “Afro Blue,” and the Bill Withers spiritual-like soul tune, “Grandma’s Hands,” in an arrangement written by yours truly for voice, veena, violin, clarinet, guitar, tabla, double bass, piano, and vocal percussion. My ensemble was comprised of members of the Berklee Valencia community of all stripes, from a post-graduate fellow to an undergrad studying abroad, from a Latin GRAMMY® winner to little ol’ me. In the second, I took to the stage with the Berklee Valencia Brazilian Batucada, reprising a performance that we recorded in the second semester with Brazilian singer-songwriter Luiza Sales.

You may watch the show here, right on the podium:

In addition to practicing for the performance, I spent the preceding week finishing up a couple of projects, including my contribution to the soundtrack of Olly: Dusty Memories, a video game project by students from ESAT, here in Valencia. As I mentioned in March, I was a member of a group of composers from Berklee Valencia who joined in collaboration with a team of ESAT design and development students to produce a “vertical slice of gameplay” (essentially, an excerpt). I completed one track at the end of the second semester in May, and I was asked to provide an additional piece of music in the third semester. I am told that the team produced a playable demo in time for DreamHack, and that they intend to continue working on the game.

Earlier in the week, the video that I scored for my London recording was screened as part of a program entitled, “Composers of the Future,” a collection of our final projects, at L’Hemisfèric (Valencia’s planetarium). It was an honour to have been chosen to have my work publicly represent the Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program here at Berklee in Valencia, and a pleasure to hear the work of my colleagues fully realized, synchronized to picture. If getting to be present for the recording sessions at AIR Studios for these projects was phenomenal in and of itself, then hearing the final product was truly a satisfying conclusion.

On July 1, I successfully presented my Master’s dissertation, “San, Synth, and Symphony: The Music of Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke“. I have admired this film since I first saw it in 1999, and have, of course, listened to the soundtrack countless times, but never truly examined it before with a critical lens (which led me to watch the film and listen to the soundtrack probably more times in the past six months than in the previous 14 years). I combined my experience with film studies and musical analysis to conduct an in-depth study of the various auditory cues, clues, and codes that are included in the soundtrack, particularly through the use of orchestration/instrumentation and recurring themes, to create narrative meaning for the audience and to fulfill the composer’s role as a musical storyteller. (Yes, it goes on like that for about 12,000 words.) It will become part of the Berklee College of Music archives, but if you would like to see an unofficial copy, please leave me a comment, send me a message, or otherwise get my attention.

The night before my Master’s thesis presentation (never a dull moment, folks!), I successfully interviewed with Sparks and Shadows, founded by composer Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Sails), to join their team this fall as a studio intern. I’m very excited for the opportunity to participate in the studio of an active composer in the middle of an active production (or three). I consider this an important component in my education — getting to put what I’ve learned about the industry, through both education and experience, into practice — into an experience that truly marks the culmination of my Master’s adventure. I look forward to working hard and learning a lot — and, as circumstances permit, blogging about my experiences!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Federmusik is going to Hollywood.

Music Round-Up

In the latter half of June, I released a series of pieces that I composed in the second semester. I followed the release of The House on the Hill and El Perseguidor Teaser Trailer, one track for each Alfons and Lucio, with another such pairing. “No One Alive Left in Jennytown” is a rescore of a sequence from Home Delivery, an animated adaptation of the Stephen King short story. As I mentioned in March, this one was written as Fallas was bursting around me, and was recorded with members of the string section of the Budapest Art Orchestra (with sampled brass, percussion, and theremin mixed in), conducted again by Peter Pejtsik. The interesting challenge for this project was that with two days’ notice, we were informed that our delivery deadline was pushed forward by 18 hours. Not only did we have to create something of quality under time pressure, but we had to do so while our city was (festively) exploding. I love fireworks and rock concerts as much as the next person, but not when I’m on a deadline. Turning around two minutes of orchestral music within two days under these particular circumstances was quite the trial for us (though admittedly paling in comparison next to such composers as Shostakovich who composed even greater works during periods of actual civil unrest). After editing and mixing, here is what I came up with:

Here is the music by itself:

Next, as I mentioned in my April blog post, I was back in the producer’s chair to record a short cool/action cue, rescoring a scene from Go for Sisters, with its composer, Mason Daring, as my co-producer. For this project, I was very pleased to be working again with my fellow students on the other side of the glass, recording Master’s students Sergio Martinez (percussion) and fellow Canuck Tyler Sasso (guitar), along with undergrad Max Ridley (bass) on this track. Mason is a very experienced producer, and I was glad to have him on my wing for this sortie. I found him the perfect balance of gentle and direct, and often spoke for me to the musicians during the session. He was also not afraid to give his suggestions, often knowing just the right ingredient to make the track really shine (especially with regards to my guitar parts — a topic that I am now better versed in, thanks to this cue). At the same time as Mason seemed to take control during the session, he was often going to bat for me, encouraging the musicians with such lines as, “It’s a nice part. David deserves this to be on.” Much appreciated, Mason!

Mason Daring (centre) coaches the musicians through the chart.

Similar to my recording for El Perseguidor, the musicians in this session were immensely talented, but not classically trained. They each approached me in the days leading up to the session to warn me that their sight-reading abilities may not be up to par. In response, I made sure to build extra time into my creative process in order to provide each of them with mockup recordings of their respective parts, as well as the full mockup for the cue, along with copies of their parts, in advance of the recording session. They seemed to enjoy the cue and the recording session. Here is my interpretation of the scene:

Here is the music by itself:

Right after Spring Break, I wrote what was intended to be the main titles of a hypothetical television series. For this assignment, we were told that the piece had to be 1 minute long, be entirely MIDI, and conform to the genre of fantasy, sci-fi, or family comedy. I chose to write something in the epic historical fantasy adventure vein, drawing on my past experience with high fantasy storytelling and affinity for things long ago and far away. Fasten your cloak and swordbelt and press play:

Would you watch this series? Tell me in the comments!

I capped off the musical countdown with what I called the “Thesis Edition,” in which I released my London recording. I’ll save posting that here for the London update.

What’s Next?

While all of us fresh graduates are currently pondering that question, mostly in an esoteric sense, I am enjoying some well-deserved and much-needed downtime and can give more of a literal answer. After spending a few days in Barcelona last week actually seeing the city (and not standing in line outside the convention centre), I am off to Córdoba for the end of the Festival Internacional de Música de Cine, Provincia de Córdoba (FIMCC). After that, I plan to spend a couple days in Sevilla, then make my way back to Valencia via Madrid and Toledo.

Following my return to Valencia, I will begin closing out my affairs here in preparation for my return to North America.

Expect upcoming blog posts in the near future about London and reflections on graduation.

¡Hasta luego!

Countdown to Graduation

Greetings, faithful readers! No, this isn’t the long-awaited London update just yet.

First, a couple of housekeeping notes about some new features here at the podium. You may have already observed that I am also counting down to graduation with a handy timer over on the right sidebar. As well, how about you hover your mouse over the “Composer” tab in the upper-right corner?

Yeah, just like that.

You should see a menu appear with “Audio” and “Video.” Check them out!

Second, as I mentioned in my last post, I am marking the countdown to graduation by releasing selected works from the second semester. My current plan is to issue two releases per week for 2-3 weeks, so please stay tuned to my SoundCloud for the latest Federmusik.

Here are this week’s pieces, both of which were written in February.

No-Do – The House on the Hill

This is a re-score of a scene from No-Do (“News and Docs”/”The Beckoning”), written in early February for my Dramatic Orchestration course, focusing on creating motion using only the string family of the orchestra. The music for this film was originally composed by Alfons Conde, my Dramatic Orchestration instructor. Here is the music by itself:

El Perseguidor

At the end of the month, I was in the studio as a producer to direct two students, MT Aditya Srinivasan, currently completing his Master’s in Contemporary Performance, and Ilias Papantoniou, an ERASMUS exchange student from Greece who was interning at Berklee. Ilias has since been accepted to pursue his Master’s with a major in performance here at Berklee in Valencia next year. This piece was a rescore of the teaser trailer for an aborted television series, El Perseguidor (“The Chaser”), which was in development in the 1990s by Argentinian director Ernesto Kullock. Two more Berklee film scoring students assisted all of us on this project by redoing the voiceover and sound effect tracks. Kudos to Niko and Lawrence for their hard work (and thanks for providing us with in-joke fodder that will never get old).

Here is the trailer:

Here is the music by itself:

This recording differed from all of the others in many ways: we were instructed specifically not to use orchestral instruments in our synth backing track, we were producing our own recording session (our only previous experience with that, in this context, was our first Budapest recording, and even then, we were working with production teams both here and in Budapest), and, primarily, not only were we working with musicians who were our peers and not contracted professionals, we were working with musicians who were not trained in the Western classical tradition. Adapting our methods of writing and working with musicians who were not born and bred in the orchestra was one of the challenges of this session. I was very fortunate to have Lucio there as my co-producer; even though he actually only needed to step in and assist me at the very end of the session, his presence as a guide and mentor was very comforting. Later, Lucio remarked that he was surprised at how seriously the percussionists took my session. Perhaps my reputation precedes me.

The gentlemen in action.

Through this semester and its multiple opportunities to produce my own work, I gained an appreciation for the utility to be one’s own producer. However, I found that it was much easier for me to produce (or co-produce) the work of my peers, rather than performing that role for myself. All things being equal, I still prefer to be on the podium, with the musicians in front of me and the click in my ear. Even as a producer, in this session, I managed the opportunity to cue the musicians in at key points in the recording, albeit from the other side of the glass. Once a conductor, always a conductor, I suppose.

Stay tuned through the rest of this month for more music!

¡Hasta luego!

Destination: Xàtiva

The flag of Xàtiva.

…in which David comes up for air amidst working on his Master’s thesis.

¡Ha pasado mucho tiempo!

It has been a long time, hasn’t it? Since I last posted, I finished my second semester coursework, decided on a thesis-level composition project, and recorded alongside my classmates at AIR Studios, which involved me conducting a 54-piece orchestra comprised of some of the best freelance musicians in London. We have just finished our third week of the final semester of the Master’s degree, which sees me working on a written dissertation analyzing the music of Princess Mononoke while taking a course on how to use Ableton Live.

That’s the short version of where I’ve been these past several weeks, anyway.

Before I release the long-awaited London update, however, I promised that I would share pictures from my excursion to Xàtiva in April. Lamenting not having taken many opportunities since coming to Spain to leave the city of Valencia, I was really feeling my wanderlust and love of history overtaking me. In lieu of making a more significant trip during Spring Break, I opted to spend an afternoon in the ancient castle town of Xàtiva, a short train ride away from Valencia. In addition to Xàtiva being famous for its hilltop castle, it is renowned for being the birthplace of Roderic Llançol i de Borja, also known as Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI (the subject of The Borgias).

The man himself.

The hike up from the town towards the castle offers some beautiful views in both directions:

Looking up at the castle from halfway up the hill.

The view down towards the town from halfway up the hill prominently features the Iglesia Colegio, also known as “La Seu.”

Xàtiva Castle (el Castell de Xàtiva) itself, having been built and rebuilt over the course of over a thousand years, is actually comprised of two keeps (castells), which still retains great portions of its Iberian and Moorish-Roman architecture, found in its lower (Menor) and upper (Major) castles, respectively.

The view of the Castell Menor, across the ridge from the Castell Major.

The view of the Castell Major, across the ridge from the Castell Menor.

Now more of a tourist attraction than a military fortification, the castle features exhibits on the Borja family, the history and construction of the castle, and castle life during periods of war and peace, featuring examples of arms, armour, artifacts, musical instruments, and more, illustrating — among other things — the dichotomy and conflict between Moors and Christians that shaped the Valencian region over a period of centuries.

Plus, what adventure would be complete without a little dungeon crawl?

All in all, my jaunt to Xàtiva was a welcome change of scenery, and getting my castle on may have given me a little inspiration for the next piece that I wrote. Stay tuned, faithful readers, for more music and the long-awaited update about my trip to London and my recording at AIR Studios. I will be releasing a selection of works written during the second semester, which, as I mentioned previously, shifted the balance of composition towards electronic production, synth scoring, and greater use of MIDI. Check back here — and specifically, under the Composer tab — starting this coming Monday, June 16, for the Countdown to Graduation – Second Semester Collection.

Xàtiva, as seen from the Castell Menor.

From Fallas to Spring Break

Another month has gone by, which means that it’s time for another update!

When last we left off, I was dodging petardos and deafeningly-loud explosions, chomping churros and buñuelos, and vainly attempting to work during the raucous merriment of Fallas. Berklee gave us a few days off in the spirit of, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” If there are two things that Valencia takes very seriously, they are brass bands and fireworks. Las Fallas provides the perfect opportunity for these two to intersect, and the grand finale of the holiday, La Cremà, is no exception. Here are a few photos and videos from the final days of the celebration, but these images cannot do justice to the spectacle that is Las Fallas.

The incredibly tall falla at Plaza de la Reina.

A massive Greek god-themed falla.


You bet we came back to watch this one burn.

Almost all of the streets in town were bedecked with some form of lighting for decoration, often with the name of the casal fallar (essentially, a community Fallas committee), sometimes indicating corporate sponsorship. This is similar to how a Business Improvement Area back home would decorate a street with lights for a holiday. As with all things, there is a minimum and a maximum, and while certain streets were more on the minimal side, others…

This isn’t a falla; this is a street.

…went for the gusto. This one even hosted nightly concerts and light shows.

La Rueda, a Ferris wheel assembled for Fallas.

There was even a Ferris wheel.

In the spirit of “the bigger, the better,” a Ferris wheel was erected alongside the Turia, not too far from where the nightly fireworks were being set off, giving those with perfect timing (including yours truly) a view of the pyrotechnics from the air.

The largest of the nightly fireworks displays was reserved for La Nit del Foc (The Night of Fire), the penultimate night of Las Fallas, which went a little something like this (VOLUME WARNING):

The degree of nightly antics and partying also increased proportionately:

Why, yes, that is a smouldering payphone.

Throughout the holiday, Valencianos could be seen about town wearing the traditional garb of the fallero or fallera.

Valencianos clad in traditional dress parade through Plaza de la Reina.

Never missing an opportunity to dress up, even I got into the act:

El fallero canadiense.

All of this led up to La Cremà, the final night of Las Fallas. All of the fallas in the city are fitted with fireworks, drenched in kerosene, and set alight, like so:

Each falla is given a proper send-off, with Roman candle salutes…

Remember everything they taught you about fireworks safety? Yeah, me neither.

…before igniting a detonation cord, which triggers a chain of explosions…

Starting with this one.

…which sets off the fireworks that were embedded inside the falla.

Told you we came back.

Valiant firefighters keep the nearby buildings doused with water to prevent them from inadvertently catching fire…

Yes, his job is to not put out the fire.

…as the falla belches gouts of flame and black smoke.

See? Smoking is bad for your health.

To be completely honest, for all of the pomp, explosions, and buildup, I was surprised at how subdued La Cremà was, especially compared to La Nit del Foc the night before. I was given to understand that La Cremà would transition from the burning of the fallas to an all-night dance party, continuing the trend of the previous several nights. Instead, the streets grew bare as the last of the fallas turned to ash, and the denizens of Valencia, rather anticlimactically, went to bed.

Life returned to normal the next day. In fact, were it not for a few barriers still on the roads, one would not be able to guess that Las Fallas had ever happened. Much like waking from a dream, we were all quite groggy the next morning. After all:

It has to be said.

Perfect day for meeting a dozen student directors from Barcelona, no?

As I mentioned in my previous post, a dozen students from ESCAC in Barcelona visited us at Berklee for a full day of networking. The day was divided into them speaking about their projects — many still in the conceptual phases — and us playing our showreels for them. As we effectively outnumbered them three to one, and as most of us showed the same material, I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been for them. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at the visual quality that is now being produced by student filmmakers (much like the audio quality that can be produced by student composers, I imagine).

A week after Fallas ended, we concluded our study of Wwise in our Video Game Scoring course, and carried out a sample library recording session for Dramatic Electronic Composition. In preparation for the sampling session, we were visited by Eduardo Tarilonte, a prolific and accomplished virtual instrument designer. About a week and a half later, we were visited by Mason Daring, who brought along a clip from his latest film, Go for Sisters, for us to rescore for guitar, double bass, percussion, and synths. This cue is currently in the mixing process. Again, I was in the producer’s chair, but this time with Mason himself as my co-producer.

Spring Break has come and gone, all too fleetingly. Some of us chose to take it as an opportunity to put in a focused effort on our plethora of projects, while others decided to travel or otherwise put their feet up for a week. I tried to strike a balance between relaxing and working — I even managed a day trip to the castle town of Xàtiva (pictures will be posted later) — and while I may not have been as productive as I potentially could have been, I was thankful for the break.

Coming up in the imminent future, I will be writing a minute-long main title sequence for an imaginary television program and mixing it in the control room of the scoring stage for Advanced Scoring, designing a level with the Unreal Development Kit for Video Game Scoring, continuing work on my team collaboration with ESAT students, and turning 30.

¡Hasta luego!

Have Your Short Film Scored & Recorded Live in London! — DEADLINE EXTENDED!

Would you like your latest short to be set to an original orchestral soundtrack recorded by members of the London Symphony Orchestra at the world-famous AIR Studios?

I am a Master’s student at Berklee College of Music, currently pursuing my M.M. in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games. For my graduate thesis, I am seeking to collaborate with a filmmaker on an original short film that needs the professional finishing touch that only a live orchestral score can offer.

Whether your film is currently in production or post-production, or if you had a temp soundtrack on a previous project that you’d like to replace with one composed just for you, then this is your chance to work with a graduate student from one of the best music schools of its kind in the world. Best of all, because of the special nature of this project, there will be no cost to you for any recording, production, or creative fees.

What’s the catch?

1. For this recording project, I can only record a total of 3 minutes of orchestral music. If your film is longer than 3 minutes, or requires more than 3 minutes of music, then the score will have to be completed with samples/virtual instruments, a smaller recorded ensemble, or both.

2. I will be in London for this recording project from May 18-23, 2014. For best results, you can expect final delivery of the soundtrack sometime in June.

I will provide you with a good-quality demo of your score (created using samples) for your approval in May, before we head to the recording stage – and yes, just to get this out of the way up front, it will sound better live. 😉

What’s your pitch?

1. Pitch me your film! Tell me the plot, genre, duration, whether it is live-action or animation, etc.

2. Tell me why your film needs a 50-piece professional studio orchestra to record its soundtrack.

3. Anticipated date of picture lock (as applicable).

4. Your film’s delivery deadline.

5. Your plans for the film (festivals, distribution, etc.).

If you would like to have something in common with some of the biggest names in Hollywood – a professionally-produced score recorded at AIR Studios in London – please contact me with your proposal before April 15, 2014.


The Torres de Serrano illuminated in Valencian colours.

Looks like I’ve survived the first half of the second semester and made it to Fallas, a city-wide festival in which we welcome spring by fighting off winter with fireworks. The eponymous fallas (or falles), which are massive, elaborate statues of wood, mâché, and foam — alternately beautiful, comical, political, and crude — are erected in each neighbourhood, destined to be put to the torch in La Cremà (“The Burning”), a massive conflagration celebration on the night of March 19. Stay tuned for a future post with more pictures and stories.

Did I mention there were fireworks?

The Fallas season officially commenced on February 23 with La Crida, a ceremony at the Torres de Serrano where the Fallera Mayor (essentially, the Queen of Fallas) issues a call to all, far and wide, to join Valencia in celebrating Las Fallas. This was promptly followed by the first of many fireworks displays, as the overture to a cacophonous 3½-week period of nigh-endless explosions, concerts, and parties, including daily gatherings in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square) for volleys of gunpowder explosions, called Mascletàs, like this one here (VOLUME WARNING!):

…all of which make the perfect backdrop for trying to work on projects and assignments, naturally.

We are currently in the throes of the most intense period of Las Fallas, which translates to a small break in the Berklee world; I reckon that we wouldn’t be able to concentrate, anyway, what with all this going on:

The Earth-shattering kaboom is in Valencia, Marvin.

There is still plenty to do, but we are grateful for a few days without classes. The semester has seen more bursts of intensity concentrated between relative lulls in activity, which accounts for the general lack of activity here. As always, my Twitter feed contains a more immediate glimpse of my world. There is much to catch up on, so let’s begin with the course round-up!

Advanced Scoring interspersed composing a mostly-electronic teaser trailer for the aborted television series, El Perseguidor (“The Chaser”), with surprise visits from George S. Clinton and Alison Plante, both from Berklee’s Boston campus, and Robert Kraft, whose visit turned into a de facto midterm as we presented group mock-pitches in a simulated bid to score Black Swan. We have also been privileged with seeing some workprint footage from a couple of Lucio’s latest films, La Vida Inesperada and Pancho, El Perro Millonario, both of which happen to be on the program at the upcoming Málaga Film Festival.

Recording/Mix Techniques has, thus far, covered microphone techniques for various instruments and the use of effects plug-ins for improving our mixes. We have been recording ourselves for this purpose, (violin, guitar, and trombone), along with some help from a couple students outside of our class (to round out a ska band!) — and I have been getting to pitch in as a Pro Tools operator. Pretty much, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.

Dramatic Electronic Composition has seen me create a slew of virtual instruments in both Kontakt and Omnisphere, use other students’ patches in electronic compositions, and score a scene that was originally without music from The Bourne Identity. Coming up after Fallas, we will undertake the building of our own sample libraries through sessions of recording other students (and hopefully, once Fallas is out of our system, nothing that we build will catch fire).

Advanced Video Game Scoring continues to introduce us to different types of audio programming and logic, first with building a simulation representing different musical behaviours within a hypothetical video game in Max/MSP, and currently with learning about the architecture of audio implementation in Wwise. I am also currently among a team of composers working on a collaboration with students from Escuela Superior Arte y Tecnología (ESAT), here in Valencia, which will be delivered by the end of the semester.

Advanced Dramatic Orchestration has continued in its vein of a more academic study of orchestration. Classes have included discussions on orchestral textures and orchestration techniques, in which we analyzed scenes which were evidently scored in the spirit of certain pieces of classical music (which has led to some interesting games of Name That Tune). We also had our second session with members of the Budapest Art Orchestra, recording their string section for a rescore of a sequence from Home Delivery, the music of which was originally composed by Alfons. In addition to producing my own session, I stepped in to assist a few students with theirs. On top of that, Alfons has had us prepare a composition demo showreel, complete with video (click here for the music-only version), in advance of an upcoming visit from student filmmakers from Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya (ESCAC) in Barcelona.

Looking ahead, we are going to be quite busy as we hurtle through the second half of the semester, with the ESAT video game collaboration and other assignments on top of working on our thesis projects. Stay tuned for another post about the biggest recording project we will undertake this year.

…but for now, Fallas!

¡Hasta luego!

Settling in

“Settling in” has definitely been the theme of the past couple of weeks. With three weeks of the second semester under our belts now, we are (more or less) settling into our new routines. With the strenuous pace of the first semester still a constant spectre, many of us have resolved to find ways to make things a little easier on ourselves this time around, while still bringing our best effort (others, meanwhile, have seemingly resolved to find ways of making things more difficult. To each their own, I suppose). To that end, I am also in the process of a more literal settling in, as I have moved into a new apartment, located slightly closer to campus. I gave myself a two-week period to move, again in the interest of trying to make things slightly easier on myself, coinciding with the time between the start of Spring Orientation and the end of the second week of the semester. The extra time notwithstanding, the end of the process was still somewhat of a stressful rush. I suppose that’s the inevitable thing about moving.

The entire process of renting my first apartment — in a foreign country and culture, no less — was somewhat daunting with many obstacles, not the least of which was the linguistic barrier; my Spanish, while better than it was a few months ago, still isn’t great. With more than a little luck, I happened to contact a renter who, along with her family, has been very sweet, supportive, and helpful through the entire process (and willing to communicate with me in English). As she happens to be based in Barcelona, she was able to arrange for her (English-speaking) sister to show me the apartment. I’d like to give special thanks to my Spanish-speaking friends, namely Sergio and João, who offered linguistic support in messaging realtors, and to Niko for being an excellent burro to help me move my last few things.

Over the past couple weeks, the new apartment and I have been spending some quality time getting used to each other. I’ve bought it a few nice things, and in return, it has shown its own very special kind of affection. You could say that there has been a spark between us — or, at least, electric current. After having completed my move at the end of January, just as I was settling in for my first night in my new bed, I noticed that the oven and the metal border of the stove were vibrating slightly. While touching the stove, I happened to bump the metal sink.


After a couple more tests (read: successfully shocking myself), I decided that this was most definitely not normal, and — all jokes about me being a good conductor aside — required my landlady’s attention. Within a few days, she arranged for technicians to take a look at my kitchen, accompanied by her mother to let them into the building and to explain the problem. In the meantime, I had noticed that the electrical vibrations extended also to the new dishwasher that had been installed specially for my rental. The technicians came, saw, and, after one of them extracted an apparently-extraneous cable that had been allegedly touching the marble counter, deemed it fixed. Indeed, when I performed my manual test of the connection between the oven and the sink, nothing happened.

Then I noticed that the breaker had still been thrown.

They were already down the hall and waiting for the elevator when I, after having once again very successfully shocked myself, called them back. Of course, a problem with electrical current isn’t going to manifest if the power is off. So, I got them to fix it for real, and it passed the shock test. After I breathed a sigh of relief, my landlady’s mother suggested that I test the connection between the dishwasher and the sink.


It’s always comforting when the reaction to shocking yourself in front of a technician is, “You must be joking.” I assured them that I most definitely was not (and their own test confirmed it), and a second hour of debugging and fixing ensued. Finally, the electricity in the kitchen stopped passing through my body. I’m told that with the way this casa was built, the entire apartment is either not grounded or just not grounded well; they assured me that it’s not fatal. I’m not sure whether they were using “casa” to refer to just my suite or to the entire building (Spanish speakers, your insight is appreciated), but they said that redoing the wiring would take an entire week’s worth of work. I’m not sure that’s on the menu.

With my apartment and I having come to an understanding about the whole trying to kill me thing (and my hair returning to normal from its Einstein impression), let’s get down to music! As promised, here is the video of my last film cue from the first semester, a rescore of a scene from Gran Hotel:

Here is the music by itself:

This was the first time that a professional studio orchestra has played my work. As for the next opportunity for something like that to happen, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Since editing and mixing my recording of “Pero nunca podrá ser” (“But it can never be”), I have written a couple more short pieces for my second-semester courses, which I may post in due time. More on those later. I am also considering posting a few other tracks that I produced for my Video Game Scoring course in the first semester. If you’re interested, leave a comment, send me a tweet, or otherwise get my attention.

Nearly two weeks ago, we were visited by Goya-winning composer Alberto Iglesias, with whom Lucio has worked closely as his producer on several projects, perhaps most notably on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film, Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother). Through very openly sharing a number of anecdotes about his experience in the film industry, all of us were floored by his tremendous insight, his genuine nature, and, perhaps most importantly, his humility. He also had no problems posing for pictures with us, either:

David with Alberto Iglesias

Meeting Goya-winning composer Alberto Iglesias.

Course Round-Up

My courses this semester are largely, in effect, continuations of my previous work. Part 2 in the Advanced Scoring and Advanced Dramatic Orchestration series with Lucio Godoy and Alfons Conde, respectively, Dramatic Electronic Composition with Vanessa Garde, and Advanced Video Game Scoring with Ben Houge build on the foundations laid in the first semester. I am also studying privately with Alfons this semester. In addition, I have decided to join a handful of my fellow composers in taking an undergraduate course on Recording/Mix Techniques, taught by Senior Engineer Pablo Schuller.

Advanced Scoring and Dramatic Electronic Composition appear to have more of a focus on electronic and hybrid scoring techniques used in film and television. It was only very recently that it occurred to me that my very first film score, back in 2001, was composed as a synth-orchestral hybrid. I believe that my perspective on that at the time was not so much, “I’m going to sit down and compose a hybrid score,” as it was about choosing the right instruments for the job (it was all MIDI, anyway — we had 128 patches to choose from, and we liked it!). Although electronic composition itself is not new to me, most of my compositional experience to date, both for media and art music, has been in an acoustic instrumental idiom. I am looking forward to expanding my musical palette while, funnily enough, returning to my roots at the same time.

After our exhaustive study of instrumentation in the first semester, this semester’s edition of Advanced Dramatic Orchestration seems to be structured as more of an academic study of the subject, while still affording us composition assignments from time to time. Advanced Video Game Scoring will merge our musical skills with technological savvy, dealing with methods to demonstrate and implement video game music. We will be gaining exposure to such tools as Max/MSP, Unity, XNA, and Wwise. Becoming proficient with these tools, all of which are new to me, will be an interesting challenge. For any programmers in the audience, your well-wishes are very much appreciated.

In terms of recent compositions, the past week has seen me produce a short electronic cue, loosely inspired by the soundtrack to Homeland, and a dramatic cue for strings based on the opening scene from No-Do (“The Haunting”), which was originally scored by Alfons. While my composition schedule overall for this semester is not yet as clearly-defined as it was in the fall — we are not, for example, producing new material each week for Dramatic Orchestration this semester — I am content to wait and see what lies ahead.

As well, in contrast to the eight official recording sessions from last semester (with the latter five over the course of the final seven weeks), we are currently scheduled for only five this time: two specifically for Advanced Scoring (one in two weeks’ time, the other at the end of April, right after Spring Break), one with the Budapest Art Orchestra for Dramatic Orchestration in the week before Fallas in March, an instrument-sampling session for Dramatic Electronic Composition at the end of March, and a recording session with composer and producer Mason Daring, who is slated to visit us in April. Moreover, I am given to understand that the nature of these recording sessions will see me more in the role of producer than conductor. I hope that I will be able to keep my baton skills up in spite of this, because all of this is leading up to the biggest recording session of the year and the capstone of our experience here at Berklee in Valencia: a trip to London to record at AIR Studios in late May. The scope of the London recording will be an orchestral cue totaling no more than 2½-3 minutes’ duration.

That being said, I am in the process of seeking a short project that would benefit from a 50-piece professional studio orchestra providing its soundtrack. Readers, please spread the word!

¡Hasta luego!

One Year Ago…

One year ago, I was taking a course on music composition for film and television, working towards the completion of a certificate specializing in that subject from Berklee Online.

One year ago, I was working a part-time administrative contract at a college in Toronto.

One year ago, on the morning of January 25, 2013, I had my interview for the Master in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program at Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain (via Skype).

I had practiced a number of pertinent talking points. I had rehearsed my patter. I had a set of notes for ready reference on my screen, as well as a slate of questions prepared for my interviewers to answer about the program. I was ready to take the next step in my professional and musical development.

It was one of the longest half-hours of my life.

I was interviewed by Laura Karpman, an Emmy award-winning composer for film, television, and video games, and then-director of the SFTV program at Berklee in Valencia. She wasted no time in cutting to a set of hard-hitting questions — that is, after we clarified my identity; the person who was scheduled to interview before me was apparently also named David, and he seemingly missed his interview. Oops.

I took the opportunity to articulate my passion for composition for media and more-than-lifelong love of music, particularly of the dramatic, narrative variety, all while enumerating the various resources that I could contribute to the Berklee environment, if they would have me among their number. I shared an array of anecdotes and addressed my experience with writing for film and game projects. On top of that, as I had completed more work in the intervening eight weeks since submitting my application, I sought permission to send additional samples.

This is where I claim victory and say that I nailed the interview, right?

I did my best, but I finished the interview with a “just missed” feeling — and they apparently felt the same way. Three weeks later, I received an e-mail informing me that my application would be held until the next round and reviewed again in light of the next batch of candidates. I was, understandably, rather disappointed, but I chose to regard it not as a “No,” but a “Not yet,” in hopes that they would not fill their cohort from solely their first round of applicants. I resolved to do my best over the following weeks to produce the best material I could for my portfolio, with an aim to submit more samples before they rendered their final decisions.

The rest, as they say, is history.

One moment of the interview still remains with me, even after a year. Laura asked me, “How do you feel about going to Spain?”

I answered, “It sounds like a grand adventure.”

It certainly has been, and I look forward to what has yet to come.

End of Act One

Written in part during the holidays in Toronto, Canada.

Did the past four months actually happen?

When I found myself in my own bed for the first time since August, had I not merely awoken from a dream?

The final three weeks of the semester became a sleep-deprived blur, but it wasn’t the same this time as those still-memorable bouts of university-induced sleep deprivation from my undergrad years; I wasn’t asleep on my feet in quite the same way, but rather, by the time I was facing my parade of final assignments, I felt an overwhelming amount of nothing.

Make no mistake: the opportunities that have been granted to me at Berklee Valencia thus far have been tremendously rewarding, from working with professional musicians and instructors to having my work recorded by a 32-piece studio orchestra (more on that later). The truth is that through chronic sleep deprivation, I, much like the rest of my classmates, was exhausted not only beyond belief, but to the point of numbness. In the final throes of this dream that has been the first semester at Berklee Valencia, I felt too tired to think, too tired to feel, too tired to write another note.

I did anyway.

We all did.

Our instructors pushed us to our limits, and then made us work harder. With our resistance and resilience having been eroded, we suffered intense stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation (and generally feeling like this) as we battled deadline after deadline. We worked past the point of exhaustion and transcended a mere mortal measurement of stamina to become the iron men and women of musical skill that our chosen vocation demands — at least, in the context of this Master’s degree, anyway. Somehow, we managed to find the resources to muster that last ounce of strength when it was needed, long past the point of running on empty. Did we come out stronger for it? Honestly, only time will tell.

In two of our courses, Advanced Scoring and Video Game Scoring Techniques, we were given the choice of delivering our final projects in either the final week of the semester or, if we were exceptionally brave, the week before. Still recovering from the intense collection of assignments from the end of November and the beginning of December, I opted to deliver all of my courses’ final projects — four of them in total — in the final week of the semester. In retrospect, it is difficult to say whether doing so was perhaps the wisest course of action, but given the accumulated fatigue, I thought the better of volunteering to spend yet another consecutive weekend working to deadline, favouring instead to grant myself the gift of a weekend to take care of myself and convalesce (plus, I even managed to do the dishes!). I would like to think that such a respite, momentary enough as it was, served to give me the energy to make the final push to complete my courses. It did little enough to mitigate the overall accumulation of exhaustion, but I feel that things would have been worse without it.

When last we left off, I had little more than two weeks left in the semester, and was almost on the other side of a four-week crunch. Two recordings remained, along with two other projects. After posting my last entry, I plunged headlong into a daily grind of classes, coursework, and projects, all while subsisting on not much sleep during the week. Before I knew it, ten days had passed without even updating my Twitter feed.

Just to keep things interesting (and to prevent us from sleeping in, heh), part of my busy schedule included a seminar on the music business by Maggie Rodford, a music supervisor and producer from Air-Edel. As always, it was very educational to hear the insights from someone at the heart of the industry, and equally rewarding to make the acquaintance of one of Lucio’s personal contacts. I look forward to my next opportunity to speak with her.

My final film cue of the semester was a rescore of a romantic scene from an episode of Gran Hotel, a Spanish television series with original music by Lucio. To mark the culmination of our scoring experiences this semester, this recording was organized as a remote scoring session, performed by 32 members of the Budapest Art Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Peter Pejtsik. If our professors had been (rightfully) impressing on us to have our Pro Tools sessions, scores, and parts prepared to perfection all semester, it really counted now; more than representing the quality that we could provide as individuals to our staff and instructors, we were doing so collectively to an external agency on behalf of Berklee.

I was perhaps too overwhelmed with fatigue and stress at the time to fully appreciate it at the time, but it was an exciting experience to be producing my own session that was being played by a professional ensemble. We spent the first few takes scrutinizing the live playback, with my comments relayed directly to the session via Skype chat. It was only then, after all of the notes and expression were rehearsed and in place, that I was able to sit back and actually listen to my music. By the last take, I was able to let the music wash over me as I thought to myself, “My work here is done.”

(I still would have rather conducted, but that’s the way it was.)

As much as it was a pleasure to have written the cue and had it recorded by Peter and the BAO, it was an absolute relief to have finished that assignment. I look forward to editing and mixing the cue (and, of course, sharing it with you) once Berklee’s facilities open again for the second semester.

I could not afford to let myself enjoy the sense of relief for too long, as I had to quickly gear up again to spend the next few days finishing the slate of final assignments in the rest of my courses: an orchestral MIDI sequence for Computer/Synth Apps for Film, a 10-minute presentation on the use of music in Wing Commander for Video Game Scoring Techniques (which I delivered partly in the style of a mission briefing from the game) and a tone poem for string quartet and harp for Dramatic Orchestration. Ultimately, I was able to finish each one, albeit at the expense of sleep.

My last day in Valencia for the semester was rainy, much like my first; I felt that there was a bit of an odd sense of symmetry to that. In the morning, I was back on the stage of the Aula Magistral in the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía to conduct my final composition of the semester, running on a mere 90 minutes’ worth of sleep (remember that “at the expense of sleep” part? Yeah, that’s showbiz/being a grad student). From what I recall, the session went quite well, all things considered. With giving the final cutoff on the final take and meeting the applause of the musicians, instructors, and my fellow students, I was as sincerely overjoyed at having completed my first semester at grad school as I was sincerely overtired.

My day was just getting started.

After two sessions of producing for other students, I was back on the podium one last time to conduct the final session of the semester, recording the work of another student who was already winging his way home (don’t worry, I caught my second third fourth wind!). That evening, as my reward for having survived the semester, I treated myself to an evening at Los Miserables, conveniently playing next door at the Palau. This, incidentally, marked the third language in which I have seen Les Misérables (the second being Japanese, having seen it at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo in August of 2007).

After Los Mis, I returned to the lab one last time to finish mixing the percussion piece that I recorded at the end of November, which you can listen to here:

While we’re at it, here is the tone poem for string quartet and harp, which I edited and mixed over the holidays:

Having completed my work in the lab, I wished my classmates a happy holiday and returned to my room to spend the next few hours packing before heading out to the airport at about 5 a.m. for an early flight to Paris. By the time I finally passed out on the plane, I had been awake (notwithstanding the 90-minute nap) for nearly 2 days straight.

Some 30 hours after I landed in Toronto, we were hit by the ice storm that ravaged the city. My home was without power for 3 days.

While there are a number of things that I ended up missing from my Canadian life, wintertime power outages are not among them.

After 2½ weeks at home, I returned to Valencia to ease back into the Spanish lifestyle and prepare for the second semester. My vacation is now drawing to a close, and orientation activities for the second semester are soon to commence. The curtain will rise on Act Two with a new slate of classes, challenges, and projects, and I hope that you will continue to join me on my adventures. I will try to update more regularly this semester (but as always, no guarantees).

¡Hasta luego!

Conventions, Compositions, and Climate

…in which David returns to his long-neglected blog.

Welcome back to the podium, faithful readers! Another busy month has passed, and if you have been following my Twitter feed (conveniently embedded on the right side of this blog for your viewing pleasure), you’ll have seen that there hasn’t really been a dull moment, and not much in the way of downtime. In that regard, the past month has been more of the same: days are spent largely in classes and at work, evenings and weekends are spent mainly writing music, and I manage the occasional night out; even more seldom is a day off. Finding the time to do the dishes remains a challenge as music composition and meeting deadlines always seem to win out.

We are being pushed to our limits on a regular basis these days, and I keep telling myself that the reason is to build up our tolerance, resistance, and fortitude. That said, sleep has been something of a luxury as of late. With final projects having been announced in each of our courses, the end of the semester is in sight. After an intense finish to November, we have one more push of three weeks to survive before our holiday break. We have a lot to catch up on, so here we go!

Off we go! (Ossia: Looks like the light at the end of the tunnel really is the incoming train.)


The XIXe Salón del Manga de Barcelona.

When last we left off, I was in Barcelona with my classmate, Lawrence, to attend the XIXe Salón del Manga, which is a prominent Spanish Japanese animation convention. After arriving in Barcelona on Friday, November 1, checking into our hotel, and resting up to compensate for not having had much sleep the night before, we ventured forth to catch the latter portion of the programming day. Many things about this show were quite similar to other such conventions back home: throngs of cosplayers, more vendors than you have money to spend on, a prevalence of Internet memes, making lots of new 3DS contacts, live shows, people with “Free Hugs” signs, martial arts demonstrations, not being able to walk 3 steps without encountering impromptu photoshoots, logistical battles between the convention administration and the venue staff…

…which leads to scenes like this.

Wait, what?

Yes, there was apparently a disagreement between the convention administration and the building staff about the volume of attendees and traffic flow, which caused massive bottlenecks to form throughout the weekend. That being said, for a show that nominally boasts an attendance in excess of 100,000 attendees (I’m suspecting that number represents tickets sold, and I therefore counted as 4 attendees), I have to question the logic of using a venue with a posted attendance cap of less than 6000 (and as explained in an article in El Pais, an actual cap of 9500). Even if we were to suppose that the reported 115,000 attendees translated into an average of 20-30,000 warm bodies, holding your event at a single venue that can accommodate not even half of your audience may not be, I would suggest, the wisest decision. In spite of there being two lines to enter the venue, each stretching for more than 1 km on the Saturday of the convention, they were still selling tickets (which they ultimately ceased). On top of that, the exhibition halls felt more empty than they should have been (or, to be fair, than they probably were), but they also felt like the space within them could have been used and arranged more effectively to accommodate more attendees, vendors, and events.

…otherwise known as all of these people.

Admission to this event was surprisingly inexpensive, too: 7 € for a day pass, or 20 € for a weekend. As well, cosplayers were allegedly granted free admission on Friday, at least. At those prices, you would have to be crazy not to attend, if an anime convention is your kind of thing (and you happen to be in the area).

…which seems to apply to all of these people.

I knew something was up when it took 2 hours to enter at an off-peak time, with my ticket in hand. It would take 4 hours of waiting in line, ticket in hand, to enter the convention on Saturday. The crowd was surprisingly well-behaved, but I was severely disappointed, and like most upset attendees, I took to social media to complain. Someone referred to it as “Salón del Colas,” which is effectively what we would call, “LineCon” back home. FICOMIC issued a statement in response to the online backlash explaining their side of the story, and the lines, while still massive, moved fairly smoothly on the Sunday of the convention, with longer lines taking only half an hour to process. Given my own experience on the inside of major conventions, I imagine that there was a sit-down between the two parties after the frustration-inducing Saturday, which yielded the results of Sunday (and kudos to them for it). That said, also speaking from experience and at the risk of sounding sanctimonious, these are things that should have been planned for far in advance. This year did not represent a significant spike in attendance, and they even explained that they wanted to prepare to receive the same volume of attendees as they had the year before. The reason for the apparent organizational dysfunction this year escapes me. Appreciating that many conventions suffer years like this, it might just have been my bad luck to attend this year, of all years. It seems that there are plans to move to a more capacious venue for next year, and I wish them all the best of luck in the future.

Gastronomnomnomia Japonesa.

All that aside, once we finally got into the convention, we had a good time. One of the best things about the show was the Gastronomica Japonesa, which was effectively a Japanese food court set up within the convention space. Vendors sold everything from cup ramen to sushi, takoyaki to taiyaki, gyuudon to curry, and even Japanese beer. That’s one thing, I will say, conventions back home are sorely missing.

Award-winning cosplayers portraying characters from Vampire Hunter D strike a pose at the end of their performance. Watch their whole act here.

The other highlight of the weekend was attending the World Cosplay Summit competition, with presentations by world-class costumers. While this might be just another day at the office for my champion costumer friends and associates back home, this was some of the best cosplay that I’ve seen in a very long time. Particular care and attention was given to presentation, with use of portable set pieces and backdrops, well-implemented audio and lighting cues, and (at times liberal) use of theatrical fog. Getting to watch the competition itself was worth the price of admission (both in terms of money and time).

You could say that the show was — wait for it — a real knockout!

It was interesting to see the variety of series represented through cosplay, both in the context of the competition and in the hall. In addition to there being many attendees (and plenty of merchandise) dressed as characters from Attack on Titan, a popular series from earlier this year, and even plenty of Game of Thrones cosplayers (yes, at an anime con), there were many classic series represented, especially Utena, Chobits, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ranma ½, and Sailormoon, and such game series as Final FantasyTeam Fortress, and League of Legends.

One last glimpse of the Fira de Barcelona, from Plaça d’Espanya.

Even though I spent almost all of my Barcelona experience at (or waiting to enter) the convention, it really is a beautiful city, and I look forward to having more time to explore the city. I hope to return before my time in Spain is up.


With our excursion to Barcelona behind us, it was back to work. We had an incredibly busy November at Berklee Valencia. Remember those five recordings in seven weeks I mentioned in my last entry? Three of them have passed, and I seized the opportunity to do an extra one for good measure. The recording schedule had been set such that my half of the cohort records on Mondays, while the other half records on Fridays. This arrangement prompted me to dub my team, “Los Lunes al Estudio” (Mondays in the Studio), in homage to one of the films scored by Lucio Godoy, Los lunes al sol (“Mondays in the Sun”).

I had hoped for an assignment with less angst after my scene from Los girasoles ciegos, and I got it. On November 11, I recorded a re-score of a scene from Cheaper by the Dozen, performed again by musicians from the local orchestras in Valencia. I love working with them, and the session was very satisfying. Working on this cue was exhausting, but well worth the payoff. Here is the session video (which you will also find under the new “Conductor” tab at the top of my blog):

Similar to Girasoles, I found myself quite affected by the emotional content of the scene; it was just a different emotion, which was probably for the best, this time around. In addition to composing and conducting, we are being trained in the art of session production as well, with each of us pairing up with another student to produce each other’s recordings jointly with our professors. While this aspect of the field is somewhat new to me, it has, over the span of three recordings so far, given me an opportunity and avenue for both collaboration and leadership.

Regrettably, I can’t post the video publicly, but here is the music by itself (which you will also find under the new “Composer” tab at the top of my blog):

The following week, I was on the stage of the Aula Magistral inside the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía to conduct a 2½-minute tone poem for brass quintet, written for my Dramatic Orchestration course. Similar to the woodwind quartet assignment, this was meant to express a narrative that was given to us by our professor, and you may listen to it here:

One week later, I underwent a marathon of writing and recording. In the same day, I recorded a percussion duet for Dramatic Orchestration, recorded a string quartet for a collaboration with a student from the Music Technology Innovation program, produced another percussion session, and wrote and recorded an excerpt of a sound-alike song for guitar and voice. The percussion piece is currently on the docket for editing and mixing, and I have since recorded and mixed an expanded version of the song.

For the SFTV/MTI collaboration project, I was given a minute-long track over which I was to compose music for string quartet. For the track that the MTI majors initially produced, they were meant to choose an emotion and create a soundscape that conveys it effectively. My partner, Alan Tishk, chose “contentment.” I enjoyed this collaboration very much, and it yielded a very satisfying recording session, the video of which you can see here:


While the weather felt like it was beginning to turn around the end of October, it quickly resumed its normal sunny disposition. Barcelona was a bit more chilly than Valencia, but overall not unmanageable. The most noticeable element has been the cooling chilling ocean breeze, which is much more active at night — bad news for those of us who habitually leave school to walk home after 2 a.m.! As a result, I was still in T-shirts (and occasionally shorts) during the day — in November, no less! — but I soon found myself wishing for long sleeves at night. This overall pleasant trend continued for the first half of the month.

The temperature dropped an average of 10ºC, quite literally overnight, starting on November 15.

No, really. The average daytime high between November 1 and 14 was 25ºC, with overnight lows of 14ºC, compared to average highs and lows of 15ºC and 6ºC, respectively, in the second half of the month. Together, they represent the monthly average of 20ºC/9ºC that is commonly published, which only goes to show you that averages, on average, are lies. Given that, I can forecast that it’s going to be on the chilly side until Fallas in March. As I said before, however, the temperature itself is more or less manageable; it’s the night winds and the effect of being on the seaside that chills to the bone. I almost wish I brought more in the way of warmer clothes with me. Very almost.

I hope to be able to write again soon, but given our busy schedule, as usual, I can safely make no guarantees.

¡Hasta luego!