David Tobin

  • My Love Affair with Music and Computing

    Posted Oct 22 2012, 12:00 AM by David Tobin
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    Hi one and all.


    My name is David Tobin and this is my first blog for Avid Sibelius as an "official guest blogger" (sounds like I need a stadium pass!) and so I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself and to give you a brief insight into my musical experience before launching into future Sibelius-based posts.


    Early Music History


    I started taking music pretty seriously from a very young age. I can remember being asked what I wanted to do for a living at aged 8 when at Junior School and telling my class teacher that I would be a musician. Actually I told him I would be a virtuoso recorder player, as that was my instrument at that point, and it remained so until the completion of my degree at the Guildhall School of Music where I studied Recorder (with Anneke Boeke) and Oboe (with Nick Daniel) in the late 80's. However, all through my childhood I'd written songs and other music and always had a fascination with the process of creating new works of widely varying types, from my first Barry Mannilow-esque love ballad through a work for chamber orchestra as a teenager, to a three-movement concerto for Xylophone and Flute, which is still performed to this day.


    Hand Copying


    I made my financial way through Music College as a copyist. This included working for college tutors and luminaries Robert Saxton, Francis Shaw and Scott Stroman - who gave me a real challenge by getting me to do all the copying on his Bass Trombone concerto - which gave me great insight into the world of Jazz copying. At this point it was still music calligraphy pens, translucent paper with lines on the back, and a razor blade to get rid of mistakes. This gave me a genuine understanding of how laborious this process was.


    Intro to Music Computers


    In 1987, I was introduced to an Atari 520 and it happened to be running Emagic Creator/Notator at the time I saw it, which was an utter revelation to me. I had no background in computing, I’d never touched one properly and didn’t understand the process that I saw unfolding, but just two weeks after first seeing it, I bought one. Admittedly, I was an utter putz with it, but to get more of the back story on that, see my blog here.


    I was introduced briefly to Sibelius in 1998 when v1.0 hit the Mac on 3.5" floppy discs. I’ve stuck with Sibelius as my primary notation weapon ever since.


    This was the start of my “on-on and-further-on again” love affair with music and computing, which continues to this day!


    Change of Direction


    Prior to this I had decided that the world of the Virtuoso recorder player wasn't for me, and I'd already requested a move towards composition study at the Guildhall School. At that stage, they couldn't offer me a course in media composition and film scoring which I'd realised was my vocation. For this reason, I decided to travel to the United States in the early 90’s to study at Berklee College of Music, Boston. My major was film scoring and I also specialised in harmony, arranging, orchestration and jazz theory. It was here that I first started to think about music for media. It was also the first time I saw a computer running a dedicated notation package (Finale in this case).


    After leaving Berklee, it became clear to me that writing for media was the right musical path for me – but I have always intertwined that with a number of other musical passions. I have spent a number of years working as an MD for Theatre, Musicals and Panto – and this has always involved heavy amounts of scoring, part writing, copying and engraving. This type of work has taken me all over the UK and Europe.



    Here’s a clip from a musical I worked on in Bremen – Beauty and the Beast. This even features me with a guest recorder slot!



    I’ve also written two musicals – information on the most well known of which, “HOUDINI “ can be seen here.




    Alongside all of my other pursuits as a composer, arranger, orchestrator and MD I’ve enjoyed a busy career as both a teacher and trainer. Among other things, I’ve spent time as a "Train the Trainer" for Apple with Logic Pro, my DAW of choice (although I’m rapidly learning Pro Tools and loving it!) and as the head of music technology at Northampton College. I continue to run a busy music technology consultancy business helping both educative facilities and music professionals get the most out of the music technology they operate.


    In the Sibelius world, I’m honoured to be one of the Sibelius UK National Trainers and continue to write both Sibelius and Logic training materials and blogs – which has become a wee bit of an obsession!


    I also work as a guest lecturer at several universities and colleges including the Birmingham Conservatoire, where I’ve previously run Film Scoring summer schools and give lectures on Media Composition.




    Underpinning everything else I do is my primary occupation, which is as a composer. I’ve tried my hand at writing for pretty much any media outlet that would have me, from boxed games with CD-ROMs that included music, corporate films, adverts, TV programmes and even music for children’s toys.


    Having previously written for Gung Ho Music (UK) and for Heavy Hitters Music (L.A), I’m really enjoying writing currently for Audio Network and have credits in multiple genres, from Big Band to electronica & crossover. In fact, the last big band album had so many Sibelius scores that when I flew to Chicago to conduct the band, I had to check in a separate suitcase for the scores themselves!


    What am I doing now? I’ve just written the music for a BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of “The Count Of Monte Cristo”. Alongside mixing my latest album of Heroic Blockbuster Trailers--recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studio 2 alongside a marvellous choir (RSVP). I’m just about to start writing music for my next American adventure alongside my collaborator and great friend Jeff Meegan. It’s going to be a triple album of New Orleans jazz, blues and Cajun/Zydeco music, recorded in the French Quarter of New Orleans early next year.


    I’m also pleased to be endorsed by sE Electronics and Rupert Neve which allows me to indulge my unhealthy passion for all things musically electrical!


    I’m greatly looking forward to contributing to the Avid Sibelius Blogs and sharing my knowledge with you.





    You can find more about David Tobin at DavidTobin.co.uk.

    To book Sibelius group/individual training or consultancy, please contact David direct.

    Tel: +44(0)7590 058433

    Skype: dt2080

    Twitter: @davidtobin

    Email: david@davidtobin.co.uk





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