Interview with Nick Norton
As a composer, guitarist, music editor, and sound artist Nick Norton is interested in the colorful grey areas between genres, creating new experiences for listeners, and destroying social barriers to enjoying music. He has written for and collaborated with soloists, chamber ensembles, concert series, and orchestras, and loves making cool noises with synthesizers and making use of his production skills in his writing, playing the studio as an instrument.
During the Covid pandemic you had a severe depression, how did this influence the musical compositions you make? And how do you keep developing yourself as a composer?
Well, for a while there, there were no compositions. No music even, because if I heard it at all I just felt like more of a failure. So I suppose in a sense it influenced me not to write anything. When I started again, which came gradually and naturally, after a long time in treatment, I found myself writing very slow and very pretty music. Stuff that wouldn’t attack my listening senses in any way. There is definitely going to be a future album built around some of these pieces. As I found my way back into energetic music, I found myself feeling much freer to do exactly what I wanted as a composer than I had before the episode. To put it bluntly: once you’ve survived being that close to dead, you stop caring about little things like maybe being less popular than other composers. You learn to focus on what you really want to get out of life, and what you really want to do, and what makes being here worthwhile.
As a composer and artist, you have participated in a wide range of musical projects and compositions. Is there a project or idea that you would like to undertake combing different musical styles or instrumentations?
Well, there are plenty of projects I’d love to do, in a wide range of styles, but I don’t consciously think about combining styles as such. Regardless of the medium I’m writing in, I just do whatever I think the music needs, without really thinking about style. The fact that my listening habits involve a lot of different types of music means what I think is cool or good is going to be influenced by all of them.
That said, style or genre can be one creative tool among many. To me, it’s not super different from harmony or counterpoint. It’s really just an extension of timbre and form, right? But with culture tied into it more directly. So, regarding my own personal music culture and interests, there are some projects I’d really like to do. A piano concerto is next up on the list in my head as far as big pieces go. It’s all sketched, and uses coding, a bit from my new interest in boxing—which is super musical—and some stuff I stole from Bach. It’s going to be a pretty intense and even abrasive piece, and is dedicated to Clarence Barlow, who recently passed away. I’m also working with my friend Miller Wrenn on a big piece for double bass and electronics. As I mentioned, the next album is on my mind, because I’m very happy with how Music For Sunsets went and feel I need to follow it up before a crazy long amount of time passes. That will involve some of the slower music I’ve written, and a lot of electronic manipulation of live sound. The piece with Miller will be on it, as well as the piano pieces up for sale on your site. I feel like I’ve got a post rock record in me somewhere, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to do the stuff from my last record live. There’s also this thing for four harps on the way….
How do you combine your work in film and television, composing, producing, and making music as a solo artist?
Well, here’s the thing: I don’t really see them as different practices, at least from an artistic standpoint. I make stuff out of sound. But I really like that the skills I develop in one of those worlds almost always contributes to my skill or my thinking in another. For instance, learning how to edit ambiences (the weather, for instance, in the background of an outdoor scene) for film has had a direct influence on how I use field recordings in my music. And I see mixing as an extension of composition, quite literally—if you’re making drastic changes to tone color as a mixer, is that not composition?
The only real differences between the various aspects of my work are financial, which is perhaps unfortunate. It’s possible to make good money as a music and sound editor for film and tv, passable money as a producer or engineer, and—let’s be honest—very little money, if any, as a composer or musician. Composers don’t get retirement plans, production employees do. As that relates to my work, it largely comes down to the question of who I’m making something for. If it’s my music, it’s my music. If I’m getting paid by a production to cut the music on their show, it’s their show. They have creative control; I just get to contribute. Often, though, the work doesn’t feel very different in those two situations. I cut sound for reality TV shows a bit, and while the content is often pretty vapid, deciding how to denoise some dialogue or when to push the music super loud is just as interesting to me as it is when you’re working on something compelling. My job is just to make things sound better.
Thinking like this has made me feel much more free in practicing my art when it comes to writing music, because my livelihood doesn’t depend on it. I can do whatever I want artistically and still pay the rent. Hell, sometimes I even have enough in the bank to make a record. It’s been great actually, separating my art out from my professional life. I strongly recommend it.
Can creativity and commercialism coexist in making music?
If they can’t, I think Beyonce, The Beatles, and Mozart would all like a word… That said, having grown up in the punk scene, this is something I think about a lot, because back in the 90s and early 2000s (and well before my generation) “selling out” or going commercial was seen as the ultimate thing to avoid. Especially since the major label rush on punk in the mid 90s. I teach music production now so get to interact with Gen Z students, and they absolutely do not care about this sort of thing. I think it may have something to do with the death of the major label model and the switch to more personalized listening in the age of headphones, which led to more interesting artists being able to find their niche audiences, which can be large, and actually move some units.
Like, okay, overtly commercial music doesn’t leave much room for creativity because you’re trying to hit some kind of target audience, but beyond the extremely limited handful of artists pursuing such aims I no longer see any conflict whatsoever. If you go in absolutely knowing you don’t care about commercialism whatsoever, sure, you’re totally free to do whatever you want artistically. Cool. But limits can increase or force creativity. Writing a song is easy, but writing a song that gets stuck in your head and is exactly three minutes and fifteen seconds long is extremely difficult and takes an enormous amount of skill. It’s very much the same as the pitch class limits Ligeti imposed on himself in Musica Ricercata, or even the same way a composer of chamber music is limited by their choice of instruments.
Also, I personally like it when people like my music. It doesn’t drive what I do, but to say I don’t think about it would be a lie. And it’s much easier to make art when you don’t have to worry about what you are going to eat.
How do you see the future of the music and publishing landscape?
I think that while the means of distribution and payment and consumption are constantly changing, from a meta standpoint the music and publishing industries are the same as they’ve always been: totally insane and often nonsensical. I think we’re gonna see an even more extreme bifurcation between the most popular artists and the rest of us, though. The top 20% gets 80% of the market, right? So, okay, that’s for the artists that Apple Music and Spotify put on the front page when you log in. No different from getting signed to Warner or Elektra up until the streaming age. For the rest of us, though, I think things are actually going to get better. Instead of relying on the stores that pay us less than a cent, it’s now pretty easy to reach listeners directly, even if there are fewer of them. I’d rather have $9 for a download from bandcamp than .0001 cents or whatever it is for a bunch of streaming plays. And those listeners are likely to be more engaged.
All of that said, I want to be clear that we’re talking about the music and publishing industries. Music is super healthy, and always will be. Every time a parent sings a child to sleep, or someone dances at a club or appreciates a piece from a hundred years ago, music’s doing exactly what it should be doing.
From a sheet music perspective, I think setting up with Sonolize is a really good move. You’ve got the infrastructure for distribution and payment ready to go for a very reasonable cut, and I can set my own prices. It makes it easy to get my music to people who are interested, and that’s the goal.
Interview with David Dolatowski
David Dolatowski is a classically trained composer with a PhD in Music Composition. His “classical” compositions ranging from intense classical and dramatic pieces to beautiful Native American flute songs include works for orchestra, concert band, mixed and women’s choirs, as well as a wide variety of chamber music. His compositions are played all over the world.
Interview with Timothy Gargiulo
Timothy Gargiulo is a composer, pianist, guitarist, and percussionist with an incredibly expressive musicality. His music comes forth from a forward thinking melodic and textural palette. Some of his musical influences include Frédéric Chopin, Ney Rosauro, John Williams, Toru Takemitsu, Ichika Nito, Bernard Herrmann, and Jacob Collier.
Interview with A. Douglas Biggs
He is a widely experienced and award-winning composer, conductor, performer and artist. His compositions span a wide range of styles and genres and numerous works for orchestra, band, chamber music, chorus, and a growing involvement in video, film and game projects.
Interview with Marc Douyon
Marc Douyon is a pianist, published author, and award-winning composer. He is a member of ‘The Society of Composers’ and the ‘American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers’.
His compositions include works for instrumental, vocal, orchestral, and electronic music and have been recognized and performed in many countries.
Sonolize is growing fast
Sonolize is growing fast, with almost 150 composers and arrangers of 19 different nationalities and new music every week. We would like to thank you for your confidence in us. As together with you we create an international platform where musicians can find a wide range of sheet music and also composers are fairly rewarded for their creations. Read how we like to go the extra mile for our composers...
The Dutch “Day of the composer".
On June 17, 'New Music Now' organizes the second 'Day of the Composer' with her partners. A major event that puts Dutch composers and new music in the spotlight. This year, the New Music NOW Express music train will travel through the country. The longest track of new music ever with over 347 kilometers of music!
Newsletter and summer catalog
Wanna play music yourself this summer? Check our newsletter with a selection of our almost 1500 sheet music compositions for the individual player as well as for orchestras, ensembles and choir.
Interview with Sandro Bucciarelli
Sandro Bucciarelli won several prizes as a saxophone player. He is also in high demand as a teacher, conductor and composer. Sandro is currently working on a big Disney concert with singers from Berlin, Vienna and Cologne and recently finished a great trumpet concerto for one of the leading wind bands in Luxembourg.
Composers Spring Newsletter
Check in our spring newsletter how we like to go the extra mile for our composers with new ideas and options. And interviews with three fantastic composers from Luxembourg, who share their compositions through Sonolize, Tim Kleren, George Sadeler and Sandro Bucciarelli.
Interview with Georges Sadeler
Besides his main job in the Military Band of Luxembourg, Georges Sadeler is well on his way to making himself known as a talented composer by winning a lot of competitions. He also is a sought-after composer who often writes on commission.
Interview with Tim Kleren
Tim Kleren is a very established composer writing in various styles and for a wide array of performers. From youth to professional and from flexible bands to bigbands and wind orchestra’s he is often played around Europe.
Music for Dutch liberation day
Sonolize offers you a wonderful choice of music for your performance on the Dutch liberation day on May 5th, for Concert band, Fanfare band and Brass band.
Musical wishes for 2023
We wish everybody a happy, healthy, joyful, inspiring, creative, peaceful, successful and musical 2023.
Music recordings for composers
In cooperation with our partner Brevis Musica, Sonolize can offer our composers tailor-made sound recordings for individual players and small ensembles.
Winter catalog and news
Check our winter catalog on Sonolize with music for the individual player as well as for orchestras and ensembles
We are proud that Wiecher Mandemaker, artistic director and conductor of Laurens Vocaal, and Hayo Boerema, composer and organ player at Laurensvocaal, choose to offer their choir and organ compositions through the Sonolize platform.
Interview with Ed de Boer
Ed de Boer is an established composer, he wrote three opera’s, three symphonies, two ballets and much more for symphony orchestra, wind band and fanfare band. And Ed is still writing with a lot of passion. In 2017 he was awarded the Dutch BUMA Brass Award for wind music, for his merits in this field.
Check our summer catalog on Sonolize with music for orchestras, ensembles and soloists.
The Dutch “Day of the composer".
On June 18, 2022, 'New Music NOW' will organize the first 'Day of the Composer' in the Netherlands. A major event that puts Dutch composers and new music in the spotlight.
News from our Sonolists
We are very proud that Maurick Reuser, Georges Sadeler and Thom Zigterman all have won prestigious international awards for their latest compositions.
Interview with Nikolaï Clavier
The young and talented Norwegian composer Nikolaï Clavier is an award-winning composer currently living in the Netherlands. He has already composed music for 15 movies, 6 commercials and a video game. And is currently arranging Bartok’s Mikrokosmos for symphony orchestra. We are proud to introduce him to you in this newsle
Maurick Reuser wins two 1st prizes
Pianist and composer Maurick Reuser has won two first prizes in the international composition competition 'The Time of the Guitar'. The competition took place online last month. Maurick received the prizes for the guitar solo work 'From Clouds and First Winds', a duo for clarinet and guitar.
Interview with Geert Jan Kroon
Composer, conductor and musician Geert Jan Kroon is an ambitious person with fresh ideas about music and its world. Recently he achieved a wonderful result with a very positively received work that he wrote for the Dutch Brass Band Championships. We are proud to introduce him to you in this article.
Winter catalog and news
In this newsletter you will find our winter catalogue with a small selection of the music you can find at Sonolize. Also we would like to introduce you to the new Sonolize label 'Our Choice’ which was launched this month. A label that guarantees you as a musician a professional layout for sheetmusic.
Sonolize composers in the spotlight
In recent months, several composers who use Sonolize to publish their work have been in the spotlights. Joop van Dijk and Geert Jan Kroon both received the honorable assignment to write a test piece for the Dutch National Brass Band Championships. And George Sadeler and Alain Crepin won 1st and 2nd prize at the “Internazionale di composizione per Marce, Città di Allumiere”.
Sonolize presents ‘Our Choice’
At Sonolize we like to be transparent in what we offer. And that is quality. But also at Sonolize there are composers who stand out and pay extra attention to their scores. Especially for compositions with such attention there is now 'Our Choice'. A label that guarantees the buyer a professional layout.
Engraving service for composers
It doesn't stop at Sonolize with the introduction of the 'Our Choice' label. Sonolize also offers you the option of having your composition engraved by a professional at a very reasonable rate.
Summer catalog and news
In this newsletter you will find an interview with the Dutch conductor and composer Peter Habraken. We also would like to introduce you to the Sonolize quality label 'Our choice’. And of course, our catalog with a selection of the music you can find at Sonolize.
Interview with Peter Habraken
In this interview Peter Habraken talks about his inspiration and work as a composer, conductor and musician. But also about the future of the music landscape.
WMC opens applications for 2022
Applications for the 19th World Music Contest in 2022 have started. From this moment on, bands can apply for the marching and show contests and the contests for wind bands, fanfare bands, percussion ensembles and brass bands. Registration closes on November 1, 2021.
Interview with Frank Nuyts
We would like to introduce you to the Belgian composer Frank Nuyts. Frank is one of the most renowned composers in Belgium and has written an extensive oeuvre including 5 symphonies, 18 piano sonatas and a lot of chamber music with the piano in the central role.
More music at school
In the days previous to the Dutch Queen Máxima's 50th birthday on 17 May, the Dutch foundation "Meer Muziek in de Klas" (More music education at schools) is calling on all of the Netherlands to make an extra effort in music education at schools.
From piano music to orchestral works.
The great thing about Sonolize is that composers know how to find each other to learn from each other. Tom Schipper, for example, helps the young composer Tae Hyung Ruisch to become even better. Read his blog on how.
Interview with Adriaan Dropsie
We are very excited that Adriaan Dropsie is offering his classical Spanish compositions for guitar and flute through Sonolize. We would like to introduce him to you in this interview.
Webinar by Alex Schillings at Brabant Association
"The search for the main and side issues. A lifelong occupation for a conductor ". That is the title of the webinar that Alex Schillings will be leading on Sunday 24 January at the invitation of the Brabant Association of Music Associations (BBM).
VLAMO aims a composition competition for fanfare
The Flemish music organisation VLAMO is focusing on the brass band for the 2021 Composition Competition. Composers can participate by submitting a new work for the lower divisions before August 31, 2021.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
We wish all our friends, composers and musicians a beautiful Christmas season and a joyful, inspiring, successful, peaceful, musical and most importantly a happy and healthy 2021.
Drummer & pianist Jeroen Elfferich: "The essence of music lies in simplicity"
Interesting article - in Dutch - about Jeroen Elfferich and his passion for music, written by Thea Derks on Contemporary Classical.
How can I find the copyright holder as an arranger?
If you want to arrange a work from a composer, you will have to ask the copyright holder. But how do you find out who manages the rights of the composer you are looking for?
Check out this autumn's Composers newsletter with tips on applying for rights as arranger, marketing and music uploading.
Interview with Arend Gerds
We are very excited that Arend Gerds offers his own classical compositions for wind music through Sonolize. We would like to introduce him and his passion for composing to you in this interview.
Sonolize in the press
On September 18, DPG media published a nice article about Sonolize in which our passion is aptly expressed.
Groundbreaking initiative Sonolize offers an alternative to traditional publishers of sheet music
Masterclass Composition and Conducting
The School of the Arts in Bern (Switzerland) offers a masterclass Composition and Conducting, specifically for Brass bands.
COVID-19 responses from the music sector
From the Music sector, various actions are taken per country to support music authors and the music sector in general during these difficult times.
Sonolize is growing
We have great ambitions and want to become the place in Europe where composers can offer and sell their sheet music digitally.
Fair practice code
Sonolize endorses the Fair Practice Code for entrepreneurship in the arts and culture sector. It's all about Fair Pay, Fair Share and Fair Chain.
We are proud to anounce that Alex Schillings, Mariska Bogaard-Rethans, Micha Schimmel and Geert van Wijk will take a seat in the Sonolize Advisory Board.
Merry Christmas and let’s celebrate 2020
We wish our friends, composers and musicians a beautiful Christmas season and a happy, healthy, joyful, inspiring, successful, peaceful, musical and truly amazing welcome in the ‘roaring twenties’.
Proudly we present
We are proud to announce that a number of composers have joined us to realize something special together with us.
Sonolize is live
Join Sonolize and start up- and downloading music today. From composers to players, digital, independent, fair and with a wide choice of qualified music.