By Leslie D. Rose
Japan has been very good to Baton Rouge musicians this year – first with pop singer Justin Garner’s album charting at number one on iTunes Japan – and now with the debut of area trumpeter Timothy Carter’s original composition “Takin’ It On Home.”
Carter began work on the musical piece in the summer of 2009. The song was written for symphonic winds, which includes various brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. It had not been played publically until recently with its debut in Tokyo at the Kanto Honor Band Concert at the International School of the Sacred Heart. The orchestra was comprised of top musicians from international schools in the Tokyo area, with Carter’s song being conducted by one of his mentors, Quincy Hilliard.
Hilliard kept the debut an accidental secret from Carter as he was unsure if he would have the orchestra to perform the piece. Carter said the song is just as close to Hilliard as it is to him, as it was Hilliard that encouraged him to begin writing the composition that would become “Takin’ It On Home.”
“The song was always one that Dr. Hilliard was excited about – it’s one he has been wanting to see come to life,” Carter said. “He had been trying for about 10 years or so to get a graduate student to write a jazz piece for a concert band. He and I would always talk about opportunities to debut the piece.”
There had been an opportunity for the song to be played in Russia, but Carter said that it either didn’t come into fruition or that he simply has no evidence as such.
“Orchestrating a piece is a more labor intensive process because each instrument has its own voice that you have to cater to.”
Carter has been writing compositions since he was a teenager at a Southern University summer music camp. He completed undergraduate studies there in music composition and insists that over the years he’s written too many pieces to count. But in the process of creating “Takin’ It On Home,” he worked on two compositions for a year to get to the level of acceptance for orchestration.
“Orchestrating a piece is a more labor intensive process because each instrument has its own voice that you have to cater to,” he said. “The piece itself was written on piano and I knew what it sounded like on piano from start to finish.”
Carter said after orchestrating the song he prepared the score, which had him working with a copyist – someone who understands how to make the written piece look presentable on paper to translate the notes to each instrument. He compares the process to an article that sees an editor before publication.
Carter was not in Japan when his music was played but he did receive a copy of the program and has admittedly watched a YouTube video of the performance several times.
“It is an extremely gratifying experience – extremely rewarding,” he said. “It’s also humbling to know that something you spent so many hours, days, weeks and months working on could show someone else interpret it and give it back to the audience the way you originally had seen it – those kids in Japan did that and more.”
But the composition is only the beginning of his 2014 accomplishments. By December the Baton Rouge musician will have a law degree from Southern University Law Center. Upon his graduation he said he intends to practice copyright law from the expertise and experience of someone who understands the ins-and-outs of both law and music.
“Hearing stories other musicians would tell about their ideas that were being stolen made me want to learn to help them defend their intellectual property,” he said. “They all talked about when they went to lawyers that the lawyers never seemed to understand what they were talking about and so I felt like, man, if you had a lawyer who also understood this world of creative people, that person would be uniquely suited to serve as a go-between or somebody to represent those interests.”
Aside from expertly marrying his opposing areas of study, Carter said he has no plans to discontinue writing compositions. He said that seeing his original composition played internationally has inspired him to work on many more pieces to come. He also plans to continue working as a middle school band director in Ascension Parish Public Schools.