Do you have a favorite emoji? If you could design your own, what would it look like and represent?
Q: The idea of writing a piece inspired by emoji . . . we have to know: How did that come about? Do you use lots of emoji in your texts, social media?
Alexander Miller: Yes, I use emojis, mostly in texts to my wife. I have always been a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation, so it’s kind of funny that I have spent a good chunk of time studying how to “emoji” one’s way through a conversation. The way emojis have exploded in popularity made me think they are worthy of scrutiny as a cultural phenomenon. I mean, just what are these things? Suddenly everyone is using them but I don’t hear many questioning what it means for the way we organize our thoughts.
Q: Do you have a favorite emoji? How come?
Alexander Miller: A red heart, which I text to my wife once a day. I know that’s not very original, but I always mean it. We also just adopted a poodle puppy — an adorable little guy we named JoJo — and I was thrilled when the new iPhone emojis included a poodle. So now I end text messages to my wife with a poodle emoji followed by a heart emoji.
Q: If you could design a brand new emoji, what would it look like and what would it mean?
Alexander Miller: I’m thinking it would be a big poodle face with hearts for eyes. That would be awesome.
Q: How do you compose? At the piano, with the help of your oboe, pen/pencil, computer?
Alexander Miller: Composing is something I do purely in my head at first. Once I have a decently formulated musical concept, I sit down at the computer, open the program “Sibelius” and quickly enter a rough outline. I have to be fast so I don’t lose the connection between my imagination and the reality of punching in keyboard shortcuts. Creativity often feels like Alice chasing the rabbit.
Q: How do you know when your piece is completed? Talk a bit about your editing process.
Alexander Miller: Editing is about 70% of my composing time. The science of orchestration and balancing different acoustic elements is more science than art. So, I respect the science and make sure I’m not writing something that only works in theory. I spend a lot of time tinkering with the voicings of the instruments; it has to resonate naturally before I’ll let it into the world.
ROCO presents “Double Trouble” on Friday, March 31, at 7:30 pm at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. A repeat season finale performance will be held on Saturday, April 1, at 5 pm at The Church of Saint John the Divine. Purchase tickets here.