Friday, December 11, 2009

Warning about writing by hand to start off...

I thought I'd make a little warning to anyone who does composition next year and thinks that it will be easy to write by hand and then just enter it into sibelius after. That's what I thought, cause I didn't have any notation program at the beginning of the semester and I thought that would be a simnple process... boy oh boy was I wrong! It sucked and took forever, so pleaseeee for your own sanity, just get Sibelius, or whatever program you want to use at the beginning of the semester so that you don't end up with pages and pages of music that need to be entered into the computer when you need to hand in your good copy!

About that whole writing for piano idea I had....

So in my blog 'writing for piano' I said that I wanted to be more adventurous with my piano part because I had just gotten Sibelius so I wouldn't be confined by my lack of piano skills. This ended up having some troubles of its own. Since I didn't have to be at a piano to compose, Inever actually tried out any of the stuff I wrote. I ended up with chords that were too big for humans(!) and passages with really tricky fingerings that I could have avoided. It would have been a lot better if I had periodically checked my part with my pianist to see if it was playable and espeially with the limited reherasal time that we were working with, if she would be comfortable doing it in the concert.
Lesson learned! After that I tried playing/ singing everything I wrote as I wrote it so that I wouldn't need to adjust too much at the last minute!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Writing for voice

For our last project, I wanted to make a vocal that wouldn't be too hard because I knew there would be limited rehearsal time. I think it is really helpful to sing it as you write it. I didn't exactly know what the range of my singer would be but I had a general idea and then assumed that if I could squeak out a note that my singer could probably sing it properly, and so I stayed within those boundaries.
Also, to make it easier to put together last minute, I made sure that if the singer had rests, that before the next entrance one of the string instruments played her entance note. this way we didn't have to worry much about how she was going to find her note!
This (combined with Erin Milly being an excellent singer and sight reader!) made it really easy to get the piece ready quickly.

That's Explains the making

So, my composition finished but I thought I'd write about what I was thinking when I wrote it.
So I wanted to make the music silly to go with the text, and I also wanted the vocal part and the string parts to fit together smoothly.
To do that, I first wrote the vocal line, trying to make it express the text naturally, and then I used the material from that line to construct the violin and cello parts. And I didn't want it to seem like the voice was the only important line, so there are some parts where violin and cello get little solo's an imitate the voice.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Atonal Music is Pretty!

I have been enjoying our atonal music projects!
I was signed up for composition last September and when I realized we had to do atonal stuff I dropped it thinking that I wouldn't like to write that stuff so I would just nevermind-
But! now that we have been writing and listening to atonal music for a month an a half, I actually really like it and sometimes when I'm listening to something I can't tell right away if it is tonal or not because the atonal stuff doesn't jump out at me as weird or ugly anymore. A lot of it is really beautiful. And even the stuff that's not meant to be pretty isn't so bad either! I like that we can just listen to the intensity and colours of the chords and interactions of the notes. It's a really new way of listening to things and I think it opens up a lot of creative and expressive doors.

This reminds me of learning in history class that people used to cringe when they heard 7th chords and today we don't notice anything dissonant about it. I think that is going to happen with atonal music as younger people will hear more and more of this as they grow up they won't automatically think that dissonance is ugly.

I also think it's really neat how some of the compositions in class are so beautiful, as I used to associate atonality with really dissonant crunchy chords. It's neat how atonal chords can be high AND low in intensity and that project from the begining of the term was a big eye opener for me in that regard.

So there it is. I like atonal music.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Writing For Piano

So I think one of my biggest road blocks for this project is that I don't know much about playing piano. I don't know really what is asy and what is hard for them. And because I am not so handy on the piano, I find that I keep my piano parts within my own reach because I've been composing at the piano, so I haven't been writing things that are more complicated than what I can eek out.
Now that I will be writing on Sibelius I think I will have more room to play with chords and fast moving parts in the piano so that will probably be helpful.
Also I never think in chords! I think of one or maybe 2 notes at a time in a voice, so for my 3rd character piece I'm going to maybe try to think about structuring it around chords, being more adventurous with the piano part, and not limit my composition based on my on piano skills!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My first blog!

I am currently working on tweaking my 1st and 2nd movements of my atonal witch piece!
for the first one that I played in class (my 2nd mvmt) I am adding in some more creepy harmonies over my repeated bass line and to increase the intensiy and changing my last chord so that it leaves the listener a bit creeped out. Also, I have decided to call it The Hunt. I don't like the title that I have for the 1st movement yet. I don't think 'Spooky' is descriptive enough. I want to to sound like the witches cave and all magical and mystical but weird- so I need to find a word to describe that.
Played my 1st movement in class was really helpful! I didn't relaly have a vision for my violin line but with all the suggestiongs from class I have lots of ideas to play with now.
Some of the things that i want to try out are the tritone oscilating on sul pont somewhere, and maybe a snap pluck - I'm not sure what its called but i just mean a really obnoxious pluck and snaps back and hits the bridge. Oh! and I loved the suggestion of havnig a note that starts out of tune and then adjust it to be in tune.
Right now I'm not sure how to make the construction less regular- i know that I 've made both my pieces really even sorta of in the construction - like they have regular phrase lengths and textures change with bar lines and stuff - so I'll try to off set that some. I wanted to created a timeless feeling but I don't think I was successful there so I might try that again.
And something I just found at the piano and want to add is having the pianist use something to skim the strings of the piano inside and hold down the sustain pedal! I think that's got the right feeling for a magical cave sorta place where a witch is brewing things!
So that is what I am working on for next week! :)