Thursday, December 6, 2012


So, things got pretty hairy this past week. I was very worried my piece wouldn't come together in time, either compositionally or in rehearsal. However, with some hard work, pressure, late nights, good musicians and a happy composer, things sounded great. The piece came together in just two rehearsals. I got a lot of positive feed back about my piece. People honestly sounded like they liked it, and since I was really happy with the score and performance in the end, I really believed them. A few people commented on how it would transfer to a wind band piece quite easily. An interesting idea, for sure. A few people also mentioned its similar form to the piece we recently performed in Wind Ensemble, Wootton Bassett. That was unintentional, but it does have a marked similarity. It also steals from a graphic notation piece I wrote in high school.

I really enjoyed this semester of Comp Seminar. I think it's helped me grow a lot as a composer... as before the class, I would hardly classify myself as one. So thanks to everyone involved who made it a great semester. Your supportive and helpful ways benefited me in ways I can't repay! Hopefully music will do.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I've had some extreme troubles in the past week finding time to sit down and compose. I'm usually someone who can juggle quite well, but this time I may have taken a ball too many. When I do sit down to compose, I get a bit of work done, but I always seem to hit a roadblock.

With the performance in just three days, and the piece unrehearsed, I feel a bit panicky about it all. It may be time to spend an all-nighter, soon. I may have to be a little less ambitious with what I hope to achieve, or have the piece unfinished and a good first half very polished.

Unfortunately, that's about all the time I have to write. On to the next thing. I have determination, but am losing hope. Here's for the best result.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Composition Project 2 - Week 2

Getting to work on this new piece has proven to be difficult. It lands at a very busy time in the semester (the end of it). However, I feel I have a pretty strong vision of what I want to do. It's all a matter of having enough time.

My piece is taking the form of a recontextualized military march. The instrumentation is: Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba and Drum Set (/Percussion). I am also playing with the idea of using an electronic ostinato of troops marching. I am writing from the perspective of troops marching into war, starting optimistically, and as events happen during their time on the battlefield, the march becomes harder to march to, and less and less optimistic. I think it's an idea that's worth exploring. I am happy with what I have so far, but I'm especially happy to have the ideas of Dr. Ross and my peers to help shape it a little more.

This weekend, after a few other assignments and events, I should have a good amount of time to really put several hours into this piece. I'm excited!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Composition Project 1 - Week 7 (Final)

It was a bit of a whirlwind week. With so much other stuff going on in school and life at the moment, this week managed to be almost completely revolved around the premiering of my piece of music. 

I finished my final movement Monday this week, and it was performed on Thursday. That's a bit crazy, huh? It's unfortunate that we did not have more time to practice. As Andrew had said to me after the performance, he learned from both sides (the composer, and performer) that getting parts out as soon as possible to players will most definitely result in a more polished performance. That is what I learned from this experience too. That is not to say that Andrew and Jenny did not do a good job; I felt it was a good performance. It really only lacked in tempo, which would have come with another week of performance. The response has been pretty much all positive. I am glad that the support of my peers has been high, it makes me feel good about everything. 

As my first real composition project, I feel proud for what I have accomplished. I wrote an actual piece, that actually got performed. I wrote for an instrument that I was almost completely unfamiliar with, and had many nuances to learn. I wrote for two instruments that produced several notes at once, and although the composition was atonal, this provided a challenge to create sounds in the way I heard them. I produced a polished score. I wrote in styles that I was unfamiliar with, and went outside my comfort zone to learn new things. Not every thing was a success, but everything was a learning experience. 

I was struck at the complexity of my friends' compositions. There were wonderful moments in every piece. I loved the colours produced by Andrew's use of extended techniques in the vibes and cello. Vanessa's piece managed to produce a very positive vibe despite its seed as an atonal composition. It was also very catchy- I still love the first movement. Evan's composition had the rhythmic upbeat-ness that only a percussionist could craft (I was also impressed by his piano playing - I never knew!). Brad's piece was well crafted. I love the contrast between the mechanical second movement and the expressive and colourful third. Jenny's piece had extremely catchy rhythms, and the addition of the horn was well received and produced a great contrast between the complexity of the piano's rhythms and mellow-ness of the horn. I thought Mitchell's "3 Vignettes" stayed very true to its titles. They each told a little story according to their titles that was very satisfying to listen through. So kudos to everyone!

Until next week...!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Composition Project 1 - Week 6

In just under an hour I am going to attend the first rehearsal of my piece with Andrew and Jenny. I am very excited and nervous. Perhaps the balance will be all wrong, or maybe it'll be just how I think it'll sound. My time this week was spent really editing the first two pieces for performance. Above that, I spent a lot of time thinking of names and getting fonts I thought were attractive. The piece's name is "Sparks Scattering," an image associate with a clash of elements, and since my piece is about a fight of sorts I thought it was appropriate. I had been thinking that I hadn't really been liking the way my piece had been turning out, but when I finished the polished score, and listened to it once more, I have to say I'm very proud of what I have accomplished so far. There are some very cool parts, and I am proud that I have been able to stick with the atonal idea and attach it to a story that I feel can be told via the music.

That said, the performance is this Thursday. I am having a bit of a lack of creativity for the third movement, but I know it will come to me this weekend. It sort of has to! The concept is all there, just executing a logical progression through the movement is proving to be a challenge. I have scraped what I have written twice now. Third time's the charm they say!

Regarding the next project, I like the idea of rethinking a musical cliché. I might do something with flutes and tubas, or tuba with multiphonics. I've just been messing with ideas in my head, thinking of concepts. The sooner I know what I'm doing, the better.

Until next week...!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Composition Project 1 - Week 5

Hello once again, welcome to another entry.

This week, I think the theme in the comments was "beef it up." In a lot of cases, I think I'm still underestimating what the combination of piano and guitar are capable of, without infringing on each other's territories. So, to that extent, I agree on pretty much every comment that said to add a little more to the piano or guitar. That will definitely happen. Other than that, it was mostly me asking questions relating to how to notate certain ideas with the guitar. I'm excited to hear how a lot of these things will truly sound, because Sibelius does not really give a good representation of what I'm expecting to hear. Minor comments also included some notation nit-picky things that I was not aware of... It's always nice to get 6 or 7 other eyes on your score. Regarding my last movement, while I agree with all of the comments made, I can't guarantee they'll be added because that is certainly nothing like what the last movement will actually look like in the end. But they were good things to know, nonetheless.

I'm beginning to feel the pressure, with a performance of the piece taking place in less than two weeks, now. However, I feel confident in my ability to finish this, and my performers to put on a good performance, too. We're getting into the final stages of things, so I'll have to start thinking of a name. I've had a few floating in my head now, along with names the movements. Since I have a narrative of sorts going on, I will definitely be attaching to that to help me name things.

I really enjoy the direction everyone's work is going. We have such diverse characters among the pieces.

Until next week...!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Composition Project 1 - Week 4

This week, I did not have the opportunity to show my work in class, which was okay. I had not had the opportunity to write new parts to my score. Instead, I spent this week editing and planning the last half of my piece. I took in all of the suggestions from last week and incorporated them, and more. I scored the guitar a little more thickly, especially at high points in the score. I added some guitar techniques.

For my last movement I would like to really take advantage of more technical or advanced guitar techniques. Something a little more flamenco-y. I'd like to pit guitar vs piano, and have it flamenco vs jazz, with a resolution of both styles being achieved at the end.

Unfortunately I will be out in the field with the military for the weekend, so I'm not sure how much work I will be able to get done. However, it will be a top priority upon my return.

Until next week...!