“I think good music is music that people like to listen to, and even if that’s only one person, it’s still enough.”

Jiwon Hwang

Nearly 2 months have already passed since the start of in-depth! Due to my busy schedule, in-depth is becoming a challenge to work on everyday, nevertheless, I “try” to dedicate at least 30 minutes to add to my composition. Spring break is also coming up soon, so I’ll have some more time to work on my in-depth.

Upon the 2 month mark, I decided to check in with my in-depth contract timeline in more detail to see where my progress should be at for month of March, and make any necessary changes. After comparing my stage of development to my schedule, I noticed that I am actually one week ahead! Yay! When I planned out my original schedule, I made sure to remember that I have a busy life, therefore, I would need lots of time to compose the 3 different styles of orchestral composition (8-12 bars for each). It turned out that I was absolutely right; my first composition took me 3 whole hours to write 9 bars, which is one solid week if I work on it everyday for 30 minutes.

My slightly adjusted schedule:

March 4th Orchestral Composition 1 and 2 are completed (8-12 bars)
March 16th Orchestra Composition 3 completed (8-12 bars)
Spring Break Choose my favourite composition and continue to develop and add to the piece (20 bars)
April Extend my composition to 2 minutes worth and fine tuning
May Filming the piece (I need help from other people who play the different instruments so this is going to take a while) + Finishing touches

 


 

I’ve reached two main roadblocks during my time composing: lack of inspiration, and technical difficulties. My “composer’s block” (I don’t know if that’s a thing but, yes, I took it from “writer’s block”) have proved to be especially difficult because I was giving myself a set time to work and stop. The reason I gave myself a 30 minute per day is because once I started to work on my composition, there was no stopping me. One time I worked on my other piece (this wasn’t orchestral composition it actually had lyrics added as well), and I worked on it for 4 hours straight! However, I noticed immediately that if I just sat down and tried to force ideas for music out of my head, the piece never worked out. To solve this problem, I decided not to worry about my composition, and leave it be. I would get random inspiration in gym class outside, or someone singing a catchy tune, so it became a habit for me to just write down, using music five lined paper, whatever ideas that came to my mind. I even hum to myself with a self-recording app on my phone so that I could go back to the tune when I actually sat down to compose.

My next challenge was with technology, and the website, flat.io, that I’m using. Although it’s a great tool to use, some of the sounds produced by the website is not accurate to the instrument that I’m composing specifically for. For example, flutes and oboes do not sound the same at all, but in my piece right now, it sounds exactly the same due to the website I am using. This doesn’t create a problem for me in terms of the right pitch and tune, but it creates an obvious difference in the overall feel of the piece. All the notes sound very separated, and even the tremolo, which is supposed to be quite soft and vibrating, sounds very static and separate in the piece. This can’t be fixed, but I know the general tone of how it’s supposed to sound, and will use my prior experience to help me dictate how the piece should actually sound like.

 

However, on a more positive note, I have also progressed quite a bit during the last few weeks. Here are some of the things I managed to accomplish so far:

1. Compositions

My mentor pointed out to me that he can’t judge my composition because really, nobody can. Usually composers get recognized when the people listening to their music, thinks the music is good or something they’ll want to see more of. In a way, all music that is made and published are out there for the public to “judge”, and even then, one can argue that music could be made for the sole purpose of the creators pleasure. Therefore, he told me that as long as I like the music, it’s enough for the skill level I am at currently.

My first orchestral piece:

 

My second orchestral piece still needs a little bit of tune up but I will post it early next week.

Random inspiration tunes that came to me in the middle of chemistry class… or before bed (I sing the tunes on a self-recorder so I won’t forget, please excuse my horrible singing)

 

2. Notes

In addition to my compositions, I have analyzed a piece of music by Vivaldi – Spring. I think the music contrasts with my Berlioz piece as it is more lighthearted, and this allowed me to approach music in a new light. The melody is very “chirpy” (you’ll get what I mean if you listen to the song) and a nice fresh of air against all the chords in the Berlioz piece.

Sources: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4kTei0XrCs

 

Ms. Mulder’s questions about my mentorship:

1.What has been my most difficult mentoring challenge so far? Why?

This question is similar to the one I answered for my last in-depth post, but I noticed that this problem is a common occurrence. The fact that composition is such a stylistic, opinion based concept makes it harder for my mentor to provide feedback. Although he can give me helpful pointers on my ability to transpose or harmonize music, all the technical stuff, I think that he finds it difficult to tell me what he honestly feels about my music due to his politeness. He has been my mentor for violin for a long time, almost 6 years now, but this is the first time where we sat down and discussed my composition. One of my goals for the next mentoring session is to break this boundary between us by asking some more probing questions and asking for advice. I know 100% that he has the ability to really dive in my composition with me, and I would like to hear his opinion little bit more.

 

2.What is working well? Why?

My progress in composition in two months is absolutely amazing! I think my prior experience in music really helped me here, I’m almost sure that nobody can do composition unless they’ve played or heard music before. My mentor told me that I’ve worked very hard on my composition and analyzing what makes a good composition, and that my hard work is paying off! This made me especially happy and I love that my mentor and I have such an easy and positive relationship. I think the biggest reason on why out mentorship works is because there is no miscommunication between us. I always double check our meeting time, have material and questions ready for my mentor ahead of time, and take notes during class of important things he mention. Likewise, he always gives me his undivided attention during out mentorship session.

 

3.What could be working better? How can you make sure this happens?

With composition, there are literally a hundred different ways this project can run. I’m still slightly confused as to what I exactly want to see in my final product, so I’m having a little bit of trouble telling my mentor exactly the things I want to learn from him. In order to make this happen, I’m going to spend my spring break carefully deciding how I want to present my final topic, and organize a checklist of things I would like to discuss with my mentor regarding my product.

 

My goals for my in-depth post #5 just before spring break are:

  1. Ask for orchestra friends for some tips regarding their musical instrument
    1. Range
    2. Style
    3. Tempo
  2. Write my 3rd orchestral composition in the style of Bach (8-12 bars)
  3. Branch out from just orchestral composition: I started out with the broad idea of composition, and I narrowed down my field to orchestral composition because that’s what I am most familiar with. However, the other day, I was looking at some of the songs that Melissa composed, and I thought it looked very interesting! I already composed two songs using a piano and music five lined paper, and added lyrics! My plan is to post those composition, along with my 3rd orchestral composition, for my 5th blog post.