It’s so amazing to see that in-depth has already passed half way. At the beginning of this project, composition seemed like such a long road ahead of me, however, after composing some pieces of my own, I noticed that there isn’t anything hard at all. You just make music you like to listen to, and although it’s a bonus if others like it as well, essentially you should be the number one person who enjoys hearing your compositions.
Since the last in-depth post I have worked on many different things:
- Most importantly, I have completed the thirty second preview to all three of my pieces – one is more in the 19th century era, one is modern, and one is a more lyrical composition (who says lyrical compositions can’t be played by orchestra!)
- Composition #1: I added more dynamics and made the transitions between violin and viola less forced.
- Composition #2: This one is really choppy transitioning to when the trumpet comes in, but I purposely did that so that it would be surprising. Most of the modern orchestra pieces I have listened to tended to do that as well, maybe to escape the very rhythmic and repeating-melody scheme of the classical compositions.
- Composition #3: I started this one with a tune that came to me when I was, let’s just say I was a bit more emotionally unbalanced. It sounds a bit boring because the first twenty seconds are both solos so I’m considering adding some drum beat in the background.
- I have annotated and analyzed Beethoven Symphony 9 which is a lyrical and flowy piece. I really enjoyed the fact that the notes are moving, which basically means that you hold the beat of the note for as long as you can before you have to move on to the next note.
- E.g. playing the E for two beats, I can hold it for the whole two beats or drag it out until my note imposes on the note after it. Hold it for two beats and cut it off right before the third beat.
Inspiration: I played the orchestral piece Phantastiche Symphonie in my orchestra, and took inspiration from there. It starts out with a dramatic beginning, and evenly thins out to the melody, which will be more evident if I decide to lengthen this piece to 3 minutes.
Inspiration: This tune just came to me right before falling asleep. It started out with a voice recording of me humming, which you don’t want to listen to, but I think progressed very nicely!
Inspiration: Starts out as an argument between the oboes and the clarinets (which I purposely chose because they are very similar and from the same family but also very different – kinda like siblings :). Then the rude awakening of the loud bass drum comes in, which is to signal my mother stepping into the scene.
For my next steps, I will start a poll on Google Docs and ask my friends to vote on their favourite composition. On the poll, I will label each 30 second preview with the inspiration I had for each of them. Afterwards, I will take the composition preview with the most votes, and finish the piece for a total of three minutes over April. The first two weeks of May, I will ask my band and orchestra friends to be recorded on screen, and edit the video so that it plays the composition featuring all the different players. (A better description of my finished product will be explained on blog post #6.) Although I am only allowed to show one minute and a half on in-depth night, I can post the rest of the composition on my post.
Since my last in-depth post, which was a month ago, I have only met with my mentor as he was busy at a music camp for all of spring break. However, during our last session, he told me that my first composition and my second composition sounded ready to play, which was a compliment that I haven’t heard yet! One criticism was that I should keep in mind the level of skill the performer is at (in composition two, the trumpet part does go up pretty high) but we resolved this because I will be asking the trumpet player from the VYSO to play the part and I know that she is capable of playing the part. Secondly, he asked me to ____Furthermore, he offered me advice on the third composition by suggesting that I start with two solos which “call to each other”. This basically means that both soloists play the same melody on their respective instruments, but change the notes or key signature to make it more interesting and surprising to the audience. The result is an echo. Since I have already used the “echo method” in my second composition, I decided to change it up and compose the two solos so that they would clash one another, kinda like a fight. My inspiration for this is funny and very reflective of my emotions because I was in an argument with my sister when I decided to compose this section.
My mentor also taught me some tips for minor harmonisation techniques.
- Using primary chords and secondary chords (diminished and augmented) make a nice whole tone that sounds really pleasing to the ear because the notes compliment each other
- Creating patterns with chords, but with a progressive top notes can sound messy, but if used correctly, they create a dynamic change in the music
- A lot of modern composers try using more creative harmonisations. These include adding “colour notes” such as sus4 or a two in the chords, borrowing chords (which are chords that aren’t part of the key signature of the piece), and using clusters. I admit that these all sound very messy, and I haven’t figured out a way to use them correctly, but hopefully I can learn this at my next mentor session.
Below are the questions linked to Ms. Mulder’s blog post!
- What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?
One unique learning opportunity that my mentor provides to me is to make my own decisions and make judgements based on what I think sounds good versus my mentors. In order to to this effectively, even if I follow my mentors suggestion, I return to the original composition if I decide that the changes made don’t sound very good. I try to keep the mindset that although my mentor has more experience, I don’t have to stick to his feedback and can formulate my own opinions to the music I create.
- What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?
This past month, the main skill that I was taught were ways to harmonise and use “echos” effectively. In order to reinforce my new learning, I took initiative to include some of this in the compositions that I created afterwards, which allowed me to practice skills that I learnt in theory. The main new learning that I am constantly doing is learning how to compose, and I try to do composing 2 – 3 hours every week to refine this skill.
- What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?
In order to accelerate my learning, my mentor has been encouraging me to move at a faster pace when I compose. This essentially comes down to looking for more ways to get inspiration from other sources. Some ways I have been doing this is to listen to more music, watching YouTube videos on my keyboarding, and asking my teacher to teach me advanced harmonizing between different instruments (I already learned basic harmonizing). I also started to experiment composing in the modern genre, although it’s not really my style because the sound turns out pretty messy, I had fun trying it out.
- When you get together what do you talk about?
After 5 mentor sessions, my mentor and I have a routine to follow at each of our hour sessions. First of all, my mentor hears the pieces that I have worked on for the two weeks we haven’t met, then we discuss the pieces and my mentor gives me feedback. Then, I adapt to the feedback and go over some of my compositions making the changes. We both listen to the piece again and decide if it sounded better before and after the changes were made.
- What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?
My mentor and I already had a positive student-teacher relationship before he became my mentor for in-depth, therefore, I feel more comfortable with approaching him about challenges and obstacles. His humour, which allows me to have a great time during our sessions, combined with his amazing ability to understand music make for à great learning environment. Although I am only considering music as a hobby down the road, our mentorship will be an great experience and hopefully, I can apply his teachings to my students later on.
- What are you learning about one another?
We are both people who like to chat during our mentorship sessions, and I particularly find his humour very pleasant. I am careful not to steer the conversation away from composition too much as I have limited time with him due to our busy schedules. One thing he’s probably learned about me is that I’m afraid of making mistakes, and this could have intervened with my composition process because that is all about trial and error. He constantly asks me, “How do you know if a piece is perfect?”.
AprilMayJune here I come!