Sunday, April 11, 2010

Band Reading

On Wednesday I had a very interesting experience hearing the wind ensemble read my new band piece that I wrote. Hearing my piece being played from speakers by means of MIDI data was alright and I thought my piece was sounding pretty cool. Going into the band reading I was expecting it to sound better then hearing it played from my computer, but unfortunately it was not the greatest reading. Now I know that they were sight reading but I was expecting a bit of a better read through from the band. Since the reading I have been a little bit nervous about submitting this to the Gower Band competition thinking that it may be too hard. Hearing my piece being sight read was defintitly something I was not ready for because I knew exactly how the piece was suppose to sound and when the group didn't achieve it, it felt frustrtaing. I guess this is the way it is for composers, even though you write down all of these directions on a page, what notes to play, how fast, how loud or soft, players will never fully play it the way you hear it in your head.

There were some good things that I got from the reading. I was able to get a sense of balance and I was able to hear some of my dynamic ideas in person besides listening to it from a computer. A cool thing about my piece is that at times I have each section come in a beat after the other starting with the tuba and going up to the flutes to create a huge chord. This sounded decent on the computer but it sounded really cool in person because you could hear the entrances coming in from different areas of the band.

Overall this was a good experience and I am happy that I chose to write for band.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I believe that an ending to a piece is very important to a composition. You can't leave an ending going on to long and can you can't end the piece to quickly. My questions and thoughts about my piece as of lately have been around how I should end the piece. Of course I can bring things back and make the piece coherent but how does one go about making a perfect ending? I feel that my piece is lacking that. It could just be from me having to finish my piece for a deadline but my piece does not have that really special ending.

I feel as if I just want to be finished with this piece because it seems that this has been the only thing I have done for a while is write and orchestrate. Maybe I can't write the perfect ending because I feel more distant than usual towards my piece. I think if I were to take a few days off, I could think about things and possibilities and give my piece the ending it needs.

This kind of brings up another point I have been thinking about lately, how much do you compromise for a deadline, normally if you were writing something for yourself you would make sure every part of your piece is what you want. Sometimes however I feel as if I have to compromise on things like accompaniment and colour. If I had a few more weeks to work on this piece I would take lots of time to go through my piece and make it exactly what I want and what I hear in my head.

As I am finishing up my piece these are just a few of the things I have been thinking about while wishing I had more time before my piece needs to be done.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Concert Band Piece

Even though it has been the toughest, most challenging and time consuming composition I have worked on, so far it has been the most rewarding. When approaching this composition I had a certain idea in mind that I wanted to be prominent through out the piece. This idea had to do with different textures that would constantly be coming out of one another. When one "choir" is pianissimo the other would be forte (and vice-verse). My first session with this piece I did exactly that, I had the brass and winds separated into different "choirs" and I achieved everything that I wanted. My second session didn't have the same intent and focus as my first session. I started writting with a groove in mind but really that was never my first intentions. Even though I knew this was not really fitting with my beginning material I felt as if I had to write this down on paper. I have never experienced that feeling of needing to write something down to get it down. When approaching composition I normally have a set plan in regards to form and what material I want to use where and how I am going to develop it. This has been a huge challenge for me with the material I have so far. It feels like I am writing with blinds over my eyes and I can't see an end and a destination point. Every session I have I have always been writting new material and I think this is obvious to see in my piece. It seems as if my piece is sectionalized and that the sections have nothing to do with one another. Everytime I approach my piece I need to make sure that what I write is coherent to the piece. This feeling of writting with blinds on is uncomfortable for me, wheather that is a good thing or a bad thing I don't know but I definitely want my piece to make sense.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Second Project

Myself and a couple of my class mates have taken it upon ourselves to write a piece for concert band. I have spent a little bit of time with it so far and it has definitely been a challenge and is making me think and make decisions I have never thought about before. I came into this project with an idea I had but when starting to write it I now had to began to think about how to voice my chords and which instruments I want to play which idea. I am still in the beginning stages of this piece, I am still at the point of thinking of material and how to get into my ideas I have. The coming days and sessions I will have with my ideas and this project will be tough and I will have lots of decisions to make. It definitely is a huge, time consuming porject to take on, considering I only have 5 weeks to write it but it will definitly be worth it. Plus the idea of entering it into a competition and possibly winning some money is a great bonus aswell.

Three studies in Rhythm for Solo Piano

I passed in my pieces for solo piano last week, and I put them into a set of three studies in rhythm for solo piano. At first when approaching this project I had not planned to do this, it just happened that my three pieces took 3 different rhythmic approaches.

I have not discussed my last piece so I will take the time to do so now. My last study, in a group of 3 takes a different approach then my first two studies. This study is quite quick and for the most part has two different lines. A bass line in the left hand and a melody line in the right hand. At first the piece presents a number of different bass and melodic lines, each line almost has a different key center and it occurs in different time signatures. Later in the piece I bring back these bass lines but I put another melody line over the bass line, but these lines are not same in length. The bass line may repeat 6 times while the melody line repeats 9 times. The end of the piece is based on material heard at the beginning of the piece but each time it is repeated, the pattern loses a beat. This gives the end of the piece a lopsided feel.

Monday, February 1, 2010

First concert from the 2010 Newfound Music festival

The concert on Thursday evening was a great concert to go to, there was a variety of different instruments and there was a variety of musical styles played. The piece that struck me the most was Derek Charke's piece that he played himself. He played solo flute along with technology and a pre recorded track. This was not entirely a track though because he had something set up, so that when he played a certain pith it would trigger a pre determined set of notes to play at the same time. The technology has to do with a machine hearing a certain frequency from the instrument and then that frequency triggers something else to play the notes of the chord. There were also two other performers who played with a pre recorded track and I am starting to find out that when a good pre recorded track is created it can definitely not only support the solo player but it adds a whole new level to the composition. Some people think that it is not a big deal to play along with a track it's not the same musical experience playing with another person. I would agree with this statement but the art of the pre recorded track is in the countless of hours creating it and trying to create and accompaniment for the soloist.

Overall I have learned a lot from the concert on Thursday and Saturday the more ideas I am able to listen to, obviously my pallet of options for composing grows.

Newfound Music Festival

The Newfound music festival has come and past for another year and for me, it has definitely been the best yet. I don't know if it is because I am older, or if it is because I am learning to appreciate these festivals more and more but for me this year was definitely the best year so far. Thursday morning was definitely a big eye opener for myself. I got to see first hand, techniques of modern composers and how they take their ideas and manipulate them. For example the first session with Dr. Staniland showed a very modern way for creating music, using a looper. I have never done any work with a looper or max/msp but after this session it is easy to see where music is heading and the possibilities it has for creating music in this evolving world of technology. The topic of technology was almost a theme for the morning because guest composer Derek Charke also displayed some of his work on Thursday morning and it was easy to see that most of his work also involved technology. A lot of the work he showed us at this session had a pre recorded track to go along with a solo preform er or group. For example in his piece "gustandos" for solo flute, there is obviously a solo flute part but it is preformed with a pre made track specifically for that piece. This was definitely a huge eye opener because I was able to see where modern composers are in regards to what kind of elements composers now use to write. Another aw some aspect of this workshop was when he played "cirque de nord 3" for string quartet and "trio, for percussion" both play around with very interesting sounds from each respected family. In "cirque de nord 3" he shows us how he was able to arrange and capture traditional throat singing in a string quartet. The new bowing systems he created and the sounds that were produced were aw some and very intriguing. The "trio" was also very intriguing due to his choice of instruments. The Instruments he chose and the sounds he wanted worked very well and created a very cool effect. My favourite instrument that is required of a preform er for this piece is to put a bass drum head in front of a resonating instrument; like a harp, guitar or piano and then proceed to hit the head.

Overall this festival was very influential on me and I have learned some big and great tips for composing, but I also have picked up some small tips along the way which will definitely make me a better composer.