Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The overall experience

This past year has been an interesting one for me; from being thrust in atonality back in September, to experimenting with a blues cliche, writing for a new instrument, and finally back to my routes in a saxophone quartet. I've grown so much as a composer and finish my two composition courses with a new found confidence, that I can write music that people (including myself) will actually like. I really appreciate all the feedback I've been given over the last two terms, and the oportunities to work with great musicians to bring my music to life, it's an experience I'll never forget.

Don't want to make this too sappy, but it's been a great year!

C'est Fini!

It's DONE! I finished my sax quartet today. Named "Influence" it show cases a few things I've come across in the past 4 years and explores some ideas I've only recently learned about. I managed to get the piece away from my typical 'fun and fast' style of writing, but in the end it is still very evidently written by me (a comment from a colleague). My approach to include a minimalist section, with a brief attempt at phase shifting seems to have come off quite effectively and overall I am very happy with the piece.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Almost Done

With the semester drawing to an ever closer end my composition is also almost finished. I've got a few changes to make after it's Monday performance to make some of the exposed sections a little more interesting and add a bit more length to it. That being said it's coming together really nicely and there's an overal sense of coherence that was in it before. I'm going to expand on the 12 tone row I put in and do some work on the final minute and a half of the piece, with any luck it'll be done by the weekend.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Quarteting?

My sax quartet isn't coming along quite as well as I had hoped. I had it played in class Monday and due to a lack of time prior to the class I didn't get a chance to do much with it except for throwing in section in 12 bar blues. This didn't exactly work, it wasn't interesting enough for the music and Dr. Ross said it lacked the 'integrity' that was in the rest of my piece. I never had much invested in the blues section and I'm going to take it out completely, so much for that.

The interesting thing was how much conversation came from the part of my piece that people had already heard. There seems to be a genera consensus that the first two bars of my 9/8 section seem a little redundant and the piece could work well without them. Dylan made the comment on how my writing is almost always fast and fun and to try expanding on the slow section in the intro to the piece. This was followed by some more recommendations to try using isorhythms to bring some of the 9/8 stuff into the intro, this would create a longer slow section and set up the 9/8 so that I could take the previously mentioned two measures out.

I got pretty excited after all the good ideas that came out of the discussion from class and already have made significant changes to my work. The blues section is gone, it may come back later but it will be a much more thought out and integrated way and won't be obvious. I've also done a lot of work on the slow section in the beginning and it's way better now (I hope) and the two measures of the 9/8 are gone and the piece seems to flow a lot better.

Good things to come!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sax Quartet Week 2

My sax quartet is coming along nicely, I've got about 1 minute of music written so far and up to now I've stuck with the Blue Rondo idea. The piece is currently building towards a larger climatic section that will have to occur before I move on from this theme. I had the piece played today in class and the feedback, like always, was centered around the high level of Fun in my piece, a compliment I appreciate. I stand by the ideal of only composing what I like and adapting guidelines to fit that feeling and it really seems to work well for me. Dr. Ross also commented on the fact that I need to keep going towards a climax in the first theme before moving on. He also suggested taking my constant moving figure and develop it into a melody. He also enjoyed the fact that a bar after I modulate the original key comes back and then alternates with the new one until they play simultainiously in poly tonality.

So much to do, so little time.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Final Project

For my final project for this compostion course I've decided to write a piece for sax quartet. I've got a few ideas for it so far: I want to give more focus to the bari, letting it be one of the primary interests in the piece. Also, the style for my piece is jazz, I'm going to include references to Dave Brubecks 'Blue Rondo A la Turk', Charlie Parkers 'Moose the Mouche' & "Yardbird Suite". I'm also thinking of experimenting with Poly-tonality and parallel organum, and also 3,6, and 7 bar phrases to help give my piece a more original sound.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Almost Done!

Friday past I presented my, what was at the time, finished copy of "Rise of the Xaphoon." I was pleasantly surprised with how well the piece went over with everyone in class. Since they last heard it I added a completely different "B Section," that goes double time and kinda grooves, everyone loved it (me too). I had a lot of great feedback: Everyone loved the quirky nature of the piece and the Xaphoon and how I had made sections where it sounds like a tone deaf Xaphoon is trying to sing along with the Clarinet, but just can't quite get there. I also recieved comments on my carefull use of texture and contrasting sections. Dr. Ross noted that the first few meausres of the piano part are written very much like a wind instrument line and don't suit the piano very well, after class he played a couple different ideas for me that could work very well and I've since incorperated them into my piece.

Composer Robert Rival was preasent in class for this performance and he gave me a few ideas for the piece to take it from great to superb. He suggested I add a Xaphoon cadenzsa (to which Dr. Ross recomened I place when the Xaphoon first enters which I think is a great idea.) He also commneted on how programatic my piece sounded. I explained that I just write what I like with no program in mind and he said to try and write a program for it anyways. I have since tried to write a program and I couldn't come up with anything that I considered to be good enough for my piece. I don't really have much experience with programatic music, and the deadline for this project is in one day; so I think for now I'm going to forgoe the idea and maybe consider it for my next composition. He also suggested I try having the xaphoon come in in the "wrong place" in the begginning of the B section, again this was something I've since tried and just don't have the time to make it work in a way I'm happy with.

The metamorphisis this piece has gone through suprised me a little. I started off with one idea and then developed into something that sounded o.k. but was missing something. I dogged at it and eventually it paid off as I am extreemly satisfied with the way the piece has turned out. I've also had a huge amount of professional help along the way in the form of Dr. Ross, Larysa Kuzmenko, Dr. Scott Godin, and Mr. Robert Rival. I think in a large way the piece is wouldn't have turned out the way it did without their input and the input from my colleagues in class.

The concerts on the 27th of Febuary, should be a good one!