Tuesday 13 June
It is with great pleasure that I announce after two years battling RSI (repetitive strain injury) I finished a six minute piano quintet the other day! After not thinking I would ever be able to compose, use a computer at all, handwrite or use a phone again, this miracle happened!
Typing can sometimes still set it off so I won't be posting here much, but I hope to update every now and then about current projects and events.
Current update: I have moved to study at the University of Western Australia and am absolutely loving it. Composition workshops are useful and informative and my one-on-one composition lessons have been my saving grace over the last few months.
Exciting news: my recital is due to be middle/end October this year! That means 35 minutes of original music. Currently am working on a set of piano miniatures, a piano quintet and will be starting a choral work and a surround sound work. Plus a golden oldie will make an appearance! :)
As for performances there are far too many that have happened over the last two years to mention in one post but will mention recent productions. Was recently in a pantomime run by the UWA Pantomime Society called Spy School Musical that ran beginning of May. Wonderful and funny!
On Saturday played percussion (yes, that is a thing now... lots to catch up on!) for Samuel Parry's Western Australian Wind Symphony concert band. The previous Saturday was our premiere performance at the state band championships and we won A grade! The concert this last weekend was fantastic; there was an amazing turn out and such extraordinary feedback from all the audience. We were incredibly well received. There was some drama when one of the percussionists failed to turn up on the night and we realised we'd just have to focus and do our best and covering all the parts. It went surprisingly well!
On Sunday morning I sung at my friend's church, Holy Spirit, in City Beach. Ave Maria received many compliments but what was even more heart warming than all the praise from all the visitors were the adoring looks on the faces of the barely 10-year-old children staring at me while I sung. It was slightly distracting but endearing :)
Upcoming performances include:
30th June: Western Australian Youth Concert Band's Carnival of the Animals (asked to play percussion)
24th June: Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra's Winter Concert (asked to play percussion)
1st July: Baden Street Singers' All Aboard (asked to sing soprano 1 in an octet arrangement of I'm A Train)
7th & 8th July: Western Australian Symphony Orchestra's Verbitsky's Russia (Alto)
14th & 15th July: NHarmonic's From Light to Light (Alto 2)
So much excitement!
3 August 2015
SHORT FILM - SINGLE SCENE
As this semester’s collaboration I have taken on a short romantic comedy film after being asked by the director. I have known him for a few years now so he knows I will deliver, as we have worked together in a musical capacity before.
Once viewing the film, which stars all the third year actors at WAAPA, who I happen to know because I played in Blood Wedding with them, I felt quite a pressure as the film really does seem immaculate. Once I had a meeting with the filmmakers I could see the parts they wanted to work on, but as an audience member - a viewer - it seemed fantastic the first time I watched it.
This makes me think about how much of a perfectionist I probably am with my own work. This makes me feel better because I can always spot the parts I want to improve when listening to my own work instead of thinking that to the audience it is completely fine, maybe even fantastic. It is a hard concept to fathom and I don’t think I am the only composer who struggles to accept ti. I do believe that without a certain element of that mindset, we as composers may not grow though.
Knowing how much one doesn’t know and what one can improve is the hard part, but also the part that drives us to be better and better at what we do.
People who don’t know these things can appreciate our work without knowing how it can be improved. The danger of this is people underestimate how much we as composers know, which leads to tricky situations involving unfair acknowledgements. We all know that it is to be expected though and it is something we have to learn to accept will happen.
Getting back to the film; I have been asked to score one scene by this evening. I am confident I can have something by then, even if it is a rough cut. I have done many piano recordings so far so may see if I can just dice and splice them for now. My original plan was to take the recording I had made of a piano idea I came up with last month that fit with the scene, transcribe it into Sibelius, then transfer it to Logic X and use virtual instruments. The problem was that 1) it was incredibly difficult to transcribe because it is so flowing and the rhythms are unclear, and 2) the virtual instruments would have no difference in volume and would sound extremely monotone and fake if I was to transfer the music from Sibelius. So I plugged in my MIDI converter cable to Logic X and recorded it that way. Then I will use my VSTs to give a better sound, though the Logic piano sound isn’t all too bad, surprisingly.
25 April 2015
PYROLATRY - DRAFT 5
Been stuck on this piece for a while. Can't seem to add anything to what I have already and it is proving difficult. Some ideas I have had for how to continue are introducing a polyrhythm to complement the existing drums, having a solo by a new instrument (though introducing would be tricky), or changing the chords that are being played, along with the singing.
Something to consider also would be whether the piece will have any lyrics. Perhaps I can compose a “chorus” section using the syllables from the word “pyrolatry”, seeing as the piece has very little to do with the worship of fire at the moment.
I have just written another four bar loop with three voices, successfully with the lyrics “pyrolatry”. Now considering whether I want to sing and record the piece live. Is that too much to bite off and chew? I really think it would be incredibly impressive if I could pull it off. Can I though?
I have been experimenting in seeing if I can actually perform the piece live and I do think there is hope. It will take time, but I think it's possible. Now the main issue is making the piece long enough without it becoming too boringly repetitive. At the moment the piece is at the 3.5 minute mark. This may just be enough time to start a new idea.
22 April 2015
Jesse taught me a little about looping this morning, so I'm a bit more clear on the subject. Still struggling a bit though. I'm a very hands-on learner and because I didn't have my Launchpad with me, he couldn't show me how to use it, could only try and convey it through words.
I have managed to create about 45 seconds worth of material purely from the bass, drum beats, voices and the changing of effects throughout the piece. The entire voice theme runs through the whole time and I could see it becoming incredibly repetitive, especially as the piece has to be 5 minutes minimum. Also I am leaning towards having the voice parts pre-recorded instead of me performing and looping them live because I feel a lot could go wrong and I want to focus on one thing at a time.
At the moment I can successfully loop, but only because I have copy-pasted the tracks I want to continue when a new one comes in. I'm sure this isn't the “proper” and most efficient way to set it up but I don't know any different and it's working for me so far.
21 April 2015
So I have spent some time on Ableton and found that the first track I made doesn't fit with the idea I have in my mind so going to remove it.
The piece has a drum beat and bass, and I will be singing over it. For the assignment I think it's best if the voice part is somehow edited, either using Max (not sure how to do that if I am using Ableton for the rest of the piece) or Ableton. I do think Ableton is good enough, especially as I am just starting to learn all of this.
For the graphic score, no real new development except that because the piece won't be super improvisational I think it will work better to paint the score after the piece is composed, or at least the layout for the piece is written.
19 April 2015
At section B in Ussuss, there are sustained chords (all six instruments) and I feel the orchestration needs work. In the rehearsal we had the other day I realised that because the piece has mainly instruments that are made to play low pitches, the chords are incredibly bass-heavy.
So my plan is to write down exactly what notes I want played in each bar and distribute the between the instruments, insuring balance.
Many hours later and the piece is done. The tuba part has been transferred to piano and the viola part transferred to violin. As for the trombone part (which has tricky timing), I put the crotchets in the piano's right hand as well, so there is some support.
In my opinion this version is just as good as the versions with the original instrumentation. Having the piano means the necessary reinforcement is fulfilled.
The only thing then is that I'm afraid that, even with Lindsay playing the main line on the bass clarinet, there could be too much volume from the other instruments (extra line in piano, as well as high strings) so as to leave no room for the melody to be heard.
I'm sure this is something we could workshop in rehearsal.
16 April 2015
SOLO & ELECTRONICS
With writing for Ableton I'm finding it incredibly hard to figure out where I am going with the piece. I listen to what I have but I don't know how to loop things properly.
I'm thinking probably learning the Launchpad at the same time as Ableton may be a bit too steep of a learning curve, but it has to be done for Spectrum, as that is my goal! When I am determined, I deliver.
I think the next step is to have everything written out on paper. The entire plan of the piece, where the loops will start, end, everything. Then I will also have something to show people if I need them to help me set it up.
This piece, I believe, can be good, as long as I get everything sorted in time.
15 April 2015
Where to start with a choral work?
Will there be lyrics? If so, does one write the general themes of the piece and then find lyrics that fit with them or does one compose with the intention of portraying certain lyrics right from the start?
My question is if I should write my own lyrics or if I should find an existing poem. I find composing to one's own lyrics easier, not only because the general flow would be more like the flow of one's musical works (or so I believe), but writing a tune to an already-existing poem seems like, and is, a lot of pressure!
15 April 2015
SOLO AND ELECTRONICS
My solo piece currently consists of two pad chords, with a comfortable pulsing beat, and a bass (not so comfortable). I do think the bass needs proper work. As nothing in the instrument library fits nicely with the exact feel I want.
I had a thought about the visual score. It could be laid out like a piano score, without the keys clearly marked. All the electronics could be written in exactly, and then I just need to compose the vocal part, which I will be singing (or might find someone else).
I would like to paint my score. I hope it will be possible, although I'm not sure how I'm going to make it look that professional if I do.
I guess that's a risk worth taking if it will be different to my classmates' work.
If I can't make my electronics impressive then perhaps I can make the rest of the assignment worthwhile!
10 April 2015
SHORT PIECE #3 - CHORAL WORK
For my third short piece I am inspired by the fact one of the first year composers, Pippa, started a small choir, and I would like to write a choral work for us to sing.
It's a great opportunity to experiment and hear words sung instead of hearing a depressing “ahh” sound on Sibelius.
10 April 2015
As I sat down to work today I was still having trouble with finding the pedal settings. I could press all the right buttons but the actual menu and settings wouldn't show. Finally, just now, they appeared! I can finally place the finishing touches.
The apparent “jump” in the piece at 14 seconds, was an unnecessary sustain cut-off. It sounded abrupt and ugly, so now I have fixed that and will edit the sustain throughout the rest of the piece.
I have also made it so that the strings only come in at 14 seconds instead of at the beginning. I think it creates a nice build up that way, instead of all the instruments coming in at the same time.
Experimented with the EQs on the instruments (strings) to make them sound more like their actual real counterparts. Worked to an extent, though I still think there could be a lot done to make it them better. I am happy with them as they are at the moment though.
In my opinion the only part that still needs a bit of work would be the ending (rate of fading).
7 April 2015
SOLO INSTRUMENT AND ELECTRONICS
For my solo instrument and electronics I was thinking of doing a piece that uses my launchpad. I bought it a few months back and haven't had a deadline to use it so I keep having other things come up, making me unable to fiddle with it.
Part of the assignment is largely meant to be focused on the score. I'm not entirely sure what the score for mine will look like.
I could paint something. Not certain of what it would resemble yet. I want the instrumentalist to know exactly the notes he is meant to play which means it has to have some kind of pitch instruction. I could show it as loops, using the layout of Ableton.
7 April 2015
Putting the final touches on the film collaboration piece.
Need to make the strings sound more realistic (no surprises there) and make them softer.
Also apparently 14 seconds in, the piano chord cuts off, which I need to inspect.
Something else that was mentioned was that he wanted the beginning longer and a slower build up.
EAST WEST SYMPHONIC ORCHESTRA
Piano → Steinway
Violin → 11 violins → 5 Keysw → Master
Viola → 10 violas → 5 Keysw → Master
Cello → 10 cellos → 5 Keysw → Master
Am loading the virtual instruments and having trouble because apparently there isn't enough free memory.
Googled the problem and a solution seems to be to restart the computer. Decided it's a good time for a system update.
Regarding the composition itself, it's probably going to work well to take the strings out at the beginning of the piece, just leaving the piano, until the second cycle of the first four chords comes around again.
6 April 2015
The next step in composing my bowed vibraphone piece is splitting the chords I have chosen into two separate staves so that it is easier to see which notes are able to be performed by each player.
I have also chosen to do this as less of an aural exercise, as it isn't needed in the least, and am listening to an iTunes playlist while completing this part of the composition. I wonder how many other composers work the way I do?
Finished parting the chords into parts 1 and 2. Now to continue. Having another stare-at-screen-confused moment. Clear that mind! Probably time for another coffee.
Made the mistake of separating the parts each into voice 1 and 2 as well, which means when I click on the notes it only shows one of the two notes in that part on the keyboard layout! Oawhnawh...
Piece is finally finished. To make it look nicer on the page, I changed the layout to landscape. Also, to make the piece shorter and more intense I added a crescendo and accelerando almost at the very beginning until the end.
29 March 2015
SHORT PIECES - VIBRAPHONE
For one of my short pieces I want to write a piece for bowed vibraphone. As the piece has to be a maximum of 30 seconds long, I feel that it would be good to only explore this one aspect of the vibraphone's capabilities.
After a quick YouTube search of “bowed vibraphone”almost every entry was a rendition of Elliot Cole's Square Peg Round Hole, no. 8 from Postludes For Bowed Vibraphone, an incredibly beautiful and delicate piece. In this version I came across, there are four performers, each with two bows, around one vibraphone.
I would love to write a piece as beautiful as this!
19 March 2015
Ben Christiansen was talking today in workshop about how ritual is affirming in music. The more something is repeated, the more it means to the listener.
This really resonates with me because I have found with many of the pieces that I call my favourites at this moment in time, I had to listen to them at least three or four, sometimes even more, times until they really gave me meaning and made me want to keep listening. I also take this into account when writing my own music. I want my music to be liked by my audience the first time they hear it. I know that obviously I can't make that happen for everyone, but I know that there are pieces that I have liked the first time I have heard them. Then I wonder what makes people listen to pieces over and over until they do like them? There must be something that sells the piece to the listener, to make them want to like them? This really interests me.There must be something in the pieces that I give a chance. Why do I give them a chance? I must have faith that I will like them! I know that not everybody will love my music first listen, but I need to make them want to listen over and over.
12 March 2015
Someone asked Cat an interesting question regarding her graphical scores and the outcomes when performers read them and play. Does she want the piece to sound the same every time – the way she wants to hear it – it sounding exactly the way she likes it? Or is she okay with the music being played differently and more focused on its uniqueness than being exactly as she wants? She replied saying she prefers for some things to be as she wants – some specific things. But she is more open than wanting each version of the piece to be the same.
Another thing that made me think was that since coming to WAAPA I've really tried to get into noise music, music with less harmonic importance, but music which really focuses on being unique, to the extreme, and tries to get away from traditional conventions. Cat, and Lindsay in interactive music yesterday and last week, have made it clear they hold uniqueness in composing in high regard. It's important to them. I feel like the music I write at the moment is unique, because there isn't music exactly like it anywhere. Some may believe that I am narrow-minded because I don't want to write music like a lot of contemporary composers, but I'm okay with that. It is clearly what they are into, and I don't feel like I have to want to write that kind of music to be successful as a composer. I believe I will be able to make it as far as I need if I write music I want to write :)
11 March 2015
FILM COLLABORATION NOTES
Yesterday I worked on my collaboration for four and a half hours total. I took notes the whole time I was composing and editing. I just thought I would share what I had written.
Start piece with strings only. Bring in piano slowly. Build up piano and strings. Once at goal kick, draw out and make fade slightly. After goal kick only have strings. Make chords/notes different to before so they fit lengthwise and mood-wise. Finish while character is still in frame and sustain until video finishes.
Currently the piano part creates the whole atmosphere of the piece so I'm not sure if it is going to work to start the piece with only strings.
0:41 is goal kick
0:44 is where music starts back
0:51 is where music stops and sustains
Struggling to balance string parts in piece. Have moved the piano entry to 15 seconds and am now trying to figure out an intro of only strings for the piece. Doesn't feel wholesome with only violin and cello, so trying to ad viola and double bass but having trouble trying to get correct-sounding VSTs working.
DOUBLE BASS LINE: G G G A A Bb Bb C C
CELLO LINE: B C C C C C D D E
VIOLA LINE: E E E F F F F G G
VIOLIN LINE: G G G G G A B C
After hearing the piece with a string-only build up and the piano joining in later, I am even more convinced that the music would sound more realistic with the piano coming in first and then the strings joining later on.
To make the strings sound more realistic I fiddled around with the channel EQ on each of them. It has helped a bit but I am still not convinced that the piano entry sounded more authentic and believable.
To make the beginning less in-your-face, full of strings, I took out the double bass part, then found that the whole piece was a lot lighter without it. Still struggling to make piece sound realistic. Wanting to use original piano beginning but finding it difficult to justify as the piece needs a large build-up, which will be hard if all of the instruments are already in the score from bar 1.
I have gradually made the three string parts increase volume until the climatic goal kick. It was incredibly hard when writing the music not to make the climax sound too Hollywood-Film-like. It's what I thought would be expected of me but Russell actually said he didn't want it. I'm finding it tricky to make it sound climactic without making it sound Hollywood. Trying to convince the listener that the moment is special, but it's a lot harder because I have to use a less-expected method of obtaining the same emotion.
Have decided, three and half hours later, that all up to the goal kick is fine in this edit for now. Will now proceed to compose the part after the goal kick.
Last chord should be at 0:42 not 0:41. When the ball falls exactly in the goal and the film starts fading away.
Managed to finish all of this within four and a half hours today and this evening. For the ending of the piece I ended up sustaining the strings until the end and only adding two little two-note chords in the piano, syncing with two shots in the film, then fading to the end.
I still need to fix a few things in the score before it would pass my perfection test, including figuring where the heck the sustain pedal settings went, and also figuring out how to smooth out a few bumps in the strings.
4 March 2015
ABOUT GRAPHIC SCORES
Lindsay mentioned that if we wanted our music to appear unique, why wouldn't we put in the effort to make our score unique as well? Why use traditional notation?
Personally I find I don't want the score to be part of the art. If my music can be played from reading a traditionally notated score, why would I put in the effort to make the score look different? It's like expecting authors to write their own languages. I'm okay with the language I have! Not that my audience would only be able to appreciate the music when reading the music. I guess that's the thing.
For me, I only want me audience to hear the music, not see it. I want them to imagine what the music would look like in their minds. I don't see why the score is important for the audience with the music I write.
8 February 2015
SPATIAL WEASEL – DESCRIPTION FOR ICMC
Spatial Weasel is made up entirely of vocal recordings. As a singer, L. A. Raubenheimer has a fascination with the capabilities of the human voice.
The work uses spareness to its advantage, letting the listener easily follow the spatial gestures throughout. The visual score represents the two minute version of the piece. It is self-explanatory, clearly showing the paths the sounds follow, shown by arrows drawn over diagrams of the surround sound set up.
The laughter that interjects during the middle of the piece may spark some thought. Is this laughter part of the work? A serious interjection, the composer viewing her own laughter just as if it belonged to another? Or has it been selected so that the composer can be quite literally laughing at her own work, every time it is played, whether she be present or not?
4 February 2015
SPATIAL WEASEL - 7 MINUTE EDIT
For the International Computer Music Conference, I am extending Spatial Weasel by approximately five minutes. I was completely happy with the two minute piece and wanted to submit it as it was, but I can understand that it may not be chosen to be played if it is so short.
The conference is to be held in Texas this year. The excitement is surreal.
My goal is to finish all of the clip and track editing tonight so I can spend the last few days editing the spatialisation of the piece. As I was planning the structure of the work, an interesting paragraph surfaced;
With the obvious vocal sounds, the idea is to make them sound as if they are ghost-like, peeking out, interjecting only for a moment before disappearing once more. Also to make the audience wonder whether the sound is a fellow audience member. Or is it just me, the composer, laughing at my own work “silently”? Will it make the audience question the seriousness of the work? They can take what they like from the piece, but I may just like the idea of making my laughter into a work of art.
2 November 2014
SPATIAL WEASEL VISUAL SCORE
Yesterday I finished the visual score for Spatial Weasel. The aim for our visual scores was to create a visual representation of the spatialisation of our works. Some of my classmates took screenshots of their Logic X sessions with the automation showing how to spatialise the tracks, along with a spectrogram of the work. I decided that I would go with a more traditional approach and draw mine by hand with pencil and paper, with almost as much guidance as to the motion of the tracks as sheet music to an ensemble composition.
The score uses a grid system, with each row to a track and the instructions moving to a new column every time a track stops or starts. If a track is still going while another track stops or starts, the instructions are simply continued into the next column, and the next, until that track itself finishes (indicated with an end time and a square bracket).
Each drawing is a representation of the 7.1 speaker setup. At the beginning of each instruction, the speaker or position the movement starts off on is shown as a filled circle and the movement is drawn with arrows. Sharp movements indicate incredibly direct paths whereas curved movements show either faster or less specific journeys.
For each track I wanted to describe what kind of movement they applied. Most of them were direct and/or circular, but there were a few which stayed central, with equal volumes coming out of each speaker, which I named “no variation”as there is no variation in position in the spatial environment.
1 November 2014
ORIGINAL COMPOSITION DRAFT 1
One of my principal studies assignments for this semester is to write an original composition with no instructions but for it to have at least one instrument from each instrument family (strings, brass, woodwind and percussion). Piano does not count as either strings or percussion so if I was to choose it to be part of the work it would have to be an extra.
I chose the instrumentation for the piece a few days ago; bass clarinet, trombone, vibraphone, viola, cello and double bass (yes, I like my strings). I particularly prefer clarinet over any other woodwind, closely followed by flute, as these two have more mellow and rounded timbres in my opinion. Oboe I hear as a more forward, nasal sound and doesn't blend as well. I see viola as better at blending than violin, and cello even more so. Double bass is great for support while also not sticking out against the overall texture.
Starting the piece, I had no structure and no plan whatsoever. The only idea I had was to compose the piece in 9/8 and have different parts feeling like they're in different time signatures. So far the bass clarinet has the melody for the beginning of the piece and then the melody gets passed between instruments while the rest of the ensemble plays nicely balanced held notes to form satisfying chords.
I think the next step in the piece is to make a drastic change in feel. Perhaps changing the mode of the piece, time signature, tempo, range each instrument is playing in. A solo might work nicely. All I know is that the part I have already written (so far just over a minute long) needs a lot of work. The dynamics are already added into the score but there are many balance issues and there's one part that I'm particularly not happy with where all the instruments are playing complicated cross-rhythm-type parts and then they all go straight into a quiet chord and it sounds incredibly disjointed and out-of-place. The transitions definitely need work.
24 October 2014
BLOOD WEDDING WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
During the last project week and for the whole week from Thursday the 9th to Thursday the 16th I was rehearsing and performing to be in the 2nd year WAAPA actor's production Blood Wedding. All the music was written by Lindsay and I was playing celeste in a band of six musicians, the others being Hayden and Jameson on guitar, Michael on soprano sax, Dario on double bass and Tom on percussion. As the band that accompanied the actor's throughout the entire performance, we were on stage for the entire show, in the back corner under the stairs. After doing eight performances of the production, coming out of that world was difficult and I suddenly felt as if I had so much free time! Even though it was time consuming I wouldn't have had it any other way and it was a great experience playing in the ensemble and timing all our playing to the actors. Now I have withdrawal symptoms.
29 September 2014
SOUND SPECTRUM WEEK
The last week at WAAPA the composers' main event of the semester was held at the Spectrum Gallery. Sound Spectrum week consisted of concerts every night, showcasing over 40 new works, including spatial pieces composed by every 1st year composer at WAAPA.
On Monday our year performed “Worker's Union” by Louis Andriessen and in our two separate groups played our own arrangement of “In A Landscape” by John Cage. In my group we had Ed on electric guitar, David on bass, Alex on acoustic, Gabbi on violin, Max on clarinet, Jono on baritone saxophone and Josh on drums. There weren't many people in the audience apart from the second year composers but it made it feel a lot personal and meant there wasn't any reason to be nervous. I felt that some of my classmates could have put in a bit more effort and practiced before the concert but we're all busy with our lives outside of university as well and some of them just weren't capable of doing more. I hope that next time we can start planning earlier and that we can have everyone at the rehearsals so we know definitely what we're meant to be doing from an early stage.
Tuesday night was the night for us to present our 7.1 surround sound spatial works. It was an absolute blast! Everyone in our year did a fantastic job on their compositions and I'm really proud to be studying with such great artists. I especially appreciated David's use of the spatial layout of the speakers with his piece and musically I most enjoyed the piece Max composed. I was really happy with the sound of my composition, Spatial Weasel, over the speakers in the space of the gallery, and with the reaction it received from the audience. Lindsay even suggested that if I can make the piece more around the seven minute mark, I should seriously consider entering it into ACMA or even ICMC! It feels like such an honour to hear that from him. I didn't think that my piece was that great, as I was just having fun and taking the opportunity to try something new. I have to say I immensely enjoyed writing the piece so will definitely lengthen it and enter it into ACMA and ICMC when it's ready.
Wednesday and Thursday nights I attended and they went quite well considering the little support from the composers. I was the only first year to turn up on the Wednesday and enjoyed it immensely despite having to evacuate the gallery due to an audio error and having our ears almost blasted out. On Thursday I took part in performing Josten Myburgh's piece Appendix C, a composition written for his recital which will take place on the 29th of October. We played the first and second movements, we being Nic on flute, Tristen on cello, Jameson on electric guitar, Monica on vocals, Josten on percussion and electronics and me on somewhat-prepared piano. It was a lovely experience and because we've had quite a few rehearsals and a few conversations on the piece, we felt very much at home in the environment. Other pieces performed that night included an amazing composition by Sean, written for Basement Saxx, which absolutely blew me away, and a piece by James written for Michael on saxophone which looked and sounded incredibly difficult, making great use of delays meaning there were intriguing harmonies.
The most anticipated night was Friday night, the night of the Minimalism at 50 concert. Tom and Mercedes performed my piece for two marimbas, Delusion. It could've gone better but we had hardly any rehearsal time and Mercedes jumped on the bandwagon pretty late so we all did what we could and I'm happy with the outcome.
The first piece played was Ben's Broken for percussion. I played snare in his piece even though I've never performed on drums in my life. It was a steep learning curve for me but I think I did alright. Because I was playing snare drum I was almost the loudest performer, next to Josten who played the first snare part. I have to say it was a really fun piece to play and the audience members I spoke to really enjoyed listening to it.
I also played piano in Eduardo's piece, Music for Oswaldo. I enjoyed this one as my part was quite easy so I could listen to everyone else's playing a lot more and concentrate on the feel of the piece instead of the notes I had to play. We also had a lot of rehearsals for it so I didn't feel nervous at all to be performing it.
After the intermission I joined the audience and watched the last three works, all involving EGO, the Electric Guitar Orchestra. The first was by Dane, the second by Saf and the third by Steve. I can't say I have much to say about them as by that point in time I realised I didn't have anything else to do with Sound Spectrum left to do that week and went into a complete zone-out. But I remember that Saf's piece made use of some techniques not used in the other two pieces. The one that springs to mind is fiddling with the cables connecting the guitars to the amplifiers, making loud sounds that would not normally be thought musical. I really liked that touch. Steve's piece was really over-the-top but awesome! Basically he got all the guys in the orchestra to completely shred for 15 minutes while he took care of the electronics. The thing is that the guitars weren't being amplified so the scene was quite amusing.
All in all the night was great and I wouldn't have it any other way. The audience turn out was small but that made it personal and for a lot of the first years it was their first time presenting and/or performing so I think that helped them a lot. Now next year we can really pick up our game and be completely ready for it.
19 September 2014
SOLO GUITAR PIECE – DRAFT 1
Recently I've been inspired to write for guitar, purely because I feel I know nothing about the instrument and find it extremely difficult to write for it. The main thing that I find difficult is knowing which notes the guitarist can reach on their instrument. Last night I decided to write a solo piece for guitar and ask a friend for help on what suits the instrument.
I think it's the first time I've written an entire piece in one night. To be fair it's only a page long but I felt accomplished nevertheless. I wrote no structure for the piece before I started it, like almost all of my pieces. Also like almost all my pieces I think I tried to squeeze too many ideas into too small a time frame, instead of having one idea and expanding on that idea. Maybe I tend to get bored with one idea for so long, or want my piece to have a whirlwind of events, just like some emotional encounters. I don't really have a proper explanation for it.
16 September 2014
SPATIAL PIECE – DRAFT 1
For my spatial piece I am using only sounds made by the mouth. On Tuesday last week Jesse let me record using his good quality microphone. I recorded not only myself making crazy noises but also recorded Jesse making as weird noises, sometimes making very low weird noises. This bass has added a lot to the possibilities of my piece, broadening the spectrum dramatically.
I am currently in the situation that I need to write or draw a structure for the work before I can continue. In class last Wednesday I started editing the sounds and picking out which clips I wanted to use for the final work (or at least a draft). But in any order and the piece has no structure yet.
6 September 2014
STIRLING PLAYERS YOUTH AUDITIONS
Today were the auditions for Josh the Pirate's Yo Ho Ho Christmas Show. I am the musical director so was required to check up on the singing abilities and enthusiasm of the potential cast. All of the people who turned up were talented and cheery and were all offered spots in the play! Much excite.
The play is about a Captain who doesn't like Christmas (sad face). There are five songs I'm required to teach and am looking forward to working with the cast. I know quite a few of them from previous shows I have been in with Stirling Players.
It was a great experience listening to the cast members sing and imagining them on stage at the performances, in character, though I had to keep myself from feeling like I wanted to be the one singing on the stage, being auditioned. I miss the theatre and wish I had time to be in the show this year. But being able to help so much behind the scenes is such a privilege and will be an amazing learning experience.
5 September 2014
WARANA CONCERTO COMPETITION
So proud of my humble saxophone-playing friend David Gioia for winning the Warana Concerto Competition! Lucky to have been watching such amazing musicians at such an amazing venue.
My dad accompanied me to the Main Auditorium at WAAPA to see the three finalists (Tamara Simpson on flute, Alexandra Thomson on clarinet along with David), backed by the wonderfully talented Faith Court Orchestra, perform their submissions for the concerto competition. We were sat right behind the double basses in the front row which meant I could follow their music. It was a view of the orchestra I had never experienced before. I felt as if I was one of the musicians and as they played I could feel the vibration of the sound travelling through my feet.
All three of the compositions were alluring, each using wonderful harmonies at times. Though they were all quite different from each other, the piece that David played specifically stood out to me. The “Tallahatchie Concerto” by Jacob ter Veldhuis, arranged for wind ensemble by Mark Rogers. The orchestration left space for what sounded like improvisation for David's part, though I have a feeling it was all notated, which shows David's skill. His performance was absolutely exquisite. There was so much feeling and so much soul. His connection with the audience was unbreakable and I knew that every single member sitting and watching were entranced. Magic.
4 September 2014
PROJECT WEEK 3 – DELUSION
Today we rehearsed and later presented my piece Delusion in Composition Workshop. The rehearsal went really well. Amelia and Tom are both really good performers and sight-read the piece like bosses. I am so grateful that such great performers were willing to play my piece.
The main theme of the rehearsal was octaves. At first one of the parts was being played an octave higher than written and neither the performer nor I noticed this until about ten minutes into the rehearsal. This shocked us! Then the other player later on made the same mistake. Once fixed the parts were played perfectly though. It just struck me as odd. I think it was odd to all three of us.
The trickiest part of the whole piece was the first part. The piece is at 108 bpm, and straight semiquavers. The first few times we played through the piece the performers obviously played a lot slower than the set tempo, but after a few plays they tried it at the correct tempo and it sounded amazing. As Amelia said, the piece had a natural flow to it and it seemed it was even somewhat easier to play it at the write tempo instead of slowing it down for learning purposes.
When it got to the second part (from section C) the performers found it easier to play as it focused more on the rhythms and not shifting between notes. It's also my favourite part of the piece. The first marimba holds a steady grouping of two semiquavers then quaver rest, repeated, while the second marimba alternates between different rhythms. It creates a wonderful effect when the second marimba goes from, for example, a tim-ka tim-ka to ti-ti ti-ti, etc. It's like the piece has a slice of rhythmical chaos for a few bars and then that part brings back the pulse – brings back the reality into the piece.
Lindsay seemed to like the work as a whole, though he suggested I add in at least one part where the performers play with four mallets, perhaps at the loudest points. Lachlan also mentioned this to me when I sent my score to him to look over. I think it's a great idea and I will add those parts in, then send them to Amelia and Tom and see what they think.
I am excited as to how this piece will turn out and I think it will be a hit at the concert! So lucky to have such amazing performers bringing it to life. Nothing quite like it.
3 September 2014
PROJECT WEEK 3 – MUSIC FOR OSWALDO
As it is project week a lot of time has been set aside for rehearsals for the minimalist concert, Minimalism at 50. Today I took the trip to WAAPA to play piano in a rehearsal of Eduardo's piece, Music for Oswaldo. The part is quite simple for a pianist but could be seen as the part which keeps the time, which, while playing straight crotchets, is quite difficult. Even if one is playing perfectly in time, the mind plays tricks!
The score was slightly revised since the last rehearsal we had. There were a few ti-tika rhythms added in there. They were repetitive and there are only two chords throughout the entire piece so it was easy for me to sight-read the new sections.
One thing that caught us off guard at the beginning of the rehearsal was that the keyboard I was to play didn't have a lead for it to connect with the amplifier. Remember the cords, kids!
Lindsay sat in for the rehearsal and helped a lot with teaching the rhythms, dynamics and so on. There wasn't much written on the actual score so I think it was hard for all of us performers to connect while playing. The music is meant to be like a big ol' jam, less classical than a lot of the other stuff that would be part of our classmates' repertoire.
Joe came later on in the rehearsal and played some cumbia and saya rhythms on the drum kit (bass drum and snare). I wasn't paying as much attention as I should've been, but I believe that it helped a lot with the feel of the piece and kept the piece alive.
2 September 2014
DELUSION – PREPARATION
For the Minimalism at 50 concert that is to be held at WAAPA on the 26th of September, I have written a piece named Delusion for two marimbas. It started off as a work for solo piano but as it evolved I realised that if I was given that piece to play as a pianist, I wouldn't be happy with the composer. The piece isn't suited to the piano. So I changed the instrumentation to two marimbas and wrote the rest of the piece that way. I felt I had much more inspiration to continue the piece and the composition flowed seamlessly.
On Thursday will be the first rehearsal of the piece and then that same afternoon another rehearsal in Composition Workshop. I spent a slice of this evening finishing off the final touches of the score and made sure the sheet music for the individual parts was neat and tidy.
The main thing I wanted to incorporate before exporting the PDFs was accenting certain notes when there was change. While Sibelius 7 samples aren't what one would call realistic, the recordings give somewhat an overall feel for the marimba, and I noticed in the playback that some notes stuck out more than others and sounded like they were accented even though they were notated no different to the rest of the piece. This intrigued me and I liked the way those certain notes drew my ears, so I decided to make sure it's clear to the player that those notes should be the most noticeable.
1 September 2014
JOHN CAGE PIECE, IN A LANDSCAPE
As part of our Sound Spectrum concert, all the first year and Certificate IV composers were split into two groups to arrange one of John Cage's piano works, In A Landscape, for ensemble. Then we're to perform them at the end of September in the Spectrum Gallery on campus. Today a few of us met up and discussed ideas for our version. The piece is, in its entirety, 10 pages long, but we decided that we would focus on the first four pages. Then one person in our group thought it would work to just focus on a single bar and play that bar in different ways for two whole minutes. I really liked this idea, though in the end we reverted back to more common means and decided to focus on the first page and a half.
Currently our plans are:
Ed will start playing electric guitar with his ebow: the main motif but drawn out and ethereal. Then I come in on the piano, playing exactly the music John Cage wrote. We play through the first 15 bars then the second time around, Josh comes in, playing the drums in ¾ time. Gabbi and Max come in with violin and clarinet when they wish, probably more towards the third time playing those first 15 bars is best. The third play through, Josh experiments with playing drums in 6/8 time.
After these three plays of the first 15 bars, Max on clarinet and Jono on baritone sax have a “breakdown” duet section, harmonising in the thirds the right hand of Cage's notated music. The drums and piano are not playing at this point. Gabbi comes in on violin and plays the melody that is written in the left hand of the notated music, from bar 20.
At the top of the second page of the music there is a falling sequence. Max came up with the good idea that instruments could alternate playing the parts of this sequence.
The last note written in the section that we picked to focus on is a D, but that wouldn't fit in with the piece repeating back to the beginning, so it has been changed to a Bb, so it links back to the first bar of the piece.
31 August 2014
One of our assignments is to write a three or four part canon. “The work should display a basic understanding of counterpoint and contain both melodic and rhythmic interest for the player.”
I am now on my third draft and up to the point where I have decided I want to follow the basic structure of I, V, I, V, and so on, following the inspiration of Telemann. His canon is so rewarding to listen to and sing, yet the foundations so simple.
At the moment my canon still has elements of its draft stage before this framework is set in place, but I changed the beginning note of each bar to fit into either chord I or V. This means that some of the jumps in the voices are a little awkward. Now I am planning to make sure that the chord played at the beginning of each bar does not have double or triple of one note of the chord, but the notes played are all different. For example if the chord is chord V, then the notes played are so, ti and re, not a double of one and the lack of another.