Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Look Back...

Throughout this term, because of our class setup, guidance from Dr. Ross, and our specific assignments, I feel as though I've definitely grown in composition and I like it even more than I did in the beginning. I'm relatively new with composition...probably started around 3 years ago. Our class has been supportive of each other, offering suggestions and encouraging feedback and appreciation. It's been a great term!

My final piece, "Crucifixus" went through some changes along the way, including even the desire to change ideas completely and write something new with only 2 weeks remaining in the term. I'm glad you talked me out of this option, Dr. Ross! I remember my initial thoughts for this piece at the end of finishing our class recital, when a brand new thinking process began. I had vague, individual ideas as to the sound of this new piece and individual work on specific sections had already begun. I am pleased with the finished product, and the feedback from the class really had a lot to with this.

Compiled below is a collection of the feedback I received over the many weeks:

- The piece intensifies more and more as it goes on - each section feeds into the next effectively.
- The opening soprano statement of the entirety of the text could use something else half way through - there is a point at which a break in the text can act as an opening for another entry, either from a voice or a brass instrument. (I *really* played with this...part of me still likes the ambiguity of only a soprano line with nothing else, but the alto adding the P4's below has grown on me!) These P4's can also be brought back - which I chose to end at the final line of text in the tenor and bass entries. Great idea!
- Sometimes, the harmonic language is confusing - there are traditional V-I cadences following a non-traditional, more atonal harmonic base. (I think this was part of my escape from tonality...I DO understand where this comment comes from, and I am more aware of the instances where it happens now - definitely something I will consider in future compositions.)
- Try to identify the climax of the piece - there was a point where we were reaching the end, and there hadn't been a heightened point yet.
- Brass clusters work well, and I should try to use them in this piece. (I wanted to, but what I had thought of didn't really fit with everything else; it seemed a little too different and would cause discontinuity in the piece.)
- The opening brass motif is really catching to the ear. (I made this re-appear at the climax of the piece, and I think it works well!)
- The chorale section of the second statement of the text has a great sound world. (I really like the harmonies I've used and it was exactly how I heard it in the beginning stages!)

- Also, the rests in the chorale section, and other areas in the piece work well.
- Think about using more voice and brass together as the piece goes on. (This was on my mind, and I was trying to write it in such a way to avoid any possible balance issues, however the climax of the piece invites all voices and instruments to play together.)

All of these comments have shaped my composition and I tried to implement all, or some parts of them, into the piece.

I would love to have the chance to rehearse this piece with musicians and have it performed. This was a goal I had set for myself during the term, and hoped for it to happen while the piece was on-going. BUT, (there's always a but), time was an issue, as well as scheduling rehearsals while trying to work nine different ones! Eeek! I'm really genuinely interested in having my compositions performed, and writing even more pieces. Even though I will have soon completed a music education degree, I still think composition is going to be a huge part of my career. I've already started thinking about writing a Christmas musical for elementary-aged students, and composing a requiem. I have big plans for myself and I hope they work out!

I feel as though I will definitely keep up with composition, and keep growing throughout. I went back and listened to the final piece I composed for the first composition course that I did last Fall, and it's strictly tonal. I used a lot of borrowed chords, switched from major and minor keys, and that was pretty much the extent of it. I DO like it, but I can certainly see that I've expanded a lot in my writing in only one year.

It has been a fabulous term, and I look forward encouraging my future students to compose, improvise, and make music. I think students learn a lot by writing and composing and I will definitely include it when I teach.

That's it!! It's been a pleasure! What a great course!

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