Thursday, December 10, 2009


what a fantastic night. absolutely amazing. that concert pretty much define why i love being alive in this time period, musically speaking. nothing sounded like anything else. not even close. each composition was totally unique (does unique even need a modifier?) each composers language was radically different. and they were all still living! what a treat it is to attend a concert where the composers have not been rotting in the ground for 2 centuries!

getting on with it: three visions of musics future.

this has little to do with ol' karl or richard but something about this article really irked me. ive read about it once in a while before, and it was brought up during the newfound music festival a few years ago. it has to do with classical music alienating its audience. and how it is not culturally relevant. times were very differnent post WWII, and its effects on adademia has more or less faded before my time as a student, so what i may say could very well be completely wrong. but it was not composers who isolated audiences. it was the audiences who isolated themselves. i believe the desire to have a widespread audience is equally vulgar as an audience member who doesnt "make the effort" to really understand contemporary music. the desire for an audience is one of exibitionism (while not entirely innocent of this offence, i would indeed be quite happy having my music only heard by a small group of peers, or even not at all as long as i was still able to write and study composition) and if one wants to fulfill that desire, then one must strongly consider what is being compromised in the process? i could never understand, and perhaps i never will, why appeal, or an audience, or having some popular value. or even tangible value at all. not to say that it isnt art if it does have that, but it certainly loses no merit if it does not.
now, a word on the finished product. of the pallete that i had created, i ultimately used only a small portion. which of course is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is only so much i could use for a short piece without feeling like im just trying to fit as much in as possible.

the pedal is depressed for the entirety of the recorded portion. the recorded part begins with soft timpani mallets striking the cluster A through F in the lowest range of the piano (very little attack, rich resonance). over this, a series of chords on which the soprano line was based is played in reverse with slight reverb. after this dies away, the first section begins: a single line, fragments of the soprano line from the first poem are played backwards and overlapping with another fragment. in the second section, i used several mallets to hit the heads of the screws which were placed between the strings inside the piano. depending of the softness of the mallet the sound ranged from a dull, soft, bell-like ringing with little attack, or a more "bronzey" sound, with a clear attack. after playing 2 melodies in simple counterpoint i added quite a bit of delay and reverb, this section is by far the most rhythmic in the piece. there is a very aimless, wandering quality to the sound. the third section is just 3 descending chords, well, the same chord but down a whole step twice. the sound does not die away, and the resonance of each chord overlaps, creating a very interesting beating. the piece ends with the rumbling bass notes from the beginning returning, and single chord as a palindrome.
nov 25

finished putting together the recorded portion of my composition last night/this morning. i knew it was going to be a tremendous amount of work, but i really am surprised looking back on it. there were the weeks experimenting with preparing the piano with different materials, and recording the relevant data regarding how to reproduce it (which screw type where, length from damper, etc), and then experimenting with the mallets that andrew rideout was generous enough to llet me borrow...then creating a conceptual grasp of the soundworld i wanted to create and the pallet i had to work with, which included me drawing "maps" (with crayons!) to use as a semi-concrete reference point...well, besides all of that, the recording/processing took over 6 hours. and the end result is 3 minutes and 44 seconds of material. what a night.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Character Piece I

Run through in class went well. As a sketch, I find it to be adequate. As a composition, I still have a lot of work to do. Class commented that the character stayed consistent. Dr. Ross commented at length about the piece's major flaw, the unimaginative, uninspired, rhythm of the violin part. That was also the element which I hated the most. Great starting points given, in terms of freeing up the rhythm, the most interesting I found was working with figures such as duplets or quintuplets, but not in small rhythmic bursts (like 8th/16th notes) but across longer note values (half/whole notes).
Conceptually the final version of this piece will remain more or less the same, but the execution is going to be undergoing some very heavy revisions.

Chord progression

(written by hand 2 weeks ago, i kept forgetting to write it on the blog)

Played through the 13 chords I had written in class today, feedback on rise and fall of harmonic tension mirrored my own. The peak was exactly where I had intended it, which was nice to hear. One person had mentioned, and several others agreed, that many of the chords have a very similar character, specifically chords 6-10. I was a little surprised that only chords 6-10 were mentioned, as there only 6 base sonorities:

sonority 1 - chords 1, 13
sonority 2 - chords 2, 3, 9
sonority 3 - chords 4, 5, 6
sonority 4 - chords 6, 7
sonority 5 - chords 7, 8
sonority 6 - chords 4, 11, 12

My intent in taking such consideration into the interval content is to create a sense of unity which is much more coherent than my previous works. Ignoring transpositions, there really isn't very much to work with, which I feel will be very beneficial in trying to develop my compositional technique.