Monday, December 13, 2010

What's Next

My main goal for over christmas and in to the new year to work on a piece that I started in the summer based on aleatoric music. The piece is written for string quartet and contains a ostinato in the viola while the other instruments play various passages in a yet to be determined order. I would also like to write another piece for voice and another instrument (or multiple) but I will definitely need to work on finding some text to start this project.

Mine and Justin's band will also be working on recording a new ep in the new year.
You can check out the one we released on december 4th at

Year End

Another semester of composition has just about come to an end. The course this semester was definitely a good way to finish off my composition courses at memorial university. Having a smaller class to work with was beneficial for getting back more criticism and help for our compositions. The ECM performing our pieces was a great experience and really helped us with our score preparation. I particularly enjoyed writing for voice and piano. I've never written for voice before and it was a lot of fun, once I finally obtained some, to use text to write the music. Also, the fact that I could be a lot more free with the piano was a plus where as usually I end up relying too much on the piano for content.

Final composition

After being supplied with text for my piece I found the writing process to run rather smoothly. The bulk of the piece was written within a 24 hour time frame and the music was derived by the text. The words that Dave chose for this poem were rather easy to colour musically. This definitely changed the music I had written for this piece previous to the text rather greatly. I definitely think that writing with a text can help fuel ideas for a piece of music and am even considering writing my next non vocal piece with it as an aid.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I finally got a text for my piece thanks to the lovely mr. Dave Goudie:


A thread,
A pin that works its way,
Across the sky
Tells a lie,
Tells a lie,

Forming clusters here and there,
Depicting gods and men
That never should conspire,
And a crab for some reason

A bead,
A shred of logic,
Somewhere in my mind,
I can't find,
I can't find,

Shame constellations

My plan for this piece is to use a lot of extended techniques to recreate the visual imagery. The first stanza will contain a lot of pizz. on the piano strings as well as scraping and swiping. The word 'cluster' will obviously consist of cluster chords and will definitely be a word I can play off of for a bit. For the line 'Depicting gods and men' I am going to try and create some sort of god like motive to play with. Definitely something rhythmic.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ECM Reading

We finally got our pieces read by the ECM last week after weeks of worrying and stressing about what they would think of them and how they would turn out. It was definitely a very rewarding and positive experience to see our pieces in the hands of trained professionals as oppose to the land of midi provided by our pirated copies of sibelius 6.
I enjoyed hearing my piece come to life, but there was definitely a few sections that I was a bit confused with and wasn't sure if it was my fault as the composer for not being clear of it was just a simple matter of it being its first read through with the ensemble. One section had the main motive in the Piano (around the 1:4o mark) which seemed a little bit buried. Also, at the 2:50 mark I intended the 16th notes to be equivalent to the 8th notes, which instead ended up to be an awkward transition. Overall, the transitions in my piece were definitely lacking but I did enjoy the form and my attempt at using similar material throughout the piece seemed to be a bit more effective than it tends to be.
Hearing the concert and the pieces presented the night prior to the reading really made me want to go back and re-write my piece entirely, but I'm glad I got this piece read too. It turned out much better than I had anticipated, although I feel like I still have a long ways to go before I am truly satisfied in writing a piece. Let's hope I can work some magic within the next week and a half!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ECM concert

Last night I attended the ECM concert. I wasn't expecting the ensemble to look as it did, especially with the electric guitar and only one of each instrument, but it made a lot more sense as the concert went on and you got to know more of what they were about. The writing styles of the composers were certainly a shock as well. I think my lack of familiarization to contemporary music definitely led me to be ignorant to what type of compositions to expect. Once I heard them I immediately wanted to go back to my piece and rewrite it to make it more suited to their style.
I enjoyed seeing the use of electric guitar in three of the pieces. Once again, I never knew how to approach such an instrument in an ensemble such as this. It was interesting to see the guitarist use effects, which was something I never considered outside of 'pop' music. I think I would definitely want to write for an ensemble and incorporate an electric guitar.
I think my favourite piece of the night was 'Binding the Quiet', by Christopher Mayo. I thought all of the pieces were great, but this is the one that stood out to me the most. I really liked particular how the instruments interacted in this piece. It was great that they had the composers come up and talk before they began the piece because then you were much more aware of what to listen for and certainly gave me ideas for future pieces. An overall great experience.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Composition 4100: The next generation

It's great to be back again for another semester and get some of the creative juices flowing again. Being my last year at mun I'm trying to listen, play and create as much music as possible in these last two semesters.
My biggest obstacle, as of yet, is to write fluent non-tonal music. I usually find my note choice to be completely random and not flowing. I tried approaching this assignment by taking a group of chords that are all tonal and manipulating/adding notes to them. Hopefully this approach will help me make more sense of the progressions I'm using.
Having Rob come in definitely opened up some more options for percussion in the piece. I have yet to incorporate percussion in any of my compositions so I'm definitely going to need to spend some more time with him, or another percussionist, to further increase my knowledge on the instrument.