Never A Dull Moment

On the first day of class in the composition studio, Dr. Suter prompted us to discuss what our goals were as composers this year. Conveniently enough, I had been thinking about such goals about a week or so prior. One of my goals is to get at least one performance of my music outside of U of R…I still need a plan for that though. Perhaps I will write a piece for my old middle school; I have been wanting to write one for some time now, and the last time I talked to the director, he told me that the orchestra is massive. My number one goal, however, is to explore a wider harmonic palette.

In the quartet piece I that have been writing, The Forty-Year Wandering, I constructed a scale in order to give myself material to work with. (Still wondering if it is completely original, but even if it exists somewhere already, I really like it.) Usually, I jump right into writing melodies without thinking much about the “infrastructure” of them beforehand, and then I build the rest of my material off of the sonorities that come along with it. I hasn’t been a bad method, but it could definitely be better. I’ve realized that that is probably why I end up using modal melodies quite often, especially around the same tonal centers.

Most recently, I have been working on an unaccompanied viola solo to play for the composition recital (which is exactly two weeks from yesterday!!!). I plan to play it on my own. When Dr. Suter looked over my piece during my lesson, he brought to my attention one very crucial thing: it doesn’t build to much of a climax. What a head-slapper. I thought I had thought about something so basic as the climax of the piece, but obviously, I hadn’t, at least not thoroughly. In fact, the current “climax” of the piece is quite anticlimactic compared to the energetic, highly-rhythmic material that comes right before it. I gotta fix that. And soon. For this reason, I thought back on the aspirations I have for this year, and I have decided to add yet another one to the list: cut the dull moments. Period.

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7 thoughts on “Never A Dull Moment

  1. Setting goals is a huge benefit, and getting performances outside of the university is a great one. I’d recommend seeing if there are any projects in your immediate community that are in need of music (a local theatre, local new music group, performers outside the university, classmates who tour) that might be interested in working on something–like your middle school. Sounds like you’re off to a great start, though.

    1. Yeah, that’s a great point–I’ve been trying to look for performers lately who are interested in new music. I’ve found out about new music ensembles through calls for scores online, but I just realized that I haven’t looked at other nearby universities to see what ensembles they have. Hmm…

      Thanks for the advice. :)

      Sakari

  2. Sakari,

    I like the concept of writing your own scale. Even if it’s already “officially” taken, the context in which you use it harmonically might not be. Are you willing to reveal the scale? I’d be interested in checking it out!

    – Greg

    1. Hmm. I’ll probably hang on to it at least for a little while, mainly to see if there’s something like it that already exists. One of my friends who has little formal knowledge of music told me that the piece reminded her of Russian Jewish music, which I honestly know very little about, and I’m not even sure if I’ve heard it before.

      However, I might post a short clip of the reading of the piece even though it still is a work in progress, so you can still get a glimpse of what I’ve been working with.

      Sakari

    2. Interestingly enough, I just found a scale that is really close to it. I went on Youtube to search for “Russian Jewish music,” and in the related videos feature I found Gypsy music. After listening to one of those videos, I Googled “gypsy music scales” and found (on Wikipedia) that the scale I’ve been using is a subset of the Gypsy scale (a.k.a. Ciprian scale) or the Hungarian gypsy scale. The main difference is that the scale I’ve been using is pentatonic though.

      The search continues!!!! :)

      (Yes, this literally happened in the last 10 min LOL)

      Sakari

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