|This guy sits in the foyer of the Zoellner Arts Centre|
.... we have named him Bernard
- One thing that keeps coming up is most definitely the use of key signatures. Now... this came up last year at the Charlotte New Music Festival, and it seems to be very much related to how you were taught as a musician and a composer. Dr Sven-David Sandstom made a very interesting (albeit it, hilariously blunt and Swedish) comment about how, "using key signatures to write limits your creative process." I know where he's coming from, but for me, I don't agree. I can see what he means if you say, pick a key like A major and then try to write in it, but that's not how I work. I start with a melodic idea or a harmonic progression, and I find the key (or tonal centre) will develop naturally as I write. This piece of mine at this forum is actually very much out there (for me) in terms of tonality. It's still very tonally based and melodic, but the harmonic shifts and much more complex and unexpected than I would normally go for. But I've still used a key signature! Granted, I changed my mind about what the key was a few times, but I, as a singer also feel more comfortable reading keys instead of accidentals. Casey Rule, one of the fellow composers (and intern) made the same agreement with me, that most singers would prefer to read a key signature. Certainly from my experience with choirs back home, I find this the case. Still a hotly debated topic, I don't think we've seen the last of this discussion this week, that's for sure!
My one-to-one session with Dr Steven Sametz today was very productive. Having had nothing to show Dr Sandstrom, and suddenly having a nearly complete work, my session was spent isolating issues such as layout/engraving, possibilities for dynamics and suggestions for reworking some of the part voicings. Each of these sessions have only been 18 minutes, but it is amazing how much you can sort out in a such a short space of time when you put your mind to it. Dr Sametz is very pragmatic, and incredibly efficient at pin-pointing things on your score that need either fixing or thinking about. I know from yesterday's sessions a lot of composers came out of their one-to-one's with him saying, "well I've got to completely change my text", so I'm not going to lie, I was really worried he would absolutely rip my piece to shreds! But no, just very calm and sensible suggestions, and a brief explanation of some engraving tricks to use. I went away from the session with a clear idea of how much I could sort out before the reading session with the Princeton Singers in the evening. One other things that shows off my own personal composing process this week is how, alongside writing this piece, I've started work on another, and will probably tackle at least one more, if not two! The ideas are just jumping around in my help, basically crying to be let out and put on paper - surely I must oblige?! For me, this just highlights how important it is sometimes to get away from the rigours of general living so you have time to actually focus on creating art. Don't get me wrong, I love my job as a vocal coach, but it does take up a fair chunk of my time, and because it's an 'artsy' job, it does take up a lot of the 'creative juice'. Having the time and space to simply focus on writing music, without having to worry about my job, or housework, or even eating (all our meals are provided) has opened the floodgates, and I'm very happy about it!
|In session with the Princeton Singers|
|If you run out of music stands, a lectern will do!|
melody and harmony (aka, 'chord porn'), because those elements, for me at least, are the most satisfying to both hear and perform. The other 9 pieces that were presented in this session came in various degrees of completion. We had some that were nearer to my stage of completion (maybe about 2-3minutes of music for example), and some were, there was just one page, consisting of a few bars of music. Shiuan Chung's piece consisted of one page of graphic notation, which contained only a few bars for the singers to perform. A really interesting concept to listen to, with some fascinating vocal sounds created - however, I do wonder, after hearing him talk about the piece, whether this might be a bit ambitious to get finished in this short space of time! Two pieces that stuck out for me as really enjoyable (at least at this stage), were Barry Sharp's piece "Blackend Eyes", in which he makes amazing use of chromatic movement and overtone singing (something I've started exploring myself), and Michael Fairbairn's "I will come to you". Michael's piece in particular was just stunningly beautiful (even with only the two pages he has so far), and features an amazing low Db by the Basses - absolute chord porn of the highest esteem - Michael, I salute you!
Now that we're settled into the forum, the social aspect of it all is starting to develop more. I myself had a great time frequenting Molly's Irish Bar with Peter Dayton between our one-to-ones and dinnertime, a drink at Sotto Santi with a few more of the composers, and then finally a late night chill out with some of the Princeton Singers in one of their room suites after an invite from one of the tenors. It's great that, like Charlotte New Music Festival last year, the performers are rooming with us composers. What this does is essentially breakdown the barrier of 'us' and 'them', and creates a better sense of a personal-professional relationship. And also, these guys are really nice, funny, friendly people who have an immense stash of scotch - what's not to like! All in all, a supremely successful day! Time is plowing on with this forum, and there's still lots to do! Best get cracking!
|Corey Hable and myself, taking the time to enjoy the Pennsylvanian sunshine|