Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Semester Closer to Graduation!

It's hard to believe that I'm almost half done with my career as an undergraduate college student. Part of me still feels like I'm somehow in High School, and I've left for some absurdly long music camp known as Concordia. Another part of me is sad that the camp won't last longer than 4 years! On the other hand I am really glad this semester is coming to a close, because I don't think I've ever worked harder on schoolwork in my life. It's been a rough couple of months but I've learned a lot and grown considerably as a musician.

First of all, the video for my latest "regular" composition, "Going Home," is now on Youtube. As a rather eclectic piece for a modified wind quintet, it will be difficult to get a live performance of this piece, but I'm thankful to have finished composing it. I'm also done writing "Patience," a piano invention in the style of J.S. Bach, and I've begun working on a fugue, which represents one of the most difficult contrapuntal studies in the Baroque tradition. Every day, I practice Patience and my duet for violin and piano, "Forever Sunshine," since both of them will be getting live performances and recordings in the next few months. I am so thankful to all the musicians and organizations that have helped me get so many live performances this year; it's really exciting to hear my music played and heard by an audience! In addition to these upcoming videos, I'm also planning on making a video recording of "The Girl with Flaxen Hair" by Claude Debussy. It's an incredibly lovely piano solo in the impressionist style, and I've become quite fond of it over the month or two that I've spent studying it, so I figured it would be nice to get it recorded!

My most recently completed composition, "Carbon Reflux," is anything but regular for me. The instrumentation isn't too extravagant - Flute, Clarinet, and Cello - but what's really different about it is that it's my first serious attempt at composing using serialism and the twelve-tone methods of Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern. In a nutshell, I have to compose using various inversions and reversals of a prime row that I determine prior to writing the music. This prime row must contain all 12 pitches of the standard chromatic scale, with no pitches omitted or repeated. In other words, in each statement of a form of the prime row, I must use all twelve notes in some way or another before any of them can be repeated. What this produces is music without any tonal center or standard, functional harmonic chords; it's dissonant, complex, and difficult for the ear to follow. It's certainly not a style I want to be known for, but it was a very difficult project and I spent many hours trying to make the piece sound just right to my ear, yet still follow the rules and general purpose of serialism. I haven't decided whether or not to put it on Youtube...

However, what will be going on Youtube are two music tutorial videos that I'm sure will earn me a somewhat larger audience. As part of a rather unconventional project for one of my music classes, one of my classmates and I had to figure out the background music for the popular and disturbing "Salad Fingers" videos on piano. We also had to set the text of the first episode to music, which will be sung by a couple of our other classmates this Tuesday! Strangeness aside, I realized that I could make a tutorial video for the Salad Fingers music, including the short and simple sheet music. Only a few similar videos currently exist on Youtube, and most of them feature the full version of the piece, written by the Boards of Canada, titled "Beware the Friendly Stranger." To keep things concise I'll just focus on the looped section used by David Firth in his animations. I'm also thinking about doing a similar tutorial video for some video game music from Golden Sun: The Lost Age. I've transcribed the background music in the city of Garoh for piano, and I'm working on a couple others, and I'm sure plenty of viewers on Youtube would love to learn how to play such pieces themselves! All credits for this music would go to the marvelous video game composer Motoi Sakuraba, a big inspiration of mine.

I think that's just about everything! I'm really struggling to figure out exactly how to compose music for a full wind band, as I mentioned in my last post, since I am so unfamiliar with the ensemble. In addition to the band piece I need to start composing over the summer, I'll need to write something for saxophone quartet. My roommate, Steve, let me use his Music History textbooks for the semester, saving me hundreds of dollars (thanks Steve!), and in return I agreed to compose something with saxophone for his junior recital. The problem is, I'm pretty unfamiliar with saxophone quartet, similar to wind band! If anybody reading this knows of any music for either of these ensembles that I could listen to and study, that would be awesome. :) As always, thanks so much for reading, and have a great, musical day!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment