Posted in On Assignment 1

Reflection on Assignment 1, A: Tutor feedback and revision

Together with the assignment, we are advised to send in our reflection. Firstly, I wrote the overall reflection on the first part of the course, which you can find here. Secondly, there are some reflective commentaries within the assignment notes themselves, especially in the brief and conclusion. In this post, I will write about my tutor’s feedback, listing some changes I made to the assignment piece, and in the second post, I will give a final review of my work against the assessment criteria.

Since it was my first tutor feedback, I was before anything else quite nervous, but also excited. Upon receiving the feedback, I was quite encouraged to see the general comment in the first page:

“Overall this is a strong start to the course, which demonstrates a good sense of creativity and imagination, combined with already well developed compositional skills.”

As someone who studied music, harmony and counterpoint since the early childhood, I wasn’t surprised at all that my tutor recognized some of my already developed skills for composing. However, in the previous studies, I was never really motivated to explore my abilities within a more free and creative framework. Thus, this comment really uplifted my spirits.

Regarding presentation, my tutor mentioned that it is well-outlined and shows a good understanding of notation conventions. However, I didn’t include my own name on the top right – something I changed in the revised version. Next to that, while editing bars, I didn’t pay attention to the rests that would stay in the changed form in Sibelius, so that resulted in some awkward bars. Beside the example given by my tutor, there were quite a few other instances, for example, in bar 85 in the bass drum line:

assign 1 rests.PNG

From this, it’s quite clear what previous rhythmic idea I wanted to use – a syncopated rhythm, quaver – crochet – quaver. Instead of deleting the whole bar, I deleted the notes separately. Other occurrences include bar 27-28 for cymbals, bar 60 congas, 72 in cymbals and tambourine, and other, which I’ve corrected in the revised version.

The same thing happened to the notes as well, so that I had clumsy places, such as two tied minims in bar 80 that my tutor pointed out. Other places includes bar 66 in the cymbals:

awkward 2.PNG

I have taken care to edit out these places, which took a lot of time. The biggest lesson for me was that I should pay attention to the little things when writing, because it’s a lot easier to correct and edit on the spot – it takes double the time, or perhaps even more, to actually hunt these bars out! Also, it was very helpful to have these places indicated by my tutor, especially providing me with example bars. She also mentioned that the gap before the coda was unnecessary:

the gap.PNG

I also edited that out, but kept the double line in between the bars. Another thing was to make sure the text was visible and alter the layout, which I changed for the final version. As she states, I also could have provided more detail in terms of crescendos and diminuendos. Since I didn’t want to go over-detail for that either, I just added the cresc. and dim. in several places. Looking away from the negatives, she did mention the inclusion of the text within the score in the narrative purpose, as well as that in general the dynamic instructions are clear. The most important thing though was the advice to write dynamics for the real instruments, rather than just looking at Sibelius – something which I will remember for future assignments.

Regarding the compositional skills and creativity, my tutor noted the change of instrumentation which, as she stated in the feedback, demonstrates my imagination for sound, and also writing that the tempo changes and different rhythms were used as the devices that strengthen the change of the mood in the piece. I was very pleased to read these strong points of my work, and especially that:

“There is much character in the writing here, and the idea of connecting individual instruments to the protagonists of the story is highly effective.”

She also referred to the 5/4 march of Mephistopheles as the demonstration of a strong level of creativity. I haven’t actually listened to The Planets Suite by Holst prior to writing the assignment – something that I did right after her feedback, and indeed there is a bit of resemblance in the rhythmic pattern of Mars, as she suggested.

Finally, along with the mention of my timbral awareness, she indicated the well thought-out structure, with the opening material returning in varied forms, and the balanced contrast between sections – this is indeed something I worked really hard on to achieve, and it is great to see that recognized.

Regarding the stylistic awareness, my tutor brought up my extensive research into a wide range of percussions instruments that I did, observing a good range of academic sources I used, stating:

“You have engaged with the music with a strong sense of curiosity and an intellectual means of enquiry.”

This is something that really helps me deepen my old knowledge about music, while also broadening my musical ideas and skills.

Regarding the listening log, however, as she noticed, I didn’t make a separate category on my blog, adding that I should signpost and maintain a clear menu structure in order for things to be found more easily. This is something which I worked on quite extensively. Lastly, she talked about my reflections and gave me some great advice on what else to include.

Overall, I was very pleased with the positive aspects of the feedback I got, but there was also so much I learned from the mistakes that were pointed out. More importantly, all the advices were really helpful, informative and insightful. With all this, I am inspired and encouraged to continue the course and the degree. Before that, with all the revisions I made, take a look at my evaluation of how my assignment piece performs against the assessment criteria.

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