Posted in Reflections on Assignments 1-5

Reflection on Assignment 1 feedback

This is my reflective account on the tutor feedback for my Assignment 1 submission. I have to say that I was really happy as the feedback was mostly positive, though the report also highighted certain areas to keep in mind for my future work on the unit.

First of all, in terms of Part 1 of the assignment and its counterpoint exercises, I was glad to hear that I have “handled the counterpoint exercises well” and how my work “demonstrates a good understanding of the concepts.” Nonetheless, I made three copying errors, one of which resulted in the “weakening effect on the overall harmony” in Question 2. I have since corrected these (click here to view the corrections), though I still wasn’t too happy with my solution to Question 2. Despite of this, it was still good to hear that the questions “mostly work well”. Though more importantly, as someone that tends to rush through things, remembering to double check everything has been a great lesson and something that is definitely necessary for me to keep in mind for any future exercises.

Moving on to Part 2 and my discussion on the Stravinsky’s quote, it was great to hear that I have made “some excellent points regarding the nature of rules in music.” As my tutor further outlines:

“You’re absolutely right in your assertion that rules in this sense come from a long tradition and can be molded by the composer to help become part of their individual voice. The idea that rules can provide a set of choices is a pertinent one, and you have understood well how such ‘restraints’ can in fact provide a flexible system of composition. As a historical template, you have also realized that often the ‘rules’ are merely an analysis of what traditions were followed at a particular point in history, as a way of understanding the style.”

With regards to the above, it was great to hear that my writing reflected many of these points, which are also important to keep in mind in the practical sense when creating music. I also adore the closing paragraph of my tutor “to consider the need for rules as a way of limiting the infinite number of sounds available to us; every piece has its own set of rules (or parameters) in this sense, constructed from every choice the composer makes. This can come from the approach to harmony, the choice of instruments or the structure used. Without these in place, it is very easy to get lost in the limitless choice and the music can become incoherent.” Personally, as I am yet to fully develop my own set of ‘parameters’ in composing, this was an excellent guidance in terms how to explore the established musical devices of different eras as outlined in this and other future units: as a way to find my own unique and coherent voice, rather than getting lost in the ocean of limitless choice.

In relation to my learning log, it was great to hear that my research posts on Madrigals and Masses is “well referenced” and how there is “a good level of detail in your research work which goes deeper than just a brief survey, all supported by a good range of sources and illustrations.” This was great to hear, which I hope to keep up in future posts and assignments. As for my listening log, it was excellent to hear there is “a good range of works and some perceptive analysis.” However, as the feedback explains, I could try to go deeper with my responses to the works: “for example, you often say that there is something you really liked about a particular piece of music, but see if you can take this one step further and pinpoint exactly what it is about the tonality, harmony etc that appeals to you (or not, as the case may be!). Is there anything you can take from these examples into your own compositional work?”

**Coming back to this after quite some time – I believe my later listening log posts, like the one for string quartets in Part 5 show that I have taken a lot of personal development from this point. Though I have to mention that I still find it somewhat hard to voice a very personal opinion on compositions, since in my previous studies this was regarded as ‘bad taste’ and I was always taught to be ‘objective’ when voicing any opinions.

With that said, there was also a comment that I could “make notes on listening/reading/research from any areas outside of the course materials that interest you – for example, concerts you’ve been to, or perhaps even elements relating to your theatre work that could relate in some way to your musical creative practice.” This isn’t something I could fully do for this unit, though I have written a post on a popular song – St. Vincent’s Paris is Burning for a short songwriting seminar I attended, and I have also referenced to my theatre and film studies in Part 4 and Part 5 posts on Debussy’s L’aspres-midi d’un faune and Reich’s Different Trains. Nonetheless, I would definitely like to do even more in terms of researching outside of the course and relating my other studies to music.

Finally, one thing I was really, really confused about is the comment that the 500-word “reflective commentary was missing from the submission”. The reason for my confusion is that there was no direct mention of this in the brief of the assignment. Though, I should have probably considered writing a reflection, since this was a great practice for the Composing 1 unit I have completed earlier. As such, I’ve written a reflective commentary here. In any case, I believe I have taken a lot from this feedback and hope to apply it practically to my future work on the unit.

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