Posted in On Assignment 2, Uncategorized

Overall Reflection on the Second Part of the Course

Progressing through the second part of the course, I continued my musical journey. The exploration this time led to new concepts of tone, tonality, scales and melody.

Some places I visited again. However, this time, they were a lot more colorful. The microtones I discovered in the Middle East added new flavor to my pitch perception. I also found new scale systems – Arabian maqamat and Indian raga, which showed that tonality is more than just an ascending or descending order of the pitches. All this led me to new musical forms, like the instrumental samai. However, I also began questioning the use of these systems in the Western classical music, often based on the misunderstanding of the Eastern concepts, resulting in new scales as the different forms of exoticism.

I was also shocked at how little I knew about the Greek system. The microtones, which I perceived to be only from the Middle East, ended up constituting a big part of their theory, especially in the musical practice of the Classical period, when the enharmonic genera was used. What I knew about Chinese music also changed, with pentatonic scale being utilized in more ways than I first thought it would be.

New places I visited include the ancient Christian world, where chanting became the predominant form of worship. There, I traced the origins and the development of musical notation – from neumes to the staff and the square notes, the seeds which will lead to the modern musical notation used today. Reading about the Gregorian chants, I learned about the technique of centonization. This style of chant in particular was what I perceived to be completely free – only to find out that there is indeed inner logic in its different responsorial and antiphonal genres. The different notion of rhythm and the church modes I came across, opened up a wide field for future research. But, I certainly didn’t think that there was a pentatonic framework – which I demonstrated in my chant for Project 7. Finally, although based on the nomenclature of the ancient Greek modes, the Church modes completely differ from them. Continue reading “Overall Reflection on the Second Part of the Course”

Posted in On Assignment 2

Reflection on Assignment 2, A: Tutor feedback and revision

Together with the assignment, we are asked to send in our reflection. I first wrote the overall reflection on the first part of the course, which you can find here. Also, there are some reflective comments I give 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 (post B), I will give a final review of my work against the assessment criteria.

The feedback starts with my tutor’s general remarks:

“Overall, your piece has some strong ideas, and you have handled a range of scales well, giving a good sense of identity to the work. There are, however, some practical considerations to take into account, especially with the agility of the oboe.”

Regarding the practical considerations of the instrument, I haven’t at all made clear that the composition is for the advanced players with the extended oboe technique, which includes double tonguing, glissando, altissimo range and consecutive octaves. This is something I added to the revision – in order to make it clear that the piece is for advanced oboists, and talked to my tutor about that via email. To quote one of her responses:

“There’s a big difference between music that’s difficult because it needs to be, and music that doesn’t work for the instrument because of a lack of understanding. As long as you can show that you’re aware and have researched and thought about it, that’s fine.”

Indeed, I did quite an in-depth research regarding the extended oboe techniques in a blog post that shows my understanding of the instrument and its potential limitations and problems, and I address this topic in my assignment notes as well. In addition, my tutor also offered to send my assignment piece to an advanced oboist that is currently studying at the Royal Academy. The oboist commented about the revised version of the piece:

“Just had a read through … the piece looks fab, so much crazy stuff going on, looks v tricky but nothing impossible”

This was exactly my goal – to challenge the advanced players, and not just write something unrealistic and totally impossible for performance. Continue reading “Reflection on Assignment 2, A: Tutor feedback and revision”