Posted in On Assignment 5

The Overall Reflection on the Fifth Part of the Course

I genuinely can’t believe that this is the final part of the course. Starting Music 1: Composing Music, I had no idea how many of the musical elements I would get the opportunity to re-investigate, while also voyaging through different traditions, cultures and historical periods, where they were utilized in distinct ways.

Despite studying the course for quite some time, I was yet again pleasantly surprised at being pointed to a side of a musical element I haven’t noticed until now. Similarly to counterpoint, I’ve been devotedly studying harmony at a high level for more than 5 years. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by how much depth one gets to explore by creatively re-examining just the fundamental concepts such as tonic/dominant relationship and the dominant. For the former, I was intrigued that not even complex masking can destroy the affinity of dominant to resolve into tonic, while for the latter, I was amazed at the revelation that the improvisation on one chord could constitute a whole composition.

In this aspect, I was profoundly touched by Wagner’s Prelude to Das Rheingold, where the masterful gradation of a single chord was turned into an existential allegory. The prelude also influenced me to search for the rare drones in Western classical music, which in turn drew my attention to the genre of pastorale.

With the last assignment piece, it’s time to say goodbye to my first course of the degree. It truly encouraged and motivated me to carry on with my studies, while also giving me a new set of skills, knowledge and fresh perspective for composing, introducing me to a whole new range of genres, forms, styles, compositions, and composers from different periods. This resulted in amazing projects, assignments, and research that kept engaging my creativity. What seemed to be full of limitations, or something that in itself seemed to have been a limitation, actually provided me with an abundance of inventive material. But most importantly, I am entirely uplifted and inspired to continue my musical voyage, that began with this course and all the unique things it offered.

Posted in On Assignment 5

Assignment 5 Reflection, A: Tutor feedback and Revision

Together with the assignments, we are recommended to send our reflective notes. In this regard, I wrote an overall reflection on the fifth part of the course, as well as an overall reflection about the course itself. Additionally, the assignment 5 notes also contain some reflective comments, especially in the brief and conclusion. Finally, in this post, I will give my thought on my tutor’s feedback, and in the following post, I will review my work against the assessment criteria points.

Regarding the general assignment aim to postpone the effect of the perfect cadence until the end of the piece, my tutor commented:

“You have achieved this well, and kept the music flowing until the final cadence.”

This is something I worked on very hard to achieve, and I am glad to hear that I’ve succeeded.

About the notation and presentation, my tutor notes that the ideas are clearly expressed, but to be careful of clashes in the score, where some details partially obscuring other markings. I reviewed the score and spent some time on trying to make each marking clear. She also adds that maybe I can include rubato or flessibile to suggest more flexibility to the performer. In this sense, at the beginning of the score, I added sempre flessible, to indicate freedom to the performer in the interpretation and performance throughout the piece. The feedback also mentions that I could add circa for some leeway to the tempo for the performer, which I did for every tempo expression in the revision.

I was pleased to read the general remark regarding the compositional skills:

“This is an enjoyable Nocturne for piano, which makes good use of the expressive range of the instrument and uses a variety of textures. Your piano writing is idiomatic and you have paid a good deal of attention to the pedaling in order to make sure your ideas come across as you want them to. Your practical explorations with the instrument have helped to make the work successful.”

Indeed, I am quite well acquainted with the piano, which really helped me in writing this piece, since I could actually play and check different sections. This is something I couldn’t do for the woodwind pieces, which shows that I still need some time in order to familiarize myself with the instruments completely. With more practice, I’m sure I will accomplish that.

I was content that the piece shows “a good sense of flow and development… with a sense of imagination,” and to read that “the improvisatory nature of your approach comes over well, and has a sense of being concise with a well-judged balance between the number of ideas and the amount of repetition.” Again, I worked very hard to accomplish this, and it is great to see that recognized. Along these lines, my tutor distinguished the textural change and contrast in the tessitura that tremolos of the right hand provide in the Grave section starting in bar 30. She also comments on the ending that is “connecting to the opening material in an imaginative way which allows us to come full circle without relying on straight repetition,” indicating it as an important compositional skill. I am glad I my piece showcased that.

My use of silence was also identified: “… you have created some effective dramatic pauses which give space to the music, without interrupting the overall flow.” As she notes, this is a difficult balance to achieve, and I am delighted to hear I managed to succeed in my attempt. My tutor also suggests to perhaps use more controlled silences in my future compositions – I will definitely try this! The feedback does mention that perhaps some of the chords in the bass might be re-voiced to give greater resonance. I quite like the piece as it is, and I am also partly scared to experiment further – sometimes trying things can result in unnecessary complicating of things that could ruin the initial simplicity. Thus, as my tutor recommends – I will leave it as an area for further exploration and look into voicing of chords in the bass for future research and compositions.

Regarding the learning log, she mentions my project work that shows some ‘imaginative exploration’ of a range of compositional ideas and approaches. Though, I was sorry to hear that my tutor couldn’t find any research, reflection or listening log posts on the blog. I, in fact, did some research and listening log posts, but upon checking, I realized I didn’t sign-post any of these – it even took me some time to find them! Luckily, this was easy to correct, and so all the posts should now be easy to find. Since I am starting another course, it is great that the feedback proposed I should have separate listening logs for the courses – I was quite confused about that.

All in all, I was very pleased with the feedback. It provided some wonderful advices for the upcoming assessment, as well as some general recommendations for my future works. I learned so much during the course and can’t wait to continue my musical exploration through the degree. You can also take a look at the post regarding how well I think my final assignment fulfills the assessment criteria.