Projects (5-7)

Following the first part of the course, where the focal point was the rhythm, the second part focuses on the melody. Besides composing in different scales and tonalities, one of the projects also includes analyzing a composition. Once again, each project is linked below, and then in each category there are project examples and posts arranged in order. The posts include a short analysis and reflection. Although each research related to the example is linked at the beginning of the relevant post, they can also be found here separately.

Project 5: Pentatonic melody

This project is about writing three short contrasting pentatonic melodic shapes as female or male vocal lines. In constructing the melody, the contour, peak points, balancing and grouping of melodic phrases should all be taken into consideration, as well as using the dynamics, tempo and rhythm to create interest and different results.

Contrasting the step-wise movement in the examples given in the course material, I decided to explore wider interval jumps. Although I initially started with composing the melodic shapes as directed by the brief, however, I found these could be developed more. This is why I made the conscious decision to extend the task of the brief and create short pieces using the melodic shapes I constructed as the starting point. I think I didn’t strain away from the project aim, but instead just broadened it, creating more challenge for myself, while also expanding on the exercise.

I also experimented with different traditions including Western Plainchant, and the folksongs – Scottish Puirt a beul and Chinese XinTianYou. In this way I also put the pentatonic scale in the cultural context. This shows how the pentatonic scale, which I initially thought represented a scale that consisted of limitations, is actually a rich scale that various cultures of the world explored in different ways. I should also mention that I have briefly encountered the limitations of the pentatonic scale in the previous part of the course with my example for solo temple blocks.

Project 6: Analysing a solo composition

Here, instead of composing, the brief asks to analyse two pieces for solo woodwind from the list given in the course material. The analysis should include the observations on structure, melodic contour and the scales and tonalities used by the composer.

I decided to analyse Osborne’s Rhapsody for solo bassoon, where I demonstrated that although often regarded as an abstract piece, it consists of more conventional elements beneath its surface. The second piece I chose is Honegger’s danse de la chevre which consisits of the interesting improvisatory or free flowing, and the dance-like structures.

Project 7: Exploring different scales

The task of the project is to compose melodies of several bars for woodwind instruments, using each of the nine scales given in the Example 25 in the course material. The goal is to show different qualities and personalities of the different woodwinds, while also pying attention to the melodic contour, rhythm, dynamics and similar.

Similar to project 5, I initially followed the brief and composed several bars of each scale for different woodwind instruments. However, as I enjoyed the expressive qualities of each scale and instrument, I realised all of the musical ideas I created could be developed more and turned into short pieces, using the short melodies I’ve composed for the task as the starting point. Again, my intention is not to move away from the aims of the project, but instead I wanted to consiously expand on them. This resulted in a more extended exercise and challenge for me. From this I even created two interesting musical series – Esquisse for four elemental beings and two mythical places. For the first cycle, the four pieces are each based on one scale from Example 25 and the second consists of the remaining scales, mixed in the two pieces.