THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR SAM…

One giant leap for samkind 😉

After recently having a meeting with Prof Stuart Greenbaum (Head of Composition at Melbourne Conservatorium) I was inspired and excited to commence studies in the coming semester. Stuart will be one of my lecturers/mentors during my studies at Melbourne Uni. I also met the other students who are involved in the course and shared cards and info on what we like to compose.

I was interested in listening to the music of Prof Greenbaum, so I listened to two of his works – Sonata for Oboe and Piano (2015) and Symphony No. 3. I am beside myself that I have a composer of his calibre guiding me. If you haven’t already then check out the premier of Greenbaum’s Symphony No.3 Supernova, performed by the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Associate Professor Richard Davis in Melbourne’s Hamer hall last September.

The first core subject is GradDip Composition 1 and requires a 15-minute folio of compositions, which I will work on throughout the semester. Before starting the unit next week, the other students and myself were urged to look through the handbook outlining potential composition projects. I read through the handbook and there are some exciting sounding projects in there, one of them is an orchestral project which outlines the method and timeframe to create an orchestral work 5-7 minutes in length. What I found interesting about the orchestral project was the method of working from short score.

I have written about orchestration from short score on numerous occasions and use this method to compose all my orchestral works, although now I realise that I have bogged myself down with too much detail when I am at this stage of a composition. I have found some particularly useful advice that has already been put into practice – which is to develop fragments of material that can be expanded and developed, later to be put together horizontally to give the piece its structure. Other suggestions were to not use developed polyphony at this early stage of the composition as well as thinking about the way the fragments can be assembled to form a cohesive piece.

Using the advice, I composed six fragments of material and called them motif’s, which seemed fitting because I will later expand on these ideas. Composing these short motifs in no order was liberating and I think it improved my workflow – in many previous works I have composed each section in its entirety before moving to the next and this can sometimes lead to a disjointed sounding transition. The handbook said to think about how the material could be put together horizontally, this method seems to make it easier to put ideas together smoothly.

While I was composing the short score using the fragment method, I thought of how this was analogous to an artist doing rough sketches of ideas before putting together their work. A final thought on this topic is that composing material in smaller chunks seems to speed up the composition process, probably due to not obsessing on finer details before it is necessary to do so.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s