WISE – About the Piece (Part 2)

A reaction to the piece after the first rehearsal: “I’ve had your piece stuck in my head like all day.”
I’ve also had a few people tell me “the piece was sick” and that they “loved it.” I’ve even had a friend ask me for the score because someone told her that my piece was really cool.
Needless to say, I’m humbled by the positive reactions. These are the kinds of reactions that make me want to keep composing.

WISE – About the Piece (Part 1)

First and foremost, the title: Per Audacia Noctus.

It’s a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Boldly into the Night.” I chose the phrase because I thought it embodied the dark yet triumphant feel of the piece and I set it in Latin because Latin just makes everything cooler.

For the musicians, the piece is in 6/8 and the dotted quarter equals 120. It’s in the key of D minor, and is about 2:40 long.

First impressions of the piece from orchestra members soon!

WISE – Flying By (A Quick Update)

As my project nears its final stages, progress is flying by quickly. I’ll do my very best to capture and document everything.

First and foremost, the orchestral piece is complete (see timeline). More specifics about the piece itself are soon to come.

The piece was completed just in time for the first planned rehearsal with the orchestra, and the first rehearsal went quite well. After the first few minutes of shaky playing, the orchestra ran through the rest of the piece much more smoothly than I had expected. More to come on the first rehearsal as well.

Now it’s time for me to make revisions/edits to the piece using the feedback I received during the rehearsal and prepare for the second one.

WISE – To Each Their Own

I’ve always struggled to find a method of note-taking that fit every aspect of my life. I’m not talking about note-taking for a physics exam or a calculus quiz: I’m talking about jotting down reminders to myself and ideas that come up throughout the day. Everyday note-taking.

I recently purchased a Nexus 4 as my first smartphone, and it has done wonders in making my life easier. I can now keep all my to-do lists, tasks, reminders, and homework in one place. Problem is, I don’t think even the newest of technologies will ever make a better substitute for pencil and paper when it comes to music.

I recently got a chance to read through a friend’s print journal, and I have to say it was a nice blend between scrapbook and journal. The engineer in me would probably call it an “artist engineering notebook.” Regardless of what I call it, one thing was clear: her journal was a place for all her project related musings. Everything from doodles drawn on sick days to glued pictures to hastily jotted down ideas; she did all her brainstorming and reflecting there. It made me wish that I, too, could have a pencil and paper medium where I consolidated everything about this project.

But to each their own: I chose to run a blog instead, and keep a separate composition notebook for my music. You see, unlike my friend and her trusty journal, my music isn’t just a WISE project: it’s my life. The personal, musical things can still go in my composition notebook, and what I want to share is written here on this blog.

And so it will be this way, or at least until technology sufficiently advances to digitize the pencil and paper too. For iPad users, that may be closer than you think.

Oh, and check out my aforementioned friend’s blog.

WISE- Keys, Keys, Keys

I’m coming to the realization that composing in a certain key matters more than I thought.

To listeners without perfect pitch, a song played in one key will sound the same if played in another. It’s the relative differences between the notes that matter, not whether that actual note is a C or an E♭.

However, to musicians, key is crucial. Some keys are much more difficult to play than others, some instruments are in different keys than others, and so on. Similarly, composing in different keys matters as well. I have to keep in mind which instruments will play what I’m writing. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for me to write a piece with five flats for a high school string orchestra. I often have to consider the range of the instrument in question when choosing keys.

In a more subtle sense, I’ve realized I make certain compositional choices more in certain keys. I’m not quite sure why that is, but I’ve recently found myself using more accidentals in some keys than others. It most likely has something to do with my familiarity with the key. Keys such as B♭, F, or C are very comfortable keys for me, as I grew up a bassoon player. I tend to default to these keys when I’m composing (or their relative minors). For the piece that I’m working on for the orchestra, however, those keys aren’t such great choices. So I’ve brainstormed many of my ideas in E minor, which is much friendlier to string players. I’ve found that as I forced myself to use unfamiliar keys, I also pushed myself to be more innovative with my melodies through accidentals. There must be a connection there.

WISE – How It Starts

This is how it all starts. Above you see a typical example of how I notate my brainstormed ideas. Imagine hundreds of these scribbled on many pages of staff paper and now you have a pretty good idea of what my composition notebook looks like.

If you ever find me in the practice room, “noodling around” (yes, that’s the technical term) on the piano, these are the things that I’m writing down.