November 2005

Symphony of Peace, Pt. 3

November 28, 2005 21:15

Just a small entry, having done some work on the second theme. I’ve completed the melodic content, and worked out the harmonic outline, just need to work on the harmonic content. Once that is completed, I can start working on the actual writing of the movement.

I thought I’d explain a bit about how I sketch things down. I use the same method that Mahler used, in that you use a four-stave system. The top and bottom staves are for the melodic content, and the middle staves are for the harmonic content. This allows for 4 melodic voices at once (if necessary), and full harmony. I generally will only put down four part harmony, no accompanying figures until I actually get around to orchestrating it. I do write down little notes as I go telling me which instrument I foresee playing which part, but to save time, I don’t write out how I want it arranged. I will get to that later.

So, from here, I go into the composition of the exposition. I’m yet to work out whether I’ll use an introduction or just go straight into the first theme, and I need to figure out how I will get from theme a to theme b. It’s quite likely that I’ll need a modulating link based on a part of the first theme. I’ll also need to decide if I’ll have a repeated exposition (as is the case in traditional sonata form, but not required), and if so, whether it will be a straight repetition, or a slightly varied one.

But I am now on holidays, so I should be able to spend a bit of time on this work, and possibly get the first movement completed before I head back to uni.

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What to do... what to do...

November 27, 2005 13:54

This week, I'm practicing my excerpts for my audition on Sunday. I'm gonna spend about 2 hours each day on them, interrupted with an hour on my chosen piece (probably the Mozart I've been working on, but possibly the Bach).

However, I need to keep practicing the violin until Christmas, when I can then afford to take a month off and not have to play for anything.

The question is... What shall I work on?

I will almost definately do Techincal work. Wait, not almost definately, just definately. It's just a must, and I can take the time to learn the Kreutzer Etudes that I haven't done yet, so that when I resume playing in Late Janurary, I can perhaps do some Rode or something.

But what about pieces? Technical work can be extreemly boring if it's the only thing that you're doing. I'll probably work on my Mozart concerto and possibly my Bach, as I'd like to keep the Bach up to standard for some early competitions next year, and just solidify the Mozart as it still needs some work.

I'd also like to learn at least one new piece to add to my repertoire. I'm thinking something like a Mozart Sonata or something. Something that's not really all that difficult (a couple of grades under my level of A.Mus (AMEB)), but would be a good addition to my repertoire, and something interesting or fun. Any ideas anyone?

I'm almost finished with stress for the year. It's kinda been like a month of stress just climaxing, and then growing and going to a completely new level etc. But the end is in sight. I'm going out to see my favourite band tonight, and again the night before my audition (plus a couple of other bands which are pretty cool), and in the mean time I have work to do on the recordings that were made of the musical I've been involved with.

Anyway, best be off now, ciao peoples.

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November 24, 2005 22:22

Ok, I'm not going to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, because I'm not an american, and it's still one of the few american holidays that hasn't infiltrated australian society. I dread the day when australia starts celebrating Columbus Day...

Anyway, had my last exam today. I'm just about all finished, except for my audition for wayo.

The production is going ok. the first night was a bit of a shocker, with technical issues (mics not working) and acting issues (not stepping into the light, forgetting lines etc) going wrong. but the second night these things went a lot better. However, energy was still down, so we're hoping to get that up for tonight. I think we should be ok, especially after the improvement from the night before, I think that will really help lift the spirits.

Anyway, I haven't had lunch, my brake lights don't work, and i've got to drive tonight. Fun...

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Late night/early morning bitch session

November 21, 2005 11:54

I apologise in advance for anyone that I may offend.

During the past week, I have been involved in rehearsals for a musical that will open on wednesday. This is a new, original show, and the writing for it is really good. The plot is well constructed, the music is memorable, and it puts a terrific new spin on the Christmas Story.

Last week, after not being able to make rehearsals for a couple of weeks before, I saw the show go from a really rough run through to a fairly snappy run from Monday through to friday. However, after tonights rehearsal (which was to be our last before opening), I feel the need to "vent my spleen" so to say and speak what's on my mind. Now I really respect the author/composer of this musical, not only for spending so much time on this script and music, but also for having the up and go to get out there and get it performed. However I feel I need to make some comments for young players.

1) Rehearsal time. One nights rehearsal in the concert venue is not enough for a performance as complex as this. You need to get sound levels right, lighting cues right, curtain cues right, and the cast need to get used to the stage. Ideally all your rehearsals should be in the performance venue, but that is not always possible. Still, I feel that at least a week of rehearsals is neccessary in the performance venue, with at least 2 or three runs with lights, sound, props, costumes etc to make the perforers comfortable.
Now, in professional situations, that is not always neccessary. The actors would have done a large number of shows in a large number of venues and know how to adapt to particular venues. But this is not a professional situation. Even if you have great actors and such, they're still amatuers in the sense that none of them have done any formal musical theatre training.
For a production like this, at least a week is neccessary in the performance venue. Now, the venue was booked out the week before, so my suggestion would be to change the performance dates so that it would be possible to spend a week in rehearsal at the venue.

2) Sound. Now, I'm not having a go at the girl doing the sound, because I know it's a tough job, especially on a limited buget. But if you know you have to mic violins, you should have a fair idea of what can clip onto a violin. A big alligator clip won't do, no matter how much we try. But she had a back-up plan which was shotgun mics. This is fine, except there's only two - one for viola, and one for violin 1 and 2. Now, we can't place it closer to violin one, cause violin two won't be heard, and visa versa. But also, placing in the middle leaves a lot to chance.
Also, due to the setup of the stage, the musicians are at the back of the stage, in a single straight line. This is unfortunate, as we lose sightlines with the band leader. Now I can cue people in as much as possible, but I don't know the script well so I'm not much help. And it doesn't help that there's only two foldbacks - one for the drums, and one for the guitars/keyboards, which means the strings can't hear what the rest of the band is playing.

3)Micing. Only the leads are being mic'ed for the performance, which makes sense in larger ensembles with chorus etc, but in this performance, everyone is a soloist, or a member of a smaller ensemble that needs to be mic'ed so that a)they can be heard over the band, and b) that the band can hear the cues.

4)A production team (Director, producers, etc) that have never put together a production before is not a recipe for success. Yes, everyone needs their debut, but that usually comes after a period of learning the trade, such as by being in productions, or being in another part of the team and seeing how other people do the job.


Now it seems like I have only bad things to say, but really the musical itself is really good, and there are lots of good things about it. It's just sometimes you need to let spill all the bad things to make you feel better.

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New Repertoire and practice schedule

November 21, 2005 00:38

I met with my teacher today to discuss my repertoire for next year. Some good news and some ok news came out of it.

For my recital, I will do the Allegro (Fuga), Siciliano and Presto from the Solo Sonata in g minor, BWV 1001, and Beethoven Sonata Number 4, Op 23 in a minor. I will also prepare the last movement of Prokofiev's Sonata in D, op. 94a, and also Sarasate Romanza Andaluza, Op. 22, No. 1.

So, with that I'm fairly happy. It's a good repertoire, which should go well in my recital, and also will allow me to complete my A.Mus.A

The ok news was that what I had planned on doing (which was to practice it over the summer so that it was under my fingers when uni came back) looks like it's not going to happen. My teacher wants me to take at least 4 weeks break from the violin to relax my muscles. But because I will be playing violin at my christmas service, I can't have my break until after christmas, so for most of January, when I was going to be learing the pieces, I have to not touch the violin. It's a bit disappointing, but I know it must be done.

Anyway, I've got tech rehearsals tonight for the musical I'm involved in, so I must be off so that I can get there in time for a sound check, and also grab some dinner on the way.

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Performance, plus premier of composition

November 13, 2005 07:53

I had a performance today - played two movements of Bach C major sonata, plus the first movement of the Mozart Concerto no 4 in D major. The bach was going great, best performance i've done all year, but one mistake in the fingerings and it threw me off and i had a memory lapse in the final movement that I couldn't recover from. But hopefully I got a pretty good recording of the largo, and also of the mozart which went pretty well. Hopefully you should see it up here by the end of the week.


I also had the debut of my composition, Instinctus et magnus. Now I'm a bit more excited about this one because it was really well received and performed well. I have already put the recording onto my computer, and as I write am in the process of putting it on my website, so I'll provide the link and it will be there soon.

Download Instinctus et magnus from Ben's website

I've got my exam tomorrow, which I am quietly confident about, after how well my playing went today (even though I stuffed up with my memory.)

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Symphony of Peace, Pt. 2

November 12, 2005 16:33

Alright, this has been on the backburner for a bit, but I did some work on it this morning. I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up and write down all the ideas that were in my head.

I've got the performance of my composition, Instinctus et firmo, today, but in the service sheet, there was a mistake in that my piece had been called "Whispers of Peace" as that was what was on the manilla folder that I had placed the score and parts in. Oops. However, I feel that "Whispers of Peace" would be a good name for this symphony, so I've decided to use that.

Today I completed my planning for the work, outlining the form for each movement, and just a general plan of attack for each movement. I've also decided on a harmonic outline for the whole work.

I like the idea that certain keys have characteristics about them, connotations that are visible in the writings of certain composers (Eg Haydn Operas etc). I've decided to base the work in C major, as it's a pure key (with no sharps or flats) and has connotations of being pure, innocent, honourable, simple, and also is suited for rejoicing and showing joy in it's full scope. A very apt description of peace I think.

Then for each movement I've decided on a tonal center with descriptions that describe the mood I'm trying to create with that movement. For example, the first is "pure, innocent, honourable and simple" so of course I start with C major. This makes sense in functional harmony as well. In fact, the overal tonal structure of the piece will make sense in functional harmony, as the second movement (a 5 part rondo) will be in d minor (devout, calm, grand, pleasant and expressive of contentment. Peace of mind and flowing in nature), the third movement (a scherzo and trio) will be in G major (quite brilliant, suited to both serious and to cheerful things) and then the final movement returning to C major (as above, and is suited to rejoicing and joy in it's full scope).

So after I had done all of that (worked out the overall form of the entire work, and the harmonic structure of the entire work) I start to focus on the singular movements. Because I like to start at the beginning (what better place to start?), I've started on the first movement. I just outlined the form I wanted to take, and how the overall harmonic structure of the movement would go. So, I've got the standard theme 1 in the tonic, then theme two in the dominant. Then we have fun in the development, where I'll go from G (the dominant) to e minor (dominant relative minor), E major, to Bb Major, to g minor and then back to G. We then have the two themes repeated in C major.

So with the overall structure of the movement worked out, I can start working on the melodic content of the themes. I've got the first theme sketched out, a kind of chorale using woodwind, and woodwind and strings. I've still got to work out the second theme, and then I'll just go over them to make sure they do kind of go together, and if neccessary compose a small connecting passage to get from C to G. Then we can move onto the development.

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Little bit less stressed... and other things.

November 9, 2005 01:28

Well classes have finished for another year. Only one year left. Wow...

I'm feeling less stressed than I was 9 days ago. 9 days ago, I had 6 assignments due in at the end of the week, plus another couple for a different subject, a number of piano assessments still to complete, plus concerts galore and even more rehearsals. A concert I had been organising was the day before my exam, my accompanist couldn't do it, i had the premiere of my own composition that evening, and I had just received my audition time for WAYMA, which was on that morning. My concerto was no-where near performance standard, and I was going away at the end of the week.

Now, I have completed said assignments, assessments for piano are passed, I have moved my audition back to early december, my concerto is much closer to performance standard, and I had a relaxing time on the weekend (it's hard to be stressed when I'm down in Albany).

I'm still working hard, so it will be nice when I stop, but I'm feeling more confident about everything.

Now, I have a concert on Sunday, and I'm going to perform the Mozart Concerto (number 4). But I'm wondering whether I should perform it from memory, or have the music in front of me. I'm thinking that I want to memorise it, but don't think it will be of performance standard if memorised. Perhaps memorise it but have the music in front of it.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll think of something

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