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Tchaikovsky and Ravel - and Koji Kondo :)

Joshua Iyer

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Published: December 28, 2014 at 4:16 PM [UTC]

As I slowly woke up this morning at 9:30am, I turned on Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony to the third and fourth movements, enjoying the Tchaikovsky Finale and whirling strings of the third and the steady aural declination of the fourth, and thought about the past a little. Back mostly in 2013, when I listened to mostly film scores, Tchaikovsky was my absolute favorite composer, because I loved his very Romantic finales - always large, with intense brass and large down bows in the strings (and I even played the finale to his Second Symphony that year in the spring) - and whenever I sat down to compose, I always intended to copy him. His Second Symphony was what inspired me to write this piece - my final for AP Music Theory, which followed sonata-allegro form, material we covered in class, and, at the very end, after I had finished following the form, I re-used the theme and went into one beat a bar, which created a fast and epic storm similar to something Tchaikovsky might write (see at about 5:50). Now, looking back on this piece, I see more things I could have done, of course...

However, the biggest contrast to him currently (for me) is Ravel. Of the pieces I have been composing recently (which haven't been much, due to the senior concerto contest), especially "Birds of Prey" from the summer and the string trio I discussed in November, Ravel's French, picturesque, tone poem-esque Impressionalistic quality of music is the kind I mostly enjoy now. Listen to Ravel's "La Valse", which has a somewhat similar quality to the third movement of the Sixth Symphony in the dynamic, but nowhere near in any other respect. Both pieces are incredibly different, and through the music I've been writing, this reflects it. (Sadly I don't have any recordings up on YouTube at the moment, but next winter I'll try to post one with the score of our trio, once we've actually begun practicing it.)

It is still cool, however, to listen to music I was inspired by in the past, and be re-inspired by it now. I'm not going to be doing much composing for a bit, but thinking about all I have worked on in the past - in both listening, writing, and playing - have all contributed to where I am now as a listener, writer, and performer. That's one of the things I love about music. Turn on the Symphonic Pops station on the radio and hear a certain piece, and you may be filled with warm memories of playing or hearing that piece before. Music can bring back so many great memories, as it has done for me. I know I've talked about this before, but still... Here are two great composers who have defined the past two years of my life the most, I think (Stravinsky for this year and Vivaldi for last year are also a couple). Here's to seeing what will happen in 2015! :) It's coming up quick now...

Also, I recently put together the soundtrack of a game I made back in 2011. Here's a video of one of the sections of the game, called the Water Temple. The music in the background of the temple is done by the Hyrule Symphony String Orchestra (what a name!), as well as many other tracks in the game for some of the character themes (see the whole playlist). There are also some bits with great orchestral scores, like at the very end. It's kind of amazing how much I really cared about the music for my games, and made sure sometimes that there was a great orchestral score, because I didn't really start getting into the violin and music until 2012 - which is just about a month after that video was made. :)

And here's one more bit of music used for the title screen of the game. It's an epic melody played by ocarina, with the piano and violins joining in gradually, which creates an atmosphere that suggests that this game is going to be an epic adventure. I really knew what I was doing those three years ago :)

UPDATE: Sorry, just wanted to add one more video (if there weren't enough on here already) :) I just listened to the end of Tchaikovsky's Fifth, which I'm sure I also listened to last year as inspiration. It has a pretty good idea of the finale I was talking about earlier. Also listen to the Second Symphony! :)

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