This is my final post. As such, when I say that I’ve done a lot since my previous post, I mean a L O T. And trust me: it’s a lot. When I said “a lot” in previous posts, that wasn’t even close to what I mean now. The reason I did so much is because know that I (pretty much) need to have as much done as possible before I get back into school, because any extra weekend time I might have to work on In-Depth will be mostly taken up by practice trips.
Now I’m just rambling, so without further ado, I will now list what I’ve done since the last time I posted.
- Created the entire B section
- Created most of the C section (still a work-in-progress, have to make a conclusion and add in the other parts to later bits)
- Made the bass and drums in the A section less boring
- Added dynamics (more evident in the B section)
- Got rid of all the transitions, turning each section into a separate movement, so I will now be referring to the “sections” as “movements”.
Movement B is meant to contrast movements A and C, in that it’s a gentle, serene melody in a major key in 6/8 time. As for Movement C, it’s kind of a reprise of Movement A with Movement B motives in it and some interesting chords at the start. As I mentioned earlier, it’s incomplete.
Here’s my composition so far. It’s split up into movements because the whole thing is so large that WordPress won’t let me upload it.
Movement C (Incomplete)
For my next steps, I’m going to finish composing Movement C and adding in all the other instruments. After that, I’m going to focus on producing the composition using Logic Pro X (the program I started with), so that I can make the composition sound more realistic and detailed.
My mentor and I haven’t had any face-to-face meetings recently, but we have been keeping in touch via email. When I showed him my progress (which was at that point very similar to how it is now), he suggested that I split the song up into movements, because the transitions were kind of iffy and having the 3 sections be separate from each other would make more sense. I completely agreed, so I changed the song into 3 movements instead of what had previously been a really long piece made of 3 very different parts. He also suggested that the Movement C could have more of its own motives. My original idea for Movement C involved a mix of A and B, but thinking about it, I might add some of those odd chords from the beginning of C at the end, near the conclusion. Aside from that, he really enjoyed everything, particularly Movement B.
At the Spring Concert, the senior band played one of my mentor’s compositions, called “Cassini’s Death”. It completely blew me away. Inspired, I asked him for advice on how to arrange pieces for school concert bands. He replied that it was pretty similar to composing for other ensembles, but in his words, he is thinking “a lot more about chordal movements, harmony, and feel as opposed to too much melody”. Even so, the melody is still a hugely important part of the song. He tends to think more about using motives and recurring themes, and keeps the range and skill of each band in mind when composing different parts. He also has to balance the sections so everyone gets to participate equally and enjoy the experience of playing the piece.
On to the questions!
1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?
The answer to this is kind of interesting. I already have a lot of experience in things such as music theory, and composing involves a lot of experimentation. This means that for me, the opportunities are mostly in the composing itself. My mentor has encouraged me to try things out and see what works/doesn’t work, which is exactly the kind of learning opportunity I need. He also gives me a learning opportunity through his feedback and advice on what he liked and what could be improved.
2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?
In this case, the “new learning” refers to listening to music and picking out any interesting parts I like. I then try to figure out why the section inspired me, and how I can take that inspiration and use in a composition. Now comes the reinforcement: the best learning opportunity to reinforce my new learning is to simply put it to use. Some examples of things I’ve wanted to try out can be seen in my composition. For instance, putting a minor V chord in first inversion over the root of the I chord (seen at the start of Movement C) was an idea I took from somewhere else. The moment I heard it, I knew I had to incorporate it into Movement C somehow, and that ended up being the reason why its unusual intro exists in the first place. As another example, I used a simple cadence based on a “Neapolitan 6th” at the end of Movement B (when it goes from the main key of G to the major key a semitone above, Ab, before going to the dominant). I’d just learned about Neapolitan 6ths in my Keyboard Harmony lessons, and I decided I wanted to try them out.
3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?
Mostly what I’ve talked about earlier: listening to music, taking inspiration, trying to figure out how interesting bits work, taking lessons on stuff like Keyboard Harmony, doing lots of experimentation with new things, trial and error, etc. That’s pretty much it.
4. When you get together what do you talk about?
Generally, we talk about what I’ve done so far in my composition, and discuss what worked and what didn’t. We also discuss possible next steps I could take.
5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?
I think one of the best things about my mentoring relationship is the circumstances behind it. On one hand, my mentor and I can both relate to each other in that we’re only one grade apart, we’ve both had experience in TALONS, and we both know a good amount about music. On the other hand, my mentor has composed some seriously amazing pieces for the band to play, and is someone I can really look up to. He’s at the level I picture myself being at years and years from now, but at the same time, we go to the same school and know each other on a peer-to-peer level. The combination of those two elements inspires me more than either of those two could separately, because it does one crucial thing: it shows me beyond a shadow of a doubt that my goal of being as good at composing as him is achievable.
6. What are you learning about one another?