A lot of people think that composing music is something that happens through divine inspiration. While it can occur that way and there have been a few times where I had no idea where the ideas were coming from and I just felt like a vehicle for a greater power, for the most part, composing requires making constant decisions. In the piece I am working on for Conundrum, the parameters of creating a piece that can be used in both an educational and concert setting has been a source of inspiration for both selecting the poems and how I plan to set them to music. This morning, I was able to select the order of the poems and outline the mood and audience involvement that will take place. Here is what I have come up with:
I. Whitman - O Captain! My Captain!
Verse 1 part 1 - Fast and stormy
Verse 1 part 2 - slower tempo - audience speaks "But O heart! Heart ! heart! O bleeding
drops of red"
Verse 2 part 1 - Fast and triumphant
Verse 2 part 2 - slower
Verse 3 part 1 - dirgelike
Verse 3 part 2 - Triumphant music again - audience speaks "Exult O shores, and ring O
bells! - return to dirge for end of poem
II. Wilcox - Solitude - The mood of this setting will be like a pastorale. the audience will be involved by doing sounds in place of the words "laugh", "weep", "sing" and "sigh".
III. Poe - Annabel Lee
Verses 1 & 2 - lilting - major
Verses 3 & 4 - minor
Verse 5 - angrier
Verse 6 - major and wistful
Verse 7 - involved audience by saying the line "Of the beautiful Annabel Lee" and by
doing wave sounds at the end
IV. Frost - The Road Not Taken - Music to create a traveling mood - the audience will say three lines from verse 4 and also sigh in place of the word "sigh".
I am sharing all this here because it is important to realize that sometimes a lot of general planning goes into creating a piece of music before a note is written. Things may change as I start writing the piece, but I now have a departure point and a general idea of how I will go about writing the music. It will be interesting to see how well this plan holds up as the piece unfolds.