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I have created this site in order to provide performers, listeners and composers with a description of a composer's experiences with the creative process. The posts will provide discussions of the inspirations, challenges, and successes of a composer from the inception of the piece to the culmination in performance. I will provide a link to where you can see and hear the works in progress. Comments and questions are always welcomed. They will not posted unless you grant me permission.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Planning the piece

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.

Dr. B

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