Week 3 questions were not done, as awash in getting notes on paper, and the Deborah Henson-Conant(DHC) Blues webinar.
The questions for week 4:
1. Am I bored? Not bored, struggled with getting great accompaniments and melody. Felt some success finally just sitting down and putting in a simple harmony/left hand; often just one note, but did if for week 2, 3, and 4, in about 2 hours total including the notation. Now that wasn’t hard. So this question of whether I am bored, gets translated into whether I feel success, as I answer. But this is not completely accurate. As I am not bored when struggling, just immensely frustrated. But in that process, I backed off to a simpler approach. Like backing off when the wind is strong, and you don’t want to sail that quickly. I must remember I am learning, and it just doesn’t lay itself down beautifully from the outset. I am not in raptures, though there are moments where there is an interval or a chord progression or a phrase that I think “that is good, and satisfying”. But then, how to fashion the whole piece with that feeling, is not immediately apparent.
2. The Siren Song - describe your Siren song this week: From what I have gathered on Wikipedia (of course), the Sirens were the muses of the lower world. Their song is indescribably beautiful, being both sweet and sad. Their song is difficult to resist, but if one follows, the result is fatal. Its coincidental that the Sirens lost out in a singing competition to the Muses.
So, back to the question of whether I heard the Sirens during the week. Just reading the description of the Sirens above, I get a sense that the muses of the underworld have long been my familiars. And I have grown to love them and protect them. My personal siren song is about futility, and world weariness, and cynicism, and a desire not to fight those sirens, but to lay down with them, and to keep them as my good friends. Giving in to my sirens, and not balancing against them the outside world; the world that could lay me even lower than the sirens; If I accept the sirens as my own, I have a pact; an understanding about my place in the world; but if I allow myself to try something else, to immerse myself in this year of composition, I risk getting sucked into something worse than the sirens.
An example from my past; The lawsuit that had facts and law that were unassailable (ha, unassailable), that I know was well- presented and superior to the opponent; that I lost; that made a deep impression; disillusioned me forever about the legal system. Why struggle, or bother with facts, presentation, laws with strict consequences. that were ignored by the lower and appellate courts.
So I am fearful of venturing out again in this new sea. To satisfy myself, others. Why do it? I ask myself that about many things. World –weary.
3. The Harpies- I think the Harpies are close relatives of the sirens. And they all torment me with the difficulty and doubt about melody and harmony. Same as last week.
4. SAFE HARBOR: Do you see a safe harbor? What does it look like? Accepting difficulty as part of the process; how trite. But learning how to handle the storms, the choppy water. Is the metaphor going to get tired?
5. OBJECTIVE: Do I have a place I'm heading, or am I just going to let the wind take me today; this week? I just wanted to satisfy the objective to compose 1 tune a week. And I did, but not sure about it.
6. BEING DONE: How did I know it was time to come ashore? I kept trying to head up into the wind closer than comfortable; my boat luffed, and lost speed and direction.
I struggled with the notation on the computer, spending hours trying to get each measure not to self-fill; and one measure I couldn’t enter the full time value of the measure, and I tried and tried; the next day I entered the correct amount of notes in the next measure, and was allowed by Finale to do this; then I deleted the measure that would not allow me to enter the correct number of notes; and it worked; but that was a struggle. I had to stop trying to enter notes the usual way, walk away, and next morning I “outsmarted” the notation fouling; “fouling”: a wind blowing against the direction travel.
7. TIMING: Was there any time of the day I was drawn to do this? Mornings are fresh; not hampered with the overlay of hours of work; And I have been spending hours; much more than the 40 minutes a day; early evening is good, especially when alone, to just push through.
8. HARPIES: What are the mean things I said to myself? I am cheating using 8 bars from last week that I didn’t use, but I liked. It is just pretend Carolan sound, and not that good; but after a week of playing It, it sounds catchy and I wonder how it really stacks up to an objective listener advantage of harp;
9. FUN-TEDIOUS QUOTIENT: If 1 is tedious and 10 is Fun where were you? I’d say tedious this week; just trying to catch up and produce something for the sake of satisfying myself about doing what I set out to do.
10. WHO AM I AS A COMPOSER RIGHT NOW? I am wondering if the 2nd week anthem will be my best for the year. The Harpies and Sirens are enjoying themselves.
Did I do warmups? No, and I miss practicing, but no time.
1/27/16 45 minutes into the effort. I have the B part for week 4 composition. Sounds very baroque classical to my ear. What is wrong with that. I don’t know; maybe it does have merit. I don’t have any melodies straining to rush out, just am playing with little ideas and it ends up sounding like Carolan/ Mozart (presumptuous, of me).
Feels like a struggle to get to an extended longer lined melody. Yesterday played a tune with such a simple 2 measure motif for A and another 2 measure for B Part, and it was a really nice one. So why am I trying for something bigger than I am ready for (perhaps); well, that is the question ; what am I ready for?
Now for the Week 3 harmony: measure 15 of the melody sounds like the end to Away in a Manger; so I changed the notes a, e, f, g, to a, d, f, g, . But playing my first simple harmonization through, I changed the melody back to the original (maybe not original) notes of a, e, f, g. My ear doesn’t want the new change, as much as “til morning is night” (I mean "nigh"; I just checked the lyrics, thought it might be til morning is light, but like til morning is night better, as it makes me think.
Email popped up in corner window, and have an extra two days to get Blues homework in. Take a big breath; I am almost ready to do that Blues, just have to figure out the two handed part.
Productive today working in short sessions; no more than 1 hour, but closer to1/2 an hour. I used a stop watch, and tried to stick with close to the first thing that surfaced.
Just realized the blog is not going to be perfect, the writing isn’t going to be perfectly conceived or expressed, and neither is the composition. Once you sink that understanding into your thinking, things get easier (but that harpie thinks maybe it should be hard, even harder than its going).
Here are the 10 Questions and Answers from week 2. These relate to my 2nd week composition, An HYMM. I am still fussing with the harmony, though I am set on the melody and like it. The piece sounds like a national anthem or a hymn, so I played with those words and the program I am in Harness Your Muse (HYMM), to come up with the title.
Week 2 Wrap up Reflections
1. Am I bored? No, definitely not bored; very busy with trying to harmonize this tune.
2. The Siren Song - describe your Siren song this week: From what I have gathered on Wikipedia (of course), the Sirens are the muses of the lower world. Their song is indescribably beautiful, being both sweet and sad. Their song is difficult to resist, but if one follows, the result is fatal. It feels a bit coincidental that the Sirens lost out in a singing competition to the Muses. I will have to remember that message. If I follow my muse, the sirens will not succeed. So, back to the question of whether I heard the Sirens during the week. The siren for me, was overthinking the harmony, to the extent that I wasn’t practicing the tune. It took 3 days to get the melody, and over a week to come up with 4 renditions. And every time I think its right, something is off and I think that I have tried to do too much.
3. The Harpies - Are there any Harpies in your room this week? What are they doing? The Harpies the unpleasant, shrill women, that appear to be half woman and half bird. The unpleasant and shrill voices last week, were the constant fretting, the questioning of how to harmonize well that ran through every work session, the struggle with harmonizing the melody.
4. SAFE HARBOR: Do you see a safe harbor? What does it look like? It felt so great when the melody was done; I had the sense that was the hardest part of the composition, and getting that behind me so I could attend to the harmony.
5. OBJECTIVE: Do I have a place I'm heading, or am I just going to let the wind take me today; this week? I wanted to compose in a major key, and have the product all mine; not use another arrangement as my inspiration.
6. BEING DONE: How did I know it was time to come ashore? I didn’t know; overwork to point of frustration and couldn’t stop.
7. TIMING: Was there any time of the day I was DRAWN to do this? Morning is always better, and I found that I heard the tune when I was away from the music/composing. Woke up every morning more pleased with my melody and the variations.
8. HARPIES: What are the mean things I said to myself? Who wants a tune that sounds like a national anthem, or a hymn, especially in beginning; also I don’t have a clue about harmonizing as a choir would sing the song; and the song feels like it should be sung; no words yet; and how do I make this for the harp; how do I compose to best advantage of harp; Hey, this is a repeat of #2 above.
9. FUN-TEDIOUS QUOTIENT: If 1 is tedious and 10 is Funissimo, where were you? 1 and 10; because, I had lots of frustration with Finale program, but very pleased with that melody despite myself; and initially I scoffed at the idea of a hymn or anthem
10. WHO AM I AS A COMPOSER RIGHT NOW? Melody is not as difficult as the arrangement that suits my ear and the harp;
Did I do warmups? No and I miss practicing, but no time.
How do you know if it’s a good tune/melody, especially if you don’t respond immediately to a piece of music and it takes several hearings at least, and as if you listen to anything for enough repetitions, it starts sounding good; and I will be biased toward s my own composition.
Week 4 musings
I had a 9 am rehearsal yesterday morning that was 3+ hours long; there were breaks for food and talk, always lots of talk, but when I got back home, I jotted down a list of items I needed to do. All Deborah Henson-Conant (DHC) inspired items. As I am in the Harness Your Muse Class (HYMM), I get free access to all the other DHC classes, and as a result I am trying to keep up with the Blues Webinar. I am 2 weeks in, and homework is due today, and I am not sure about the 2 handed requirement. But I decided to spend 30-60 minutes on the Blues module.
I also wanted to write a simple harmony for the week 3 piece, and complete the 2nd part of the week 4 piece. And if there was time, I wanted to practice Carolan’s Lord Inchiquin as part of my effort to get my repertoire on Youtube. And I still need to finalise the week 2 harmony. And do the 10 questions and answers (for the 2nd week).
After the Blues practice, I felt in hand with getting homework done the next day, but then read about the two handed requirement , and don’t know what I missed. So I’ll have to backtrack a bit.
The simple harmony, is never simple for me. After 2 measures of notating a simple 1-5 chord, I’ll think that that is boring to the player and listener. I will go off on just a little deviation from a nice pat-sounding harmony, and then that attempt to create a bit of interest spins off into questions about how much is ok, or how little is ok; what is the right amount; and now as I write this, there is the question, am I writing for me or the listener. Its supposed to be to my ear, what appeals to my aesthetic. If someone likes it that is unexpected tribute. I will try to remember this today. Write for my ear, don’t try to inject insincere creativity into the composition; don’t try for an effect on other listeners.
I expect that I should be able to, and can do it now; the finished product. Finishing off is hard. I barely got 16 measures of simple harmony for week 3 composition, and I took 15-20 minutes to play with Lord Inchiquin. But it wasn’t really practice; it was just playing the tune, trying to get the harmony and feel I wanted. Not correcting the problem areas; Just playing something, to play; the composing effort makes me feel choppy and bound up.
Then I spent an hour or so trying to sweat out a part B for the Week 4, and I was not very satisfied; It sounds very classical again; like Carolan a bit, and is that what I want to compose. I cheated for Week 4 A part, taking something I composed the week before for the A part. So I am floundering.
Oh and I am playing at a tea in a couple weeks and need some time for repertoire work. How to make this all happen. Or how to simplify my entanglement. And the Sunday meeting to decide on music for a multi harp concert in 2017: Harpa Galora, with 50 + harps on stage.
Want to feel on top of the blog, the technical aspect, I want to be able to practice music (not my own). I like the moments where I become charmed by the phrase, and the musical idea I have expressed. But they are only snippets; the whole is a bit beyond me. And I immediately think of the ocean as the whole.
1/18 Week 2 composition (An HYMM) worked on harmonies to complete the statement of melody; found that it had a statelier, more majestic feel with fewer chords; this makes life simple as my first had complicated harmonies; so the variation is done, and I just simplify the statement.
1/19/16 Worked on refining the first and second An Them or HYMM. Some measures show very little difference in harmonies. Several places where I couldn’t get the sound I wanted. Enjoyed the process, as it was smooth; once the melody is up, its not hard to do a “canned” accompaniment, but much more entertaining to play with the harmonies and rhythms. A bit too much on the plate with the Blues webinar, but as I was deciding that it would be best to stop following the Blues Webinar, I started having fun with it; Not sure how I will use it, or that the Blues calls me, but I can always stop later, if I get in to deep. Tomorrow have to film homework for blues, rehearse with friends (2-3 hours, plus travel), start this weeks composition(its Thursday and I don’t even have a melody).
I am feeling a bit cavalier about this, though I poked around with some melodic ideas for 2-4 measures, I didn’t sink into it and see it through. So this week will be whatever comes to me; cannot be overworked. Simple and direct, and see if it has anything. (Note of 2/1; oh yes I can over-complicate it, and I did).
Maybe wake up early tomorrow and push out a melody in 30 minutes, then harmonize it, then slap- dash develop it. Wondered about trying to integrate blues with my composition, but its not calling me, and think it might be more improv. and really don’t know much except what was in the first module, so I’ll wait.
1/20 distracted by the blues course, but I started to enjoy it, and wanted to have some fun. Got around to trying to compose, intent on just getting a melody. Had an idea to make it easy this week, maybe just arrange a melody, but had started something in minor key, yesterday, but today came across something I started last week, before I went with the Ant HYMM. Today I thought those beginnings from last week, liking it, but struggling to get beyond a 6 measure phrase. Just two, 8 measure bits will do it. Not sure why I conceive in shorter bits, and can’t get a longer line to the melody. Maybe it takes time, to think that way in a longer musical phrase; maybe its just messing around with the tune and trying to extend it. That is what happened last week. The melody I worked with today, is reminiscent of the Ash Grove ; has that feeling.
Today’s tune sounds like a national anthem. Or school anthem. I wanted to compose in a major key, to thwart my minor impulses. And found I could tie up in a nice bow the ends of phrases , but wondered if there was any real content (beauty ) in the thing. I’d be content with being able to do a Thomas Tallis tune, a Schubert Serenade; did they know how good it was when they composed; was the tune in their heads or did they just start putting notes down, like I am doing? When I hear irish music I generally know after 1 or2 hearings, if it’s a special melody.
If I were a asked to compose a tune for an anthem, I think I’d struggle to get the feel of the thing. But yesterday, I determined to compose in a major key, to do something other than my instinct. (Why do something other than my instinct? that is the contrariness of my mind function; the protestant work ethic of composing; don’t proceed with what feels natural, because that is too easy and obvious), and I kept playing with the opening interval of the d to the b, a sixth, then noodling around and what I’d come up with and the ideas I’d get on Finale were fine, but I couldn’t know, whether it had anything meaningful. And I don’t think I will know if it is meaningful as I do it, because it takes awhile to hear the tune; but back to yesterday; I am not an anthem kind of person. That call to rank nationalistic patriotism does not feel true. It always feel so forced. The anthem; another rallying cry to herd the masses. And I always feel uncomfortable when I find myself at athletic events, and everyone stands to the song. Probably because I am not a comfortable conformist, unless I think the underlying reason is legitimate and presented well. /conforms to my sense of the correct trappings. Like music in general.
So here I went and composed something that is not something I’d want to play again. I got it down on paper, because I had to produce something within 5 days, and I’d started with small 2 measure ideas, and wanted more breath or length to the phrase. I’d just worked on Nouvelet Déjà Vu, which was a 4 measure phrase, and I wanted to push for a longer line. Why does that matter; it is a forced restriction I put on myself without knowing whether to do so was a good idea. And so just pushing myself not to end the line in a few measures, I ended up with two, 8 measure phrases that sound to me like an anthem. But I am not changing this, because I want to complete it, and get credit in my mind for having produced something this week.