Ternary Melody Final

A month after the Ternary Melody Draft, here is the final 24-bar ternary composition.

You can listen to the composition below:


And see the score below (the file is a PDF, so click the link below to see it):

Charlotte – Ternary Melody Final

Even though I have been playing classical music on instruments for a while now, I don’t often get the chance or am not often tasked with composing a song, other than in music class. Last year, in Grade 8 Music, I was able to compose a 16-bar melody. This year, I have completed an 8-bar melody, as well as a jazz solo for Stella by Starlight. It can be said that these three are the only proper compositions that I have done recently. Because of this, I feel as if some aspects of the composition are not the best they can be.

In my composition, I wanted to build upon the tonic (F major), add on the tension, and create a climax at the end of part A. This was achieved through sequences, using higher notes, and moving up the scale with a crescendo and ritardando to create a dramatic effect. The A part was created to be cheerful, with heavy chords in the left hand piano accompaniment to establish a strong and grand opening. On the other hand, the B part was meant to be more light and sweet, in the dominant key and with the use of solely major chords. This helped to create a different mood, but keep a similar theme at the same time through the means of notes and rhythms, to show the connection between the two parts, an essential part of the rubric.

I tried to maintain balance in terms of the melody and rhythm, so that the piece could come together and pass as a convincing piece of music. In my composition, I used a combination of quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, half notes, dotted notes and triplets; spread throughout the piece. I also tried to include sequences or similar rhythmic phrases within the composition, so that it would sound united as one piece.

I also added performance directions when necessary, including dynamics, tempo and articulation, to further enhance the musicality and melodic interest of the composition. This was done by listening to the piece a few times, and imagining in my head how I would play it. I developed melodic phrases in my mind, and thought of the ways the piece could be built up with crescendos or diminuendos, as well as ways to display the contrast between the two sections. Furthermore, I believe that the piece is indeed playable, as I tried to keep the flute and piano parts simple. Some parts might be a little challenging at first, but are definitely manageable with practice.

The chords and chord progression were left entirely up to us, with the condition that each bar had to have two different chords. This allowed for more freedom with the way the composition progresses and flows, and let us display our creative abilities. However, this was an aspect that I feel that I could have done better in, as my chord progression isn’t typical. Instead, it’s rather irregular and abnormal, unlike how a normal classical piece would progress. Even so, I feel as if when everything is put together, it sounds alright and there does not seem to be a huge problem with it, with the help of perfect and imperfect cadences at the end of every four bars.

From the feedback that I got from my peers, as well as listening over the composition multiple times, I made some changes accordingly. In the comments for the 8-bar melody and the Ternary draft, it was mentioned multiple times that my A part was rather busy and messy, with both the flute and piano going full-out at the same time. To fix this, I simplified the right hand piano accompaniment – from continuous eighth notes to mainly quarter notes – which allowed the beginning to sound more simple and clean. As this was the main comment that I received, this was what I focused on in the editing process. However, looking back, I still believe that I could have simplified it even more with the use of rests. There are no rests in the entire composition, and everything goes without stopping. Pauses are needed to allow the audience to take in the melody, to allow the player to take a break, and to create space within the piece.

Overall, I think that this unit was useful, as it allowed us to explore our musical potential in being creative and creating a composition. Starting off with an 8-bar melody was a good way to be introduced, as 8 bars are short and simple to create, and can be used to develop the Ternary composition as the A section. I was able to recall my previous knowledge of composing and ternary melodies, and apply it to this task. I believe that I did pretty well, but there definitely are parts of it that can be improved to produce an even better end result.

Stella by Starlight Solo Final

This is my final solo for Stella by Starlight.

You can listen to the composition below:


And see the score below (the file is a PDF, so click the link below to see it):

Charlotte – Stella by Starlight Solo Final

Writing a jazz solo for the first time was not an easy task. With little exposure to jazz music in the past, I had no clue what the 7-3 resolution, guide tones, ligons or digital patterns even were. With the help of the Artist in Residence and Mr. O’Toole’s lessons and guidance, I soon learned what was expected and required to be successful in the solo.

The key chords and guide tones that were provided for each bar really helped, as it essentially guided me through the process of creating a melody that fits the chord progression. With both these aspects given to us, all we had to worry about was the solo itself. Guide tones were a major part of the composition, as it was the basis of the 7-3 resolution, and was what made the solo correspond with the key chords in such a way that it transitioned smoothly and sounded like jazz.

However, some problems did arise while creating the solo. The lack of guide tones in the bars that did not move through the circle of 4ths threw me off, as I no longer knew which note I had to put at the start and end of the bars. In these bars, I tried my best to use the 3rd or 7th of the chord or a note that seemed to fit into the chord, and use semitones or tones when moving between the chords. I also found ligons and digital patterns quite hard to implement, as I tended to have a melody in my head that I came up with, but it either didn’t fit with the chord or didn’t utilise ligons and digital patterns. Because of this, I put in many broken chords to match the solo with the key chord and make the solo more interesting with a wide range of notes.

From the feedback that I got from my peers, as well as listening over my solo, I made a few changes to improve it. I fixed some of the bars that didn’t sound right by changing the notes, and added tempo, articulation and dynamics markings, including slurs, staccatos, crescendos and diminuendos, to enhance the musicality of the solo and add more flair. With the added markings, a clear style is established in the composition, which will be able to be heard when played.

I feel as if balance was crucial in this solo, as every aspect was harmonious and was able to complement each other in unity. I tried to have a balance of rhythm, note values, and notes, with rests, eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, tied notes, dotted notes, grace notes and triplets; as well as an appropriate range of notes to develop variation. The articulation and dynamics also help to create contrast and flow, allowing everything to come together nicely. Accidentals were placed throughout the solo to match the key chords and and create the appropriate mood for jazz.

I believe that some things could still be improved. Listening to it repeatedly on Finale has helped me realise that even though I made some changes, some bars still don’t seem to sound quite right, such as bars 21-22, in which I tried to make a sequence to bars 17-18 with similar rhythm and intervals. This is most likely due to the fact that we were not given guide tones for the two bars, as it did not go around the circle of fourths. I also found that some parts seem a little more classical instead of jazz-sounding. This could be because I have been working with and composing classical music a lot, and rarely get the chance to experiment with jazz music, as mentioned at the beginning.

As for playing the solo in front of the class, I think that my nerves got to me, as I messed up some of the rhythm and notes in the beginning. As I progressed through the song, I became slightly better, as I was able to calm down and play the solo with more ease. I think that I could have been a little more confident and loud while playing the solo, as my breathing was not good enough and I was rather nervous. As Mr. Taitoko mentioned, I also could have had more swing with my eighth notes to further establish the jazz mood.

Overall, I think that I did a pretty good job in creating and playing a jazz solo for Stella by Starlight, considering it was my first time. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, there were still some aspects of it that could have been changed to make it better.

Stella by Starlight Solo Draft

Recently, I created a jazz solo for Stella by Starlight in Music class, with a total of 32 bars.

You can listen to the composition below:


And see the score below (the file is a PDF, so click the link below to see it):

Charlotte – Stella by Starlight Solo Draft