Source of Inspiration:

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I attempted to make my composition reflect the sense of tranquility that the picture above instills in me when I look at it, and the sense of longing that I sometimes have when I look at this photo to go back to this place where I could just relax and not have anything to worry about. My song has a relatively slow tempo of 92 bpm to represent the tranquility that the photograph represents. At the same time, the song was composed in a major key (A flat Major) and utilizes mostly eighth notes which gives the overall composition a sense of longing and fondness, which reflects my fondness that the memory evokes in me and the longing I have to return to this place and witness this spectacle once more. Even though my choice to use saxophone was mainly due to the fact that it is the only instrument I really know how to play, my choice for using the flute was because of it’s higher pitched sound. I wanted to use the flute to give the composition a more graceful tone to imitate the fondness that I have of this memory, and to create a lighter mood for the overall composition.

In terms of the structure of the song, I made a small intro to give the song a positive tone which reflects the initial positive feeling I get when I see this image. The intro is then followed immediately by a chorus, which uses it’s imperfect and plagal cadences and the overall sad quality to represent the feeling of longing that I have to return to this place. The chorus is then followed by a verse representing the sadness I feel that comes along with the longing. Afterwards the chorus is played again to represent the renewed sense of tranquility I have after realising that even after 2 years, the fact that I still remember this particular scene is a testament to show that the memory of being at this place will be with me forever.

Initially, I wanted to create a piece of music that was based on a scene from a movie because I thought it would have been easier to compose based on something that also had a sense of progression and was also accompanied by visuals. After attempting to create a score for a movie scene from Batman vs Superman, I realised that because of the limited instruments I have on finale and my own limited knowledge on how to play instruments other than saxophone, plus the fact that the main character was Batman who already had a theme song made me decide not to compose music for the movie scene. This was because the scene’s main character, Batman already has a theme song which will entice me to copy the theme song. In addition, the scene already has a score, which might affect my composition by making me subconsciously compose with ideas similar to the score in the movie. Afterwards I decided to create a pop song composition using other songs as sources of inspiration, but my attempts at making an upbeat song were not successful due to my tenacity to try and replicate segments of other songs and somehow incorporate these segments into my composition.

However after looking through one of my photo galleries, I found a picture I took and felt the happiness in the memory that the image evoked, the longing the sadness I had to return to this beautiful place, the sadness that accompanied with the longing and the eventual happiness I felt. Afterwards, I went straight into experimenting with different sounds in Finale and researching useful sets of chords to help me figure out what notes to use. After experimenting with notes and finally figuring out a chorus that I liked,

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I was able to easily complete the introduction, the verse and the ending by making them sound something similar to the chorus to give the overall composition a sense of unity. Throughout the chorus, I mainly use Neighbor Tones accompanied closely by the occasional Passing Tone to both mimic the waves in the image and to signify the gradual change in emotions that I have whenever I look at the image. However once this was done, I noticed that the transition between the chorus and the verse and vice verse was too obvious for my liking. As a result, I used transitional measures to transition between different segments of my piece.

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Once the first version of my composition was completed, I seeked out external feedback from Ms. Po who informed me that even though she liked my rhythmic ideas; the chords, the instrument choice and arrangements of my chosen instruments simply was not right. After providing me with feedback and helping me make adjustments, I was able to to make my composition sound better through more thought-through choices. For example, I set the composition’s key signature as A flat major instead of F minor to convey the happy yet sometimes sad emotions the inspiration photo evokes in me; Ms. Po also helped me to change the chords of my piece so that the chords did not clash with the melody of the composition; she helped me arrange the instruments I used (Flute, Alto Sax and Electric Guitar) so that I can actually hear what is being played by each section; and she also advised me to use the Electric Guitar instead of the Electric Bass to play my chords which helped greatly since I had no idea that the Electric Guitar played the bass chords and the Electric Bass did not. In the end, I was able to keep most of my melody the same as it was originally. Changing only the chords used, and one of the three instruments that I used in my original composition.