Inspired Composition Crit C and D Reflection


A photo taken by myself of South Cinque island in the Andaman Islands which is the inspiration for my piece.

The final composition that we have to complete this year is a more traditional composition than the previous one we had to complete. The compositions must be based off an image or video of our choosing and must include a variety of nonchord tones and other elements of composition writing that we have been studying in music class this year. The photo that I chose for this composition was one that I took while on holiday on a tropical island in the Indian ocean, and therefore I wanted the theme of my composition to be a relaxed theme with a tropical feel. This photo is shown above this paragraph. To represent this theme in my music, I chose three instruments which I thought would perfectly portray the tropical feel I was trying to create. These instruments are the marimba, trumpet, and piano. My piece is in a 24 bar ternary for, meaning that the layout of sections is A-B-A, each section being 8 bars long.

I had a lot of trouble starting out my composition as I was really unsure of what kind of melody I would try to pursue in this piece. I ended up going with a quite a flowing melody with not too many variations in rhythm, although there are some more complex rhythms in certain parts of the piece. The tempo of my piece is quite fast at 130 beats per minute in four/four time. I selected this tempo as pieces of this genre are often at quite a fast tempo, and I wanted my piece to fit in with other pieces of this genre. The piece is in the key of C major, which makes the transposition between different instruments much easier. I decide to have the music in a major key because I am trying to create quite a jovial mood in my song, and therefore a major key would definitely fit this mood. In my piece, the two a sections are similar as they share the same base chords and also both include the main melody being played by the marimba, and a trumpet and piano accompaniment. There is not much of a variation in the dynamics of the piece, however, the marimba part is by far the loudest as the goal of my piece is to be focused on the marimba part with the other parts just as background parts. This section does include some variation of rhythms as well as articulation, with the majority of the variations creating more disconnected sounds to add some flavor to a piece which is mostly quite flowing. Section B uses a different progression of chords from section A, and also only features marimba and piano. The dynamics of the instruments in this section are slightly different, with the piano part being a bit louder and the marimba part becoming softer in order to balance out the dynamics of the two instruments. The melody played in this section is also quite different from that of section A, as the more common rhythms in this section are different to the more common rhythms in section A. Each section in this song ends with a plagal or perfect cadence, making it obvious where the transitions between different sections are, and both contain a number of different non-chord tones, creating more diversity in the notation of the piece.

As mentioned at the start of the previous paragraph, I really struggled as I usually do to start the piece and actually restarted it complete after having about half of it done around 3 or 4 times, as I was unhappy with the way that the melody was progressing and with the balance of the different instrument parts. But after listening to some pieces of a genre similar to mine, I was able to get some ideas for some of the rhythms and notes that would make a melody that was appropriate for the theme and also was easy for other instruments to accompany. We were given around 6 class periods to work on the piece, and I would say that for the first 2 or 3 I really struggled to get a promising start on my composition because I was being very indecisive in determining what I wanted the piece to sound like. However, in the last few classes, I was able to focus and really start to get a decent composition together.

In my opinion, the strengths of my piece are that it contains a variety of interesting diverse rhythms over all the different instrument parts of the song, has an appropriate selection of instruments for the image that the music was created to accompany and that the melody flows very well over all the sections of the piece. While creating this piece I asked not only some of my peers who also take music for feedback but also my parents as well as my saxophone teacher who all gave their own thoughts on the piece. Their views on the strengths of the piece were very similar to mine, and I think that this definitely helps to confirm that my piece is definitely strong in the areas that I thought after completing it. Based on the feedback I received as well as my own personal views, some things that I need to work on or disadvantages to my pieces are that there is not a lot of dynamic variation over the entire song and also that there is not much of a variety of non-chord tones. In my piece, the dynamics of each instrument stay quite static throughout the piece, and I as well as those who I got feedback from all feel that adding more variation in the dynamics would definitely make the piece more interesting and add more “color” to the piece. Although my piece does include quite a few non-chord tones, there could definitely be more of a variation in the non-chord tones used in order to change up some of the sections of the melody and again make the piece more interesting.

March Music Reflection

I believe that so far through my commitments to band, what we have played and learnt in music class and also in my preperation for my grade 7 practical saxophone exam I have progressed greatly in my abilities to not only sight read but also play more difficult pieces then I could at the start of the year. In terms of the practical work we do in class, I think that the scales excersies that we do almost every class have helped me to improve a lot more then most of the pieces we have been playing as they not only help me to get to know the scale better, but also the rhythms in these excersises are often quite complex with fast tempos, and the addition of the accidentals from the scales we are playing have really helped to improve my skills overall. Currently, what I am doing to improve my overall skill level is practicing my grade 7 exam pieces every day and also doing complex scale and arpeggio patterns. The grade 7 exam pieces are very complex and difficult to play, and practicing daily has really helped to improve my note accuracy and also has helped me to be able to play much more comple rhythms while staying in time with the music. I have been practicing every day recently because for band we have a few very important concerts coming up very soon and I have also been practicing a lot for my grade 7 exam as mentioned previously. I think that some of the best aspects of my playing ability are my tone quality, articulation and also note accuracy. I have always been quite strong in these sections of playing the saxophone and I will keep improving these aspects of playing as well as others as I practice for band and also for my outside of school exam. I think that the aspect of my playing that is the worst is my rhythm accuracy, as I often have trouble counting difficult rhythms and little rests in between quick sections of the music. Also I sometimes have trouble judging the speed of quicker ryhthms especially when I am sightreading. Overall, I think what I can do to improve as a musician is definitely work on my sightreading skils as this is definitely my biggest weakness and has been for a very long time. I really have trouble often recognising what the melody of pieces actually sounds like, and this weakness is definitely related to my weakness in rhythmn accuracy. I think that the biggest musical inspiration for me is my saxophone teacher who has been teaching me since I was in grade 4. It really is impressive how she is able to play all types of saxophone at a very high level as well as clarinet. She has inspired me to be a more successful musician as she has shown me that with hard work you can accomplish anything you want in music and be a proficient player of many different types of instruments.

End of Year Playing and Theory Tests

I feel that throughout this school year I have progressed greatly in not only my playing skills and composition but also my theory. Over the course of the year we have also learned about many different genres of music, and playing and composing different genres of music. I feel that I have made the most progress in my music theory throughout this year and this was because of a combination of what we learned in class and also starting to focus more on music theory in my private saxophone lessons outside of school. One element of music I would definitely like to improve on composing music and creating more interesting melodies that follow all the necessary guidelines.

For our exam in music we had to do a scales exam where we played 5 harmonic/melodic minor scales and one chromatic scale, a jazz solo playing test which was a solo that was written by Mr. Taitoko and we also had a music theory test. I was very happy with my performance in my music theory test but I feel that I could have done a bit better for my playing and scales tests. My note accuracy was good throughout my entire scales test, and I only messed up one scale about half way up but after starting again I was able to play all the notes correctly for this scale. I think that I need to work on my rhythm accuracy because in a few of my scales I was a bit off the beat. I could easily fix this by taking more time to listen to the metronome before starting the scale so that I was locked into the rhythm. In my playing test my note and rhythm accuracy was quite good and I only messed up one or two notes in the song, and I was also on the beat during the performance. Also, my precision of articulation during my jazz solo was quite good but this was not too difficult because there was no written articulation such as slurs, and the only articulation we needed to use was

In my playing test my note and rhythm accuracy was quite good and I only messed up one or two notes in the song, and I was also on the beat during the performance. Also, my precision of articulation during my jazz solo was quite good but this was not too difficult because there was no written articulation such as slurs, and the only articulation we needed to use was swing to give the piece a jazzy feel. There was also no dynamics written for the piece so I played the piece at a mezzo forte throughout, and didn’t change the dynamics throughout the piece because I feel that they weren’t a very important part of playing this particular jazz solo well. My tone quality during the jazz solo and scales tests I thought was also very good and appropriate to the song I was playing and to playing scales. The intonation that I played was also accurate during the piece. For our scales and solo playing test the tempo was 100 bpm in a 4/4 time, and I was able to stay on beat in the majority of my scales and also during my solo playing test. However, I felt that 100 bpm was quite a slow tempo for the playing test and I had to practice last-minute playing at this speed because I usually practiced the song at about 120 bpm in 4/4 time.

I was very happy with the score I was able to achieve for my final music theory test which was a 7 out of a possible 8. The reason I was very happy with this score is because I was not only able to improve on my score from the December theory test which was a 6 out of 8 and I because I now feel I really understand the content that we have learnt in music theory throughout the year. Some of the aspects of music theory we were tested on are key signatures in different clefs (alto, tenor, treble and bass clef), intervals, 7th chords and transposition. There was also two questions about composition. I feel that I can still improve on the theory aspect of composition and understanding this fully. By this I mean I need to get more comfortable with using passing and neighbour tones and labelling chords, to name a few aspects of music theory related to composition. Below is my final theory test.

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I feel that throughout this year I have become a more complete music student because of the many things that we have learned such as the history of jazz and composing different genres of music. What we have learned this year especially about jazz has made me more open-minded toward listening to different styles of music and different styles of jazz because I have never previously been interested in listening to jazz music in my own time. Learning about different styles of jazz and certain jazz artists of the time and the componenets and elements of music that go into jazz compositions has made me reaslise how complex composing this music is, and has also now influenced me to listen to jazz in my own time.


24 Bar Ternary Composition Final

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Unit Reflection:

I think that this unit was quite difficult because I have always struggled with composing in the past. However I think that I was able to compose a 24 bar song that makes sense and sounds good in all areas of the song. I think I was able to have balance between my rhthym and melody in my composition and also there are differences between the different phrases in my melody. My melody definitely has a connection between the A and B phrases and it is definitely playable for someone of my ability. I also have included a variety of performance directions, such as articulation and dynamics. I think that in my piece I have used articulation particularly effectively. I have also used chords that make sense and sound good before and after each other in my piece and I was also accurate when labeling the chords of my piece.

I think that some of the things I had trouble with in this unit were firstly starting out with my composition, and composing a song that had a good melodic balance. In music class in the past, we have not had much experience with composing, and therefore I am not very proficient at creating different melodies. I think that this is the reason I had trouble when composing the song for this unit. However I think that I did well at making sure I had met all the requirements such as certain cadences in certain bars, having an A and B section and modulating between two keys. In terms of the actual melody of the song I think that through the process of trial and error, I was successfully able to create a melody that makes sense and that I am happy with, both in the saxophone and piano parts of my composition.

While composing my final 24 bar composition I used the comments made by my peers to help me improve my composition and make it the best it can be. Some of the comments I recieved were that there were too many jumps between octaves and that this made the piece sound awkward and didn’t let it flow, and also that I should try to add more rhythmic variety. I took in these comments and made the changes to my composition in order to help it sound better. In terms of the criteria, I had all the aspects such as m having measure 4 and 12 containing an imperfect or interrupted cadence, and requiring two chords per bar in the A section.

I think that this unit overall was a great learning experience becasue I became much more proficient at a skill in music I used to be not great at. I also really enjoyed this unit and composing not only more “classical” music, but also a jazz composition. Because we learnt how to compose for two different genres of music, we were able to understand how music in general relates, and we were able to apply the composition techniques we learnt to both compositions.




Stella By Starlight Final Solo

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Unit Reflection:

For this unit, we had to compose a jazz solo based on the chords and backing track of the song “Stella By Starlight”. I think that the most difficult part of the process of composing a jazz solo is starting out to write your solo. This is always the hardest part of composing any song, but I found it particularly hard while composing this solo because I had never composed a jazz solo before, so I was unsure how to start. It took me several tries before I was able to figure out how to start off the solo and link every bar. At some points I even deleted half of my composition and started again. I figured out that using quick and complicated rhythms and a variety of notes actually does not sound very good in a jazz solo, and therefore I used more quarter notes than eight notes, and focused on using the 7-3 resolution between each bar and mostly chord tones, passing tones and neighbour  tones. I also used the patterns such as the Ligons and digital patterns throughout my solo to make it more interesting. I really enjoyed this unit and learning about writing jazz solos and also about improvisation because these are key elements to learn when learn how to become a proficient jazz musician.


8 Bar Composition Final

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