The piece above is a short composition that I created. The main focus for this year’s composition unit was phrasing. Making the phrases connect with each other and to use chords or rhythm to support the phrasing. We started off by creating our own rhythm, then gradually progressing and creating an 8 bar long melody, then finally transforming it into a complete 16 bar piece. The way the melody was taken slowly made it more enjoyable and less stressful to complete. We had sufficient time to enjoy the process of composition, instead of rushing it through, which makes the experience more remarkable and helps with the creativity.
Speaking of the composition process, I will continue by talking about the some of the choices I made when creating this piece. My original intention was to create a formal, classical piece, but my idea changed because I just wanted to keep things simple. Therefore, I went back to look at the 8 bar melody task that I have done previously and gained some inspiration from there. At last, I decided to create a piece that is fun and enjoyable, so I also changed the title of the song from ‘Pleasing Classic’ to ‘A Bundle of Joy’. The title change also makes the music much more interesting. A cheerful atmosphere reminds me of children jumping around. A majority of the notes that I used were either one beat or shorter, which creates a distinct and clear sound along with a“skipping” effect. Articulation, specifically staccatos, were used in the downbeat (the second beat of some bars), which are relatively weaker beats. The staccatos help to emphasize the weak beats to create more presence for the weaker notes. However, I did not add staccatos in every bar because it will be too repetitive and boring, so it will be more predictable or even somewhat unpleasing to the ears. Additionally, the unbalanced use of staccatos can strengthen the “skipping” feeling that I am trying to create.
There were not a lot of surprises for the dynamics. For the dynamics, I connected two phrases at a time to create the soft and loud sounds, so the first two phrases were together and the last two phrases were together separately. For example, for the first two phrases, it began with piano (soft) and I it gradually got louder in the middle of the first segment (crescendo). Then from the middle to the end, I used a decrescendo to signify that the first half of the song (two phrases, 8 bars) are over along with the use of the half note which is one of the notes with a longer beat value. I also chose to lower the pitch of the notes in the second half of the first segment along with the decrescendo. Even though that it is not necessarily true that lower notes are more quite, but when I incorporate the downwards movement with the decrescendo, it helps create the feeling that it is near the end of the first segment. The second phrase was more random in terms of the last bar because of the unexpectedness that I wanted to create, which is ultimately how people feel when they are happy since they are often surprised at the first place.
Pleasing Music Final Composition SummativeThe pitch range of this piece for the melody part is quite wide, from the B flat below middle C to high G. This was done on purpose because I wanted to have more variation. Just like speaking, I didn’t want my song to be monotone, I want it to be more vibrant and colorful since it is supposed to create a happy atmosphere, therefore I went for almost two octaves in such a short piece. The piece started with a pitch in the middle and ended with the lowest pitch so the beginning would not be too abrupt and the ending will close up, like the feeling of going back home/ back to the base. On a side note, I did not want to limit myself too much with the notes that I used, so I decided to keep the wide range.
I find this piece vibrant and somewhat unique, but not so attractive or memorable. It follows all the rules and guidelines of this task accordingly, but it does not have that many surprises. The notes that I used are all chord tones based on the chord that was assigned to each bar, which will definitely create a consonant melody with a pleasant sound. However, if I want to make my piece more interesting, a creative choice will be to include some non-chord tones throughout the piece. This creates a dissonant sound, which should be more unique. This song is not too difficult to play on both instruments, especially on the piano, so it is great for beginners especially for clarinet players to practice crossing the bridge and moving from low to high notes.
Here are screenshots of constructive feedback I’ve given to my peers throughout their creation process:
Building on to the 8 bar rhythm I have previously created, I developed the rhythm and turned it into a complete melody with chord progressions. We also focused on conjunct and disjunct as well as consonant and dissonant when creating this melody. Please have a listen to my melody!
Use the list below to check each guideline……….
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1. Explain how you believe you are progressing on your instrument so far this year.
I feel like I have passed the beginner level this year and I’m starting to develop more playing skills. The most important thing that I learned this year is “crossing the bridge” (reaching the higher notes). I am now able to reach the higher notes, playing those notes in tone and then immediately going back down to the lower notes. However, I didn’t improve as greatly as I did in the previous years since I am now a lot more familiar with my clarinet, it is harder to advance. Therefore, I need to make a greater effort to improve and move on to the next level.
2. Explain specifically what you are currently doing to improve your level of skill.
When practicing at home (unfortunately, I only practice one to two times every week), I go back and review the songs that require more technique to play. I play songs with a mixture of high and low pitched notes, a variety of articulation markings and greater difference in dynamics. When playing the different scales in music class, I try to play the section that is higher in pitch to strengthen my newly developed skills and achieving a high tone quality for the higher notes across the bridge.
3. How often do you practice?
To be honest, I only practice once every week on average (yes, this is something I need to work on and take initiative for reminding myself). In the first term (before Christmas), I was in Concert Band, so I practiced every other day during that time in preparation for the winter concert. Now, as the school year goes on, I find much harder to practice. It takes time for me to set up and pack up my instrument after I practice and I’m so lazy that I don’t bother to do so. Additionally, my work load increases, so it becomes harder for me to find time dedicated for practicing.
4. Which of these are you most successful at: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing?
My articulation is the best. I tongue very precisely on the staccato notes and I can hold my breath to play the slur notes to create a smooth and connected sound.
5. Which of these are you the least successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing?
I find that I will need to improve on rhythm accuracy because
In this task, we need to create a rhythm that is 8 bars long with two four-bar phrases. I use two slurs to indicate each phrase and make it really obvious to identify the two phrases. To make it even more obvious to spot the two phrases, the two phrases end with a long note. The first phrase ends with a half note (longest note value in the entire rhythm) and the second phrase ends with two quarter notes tied together and a fermata on the last note. The two phrases are balanced rhythmically and they also have an equivalent amount of short notes and long notes. The first measure of both phrases is exactly the same. Since I want more of a variety yet sill maintain balance, I switch the order of bars 2 and 3 for the second phrase and making the two phrases end slightly different visually (but still sounding the same).
This task is quick and easy, but I have to make sure that this rhythm works before I transform these 8 bars into a melody, which is the next task that we need to do. One thing I might change is bars 4 and bars 8. These two bars are the endings of phrase one and two and they are quite different. I do not want phrase one and phrase two to be exactly the same, so I decide to change up the rhythm. However, I am unsure if I should change the rhythm up in the middle of each phrase and if either way will result in a complete sound.
In this unit, we inquired into blues music and learnt basic music composition techniques as part of the theory of our unit. We started off looking into endings, then progressing into composing simple, 8 bar melodies. We then looked at transposing instruments and the Concert F blues scale. Lastly, we looked at blues chord progressions and incorporating the major triads and the b7 tones for composing our solos. For our summative assessment of this unit, we composed our own 12 bar blues solo. I thought it was going to be an easy task, but it actually involved some thinking and reflection as well. I made the first draft and received feedback from my peers on my music composition (see the previous post). I read through all the feedback from my peers and have made quite a few changes to my blues solo composition:
Firstly, I had to make my composition sound bluesier. In measures 1, 3, 5, 7,9 and 11, I added the major third tones. Mr. Taitoko, our guest musician has talked to us about including the major thirds in our composition to enhance the “bluesiness” and have a better sounding melody. I have also replaced some eighth notes by adding rests, also have enhanced the blues feeling of my piece.
Secondly, I added performance directions in my piece, like the different dynamic, tempo and articulation markings. Not only have I added some dynamic markings such as p, pp, ff, etc, I’ve also added a few crescendo and decrescendo to enrich the volume and sound of my piece. Tempo markings were also used. I chose to use moderato because I wanted a steady and moderate beat for my composition. By adding articulation markings, I have also worked on another criticism from my friends: choppy transitions. Without smooth transition, the song would sound awkward and it wouldn’t flow very well as a whole. That’s why I have added articulation markings to try to connect the different parts together.
There is certainly room for improvement. I think I could fix the articulation markings. After listening to my solo a couple of times, I found that some slurs and staccatos are either unnecessary or placed in the wrong place. Furthermore, to produce a blues composition with high quality involves a strong melodic and rhythmic balance.
I feel like my blues solo is substantially convincing, it still doesn’t sound very bluesy to me. The feedback from my peers has greatly improved my composition. Nevertheless, I’ve tried my best and made a great achievement, as I have never composed any melodies before. I have further expanded my knowledge in this unit. Many new understandings such as the chord progression of composition and the system of transposing instruments have developed. I had loads of fun and I am looking forward to my next music composition!
This unit, we have been looking into blues music, playing scales and jazz/blues songs. We have also learned how to compose blues music using the Concert F blues scale (Bb instrument: F, Ab, Bb, B, b, Eb and F) and have inquired into different techniques that make blues music. The PDF bellow is my blues solo composition for music. Tones 1, 3, 5 and 7 sounds the best for blues music, which is most of the notes that I’ve incorporated into my composition. My piece so far is rhythmically strong but not quite balanced. I think I need to add dynamics and articulation markings to make my piece more interesting and smooth. The artist in residence, Mr. Scott Taitoko has also given us some tips for composing a blues solo. We could use notes from the major scale thirds in our solos as well.
Please give me some feedback as to what you think should be improved so that it sounds better. Thanks!
Recording of my Composition:
Attached is my Match Me If You Can! task. We had to copy the music our teacher gave us and make an exact version of it using Final Notepad. This is my first time using Final Notepad to compose and create sheet music. I find that this is a very easy task and this application is direct and clear. All the tools are laid out in windows so I can drag it in or select it. Knowing how to use this tool is going to be very helpful when we’re going to create our own Blues Music later. I’m looking forward to composing my very own music.
I think that I did a very good job on both tests. The tests turned out to be not as hard as I thought it would be because I spent time practicing for both tests, playing the piece at home every day for around 15 minutes and understanding the idea behind the circle of fifths. According to the practical test, I need to improve on the articulation, making sure to tongue and slur the notes on the right spot. For the theory part, I would need to work on the placing accidentals for the semitones.
Naming and knowing the value of the notes was not hard at all. However, at first, I wasn’t sure on how the key signatures worked. I had no idea what the circle of fifths is, nor how it works. When Ms. Lovett explained it to the class, I then understood it and it instantly became easy for me. She taught us acronyms that we could use for remembering the order of the keys, then she talked about accidentals for each major go in order, one sharp and one flat to six sharps and six flats.
I’m satisfied with the grades I got for these two tests. This is only my first Music test in the MYP and I believe there is still room to improve, whether if it’s about playing or the theory part. I can improve my tonguing and slurring by practicing pieces that involve more articulation, requiring a better skill of tonguing and breathing. I think that by improving on my work, it allows me to push myself and become a better musician.
Recently in Music, we’ve played a song called Wild Card (by Brian Appleby). This is a song that helped our class develop a stronger ensemble skill. This song has 3 different playing parts (Transposing Pitches) to it, so it requires good cooperation with other parts/instruments in order to make the entire piece sounds good and smooth together. The piece Wild Card also involve a couple of musical textures that we need to know about when playing this song. For example, there are monophonic (one voice/sound) and homophonic parts (same sound) in this piece. The different textures are scattered around the different sections in this song, so in order to successfully play the song we need to figure and work out the texture of each section as an ensemble.
As part of an ensemble, it is important to be aware of the other instruments in the band as well. I think that being in a part of an ensemble isn’t just working together with the other instruments, but also being mindful of how you sound. I always have to make sure that I’m not playing too loudly over the other instruments, nor too softly where the volume is too low that it doesn’t go with the sound of the clarinets. As a part of the band, I would need to do my own practices at home. Music classes are the times where the band rehearses together and plays it as an ensemble.
I liked Wild Card, it is a great song with a catchy beat. Additionally, I think that some of my playing skills have improved after playing this song, especially my tonguing. I’ve also learnt more about the forms (Rondo) of music with this piece. Wild Card is a great song to start off the year.