Tutor feedback Assignment 4

Herewith my tutor, Carla Rees’s feedback following the submission of my fourth assignment:

Amy Balcomb (510035) Assignment 4 Tutor Feedback

In summary, the feedback has asked me to focus on the following areas before the fifth of my assignments is due for submission:

1) I shouldn’t rely on or be limited by Sibelius’s instrumentation library as a guide to what I should be writing for; if the sound I’m looking for doesn’t exist within the software, I should select something with a similar range and re-label it in the scoring. I think in hindsight, my tutor may have read these comments and taken them in the wrong way.  I raised this point when referring to the instrumentation for my Caterpillar section.  I was just curious to know how broad a selection of Middle Eastern instrumentation Sibelius offered. I have always kept foremost in the back of my mind the ‘live’ performance, not the Sibelius environment; this is a solely a piece of software being used as a tool to create the music score for the musicians. It’s important that I make my position clear on this matter because I do believe that my comment was misunderstood.

2) I need to be mindful not to phrase notes of the same pitch, i.e. bar 398.  I will go through the score carefully and remove any such phrasing to ensure articulation is kept clear where any same pitched notes exist.

3) Bars 428-429; the introduction to the Cheshire Cat.  These two bars have a chord introduction to the cat section and my tutor feels that it is too static and has suggested I lose it.  Having listened to it again and fully appreciated the movement that I generate in bars 420-427, she’s right; I lose momentum by incorporating these two bars and I will probably remove them from the arrangement.

4) My tutor has suggested that I use my various themes as countermelodies within different sections to act as individual leitmotif.  This way, I can reveal which characters are in which section.  My tutor has suggested listening to Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’ for leitmotif development.  I also intend to add some research in a separate blog post about leitmotif so that I can understand it more and start to work it into my arrangement.

5) The one overarching concern I have about my composition was mentioned by my tutor; the connections between the sections.  I have lots of different sections of music and as such, they start/stop; there is very little flow between them and I must make sure that the composition feels like a ‘coherent whole rather than a selection of episodes’. I need to spend some considerable time looking at these transitions to weave one section into another and ensure that the music feels more seamless and I want to do this before I start arranging, ideally.  Perhaps I can dedicate a specific blog post to this…

6) I need to keep my research up; keep investigating techniques, listening to pieces, studying scores, broadening my learning and understanding.  I was really pleased that my tutor acknowledged positively my change of approach towards my composing, namely taking time to research specific things (such as the Persian/Middle Eastern music and instrumentation) prior to actually physically composing.

7) I intend to start studying in earnest my copy of ‘Instrumentation & Orchestration’ by Alfred Blatter, making notes on all the key points for each of the instruments that I now intend to write for.  I also want to create a crib sheet for each individual instrument, which will give me a quick reference that tells me: register (highest/lowest notes), the way it is played, technique, special FX.

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