Two nights ago, I completed the first draft of the orchestration of my project, all 19 minutes and 45 seconds. I had thought this process would take me longer but once I got into it, thinking about the melody and harmony lines across a broader soundscape, it all started to come together quite fluidly.
And when it didn’t, I stopped. I took a break; the golden rule of being a creative person – if what you’re doing doesn’t work, you have to walk away.
I made the following changes to the piece as I went along, and all for various different reasons:
1) I added two additional bars at bar 71 leading into ‘The White Rabbit’ section to aid the transition. I introduced a rhythmic pedal note 2 bars earlier @ bar 70 and built in a linear accelerando to bring the tempo up steadily from 100bpm to 180bpm. The additional 2 bars allowed more time for this 2 happen. I also needed a harmonic transition to pull listeners into the new key of Am, so I wrote a tonic Am chord for the flutes and the oboes in at between bars 71-72, followed by a dominant E major chord. This established Am in bar 74 at the start of ‘The White Rabbit’ more definitely.
2) I changed the articulation in the cello in bar 104 because I wanted to lighten the texture; instead of legato phrases I changed it to pizzicato.
3) I stretched the accelerando from the reprise of ‘The White Rabbit’ theme so that the tempo increased more gradually from bar 111 and then brought the repeated ‘E’ in a bar earlier than previously written so as to establish the theme again. I overlapped the additional crotchet B-flats at bar 111 and made them fade out, which again helped with the transition.
4) I introduced a rallentando through the long diminuendo in bars 121-126 in order to reduce the speed from 180-100bpm. I also reduced the sustained chord by 2 bars as it felt far too long across six bars.
5) At bar 151, I changed the flute on the last semi-quaver from B-sharp to B-natural; I felt it kept the tone of the interval established at the end of bar 150.
6) I alternated the dynamics and articulation during the ‘Falling’ section when the bpm changes to 110. I made every 4 bars mp and then mf, with the mp phrases being smooth and the mf phrases contrasting with pizz sections. I felt it added to the chaotic feeling. However, in hindsight, when I go through the first draft, I want to be mindful of giving the strings enough time to alternate between arco and pizz.
7) I removed the tenutos during the ‘Falling’ section at bar 194 – I felt the music was moving too quickly to articulate it fully and the technique was lost.
8) I added 2 extra bars at bar 208 to repeat the last 2 bars of the descending semi-quavers. The section needed slightly longer lead into the sustained chord before ‘Drink Me Eat Me’.
9) The long sustained 8 bar chord leading into ‘Drink Me Eat Me’ didn’t give a strong enough harmonic lead into B-major. So by raising the sustained F to F-sharp in the last 4 bars of the chord, I hinted at the dominant of B-major and made the transition clearer. I also introduced a dotted crotchet on each 8 bar phrase played by the harp to help in the change of tempo through the rallentando to the new bpm at ‘Drink Me Eat Me’.
10) I changed the articulation of the accompaniment part of the first 16 bars of ‘The Caucus Race’ to pizzicato to lighten the texture.
11) I slowed the tempo from 80 to 65bpm in ‘The Cheshire Cat’ – it was too fast originally.