Back to school

First day back at college today and it’s been very full-on, but in a good way. Lovely to see all my friends and get back into the swing of classes. Deadlines are looming and while it’s been nice just working on composing, it’s actually really nice to be back at college and feel all the activity humming along.

The day started (9.30am!!) with Fourth Plinth, which we are rehearsing and then performing next week (Thursday 17th at ICA, 6.30pm – come along!) so things really need to hum along with this. I did a bunch of work on the train writing up my ideas and thinking about how to approach it, and between that and something Dominic raised in class – that pretty much everyone is doing improv pieces, but really only a couple of people in the group actually consider themselves confident improvisers – I’ve pretty much decided to go with a graphic score, with indications of pitch sets to use for each section. This will give me control over levels of consonance/dissonance (which I’m thinking will be useful for expressing the different phases of the Trafalgar Square area) while also taking some of the pressure off the players to come up with something that works. I’ll probably use lines for melodic material/feel/pace indication but colour blocks to indicate intensity/aggression levels. Nothing complex that they need to memorise & I’ve given in and just accepted that music stands will be required. It’s a shame, but there’s too much content in the concert to expect people to memorise something that (hopefully) will work better with a bit more structure. Did I say? The piece is called Lines of Sight. I’m also working with another student on the programme, which is looking fun and hopefully not too taxing with two of us on it.

The big news of the day was that in the hour between finishing up with Fourth Plinth and trotting off to see Jamie in Marketing about the branding requirements for the Fourth Plinth programmes, I think I finished the short-score for Fear of Falling. I need it to sit for a bit, and I don’t think it’s really perfect, but it IS an ending, and that’s half the battle!

I’ve also done a bit more on the Ansel Adams piece tonight. The lack of rhythmic interest is really bugging me in the second section. I’ve done some reading of Wallace-Berry-the-Impenetrable (Structural Functions in Music) which has proved useful. Berry’s a funny one. His text is so dense as to be near-incomprehensible, but every time I look at this book when I’m having a problem, I come away with something useful – even if I didn’t really get what he was saying. Weird, huh? In today’s case, he’s sent me off to consider a) altering the metre in the second section (probably from 3/4 to 4/4) b) slightly increasing the tempo, not just shrinking the note-values and c) maybe hunting down some evocative poetry about flowing water to transcribe some speech rhythms and then layer those. I think layering of rhythms is going to be key in this section. I mean, in a running river, it’s not just one big block of water, is it? it’s all sorts of little drops encountering different levels of resistance, their paths all slightly different and shaped by whether they’re at the edge, pushing against the banks, in the middle of a clear run of water, or in the middle of a rapid where a clear run might suddenly be interrupted by rocks and the flow diverted. Feeling a lot better about this, although there’s still clearly a ton of work to do.

So the big things this week are to: Complete Lines of Sight and send it to the performers, draft my Twombly project proposal to send to my supervisor (proposal’s due in next Thursday, the same day as the Fourth Plinth performace) and defeat the Ansel Adams 2nd section.

Guess all that means I should head to bed! G’night!

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