Spring is here and so is Daylight Savings (Week 26)

4/4, A major, 16 bar AABA structure. That’s pretty much what this piece for this week is about. I used visual cues to get me started, so I was thinking about spring time and blue sky. There isn’t much to talk about for this piece. Part A is in A major, and then Part B is in A minor. I thought it would be nice to bring in some kind of darker mood to contrast the cheery and bright Part A. Part B is also quite a bit softer than Part A, and that is really because having it softer took away from the heaviness of Part B. It also provided a starker contrast to Part A.

So that’s it for this week. I’m taking a hiatus, so Week 27 of the one-year challenge will resume in October. Hopefully.


The Doll’s Parade (Week 25)

So I posted on Sunday instead of Saturday. Next week’s will go up on Saturday and then it’ll be time for my half-year hiatus.

This piece is primarily G minor. Well, at least the first part was in G minor. The second part… largely alternated between F# major (chord) and F major (chord). The trickiest part for this piece was coming up with the second part. I wanted the dotted rhythm to carry forward but because the first part already had such a stern mood, I wanted the mood to contrast. Somehow. So I came up with what I have. And then the next trouble was to go back to the first part. (Which I managed to “solve” by landing on D7, staying on it for a while while I introduced the half notes to get back into the rhythm again.)

This was a fun one to work on. And well… short post for today. Stay tuned for next week.

Through Rose-tinted Glass (Week 24)

This was a tough cookie to crank out. I was running low on ideas in general and felt like all my ideas were just being recycled non-stop. I knew that I wanted to compose something that was like a humoresque. So what is a humoresque? I don’t know if there is a strict form surrounding the humoresque, aside from the fact that it tends to have some form of syncopation or a jumpy or skipping rhythm to it. Basically, it is a very lively piece.

I listened to Dvorak’s Humoresque prior to composing my own piece. One of the pieces that stuck out in particular, was his Humoresque number 6 in B major. The harmony is strange in a jaunty manner. There was something very appealing about the strangeness in the harmony, so I kept that feeling in mind when composing my own piece.

In all honesty, this piece could probably be dragged out a little more, and the ending is indeed a little out-of-place. Perhaps I will work on this piece further on in the future. It was quite fun while it lasted. Also, this was one of the only pieces in these past 24 weeks that I had to write out both the left and right hand on paper. (Usually I just write out the melody and the chords.)

And that’s it for this week, stay tuned for next week!

Twilight Thoughts (Week 23)

The prompt for this week’s composition came from my sister. She had given me the numbers 9-2-1. (I had asked her to give me three numbers from 1 to 12, duplication allowed.) Taking 1 to be C, 9-2-1 became Ab-Db-C. I ended up just running with these notes for the right hand, while changing the harmonies underneath. The form is really straightforward: Intro-ABA-Outro.

One thought that has been recurring for me, is that in Classical music (as well as about ANY songs), there is almost certainly an introduction. For me, coming up with an introduction is usually one of the toughest things. (a little sidetrack. There was a violin piece I listened to once that started with a cadenza-like passage on the violin. That was the introduction before the main theme started. It made me aware that introduction is as much of the whole song or piece as the themes and melodies and harmonies.)

Because I was repeating the three notes in the melody so often, I risked moving into the realm of a mood piece or etude of sorts, which wouldn’t be a problem in itself. However, I did want to try incorporating semblances of melodies into this piece. So I had to break away from the ostinato pattern.

Anyways, that is it for this week. Stay tuned for next week.

Ripples (Week 22)

Not going to lie, this one was done in a hurry as well. This is in F minor, 4/4. There’s no strong theme or idea going on in this one. It’s just that the previous two weeks (in my memory at least. I don’t tend to revisit the compositions I have already done), had quite a bit of semitone feature in the melody and I wanted to do something that was distinctly different from that.

Anyways, this is what I came up with. The chord progression for the third part of this piece starts off with F minor for two bars, and then Bbsus for a bar, before resolving to Bb for a bar. And somehow, that movement reminded me a lot of the song “Fallen Angel” by King Crimson. Usually, I tend to shy away from elements of music (melody or chord progression) that remind me strongly of another song. There’s a part of me that is convinced that I was unconsciously ripping off the original work, even if that is not usually the case. This time however, I decided to keep it in. 🙂

The form took quite a while for me tweak. There are three parts in this. Two of them are in F minor, and the third one is in F major (it was converted from one of the other parts.) I knew I wanted to start and end the way I did in this recording, but the flow was more tricky. If there had been words to this, then the lyrics would have determined the direction the music was going. However, with no lyrics, I had to be careful to not repeat a singular part too often. (Although listening back again, I do think that I could have managed the form a little better.)

Who knows, maybe one day, I will revisit this song and put lyrics onto it. 🙂 That would be fun.

That’s it for this week, stay tuned for next week!

Uncanny Familiarity (Week 21)

This one was done in quite a hurry as well. (And perhaps you might notice that the audio was uploaded a day after week 20. That was not a mistake, that was me rushing this composition out because I won’t be around my keyboard or computer for a week.) I must have cranked this out in about three hours. Once again, I asked my sister for a time signature, a key signature, and three numbers from 1 till 12 (repetition allowed). And thus, my starting point was: 2/4, E minor, 12-1-4.

The idea for the numbers was that the numbers 1 to 12 corresponds to the 12 distinct (semitones) notes within an octave. So in relation to E minor, I had the notes: D#-E-G. Or major 7th, tonic, and minor third, if you will.

Although I had in mind the idea of composing a humoresque, I quickly realised that I had no idea what qualities constituted a humoresque. Well, aside from the fact that it is supposed to be full of humour, which is pretty descriptive in itself, right? Anyways, I used that as a starting block and then moved away pretty quickly. Perhaps the only thing I had adopted from the idea of a humoresque was the sixteenth subdivision slightly offbeat pattern that is frequently used in this style of music. When I started playing it though, I also started to (very very slightly) swing the sixteenth notes.

The melody was tricky to work with. I featured the semitone movements in Week 20, so I was wary of accidentally pulling out something similar to that. To counter that, I repeated the starting two notes and increase the distance between the notes. And at the end of the phrase, I stuck in a major 6th interval, which would present itself again soon after.

In the future, this is probably one of the pieces I would work with again. There is something in the strangeness of it all that could be elaborated upon.

Well, and that’s it for this week. Stay tuned for next week!

Four and a Half (Week 20)

This week’s recording was quite a last minute thing (and I suppose next week’s will be as a rush as well). I sat down by the piano and asked my sister for a time signature and a key signature. (She gave me 6/8 and D minor.) After some meddling on the piano, I managed to come up with an 8-bar chord progression that I was quite fond of. After that, when I was trying to cook up a melody, I asked her for a number between one and seven. And lo and behold, she gave me four and a half. And so that’s the starting note of the piece.

Once I managed to come up with a melody for Part A, it was a lot easier to go into Part B. There was already such a strong mood established in Part A that I wanted to keep a sense of continuity and not break out of it even in Part B. So I dished out a commonly used technique, which was to go to the subdominant (although it’s probably more common to go to the dominant instead), and to bring the melody with. It creates enough of a change without being too different, though I changed it pretty quickly as well.

One thing that surprised me about this Part B, was that it managed to sustain tension through the 16 bars before it plonked back into Part A. I say surprised, because the semitones in the melody in Part A does give quite a fair bit of tension by themselves. And while I’m pleased by the result, I do think that had I set out to create more tension in Part B intentionally, it might not have worked as well. Either that, or it would end up being over the top.

So that’s it for this week! See you next week!