Starting this month off with course exams in Harmony and Aural meant that working on new compositions went on hold. As end of first year deadlines are looming my focus has been on editing scores and finalising recordings for my creative portfolio. Printing is very time consuming meaning that there has been multiple trips to and from printing shops and the Curzon building at all hours of the day and night. However I did manage time find time to go to the Conservatoire Ceilidh at the beginning of the month for a couple drinks and dances!
I have been working on my history essay that is due in on the 9th of May. I chose to research and write about the effect that Berlioz’s work had on the symphony. I found this a very interesting topic and doing the research has helped me to broaden my musical knowledge. The three main topics of my essay were Orchestration, Themes and Structure. These were all areas that Berlioz worked with in a way that was not common in the Romantic era. Researching this topic has helped me to understand the way that Berlioz influenced the composition techniques that are used in modern music.
This month my composition Colour Coded was performed in the final Birmingham New Music concert of this year. This project was in collaboration with the performer Matthew Phillips. The key idea in this project was to work with extended techniques for the cello and coloured note heads to indicate the frequent changes in techniques throughout the piece rather than the usual written instructions. It was a really successful and enjoyable composition to work on. Read more about this composition here…
This performance also gave me the opportunity to have feedback from fellow students as well as tutors at the Conservatoire. I found that people were very intrigued with the concept I chose to work with and were also very impressed by Matthew’s performance.
Just before the Easter break I received my annual report from my one-to-one tutor Dr Kirsty Devaney. This has given me advice to work on for next year as well as support and commendation on my progress throughout this year. My main focus for next year is to be working more with stronger conceptual ideas as well as working with more visual ideas in my compositions.
My friend and fellow student Dean Rogers helped me to produce a recording for my piece Twenty Something Chairs. As this piece is for a large ensemble I struggled to organise rehearsals which meant that I could not get a recording for my portfolio. We then decided to record each part separately and layer them together in Ableton Live. This turned out very successfully and means that I have a good quality recording for my creative portfolio hand in. Read more about this composition here …
During our two week Easter break I went back home to Suffolk for an escape from my busy life in Birmingham. Despite still having to get on with work throughout the break it was wonderful to be back at home. I spent a lot of time taking in the beauty of the countryside and spending time with my family.
A few trips to the coast helped to inspire me and give fresh ideas for my compositions. I find that nature has always had a big influence on my work. I find that surrounding myself with natural, rural locations helps me to have a clear mind and rejuvenate my ideas for on going projects.