Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carmina Burana: It's My Job to Sing

Hello readers,

Philip from the ESO was kind enough to offer me a pair of tickets to the upcoming performance of Carmina Burana this coming Sunday at the Winspear and in return I was asked to write a blog review of the performance.

Normally, I would be performing with my fellow choristers, but I was not able to commit to the intense rehearsal schedule this week in preparation for the weekend performances. Instead, I was able to get some thoughts from my friends who are singing in the upcoming concerts about how they feel rehearsals have been going and what I have to look forward to.

There are numerous challenges when putting on a production of this size with multiple choirs. I think the main one is placing 4 very distinct choirs together with the expectation that they will sing wonderfully. This year, Oran, Kokopelli, The Cantilon Chamber Choir, and the Ukrainian Male Chorus are the star choirs at this event. Oran and Kokopelli are known throughout Edmonton for their vibrant performances, The Cantilon Chamber Choir is Western Canada's only professional level children's choir and the Ukrainian Male Chorus commonly shares traditional folk music with the Edmonton public. However, the sounds of these 4 groups are so unique that I am very curious as to how they will sound once they are placed in the choir loft together. There are enough challenges to address within individual ensembles that I will be curious to hear how these ensemble challenges are overcome with many more choristers.

From speaking with some of my participating choral friends, they commented on things such as Bill Eddins shocking level of energy during rehearsals, the debate about using German or Italian Latin for the Carmina Burana text, how wrong notes did not seem to be corrected during rehearsal, and the fact that they might need to memorize the music for the performances. While these details are amusingly entertaining, another thought crossed my mind: the occupation of being a chorister.

Carmina Burana has long been scheduled to be in the ESO's season; however, my friends only received music for the performance a few weeks ago. Of course, I understand that the ESO has multiple projects going on at all times and that time is limited in preparing for upcoming performances, but it made me wonder: Are we making music? or are we making money? I understand the need for Arts groups to promote musicianship while making it economically profitable for musicians in order to perpetuate the musical cycle, but how do we find that balance? It is interesting to me how these choirs have been hired to sing together with the expectation that their choral professionalism will make for a wonderful performance, despite the time restrictions.

Is it our only job, as choristers, to learn and perform music quickly and accurately? Is there a touch of musicianship that is being lost in the process? Do we simply learn enough of a piece to perform it at a satisfactory level and then simply put it aside as we start a new project for the following week? I do not know the answers to these questions. However, I do know how musically fulfilling it is to spend months slowly perfecting a choral piece to the point in which it becomes an integral part of ones musical identity. Good music takes incubation time since slow growth and continued attention is required in order for it to flourish. It is the point where you no longer need to look at the music but you are able to feel exactly what the music is trying to achieve and you input all of your musical energy to realize that goal.

When a chorister is hired to perform...what does it take to get the job done? Is some touch of musical sensibility lost because we are not merely pursuing our passion for choral singing since we feel the pressure to deliver because we are paid to do so? I realize that simply learning the notes and coming in on time is not what these choirs have been hired to do; furthermore, it will be intriguing to hear how much musical sensibility Mr. Eddin's will be able to draw from this diverse range of singers in such a short time span.

I hope to find out answers to my questions this coming Sunday.

Until then, take care readers!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tenors: The Endangered Chorister

I read a very interesting article in the Edmonton Journal the other day remarking on the fact that there is a severe shortage of tenors in choirs. I am not sure if this localized Canadian epidemic is a global pandemic but it is enough to cause worry for mixed and male ensembles everywhere.

The president of the Vancouver Jubilate Chamber Choir, along with some male choristers dressed in tuxedos, stood outside in downtown Vancouver holding signs alerting the public to the fact that they needed tenors in hopes that those angelic male voices would miraculously emerge from the public to join their choir. You can ask any chorister how challenging it is to find enough male voices to fill a choir section. Many factors may be affecting the propagation of this disease but it just seems like singing is not the most popular hobby among young boys. In a society where we nurture socially male accepted activities such as sports and video games the arena for male musicians is limited to savant types only...or at least men whose sexualities are constantly called into question. The
article throws out wild suggestions such as hormones in meat to be the cause of tenor shortages, but if this was the case, shouldn't all other voice types be affected as well? Tenors are not the only meat eaters in the world. If the hormonal meat intake of tenors is causing them to have reduced upper voice ranges...then does that mean female altos would start becoming tenors? It would be extremely unsettling to suddenly see a female alto section developing more masculine features due to increased testosterone uptake from their diet. I don't think this is the case but it seems like that would be the reasoning behind the diet claim.

Personally, I do not believe it is something in the water or the meat, rather, it is what we as a society have reinforced as appropriate social behaviour. If young boys were immediately enrolled into musical programs or were placed within a musically stimulating environment, I can only see this helping our tenor shortage epidemic. Male only ensembles within Edmonton, and even worldwide, are very limited; however, there is talk of a Cantilon Boys/Male Choir forming this coming Fall. I am not sure how confirmed this news is yet, but if it is the case, then there would finally be an outlet to foster the talent of these young male musicians and they could unite together and combat the social stigmas of being a singing male! The first step in addressing the male singer shortage is to provide programs that support the artistic development of male musicians. If there are no programs to aid in their musical training, then these talented musicians will be lost as they will pursue other outlets in their lives.

At any rate, I am hopeful that there is a male choir in development and I will update you all with any further news in that area.
Until then, take care readers!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Project Updates

As you currently may know, I have been discovering the wonderful world of Protools...the multi-track music software which loves to randomly quit at least once during a session and which I had no idea how to use...until making numerous mistakes and pouring over the pdf user manual.

I discovered an interesting way to approach my Joyce project (since it's based off of Joyce's "The Dead") and the key is to work on only one thing at a time. Otherwise, the whole project is just too consuming and intimidating. I have listed some events from my project progress below (note: this is over the span of 2.5 weeks):

Day 1-Doing the recordings and gaining inspiration from the material I gathered since amazingly unplanned things can occur during a recording session! My friends really pulled it out of the bag and I had some great raw material to work from. Especially Nick! It felt like I had about 50 voice types to choose from with what he gave me! I felt something similar while working on my music concrete pieces since you have to take what you have and let the form of what you have gathered dictate what it should become. Shruchi and Matt's voice gave nice contrast to my recordings too. As well, Twila, gave such a musically poetic reading of the passage that I knew I would have to save her's for last. Twila and I possess the same Joyce obsession and it is audibly apparent how well she understand the text, Joyce, and Ireland.

Day 2-I worked on a synth keyboard to record sounds which convey the mood given by the text. I tried to find sounds that would parallel falling snow and the icy Irish wind or generally anything I thought I could use. I randomly recorded a bunch of different sounds while listening to sections of the text and I decided I would worry later where to put them. It's easier to have more rather than fewer tracks to work from since I wanted to be efficient in my process. As easy as it is to spend hours on a project...I have 4 other classes I need to worry about!

Day 3-I was in slight panic since I still didn't know how to use the software and I was currently drowning in about 27 tracks without any idea of how to put my tracks together. Attending class slightly decreased my worry but I still felt like I had a huge gap of knowledge and was not using the program to its full potential.

Day 4-Setting aside my panic, opening new tracks, and starting to paste together the structural framework of my piece. It looked fragmented but it was satisfying to see the foundation of my piece laid out. It pretty much followed the template I had in my mind so it was less intimidating to approach my piece. Is it normal for musicians to be afraid of the music they're working on? I'll say yes.

Day 5-After learning about automation in class, and fiddling with the program again for longer than I would like to admit, I finally figured out how to automate volume, reverb, panning and other wonderful things. Ultimately, I was able to add texture to the raw voice recordings I obtained and I began to sculpt together an image by using sound and text.

Day 6-Trying to tidy up my tracks and clean things such as transitions and microphone pops from energetic bilabial plosives. I also cleaned up small 1/2 second sections where I didn't sufficiently edit out Twila cursing from her recording session.

I will be presenting my project tomorrow to my class so I'll see what they have to say and tweak the track before our recital on April 21. Also, for those of you who are free, my class will be joining with the 500-level Electromusic course to showcase our projects from this term. It'll be on Tuesday, April 21, at 8pm (I believe) in Studio 2-7 in FAB. Try to come out if you're not busy! People are working on some pretty amazing things and they deserve to be heard :)

As well, since I enjoy killing time during breaks from my project, I recorded other tracks to play with the melody from my original synth piece I posted. I added some volume automating; thus, the dynamics! It sounded a lot better on the studio speakers than my home laptop (I can barely hear the bass line I put in) but you can give it a listen if you like and hopefully you speakers are better than mine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Musical Goosebumps

I'm sure that some or all of you have gotten goosebumps when listening to something musically satisfying. I've always wondered what it takes for me to have goosebumps when listening to music...but I haven't nailed it down. It's such an individualistic thing, but if I had to reevaluate what it takes for my sympathetic nervous system to stimulate piloerection, I think it's the thought that a piece of music connects with me on such an extremely internal level that my body has to physically signal to me that something extremely magical and satisfying is occurring for my mind to register it. Weird. I can go for months without experiencing musical goosebumps but I have had 3 manifestations of it this weekend:

First, while listening to Sospiri, a early music ensemble featuring my friends, on Friday at their recital when their pure frequencies aligned in grand chords. Secondly, when I was singing Pergolesi's Quando Corpus this morning at a church service with Belle Canto when I heard the warm piano introduction. Thirdly, when I was listening to Plain White Ts tonight perform "Hey There Delilah" using acoustic guitars and little synth tabs on their fingers to produce a gentle and acoustic setting.

I'm not sure if goose bumps are a signal of great music...there is so much individual taste involved when eliciting a goosebump response; however, it is gratifying to know that when you do hear something amazing, your body has its own way of bringing attention to it.

Readers, please share some of you musical goosebump moments in the comment section below!

Pergolesi's Quando Corpus from the Stabat Mater

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We'll Sing Anywhere

Very interesting behaviors occur during a choir tour...choirs will rehearse pretty much anywhere. This may seem like a simple and even rational statement but I really can attest to the fact that I have sung in a variety of random venues. Normal tour spaces include the airport, outside on the sidewalk, within the courtyards of hostels, churches, and competition venues.

I do have to say that one of the most unique places I have sung was in...a parking lot. You must understand that this parking lot was in no way sculpted to be a performance venue, rather, the festival did not have a facility big enough for all the choristers so the cement tarmac was their next best choice. Maybe it wouldn't have been so grueling if we weren't forced to rehearse Handel's Hallelujah with hundreds of other choristers, in 40 degree humid weather, with no escape from the sun, and an angry Hungarian conductor waving his baton at us from the shade of a tree on a patch of grass next to the parking lot. He kept on complaining we weren't performing up to his standards. No wonder...as we shielded our eyes from the glaring sun to stare in his direction, attempting to sing louder than the brass instruments in front of us, meanwhile, we could only to see the tip of his baton frantically waving over the heads of choristers in front of us. I just remember he kept on screaming at us, demanding that the sopranos sing their high A's with more gusto than what they were giving him. I wouldn't be surprised if some singers damaged their voices from that rehearsal. I remember our conductor, Heather, telling us not to sing at our full voices so I took that one step further and just mouthed a large part of the rehearsal :) I also remember trying not to faint by drinking enough water and using my choir binder as a sun shield since it was the late afternoon and the heat was relentless. As well, due to the fact that we sang so poorly, the Hungarian conductor demanded that we have an mandatory emergency rehearsal scheduled the next day so he could bombard us with further insults.

Good times...I remember we were going to skip out the extra rehearsal to rehearse our competition repertoire (since we have advanced on to higher levels in the competition) and send our festival tour guides (wearing our casual uniforms) to represent us at the rehearsal. However, this did not pan out as it was tipped off to the festival that we were contemplating not showing up. It's funny now when I think about it since it's quite amusing and inspiring to think how choristers will sing anywhere because they just love to sing. That, my readers, is the making of true musicians.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Synth Jam

Of course, instead of making immense progress on my assignment for my Electromusic course, I took a break and fiddled with random synth sounds on the keyboard and recorded them. For those of you who might be interested in what I'm doing for my actual project, I am trying to rework the last passage of Joyce's "The Dead" into a soundscape-esque entity using text and electronic sounds. I think my project would be going a lot better if I actually knew what I was doing with the software program. Currently, I'm just drowning in tracks with my multi-track software. However, I did get all my instruments working and recording so that's good! Electrical wiring is not my forte, my Physics partner can probably attest to the fact that I was as helpful as a vestigial appendix while silently watching him reconnect the circuit board for our Electricity lab. Yesterday it took me a while to figure out that I couldn't hear the playback because somebody turned the speakers off....But in my defense, people should not be turning off the speakers! That's why we switch the Mbox to input and we can turn down the volume controls on the mixer if we don't want speaker feedback! I'm just saying...

In addition, I'm not used to the process of composing music. For so long I have just sung what has been given to me and I've never really made anything of my own until this class. It's a strange feeling of exposure and vulnerability when you're presenting an artistic side of yourself for the world to see and hear. It's good for me. I also know enough artistic people to know that we're all immensely insecure about our work so I just feel like I'm joining the club. However, nothing good ever came of keeping things to yourself. How does one expect to get better when they are the only ones listening to it? I uploaded the random synth jam session I had during my 10 minute break today. It's rough at best, but I thought some of you might like a listen :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chorister Profile: Erin

Chorister Profile: Erin

I had the pleasure of beginning Belle Canto at the same time as Erin and throughout the years I have had so much fun singing and touring with Erin. She is definitely one of the liveliest and hilarious women I know! I remember her energetically leading the way on our tour of the pubs Dingle Ireland had to offer and you could often catch her starting up a rousing round of "Tell my Ma!" when the pub musicians began playing or heartily singing the chorus of "What shall we do with a drunken sailor!" Also, you can always count on Erin to speak the truth which has made for some pretty hilarious moments during choir rehearsal :) Her warm and welcoming personality makes her a pleasure to be around and it was definitely a joy to be a back-up dancer for her solo number in this year's Broadway Gala.

An Introduction:

Erin’s passion for music is deeply seated in family roots, nurtured by her paternal grandmother, Margaret Whalley. Erin’s formal music training began with piano lessons; it wasn’t until she attended college that she was actually a part of an organized choir. She sang under Marc Hafso in the Camrose Lutheran College Choir (CLC) from 1988-1990. Upon transferring to U of A in 1990, she sang with the Concert Choir and the Mixed Chorus, both for short stints. In 1997, she became the music teacher in Calmar, AB. During the following years, she began a choral program at the elementary, junior, and senior high levels, all with great success. She began singing with Belle Canto Women’s Ensemble in Edmonton, AB in 2003. Erin is currently a humanities teacher at Calmar Secondary School, living with her two daughters and still singing with Belle Canto.

When did you begin singing?

My family was always singing, whether it was around the piano while my grandma played, at a campfire to the accompaniment of my dad and uncles on their guitars, while traveling in the car, Christmas caroling at the hospital, or for a wedding! It’s not unusual for my family to burst into song at any given moment, and our rendition of “Happy Birthday” is second to none! I took piano lessons for eight years as a child and teenager, but I wasn’t very diligent about practicing and never really became very good at it. I wasn’t passionate about it the way I am about singing. My daughters are members of the Cantilon Chamber Choir and they rehearse twice weekly. I rehearse once a week, so choir takes up a good majority of our time. And anywhere I am, there’s always music of some kind on – I would choose music over television any day!

What are you doing now?

I am still a teacher, however I have moved away from teaching music. The reasons behind this transition are many, but none have anything to do with the diminishing of my passion for music.

Any musical plans for the future?

I’m hoping to continue singing with Belle Canto for a very long while. And I really hope that my girls will decide to continue, as well. Those are really all the plans I have for now – I think I’m too old for the “Idol” contests!! There is some pressure being put on me to revive the choral program at my school, but there are a LOT of things that would need to happen before I would consider doing that.

Name some of the choirs/groups you have been apart of over the years and how each one has been important in shaping you as a musician

Marc Hafso from CLC was a wonderful conductor. He taught me the discipline that is imperative for a good chorister and he taught me to believe in my abilities. Singing with Belle Canto under the direction of Heather Johnson has been the most important experience. She is so knowledgeable and she pushes us very hard. The talent of the women is this group is phenomenal, too, and I am a better singer because of their example and their encouragement.

Best performance memory

For sure, the best performance memory I have was at the Cork International Choral Festival in Ireland in 2007. I was there with Belle Canto, and we gave a performance that still gives me goosebumps. We rehearsed so hard prior to that competition, and we knew our repertoire inside out and backwards – Congratulamini Mihi (Palestrina), Ludvercz (Orban), Ave Maria (McIntyre), and Kaipaava (Chydenius). After we left the stage, the exhilaration I felt is unexplainable. You know when you are so emotional that you just burst into tears because it is so overwhelming? That’s the way it was for me, and I think for most of us who were there.

Best touring experience

Ireland 2007 with the Belles and Disneyland with CLC Choir – we got to sing on TV at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove!!

Worst touring experience


Most embarrassing moment

Hmmmm – I’m not really easily embarrassed, so I’d have to say it’s – the Cantilon Dessert Auction 2008 when I blurted out the wrong line in “El Hambo.” Darn that song!!

Favorite composers and why

Any Finnish composers seem to win my heart (especially Kuosmanen, anyone from Rajaton, Mantyjarvi, and Makaroff) I think it’s because I love their language – it’s so beautiful and rhythmic; Eleanor Daley (I love the pretty songs); Carillo (simply because of his version of Ave Maria)

Favorite choral pieces

Ave Maria - Carillo
On suuri sun rantas autius – Kuosmanen
Lake Isle of Inisfree – Daley
Ludvercz – Orban

Who has helped shape you as a musician?

My grandma, my uncle Larry, my Dad, Marc Hafso, Heather Johnson, Sally McIntosh

Memorable choir uniforms. Good or bad.

I love the Belle Canto uniforms – plain black skirt and velvet tank with long sleeved jacket and glass buttons that really look great on stage. I feel comfortable in it – I can breathe without being self-conscious, and I think it looks good on everyone!

My worst is the uniforms at CLC – pure polyester, which was super clingy and static-laden. The skirt had this panel in the front that pulled up and tied in the back and the blouse was white with this scoopy neck – they were BAD! Surprisingly, not that unflattering though.

Do you have any geeky musical quirks?

I can sing a song I love over and over and over and never get sick of it – but trust me, those around me DO get sick of it. I also love Disney ballads, and wish I could be Ariel from the Little Mermaid.

Why do you love music and what makes you keep on doing it?

For me it’s all a matter of the beautiful harmonies that are created when singing in a choir. It brings me peace. When I sing my second soprano part when I’m alone, I can hear the other parts in my head and it just makes me happy. I love to perform – always have, always will. I’m a big ham like my dad and my grandma before me.

Any musical epiphanies to share?

I am the worst sight reader. And when I took piano lessons, timing was my biggest downfall. One time, after I was already a music teacher, I was taking a two week summer course in ORFF pedagogy, and someone explained timing to me in a way that I REALLY got it.
I think one of the things she told me was to feel 6/8 like you are dancing a waltz, and because I have pretty good inner rhythm, that really helped. Up until that time, I faked it, and sometimes not very well. And now I consider my timing to be pretty good (not perfect, though!)
To conclude, I have attached a clip of one of Erin's favorite pieces: Ave Maria by David McIntyre (recorded by the Belle Canto Women's Ensemble)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chorister Profile: Stay Tuned!

Hello again everybody!

I am beginning a new series in which I will attempt to regularly profile choristers from around the world. Of course, since I am just getting started, I will start with choristers that I personally know and then I will branch out from there. The aim is to connect with choristers and I hope you all enjoy reading about other choristers and their experiences with music. Eventually this will extend beyond those just who are choristers and anybody who has experiences with music. If you want to be profiled, or know somebody I should contact, just e-mail me (misssable@gmail.com). Thanks!

Stay tuned for Erin's Chorister Profile!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Broadway Gala Part II

In continuation of my entry over my contemplation about the Broadway Gala, I'd like to share of my most recent experiences with the Broadway Gala this year. There is something about putting on an actual production that is very different than preparing for a choral competition. You end up spending much more time on a musical theatre production than you can hope to budget for. After 9 years of putting on the Broadway Gala one would think that I would be prepared for all the extra rehearsals and prep the show requires...but it seems to catch me off guard every year!

This year was no exception and it was not aided by that I fact I missed rehearsals leading up to the production. I missed some massive blocking rehearsals and run-through opportunities, however, by using my "look-like-you-know-what-you're-doing" technique, I was able to survive. It's all about confidence. Confidence that you will be able to carry off the show even though some details may not be perfect.

The show was on Saturday and since I got back from Vancouver on Wednesday evening, that meant I only had Thursday's rehearsal to get through everything. At this point, I had yet to compile any of my costumes, which would be necessary for Saturday's performance, (I just ended up just using things out of my closest) and I barely looked at my music (relying on the rehearsal c.d. we were given to learn the words). This didn't matter since it seemed like most people didn't seem to remember dance moves from the Tuesday blocking rehearsal I missed anyway. Thank goodness for friends in the choir you can shadow until you know what you're doing!

As well, since I was early to Thursday's rehearsal, I was recruited to be a showgirl-like back-up dancer for the solo number "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful." We started blocking the dance on Thursday but we didn't finish it until 1pm on the day of the show! This dance was a lot of fun and as apprehensive I might have been about it, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I'm not sure what that says about me and my satisfaction in displaying a sexualized persona of myself for public viewing.
As well, the experience was memorable largely due to the fact it was so much fun working with our lively choreographer and it was inspiring to see his commanding strut.

The show itself had it's fair share of hiccups. We were working with a pianist who specialized in musical theater and he was amazing except for the fact that we barely had anytime to rehearse with him so during our South Pacific dance number, timing was off in some places and it was hard for us to keep up with him. Also, the smoke machine man kept on releasing billows of fog in anticipation of the Wicked numbers, but he kept on doing it while 6 soloist were gently singing ABBA's "I Have a Dream," and the massive hissing smoke sounds coming from the machine was not exactly inconspicuous.

Another number I signed up for was to be a mother for "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now" from Hairspray. I absolutely adore this song so I was happy to be volunteer to be one of the Mom's, but it didn't occur to me only after that I was only a few years older than my pretend daughter. I must have had her when I was 7...oh well, minor details! I knew I would just have to compensate by displaying motherly frustration as my daughter contemplated physical experimentation with males. The song went well enough and although I accidentally dragged my daughter off to the wrong side of the stage (which meant that she had to quickly dash across the back of the stage to enter into her lineup for the Corny Collins show) no permanent damage was done...minus the mic that was still on her during the whole Corny Collin's dance number...and minus the fact you could hear the mic pop everytime she moved...again, minor details really!

All in all the Broadway Gala succeeded and everyone had a lot of fun. That's what it comes down to really, it doesn't matter how many tiny imperfections there were about the performance, but just the fact we were able to get through it and have a lot of fun as well. Everybody had their own part to play and everybody executed what they needed to do. All the soloists carried their pieces off beautifully and we all worked together to produce a show that was extremely entertaining. It also helped that Steven consented to be Edna from Hairspray. Not every man can pull that off...props to Steven!

I can only imagine what Broadway Gala v.10 has in store!

Thanks to Amy for providing the photos!

Dancing Queen soloists

Disco ready!

Mother and daughter strike a disco pose :)

The South Pacific Sailors

Kayla looking adorable in her South Pacific outfit

Our very own Steven as Edna! I think he might be wearing my red lipstick....

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fiddling with an Electronic Synthesizer

CIn addition to my experience with music concrete my Electromusic prof, Garth, (yes, the same one who recorded the Cantilon c.d.'s!) taught us how to use the electronic synthesizer. I must say, it was intimidating looking at all the dials and switches on the synthesizer. I'm always afraid to play with electronic equipment since I never feel like I know what I'm doing and if I break it...it won't be cheap. At any rate, I had a fun time fiddling with all the switches and dials and ended up getting some pretty cool sounds out of the synth. It was a bit hard on my ears to listen to a continuous frequency of electronic sound so I found I couldn't work on the piece too long.

In class, when we presented our pieces, I couldn't help but share my thoughts on how my piece sounded like something from a video game. I couldn't help it! So many Sci-Fi films and gaming programs use electronic music so it was hard to cast that image from my mind. Instead of fighting it...I just went with it. The beginning of the piece is pleasant and cheery as if you can imagine Mario bouncing in his pixelated world and squishing spotted fungus. The second section is when he enters the scary dungeons where he eventually has to face the fire-breathing dragon by jumping on him without getting hit by the dragon's spiky hump. However, our hero emerges victorious and continues on his merry way with a triumphant melody to keep him company as he jumps from cloud to cloud in the sky.

I've posted the audio file of it below for you to have a listen:

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Choristers Attempt at Musique Concrète

I am currently taking an electronic music course (my first composition course ever!) and apart from learning essential skills such as microphone placement and recording procedures we get to use software to create our own electronic music.

I can't quite describe the creative process, since I don't know if I have developed a refined enough strategy to share, but in order to not overwhelm myself, I start by fiddling with the sound program and then if I produce something interesting, I save it. I just go where the music takes me I suppose, as cliche as that sounds.

I remember working on my short musique concrète piece and absolutely despising it after an hour of detailed listening I stopped working on it and promptly forgot about it until the next week. Thus, when I was called upon to present it to my class, I didn't know what to say since I didn't remember what it sounded like. Maybe I was blocking out bad memories? The only word I recalled that was at the back of my mind during my sessions of musical genesis was: resonance. When I heard it played aloud in class, I suddenly remembered what I was trying to do: play with the different resonating sounds produced from a class recording session. The sounds range from a box chime-like instrument, a bowed guitar string, or thunder sounds from a toy. In addition to using the resonating sounds I inserted them into the software program since you can play the sounds within difference spaces. I chose various locations with differing resonant frequencies to further change the sounds. The final effect is fragmented but I hope you will appreciate my attempts to branch out in the world of music.

The definition of music is continuously changing and electronic music is only one of the branches of the dense musical network. I'm thinking of incorporating choir recordings for my final project but nothing has inspired me yet. If you have any ideas post them in the comments!