Music Composition Assignments for 9.21.2018
Great job on your first composition presentations last week, and with giving meaningful feedback to one another. I hope your skills in both will continue to grow, and that you’ll find you can listen more objectively more and more.
We started our discussion on composing for the voice. Your vocal composition will be due in two weeks, on September 28th. If you need me to play it from my computer (.mp3 preferred) please make sure I have it no later than 7:00 p.m. Thursday the 27th. Later than that and I can’t guarantee I’ll have the time to be able to get it ready to play. Next week in class I’ll answer any questions you may have, talk a little bit about the difference between writing for children and adults, and then you’ll have some lab time to work on your compositions. Be sure you have all you need to work independently, including headphones for your computer or the keyboard, etc. If you are unprepared to work in the lab time, I’m sure I can find something for you to do. 🙂
Some considerations to keep in mind when composing vocal pieces:
Vocal range: While there are some established norms when it comes to assigning voice parts, individuals are going to have variances. Some singers will have strengths in certain parts of their range that will be different from other singers. Some information on vocal ranges and a video with general information about the voice can be found here.
Tessitura: Simply put, this is the average pitch a singer will sing in any given piece. Generally speaking, tessituras that hang out at the extremes of the range (high or low) are very taxing. Likewise, lots of notes in the passaggio (areas of transition between registers, like middle to head voice) can be tiring, too. If you have a tessitura that does hang out in a tiring place, put in breaks for the singer.
Diction/lyrics: Again, trying to pronounce words at the extremes of the range is more difficult. Also allowing for breaks in the text for breathing is very helpful.
Accompaniment: Ideally, you’ll want to choose accompaniment that will compliment the voice and not compete with it.
Below I’m including a long list with links to various kinds of vocal works. These are what I would describe as excellent examples of their particular genres. Again, you don’t have to like everything you hear. I certainly don’t. However, you can learn from each one. I would suggest taking some time to listen and write notes about anything you’d like to remember about them.
In no particular order…
Hamilton Guns and Ships
De La Soul Plug Tunin
Barbershop Harmony Society You Gotta Change Parts
Atlanta Master Chorale When He is Silent by Andre Arnesen
Eric Whitacre Lux Arumque
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain
Leonard Berstein Glitter and Be Gay
Georgy Ligeti El misterio de la macabra by Ligeti
Hector Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras
Les Miserables Castle on a Cloud
Paul McCartney Blackbird
Soggy Bottom Boys Man of Constant Sorrows
Billie Holiday All of Me
Michael Jackson Thriller
My musical happy moment for this week is a performance of Bohemian Rhapsody with 28 trombones recorded separately, then added together in post-production. Notice in particular there are both tenor and bass trombones represented, and the difference in tone from different players. You can hear tone differences best in the solo sections.