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pateceramics

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pateceramics last won the day on August 7 2019

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About pateceramics

  • Rank
    Seasoned Composer

Profile Information

  • Biography
    I'm 33, and just got into composing over the last year or so, although, I was always the kid who made up an extra harmony part when singing along to the radio. When I was a very shy teenager, I'd sing a little harmony part when we sang at summer camp, and other people picked the part up until, suddenly we had two parts. And then I'd make up another part, and other people would pick it up too, and then there were three parts. It made me unbelievably happy.

    Since I'm mainly a singer, I've been writing for a cappella choir, but when I feel a little more sure of myself I'd like to learn to write a decent piano part if nothing else.

    Over the years I've had 5 violin teachers, 2 banjo teachers, a brief fling with penny whistle lessons, 3 voice teachers, and sung with 2 a cappella groups, 7 choirs, and a wee bit of musical theater which got me out of taking gym in high school. Thanks for the warm welcome to this community and your continued feedback. Can't get better without feedback!
  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Malden, MA, USA
  • Occupation
    contralto, potter
  • Favorite Composers
    Vivaldi, Brahms, Lauridsen, Thompson, Gillian Welch
  • My Compositional Styles
    Eh, you tell me.
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    MuseScore
  • Instruments Played
    alto, clawhammer banjo

Recent Profile Visitors

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  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, Luis. I'm afraid I can't find the spot you mentioned. Are you sure it was measure 21?
  2. I agree with Gustav about the number of instructions in the score. Trust that your musicians are musicians and will know what to do with your piece. You shouldn't need to explain too much unless you are looking for an effect that is very counter-intuitive and for which modern music notation doesn't already have a system. I worry that the ranges you have included in this piece may limit the number of groups who feel confident in their ability to perform it. Particularly because it is a long a cappella work, and the pitch of the group may drift slightly over the course of the piece without an instrument to keep them in key. High A's for the sopranos really are high. Anyone who has a cold, or has had a busy rehearsal schedule with more than one ensemble that week, is going to have problems both rehearsing and performing this piece. High E's for the basses are similar. And because you also have some very low notes in the piece, a director can't decide to just perform it down a half step. That's not to say that the piece can't be sung, but it becomes a riskier bet for a director, and they may choose to program someone else's work over yours as a result. On the other hand, I see what you were doing when you chose to work at the extreme ends of the range. It's very dramatic! And highlights the text well as a result! Good luck!
  3. 1. Do you currently have $200? 2. If you didn't spend $200 on this, is there anything else you could spend it on instead that would be more helpful to your growth as a musician at this particular moment? Textbooks, lessons, concert tickets that let you network with other local composers at intermission, a masterclass... 3. Do you need a live recording of a piece to apply for things and move forward at this stage of your composition education? 4. Is there any way to get more bang for your $200 buck? Would other local composers also like to be involved and you could pool your money to put together an entire concert program at a nice venue, do some advertising, invite the local arts reporter, and pay for a good sound engineer to record the "new music" concert? 5. If it sounds awful, is that going to crush your dreams? This is going to be a learning experience. That's the point. Be prepared for things to go wrong, be gracious and collaborative with your quartet. Hearing your work performed can teach you a lot about composing for future works. All the things composition teachers pick on suddenly make sense when you hear a group of musicians play Mozart beautifully, and then awkwardly struggle to play your piece because of range issues, balance issues, or whatever. That's why composing programs at good schools have regular opportunities for students to play each others' work. Do it if you can afford it!
  4. Your composition teacher is a person you trust, so their opinion matters to you. But remember that they were talking about one single other student's experience, not many students, and not their own experience. And that student had a different diagnosis than you do. Your case is your case and your education is your education. If you want to pursue music, and you left your conservatory program on a temporary basis, keep the school aware of how your treatment is progressing, keep them aware of your intention to return after a medical leave of absence, and then go back. You may need to take more time off than you originally intended, and that is fine. Your health is important. Finding the resources and treatments that work best for you may take a while. There is no reason this needs to be the end of your musical journey, unless you happen to find another path that you like better. Take your time. Get well. And then decide on the path that feels right to you. Be gentle with yourself.
  5. You used the capabilities of both instruments very well. Are you playing on this recording? I loved the sweeping piano lines. It definitely had a dark fairy tale forest feeling. I'm only sorry it ended so abruptly. You could definitely stretch this out a little more. Lovely!
  6. I'd be curious to know why you chose to write something so disjointed for this particular text. Usually composers go for the flowing line approach when setting this psalm. Were you more interested in conveying fear and the shadow of death than the comfort of company along the road and a happy ending?
  7. It may be November, but church musicians have been thinking about Christmas music for months! Ho-ho-ho!
  8. I'd double check your key signatures compared to your markings of accidentals. For example, at letter C you have an Eb marked in the soprano part. There is already an Eb in the key signature.
  9. Thanks, Ken. I wasn't familiar with the Symphony of Psalms, so I just went and gave it a listen. Boy! That's very Stravinsky-ish! Thanks for introducing me to that!
  10. The difficulty is that when trying to be original, you have no control over what your contemporaries are doing. Ideas don't appear out of a vacuum. We are all the products of our cumulative experiences. So it's very likely that the same influences that nudge you towards writing a certain kind of music are acting on other composers in the same way. There are a LOT of people on the planet at this point in history, and it ends up being a numbers game. And today we live in a globally connected world. We don't have the comfort of long periods of musical isolation from the neighboring cathedral towns or royal courts while we gather our thoughts and develop our ideas. If you're working on it, someone else is going to hear about it. If someone else is working on it, it's hard to stop their ideas from leaking into your inner soundscape. We also have no control over what happens after us. Trying to strategize the best direction for your music now, in the context of music history two hundred years from now, is a pretty impossible task. If you've got the foresight to solve that one, can you please stop pursuing composing and sort out world peace instead? What seems original now may completely miss the boat for what ends up being significant. I say, just write what you like. One of the best predictors of being important to the direction of music in your time is to write enough music to get good, and to get good enough to be performed, filed away in music libraries, and passed around to other musicians so you can influence other people. If you hate what you are writing, you won't be able to stick around long enough to get good. You'll quit before you get started. So compose music that you find moving, don't quit to spend your free time watching TV, and if you are very lucky, you may stumble on something original enough to move the gears of progress a notch.
  11. Thanks, Ken! I was thinking it might work well for a choral benediction, since it's on the short side.
  12. Mainly, I was playing with the idea of "unity" in this piece. The men fall away and we have the altos and sopranos paired, but where we might expect them to travel together in thirds, instead the altos stick to a Bb and the sopranos cross their line, like two ships passing in the night. The tenors and basses trumpet out their "beholds" together at measure 22, the sopranos echo them, but then everyone interrupts each other for a while. We never get to the homophony and the tidy chords until the very end, by which point, hopefully such unity does sound very good and very pleasant indeed. I toyed with the idea of having everyone end on a unison note, but decided that was too risky to tune, and a bit of overkill. What really worries me is the little tenor bit at measure 42. I can just hear people punching the "er" of together. It sits high and it's on beat one. The temptation is real. But there are only so many ways to divide up the text and I really liked the musical line. Yes, I would hope this could be done a cappella. I would hate to ask anyone to play that piano reduction for anything other than to help with parts in rehearsal. It's not very "piano-y." But sometimes there isn't enough rehearsal time or you can't hear the tenors over the huge soprano section and directors get desperate. That's a good thought about marking some breaths. I usually do that if there is somewhere that one is really going to be necessary, but for this piece I just left it for the conductor to adjust if necessary. A lot will depend on how fast someone actually decides to take it in concert, so I thought it would be better to leave it open-ended. Stagger breathing is always an option for larger groups. Thank you both for your thoughts!
  13. It all sounds pleasant, but I didn't get as much of a sense of overall structure as I might have expected, given your discussion of it in the description. When something needs tweaking to hold together more, I tend to look at my bass lines, since they can have an outsized effect on the harmonic language. I wonder if holding notes over the barline at the whole note section starting at measure 15 would give it more line? I know you want the sense of passing the action from part to part there, but you can achieve that with the entrances of different parts while having the other parts sustain their notes. Keep going! Piano and strings is always a nice combination!
  14. I'm actually impressed that you were able to pull together a demo of such good quality. It's not the easiest music and doing multi-track recording is an art of its own. William Blake's poetry is always a great place to start. I assume you're aware of the place of this particular poem in history, but for anyone else out there reading this later, this was part of Blake's "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience," written in response to reporting of horrific child labor conditions in Britain. Blake, and later Dickens, and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, among others, tried to use their literary skills to change hearts and minds and get legal reforms passed to protect children from poor backgrounds from abusive working conditions. Blake did a lot of contrasting of innocent, peaceful childhood with the more common fates of children at the time. The harmonies in your first "sleep, sleep" section do a nice job of foreshadowing that line between sweetness and danger, very appropriately to the text and larger context of this poem, and then "all creation slept and smiled" is just lovely, and you keep turning the dial back and forth on the tension throughout the piece. It works very well. Conventionally, here in the US, your tenor line should use a different clef, if you write this out as four separate staffs, but I don't know what is common with publishers where you are. It might be helpful to provide a piano reduction for rehearsals. Sounds lovely! I hope you get a recording of the Candlelight Service!
  15. You're right, TSTwizby, that there is no one answer to the question, but it's worth thinking about it from the point of view of the performers, listeners, and the conductor/director/teacher, and you, the composer. If you wrote a piece for full orchestra that was two minutes long, it wouldn't be enough of a piece to be worth an orchestra's time. They tend to have concerts built of symphony or concerto-sized chunks of music, so adding a two minute piece would feel odd. If you wrote a two minute piece for high-level solo pianist, that would also probably be too short to be worth someone's time. Recitals by good pianists are also generally composed of a few longer pieces, giving the audience and performer time to lose themselves in the music in between breaks for applause. But two minutes for a beginner pianist at their recital is a great length. It's about the limit of what they can prepare well and an audience of parents and grandparents can sit through if there is some fumbling. Two minutes is also great for a musical interlude in, say, the middle of a church service, where the music isn't the main event, but it adds to the emotional content of the message of the day. From your point of view as the composer, it's worth thinking about what kind of music you can write right now that will help you grow and keep you encouraged as a composer. Writing something too long as a beginning composer makes it harder to get feedback, because the number of casual friends willing to sit and listen dwindles with the time commitment. Long pieces can also get frustrating for you, because they may just be too much for you to handle well. Better to write something short and polished than something long and ragged. If you spend a few weeks working on a piece, and it's just okay, that's fine, and you can enthusiastically move on to the next piece without looking back, but if you spend 6 months working on a piece, and it's just okay, you're likely to feel like you have just wasted 6 months, and wonder if you should just give up on composing. There is a reason that creative writing classes start with poetry or short stories, not novel writing. Larger enterprises tend to expose the holes in our education quickly, and then we get disheartened. So keep it short for now, and you'll be able to polish each piece more, experiment with a different musical concept with each one, and all that effort will help you build larger structures on an increasingly sound foundation as you go along. Mainly, do whatever you need to do to keep composing exciting. To learn and improve, you have to keep going, so whatever gets you going is a good thing.
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