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pateceramics

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pateceramics last won the day on October 17

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About pateceramics

  • Rank
    Seasoned Composer

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  • 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

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  1. Fall, leaves, fall

    1. Everything is allowed, you just have to be sure you cite your sources properly. In this case, that means it's nice to print the poem in its original form on the first or last page of the score, to aid a director who wants to print the text in a concert program, and to help the singers see what you are doing to emphasize text, compared to what the original writer did. It may influence how they choose to handle a dynamic to carry that emphasis into their musical performance. All information is good information. Repeating phrases is particularly common when counterpoint might obscure them for the audience, so you've made a good decision to do it here. 2. Voice leading is the way that the chord structure and each note within the chord flows logically into the next, so that the next note "makes sense" for each part. You do it when you write for any group of instruments, but it's particularly important for singers, since so few people have perfect pitch. A violinist or a piano player can put their finger in the right spot and get the correct next note every time (in tune is a separate question), but if you are currently in the key of C major, and singing a G natural, and your next note a Bb for some reason, how do you pluck that out of thin air and sing the right note, without taking two seconds to think about it (and coming in late as a result)? Good voice leading means that the next note is somewhat intuitive. Choir directors do warm-up exercises where they have everyone sing a given note and then point at different voices to ascend or descend by step, or by thirds to change the chord, and at some point, having established the key in this way, they say, "now everyone resolve, ready? Now." And everyone changes note to resolve the chord, without thinking about it too hard, because at that point the steps you have taken so far have set up the expectation of where "resolved" is, and there is only one right answer. The human heart just feels it intuitively. It's what we respond to when we listen to music. You can google "rules of voice leading." You can also set the playback feature in your composition program to mute one voice part, and try singing it while the other parts play back. Anywhere you catch yourself singing a wrong note or just feeling particularly hesitant, your voice leading may be to blame. (You wrote the thing, if you can't sing it correctly on the first try, god help the poor singers in a choir that tries it). This looks pretty good. No part crossings. (Yes, you can have lines cross each other, when that is what makes most intuitive sense for the lines because of patterns you've already established, but you don't want to do it too often). Lots of stepwise motion. (It's pretty easy for someone to find their next note when it just moves up or down the scale). And when you do have someone sing a skip, it's by an interval that's easy to find: perfect fifths. 3. Yes, this is a great effort at setting the text. I can hear the leaves falling and a sense of melancholy at autumn from the beginning piano intro. Nice job!
  2. What is a piece of writing I should make a choral song for?

    Something old enough that it's in the public domain and then you can compose and promote it without having to worry about getting permission from the copyright holder? Or write your own poem (if you're a decent writer). If it's a sacred text that opens up millions of church choirs that might want to sing it. If it's seasonal, secular, and of an easy difficulty level that will appeal to millions of school choir programs that are looking for things for the "spring concert" or the "holiday concert." Pick your target choir type and then design the piece around them. No sense pairing a babyish text with difficult music, or an inaccessibly dense intellectual text with music for beginning sight readers. You probably stand the best chance getting programmed by a school or church, as opposed to a community choir. Millions of churches need 2 or more pieces, 52 times a year, so they are happy to spare the budget by getting a free score by an unknown composer off the internet. If it doesn't go well, who cares. They'll make up for it with the music next week. Millions of schools need pieces that meet very specific difficulty and vocal range requirements, but still sound nice, and they have budget issues too. Community choirs are generally better funded for the purchase of music because they can just make it a membership requirement that everyone writes a check to cover the cost of their own music at the beginning of each concert season, and they perform much less music in a year, so they are less interested in unknown composers. They can't risk programming something that doesn't help them sell tickets. Churches and schools have captive audiences of parents and congregation. Their chief concern is affordability and appropriateness to the sermon or season, so if you find a niche to fill, they'll program you. (:
  3. Young Women Composer Camp

    Eh? Women are still seriously under-represented as composers, so it makes perfect sense to me. And sleep away summer camp programs are frequently separated by gender. That's hardly something new. This sounds like a great opportunity for some of our younger site visitors who are prepping portfolios for college admissions. We all post information about concerts, books, recordings, competitions, and workshops here, so that people can explore them if they are interested. It doesn't imply affiliation or personal profit. I'm not affiliated with this camp. If no one here shared information, what would be the point? It's the internet. That's what it's for.
  4. Alleluia For SATB and Piano

    Great start! There is actually a section on youngcomposers where you can post incomplete scores, so you can put works in progress there in the future if you prefer. Adding in the text on the score would be helpful, since so much of vocal music is about how the text and the notes work together. One thing I notice right away is the quick series of tempo changes you have starting at measure 13. Since they are all tempos at nice round numbers, you might do better by changing the length of the note values instead. It will sound the same, but that will be easier for musician sight reading the piece for the first time to interpret. Going from a 60 quarter notes per minute to 120 quarter notes per minute, for example, means you could stay at 60 beats per minute and every quarter note becomes an eighth and every eighth becomes a sixteenth. I'll be curious to see what this sounds like when you are finished. It has a nice sense of motion.
  5. i thank You God

    This is a really nice interpretation of the text. I'm a little concerned that you have such a long a cappella section before the piano comes in. There's a real chance that the singers will have drifted in pitch a bit, and then the piano entrance will sound jarring. Particularly because you start with each part singing repeated pitches. That seems like something that would assure accuracy, but the peculiarities of psychology or the human ear or the human vocal chords mean that is exactly the situation where people tend to flat over time. A good group can certainly pull it off, but know that you're limiting the number of groups who can reliably give you a great performance. Having so many low Fs for the second altos may also produce some strain issues, unless you happen to know that the group doing the recording for you has some altos who are actually lady tenors. I've had the pleasure of singing with a few, they do exist, but they are uncommon. A low F is in the range for most altos, but generally you just pop down to visit one, and come right back up into the comfortable heart of the alto range. Sitting down there for too long can hurt. Good luck with your recording! What a great opportunity!
  6. Young Women Composer Camp

    P.S. In Philadelphia at Temple University.
  7. Young Women Composer Camp

    https://www.youngwomencomposers.org/home/ Spend two weeks in July in classes and workshops studying with Erin Busch (Composition and Theory), Julia Alford (Composition and Theory), Cynthia Folio (Composition and Theory), Sabrina Clarke (Composition and Theory), Maurice Wright (Orchestration), Julie Bishop (Writing for Voice), Adam Vidiksis (Electronic Music History and Composition), Marianne Gruzwalski (Chorale), Brittany Ann Tranbaugh (Song Writing), and Chelsea Reed (Jazz Composition and Improvisation). Classes: Composition Workshop (daily)Theory & Ear-Training (daily)Chorale (daily)Individual Composition Time (daily)Private Composition Lessons (once a week)Writing for String InstrumentsWriting for Brass InstrumentsWriting for Wind InstrumentsWriting for PercussionWriting for Voice and Setting TextElectronic Music CompositionHistory of Electronic MusicJazz Composition and ImprovisationCollege Prep and Concert OrganizationSongwritingOrchestration (one session per instrument family)Engraving and Notation Student works will be performed at the end of the session. Beginning students are welcome. All women between the ages of 14 and 19 are encouraged to apply.
  8. That happens to me occasionally too. If I can't figure out why it feels so familiar, I write it out and post it here and on social media before I get too far writing a piece of my own based on it. About 5 people usually pop up right away to tell me that it's the theme from "Sleeping Beauty," or whatever. There have been one or two melodies that everyone agreed were very satisfying tunes, but no one recognized. In those cases I feel comfortable creating a piece around them. If it does turn out that I've accidentally copied and re-harmonized a little snippet of Vaughan Williams, I can rest easy knowing that I really did my due diligence to avoid doing so, and since I'm not intentionally copying a piece, note for note, my resulting work will end up being more of an appreciative quoting of someone else's than a straight copy. That's a thing that happens frequently in music and is generally accepted as fair use and flattering to the original composer. Post a snippet here, and see if anyone recognizes it?
  9. O Holy Night arrangement

    Thanks so much bkho! At some point I'll have to shell out for the nice soundfonts. This sounds amazing! [Edit: And credit to Darrel Whidden for the choral harmonization, in case anyone doesn't open the score and see the attribution. He directs a local community chorus here in Boston].
  10. O Holy Night arrangement

    A couple of friends asked me to combine the choral harmonization that one had created with a bass solo section for the other to sing and add an accompaniment for "O Holy Night." Here's what I came up with. I don't usually do arrangements, but it was kind of fun to have an assignment: use these choral parts, use this solo, put it all in this key, I like the accompaniment from this other arrangement, can you do something like that? But fancier? It feels a little plain... Hopefully to be sung at a couple of Christmas concerts by the group that the choral parts harmonizer guy directs and the other guy is doing the solo. (: Oh Holy Night.mid
  11. Techniques to deal with the "creative blocking"

    7. Poetry usually has a very strong sense of rhythm and an internal structure of beginning, tension and development, and resolution. Just add pitches and that is a well-structured piece of music. Try to set some poetry you like to music, as if you were writing a choral piece. Then erase the words to turn it into an orchestral piece, add more parts to fill it out, and play with orchestration.
  12. Techniques to deal with the "creative blocking"

    Hmmm... I'd say: 1. Keep trying to write at least a little while every day, because sometimes you just have to sit in the chair and work at it to give an idea the opportunity to appear. 2. But be sure you aren't doing nothing but work. If nothing is appearing in your brain, it may need some new outside stimulation to get the ideas started again, so take time to go for a walk, read new books, go out with friends. Put yourself in situations that are rich for your physical senses in new ways so your brain will start creating new pathways, even if that just means trying a different sandwich for lunch. You don't have to take a two week vacation, but find at least a little novelty every day. 3. Make sure you have the right physical environment to work in. I need to be somewhere comfortable, quiet, and alone, so I can hum out my ideas. I have to be able to hear it out loud as I'm working to get the next part of the idea to come. Maybe you like the background hum of the dishwasher so it isn't too quiet in your house, or to know someone is in the next room so you don't feel too lonely. 4. If all else fails, try listening to some music you like and singing along on a harmony part. Then shut the music off and keep singing your harmony. It often develops a life of its own and becomes the start of an idea. 5. Sometimes you can't think of a beginning, but you CAN think of a middle or an end, so go ahead and start with that part and then work backwards. 6. Some of the best works by famous composers are based off of simple scales, and key changes. Don't be afraid to write according to basic principles as a start. What you add to the texture can make that incredibly exciting. Writing absolutely according to expectation with respect to chord progression, and then denying the listener the resolution is a wonderful tension-creating device that keeps a work moving and developing when you are stuck.
  13. Who has Perfect Pitch? Does it help you?

    Oh, all choirs tend to drift flat. It happens when people are unsure of a note. Overshooting the pitch somehow feels stupider than undershooting, so when people are unsure, they end up singing tentatively and singing flat. It also happens if people are worried they are going to crack on a top note. Or if people are just vocally tired. They try not to over-sing, and the result is again, slightly flat. In a choir, since you're constantly retuning to each other for blend, everyone ends up retuning to try and make the one voice that's off fit back in correctly, so by the end of an a cappella piece, if several notes have gone a little flat in individual voices during a 3 minute piece, the whole choir has recalibrated the idea of where the key is several times, and may be a tone below where they should be. But what's interesting, is that it means everyone is hearing pitch, hearing small gradations of pitch, and establishing that slightly off note as a new "do" and using relative pitch to decide that means "mi" is now THIS slightly off note, and "re" is now THAT slightly off note. People who actually have perfect pitch generally only like to be in choirs with other people with perfect pitch, or sing accompanied pieces, because if someone has a vocal production issue that means a note sounds a bit squidgy, people with perfect pitch don't readjust the key to an in-between-key. They know where the key really is, and they stay there stubbornly, and that off note sticks out like a sore thumb, but the key stays constant until the end of the piece if there are enough stubborn perfect pitchers in the group. But if there is only one person with perfect pitch, they are the ones who sound off when they don't adjust. And they really hate adjusting, because they know deep in their hearts that they are right. They tend to become directors so they can use their powers for good instead. Makes it easier to diagnose problems quickly when you can just hear a note and know it's not what you see on the page without solfeging. So the real question is, if you asked a random musician to sing you a note, having kept them in complete musical silence for several hours beforehand, would they have the same thing happen that happens to me, and sing you an actual note, and not halfway in between? I suspect most would. But what does that mean about how our brain processes this stuff?
  14. Who has Perfect Pitch? Does it help you?

    That's my question. How is it that my brain knows enough to produce a pitch vs. the micro-intervals the fall between pitches in Western music without any outside reference for a starting point, and yet is NOTable to produce a specific pitch, say, middle C, on demand. It would seem that both of those problems would require the same mental skill set: the ability to recognize pitch by frequency. Here's the scenario. You wake up in the morning. You have just slept for 8 hours. You haven't heard any music. You don't wake to an alarm that has a pitched beep. You walk to your keyboard, try to sing middle C, and check it against the instrument. You discover that you have sung a C# instead of a C natural, but your C# is on pitch. It's not halfway in the space between C# and D natural. To make a visual metaphor, perfect pitch is the ability to pick the blue crayon when you are asked. If I don't have the mental wiring to pick the blue crayon on request, how is it that I can consistently pick the truest red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple from a box of 120 crayons that includes all the shades in between. I can give you the straightest blue in the box without hesitation, not the blue-blue-green, not the blue-purple-purple. I can always reduce the larger set to the classic box of five colors. And yet, I can't consistently tell those colors from each other. An interesting puzzle. And it's not a question of being used to singing on pitch, because choirs drift slowly flat all the time, and if the rest of the choir is drifting, you have to drift with them. So I'm totally capable of singing a red-orange-orange note. And yet, the starting point, absent pitch-related input, is always smack-on red.
  15. Who has Perfect Pitch? Does it help you?

    I definitely don't have perfect pitch, but since I'm a singer, I know where my voice switches from chest voice to head voice. It moves around a bit from day to day, if I have a cold, etc., but it gets me close to right. From there you can relative pitch your way to any other note you want to find. I just tried an experiment. Tried to find the D natural above middle C. What I guessed was actually an Eb. Can I find the right notes out of nothing perfectly? No. But if you want to start a piece, a cappella, without a pitch pipe, I can usually find close enough to the right key to keep the basses from bottoming out or the sopranos from running out of high notes, as can many singers if they bother to think about it. What I find interesting, is that even if I am a step away from the note I'm looking for, whenever I try this experiment, I am actually on a note. I'm never between two notes. I'd be curious to know how that part of our brain processing works. If I can't always pick a particular pitch, what is it that my brain does that means I at least pick... some pitch?
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