Jump to content
Young Composers Music Forum


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


pateceramics last won the day on February 25

pateceramics had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

260 Excellent


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
  • 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
  • Instruments Played
    alto, clawhammer banjo

Recent Profile Visitors

8,282 profile views
  1. 2 Questions

    Yes, I agree with the comments above. One more tip... if you want to write unmeasured music for a group, you can do it, but provide some markers that can be referenced in rehearsal: rehearsal letters or rehearsal numbers. That's helpful for solo pieces as well, so that a teacher can discuss the work with a student. "Just after rehearsal one, where your line ascends?" "Yeah?" "You played a D natural instead of a D flat. Circle that in your score please." If you want an unmeasured section followed by a metered section in the same piece, be sure you mark the measure number of the first measure that returns to standard meter, or people will waste a lot of rehearsal time trying to figure out where the conductor is when he/she asks the group to start at measure number ___, particularly if the measureless section crosses a page turn. The less conventional something is, the more you have to anticipate questions that may occur during rehearsal. (I'm looking at you, editor of that Holst piece we performed last season who just didn't include sign posts in a 15-minute work, where the conductor, choir, and orchestra members all had different pagination in their scores. Ugh. So much confusion and wasted time trying to figure out which bar we were all starting at.)
  2. Restrictions of Language in Vocal Music

    Yes, you can absolutely combine languages. There used to be very strict rules about how text was used that came from church leadership. Since the church was the main patron of choral music, (they paid the composers), they could set whatever rules they liked, and to the church, clarity of the text was very important. Mozart was fired from his first church job for composing a work with too much counterpoint, which was felt to be sacrilegious because it obscured the text. Haydn was rebuked for writing a mass that "telescoped" the text. (Different sections of the choir sang different sections of the text at the same time. It gets you through the long, wordy, but required sections faster and makes it much more fun that it usually is, since your ear is trying to follow all four choir sections at once). But those rules have long since gone out the window, and now you can play with text to provide rhythm or texture without every word being perfectly distinguishable. We've discovered that, yes!, the human brain really can sort out multiple lines heard simultaneously, and that people usually find it very fun. The fact that audiences are now literate and you can print all the words in the program also removes some stodginess about clarity. If someone misses a word here or there, they can read the whole text during intermission. John Rutter uses multiple languages simultaneously in his "Mass of the Children." The Gloria movement has an adult choir singing in latin while a children's choir sings the same text in English. The Dona Nobis Pacem finale movement has the adult choir singing the traditional "Dona nobis pacem" latin mass text, while a soprano soloist sings an adaptation of a 5th century english poem, and then the adult choir sings the "Agnus Dei" part of the latin mass text while the children's choir sings a second poem with an english text by poet Thomas Ken. Here's a link to a youtube of the finale. It's a bit long, but you might find it helpful. If you want to pull something like this off, repetition can be your friend. Repeat each line from the text several times, so that the listener can take their time figuring out what's going on. "Oh! These people are singing "Dona nobis pacem," over and over, and these people are singing, "Christ be with me in my waking and my sleeping, Christ be with me in joy and in sadness." Or whatever it is. It can also be helpful to have noticeably different musical functions for each vocal section, to help the ear make sense of it all. Maybe the basses are singing in one language with a very repetitive rhythm, while the sopranos a more melodic line in a second language. Maybe one section is singing long, held, whole notes while another section has running eighths. There are no rules and you only know something works or doesn't by trying it. You can try recording yourself speaking the rhythm of all the parts in Garageband or a similar application to see if you can still understand everything, even if you don't have the range to sing all the parts. (:
  3. Three pieces from childhood

    The ability to laugh at yourself and celebrate how far you've come means you'll definitely keep growing. People who are afraid of showing their inexperience tend to cut themselves off from chances to learn. I wish I was writing something like this when I was 14. I'd be further ahead right now. (: Thanks for sharing!
  4. The Extreme Smallness of Insects

    No, no! I was being serious! It's a fun text and it sounded like you had some ideas to explore. Stick it in your rainy day project file. Sorry, the Internet, once again, fails to adequately express tone. We're all here to debate musical ideas, which doesn't end up being much of a debate if we just sit around in agreement. You didn't hurt my feelings, I was whacking the ball back over the net. :D
  5. The Extreme Smallness of Insects

    You didn't like my crunch chord on "rapinas" at measure 21? Where the rhythm suddenly pounces? But it sounds like you should set this text! Inspiration has struck!
  6. The Extreme Smallness of Insects

    Did the embedded MP3 player do the glitch thing where it loops back to the beginning halfway through the piece? Because there's actually quite a bit of counterpoint in here, specifically for purposes of contrast with the first section, which is homophonic and sort of a choral fanfare introduction, because we're text painting about the magnificence of elephants and tigers...
  7. Compositions based on literary sources

    Well, any time you are dealing with choral music, there is a text, and choices are made about how best to express that text musically. Sometimes the text and music are written concurrently by the same person, but other times an existing literary text is set. I know this isn't exactly what you were asking about, but the treatment of the text musically and the orchestration behind it all goes to the sort of effects you are interested in exploring. If you're familiar with Robert Frost's poetry, take a look at Randall Thompson's 'Frostiana' song cycle on youtube. It's a setting of several of Frost's poems, and Thompson is one of the great choral composers of recent times. "The Road Not Taken" is particularly nice. https://youtu.be/ahjYPkA1QYc. Like Frost's poem it's presented very simply, and feels quintessentially "American," and the last verse, while still exquisitely uncomplicated and quiet makes you stop and pay attention, and always moves me to tears. Or try Vaughan Williams' 'Dona Nobis Pacem.' It combines poems by Walt Whitman, a political speech by John Bright, in which he tried to prevent the Crimean War, and quotes from the Bible. It was completed in 1936, and was a plea for peace after the ravages of World War I, which Vaughan Williams saw first-hand as a stretcher bearer for the ambulance crew. The tensions of World War II were already gathering while the piece was composed. Here's a youtube that conveniently has the score rolling by for your analyzing pleasure. https://youtu.be/ovBDDfB1s0w. The sounds of military fanfares are combined with percussion to create the illusion of battle scenes, the military dirge for a veterans' funeral passes by the listener and singers in one section. What always makes me cry is the irony of setting the most soaring, triumphant, glorious military fanfares over the saddest texts. It's a compositional choice that clearly illustrates Vaughan Williams' view that there is nothing glorious about war and that patriotic fervor for the military is just a thin covering over great personal tragedy for many wasted lives.
  8. How to notate this?

    I'm not sure I'm entirely clear on the nature of the problem, but what's going on in the next measure AFTER the one you are worried about? Is there a way to combine the two measures that helps you out, or split the one before it to combine with the one you are worried about, and then use accents to adjust stresses? Sometimes making measures into smaller units can help decomplicate the math. Question two, is this a piece that needs a conductor who will need to worry about conducting these odd measures? If you were beating this, what feels like an intuitive beat pattern as you hum what you want here? (There's your answer). Are there other instruments who need to be considered, ie. how to keep the conductor and this part from confusing them? (There's the other consideration of your answer). When in doubt, go look at some Brubeck and see how he notated things?
  9. Three Sententiae for String Octet, Op. 299

    Yes, in terms of "economy," you may find it extra difficult to get a set of pieces like this performed. The whole set only takes up a minute and a half of concert time, but they require eight players. The more players you require, the harder it is to get on a program and the more substantial a piece has to be to earn a space in a concert. Think like the director putting a concert together. Every time you need to add one more player, life becomes harder. Someone needs to know a good player who plays the instrument. That player needs to have a gap in their schedule that will allow them to make at least one rehearsal and the concert. If they are a professional player, you need to have funds to pay them. If they are not a professional, you need to be sure that they really can handle the music without stage fright issues. So if a piece calls for 8 players, instead of 4, there needs to be an obvious reason that each player is really necessary. Because for each player you add, putting on the concert becomes slightly more difficult. The groups I perform with both regularly change the instrumentation of pieces they perform. Either we can't manage to book a good quality harpist, so we cover the harp part on piano; or we can't justify hiring an English horn just for one piece in a 90-minute program, so we have someone else in the brass who isn't playing during those measures cover that English horn part. Sometimes there is no good work around solution, so we just decide not to add a piece to the program. Sometimes the composer, or a later editor, has thought about this possibility and there are several editions of the piece available, each with different numbers and varieties of instruments to cover all possible budgets and shortages of quality players. Particularly because your "Sententia" are so short, they become harder to justify in a program. They aren't substantial enough to be half of a concert program, or a quarter of a program in which they are contrasted with other pieces in other styles. It's very rare for a director to be putting together a program and think, "I just need a minute more music." They need 10 minutes more. Or 15 minutes more. If you need a minute more music, you can just as easily do without the minute more music. It doesn't really solve a problem for the person deciding what will go into the program. Grouping these is a VERY good idea to get around that problem, but you may want to group them in larger numbers. So if you want to write very short pieces, they are probably best for an instrument or two, as you have been doing, so they can be used in a recital setting. When a single player, or a player plus accompanist can pick whatever they want to play, it's easy for them to pick up one more piece, (your piece), to learn, just because they like it. The more people there are, the more expensive it becomes to add each piece, in terms of time and money, so there has to be enough content there to justify the choice of the piece. I think that's what Luis and Monarcheon are getting at.
  10. I've got that book too. Some of the exercises are things that have definite correct answers: Circle all the 1st inversion chords in the provided example. Circle the cadence. What type of cadence is it? Some of them are more subjective and have more than one right answer: Using the given soprano line, create three lower parts that follow the rules of voice leading. Matheus, you might be able to purchase a teacher's edition of the book, which would have correct answers to the exercises that have definite correct answers. You may also be able to find some free online music theory tests which will have similar exercises and give you immediate feedback on your answers, so you can be sure you are understanding the concepts correctly. Purchasing a second music theory text by a different author may also be helpful, so you can hear the same basic concepts explained in slightly different ways. Sometimes that can reveal any misconceptions you had about the material. More and more colleges are starting to create online courses that are inexpensive (at least compared to going to university full-time), and open to students anywhere in the world. There are generally graded homework exercises that you complete online and receive the correct answers to after you finish, so you can tell if you are understanding the material. That would be another avenue you could explore. Keep looking for explanations in as many different places as possible. You will start to have a better sense of the whole. But I'd agree that asking for homework correction every day here will make people tired very quickly. And might get us in trouble if a student in an official class for a grade at some university, using the same text, discovers our helpful set of correct answers and stops doing their own work. Try to find answers on your own, and then ask specific questions here if you are really doubting your understanding and feel stuck.
  11. Ave Regina Caelorum

    Ooh, thought of one more way to give the performers a little room to leap gracefully. You can also divide a part at those spots. Soprano ones make the big leap, and concentrate on sticking the landing, at the expense of the previous note. Soprano twos make a smaller leap and are in charge of singing the previous note to its full duration. In the same way that magicians use showy stagecraft to draw the eye away from the mechanic that makes a trick work, and cheerleaders set up to throw someone dramatically in the air behind a line of other people, so you don't notice all the spotters and lifters, you can make a big leap feel cleaner and more dramatic if you find a way to hide the preparation for it in the rest of the musical texture.
  12. Ave Regina Caelorum

    This is excellent! I have one piece of advise for your next choral piece that may make for a more successful performance. You have several very big leaps in the lines. The soprano part for instance, leaps by an octave up to a high G. Because of the different ways one shapes the mouth and uses the breath to sing a low G and a high G as a soprano, it can be helpful to give them a way to take a tiny pause to make the switch smoothly without sliding to the high note, or cracking. It's not that the high note is out of range, it's just that you need to change things, and it takes a fraction of a second to make the change. A piano or guitar player can set a finger for the next note while singing the current note, but a singer doesn't have that option, so to get as clean a switch as possible give them a way to cheat without spoiling the integrity of the line. There are two good ways to help them do this. One, have another voice part singing the same note and the same syllable with them in unison on the note before they make the switch. That means they can leave that note a little early, and the audience won't hear the space in the line. So for the low G, high G example, the alto part could also be a low G, and the same syllable at that point. If you can't easily manage to get another part in unison with them, having another part in octaves with them and on the same syllable is still pretty good. Two, if the writing has some counterpoint, or at least isn't strictly homorhythmic, you can put those big jumps in places where it is natural for there to be a little breath in the part with the jump anyway. Make sure the note before the leap is of long enough duration that they don't need to omit the note entirely. So the note before shouldn't be, say, an eighth note, where they are the moving part that resolves a chord. That note would be too important for them to omit, and too short for them to shorten gracefully to give themselves a pause to readjust their vocal space for the leap. I say to do this where there is already some counterpoint because the glory of a leap is in it's leap-i-ness. If the music stops in all parts for a breath, and then they leap, it loses some of it's excitement. If only one part pauses to prepare for the jump, it retains it's feeling of momentum. Hope that's a help for your next one! The more skilled a group of singers is vocally, the more gracefully they will be able to navigate something like this. They will be in better athletic vocal shape to jump cleanly. But even a very good singer will need a fraction of a second to make the switch, and will appreciate that you have built in a graceful way to cover it for them that doesn't hurt the music.
  13. The Extreme Smallness of Insects

    Thanks, Noah! I was trying to keep divisi to a minimum for this piece, so that's out unfortunately. I've been aiming for a low difficulty level with my pieces lately. Not that this is appropriate for beginning middle school choir, or anything, but there are so many solid musical groups that are made up of volunteers, and don't have a lot of members, (and then someone has laryngitis and someone else has to leave town for a funeral). So I've been concentrating on writing things that can be pulled off successfully with the group you have, rather than the professional group of your dreams. No big orchestra, not a lot of parts, easy ranges in case you need an alto to sing tenor, etc. Maybe the next one will have a bit bigger budget! :D Glad you liked my chord changes at the end! It's a shift into harmonic major, so half the major scale and half the minor scale. To my ear, it feels like it adds a sense of mystery.
  14. Nocturn in C# minor

    This is really lovely. There's no reason you shouldn't be thinking about ways to get your music in front of the eyes of musicians and about writing for musicians instead of just the laptop. :D Personally, I just put my scores out for free and make sure they are very google searchable if someone is searching for a particular type of piece. So, for this one, if someone is looking for "piano flute Nocturne" they might find you here, but there are probably a lot of pieces that fit that description that they will stumble upon in their search results first, so if you tag it with "free score" or "contemporary composer" or your country of origin, someone trying to find music in a hurry on a budget, or someone who wants to put together a program of contemporary works, or works by composers from... will stand a better chance of finding you, since they are searching for something more specific. Tag it with your university and when the Alumni Affairs Office is planning Reunion Weekend, they may get in touch.
  15. The Extreme Smallness of Insects

    I love this text from Pliny the Elder's "Natural History," and I think it suits itself particularly well to text painting as a choral piece. I'd love any feedback, but particularly if you notice problems with my use of the latin (I never studied latin), or can think of any changes I should make to the piano reduction (I'm not a pianist.) Thanks! sed turrigeros elephantiorum miramur umeros taurorumque colla et truces in sublime iactus, tigrium rapinas, leonum iubas, cum rerum natura nusquam magis quam in minimis tota sit. ...cum in contemplatione naturae nihil possit videri supervacuum. We marvel at the shoulders of elephants carrying turrets, and bulls tossing aside whatever stands in their way with their strong necks, at the ravening of tigers, at lions' manes, but Nature is nowhere greater than in her smallest works… in the study of the natural world, nothing is superfluous. Here is a youtube of the music with the score rolling by. You may need headphones to hear the bass part clearly because of the midi sound quality. Sorry about that.