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FALL, 2016: COMPETITION ANNOUNCEMENT

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YC: Fall, 2016 Composition Competition - Please Read Carefully!

 

Hello to all! I’ve been given the honor of leading this year’s fall competition for this site by @danishali903. Perhaps some of you saw this on the chat already, but it’s time to make it official!

As some of you might have guessed from my entry in last season’s competition, I’m a huge fan of Theme and Variations pieces. Hearing and experiencing multiple ways of expressing one theme is always a refreshing and fun way to look at music. Some of the best Variations pieces include Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme”, Brahms’s “Variations on a Theme by Haydn”, and who could forget all the composers who wrote famous variations on Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 in A minor? All of these pieces take the essence of the original and provide quick and innovative renditions of them in the form of variations (sometimes a lot of them!). 

You guessed it, this season’s topic is Variations on Other Composer’s Themes!

Below are all the instructions and guidelines concerning scoring, the topic, and deadlines:

 

TOPIC: Compose a “Theme and Variations” piece using a theme from another composer’s piece. 

 

RULES TO CHOOSING A THEME: 

Picking a theme: Entrants are encouraged, but not required, to pick a relatively well-known theme to write their piece with. This is just for the judge’s convenience, so that they are more familiar with the piece and thus can judge the variations more fairly. The theme must be of a length where making variations on it is plausible. Please be a good sport and don’t pick too short a theme.

Stating the theme: Entrants should clearly label in their post AND their score what theme they will be utilizing, by which composer, in which piece, and provide a link to that piece with a timestamp for the judges’ convenience. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.

Utilizing the theme: Entrants should open their piece directly quoting the theme they will be using throughout, although the harmony they use with it can vary. This opening should be simplistic and easy to latch onto. The subsequent variations should clearly utilize some part of the theme, be it through the chord progression or thematic motifs.

 

ELIGIBILITY: 

*You must be a member of the Young Composers forum in order to enter. Sign ups will be in the comments below.

*There will again be no limits to instrumentation.

*The minimum length for this competition will be raised to 6 minutes. The maximum will stay the same at 20 minutes.

*You must have a minimum of 5 variations in your piece.

*Same as last competition: You must have some sort of audio rendition accompanying your work, otherwise your entry will be disqualified.

*If you volunteer to be a judge, you may not enter as a contest participant.

*Entrants should have an intermediate understanding of engraving and orchestration… this is another major focus of the competition; the point value has been raised significantly.

 

SCORING:

  1. How clear was it that the entrant followed the basis of theme in each variation? /20
  2. How unique was each variation in comparison to both the theme and the preceding variation? /20
  3. danishali903 wanted there to be a larger emphasis on orchestration this season. How well did the entrant write for the instruments he/she/they chose? /20
  4. How quality is the score? Are all the markings necessary for a successful performance there? Are all the variations and/or coda labeled? /20
  5. Is the length practical (or does the piece start sounding monotonous?)? /15
  6. How is the quality of the audio? /5

 

Please keep in mind that the point values for everything have been raised, especially for the score quality.

 

TOTAL: /100

 

An extra 5 points can be added to the discretion of the judges if the entrant provides an explanation as to why they chose that theme and why they chose that instrumentation.

 

A penalty of 10% will be factored in to your total score (per judge) for every variation less than 5 an entrant provides. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE THEME.

 

NOTE: Having a Coda present in your piece, clearly labeled, will not count as a separate variation, but will not be reduced from you score for sounding similar. 

 

DEADLINE:

I’m hoping for everything to be done by the holidays, so to give the judges ample time to properly judge these, on average, longer pieces, the deadline for submission will be November the 25th. The deadline to signal intent for entry into the competition will be November the 1st.

 

ENTRY:

Please list your interest to compete by replying to this thread below in the comments. Please note if you are applying as a PARTICIPANT or a JUDGE. I will be updating this list for participants as we go.

I will be serving as one of the 4 judges for this competition, so open spots for adjudicating will be limited to 3.

 

JUDGE REQUIREMENT: 

Must be willing to properly defend all the scores for each category with a few sentences minimum… we want all of our entrants to grow with us!

 

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND HAVE FUN!

 

 

GOOD QUESTIONS THAT MAY COME UP:
Should I have variations that transition into each other, or can I stop between variations?

Entries do not need to have a transition per se, but the piece should still flow, even if stops are present. Listen to Rozsa’s “Variations for Piano, Op. 9” for reference.

Why is the minimum time raised for this competition?

The minimum time has been raised in order to challenge composers to think about how they can uniquely portray a melody line, over and over again. 

Why is there a minimum number of variations and why am I getting penalized for not meeting the requirement? 

There is a minimum number in order to discourage entrants from writing very few, but long variations.

How long should each variation be?

The point of a classical variation is to adapt a melody or chord progression into a different style, then change it again, to keep interest high. There is no prescribed length per, but it needs to be long enough to get the idea of a variation across. Some are 30 seconds, some can be a minute. 

What if two of my variations sound similar?

The judges will still count it as a separate variation, but will acknowledge its lack of perceptual difference from the prior variation. However, if the score writing is clearly different, that will be taken into account. 

What if I have a Coda?

Having a Coda present in your piece, clearly labeled, will not count as a separate variation, and will not be reduced from you score for sounding similar. A Coda is generally a callback to the theme, found at the end or near the end of a variations piece. 

Can I submit more than one piece?

No, please only submit one piece for this competition.

 

ENTRANTS:

1. danishali903

2. Austenite

3. bkho

4. ChristianPerrotta

5. KJthesleepdeprived

6. orchdork02

7. Noah Brode

8. luderart

9. Emiliano Manna

10. JohnKiunke

11. SebastianViola

12. TJS

 

Judges:

1. Monarcheon

2. Sonataform

3. Ken320
EDIT: Judge Gylfi has had to resign the position due to health complications.

 

Please do not post submissions to the competition here.

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I'm tempted again, since I feel like I have some kind of knack for themes and variations. Count me in for now.

BTW, variations on original themes are forbidden, right? Just asking...

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I sense some kind of tendency favorable to orchestral instrumentation here... the guidelines state that the instrumentation is free, but it also mentions orchestration, good knowledge on orchestration, etc. Will judges score me lower if I chose, say, solo piano, or solo flute?

If you answered "No, solo flute and orchestra can be 'equally' evaluated, as it really depends on the musical content", are you saying this just to be politically correct, but in your mind you're thinking "Solo flute? C'mon, I can't score it higher than an orchestral piece..."

Am I just overthinking it?

EDIT: One more thing.

It's clear that we should start with the theme itself as the first thing, but some themes kind of require a small introduction (in the original, they don't begin right away, but only after a small introduction). So, the question is: is it ok to have this small intro before the theme?

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1 hour ago, ChristianPerrotta said:

Will judges score me lower if I chose, say, solo piano, or solo flute?

Nope! Last competition I wrote a piece for solo cello and it did very well amongst chamber music and full orchestras alike. 

EDIT: When I meant orchestration, I simply meant how well that instrument was written for.

1 hour ago, ChristianPerrotta said:

is it ok to have this small intro before the theme?

Sure; just be sure to label when the theme starts, in that case.

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I'm in.  I need something to push me a little to get the creative juices flowing again.

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1 minute ago, bkho said:

I'm in.  I need something to push me a little to get the creative juices flowing again.

 

Yeah, I totally know what you mean; good luck!

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1 hour ago, orchdork02 said:

Let's see if I can actually come up with something for this one

2 hours ago, KJthesleepdeprived said:

I'll give this a shot! Never done a theme and variations before.

19 hours ago, ChristianPerrotta said:

I'm in!

Great! I entered you all in; good luck!
KJ, hope you find it interesting, I love these things!

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I'd like to now point out to everyone that we now have our "Competition Hall of Fame" thread open, so the winning work will be placed there; this will continue throughout all subsequent competitions as well.

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4 minutes ago, orchdork02 said:

Not that I necessarily want to do this, but could we write a passacaglia or chaconne for this competition?

 

That's a terrific question, and for the purposes of this competition, I'm going to say "yes", but please still label theme/variations, along with the other guidelines.
Just remember you have a 6 minute minimum time to fill, so for a passacaglia, you're going to need a lot of variations!

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I had a lot of fun with the last competition, so I'll enter this one, too.

My only question: if we're writing variations on a fairly conservative classical theme that repeats almost exactly (except for the cadences) over the course of a musical period, do we need to include both halves of the period, or can we just use the initial, original phrase (ending in a half cadence in my example)?

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Just now, Noah Brode said:

My only question: if we're writing variations on a fairly conservative classical theme that repeats almost exactly (except for the cadences) over the course of a musical period, do we need to include both halves of the period, or can we just use the initial, original phrase (ending in a half cadence in my example)?

No need to use a classical, or conservative theme, but I think you mean that you want to use one.
It would be preferred to use the whole period (most composers did); however, if that phrase is long enough and can sustain an entire arc in one variation, that should be okay. See if you can use the whole thing though. If not, just note that, please!

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1 hour ago, Emiliano Manna said:

We can't use an introduction, right?

 

I think I answered this up there; yes, you can, but:

1. It will not be considered a variation.

2. Make it relatively short.

3. Label the theme when it starts.

Good luck!

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