Assignments for the upcoming class are posted here in reverse chronological order.
For November 27, 2013:
Continue working with your ensemble to develop and improve your group composition. Make an appointment with the professor to meet with him and your ensemble for a coaching/rehearsal session of at least one hour. Including setup and teardown time, you will need to arrange at least a 90-minute block of time for the session. Because it's a short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to schedule your coaching session early so that it can be held Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
There will be no full class session held on the evening of November 27.
For November 20, 2013:
Continue working with your ensemble to develop and improve your group composition. Make an appointment with the professor to meet with him and your ensemble for a coaching/rehearsal session of at least one hour. Including setup and teardown time, you will need to arrange at least a 90-minute block of time for the session.
There will be no full class session held on the evening of November 20.
For November 13, 2013:
Continue working with your ensemble to develop and improve your group composition.
Develop a good vocabulary of unpitched synthesized sounds that you can call up easily on a synthesizer of your choice. Analyze your sounds for their musical characteristics, in terms of the adjectives they evoke and the compositional roles they might serve.
In preparation for the upcoming class session on classic synthesizers, watch the videos (part 1 and part 2) demonstrating some basic operations of the CLASSic Moog modular synthesizer.
The upcoming class session will be held in the CLASSic Studio, and will be divided into two separate 80-minute sessions, 6:00-7:20 and 7:30-8:50. Some students (Nick, Alex, Devin, Adrian, Laura, and Jonathan) will attend the 7:30 session, while the others will attend the 6:00 session.
For November 6, 2013:
Students who did not present their work in progress in the October 30 class should be prepared to present (perform) their ensemble piece in class. You should now have a completed score/plan for the piece, and have rehearsed it to the point where you can demonstrate the piece.
Explore at least one synthesizer (preferably more than one) to discover interesting unpitched sounds (noises, sounds of indefinite pitch, and sounds that are so complex that distinguishing a single pitch is very difficult). Make careful note of how you can obtain those sounds, and be able to recall the sounds quickly in a performance situation. Usually that will involve storing the sounds in adjacent locations in the user preset storage area of the synthesizer's memory. Categorize those noise sounds in terms of their inherent characteristics and think about their potential use in a composition of all unpitched sounds. What are the most prominent characteristics of the sound, and what role would that sound likely play in a musical texture or composition? Be ready to contribute with those sounds to a group improvisation/composition.
For October 30, 2013:
Based on the discussion of your small group's piece in class, make the suggested improvements, and further develop and refine your piece into a complete composition that you are happy with (and that you can then proceed to rehearse and polish over the remainder of the quarter).
Make a plan to get together with your assigned ensemble this week at least once, preferably more than once, to develop your piece further and rehearse it. Email the professor your meeting time(s) so that he can make sure the lab is available for you to work together, and so you can schedule a time for coaching and consultation on the piece itself.
Now that you have established the basic formal structure, you need to seek the best sounds possible for each role in the musical texture, and you need to figure out how you can modify those sounds to have the sonic interest and expressive capability required to make the music really good. You should notate as much as possible about the compositional decisions you make, just as you would for any other composition. Even if/when there are improvised structures, notate as much as possible what each person will do, so that you can repeat successful moments! Each person must take detailed notes on what s/he will do -- the sounds s/he will use, etc. -- to perform the piece correctly.
For October 23, 2013:
Get together with your assigned ensemble at least once, preferably more than once, to work on composing a piece for the group. Email the professor your meeting time(s) so that he can make sure the lab is available for you to work together. You can use any of the available synthesizers for your piece.
You should notate as much as possible about the compositional decisions you make. When there are specific things to play, notate each person's part as you would for any other composition. If/when there are improvised structures, notate as much as possible what each person will do, in order to achieve the exact result you want. Each person must take detailed notes on what s/he will do -- the sounds s/he will use, etc. -- to perform the piece correctly.
Plan to present your written score/notations/plans and to give a demonstration of your piece in the class. We will spend approximately 20 minutes working on each piece in the class meeting time. So you must have enough copies of the music for you the performers to use, as well as one or two copies for the professors to read.
For October 16, 2013:
Continue to explore useful electronic sounds for your composition. Compile a vocabulary of sounds that are inherently intriguing or attractive and can play different sorts of musical roles: short percussive sounds that can serve an articulating role or can help delineate a rhythm, sounds that have an internal rhythmic quality, a synthesizer's capability to perform arpeggios are patterns, sounds that can serve a supportive sustained tone role ("pads"), sounds that evolve interestingly when sustained for a long time, etc.
Develop a plan for your composition that is modeled on a known musical structure (a known song form or classical form; or on traditional roles of rhythm, bass, chords, and melody; or a known style (jazz/rock fusion, ambient, minimal, etc.); or a structure for improvisation that will enable individuals to stand out and that also will guide effective group sounds or textures; or that explores specific types of sounds. Decide also what size of group you will need for your piece, and what instruments or sounds will be needed.
For October 9, 2013:
Explore the sonic possibilities of at least one synthesizer (more if you want!), either one that belongs to you or one that's available in the REALab, with the goal of being able to present some of its most interesting sounds to your classmates.
The REALab (MM 216) will be open for practice Thursday October 3 3:00-6:00, Friday October 4 11:00-2:00, and Monday October 7 11:00-1:00. If you're unable to come at any of those times, contact the professor to arrange a time.
Try different preset sounds in your chosen synth to find ones that you find attractive or intriguing. Explore the extreme high and low registers, too, which often have very different timbral qualities than the middle register. Within each preset sound, try modifying the modulation wheel, faders, or any other controls that can alter the sound, to see what variations or realtime expressive capabilities exist. Take notes(!) of the preset numbers and other settings you like so that you can recreate the sounds in class. Often the sounds themselves will suggest potential usages to you -- percussive sounds for articulations and accents, evolving sounds for sustained notes, sounds that can be altered in real time with vibrato and filtering, noisy or strange sounds for special effects, etc. Use the sounds as inspiration for your compositional ideas.
The types of sounds you hear while exploring with these synthesizers might inspire music that deviates from your traditional conceptions of composition as consisting of standard elements such as melody, harmony, etc. in favor of things like timbre modulation, glissandi, sound masses, and so on. Of course, those can still have harmonic implications; you can still employ the compositional tools you know, but new ones might be added to your repertoire as you plan an electronic piece.
This page was last modified November 7, 2013.
Christopher Dobrian, firstname.lastname@example.org