Assignment 2

Structure

For this short composition for solo clarinet, I followed the basic structure I had prepared in the Assignment 2 plan.  In the opening section I kept the rhythm quite simple to evoke the feeling of a rocking boat on the ocean.  The first time the motif is played the tonality is slightly ambiguous, and the second time is quieter, lower in pitch and more obviously sinister.  The third time returns to the original phrase but shifted in time so the emphasis is on a different note.

I put an accelerando in to take us to the faster [B] section as I wanted to convey the feeling of being carried away on the storm.  This then dies away with a ritenuto back to the opening theme – this time modulated up a semitone to the alternative form of the scale. Since both versions of this scale have in common the note Bb, I used this to bridge between the two sections.

Leading into the [C] section I decided to first slow down the tempo along with a big crescendo, which I thought created a more effective climax up to the fortissimo top B natural.

The piece ends with a return to the opening theme but played slightly slower and quieter as the storm slowly recedes.

Reflection

I found it an interesting experiment to compose using the scale I had chosen, I think it offered more possibilities than the standard whole tone scale I was originally planning to use.  Other than the mini projects, this was also the first time I had written anything for a woodwind instrument.  Some of the piece is quite fast, but based on what I have heard in my research I think it should be easily playable by a competent clarinettist.

In terms of score presentation, I was a little unsure what to do about the accidentals.  Since scales are generally written with one letter note per degree of the scale, I decided to use a G double sharp rather than switching between A natural and A sharp all the time.  However this didn’t work in the altered form of the scale when written with flats, so I’m not sure whether this was the best approach.  When transposed for the clarinet it ends up with a mix of sharps and flats anyway!

I enjoyed the process of transcribing this piece into Sibelius, and was very impressed by the amount of control it gives you over the instrument’s performance (accents, slurs, staccato etc).  I ended up spending quite a bit of time on these performance indications in order to get it sounding like I wanted.  I’m not sure whether this level of detail would be appropriate for a ‘real’ score, since often these subtleties are left to the performer (and as a performer myself, interpreting the music is one of the most enjoyable aspects of learning a new piece!). In which case would it be best to mark some of these ‘optional’ indications as hidden in Sibelius so they don’t appear on the printed score?

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