Back to Year 12! – Composition Diary

16th NOVMastering tracks and touch up scores 

  • What I did today was to to through all the tracks and edited them.
  • First I started with putting some reverb and echo so that tracks does not sound too dead. Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 12.13.12 pm.png
  • Each colour of line represents the different effects.
  • Then I adjusted volumes so that main melody comes out more and the supporting part will be more subtle in the background and act more like accompaniment.
  • I made few adjustments on the scores so that it matches up with the recording. Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 7.09.12 pm.png
  • I also changed the ending – legato instead of staccato so that it has more stronger effect.
  • And yes! I am done!

14th & 15th NOV – Recording Session!

  • So! I have finished with my composition and now its time to record
  • I recorded the Violin and the Cello first so that there is a set rhythm in the music.
    • From my experiences from the TME and Ensemble Pedagogy, it was quite easy to set up the recording gears for the instrument.
    • I got some ideas from Jess on bowing techniques and we decided to do this for the main theme phraseScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 7.01.54 pm.png
    • and this really gave me the sound/atmosphere I wanted
  • After finishing recording two strings, I recorded the piano underneath. There were some struggles playing the rhythm hence we took several takes in bars then combined them into one.

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 12.13.23 pm.png

  • it was quite hard to line them up actually. I had to spend fair bit of time to line them up so that we were all playing at the same time.
  • My next goal is to mastering all the tracks and then I am DONE!

11th NOV – Fixing up the score before recording 

  • I’ve fixed up some parts from the feedback I had from last session Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 6.40.12 pm.png
  • I changed all the rhythms except some triplets – so that when pianist plays the piece, they know the exact rhythm.
  • I added ‘use pedal’ in this section so that it contrasts with previous ‘baroque’ theme where I wrote ‘no pedal’

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 6.49.25 pm.png

  • I also made some changes on this section where they told me it did not fit harmonically. And I also added slurs to create more legato sound
  • Hopefully by next session I will have all the dynamic markings done so that it is good to record!


6th NOV – Class Feedback Time on my composition 

So today, I had to present my whole 2 minute composition to my classmates.

Feedbacks I got were:

  • I need to change all the ties into SLUR! Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 6.08.37 pm.png
  • From bar 13 to bar 20, they said that they can not here a sense of harmonic structure – which is what I struggled with as well. I should go on to the piano and just play chords, so that I can hear how the music is moving harmonically.
  • Also the ‘Swing’ Part had a problemScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 3.53.43 pm.png
  • Rather than notating the rhythm, they told me that if I am writing a ‘swing’ I should write the music as a straight rhythm then put ‘swing’ on top of the music

29th OCTComposing the end section 

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 6.02.51 pm.png


  • Rather than going on with the middle section, I composed the end part so that I know where I am heading to
  • I wanted to finish the composition with the nice simple ending just like the beginning of the composition.
  • All the players are playing the rhythmic unison – which means they need to be really together when I am recording them. If will be quite obvious if someone is playing out of time.
  • Now all I need to consider is the expressive techniques and the middle section

28th OCT – Composing the next section and some ideas on the ‘Swing’ 

  • With the idea of moving the music in circle of the 5th, I’ve laid out the chord structure for myself
    • D –  A – E – B – F – C – G
    • This was quite hard to follow since I was keep getting clashes in the places I did not want the clash to happen…
    • Also I am very confused whether I am following the right structure or not?Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 5.44.12 pm.png
  • Here is the middle section between the end of the ‘Baroque’ theme and start of the ‘Jazz’ theme
    • I think there are a lot of clashes which I do not want but I am not sure what to do with it.
    • I am want to imply the ‘Question and Answer’ form here
    • Maybe there is too many jumps for the violin?


26th OCT – Composing the Theme

  • Restructuring my composition structure:
    • Now I have 4 sections;
      • 1. “Baroque Theme”
        • Violin + RH piano
      • 2. “Jazz theme”
        • RH + LH piano & Cello
      • 3. Little outro of’ ‘Jazz theme’
        • All Instruments
      • 4. Return of the “Baroque” theme
        • All instruments
  • Main Theme
    • So I composed the main theme for the violin Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 5.25.38 pm.pngScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 5.25.44 pm.png
    • From bar 9, it is the return of the main theme
    • I need to fix the ‘tie’ up and change them into ‘slurs’
    • I am not 100% sure whether that is the technique I will be using to create the sound I want. Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 5.25.30 pm.png
    • This is how it looks like with the piano part. I am just going to use the RH of the piano so that it creates nice simple structure/sound
    • I wanted to create more calm atmosphere for this theme so that when it gets to the ‘swing’ theme, there is a big contrast
  • I really need to think about how I want that theme to sound like – e.g. techniques, dynamics, etc
  • Now I need to see how I can move that theme into the Jazz section

24th OCT –Feedback on our composition draft 

If you’ve seen my previous blog post, we have a course called Composition in Music Education during this semester. In this course, we had an assignment where we had to create a baby step composition for students in high school.

Now, as a second step, we have to create a composition following the baby-steps we’ve created previously – which is a great thing to do to see how it actually works/ helps in composing the music.

So, following my step, firstly I layout the table of what Instrument I want to use, key signature and the map of the composition. I chose violin, piano and the bass to start with.

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 9.43.02 pm.png

Then, I composed the theme for the ‘baroque’ – which is my first theme, based on the canonic device. Then, I went to see my lecturer and had some chat about the composition.

Here, I faced with some problems and advises. Originally, my composition had 10 sections – moving around in 2 themes. But, I was targeting year 11-12 students who only need to composed for 2 minutes. This really gave me shock – why did I not think about this (I guess this is a key reason why we are working based on our own assignment). Hence,  I reduced the number of sections to 3 – Baroque theme, Jazz Theme, Combination (maybe I will end with short baroque theme).

Another concern was that I had no unifying theme in my composition. Originally I wanted to make two distinctive theme – different time signature, different chord progression. But I agreed that this is just making everything TOO DIFFICULT and TOO MUCH to think about. So we came up with an idea of composing Jazz in 3/4 time + harmonically move in 5th.

So this is where I’m up to at the moment. It was great to have a chance revising our own assignment and spot all the problems which I did not consider student’s point of view.


23rd OCTSome ideas on the Structure and Instrumentation 

  • I chose to follow the same structure as the original composition. 10 sections with mixture of baroque theme and jazz theme
  • Instead of using the ‘Blues’ theme, I chose to go with the ‘swing’. I feel like I am more comfortable with composing the swing than the blue. Just because I am quite unfamiliar with the musical ideas of Jazz.
  • Instruments:
    • First, I looked what what I am available with in my class.
    • We do not have a flautist, however we have quite a few good violinists – hence I might change my main instrument to Violin
    • I will keep the piano as the melody and the bass part
    • I will change the bass to cello – I can easily record it
  • Structure/ Instrumentation plan:
    • Section 1
      • Violin + Piano playing the canon in duet
    • Section 2
      • Violin + Piano playing the canon but little bit of chord difference (use of 7th maybe?)
    • Section 3
      • Piano solo
      • ‘Swing’ theme comes in
      • Cello enters as the walking bass line
    • Section 4
      • The ‘Baroque’ theme returns with cello continuing the canon
    • Section 5
      • Start to mix up the Jazz and Baroque – Imitations, Questioning and Answering form
    • Section 6
      • Key highlight of the composition
    • Section 7
      • Back to the Baroque theme
  • Section












     Violin +


    What is it playing?


  • Now I just have to start writing my theme and the ending and see what I can do with my composition


21st OCTStarting on my Composition 

Some thoughts/ideas:

  • I want to create something very different to other compositions based on minimalism
  • I came across with this composition by Claude Bolling called “Baroque and Blues” for flute, piano and the bass.
  • So going back to the baby step I’ve created, first, I analysed the song. So this song has 10 sections: combination of the ‘baroque’ theme and ‘blues’ theme. As the piece develops, the ‘baroque’ theme and the ‘blues’ theme mix and creates a whole new idea.
  • I was really impressed on how the two very different but also quite similar genre can be mixed into a one piece. And it was really interesting to see how the composer incorporated two genre and produced a new musical idea.
  • My next step will be to start resembling ideas on overall structure and instrumentation.

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