Polishing and Nitpicking – the final touches on my composition.

I finally got to the stage where I feel happy with my composition structure, so now all that was left was to add the lyrics in properly and the dynamics/articulation all that shiny stuff.

So why did I leave my lyrics as the last task? I wrote this piece thinking of the sounds of the chords and how they communicated the words of the poem. Also I feel my piece is less about a strong melody line and more about the atmospheric effect of the chords. As I was composing I was referring to this sketch (see picture below) that I did earlier on in the process to help me track the important words, if I was going to repeat any phrases and any words I was going to leave out of the poem. I did feel the poem was a little too conversational so for the flow of the song I didn’t use the poem word for word in order the whole way through.


The biggest challenge I had with lyrics was reconciling the canonic, suspension filled harmonic rhythms with lyrics that would be audible and understandable, but not totally “monophonic” (if you can apply that word to lyric writing) the whole way through. I tried to think about when I wanted words to line up, and when I wanted the melody and the narrative to weave through the parts. I really feel like I can hear the words in my head as I was setting them, which I suppose is a side effect of the hundreds of hours I spend singing in choirs every week.

final-draft-1-11-4I’m really excited to record this now, and see if it sounds like it does in my head!





Final final draft!!! – finding the flow

There is a positive psychology concept called flow, named by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. It is the mental state of being fully emerged in an activity or being “in the zone.”

I finally got into the flow and finished my composition today – I don’t cut things fine at all! I’m not sure what changed so drastically but it did all of a sudden start making a little more sense. I did change environments, which I think might be the key to getting big assignments done in the future, so I shall try this strategy out in the following week whilst finished my first three chapters of my thesis.

Here is what the score is looking like right now…


Coding – Progress!

A few days ago I was having a lot of problem figuring out the process of ‘envelope-ing’, that is programming specifically where in the track I want an effect to apply, and having control over it’s gradual entrance or exit.

Today finally managed to get a fade in and a fade out on my little mini practice track.


The coding is as follows…

setEffect(1, VOLUME, GAIN, -60, 1, 0, 3)  #fadein
FADE OUT setEffect(4, VOLUME, GAIN, 0, 7, -60, 9) #fadeout

(Track number, Effect, Parameter , Effect start value, Effect start location, Effect end value, Effect start location)

And it turns out looking like this… Earsketch - envelope success.JPG


The Wrap Up – Did I learn anything?

So this week lectures finished, and James imparted his last words of wisdom (for this class at least) and now I am left with a terrifying long list of assignments, a count down to going on holiday and a chance to reflect on what I learnt.

So what did I learn? Well I learnt that technology can be amazing, distracting, fun, exciting, addictive, interactive and has forever changed the education game. When technology is used right it has immense power to be incredibly engaging, and I think that is the best thing about it. I realised this week that as long as I am the youngest teacher in my professional environment, I am the designated tech guru. I may not always advocate for technology in every area of my teaching, but my opinions and stance on technology will be influential on the educators around me, and therefore on the students. Having realised this changes my view on technology somewhat. I think a healthy dose of the enthusiastic cynic approach is important when it comes to my own practice, but in the larger environment of a school I want to embrace my title (be that official or unofficial) of tech guru. Through that “title” I may change another educators approach for the better.

I know when I come out of my degree I will continue to learn so much, and that a lot of my degree may not be put into practice straight away, if at all -who knows if I’ll ever teach year 7s to code? But I do know that doing this paper has given me something very valuable to share with my students and colleagues, and I look forward to sharing these skills in the future.

Facing the Class – Peer feedback

Today I had to present my draft to the class. I played them the following version from my MuseScore file and got some encouraging feedback and had a lot of people reiterate ideas I had already thought about but wasn’t sure. Slowing it down, and creating more movement in the parts were some of the ideas that were suggested.

James also asked me how I plan on recording it, and I said I would multitrack it. He suggested that I make a cheat score version with the click track (claves or another similar instrument) in it so that I can sing along to that in Ableton or Garage Band when I record it. I will definitely look into this. For now, please enjoy a very drafty draft….

(P.S this video was made on Stupeflix Video which is a free browser based video editor. I’m not sure if it is overly complex but it definitely quickly and easily served my purpose today)

Coding Fun – mastering the little skills one by one


Variables represent a number in mathematics. In a programming language, variables can represent almost anything, including numbers and clip names.

track = 1 creates a variable named “track,” using the assignment operator: =, to assign the number 1 to the variable name. If we wrote fitMedia(Y_11_BASS_1, track, 1, 5) in the same program, it would be interpreted as fitMedia(Y_11_BASS_1, 1, 1, 5). If we wanted our clip to be added to track 2 instead, we could simply type track = 2 above our fitMedia()call. Note that the assignment operator does NOT have the same meaning as “equals” in math; think of = as meaning “holds.” The variable name goes on the left of the assignment operator, and the value it holds goes on the right.


As you go through the curriculum each topic or skill is taught with an ‘assignment’. You can do these by downloading the provided example scripts to play around with the assignments.

As I am trying to fast track my learning a little I am working on my own script to use the techniques on my script. Today I mastered variables. I had actually overlooked this part of the curriculum last week, but I went back to have another explore of this technique.

It basically means you can set up the tracks you want with nicknames, making it easier and quicker to code in and move around.

For example where previously you would have to enter fitMedia(HIPHOP_BASSSUB_002, 1, 1, 3) every time you wanted to re add that bass line you can instead store that track name as bass1 and just run fitMedia(bass1, 1, 1, 3) instead.

This will definitely help me formulate and perform my live set/demonstration without getting too flustered.


Ear Sketch – Friendly to tech beginners AND non-musicians?

The main website of Ear Sketch claims that you need no prior musical experience to work this programme. While this seems to be true I have noticed an increasing trend throughout the units of the curriculum to include potentially irrelevant musical terminology. I’m not sure if I like this. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter, any for people to pick up musical terminology is good right?


Writers Block – tackling the end of my composition

I’ve found that I’ve really hit a wall in terms of not knowing where my composition is going. I’m fairly sure I want to have a minor section at the end but I’m finding it hard to transition/modulate into that. I’mm finding that I kind of know what I want, but I can’t really hear it in my head yet. I’m trying to sing out ideas, or play around on the piano but I am finding just playing around on the notation software is helping me stumble on ideas a little more. Also just adding the annotations in as I go and have the ideas, even if I can’t come up with something that realizes those ideas right at that point.

the rose ssa 27-10-2.png

SATB vs SSA – from four to three

Just a quick note to say I have decided to depart from my baby steps model of A Boy and A Girl and change my composition from a SATB to a SSA format. This is purely due to the fact that I have realised that I have very little time to record this and will be able to ensure a better product if it is multitracked, which I can do myself without annoying an ensemble with my perfectionist needs.

I do hope that if I end up writing something nice that I like I will be able to perform it with an ensemble at some point.