The Big Question- Am I a composer now?


So I did it, I wrote and recorded a composition. This is my first composition since my NCEA level 2 (the equivalent to year 11 in NSW) as composition is not compulsory for the final year music course.

Recording – The Rose – SSA Choral

Download Score 

I will admit I struggled. I cried a little bit (though that is fairly normal for me at this point in semester) and got angry at the fact that I was being marked (50% of the paper!!!) on something I didn’t believe I had any chance of completing. But I suppose I shall admit defeat. Maybe I am a little bit a composer. Deep deep down inside.

I finally felt like I could do this task when I realised it was just an extension of my already very specializsed and honed skill, choral singing. Through actively listening to lots of choral (see earlier post for spotify playlist) music that I love, not just a original model I analysed, I was able to find small ideas to play with. The idea of the major to minor switch and the overlapping parts stretching out to the end definitely came from the liturgical music I sing every Sunday. The added harmony is instantly recognisable in Whitacre’s pieces.


In terms of the actual process of composing all I can explain is once I had my harmonic structure (see in earlier drafts) I played around, moving notes, changing values and voice leadings. I have definitely been told before not to rely on the notation software, but I did. I and I think many students will. I think the difference is that I was not blindly clicking, rather I had ideas, annotations on the score suggesting more space, more movement or less chromaticism. In my sketch I had stars drawn around the climax point of the piece, meaning I wanted the most shimmery beautiful chord I could find for that word. Through the use of the notation software I was able to realise the ideas and concepts I had in my head without needing to hear the fully finished piece in my mind.

In a way I guess my main composition technique was improvising, using the instruments given to me my MuseScore and guided by my years of choral experience.

So would I do it again? I think so. I might stick to arranging for a little while longer, but since I didn’t actually get to write a SATB piece I might try to complete that little goal, if I have anytime left in between all the other learning and playing I want to do in the summer holidays.



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