Posts Tagged ‘compositional technique’

Machaut at a banquet (Bibliothèque National, Paris, public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

In the second of my SoundMakers Composer-in-Residence posts, I want to describe the piece I wrote (to be premiered spring 2015) and why I wrote what I did. Titled Longuement me sui tenus and scored for four vocal soloists (SATB) + electronics, the piece is based on a text by 14th-century French composer and poet Guillaume de Machaut. I didn’t set out to write a piece on a Machaut text, but as I did more research on themes connected to SoundMakers, Machaut kept coming up.

Longuement me sui tenus is the first line of Machaut’s Lay de Bonne Esperance, an epic 20-minute love song, to be performed a capella by a single singer. Musically, it doesn’t fit modern ideas of what a love song is, especially considering that it addresses unrequited love: it’s monotonous, strangely chipper, ramblingly bouncy, goes on forever, and doesn’t have much variety in terms of phrasing. Frankly, it’s kind of boring and I’ve never listened through an entire recording of the piece in one sitting. Yet still, something about the poetry stuck in my head. Somehow it felt like it was the right fit for my piece, even though I didn’t like the original very much. (more…)

Daft Punk press photo

I’m going to write a few posts that are mini-composition lessons based on non-classical music. Composers study 18th-century counterpoint, serialism, and lots of other classical forms—but what can we learn from the music that the vast majority of people living today actually listen to?

So to start things off, Daft Punk’s “Technologic,” which is very tightly composed and epitomizes a few key principles. (more…)

Mickey Mouse

Like virtually all San Francisco Symphony concerts, I attended because there was a new work being played, in this case Israeli-American composer Avner Dorman‘s Uriah: The Man The King Wanted Dead. A programmatic work based on a gruesome Old Testament story, Uriah complemented the other programmatic work of the evening, Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made famous by the Disney animation—but which I had never heard performed live, maybe also because of Disney.

Despite my inherent dislike of late Romantic music, hands down the Dukas was a better piece than the Dorman. (more…)