412 – Fall 2015 Seminar Assignments

Assignment 1:  Instrumentation Scavenger Hunt

Due – in class 9/24

Find a piece of music that illustrates a creative or otherwise unconventional approach to instrumentation.  How does the choice of instruments play into the compositional design?  Can the piece be orchestrated with other instruments?  How would this change the nature of the piece?

Prepare a short (5-8 minutes) presentation on the piece that addresses the above questions.  Bring a recording of the piece, copies of the score if applicable (pdfs are fine) as well as any supplemental analysis/historical information/etc.

Assignment 2: Writing for Pierro Ensemble

Select an ensemble of 5 to 7 instruments roughly based on the Pierro Ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano).  Write six short excerpts exploring the following roles, rules, or prompts:

Ensemble of soloists
Ensemble as single instrument
Antiphony or sub-grouping

Single phrase passed around ensemble.
Single phrase realized collectively by ensemble
Establishing foreground and background.

Each response should be ≈10 to 20 seconds for a total of one to two minutes of music.   Looking ahead: In Assignment 3, you will take these excerpts and realize them using Logic and the East/West sample library.

MUSI412 Assignment 3:  East/West Midi Mockup

Due: 10/29, 5pm.

Part I:

Import the MIDI files from Assignment 2 into Logic, and assign separate East/West ‘Play’ instruments for each track.  Load the appropriate preset settings (generally this will be the instrument type -> keyswitch -> master patch), and generate a realistic MIDI mockup incorporating the following components:

• Keyswitch data to change the instrument articulations according to the natural shape/expression of the line.
• Volume and Velocity automation data for dynamics.
• Manipulation of the tempo track.

When you are done, save the logic project file AND create separate audio mix-downs for each of the six excerpts (File->Bounce->Project or Selection).  Put the project file and the .aiff mixes into a folder labeled ‘Part_1’, compress the file (option-click in finder and choose “compress…”) and upload the .zip file to the ‘Seminar Submissions’ folder in your ClassesV2 Composition Seminar drop box.

Part II:

Having completed the first part of this assignment, you will undoubtedly have found that some East/West instruments, articulations, or general playing techniques sound more convincing than others.  With this in mind, create a new 20- to 30-second passage based on one of the six prompts from assignment 2.   Your excerpt should be for 5 to 7 instruments, but does not necessarily have to the same instruments that you choose in Assignment 2.  Most importantly, you should enter the note data directly into your logic file either by performing it one part at a time using a MIDI keyboard, or directly into the sequencer by using the pencil and velocity tools in piano roll mode.  Try to think of the sample library as an instrument in its own right – not a simulation of an acoustic instrument – and compose accordingly.

When you are done, save the logic project file AND create a final audio mix down (file->Bounce->Project or Selection).  Put the project file and the .aiff file into a folder labeled ‘Part_2’, compress the file (option-click in finder and choose “compress…”), and upload the .zip file to the ‘Seminar Submissions’ folder in your ClassesV2 Composition Seminar drop box.

Music 412:  Improvisation | Composition Project (Assignments 4 & 5)

• Recording

In class on Thursday 10/15 we collectively perform various improvisation exercises.  The session will be recorded to generate the source material for the rest of this assignment.

• Listening

The recoding (a multi-track Logic project) will be uploaded to the classesV2 resources folder.  Listen to the entire recording, focusing on the overall sound of the ensemble, the resulting textures and timbres, any interesting rhythms, harmonies, counterpoint, modes of interactions, etc, and where they occur in the timeline.  You can write this information down in a separate document, or enter it directly into the logic project as markers.

Assignment 4: Editing in Logic

DUE: 11/12

Isolate, extract, and arrange the source material using the various editing tools in Logic to create a 4- to 5-minute composition.  At this stage there will be no formal score, but you should have an idea of the overall form, which can be a written description or graphic representation.  When editing your composition, treat the source material on the macro-timescale – ie, extracted sections should be on the order of seconds, not minutes and not milliseconds.  You can layer the edited excerpts to create new textures, using volume and panning automation to blend the sounds.  You may also process the original recordings (ie time/pitch alterations, filtering, spectral modifications, etc), although aim for an overall ‘acoustic’ sound.

When you are done, Export/Bounce and audio mix of your logic project and upload the file to the classesV2 dropbox.  Make sure you save your Logic file, and be prepared to demonstrate it in lecture.

Assignment 5: Improvised Performance Piece

DUE: 12/3

In Assignment 5, you will create a structured improvisation for live performance based on the improv exercises from the recording session AND your edited project in Assignment 4.  Your structured improvisation can take the form of a graphic score (fixed or animated), indeterminate-style traditional notation, text-based instructions/game, conductor + system of visual cues, or any combination thereof.

As you plan your piece, think about the best way to communicate the necessary information to the group of performers to achieve the improvised sounds, textures, and rhythms.  While your piece may incorporate traditionally notated elements, for example in the form of transcriptions of melodies or harmonies from the recording or a predetermined harmonic progression, the piece should be open ended and fundamentally based on improvisation.

Your piece must have the following properties:

• Clearly defined temporal structure that governs the overall shape and duration of the piece.
• Clearly defined fixed elements (rhythms, pitches, harmonies, note durations, etc).
• Clearly defined improvised elements (rhythms, pitches, harmonies, note durations, etc).
• Instrumentation based on our Composers Ensemble, although you do not have to use ALL of the following instruments:

Piano (toy and regular)

Make copies of your piece (score, text, instructions, etc) for each performer

and bring them to lecture on 12/3.

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