Comp Project: Week 4

This week, I decided to go for a more melodically driven piece. It kind of worked…sorta. I fell back into my tendency to let the harmonies drive the piece. I guess I’m a directional person, and don’t trust a melody to do the work. It was a good challenge though, and I’ll definitely push myself to do more in the realm of melody as I move forward in this project. For now though, this is all I got.

Also, as a side note, I did not misspell the title of the piece. I thought it was a funny play on words that the piece moves forward, and I also feel that it serves as a foreword for what is to come. Please excuse my playfulness.

– Ben

Comp Project: Week 3

Two blog entries in one day…well I’m back on schedule now so that’s a good thing. Basically all I said in the post for Week 2 still rings true. In addition, for Week three, I just want to add that I’m getting good at internalizing form and being extremely particular in my selection of notes and chords. In my head, I’m able to understand that I only have about a minute to get across what I’m going to say. I need to get a full journey across to the listener in such a small amount of time. It’s a fun challenge to make sure every note counts.

– Ben

Comp Project: Week 2

I’m already so behind. Week two has been online for several days now, and I’m uploading week three today, so there are two posts today. The front side of this independent study will focus more on my own challenge to make myself compose, so this and the next couple posts will be more of my observations on that side of things.

I’ve been able to write quickly once I sit down mainly because I have been giving myself a weekly deadline. There’s no room for me to criticize or doubt myself because it simply needs to get written. I love this approach because the music that comes out is incredibly authentic. I don’t have time to edit and let my inner-critic take over. The authenticity, I think, is a good thing to embrace. I’d like to eventually be able to develop into writing longer pieces, which require editing and more planning. With editing and planning comes thoughts of “what will other people think” and “wow I can’t write at all”. We’ve all had this experience in some way shape or form, most commonly while writing an essay, speech, or presentation.

I’ve applied the same idea to the filming of the pieces for YouTube. Inspiration has to be immediate, and I’m treating my first thoughts as the best idea possible. This is forcing me to really think hard so that I’m going with the first thing that comes to my head, and that the first thing that comes to my head is a good idea. This is a skill I can see improving over time for more than just this project.

– Ben

Comp Project: Introduction and Week 1

This semester, I’m conducting an independent study called “An Ethnography of the Creative Habits of Music Majors”. In non-academic talk, I’m looking into why “classical” musicians don’t write and record their own material. There are some awesome exceptions to this rule for sure (Time for Three, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, etc.), but, for the most part, none of my friends in music school write music unless they are composition majors, or they’re being forced to for theory or aural skills. I’m off on an adventure to find out why this might be.

The most successful musicians today write their own material. Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and Adele all do. If you take a look back at history, the Springsteens and Sheerans of the day were called Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Paganini. These guys all were masters at their instruments. All of their music that they wrote for their instruments were for them to play. We remember them now as great composers, but we sometimes forget that they were performers first.

So while I do this study, I’m going to not be a hypocrite and challenge myself to write a short piece every week. Here’s the first one!

– Ben