Assignment 1

This Assignments has been one of the most troublesome ones so far. I originally wanted to use a poem called Die Brücke am Tay (The Bridge over the Tay), which’s plot is about three storms who are planning to destroy a bridge as the same time as a train is on its way to a village on the other side of the river. The villagers are eagerly awaiting the train and, being proud of their self – built bridge and don’t fear the oncoming storms. Nonetheless, towards the end of the poem, the bridge is destroyed and the train falls into the river killing all its’ passengers.

A translation of the poem can be found here:

I already spend about 5 hours creating music for this poem, creating more chaotic parts for the conversing storms and contrasting them with a steadier rhythmic structure to symbolise the villagers as well as the forward moving train.

Apart from all this work and thought, I never felt really confident with the result and at the end decided to use a different poem. Nonetheless, I’m still planning to finish this started project and will upload it as an extra at the end of the first course unit.

The choice for my second poem fell onto my most favourite author Walter Moers. Similarly, to the first one, I thought about using the translated version of the poem, but felt that some of the meaning of the poem got lost during the translation. The official English version is the following:

Where shadows dim with shadows mate

In caverns deep and dark

Where old books dream of bygone days

When they were wood and bark

Where diamonds from coal are born

And no birds ever sing

That region is the dread domain

Ruled by the Shadow King

Knowing the original version, I would have found it difficult to set the translation to music, especially as some sentences are either switched in place, or translated completely differently. This also caused the rhythm of the spoken words to be completely different.

I found, that even though Die Brücke am Tay was much longer and had a much deeper meaning, I felt more confident writing music for the poem above. The workflow was also much faster and fluently, even though I still payed attention to the word settings and what accompaniment would be best. The second stanza is built similarly to the first one, but has some more ornaments added and is generally louder to create more tension which is never really released, as the last phrase Den man den Schattenkönig nennt (literally translated to: The one called the Shadow King) is in pp and therefore retreats from all the previously built up tension.

In order to have a more solid harmonic skeleton, I followed the advice in the study folder and allowed myself to reuse a different piece. Similar to Project 2 (, I went for one of Beethoven’s pieces again, using the second movement of his seventh symphony this time. During the process of writing, I nevertheless changed some chords, adapting them more to the words of the poem.

I also wanted to reuse an idea I originally had for Die Brücke am Tay which was a short spoken part for the end of the poem. In this case I wanted the last phrase to be repeated once again, which, in my opinion added to the slightly gruesome nature of the poem.

Overall it was a difficult approach and I had several hurdles during this Assignment. Nonetheless, I am now happy and confident about the result.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Technical presentation. Clarity of scores and orderly presentation; good command of appropriate software; accuracy of notation; understanding and application of graphic publishing conventions.

Comparing this score with one from where I started to study, I can see that I’ve made some vast improvements. The magnetic layout of Sibelius is sometimes difficult to handle and I had to shift words and notes around for a bit in order to have it look more structured. The only difficulty I had was to have two different dynamics for the piano accompaniment. I personally wasn’t quite sure how to and whether it is allowed to write different dynamics for both staves. Apart from that, I think the score of the Assignment as well as the course projects are easy to read.

  • Compositional skills. Evidence of craftsmanship in manipulating material; structural cohesion; exploration of ideas; appropriate and correct use of performance resources.

I personally think, that I developed some more compositional skills whilst I was working on the first piece. I used changes of rhythm, texture and melody to represent the poem. Nonetheless, the downside was that there was barely any consistency within the piece. I found that it was important to be able to keep parts of the melody in mind, after listening to the piece, this was only possible within the second piece. This was probably also encouraged by the fact, that I kept a similar accompaniment pattern throughout the whole piece. The ideas I wanted to present here, were easier to create as a based the piece on the harmonic skeleton of the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony. In terms of the melody I payed close attention to the word setting and tried to make the music suitable. E.G. within bar 5 I wanted a larger interval moving down to symbolise the word “tiefen” (=deep).

  • Creativity. Exploration and inventiveness toward developing an individual voice; original ideas and experimental adventurousness. r Stylistic awareness.

Over this part of the course I had several opportunities to explore new ways of writing music. I personally grew really fond of the idea of reusing harmonic skeletons. Nonetheless, I also found it great to create and develop my very own ideas. The first project where I had to create four contrasting pieces, based on chord progressions was slightly challenging at the beginning, as I tend to stay in similar writing styles, nonetheless, I personally think I managed this exercise quite well and was able to several different features to create music.

  • Evidence of listening and reading, research, critical thinking and reflection; development of responses to exploratory enquiry and analysis.

This was the first course where I tried to reflect every project immediately after I finished working on it. This approach towards reflecting my work turned out to be extremely useful. I reread all reflections before starting the Assignment to see which exercises I found more challenging. Even though the course unit didn’t have many research points, I tried to put much effort into the Listening Log and think that especially listening to the Folk – songs had a strong impact on the last project as well as the Assignment.