For this assignment, I was asked to compose a piece, which should last for about three minutes and include the “Cyclic chord progression” at least four times. I was encouraged to work with a keyboard and other instruments I’ve used before, woodwinds and untuned percussion.
I was looking forward to be working with a piano, given that it is my main instrument. Initially, I decided to go for just the piano and the saxophone, but after I was about halfway through the piece, I added a drum kit as well, which is mainly just working in the background.
With the previous two Assignments, I struggled a bit, trying to find a start. Nevertheless, I also realised, that especially the piano often helped me to get over difficult passages, where I didn’t know how to continue a piece, or connect two parts of one. In order to find a good start for this last Assignment of the course, I therefore decided to improvise a short theme on the piano, which I then wrote down and continued to write electronically with Sibelius.
This first theme was only the first four bars of the piano-part, the following eight bars (bars 5-12) I continued with Sibelius, creating a small “B-theme” within the first part of the piece. Those 12 bars I repeated in a varied way, using a seventh chord on the dominant E at the end, to fill my first cyclic chord progression.
As already mentioned, I was asked to make the piece last for around three minutes. Having set the pace in with I wanted the piece to be in, I tried to find out how much time, or how many bars I would need to fill this length. I did this by checking the duration of the first part I already had, which was around 50 seconds. My initial plan was,to write the piece in an A-B-A’ – form, having short passages between the parts, which would help to change the key signature. Having put the first part A at the end again (with a few extra seconds in case I would include a ritardando or a few extra bars), I had roughly 70 seconds for the centered “B” – part. Within the process of writing the piece though, I decided to make the passages between the parts a bit longer (about 20 seconds on each side of the middle part), which turned the form to “A-B-C-B’-A'” instead, and left me with 30 seconds to fill on the middle section.
I usually tend to go for key signatures, which have at least 1 flat or sharp, in this case though, given that I started on the piano, looking for the most uncomplicated way, I decided to stick with a-minor. In terms of the instruments, I only added the saxophone after having finished part A. I wasn’t quite sure initially, whether I would have liked something on top of the voice of the piano, but I was able to alternate those two voices most of the time. The drum-kit I only added really late, and only to be played in the background. The title of the piece “Classical Jazz”, came to my mind due to the middle-section being in a bit of a “Mozart-Stlye”, for this part I also paused the drum- kid, so that only the piano and the saxophone could be heard.
I also mentioned earlier, that the piece is supposed to have at least four rounds of a cyclic chord progression. I often interrupted cadences with the 6th chord, and also tried to find other ways to keep one section as long as possible in varied ways. Over the whole piece, I included the Cyclic chord progression of I-IV-V-I (the perfect cadence) five times. The bars including them are the following :
- Bars 22-25 (One chord per bar ) ,in a-minor
2. Bars 30 – 32 (Chords IV and V in one bar) ,in C-major
3. Bars 44-45 (chords I-IV and V in one bar), in C-major
4. Bars 51-54 (one chord) per bar, in a-minor
5. Bars 83-87 (Chord V goes over two bars), in a-minor
Overall I really enjoyed writing this piece. I would generally say, that this was the assignment I had most fun writing so far. I will try to keep the idea of starting compositions on the piano for the future, I thought that was incredibly helpful. There wasn’t a single bar where I had the feeling, that I didn’t know how to continue it. I also found it useful, to have time-wise quite a clearly structured base to start with.