Reflection on composing Piece for Clarinet in B-flat

By looking at the task for this assignment, before starting the second part of this course, I would have not thought, that it was possible to create an interesting piece with a memorial theme for just one single instrument. One thing that really proofed me wrong , and therefore also the thing I found most useful in this part of the course, was Project 6, the analysis of solo woodwind-instrument pieces. To practice writing some short pieces myself for project 7, whereas some of them actually ended up being quite long was a great help as well. I found it furthermore quite interesting to make listening log entries on pieces, which only have one instrument playing. Another thing I have to mention at this point is that, even though I had the opportunity to explore other techniques on how to use a woodwind instrument, I wanted to keep the piece simple, due to personal preferences.

By writing the structural plan for the assignment, I tried to use an idea from Malcolm Arnolds “Fantasy for clarinet op.87”, which I wrote about in project 6. This “idea” mainly involves the use of a strong main theme, which is being repeated in varied ways, and accompanied by a contrasting motive.

The piece itself can be divided in 3 main parts, labeled from A to C, which can be separated in even smaller parts :

Part A

Part A starts with presenting the main theme in a 3/4 – time signature , followed by a short side-part in a different time signature (4/4) until a variation of the main theme is being played again. I used the east-european minor scale, as it was my personal favourite when I had to work with it for project 7.

Part B

In this part I tried to make a contrast, by using a different scale (east-european-major), time signature (4/4) and tempo. Nevertheless, I tried to stick to the main theme by setting “reminders” in the middle and the end of the section.

Part C

Having come back to a 3/4- time signature, I started with a variation of the main theme, again with the side part from Part A, maintaining the same time signature (3/4) this time.  I still changed it once to 2/4, to help increasing the speed to come to a climax, which is fast played with an increased volume. The composition ends, as it started, really quietly.

The composition itself takes around 1 minute and 50 seconds.

As already mentioned, I found it quite helpful to have a structural plan. What I didn’t have from the very beginning though was a good motive. I tried two other ideas before I came to the end result, which I found, after having listened to them several times, rather boring. One thing that really helped me being objective with those themes, was taking a short break to let my mind wander off a bit and then listening to it with a clear head again. This doesn’t only apply to the main theme of the piece, but also helped me throughout the whole composition. Especially at the end when I had listened to it several times, I still made some big changes and adjustments, to keep the piece interesting. I will try to use that “mind-break” to listen to it for future compositions as well.

All in all, I really enjoyed working on this part of the course, especially because I already knew from my former musical-education some things that where included and found it therefore easier to understand, follow and work on different tasks (The analysis for Project 6, for example). But I also learned and practiced some new things, from which I wouldn’t have thought I would be able to do them. An example for that would be the task for project 7; to write 9 different pieces, all of them differently for nine different scales. When I started this project I had a fear of running out of ideas, but finished the task much quicker than I would have thought, with having written some of the pieces quite long, a thing I was amazed about.