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To improve my skills, I decided to take private lessons in composition from a university professor. For my most recent assignment, he asked for something "far out," evidently wanting to push me out of my comfort zone of composing neo-Romantic music. I attempted to oblige. You can judge the result yourself, by checking out "Cor Agitur" (Agitated Heart), a short piece for string quintet. Your comments and feedback are welcome! By the standards of contemporary art music, my little composition exercise is admittedly not very "far out." However, it's further afield than anything I've written heretofore, and I learned some valuable lessons from it. Your comments and feedback are welcome! I hope you enjoy it!

 

http://composersforum.ning.com/video/cor-agitur

--August Champlin

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Thanks, Roo! I appreciate your comment, and I posted a bit about my favorite string libraries, replying to your post. Good luck with your search!

This shows some talent, especially for a first effort. It has drive, some intensity, and shows an interesting ability on your part to coax a wide variety of sounds out of strings. The melody is memorable, though I don't think the glissandos worked (too slide-whistle-y for me). Your professor did you a favor by asking you to compose outside of your comfort zone.

Yes, I would agree with you that my composition teacher did me a favor. It's quite freeing to work outside of one's own sacrosanct conventions and still create music that somehow speaks in my own voice.
 
Gav Brown said:

This shows some talent, especially for a first effort. It has drive, some intensity, and shows an interesting ability on your part to coax a wide variety of sounds out of strings. The melody is memorable, though I don't think the glissandos worked (too slide-whistle-y for me). Your professor did you a favor by asking you to compose outside of your comfort zone.

I thought the glissandi are exactly what did work, taking the piece into unique place.  The use of Bartok like percussion effects and glissandi together or what kept the piece from being ordinary, or unoriginal.

I would like to hear more in this vein.

(Perhaps the glissandi did not sound exactly as they would, if played on a genuine string instrument by a professional player.  The texture was a little bit thin, maybe.  But that did not detract from the experience, for me.)

If the harmonies were slightly more adventurous; or if one melodic line were tuned in equal temperament, and a second melodic line were tuned in fixed temperament, using an Arabic mode, or using Javanese intervals, it would be even better, I think.

Thanks for sharing this piece. Quite a good mix of styles, not going too far from your "zone". I would query some of the rest in places but that is just me. I feel that this is something tom be extended on in the future maybe?

This is really wonderful.   So many great ideas and rhythms in a short time frame.  Made me want to listen again right away.  I'm hearing the Bartok influence, but you've made it your own.  Kudos to your mentor for pushing you to this place.  

Just what is your "Comfort Zone" then?

Thanks for the comment, Bruch! Yeah, I was worried about one of the motives sounding too similar Bartok. I even asked my composition instructor if I was getting a little too close to Bartok, especially in the anguished descending motive; however, he generously framed it as an allusion. :)
 
Bruce Baldwin said:

This is really wonderful.   So many great ideas and rhythms in a short time frame.  Made me want to listen again right away.  I'm hearing the Bartok influence, but you've made it your own.  Kudos to your mentor for pushing you to this place.  

You asked a penetrating question, Kevin. What is my comfort zone? My comfort zone is based on what is, perhaps, an indefensible conviction: I suspect that underlying what quantum theorists call "chaos" is a finer order still, one that is elusive yet more beautiful than any we have yet glimpsed at the macro-scale. Therefore, I distrust the trends in the 20th and 21st Century that celebrate an aesthetic based on chaos as the fundamental underlying principle of nature and therefore art, which Aristotle says should imitate nature. It seems that chaos is a mask for a complex order beyond any we have yet fathomed. Moreover, the generating principle of this order beyond chaos seems to me to be quite clearly "mind," but a consciousness so far beyond our comprehension as to render us awed, even spooked, observers. Olivier Messiaen entitled one of his pieces "Glimpses of the Beyond," which is what the art that I admire most does; it offers us glimpses into the fundamental order beyond the apparent futility and disorder of our lives. Music that strives for originality merely for originality's sake, when such originality is not connected to a new revelation of the neumenal reality, music that ignores or mocks the transcendent, music that distracts people from seeing beyond--all such music is outside of my comfort zone. Having said that, I should probably add that I listen to music that is outside of my comfort zone. I even try to understand it and learn from it; however, I do not feel at peace with it. I am not comfortable with it.

 


Kevin Riley said:

Just what is your "Comfort Zone" then?

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