Music Composers Unite!
This is fun, Gav, especially the ending which had me laughing out loud!
But oh what havoc you are wreaking. If my 6 and 8 year old composers ever see your 1/4 + 9/8 measure, it will all be over. They already use compound time signatures and changing time signatures constantly, but none of them have thought of combining a quarter pulse with an eighth pulse. Yikes! I sure am glad this is for piano and not chamber group. I usually conduct the chamber groups, so I'm very aware of the conducting challenges sometimes presented by exciting time signatures!
A fun piece, like I said, with a title that invites us to be kids again!!
What's the point of writing 3/8+5/8 if you can just write C (or 8/8, heh) and mark phrasing with slurs or an accent? Especially if it's just a single bar. The same can be said for the 1/4+9/8 one - move the quarter to previous bar, turning it into 4/4, and leave 9/8 intact. Add markings if you want to have fine control over phrasing, as usual. This score tries to look more complicated than it actually sounds.
A fun little piece though. :)
As a conductor, I don't really agree with Greg. Bar lines have traditionally meant down beat, ie strong beat. If Gav were to turn the 3/4 measure preceding the 1/4 into 4/4, the performer (or reader of the score) would lose a sense of the down beat. I'd probably have the 1/4 measure all by itself though, not combined with 9/8. In fact I would have the first entire section with an 8th note pulse, not switching from x/4 to x/8. As usual, I'm thinking like a conductor. So the 1/4 would become 2/8. And please, no Common time in this piece!!
I do think that the 3/8+5/8 could just be 8/8, with appropriate barring, since it's one measure and the two choices don't affect strong beats. But other places I agree with Gav, in changing the time signature.
One of my students wrote an incredible piece for chamber orchestra about 7 - 8 years ago and we got some of the best performers in North Carolina to play it. Most of them played with the North Carolina symphony or toured in Europe half the year. Noah wrote his piece much like Greg suggested, with accents instead of downbeats and a pretty straight forward time signature like 4/4 everywhere. These superb performers simply couldn't play it. They were expecting a down beat on strong notes, so what they saw and what they heard never matched up. That's when I learned not to rely on accents or barring, but to actually change the time signature to match what is happening. Noah rewrote his score - not changing a single note, but changing the time signatures and bars, and voila! Suddenly everyone could play it perfectly.
My own music always had constantly changing time signatures, especially my art songs, since I was a great fan of Modest Moussorgsky's Nursery Songs! But for some reason I didn't think my students were ready for that. Ha! I was wrong. Now even the youngest ones change time signatures when it makes sense to do so. And they all have to conduct their pieces (in lessons only) to see if they've put the down beats in the right places.
When we study Messiaen, with no time signatures, we still notice how he's placed bar lines to match down beats. His Poemes pour Mi feel so natural, almost like speaking, that it becomes immaterial that he has 23 beats in the measure or something like that. We don't speak in 4/4, that's for sure.
As a sometime-conductor, I disagree with the other conductor :) actually, no, this is all true, but one thing comes to mind.
We are looking at a solo piano score. For any bigger ensemble, the ease of achieving consistency between players has to take priority over simplifying any particular part. I actually had a similar experience to Noah with an old string quartet of mine, which was lined up so that phrases added up to a straight time, so I kept it in a straight time signature to significantly reduce the clutter... well, no. Once the music they hear starts tripping them up, musicians go out of sync very badly.
However. For solo work, you can juggle things around without much consequence, really. The performer will find his way the moment he deciphers the hieroglyphs - no need to make sight reading easily relatable to what the ensemble plays. Might as well make the process faster, then, right? :)
Just now I came up with another way for the 1/4+9/8 measure: make it 4/4 with an accent on that odd out-of-beat 8th note; next measure 9/8, next one 12/8. Works. Best version ever? No idea. But it certainly gets the message across well enough, and doesn't look nearly as scary for no particular reason.
In the end it all doesn't matter. Piano is easy to read until your score gets on the crazy level plateau (think Crumb or some such).
Thanks for the comments Julie and Greg, glad you both got some enjoyment out of it. I write the time signatures the way I do for two basic reasons: 1) to emphasize phrasing (thus the 1/4 in 1/4+9/8 bar, because I wanted to emphasize that the quarter note falls on the first note of the following bar and is thus clearly the end of a phrase); 2) for readability. While slurs and bar-crossing notation beams also do the trick, and I use them sometimes, they essentially are saying to the performer "here's a phrase that doesn't fit the time signature as written." Well, why not just write the time sig as played is my thinking. I don't think there's a hard and fast rule as to which approach should be taken, which leaves it in the realm of personal style.
Again, thanks for listening and for sharing your thoughts,
Well, that's fun. Love the playfulness of both the piece, and the score. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how a professional musician wants to see work notated, not that I get the opportunity, but my composition teacher will tell me I have done something wrong, even though it plays correctly, but that a professional musician would not be able to read what I have done properly.
Simply fun and playful.
Thanks so much Rick and Michael! Rick, I can tell you what I look for in a score: readability
Fun piece with a jazzy feel.
A head of a Con only said one sensible thing to me once and that is 'it is not what the score looks like on paper, but what the music sounds like when performed.' Your piece was enjoyable, and that is the main thing.
Best wishes and keep up the great work.
Thanks Paul, and I certainly agree with the Con guy! It is similar to what Duke Ellington said about music: "there's only two kinds, good and bad"