Saturday, January 06, 2007

Well, we did it.


HALF did it anyway.

Today at the music session (about 1.5 hours ago now) we read the first two movements of my composition for band. I'll shorthand it for you--- it went pretty well.

The good things: Everyone was able to play the first movement and some of the build sections went SO much better than I had anticipated. It came off just like I heard in my head!!! The percussion parts fit well and there weren't any noticable note errors or problems with the piece. It generally sounded just how I wanted and the big, half-time restatement of the theme went Very well-- the percussion cymbals and gong really added color that I just can't hear on my computer program.

The bad things: the second movement realized my greatest fear. I fucked up the transposition instruments and it sounded a bit how I would imagine the titanic/iceberg collision sounded. It was a stupid error on my part. I caught a note error in the second movement on thursday or so-- so i corrected it and reprinted out all the parts. When I reprinted the parts, I neglected to click on a dialog box that auto-transposes the instruments that need it. Had I but examined the parts, i would have caught this prior to rehearsal and spared myself the agony. The oboe solo sounded good though.

Now to the meat of the day. I showed up at rehearsal at about 9:45 and spoke with the director. I told him I have all the parts printed out and ready to go. He told me that we would read the piece after the break. Great. That meant I had to wait and play other people's music for 1.5 hours.

Which I did- although my guts were in turmoil the entire time.

Then break happened and I spoke to the director during it. I asked if we were going to read my piece directly after the intermission. Nope. We would do it 'at some point' in the second half. Torture! Agony! Quelle Sadisme!!! I could barely play anything.

Then after two pieces into the second half, he calls my name. He starts explaining to the band that they would be premiering a new, unpublished composition by me. And he explained it was the first thing I had ever written etc. I was about to fall through the floor I was so nervous. I pass out the music to all the sections and explain a few things to the percussion section.

And then I make my way to the front to listen.

The director picks up his baton and explains that the first movement is written at 180 bpm, but we would take it slower. He raises the baton... and it begins.

It starts with a cymbal roll-- but the cymbal player wasn't very loud with it. Then the clashy chords come (F major vs. B major tritony chord combo). It was aurally challenging to say the least and at this point I am still unsure if things are going well or not.

My legs are nearly jelly as I have been clenching the muscles in them for 2 hours now.

Then the piece resolves into F minor. And away we go. The pointillistic woodwind bits sound good but there is no flute 1 sound for some reason. Then the war theme starts in the trombone and euphonium. It sounds correct but could be sharper. then the Low brass and horns come in.

This is FINALLY when my heart starts beating again.

The french horn part sounds perfect and adds just the color and counter point that I wanted. Then the brass part dies down and the woodwinds prepare for their counter theme. The woodblock in the percussion finally catches up and gets on beat. The clarinet bit of the counter theme goes well.

Then the full band for both themes together and it is loud and full and exactly what I wanted with trills and percussion and bigness. Then the winding down part comes in-- the slow tapering off and elimination of instruments until its just the low brass. It works-- better than I thought.

Then the build section. This ALSO works mmuch better than I ever thought or heard in my electronic version. The swells and decrescendos worked so well that this is where I started to breathe again and probably started to smile. Although nobody could see my smile as I had my hand over my mouth the entire time.

The piece culminates in a huge driving section that brings the theme back but spaced out at half tempo- although the underthemes and percussion are still driving along at full bore. It was so gratifying to hear--and then my favorite part. Near the very end, I drop the entire bottom out of the piece and then slowly bring in each section back in to develop the big clashy chord from the beginning. I don't want to appear egotistical at all-- but it almost made me cry to finally hear it develop the way I knew it was supposed to. The way the chord develops and slowly you start to hear more and more clash... its just....

Well, it nearly made my heart burst with pride.

The piece ends shortly thereafter. There was a large round of applause and some "woo woo"s. Much congratulations. A cute french horn player looked at me and said, "now don't go getting all red and embarassed on us!"

But then the second movement started. From the opening chords I knew something was wrong. The bari sax part was hitting some funky note and fucking it up. But then I noticed that there were some other issues. We tried it without the sax and it was okay... and we made it through the oboe solo statement. But the we eventually had to stop after about 12 measures. The other saxes came in and it was terrible.

It was the transposing instruments! DAMMIT. Something had gone wrong in the music extraction. Fuck.

Out of the jaws of victory... defeat.

It was so frustrating! What had I done wrong? Something stupid as it turns out. One bit of proofing and I could have caught the error. I spent the first 30 minutes after rehearsal at my favorite coffee shop deconstructing the second movement and fixing the error. It was a simple fix too.

I hope that we will be able to play the second movement on thursday. I already have plans to print the second movement and to beg our director for about 4 minutes of rehearsal time.

5 Comments:

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Sounds like it was a very good reading overall. Congrats!

 
At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Ray said...

How very cool for you Chris! I'm very excited and proud for you. The moment when work comes to fruition is such a unique experience for all professions and interests.

I see this as a milestone for you, and despite imperfections, a path well on the way to satisfaction.

Congrats!

Ray

 
At 11:40 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Hey sexy,
Thanks for your message. Milford Sound was indeed sunny and clear. You are also very correct about it getting 6 metres of rain a year!
They have had no rain there for six days and after 9 days it will be considered a drought!

When are you next coming to visit New Zealand?

Kev in NZ

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Lewis said...

Wow! What a brilliant expose on your piece. Being somewhat of a musician and having a hubby who is totally an excellent pianist, I know exactly where you were going as you led us through the piece. Amazing and very very cool. Good for you!

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Congrats! At least you know that the problems with the second movement were technical. I'm sure once it's all transposed it'll be great.

I'm so excited for you!

 

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