Music Composition Brief 2

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Ivan L        Composition 2


I will compose a minimalist piece (Area of Study 2) for two violins which will be performed at a school concert. This will be played during the interval and should demonstrate the abilities of the violin in a short amount of time through minimalist music.

Compositional Process

To start off with, I decided on the tempo of the piece. I chose to use Allegro at crotchet = 120bpm as the piece would feature short and simple loops and I felt that a reasonably fast tempo would be suitable, as the rhythm and the notes played were not too complicated.

For the first section, only three notes are used in both violin parts for the first 8 bars: G and F in the first violin; and D in the second violin. The first violin played crotchets and the second violin played a semibreve tied over four bars. I decided to use a minimal range of notes for this section to keep everything simple to start of with. I decided to make the first violin play pizzicato as this thin texture contrasts with some of the later sections which are played arco. The next 4 bars consist of the first violin playing two sets of quaver loops: G, A, D and C; and F, G, A and B. I decided to use them with every second bar having the order of the loops reversed, (i.e.: GADC, FGAB, FGAB, GADC) as it would be more interesting than having the loops played continuously one after the other (i.e. GADC, FGAB, GADC, FGAB) whilst still being minimalist. The second violin played crotchet notes to each “group” of quavers played by the first violin: two D’s for the GADC loop and two C’s for the FGAB loop.

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The next 8 bars involve both violins using metamorphosis. I decided to do this as this is a common technique in minimalism for subtly changing the loops. I changed each note by moving it down to the next white note, as this is would make a subtle, yet noticeable change. I also decided to change one set of quavers in the first violin before changing the next set, as this is common in minimalist music; however, every second bar is in retrograde in this piece as described above. This gives: FADC, FGAB, FGAB, FGDC etc. in the first violin. ...

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This composition sounds well organised and makes excellent use of a number of minimalism techniques. I would have liked the writer to discuss how other elements of music contribute to the overall success of the piece.