Consequences: Composing from different character perspectives

The first track on my album Journey is called Consequences and comes from my score for the feature film Sasquatch (2016). Writing this piece taught me a lot about character points of view and I’d like to share with you what I learnt. To avoid major spoilers, I’ve changed the names of the characters, but you’ll still find a few minor spoilers ahead. Be warned!


MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

During the film there is an accident with a gun and someone, lets call them Brian, ends up shot and bleeding out in the arms of John. Standing around them are two of their friends, holding each other.

From John’s point of view (and the nearby friends) the scene is obviously very sad. And this is the point of view that the music takes. However, initially I had scored this from the point of view of Brian. As Brian speaks his last words, he is not afraid. Instead he is almost hopeful. He lost someone very close to him, but sees death as an opportunity to see them again, and reassures his friends that he will be alright. So we have the same scene, with two different points of view and approaches. My first approach was to score the scene from Brian’s perspective, which you can hear below.

However, a week before we had to submit the final version of the film, I was asked to rewrite the music from John’s perspective. And thus the piece was born in its current form.

The final version, which I called Consequences, is a lot more minimal in it’s approach. And I was amazed at how strongly the music was able to say so much with just a few simple notes.


My First Piece

So I’ve finally finished the Write Like Mozart: An Introduction To Classical Music Composition course and have learnt a lot over the 6 weeks. At the end of each week I had to complete part of a composition. Each one had some big restrictions as I was already give the chord sequence and the melody or bass line, however, the assignment for the final week was actually a proper composition as I had no starting point, just a few things that needed to be included. Here is the brief:

Compose a work in rounded binary form.

• The work can be in 3/4, 4/4, or 6/8 time.

• It should last between 20-30 bars.

• It should be scored for piano with a solo instrument, which can be concert flute, C trumpet, oboe, or violin.

• The following must be included:

1. One deceptive cadence, half cadence, and perfect authentic cadence;

2. At least two different texture types – homorhythmic homophony, melody and accompaniment, polyphony, or monophony;

3. One sequential progression;

4. One basic progression that has been elaborated with diatonic substitution, chromatic substitution, and/or secondary dominants/leading tone chords.

I must admit though that I failed at the second point, as my piece is 36 bars. I thought about cutting it down by removing some sections but then it would be missing the other requirements. The first 8 bars contains a half cadence and uses polyphony, the second 8 have a secondary dominant, the next section has a sequential progression and uses a different texture type, and then we’re back to the A section which we had at the beginning but which ends with a deceptive cadence, leading onto a perfect authentic cadence. Therefore, I decided I was happy with it being too long, since this is what I’d call my first proper composition where I actually understood what I was doing. Plus I managed to put into practice a lot of what I’d learnt, which was why I wrote the composition in the first place.

I felt like a proper composer writing this piece as I was sat in front of my desk with my accordion strapped to my chest, a notepad in front of me for working out chords and chord sequences and my iPad which I was using to notate the score.

So here’s the piece that I wrote for piano and violin. The sounds used are the synths from the score writing software I was using, so you have to use your imagination a bit to make it not sound like a robot is playing it! But I’m thinking about adapting it for accordion at some point, when my playing skill is good enough to do those scale runs, and then I might upload a recording.

Classical Composition 1 (Part 1)

 

Classical Composition 1 (Part 2)

Classical Composition 1 (Part 3)

Let me know what you think as I’d appreciate any thoughts/feedback.

Write Like Mozart (Week 5)

There was no composition for this weeks assignment, instead I had to do an analysis of two short exerts, where I had to identify the chords using roman numeral analysis, name any non chord tones as well as identify the cadences. I must admit it was tricky. The first piece I did ok with, only making a couple of errors. However, the second piece I was stumped at for a few of the chords and so took an educated guess. Obviously I’m not quite as educated as I’d hoped yet, as I got them wrong. However, I didn’t feel like a complete failure as the bars I struggled to identify with had chromatic runs in the right hand of the piano part and actually turned out to be augmented 6th chords, which I haven’t had as much practice at spotting, so lesson learnt there. All in all though it was well worth the time and the effort of analysing the music as it’s definitely improved the speed at which I can name and identify the chords. It also seemed to help me with switching from reading bass clef to treble clef and vise versa, as my brain now seems to be able to look at both clefs as one, meaning I don’t really have to “switch” at all, something I’m sure will continue to become easier with learning to play the piano.

Write Like Mozart (Week 4)

So this was the first week where I feel I actually did some real composition. There was still a lot of arranging involved as we were already given the chord sequence and some of the rhythms, but the teacher had left gaps in the melody to be filled in, therefore my solution was very different to his, but I feel it still fits the brief.

Mozart W4 A

Cadences were the main focus of this weeks assignment. You’ll notice I’ve annotated my score with some text. Where it says HC, DC and PAC are the cadences. HC stands for Half Cadence which means that when that phrase is played by itself, it leaves the listener with a sense that the piece is not finished. PAC stands for Perfect Authentic Cadence and leaves the listener with a sense of conclusion. And finally DC is Deceptive Cadence, as it sounds like it is leading into a Perfect Authentic Cadence and so the listener feels the sense of conclusion is coming, but then the final chord for that cadence is different and instills an inconclusive feel to the phrase.

Write Like Mozart (Week 3)

This weeks big topic was non-chord tones. Basically notes which appear in the piece but which aren’t in the chord. For instance, a C Major chord has the notes C, E and G in it, so if the note D appeared during the duration of that chord then it would be a non-chord tone. But you can’t just shove any note in as there are obviously guidelines for how non-chord tones should be used. I won’t bore you with the details, nevertheless if you are interested in the details and want to know more about non-chord tones then there’s a great book on the iBook Store which can teach you all about them.

Basic Harmony and Musicianship
by Joe Procopio

Basic Harmony and Musicianship

The assignments for this week weren’t really compositions but more like arrangements, as we were already given the chords and the voicing, and then we had to arrange them using the given repeated rhythm. Although I altered the rhythm ever so slightly for the last couple of bars, just for a bit of fun.

Part 1

Mozart W3 A P1

Part 2

Mozart W3 A P2

Part 3

Mozart W3 A P3