It’s the last week of classes for my final semester to get my bachelor degree!
I took two courses this semester: Choral Arranging and Introduction to Creative Sound Manipulation. And organ lessons with Dr. Biggers.
Choral Arranging class with Prof. Bruce Borton has been a lot of fun and has raised my level of confidence to new heights. I’ve discovered that I have a decidedly marked flair for creating musical atmosphere, and I’ve enjoyed working on the arrangements assigned to the class.
One of my favorites was a “jazz” arrangement of the song “Misty” for Acapella chorus. I struggled mightily with it – second guessing nearly every note and decision. I went into class expecting to get some harsh criticism for the piece. I didn’t expect the class to burst into applause after it was played! So I was very pleased, indeed. I expect an A for the course: Project grades (so far!) are one A+, Four A’s, Two A-‘s and a B+.
Arrangements are done in Finale software – a most excellent music notation / scoring software. It has a built in synthesizer, and plays back very nicely.
We learned another software – Ableton Live – in the creative sound class. This package will do almost anything musically! It’s truly amazing – and can be considered the single most versatile musical instrument ever invented. We made contact microphones (which we get to keep) and recorded sounds with that, which were then manipulated in the software. We also recorded from vinyl records (remember those?) and manipulated those sounds too. Manipulations include transposition, cross fades, phasing, reverb, echo, among many others.
Our first project was to create a “soundscape” using (mostly) sounds recorded with our contact microphones. The second was to create a soundscape using (mostly) sounds recorded from vinyl records. Andres, one of my fellow team members for the group project (more on that later) did a most excellent job on his vinyl project! He used 16 or 17 different samples (snippets of recordings from mostly records) and created a really very nice piece of music with them. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get an A for the course. The third independent project was to create a soundscape using sounds recorded for the first two projects, as well as various components of the software. Mine is call “Eversio” and was inspired by the sounds I thought might be heard inside a faster-than-light space ship as it breaks up in midflight.
We, as a class, had to vote on three of the (many) soundscapes we created for the class. Mine was one of three selected to be featured during the cinema students’ end of semester film festival this coming Friday evening. (It will be held in Lecture Hall Six at 7:00 p.m. if you’re interested in attending. There will be some excellent work shown / heard!) Andres’s piece was also selected, and the third piece was done by Jared, another one of the three music majors who took the course. He used only samples recorded with his contact mic, most of which he made only with his mouth! Really very good work.
That group project is a bear! Each group was assigned a short film for which we have to create a new sound track! Not so difficult, it would seem, but it takes a lot of time to get it all into the computer. And one’s film might be a little strange. My group’s is a promotional film called “The Golden Years” produced by the bowling equipment company Brunswick in 1960! Dad, mom, little boy and little girl all go bowling together. There are long sequences of bowling machines – what do you do with that? We used some train sounds (recorded between cars as the train is traveling) and did some dubbing, Andres added a lot of his own “house music” to it, and I’m also going to add some of my own stuff.
And then came news on May 1st that I’ve been accepted to Binghamton University’s music composition graduate program! I’m really pleased about that.
And that’s about it for now. I have to find a job for the summer. The rest of my time will be spent composing (nearly done with a small group of cello pieces, ready to work on a few for trumpet) and reviewing chromatic harmony in preparation for graduate theory classes that start in August.