Fall 2016: A Summary

These past few months have been busy and insightful. I began teaching music theory to freshman and sophomore students at the University of Miami and learned how much time it takes to be a thoughtful grader. I enjoy teaching and look forward to continuing to teach hopefully as a career after all my studies. 

I focused my composition efforts over the past few months on revising earlier music and scores and preparing for doctoral applications. This year I have revised almost every score I have made since 2013, and I still need to further revise them. As I continue to revise scores, my vision for how a score should look improves, which is a two-edged sword. My scores tend to look better; however, I feel accountable to bring all my scores to the same level of quality. The most difficult part about making scores is the formatting changes that can happen without one being aware. Even if a composer tries to lock all the systems onto a page, it seems like something can move out of place and stay unnoticed until the scores are printed and sent out. Thankfully, paper is cheap, and if scores are printed out and looked at carefully (especially while listening to the music), a lot of these errors become manifest.

Even with that focus, I managed to write about nine minutes of orchestra music as an addition to Four Miniatures for a Somewhat Large Orchestra. In fact, I added a prelude and changed the title to Four Miniatures and a Prelude for a Somewhat Large Chamber Orchestra. My "Prelude" is based on merengue music. It uses 9 different rhythmic patterns that coexist to create a cumulative groove. However, I assigned each of these rhythmic patterns to instruments, wrote melodic lines to each pattern, and extended these rhythmic patterns to align only every 9 or 10 measures. Because the melodic lines do not repeat, the music constantly moves forward. To provide contrast and relief, the second part of the piece isolates material from the earlier section and arranges them in new ways. To end the piece, I have a start-stop idea after which all the parts repeat a one-beat idea and gradually fade out. As in most of my recent music, I explore counterpoint and form. I feel like counterpoint interests me the most and I always get excited to write it. I especially enjoy "blind counterpoint," meaning I follow the Stravinsky method of juxtaposition and see what the result will be. While I plan out much of my musical content, at times I copy and paste one segment of music against another and new perspectives emerge. Every time one line interacts with another, both lines are given further identity and purpose. Perhaps it is a symbol of our associations with others. Together we gain a stronger identity, as a group and individually, than if we focus on ourselves. If everyone has a voice and works unitedly, society blossoms. I focused on musical ideas for this piece; however, I accept this and other interpretations of my music!