Tell a Story
Second post regarding the new VMO commission.
This piece is about 9 minutes long. I’ll tell you right away, this is the longest single movement concert piece I have ever written.
Up until now I have focused on other aspects of composition and did not feel ready for something this long.
Now I was ready for it.
I was discussing our perception of long pieces with a friend and professional musician. And we both admitted that, even though we love music on a very deep level, many long movements can really be… well, boring.
So to prepare for this 9 minute piece, I listened to tons of long pieces and had very deep thoughts 🙂 as I paid attention to my own reactions as a listener.
What interested me? Where did my attention wander? Why? Did I have to work to be interested?When did I get bored and feel like turning it off?
I reached many conclusions and still many more to come. Here are a few:
- Beautiful orchestral colours, the sheer beauty of sound.
- Melodic continuity and clear form.
- Variety, limited but obvious.
- A definable arc.
- Some surprises that still make sense
Yes, these are all obvious, but they are simple yet important concepts that are badly used in general. Too much of the same during a long piece and you get bored, too much variety and the music appears random and disconnected and the audience drops out.
The piece is a journey for the audience, and the melody (or central idea) is the character that leads them through it.
Just like a story! And ever more to the point, just like a film which, like music, are experience temporally.
This is something I have thought about for years, and now I see it makes complete sense and will write some posts on how concert music (especially long pieces) can benefit from an understanding of movie story-telling.
Now back to my piece!
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