100 Days – Day 5

Progress – and Frustration.

Lots of progress today – I always seem to get a lot done on Sundays, once I’ve finished my cathedral work for the day and had 40 winks. I’ve decided how I’m going to set the rest of the text of the 6th movement I’ve been working on, and I’ve mapped out the string parts for the whole section I set on Thursday. This is where the frustrations kick in.

It was one thing for composers of by-gone centuries. When working on multi-instrument pieces, they either had to have an ensemble there ready to satisfy their want to hear what they’ve written live, or trust their ears. In one way, composers these days have it too easy – programs like Sibelius, Finale, Dorico and Musescore have given us the ability to hear mock-ups of whatever we’re writing, as we write it. I personally often find this crippling though. For starters, some of the samples (organ, for example) are so unbelievably bad that when I’ve been closely working into Sibelius for a day or two, I start to worry that the piece itself is bad. I’m usually proven wrong (as was the case when I first heard a recent organ piece that I composed for David O’Shea – more on that later) but it’s still quite disheartening. Composers of bygone centuries could presumably trust the orchestras in their heads. Maybe not…

Anyway, it’s even more frustrating when you’re working on the kind of piece I’m working on – lots of aleatoric vocal writing, which should create a lovely rustling overlapping effect, and lots of string glisses. The way I’ve noted both of these, a live performance should sound really eerie and cool and disturbing. The way I’ve noted both of these, Sibelius sounds like absolute shite.

I know I could probably fork out and buy loads of really good samples (or hire some people to record it for me during the week) but I’ve decided to trust my inner ear on this one and ignore what Sibelius is doing to my lovely, lovely music – pictured below.

Glisses and aleatoricisims and bowed crotales, OH MY!

Glisses and aleatoricisims and bowed crotales, OH MY!