100 Days – Day 52

State of the PhD

Well, I’ve just written the longest to-do list of my life! I just sat down and went through all 7 movements of Amra Choluim Chille and made a list of almost everything that remains to be done – I say almost everything, because I’ve left out things like page turns, missing dynamics, that sort of thing, which I always do in the final edit.

Of the seven movements, I consider one to be completely finished, and one more to be all but finished – the string parts could use a little tweaking to enliven them.

The other 5 are in the following states:

1st Movement:
This is now the movement with the most work to be done, but I’ve actually discovered that I had more work done on it than I thought I did. All the text is set, which I didn’t realise. The middle section is very threadbare, and needs a good 10 days of work, I’d say, but the basic ingredients are all there, waiting to be mixed together and poured into the mould. I need to add a coda, and decide on a texture for the opening (do I want the strings tremolo-ing on one note, or on two notes like the beginning of the Sibelius Violin concerto?), and I’m going to take an idea that I’d thrown out from the 5th movement and inject it into this movement, where it will actually fit perfectly!

2nd Movement.
I’m very happy with this movement. The beginning is basically settled except for a few places where the strings need to be thickened. There is an alto solo that needs to be completely re-written, but I’m re-writing it to be the same as the Alto Solo in the 6th movement so that won’t take long. Then there’s a section at the end where I’ve written it as Alto Solo again, but actually I’m just going to change that to be a repeat of the material just preceding it, which needs one more play-through anyway, and which will make this movement more cohesive.

3rd and 4th Movements.
These are the movements I’m pretty happy with.

5th Movement.
This is the movement that had been giving me so much trouble, but is now in a very good place. It opens with about 3 minutes of absolute chaos. I need to add some harp special “thunder” effects, and finish off the fugue, but otherwise it’s in a very good place. The very end also has no orchestration yet.

6th Movement.
I’ve written 76-82 IN THE BIN which I know Phill will be happy about! Other than that bit going in the bin, this just needs some orchestra filling out, and a bit of crotales playing the tune Columba, and a bit of a coda and then it’s there!

7th Movement.

Bars 1-70 just need dynamics. Bar 71 makes me practically cry with happiness every time I work on it, because it’s just so good. Again, the fugue in this section needs to be finished off, but there’s very little to do – just the very end, and one of the episodes, and there needs to be a proper modulation into A major before it, but otherwise, this movement is almost there too.

Looking over it all, it could well be more than 50 days work. Either way, my hopes of submitting in October probably won’t be fulfilled, but I think I’ll definitely be finished the piece by September, at least in first draft. Anyway, I’d rather submit the piece in its best possible form than rush through it.

After the first draft, I need to put it away for a bit and focus on Christmas Carols until November, at which point I’ll probably go through the big-time editing process, with the aim of writing up over Christmas and submitting in January or February. If everything goes well. I’ll hopefully have sat through the Viva by this time next year!