100 Days – Day 79

BONUS Early Post

Well I actually finished the final movement of ACC7 last night. I just sat down and bipped out the fugue, and then there was very little else left to do. It still needs some polish, but I think it’s a powerful movement, displaying a variety of compositional techniques. If I bip out the other fugue (the one in ACC5) before dinner today, then I could easily finish that movement before I go to London (or even before I go to bed tonight), leaving me with only the 1st movement to complete. This means that actually, I’m back on track, having completed the following over the last week:

1 song.
1 Christmas carol.
1 set of responses.
2 movements of my PhD.

Don’t ask where this burst of compositional energy has come from. It might be related to the fact that I’ve started intermittent fasting – I only eat between 12 and 8 every day. I hear that there’s substantial research to suggest that fasting for 16 out of every 24 hours increases focus, and I certainly seem to be experiencing that. It also means that I get quite a lot of work done before 12, just to have something to do between getting out of bed and having breakfast.

100 Days – Day 78

Me, to Me:

when will you make an end.jpg

Also Me, replying:

when i am finished.gif

Ok, comparing myself to Pope Julius II and Michaelangelo might be a bit much, but today I wrote the end of my piece. As in, the very end. 56 bars of sheer angelic gold. All I have to do now is finish the fugue in the middle, (which I think is mostly done, to be honest) and then I have this movement finished. With all going well, this might happen today. It is more likely that it will happen on Friday. Either way, after that I’m not doing any more PhD work until I get back from London on Monday.

100 Days – Day 77

Well. ACC6 is all but finished. As far as I’m concerned, all the notes that should be on the page are there. A lot of formatting needs to be done I’d say, and as usual it’s lacking in dynamics and so on, but I’m pretty much finished with it.

It feels a lot less cathartic to have finished this movement for some reason. I think it’s partly because actually, when I got down to it, there wasn’t much to do on it except for bitty little bits. I also partly think it’s because this movement isn’t necessarily the most interesting in the piece. It’s fairly static, because the previous three movements go like absolute wild-fire. In context, I think this movement is a bit of an exhalation, but having just spent the day on it, it’s not exactly overwhelming on it’s own.

Tomorrow, I’m tackling the previous movement, so maybe I’ll be a bit more enthused!

100 Days – Day 76

Big step forward today. I didn’t finish ACC6, but I did make substantial changes to one section, which will make this movement sit more comfortably alongside the rest of the piece. Basically, there’s a big solo section at the end which is heavily influenced by Bulgarian folk music, and I’ve changed it to fit better with the big solo section towards the end of ACC2. It’s still got the same feel, but i can just lift the work from the other movement and drop it into this. Unfortunately this meant I didn’t actually finish this movement today, but I went for a walk in the Phoenix park instead, which is twice as nice. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back at it.

I also knocked together a simple little set of responses for men’s voices in between things.

100 Days – Day 74

Started off today by writing a song before breakfast – over the last few years I’ve been setting a cycle of poems by Maryanne Doyle to music, called In and out of Love. I wrote the first 2 as birthday presents for Dominica, because they deal with being in love, but the last two poems deal with break-ups, so this morning’s offering was just to add the next song in the cycle.

The piano right hand just plays the same 5 bar motif over and over again. This is because, in the poem (Mistaken) the speaker seems to be lying awake in bed, running over a situation in which her lover has mumbled some other woman’s name while sleeping. We can all identify with that feeling of lying awake, with a single thought spinning around and around in our heads.

Regarding ACC, I did very little work on it today, because I was dealing with a situation where I wasn’t at a rehearsal I hadn’t been told about, but I find myself unexpectedly totally free tomorrow, so I anticipate that I’ll finish it tomorrow on schedule as planned.

100 Days – Day 73

Properly finished that Christmas carol today – dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Then my plan was to do a lot of work on ACC6 in the evening, but I got some good news so I decided to have a bath and a beer and celebrate a bit with an evening off. I have made a plan of all the stuff that remains to do in that movement though, so I hope to finish it tomorrow or Sunday.

It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that I’ll be finished the composition part of my PhD by day 100, at this stage. There are 27 days left (holy moly where did the time go!?) and 4 movements remain to be completed. However, one will certainly be finished in 2 or 3 days, and the other three could all, in theory, be finished in a week. I have however extended my ‘completion’ goal to the end of August, which will technically make this blog #116 days, but then I did take days off here and there, and worked better as a result!

And who knows? Maybe I will actually finish on time.

Stranger things have happened.

100 Days – Day 72

I finished one of my Christmas Carols for CCI today. I still need to add dynamics and so on, but all the notes are there.

It’s a very short, very repetitive setting of the text I sing of a Maiden*. The text consists of 5 verses – 2 ‘container’ verses, and 3 middle verses, which are repetitive and formulaic. I’ve always been struck by this structure, and so decided to set the outer 2 verses as entirely separate to the inner 3.

I’ve treated verses 1 and 5 as a sort of angelic narration – altos alone, in 3rds. Then, for the middle 3 verses, I wanted to sort of ‘zoom in’ on the scene, and the music becomes Mary gently rocking Jesus, singing a repetitive little lullaby about how good and sweet and kind the child is. It’s a very simple idea, but I think it’ll be quite effective, especially as a lot of my other carols are quite boisterous!

Simply, lullaby tune in canon in the sops and alto, underpinned by some big chords in the tenors and basses.

Simply, lullaby tune in canon in the sops and alto, underpinned by some big chords in the tenors and basses.

*The full text:

1. I sing of a maiden
That is makeless.
King of all Kings
To her son she ches.

2. He came all so still
Where His mother was,
As dew in April
That falleth on the grass.

3. He came all so still
To His mother’s bower,
As dew in April
That falleth on the flower.

4. He came all so still
Where his mother lay,
As dew in April
That falleth on the hay.

5. Mother and maiden
Was never none but she.
Well may such a Lady
God’s mother be.

100 Days – Day 69

Well, I was hoping to finish ACC6 today, but unfortunately haven’t managed it. There’s quite a lot of formatting to do in this movement (argh, I hate putting harp parts into sibelius) and with an early flight to London tomorrow for an audition, I just haven’t got the mental energy to work it all out. I know what needs to be done, so I’ll do it before the end of the week.


(N.B. Because of aforementioned audition I won’t be posting tomorrow or Wednesday.)

100 Days – Day 68

Some work on movement 6 today, before lunch and cocktails over the guardian cryptic crossword with Dr David O’Shea. I might finish this movement tomorrow, if I really knuckle down. It has very little left to do, and is texturally fairly uniform throughout. This will leave me with only 3 movements left to complete!

Fingers crossed.