Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #6

I am really pleased to be able to say that I have finished the scoring of Homecoming! Apart from drums, I would probably say that guitar notation is up there on being one of the most interesting/difficult instruments to notate for. I settled for a kind of hybrid notation between a music score and a lead sheet.

Here’s what I mean:

Guitar Notation Sample

It looks a little cluttered here as I wanted to show you both of the two main strumming patterns in the piece. At the start of the score I’ve created a little key stating what the arrows mean but essentially it’s this: Down arrows are down strums and up arrows are up strums. Having notated the rhythm and provided the chord shapes, there should be enough information there to play what I intend on a normal acoustic guitar.

Here’s a sample of what the final score looks like with all the parts together (just before the final chorus):

Homecoming - Score Sample

In both the piano and the guitar parts, I’ve provided the chords above the music. This is so that if I ever use this piece in a classroom setting, students who cannot read music well, can follow the chords. Also, the instrumental lines could be transposed for any melodic instrument that might in the class.

I think it is safe to say that on the face of it, there is little resemblance between Pastance’s Skye Boat Song (which was the basis of the composition task that is in my iBook) and Homecoming. Of course the chords, structure and the key are (that was the task), but it is now an original composition in it’s own right. I hope you enjoy it.

If you have any questions or anything you’d like to add, feel free to comment below.

Peace – Jonno


Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #5

People compose in very diverse ways.

Up until this year, I would have never considered myself a composer. Not really… A great lover of many kinds of music though, but not really a composer.

I remember when I was in my last year of school and I had to compose my Core Composition for Music 2. Over the course of the proceeding six months I had toyed with quite a few different ideas but nothing had really settled until very close to the draft deadline. Thankfully on that occasion everything fell together and I quite enjoyed the process and the finished product.

It’s interesting to observe how differently, different people compose. It was my observation that most people in my class began with some manuscript and pencil or Sibelius/Finale. Most recently I have found it more helpful to compose through a process of jamming either with myself or others (see my earlier update for this assignment).

Having finished the recording, I find myself at the notating process. I’ve been using Sibelius to transcribe all the parts.

Here’s part of what I have so far:

Score Annotation 1

I have the basic structure of the song mapped out but still have a bit more to go. Just the other day I consulted with someone that I know who has plenty of experience with drum notation. He confirmed that what I had written was both readable and playable, so that was a relief. Drum notation is hard. I’ve been using this handy little resource as a guide (Equally you can just type in ‘how to notate drums into Google’ and it’s pretty much the first link).

Currently, I have the chords and chord shapes in the guitar part, but have still to find a proper way of showing the correct strumming pattern. None of the backing vocal parts have been charted yet, however the lead vocals (with lyrics), instrumental lines, bass and drums are all in.

Unless something comes up, next blog post I should have it all scored! Listen to the recording here.

Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #4

I have officially finished the recording process! Hooray! I’ve uploaded it to Soundcloud so feel free to have a listen and let me know what you think.

Now I have to clarify quite clearly that the piece is exactly 3:00 minutes in length, but when I bounced the final track from Logic it added an extra second of silence which is not part of my composition. So I am still within the requirements!

So how did I finish? Well I had already decided on the structure (see last post) and had a rough idea of what I needed to do to complete it. I knew I needed some backing vocals and some instrumental lines and so I asked my mate Phil over to record the BV lines as he has a great range and I preferred a different vocal quality for those parts also. I am really pleased with them as they really fill out the overall sound and add lots of presence. Once we finished tracking those, we recorded the Flugelhorn and Trombone lines. I decided against adding a saxophone line as after hearing all the parts together, I felt as though there was no need for the extra layer and I was concerned about cluttering the arrangement.

Here’s a pic of the latest tracks and where they appear in the comp. On the left you can see the label for each part:

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You can see that there are 3 extra vocal harmony lines and an additional 3 ‘Ahhh’ vocal lines as well. I was inspired by ELO’s amazing backing vocals for the ‘ahhhs’.

As it turns out I was able to subtly slip in the melody of Skye Boat Song. During the last chorus in the Backing Vocals, the harmony part follows the same outline as the main chorus melody of Skye Boat Song. The words are ‘Thank-ful-ly I’m Fin-‘lly Home…‘ But it’s different enough that I don’t feel as though I’m directly ripping it – which is good.

There will be an update soon on the notation process.

Peace – Jonno

Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #3

CME Task 3

As you can see (above), I have began the arranging process using Logic. And if you look carefully, I have also tracked some vocals now (many takes later, I’m not really a singer). Underneath the main bulk of tracks, you can see the audio and MIDI regions I made for the ibook task. I used these for the construction of a basic structure (but will not include them in the final mix). This is what I’ve decided on:

Intro – Chorus – Verse 1 – Chorus (Instrumental) – Verse (Instrumental) – Verse 2 – Chorus

So far, I have not yet recorded any instrumental lines and so the middle of the piece sounds pretty bare… however I plan to include 3 wind instruments. One to play the melody, another a harmony line and the third a countermelody part. My lecturer suggests I should try and reverse, flip or retrograde the melody to Skye Boat Song and slip it in somewhere. I’ll see what I can do. For the instrumental lines I am thinking of composing for Flugelhorn, Trombone and either Alto or Tenor Saxophone. When the vocals come back in for the final Verse (2) and chorus I will then try and continue these lines.

I’ve also already started notating what I have and will post an update shortly.

Here’s the lyrics I promised:

 CME Task 3 Lyrics

Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #2

So I’ve been sick for the past few days, but I can’t really afford to let that stop me (as tempting as it is). After a solid nap, I spent yesterday’s evening and night slowly working on my composition. My process for composition may seem a little backwards to some, but the way I’ve regularly experienced the creation process in music is in groups, jaming and sharing around ideas. So when I compose, I find it difficult to just sit there and write and so I try and create an environment in which I feel as though I’m collaborating with others. I create little loops of basic tracks in Logic X and then jam (improvise) with it until I come up with ideas that I like. Then I either notate or record them 🙂 (or both!).

I thought it would be a helpful thing to actually see the instructions that I am using from my iBook to guide this composition, so here’s a picture: (Note – this is just one page from my iBook, and the following pages help scaffold this task).

Composition Instructions

Steps 1 and 2 have been completed and now I am working on the rest of the arrangement. I was tossing up whether I will have an improvised solo section, but there won’t be enough time and so I will just have two instrumental sections where the main melodies are played. I like this idea as well, because it stays true to the version of Skye Boat Song that Pastance played when we filmed them (see earlier blog posts). For the rest of the arrangement I’m thinking I will try and add a few other melody/harmony parts, and when my voice doesn’t sound like a croaky frog I will hopefully track some vocals.

In the next blog post (and when I have access to my scanner), I’ll pop up the lyrics so you can see them also. For now, I think that’s all!


Composition in Music Education Task 3: Update #1

You could say that this task is like a sequel to the iBook that I recently made for the last assignment. I am to compose a piece of music using my own composition task (found in my iBook) as scaffolding.

As the task in the iBook is loosely based around re-writing the melody to Skye Boat Song to an editable Garageband template, the challenge for me will be in extending this task and transforming it into a new piece of music.

So far I have just finished writing my original melody over the chord progression of Skye Boat Song using the G pentatonic scale (in accordance with my own instructions). I quite like it so far, particularly the melody in the B section (see below). Excuse the random 5/8 bar at the end haha that’s supposed to have an extra quaver pulse at the end tied on.

CME Task 3 Melody

So the next step will be the arranging process! Stay tuned.

Skye Boat Song iBook Complete

I have finished working on my ibook and I’m excited to share this resource with you all. Click on this link to find the ibook (which you can use on your iPad or Mac computer) and a brief outline of how this resource could be used as part of a lesson sequence.

Feel free to use all of it or part of it. The only condition is that I would ask you to comment below and let me know how it went and whether I could make any helpful updates to make it better!

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