Composition and Sonic Art B
Run by School of Music, Drama and Performance
20.000 Credits or 10.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Prof Andrew Lewis
Overall aims and purpose
This module is a companion to Composition and Sonic Art A. The aim of this module is to equip you with the fundamental knowledge and understanding of composition using instruments, voices and technology. You will learn how to compose music and create sonic art in a structured and guided way, using examples from of significant works and creative approaches from the 20th and 21st centuries. You will explore a range of compositional methods, aesthetic approaches and technological applications, and will consider compositional principles of harmony, rhythm, motivic development and structure. You will undertake a series of projects developing their knowledge of instrumentation and orchestration, vocal writing, and music software and hardware. The module will provide the foundation required to progress to second year modules that further explore composition and sonic creativity.
The module will focus on a wide variety of specific creative, technical and practical approaches:
Creative approaches (for example, Impressionism, Neoclassicism, Minimalism, Serialism, Acousmatic music, Gitch, Plunderphonics, Soundscape composition, live electronics)
Technical approaches (for example, harmony, rhythm, melody, form, texture, recording, editing, sound transformation)
Practical approaches (focusing on specific instruments, voices and technologies).
(Grades D- to D+.) The crucial element is the creation of musical ideas. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a simplistic or over-complex global structure not supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; musical argument only intermittently discernible with only limited exploration of materials; musical ideas few and/or of questionable value; an imbalance in unity and diversity at the expense of sustained interest (especially through uncritical repetition of material verbatim); variability in the appropriateness of the use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique restricted to a rather basic level; some basic, though not always successful, attempts to achieve musical shaping and control phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; mostly adequate presentation, though with some significant lapse, and materials that may need some revision to be of practical use in performance.
(Grade A- and above.) The distinguishing quality is the creation of a compelling, engaging and aesthetically satisfying overall outcome through sustained musical imagination and technical command. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a coherent, tightly constructed global structure; a cogent, convincing and sustained musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of the full potential of musical ideas and materials; musical ideas conceived and articulated with evident flair and imagination, and some degree of originality; an entirely appropriate (but not necessarily equal) balance of unity and diversity, such that interest and coherence are sustained throughout; distinctive, creative and idiomatic use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; confident, fluent and discerning use of appropriate technical means; evidence of acute sensitivity to the effectiveness of, and assured control over, the shaping of phrases and gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, and the combination, juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; impressive presentation, with excellent attention to detail and full consideration of the practicability of performing materials (whether for live performance or the realisation of electroacoustic presentation).
C- to C+
(Grade C- to C+.) The main quality meriting a mark in this category is the creation and technical realisation of musical ideas to achieve an effective overall outcome. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a global structure not always fully supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; intermittent lapses in the cogency of musical argument; some aspects of musical ideas left unexplored or under-developed; invention present but limited; mixed success in the effective juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; some imbalance in unity and diversity (especially though overuse of material without development); occasional inappropriate use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique solid but not always assured and fluent; intermittent and limited musical shaping and control of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; some presentational lapses, with some limitations as to the practicability of materials in performance.
(Grades B- to B+.) The distinguishing quality is the creation, technical realisation and organisation of imaginative musical ideas to create an aesthetically convincing overall outcome. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a well articulated and effective global structure; a clearly discernible musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of musical ideas and materials; imaginatively conceived and articulated musical ideas; unity and diversity well balanced, such that the composition achieves a good degree of interest and coherence; appropriate and effective use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources contributing to creative ends; assured use of appropriate technical means; good sensitivity to the shaping of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, showing an appreciation of their overall effect on the musical outcome; presentation of a good standard, with good attention to detail and some evident consideration of the practicability of performing materials.
Demonstrate competence and confidence in using music technological resources and tools
Demonstrate competence and confidence in the use of instrumental/vocal resources
Demonstrate competence and confidence in using music technological resources and tools
Produce coherent, consistent and imaginative creative outcomes through the development of musical and sonic ideas and materials
Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of a variety of art-music and sonic art genres
Create a Max patch that is able to take input from a live source (a voice or instrument playing into a microphone). Your patch must have user-adjustable input and output levels, and input and output meters. Your patch must transform the incoming sound using ONE OR MORE of the following: 1. Delay required features: adjustable delay time; adjustable feedback amount; adjustable balance between delayed and normal sound; OR 2. Pitch shift required features: adjustable pitch shift; adjustable balance between pitch shifted and normal sound; OR 3. Spatialisation (stereo or multi-channel panning) required features: panning control; some element of automatic panning (with variable control); OR 4. Another transformation of your choice for example: reverb, EQ, granular ‘brassage’, etc. with appropriate user controls. You must choose ONE of the above, but you can also choose to implement more than one, in the same patch. In this case, it must be possible to mix the outputs of the different transformations.
Choose EITHER Option A or Option B
OPTION A Compose a piece of 3-4 minutes duration, for six instruments of your choice, two of which must be stringed instruments, and two wind instruments. Your piece must use as source material a quotation from any piece of Western art music composed before 1950. You may use the chosen material in any way you choose, from direct quotation to radical transformation and development. The source material need not form the majority of the material in your piece, but it must play a significant part.
OPTION B Compose a piece of 3-4 minutes duration for solo instrument or voice with live processing using a Max patch you have created yourself. The live processing may include triggered pre-composed sound files, but there must be at least some element of real-time transformation of the instrumental/vocal sound.
Choose ONE of the following options. Clearly indicate at the beginning of the score which option you have chosen:
OPTION A Compose a short piece (ca. 2-3 minutes in length) for flute, viola and harp that has been based on a selected number of intervals. The composition should attempt to: a) focus on atonal harmony b) concentrate on the more dissonant intervals discussed in class (i.e. major and minor 2nd, perfect 4th, tritone, major and minor 7th, major and minor 9th...etc.) Try and limit yourself to a small number of intervals, you may also want to base both melodic material and accompanying harmonies on the same intervals.
OR OPTION B Compose a short piece (ca. 2-3 minutes in length) for flute, harp and vibraphone that employ the ‘harmonic sonorities’ technique and fulfil the following requirements: 1. The flute should be given a predominantly melodic part 2. The harp and vibraphone should have predominantly static parts, taking up and extending pitches from the flute melody to create a harmonic background or ‘halo’ 3. The piece should make use of: a) Harmonic field(s) b) Unisons 4. The piece should contain no sounded octaves (i.e. two pitches heard at the same time which are an octave apart). Use unisons instead of octaves. You don’t have to restrict yourself to one harmonic field (though you could do), nor do all the pitches have to belong to the harmonic field (though they could do). The flute does not have to have all the melody, with harp and vibraphone having all the long notes (though you could do it like that).
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Listening to music, reading relevant literature, developing musical material in notated form, working on sonic material in the studios
Two 2-hour seminar-style lectures each week, one focusing on instrumental/vocal music and the other on sonic art. Eleven weeks across the semesters
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
Subject specific skills
- Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
- Creative skills – conception, elaboration, adaptation, presentation, collaboration, preservation
- Intellectual skills specific to Music – contextual knowledge, cultural awareness, critical understanding, repertoire knowledge, curiosity, analytical demonstration
- Technological skills – digital capture, digital expression, digital innovation
- Intellectual skills shared with other disciplines – research and exploration, reasoning and logic, understanding, critical judgement, assimilation and application
- Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
- Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/wxk-1114.html
Pre- and Co-requisite Modules
Courses including this module
Compulsory in courses:
- W3W4: BA Music with Theatre & Performance year 1 (BA/MUSTP)
- W304: BMus Music (with International Experience) year 1 (BMUS/MIE)
- W302: BMUS Music year 1 (BMUS/MUS)
- W32F: BMus Music [with Foundation Year] year 1 (BMUS/MUSF)
Optional in courses:
- WW93: BA Creative Studies and Music year 1 (BA/CSTMUS)
- 32N6: BA English Literature and Music year 1 (BA/ELM)
- 32N7: BA English Literature & Music with International Experience year 1 (BA/ELMIE)
- VW13: BA History and Music year 1 (BA/HMU)
- VW14: BA History and Music with International Experience year 1 (BA/HMUIE)
- WW39: BA Music and Creative Writing with International Experience year 1 (BA/MCWIE)
- W3H6: BA Music and Electronic Engineering year 1 (BA/MEE)
- WV33: Music & Hist & Welsh Hist (IE) year 1 (BA/MHIE)
- W303: BA Music (with International Experience) year 1 (BA/MIE)
- PW33: BA Media Studies and Music year 1 (BA/MSMUS)
- RW13: BA Music/French year 1 (BA/MUFR)
- WR32: BA Music/German year 1 (BA/MUGE)
- WR33: BA Music/Italian year 1 (BA/MUIT)
- W300: BA Music year 1 (BA/MUS)
- WW38: BA Music and Creative Writing year 1 (BA/MUSCW)
- W30F: BA Music [with Foundation Year] year 1 (BA/MUSF)
- WW36: BA Music and Film Studies year 1 (BA/MUSFS)
- WR34: BA Music/Spanish year 1 (BA/MUSP)
- VVW3: BA Philosophy and Religion and Music year 1 (BA/PRM)
- VW2H: BA Welsh History and Music year 1 (BA/WHMU)
- H6W3: BSc Electronic Engineering and Music year 1 (BSC/EEM)