Music Composition and Karaoke

Many people who know me from computer science at Carleton know that I was in a music composition course this past term.  It was a very interesting format of course, and it really seemed to allow us students to be creative while getting us to experience composing for different ensembles and styles.  We also got a chance to get ideas and opinions from other students on our work, which was quite useful.  It makes me wonder if a similar format could be applied to a computer science course or two.

The course had 4 assignments: choral composition, string quartet composition, winds composition, anything we want.  Each of the first 3 assignments had a few other restrictions to either give us a bit of guidance or push us out of our comfort zones, but not too much.  For each of these assignments, there was one class where the professor talked about issues of note for the instruments (or voices) for which we were composing, one class where we’d meet with the prof two at a time to present our ideas and get thoughts from the prof and the other student, and one class where we’d present our works in progress to the class to get more thoughts from the class.  Then we’d hand in the assignments in the first class for the next assignment.  Near the end, there was also a class where we got to present finished pieces, and two concerts in which each student had at least one of their compositions performed.

It was great to hear the variety of styles and unique creativity of each of the other students.  One piece in particular, by Fraser Holmes, was called “Put some lipstick on that pig!” (not a political reference) and I remember thinking something like “There aren’t many pieces that could fit a name like that”, but man that piece fit the name perfectly.  It was such a neat, funky piece.

For my assignment 3, I wrote a piece for concert band (yes, it was WAY more work than necessary), which I got to briefly rehearse with the Deep River Community Band on Thursday evening.  The professor’s said that once I fix the issues people brought up, he’d check around Ottawa for concert bands that might be interested in playing it, since some had asked him for pieces in the past.  My assignment 4 was a string quartet themed on the software development process, and it was performed in our second composition class concert, (although it was botched pretty badly, so they’re re-recording it.)  I’ll post the recording of the piece when I get it.  I never really thought that I’d end up composing something that would be performed.  It’s a big change from computer science.

On a completely different note, many people also know that I sang regularly on Karaoke Tuesdays at the bar named Mike’s Place at Carleton, especially 80’s rock.  I’ve finally got a video of me singing “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ‘N Roses (not posted by me).  I think it speaks for itself.  I’ll just say that I have a lot of fun with it, and I’m not drunk (since I don’t drink).  😀

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~ by Neil Dickson on May 2, 2009.

5 Responses to “Music Composition and Karaoke”

  1. I know you have an mp3 of at least one of your assignments; why not put it up?

  2. I only have MIDIs of my assignments, and the MIDIs sound like garbage, unfortunately. I was using a very old version of Noteworthy Composer to write my assignments. I’ve now got Finale, though, and it has an option to put out an MP3, so I’ll try that with my piece for concert band, since I hired a music major to port it over to Finale.

  3. Oh, I thought Curtis had already done his thing. OK, awesome, looking forward to it.

  4. It’s been several months now. I was just introduced to yur blog by John Cota, and was curious if you got the mp3s ready, would like to hear your stuff.

  5. Hi! Sadly, I never got a recording of the string quartet, since they presumably never re-recorded it. 😦

    The piece for concert band may be played next term by the Deep River Community Band. Finale’s MP3s of it are much worse than a real band playing it (especially the ending), but I’ll get it to spit one out. Oh, and I can’t get Finale to play anything other than a whistle noise for percussion, so that isn’t in it either.

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