Assignments, Part 1 - Assignment

Wild Dance – Assignment 1

Today, I completed “Wild Dance” which is a composition for four untuned percussion instruments. In my case these are the following; Cymbals, Tambourine, Snare drum and a Bass drum.

My main focus was the structure of the piece of music. The structure of my composition can be segregated in to groupings of 12 bars. The structural map is as follows;

A section: 24 bars, B Section: 12 bars, C Section: 48 bars, B section (reprise): 24 bars, A section: 12 bars

I start out with the pre-written composition (as provided by the UCA Example 14) – this begins my “A” section. This is a 24 bar long section in which the second “grouping” of 12 bars does not stray too far from the first group of 12 bars. The ideas are only rhythmically developed by adding various extra beats in varied parts of the score. The most obvious build up is the additional use of the bass drum and the use of triplets in the snare and tambourine lines. This helps me to develop a different and unique feel for the music. The use of triplets at bar 20 can be used by the dancers on stage to add a bit of personality to the dance.

Section “B” is my shortest section at only 12 bars long. In Section B I mirror image or “retrograde” the whole grouping of the piece. I enjoyed taking a mathematical approach to the composition. I have taken the original grouping of;

  • 5, 3, 6, 5,
  • 3, 4, 3, 4
  • 6, 5, 3, 6

I replace it with its new grouping of ;

  • 6, 3, 5, 6
  • 4, 3, 4, 3
  • 5, 6, 3, 5

The rhythm mostly stays the same in the first 7 bars but then after the 4/8 bar I applied the retrogade to the original rhythm while keeping some of my previously mentioned rhythmic developments.

in complete contrast to both Sections A and B, Section “C” is the longest section of the piece it is 48 bars long and makes up the bulk of the dance. I have taken the initial groupings and re-arranged theme to compose a contrasting “quiet” section where the first 24 bars is led by the tambourine and the second 24 bars by the snare drum. The majority of the new rhythms are quite different from the old rhythm but they are still based on the beats that are emphasised in the initial idea. Before the main idea and instrument are featured at the stars of each of the 24 bar passages, there as a 6 bar introduction which calls between all of the instruments. the Bass drum and snare starts and the tambourine responds. The Cymbal adds decoration. In that sense, all four instruments seem to work as one conventional “drum kit” Before the leading instrument in then introduced. This technique could be used if there was, for example, more cast being brought on to the stage to join the dance. All detail is stripped away so that the audience can focus on the stage as the new cast join.

When we get to rehearsal mark “E” on my composition we stumble across a reprise of my “B” section. However it is 24 bars long so in effect you hear it twice. The difference is that while the first 12 bars are a complete retrograde of the initial idea the second 12 bars are only a retrograde of the original groupings. So instead of;

  • 6, 3, 5, 6
  • 4, 3, 4, 3,
  • 5, 6, 3, 5

we instead have;

  • 6, 5, 3, 6
  •  3, 4, 3, 4
  • 5, 3, 6, 5

its a subtle difference, but one designed to maintain the listeners interest.

At rehearsal mark “G” we have a recapitulation of my slightly developed “A”  section which drawers my composition to a close. The piece finishes on a gloomy beam from the bass drum as something drastic happens on stage and the demons cower and disperse in to the woods.

I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment and equally found it challenging enough that it required a lot of thought. As there is no melodious instruments, I decided that I would fall back on one of the things I love about music, the mathematical side. I was completely dumbfounded when I started this task. I had no Idea where to start. However, I remembered using mathematics in one of my previous tasks to build a rhythm up. This then tweaked me and reminded me that I can use the ability of pattern recognition and creativity to develop this example further.


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