Author Topic: Learning by reducing a score  (Read 5234 times)

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Jamie Kowalski

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Learning by reducing a score
« on: August 18, 2014, 09:02:39 AM »
As an exercise to keep my brain busy during a creative dry spell, I decided to create a reduced score of one of my works. The main purpose was so that I could share it on Youtube, since a full orchestral score is unreadable in that format. I chose the second movement, Particle Shock from my Museum of False Memories, and eventually got a readable score that was a reduction to five staves. You can see the final (imperfect) result here. (I'd sure appreciate any "thumbs up" anyone could give it.)

I've decided to go ahead and start doing the other movements in the same way, and I've been making some discoveries about my music along the way. I don't do a lot of my sketching on paper while composing. Most of you probably do, so this may not be as helpful to you as it was to me. This probably also applies a lot less to those working in a more diatonic idiom.

For a lot of my music, I find it very difficult to settle on note spelling. Highly chromatic tonal and bi-tonal music presents a lot of problems in this regard, and mine is a prime example. Often I have to decide between having spelling make sense vertically or horizontally, and a lot of compromises have to be made. Completely obvious in hindsight: this task is made much easier with a reduced score in hand. In addition, the process has pointed out a few other small "errors" that I want to correct.

Now my purpose for the reductions is more for self-study and clean-up. I'm now planning on respelling the entire suite. In the future I will be doing this long before I finalize a score. 


gogreen

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2014, 11:44:01 AM »
Quote
...since a full orchestral score is unreadable in that format.

Why?

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2014, 11:54:01 AM »
Quote
...since a full orchestral score is unreadable in that format.

Why?

The vertical format of the score doesn't play well with the horizontal format of video. The score has pages with up to 22 staves on them, which leaves almost everything too small and blurry if you try to show it all. If viewed at maximum resolution on a large monitor it might be readable, but it's probably not a good idea to assume many people will be able to view it that way.

winknotes

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 12:09:33 PM »
I think the youtube video looks great and is easy to follow.  I've considered doing reductions of others' pieces as well for learning purposes.  I've not thought about doing it for my own work although I typically create pieces that way already. 
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Michel.R.E

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 12:13:34 PM »
I'd like to make a 2-piano reduction of both of my symphonies.
I simply haven't really had the motivation to get down to work and do it.

How did you make the video?
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 12:15:19 PM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2014, 12:29:34 PM »
I used only Microsoft's Paint and Movie Maker. It's pretty easy to do.

Each system was exported from Sibelius as a png file, then pasted onto a white rectangle that was the size of the video I wanted. I then pulled all the images into Movie Maker in the proper order, and set the time of each frame to the proper length to make it match the music track.

If you like, I can post the exact settings and sizes I used next time I'm in the studio.




Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2014, 12:36:22 PM »
To whomever just gave it a thumbs down only shortly after I started this thread, thanks. Way to keep it classy.   ???

perpetuo studens

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2014, 01:56:36 PM »
To whomever just gave it a thumbs down only shortly after I started this thread, thanks. Way to keep it classy.   ???

Wasn't me. :) I hadn't listened to this in quite a while and really enjoyed revisiting...

This probably also applies a lot less to those working in a more diatonic idiom.

I'm curious as to your thoughts behind this comment. I've always thought that I don't do enough sketching (I have a difficult time deciding whether or not an idea works until I "fill in the blanks").

Could you elaborate a bit?

Thanks,

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2014, 02:25:50 PM »
This probably also applies a lot less to those working in a more diatonic idiom.

I'm curious as to your thoughts behind this comment. I've always thought that I don't do enough sketching (I have a difficult time deciding whether or not an idea works until I "fill in the blanks").

Could you elaborate a bit?

The "diatonic idiom" comment was in reference to trouble with note spelling. Those kinds of decisions are a lot easier in the context of a clear key.

gogreen

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2014, 02:45:31 PM »
Quote
The vertical format of the score doesn't play well with the horizontal format of video. The score has pages with up to 22 staves on them, which leaves almost everything too small and blurry if you try to show it all. If viewed at maximum resolution on a large monitor it might be readable, but it's probably not a good idea to assume many people will be able to view it that way.

The reason why I asked is because I've had a heck of a time getting YouTube stuff to be sharper. I'll check out what you've done, but here's what I've done: First, I turn my 24-inch screen vertical (it rotates) with iRotate. Then I save each Finale score page as a 1200-dpi PDF. I then go online to http://pdf2png.com/ and convert the PDFs to PNGs. That's what I use in YouTube videos of scores with music. Here's a concert band score I recently did this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3R3mxv-3T0. Let me know if it comes across blurry to you.

I'll check your YouTube item later.

OK, saw it. Looks good to me. I think you've solved the blurriness problem, and I think this reduction goes a long way to making this instructive!

Art
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 02:55:03 PM by gogreen »

perpetuo studens

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2014, 03:26:46 PM »
This probably also applies a lot less to those working in a more diatonic idiom.

I'm curious as to your thoughts behind this comment. I've always thought that I don't do enough sketching (I have a difficult time deciding whether or not an idea works until I "fill in the blanks").

Could you elaborate a bit?

The "diatonic idiom" comment was in reference to trouble with note spelling. Those kinds of decisions are a lot easier in the context of a clear key.

Ah, I misunderstood...thanks!
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

mjf1947

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2014, 03:37:20 PM »
I think for novice composers doing a reduce score highlights many pitfalls/problems.

For example, voice leading, overlapping lines, redundancy, poor chord construction etc.

It brings clarity.

Mark

perpetuo studens

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2014, 05:34:14 PM »
I think for novice composers doing a reduce score highlights many pitfalls/problems.

For example, voice leading, overlapping lines, redundancy, poor chord construction etc.

It brings clarity.

Mark

Excellent insight! Now I just have to start writing for an ensemble large enough to justify reduction.

:)

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2014, 06:01:55 PM »
Here's a concert band score I recently did this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3R3mxv-3T0. Let me know if it comes across blurry to you.

I can see the score clearly if I go to full-screen and use the HD setting on Youtube, but I'm running at 1920x1080 on a 28-inch screen, which is more real-estate than a lot of people have.

gogreen

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Re: Learning by reducing a score
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2014, 07:27:50 PM »
Reducing the score is a good educational aid. I do that sometimes to see what the heck I did in some passages. 😳

Are you creating movies in windows movie maker at 1920x1080? That makes it sharper. There are custom settings you can download to do that, but I'm not at my computer right now to provide a link. I work in WMM 6--not the latest version.