Author Topic: Sketching  (Read 9706 times)

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RichardMc

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Sketching
« on: March 27, 2012, 01:07:19 PM »
I often wonder how people go about sketching their compositions. One of the things I am constantly struggling with is how much detail to capture when I first approach a composition. I am wondering how those of you who are far more advanced than I am view the sketching process. Do you sketch block harmonies? Do you sketch maybe two voices at first (Soprano and Bass) and then fill in the remaining voices? This is probably is silly question but I am eager to hear how others approach the process.

Ron

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2012, 01:32:05 PM »
"Sketching" is a very personal matter. I've attached the working "sketch" of a large orchestral work I am working on, though I doubt it will mean anything to anyone. It is beside me as I write and I frequently refer to it. It keeps me on track.

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winknotes

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 01:50:52 PM »
So to me it looks like Ron has maybe his initial idea (2 minor seconds a tritone apart) and what follows are various explorations of that idea.  Different chords, scales, some progressions, etc.  I would venture to guess this is how most sketch initially. 

I think after that sketches take on a different look.  For me I have a file with maybe a bunch of melodic/harmonic fragments based of course on something that looks like Ron's example here.  Those fragments may or may not be used in the final, but the point is the sketches then get more and more refined. I honestly don't have a very good method of working with the actual Finale files and what I end up with is a large file that I keep inserting measures as I start putting the pieces together so to speak. 
 
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RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 02:44:33 PM »
I am curious about the sketch. Thank you for posting it. Will each measure in the sketch correspond to each measure in the final product or does one measure of sketch perhaps become several measures of the final work.

Ron

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 03:32:18 PM »
I am curious about the sketch. Thank you for posting it. Will each measure in the sketch correspond to each measure in the final product or does one measure of sketch perhaps become several measures of the final work.

Not at all. As Steve pointed out it is an exploration of an idea. I'm looking at scales and harmonies that can be produced by different arrangements of pairs of tritones. None of the measures relate directly to any measure in the work, but, I am constantly referring to it to fit my ideas onto that scaffolding.

What I wanted to demonstrate is that a sketch can take a wildly different form for different people.
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suspenlute

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 05:52:09 PM »
one sketching technique I can definitely recommend is, once you have a good idea for a melody/motif/etc. only notating the rhythm on one line (with complete disregard for the pitches - or what you think are the pitches - that you're "hearing"), drawing a vaguely wavy line indicating the general melodic contour above your notated rhythm, and not even bothering to actually write notes until you're fairly certain about both of those elements.

RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2012, 05:58:55 PM »
I will try this. Sounds interesting.

Ron

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2012, 06:21:31 PM »
I tried to post this earlier as something I was drawing from my sketch, but it wouldn't upload.

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winknotes

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2012, 07:12:48 PM »
Oh that's terrific Ron, both the composition itself and the example to Richard. 

If you look at Ron's sketch and play this you can definitely hear his orchestral material is derived from the very ideas on that sketch in some form or another.  Expanded on yes, but drawn from the ideas on his sketch.  Very clear example there. 
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RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2012, 04:15:33 AM »
Thank you. I hope I am not being too forward but is there any chance you could post the score so that I can compare it with the sketch that you posted.

Michel.R.E

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 06:45:08 AM »
when I prepare a new work, I start with a proposed "structure" that is entirely text-based.
as I start to toss musical ideas around, I'll jot those down.
I will sometimes take certain ideas and try out various techniques on them (ie: contrapuntal, cellular, 12-tone, etc...).

Sometimes, though not always, I will create brief harmonic frameworks for sections of a piece, like I did with both my symphonies (particularly for the adagio sections). Sometimes those harmonic frameworks will be quite detailed, other times very rough and prone to change radically during the course of actual composition.

There are times I will create a very detailed and consciously "designed" theme for a piece, as I did for the main theme of my 1st symphony (it was literally constructed note-by-note, interval-by-interval for a very specific purpose).

But VERY rarely does a sketch I write translate into "this measure is measures 1-2, that measure is measures 3-4, etc..." Sections of a sketch are as likely to return in mixed up order, with repeated fragments, as transposed sequences, etc...
"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"

RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2012, 06:49:49 AM »
Would you be willing to share an example of a text based structure.

RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 06:59:03 AM »
If you are willing to do so perhaps you could reference the first movement of  your second symphony which I have listened to several times and thoroughly enjoyed.

Michel.R.E

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2012, 07:19:26 AM »
I'm afraid I no longer have the textual sketches I write for any of my works.
They are generally scribbled on the back of some manuscript paper that I keep next to me while I work.

But text-based sketch can be as simple or as complicated as you want.

I remember writing something like this for an earlier work:

intro -15 seconds
1st theme - 45 seconds
intermediary passage- 15 seconds
2nd theme - 1 minute
repeat intermediary passage - 15 seconds
begin development
develop theme 1 - 2 minutes
transition to theme 2
develop theme 2 - 2 minutes
reverse roles (theme 1 takes character of theme 2, and vice versa)
develop for 2 minutes
short intermediary passage leads to
recapitulation starting with theme 2
theme 1
coda based on intermediary passage


Because my music is not traditionally tonal, I don't rely on standard tonal harmonic relationships for the structure of my music. So this means I also avoid using key areas as targets for movement of material. (ie: theme 1 in tonic, theme 2 in dominant, development of theme 1 in subdominant, etc...) besides, my music also tends to not remain in a single key area very long.
"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"

RichardMc

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Re: Sketching
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 07:29:44 AM »
Thank you. I really have to learn how to do these things I am constantly losing the forest through the trees. I can come up with ideas but keeping sight of the big picture is really a challenge. I need to learn how to develop a framework that will give structure to my composition beyond just binary, ternary etc.