Sing Me A Song

Continuing my competitive choral endeavours, I wrote a piece for another competition. This competition is called “Sing Me a Song” and it is sponsored by the Lieutenant Governor of BC. The purpose of this competition is for school-aged students to write and perform their own pieces about Canada, writing music inspired by this country. This theme is particularly important as it is the 150th anniversary of confederation this year. (I am getting quite good at writing music specifically for Canada’s 150). The piece I wrote for this is called “Land of Snow” and is a relatively simple chart, as it had to be learned and performed by singers in a short amount of time.

The link to the score can be found here.

(Thanks to TALONS singers Anika, Billie, Hira, Tori, and Mellissa, as well as TALONS percussionist James)

As you listen to this song, you may be saying to yourself, “Gee those lyrics are kinda ehh/weird/strange”. And you’d be correct, since I was the one to write the lyrics. I am discovering that being able to write my own poetry/lyrics would be incredibly helpful in order to write choral music that does not borrow text from another poet. That has become one of my new goals is to somewhat develop my writing abilities.

As for meeting with my mentor, we did some more editing of my previous song, just for learning and seeing how some things could have been arranged in different ways. As well we looked at some music by Samuel Barber and a bit more of Ambroś Čopi (whom I particularly like). Reincarnations by Samuel Barber is the piece(s) that we looked at and I did a bit of analyzing of. The Čopi piece, Ti in Jaz, is one of my favourite pieces of music written and, well I could write paragraphs and essays on the beauty of that piece but maybe later.

De Bono’s Many Hats

White Hat – This is employed in my mentor meetings when discussing music theory subjects, as well as looking at composers and their way of writing music. The music theoretical difference between the writing of Čopi and Bach is quite different and it’s easy to see and hear. As well when looking at certain rules in music theory, such as what intervals make sense in a chord and such.

Red Hat – I use this hat when taking initial looks at a piece of music. I’ll listen to a piece my mentor picks out for me, or I’ll listen to something on my own, and there will usually be a chord progression or passage that I particularly enjoy. I’ll look at the score and then look at it more analytically and see why I like it (or dislike it), and not just know that I do (or don’t) like it. When it comes to the arts, and especially music, initial reactions are important to both the composer and the listener, so by making note of what I like just listening it to a piece for the first time or without real analytical thought is very important and is a fundamental part of appreciating music.

Black Hat – This hat is put on usually immediately after having a purely emotional reaction to a piece of music. As alluded to before in the Red Hat section, trying to understand why a piece of music makes you feel a certain way is incredibly important as a composer and is also important to the listener. This hat is one of the more worn ones in my mentor meetings, as well as when I work independently. For example, when we were editing one of the choral pieces I had written, my mentor had stated things that didn’t make sense in the score, such as “You shouldn’t write middle voices more than an octave apart” among other smart music theory rules.

Yellow Hat – This hat is like a combination of the Red and Black hats. By looking for value in the music, you are looking for things you like, why it works, and appreciating the emotional response it elicits in the listener. In my meetings, this hat is worn when my mentor gives me a piece of music to analyse. Why would he give me this to look at and to listen to? And how can I use this in it’s most effective way?

Green Hat – Since this is the hat that helps with creativity, it is employed when I am writing music, or trying to think of ways that music works beyond the notes. What I mean by this is that when analyzing a piece of music, looking at the chord progressions and voicings is one thing, but seeing how the parts in the music serve an ultimately higher purpose that is the entirety of the song is not something that can be understood looking strictly at the intervals between notes. This sort of analyzing requires a higher level of creativity and understanding which my mentor gets me to do when we look at a piece of music. For example, we were looking at a Bob Chilcott choral arrangement of the popular Aesop’s Fables, and my mentor asked me things like “Why do you think he was able to write such polyrhythmic music and text?” and the sort of things like that, that really got me to think just beyond one or two bars in music.

Blue Hat – This hat is used at the beginning and end of my meetings. We discuss what we want to accomplish today, and then we decide on what we want to work on moving forward. This helps keeping me on task and just trying to accomplish one goal at a time, and not take on several in one go before properly understanding things that I need to know.

“Music is, for me, like a beautiful mosaic which God has put together. He takes all the pieces in his hand, throws them into the world, and we have to recreate the picture from the pieces.” – W. A. Mozart

1 thought on “Sing Me A Song

  1. I am listening and marking your post with my parents in the background. They loved your song and have just told me they would like to come to in-depth night again after missing it last year. Thanks Ben for inspiring them to come again!
    Have you heard back from your first song competition yet?

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