This post will essentially wrap up my composition assignment as it is ultimately close to completion. As both the score and recording have caught up to each other, I will talk about both.
I re-recorded all guitar parts except for the melodic role section to match the changed chord progression. It was a lot easier to play and I wondered why I chose to play it the hard way to begin with. I changed the guitar tone as well to have less delay effect, and to give it a greater body sound like an acoustic guitar. I also re-recorded the melodies instead of using copy and paste as it was the whole point of my composition to have slight variations with each repetition and instrument. These variations often were at the ornament level, however, they also changed the base melody slightly. I also re-recorded the low Irish whistle melody with a dry fipple so it no longer sounds like a gargling bird. I also slightly corrected the pitch to compensate for my tin whistle playing skills. And I also significantly pitched corrected the violin, however, I did it so it is still slightly pitchy to add a bit of roughness to the sound. The violin can be hard to hear as it blends in with the uilleann pipes, however, there are times when it will jump out of the mix, especially when it has a more intricate rhythm and articulation.
I also mastered the track, which will be noticeable if you compare the draft to the final recording. I tweaked the mix, equalising, stereo image, as well as sidechain compression to make the mix work better. I also added a slight harmonic exciter to give it a bit of sheen, especially in the “air” frequencies.
I also changed the start and end of the piece. I ditched the tin whistle’s small introduction that took the ending from the section B melody and left it for accompaniment only. For the ending, the guitars play an E minor instead of just the bass note that was in the draft. I also added a D5 chord on beat 6 of the second last bar to lead into it smoothly, just as the piece has been doing throughout with D5 to Em (links to the very common chord progression in the style of music: i VII i).
The score required the most work since my last reflection post, as I stopped scoring in order to put a draft together. I have since taken time to solo each track and transcribe them as accurately as possible. There were times when I had to physically perform the line again to feel how the rhythm went, as it helped me visualise the rhythm and ornaments.
I will post and annotate excerpts from the score and they will be cut to not show the key signature because they occur further into the piece. If you are looking at them here, the key is D major (2 sharps).
I copy and pasted the base melody each time and I changed it based off the changes in the recording to get accuracy.
You can see the differences between the A melodies below.
And here are the differences between the B melodies.
As you can see, it becomes more ornamented towards the end, as it creates interest despite the repetition.
Low Irish Whistle
This was one that I had to perform it again to help me visualise the notation. There were some sounds I was unsure about in terms of notation, so I did a best-fit approach and decided to have instructions on a preface page for the overblowing effect.
To annotate the first melody on the low Irish whistle, you can see differences between the melody below and those on the tin whistle above. The phrasing is a little different in the 6th bar because it was harder to play in one phrase (going between registers). To make it more idiomatic, I took a breath and played the grace note (tap ornament) to the B as its own mini phrase.
In terms of the ornaments, the notation for popping was difficult for me as I had no idea. I looked online for some forum posts and deduced that it is just an effect that players do and there is no clear symbol for it like a turn or mordent. I decided to just simply use a wedge with a written instruction in a preface page, as a piper would know exactly what to do with it then.
The melody repeats twice, however, there is not much difference apart from one small rhythm change in the 6th bar. This just creates a greater heterophonic interaction with the other instruments in the unison section. In contrast with the tin whistle’s melody, the uilleann pipes play F# instead of an A in the second bar (it moves in the opposite direction). This is noticeable in the unison section and makes it clear that there is heterophonic texture.
Scoring the Violin was easy because I didn’t play very complicated lines. However, in the pizzicato section, I played an occasional strum which I notated with the arpeggio up line. I wrote the instrument to strum in the preface page to make it very clear about how it is to be played.
For the section A melody, the violin plays in a middle register because the tin whistle is taking the high register. This blends the sound with the pipes and creates a nice texture of sounds. As you can see, the melody below it a bit different from the other instruments. Slurring indicates to play it in one bow so I only used slurring when it was needed. The violin (or fiddle) plays more short notes, which allows it to add greater detail to the sound when it is fused with the uilleann pipes. The dissonance in bar 2 just adds a little bit of extra flavour to the line, as it places more emphasis on the F#. The low Irish whistle copies this to emphasise the F# in the second bar’s first beat. In bar 3, the melody doesn’t go up to the C# on beat 6 as it functions like a grace note that would go B to C#, only it is sustained. These subtle differences just highlight the differences in the lines more than purely using ornaments.
Because I am using DADGAD tuning, it was my decision all along to include traditional notation alongside tablature. This is to really assist with the different fingerings as a result of the tuning. I also decided to get rid of the chord symbol diagrams because the tablature shows the fingerings.
When the guitar takes a more melodic role, I had to transcribe off the recording as I was thinking of the melody and how to play it but I embellished it with strums and open strings. I didn’t play the part in a mechanical way and I let the notes ring out as much as I could, so I placed a “l.v.” marking to let the player know to let the notes ring, similarly to the chord arpeggios which are to be played smoothly with legato sustain.
You can see the notation below for the melodic section which combines the individual melodic notes with extra strummed notes for a thicker texture. I didn’t want to just play a plain melody so I decided to play the guitar in a much more embellished way to complement the idea of ornamentation. The notation is also written in sounding pitch, however, the tablature is written for a capo on the 2nd fret.
I chose to only include traditional notation as the part was simple and in standard tuning. It was a very straight forward part and transcription was easy.
I also improvised a small bass fill which gets used in the piece a few times. The slur on the bass means to play it with a “pull off” technique instead re-plucking the string. This was mainly to make the bassline more interesting and to break out of the lower.
The bassline in itself has a nice contour to it to make the waving arch melody. I made use of different registers to make the piece flow nicely, which can be seen in the except below.
As a result of using a brush beater and using it in a non-traditional way, I decided to take influence from the key from before and I made my own based off that.
An open hit is a strong hit in the centre and letting it ring out with the full bass sound. The muted bass is dampened with the body or the other hand in the centre, and the high is closer to the rim. A frame click is hitting the rim of the drum like a rimshot, and a sidestick is hitting the skin and frame at the same time. And logically, a brush hit is using the brush side to slap the skin of the drum.
For the louder section with the pipes and unison, I took the original ostinato and added embellishments and extra beats. I focused on sound first so I wasn’t thinking of the score, so I just played it how I wanted and what I felt worked with the music. I did some ornaments on the bodhrán too, which you can see below with the grace notes (flams). To be completely honest, I didn’t know that I was playing the triplets, I was just trying to naturally play fast. It was a nice and easy stroke to play them and I can still perform it live.
Score Changes Log
You can download my Sibelius version log here to see how the composition evolved in terms of notation, however, because I transcribed a huge bulk of my score from audio in the end so there is a major change in the final version.