Susannah Foster and others at their arts award skill sharing session.

For the past week, I have been participating in workshops and composing sessions as a part of the composing for voice course at the Sound and Music Summer School. Our days have started with physical and vocal warm-ups including stretches and harmony exercises. We have studied compositional techniques such as layering, and listened critically to experimental compositions with our tutors. We also got the opportunity to have a taster session in both the electronic and advanced instrumental groups, which gave us a different perspective to composition. There was also a very insightful talk given by Yshani Perinpanayagam about her compositional journey. 

I have especially loved experimenting with sound and harmony. One exercise we did was take a tune and change to the next note at different times, creating dissonance. Myself and a few others went in our own time to the sports hall and found an incredible acoustic where we experimented. Playing around with harmony is something that I have tried to reflect in my final composition, and I’m sure I will continue to in the future.

One thing I found challenging was experimenting with different kinds of scores, such as graphic scores and more improvisatory scores. This was unsettling at first, as the lack of control/precision made me slightly anxious, but I have found using ad libertum sections introduce a more ‘fresh’ aspect to the piece. Another challenging aspect was I had to go out of my comfort zone. I am not the most confident person, and from the first activity I had to do things like make loud noises that usually make me feel self-conscious, but it has shown me that if you put everything into a task, you will get so much more out of it.

I’ve learnt so much from this summer school. I have learnt that composition can be anything you want it to be, and that there are no rules and nothing is too ‘out there’. I have learnt how to properly notate soundscapes, which means my compositions can incorporate more diverse elements, and I have gained the confidence to take my composing to the next level.

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