Susannah Foster shares what she’s been up to at the Sound and Music Summer School 2021
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.