Happy December everyone! I have returned to school after a week of Thanksgiving break. For me, the week was not much of a break though! Two days of traveling to see my family and Kia’s family. Then, around 30 hours of work at Kohl’s over the Black Friday weekend. Wow, I’m tired. My first semester at IU is nearing its end, and there’s a lot happening. Here’s a summary.
My compositional world has been dominated by my new multi-percussion solo, Hunting Patterns. Though I didn’t have as much time over the break as I’d like to write, I somehow managed to finish it. Now, after receiving some feedback, I need to make some improvements to the end, and it will be done. The instrumentation is multiple drums, caxixi, bell pedal, and opera gongs. Honestly, it turned out a bit more technically challenging than I anticipated, but the piece is my attempt at taking a small reference pattern and letting the music develop itself.
For those of you interested in the process behind the work, I began with samples of the Bata music of the Lukumi and Yoruba peoples. I settled on three patterns for a three-part work and figured I could base each section on one of the patterns. After writing a bit, I realized I was too constrained by the material I was trying to reference and promptly deleted my progress. I decided to use only part of one of the patterns I had found and began writing again. It came pretty quickly after that. Without the bonds of literal reference, I felt more free to write what I could hear in my head.
My most recent climbing discovery is that rest periods really are great for your body! It’s funny how you know things are true, but your experiences continuously show you how true they are. Because of curricular activities and my work schedule, I was forced to take a few days off from my climbing routine. I’m glad I did. I’m proud to say that after only 4 months of climbing, I have topped my first V5 boulder!
I attribute this progress to having a great climbing partner and a good routine. Kia topped her first V5 right before I did, and watching/talking with her shows me things I wouldn’t think of on my own. As for the routine, one of the things I do for a cooldown now is a path on the training wall (a decent incline that has all types of holds, no problems). I move through jugs, pockets, small slopers, crimps, larger slopers, and then a double dyno to the top. I like making sure I feel and move across most kinds of holds each time I’m at the gym.
By the way, check out the La Sportiva Legends Only 2016 competition. There are some really tough problems.
Another thing on my mind right now is my final music theory project. We were given clearance to choose our own topic, and it’s something I’ve been struggling with. I decided I wanted to base the project on Benjamin Britten, because I really enjoy his music and compositional style. In particular, I enjoy his choral works, so I figured I could analyze his use of neotonality, rhythm, and form in works across his lifetime. This turned out to be too broad, so I had to do a lot of thinking.
I started sketching on a sheet of paper and asked myself how, when, where, and why for each of the three categories I had chosen. I realized that my answers were all leading me to text support. I determined that the focus of his music was the text, and that all other compositional elements supported it. This claim was correct but has already been made. So now, I move forward not with the “text-is-the-most-important” mindset, but instead thinking of HOW Britten specifically supports the text with other elements. Many composers say text is the focal point of their music, but they go about it in very different ways.
If you haven’t looked around the website in a while, please do! I have updated the home page and blog to make them more user-friendly. Also, COMING SOON is a new “Gallery” page showing some of my photographic and climbing creations!