Forum Posts

Niamh O'Donnell
May 11, 2020
In BLOGS
Finally, the last workshop came upon us. I travelled up to Bangor by train on the morning of the 12th with my friend and fellow CoDi Sound Composer Jordan Hirst. As we settled on the train, we realised both Ashley, Jerry and Joss were on the same train and we decided to travel together! On that 4-hour journey, we had interesting discussions about the CoDi Sound programme and the pieces we had each created, as well as discussing pieces we had recently found and generally just catching up after the long break. We arrived and went into the first rehearsal, coffees readily in hand. This was the most nerve-wracking 2 hours, but the most crucial of the whole course, as it was the first time we heard our pieces and tested the electronics. As usual with live electronics and Max MSP in particular, there were some tweaks I needed to make to my patch and with the help of Andrew Lewis, we were able to correct the problems presented. The next day, we continue with rehearsals after a lovely breakfast at the Eryl Mor Hotel, where we were staying for the 4 days we were in Bangor. This rehearsal consisted of longer amounts of time spent on every piece and refining both the notation and electronics. UPROAR tirelessly spent 6 hours each day of our stay in Bangor, helping us understand the ins and outs of our music as well as bringing it to life. For me, they taught me to pay more attention to the small things which people overlook, like phrase markings, articulation and the layout of the score. Finally, performance day came. I was still nervous about my Max patch and asked to meet Andrew a couple hours before our final run through of each piece. We quickly discovered the problem and had the chance to rehearse with the patch just on its own, as I had decided to utilise a launchpad and trigger the electronics myself. With the new patch in hand, we proceeded to have our last rehearsal with UPROAR to ensure we were happy with the result. Before our concert, we had a 45-minute talk with all six composers, hosted by the lovely Deborah Keyser. Without revealing all, we talked about the different processes we went through when composing our pieces and revealed our compositional and general backgrounds. We then got to know our audience, as we had time to chat and elaborate on topics presented in the Q&A. All this included a nice supply of red wine, orange juice and a selection of snacks. Finally, the moment came to premiere our pieces, and we finally are able to reveal all about the pieces with the help of Andrew Lewis acting as host/compere for the night. After nervous anticipation, my piece finally made its debut and was an overall success. The technology behaved itself, UPROAR performed it beautifully, and I was very proud to stand and bow with my fellow composers and UPROAR at the end of the concert. Following the concert, a group of us made our way to a small Vegan restaurant, and celebrated the success of the concert. It was a lovely atmosphere to finish the night and gave us time to talk to everyone associated with the project as well as make new connections! After much thought, I can say that CoDi Sound has helped me develop my creativity and confidence as a composer. I say creativity as it has allowed me to push my material further and not to be frightened of complex writing or when it goes wrong. Its taught me not to rule out simplistic writing of harmony/ melody as sometimes simple is better and I should always follow my creativity and not feel self-conscious of it.
My CoDi Sound experience Part 2 content media
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Niamh O'Donnell
Apr 07, 2020
In BLOGS
The last 6 months have been hard for me creatively. You could say it was a mental block, and I tried so hard to escape it without much luck until halfway through writing my piece. The CoDi Sound programme was a key experience which I needed to grow compositionally and to be inspired by the other composers, the ensemble and an electronic view on composition. Having this creative crisis before the first CoDi sound Workshop, I saw this as an opportunity to gain some inspiration in a genre which I had not ventured towards before. Maybe this was the push I needed to get the creative cogs turning again? Before the workshop, we all prepared sketches which combined both electronics and notation together. This was a useful tool as creating these small musical cells sparked more and more ideas which were then tried and tested in the workshop. Through this process, I was able to see what would work technology-wise, as that was what I was the most nervous about. Through this initial workshop, I was able to see the technological capabilities before me and set out creating patches using Max MSP. I also extended and developed my notational material with the knowledge provided by the UPROAR ensemble about musical technique, and what would be the clearest way to write the electronics on the score. After the first workshop, I went to the second with a little more confidence in myself and my music. However, I realised I needed to go back to the drawing board and possibly rethink some patch designs and overall combination ideas. I decided to pursue a combination of live electronics and notation as I wanted the live playing to be supported and manipulated by the electronics. I realised this was the catalyst to have the electronics as a developmental tool instead of a music making tool. After the 2nd creative workshop, it was time to elaborate on the sketches we had created and formulate an entire piece during December. As an undergraduate, I, like many students, went home for the holidays and I was able to eat great food, be warm and covered in blankets whilst composing for a good month. However, this didn’t make it any easier. I had to develop previous ideas and create new motifs as I had restarted my idea by the second workshop. At this moment in time, I still needed an opening theme and was not happy with what I was composing. I took to gaming soundtracks for some inspiration, and the one that stood out to me was the soundtrack from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I loved the feeling of freedom the piano melody brought, almost like a breath of fresh air and that was exactly what I needed. (Next stage in part 2)
My CoDi Sound Experience Part 1 content media
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