Earlier today I had my tutorial with Laurie about my project. I have not been able to do much composition since our last meeting. However I have found a lyric and written a simple lute line for my third song. Laurie has suggested that I should think about just having a solo female voice line and then if I still have time I can add other voice parts. He also suggested that I listen to some lute songs on Naxos Music Library as examples for developing my work further.
Last Friday night I was at the NLS again for a talk by Donald Smith, author of The Ballad of the Five Marys (2013). During the talk he explained his view of Mary Stuart and her companions. Explaining that these five Marys were united aged five and all went to France. The young queen and Marys Seaton, Beaton, Fleming and Livingston enjoyed exceptional educations for woman of their time. It was fascinating and Mr. Smith treated us to a burst of the famous ballad in his
good singing voice. He kindly autographed my copy of his book which I will be reading over the coming weeks. I am glad to say that the author thinks as I do that Mary Stuart was much more than a Catholic martyr and that crucially "Her voice has never actually been properly heard.".
Hurrah, as this is what I am hoping to achieve in a small way through my suite of three songs
using words from Mary's writings
Today I visited the National Library of Scotland. I discovered it is necessary to join and to do this you need a photo ID, proof of address
and as a student in Edinburgh I also needed a referral form from my
college librarian. So, after putting in a request as a one day pass member, we had to travel back to college and get the form, go to the bank to get a letter proving address and I used my student card for photo ID proof.
Thus when we returned to join up properly a few hours later, the book and manuscript I had requested were waiting for me to examine with the assistance of my PA, Despoina. The book was a collection of Mary
Stuart's poems in French and Latin. These being her main languages.
I was able to obtain photocopies of this. The manuscript contained english translations of the poems. This has given me several lines I feel are suitable for one or more of my songs.
I was also in the presence of Mary's last letter written in her own hand just before her execution. This felt strange and exciting to be so close to something my subject had touched and to hear her thoughts
and wishes before her death. She wrote in a very strong and controlled way.
After my reading research I also attended a talk by Sally Garden, singer and musicologist, titled Beyond the Composers.
This was also attended by Tommy Fowler. It was a really excellent talk with musical examples on each of the three scottish composers: Ronald Center (1913-1973), Marie Dare (1902-1976) and John Moir Clark (1862-1928)
I have found the Victoria & Albert Museum website a worthwhile resource for my research.
If you start on this page you'll no doubt want to explore more, it is fascinating and the mp3s are downloadable. I particularly like John Dowland's Fine knacks for Ladies.
Sorry Weebly not allowing me to insert live link at present.
Since starting the composition for my project in December I have added a few more lines of music. I have been using the play-back speed regulator to help build up the harmonies plus the polyphony. However listening back I am now thinking that the mode I have chosen is too melancholic. I would like my piece to illustrate the sanctuary and happiness that Mary Stuart experienced while living in France. Therefore I may have to change from the mixolydian to the ionian mode. Through this project so far, I have been listening to and reading about Renaissance music more widely. I have also been researching what the Renaissance period meant for Scotland it its music. The text I would recommend for this would be, 'Scotland's Music', by John Purser - there is also a double CD in support of the book which you can buy separately.
Following extensive research I have now begun to compose my first piece of music for this project. The composition is in the key of A minor and features four voices (SATB) plus two lutes. I am finding writing the first page of music fairly straight forward, however it is a while since I have used Sibelius and I have to get used to writing 7 lines of music. The advantage of using Sibelius is that I can produce a high quality score which Logic cannot do because it is mainly a recording programme.
During my research I have been listening to different types of Renaissance music. A lot of this is on the radio station Abbicus Renaissance Lute this can be found on my Sonata Plus. The Sonata Plus is a special internet radio designed for the blind which is easy to use and was provided by The British Wireless for the Blind Fund. You can also stream the radio station on line http://tunein.com/radio/Abacusfm-Renaissance-Lute-s136830/
I have now chosen my topic for my project composition it will be based around the life of Mary Queen of Scots. I chose this topic because I am interested the historical aspects of Mary Queen of Scots. I also have a great love of Renaissance music and the polyphony within the music of this period. I am intending to write a work for voice and lute accompaniment set in the Mixolydian mode which was frequently used in many musical styles in the Renaissance period.
I was very pleased to gain a Distinction mark for this unit in my HND. I have chosen to do a Composition as my Personal Project going into my BA Mus. Performance. Watch this blog to read of my next development as a composer.
I successfully completed my composition portfolio which was due on the 3rd of May. The four pieces I chose were, two commissioned pieces which were, 'Avant Guard' and 'Daylight' (my song to be sung by Taylor Wilson), along with two other compositions entitled, 'Kamareeta' and 'Puck'. 'Kamareeta' was inspired by a female Bengal tiger which I sponsor. 'Puck' was inspired by a little owl I met during the summer of 2012. I hope to obtain good marks for my portfolio because I really enjoyed developing my compositions.
Well, on Thursday we heard from Taylor wilson (vocalist) that she has chosen six of our songs to perform at a lunchtime concert in May. My song Daylight is one of them. I am thrilled and very excited