For the fourth Challenge, Hurdles, Charlie provided a lead sheet that we were to compose around. The chords represented the hurdles in this challenge.
When I first approached the lead sheet, I played the chords on my keyboard as best as I could. At first,I cringed because the first chords sounded like every popular cliche soft pop song that becomes an irritating ear worm (think Don’t Stop Believing, You’re Beautiful, ect). Being horrified at this realization, I thought about how I could keep this piece from following these cliches and writing something that sounds like everything else. Perhaps that was an unintended part of the challenge.
First, I changed the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4 as most of those songs are in 4/4. After experimenting at the piano with the allowed chord extensions to color these chords, I put them into Finale. Originally I had the default instrumentation set to flute and piano. I listened to the playback over and over again until I came up with a flowing melody line that I could sing back.
After transcribing this melody, I listened to it and realized that it just did not sound right to me with the Midi playback. Just for fun, I went into the instrument list and experimented with the available instruments for playback. I settled for the Recorder with Music box accompaniment The piece, now sounding more lullaby like with these changes, was named Gently Obstructed Lullaby. The obstructions are the seemingly oddly placed chords (aka hurdles) that almost interrupt the predictability of the melody.
There was a surprisingly large variety of treatments to this chord progression and I enjoyed listening to how others avoided the cliche as well. You can listen to the other Olympian’s hurdles pieces by clicking here.