Thanks to my composition inquisitor (aka teacher), I have been working on a piece completely unlike any other I have attempted as of yet. Scott challenged me to abandon my usual frame of having a story to compose and instead write what is called a Visual-Spacial notation piece. Basically the piece does not have bar lines to designate strict meter subdivisions. Instead, it leaves it up to the performers to designate where the musical figure is to fit within where the designated time specifies. It calls for ordered improvisation with a demand for the group to play as an ensemble. So far, the piece looks like this:
Composing this piece has forced me to think more freely about musical lines and textures and to consider multiple possibilities for the building blocks of a work. Along the way, my teacher has had me looking at various scores with non-traditional notation by Cage, Varese and others I may not have picked up otherwise and we have discussed them in our lesson. Many Cagian ideas such as indeterminacy have made it into this piece as a result. For example, I got the idea for how to break up the time by rolling dice except for the 30 second section, where I anticipate the performer to successfully make a sandwich with the ingredients already set (mainly because I timed this myself at home).
Other than the fact that I am using kitchen percussion and adding the humorous element of a musician making a sandwich for no other reason than to add improvised non- traditional sounds, this piece lacks a preconceived story and instead has its own underlying framework. Although I anticipate that the piece will sound “wonkey” if and when it is performed, I have enjoyed trying to think within this loose structure.