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“Portraits” Completed, and More Thoughts on Musescore

I mentioned recently that I was working on digitizing my compositions from back in my music student days. Well, I finished another piece earlier, and decided to upload it tonight:

There’s a recording of the premiere performance of the piece (and, I think, maybe the only performance so far) over on my Music page. The score here has minor corrections–but only minor ones, including some dynamics sketched in that should have been in the original, but somehow got left out–and there are a few small errors in the performance, especially in the third movement. (The altissimo and the multiphonic tones, especially.)

I’m even less enthused about the piece now that I’ve digitized it… my weaknesses in terms of understanding Western classical harmony are pretty evident (despite my enthusiasm for the work of J.S. Bach), and there’s enough repetition to choke a horse. But hey, live and learn, right?

More than that, though, I’m kicking myself for not having figured out how to use the old Finale software back when I was composing music regularly. As a compositional tool, I have to say that digital notation software with a playback function is pretty killer. Sure, it’s not great with the special sounds and effects–multiphonics, weird vocalizations, and odd harmonics are a bit tough to emulate–but as far as giving you a basic idea of how things fall together in time, it’s pretty game-changing.

Young composers coming up today are lucky: Musescore is really insanely easy to learn, and is also completely free software. I went from struggling along to inputting this whole score in a couple of days… and I only worked on it during break times between lessons and writing sessions, really. That’s pretty impressive!

(Sure, it’s a short score, and simple one, and it has a fair amount of repetition that could be cut’n’pasted around, but my point is, the learning curve really was quite pretty mild, compared to what I remember struggling with Finale years ago! The online forums for Musescore are, of course a huge help, but I think the software design is really good, too.)

I won’t have time for a little while, but I’m actually eager to input the next piece. I think I’ll try for something a little more challenging. Maybe the chamber orchestra piece I wrote in my 4th year of music school, “In Their Shadows”… or maybe “Yudhistira’s Dice”? We’ll see: that’s a project for late March or April, though.

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