Writing an academic document is, by no means, a task for the slacker side of us. The very thought of it keeps you awake at night, drives your attention elsewhere, and makes you whine about things you shouldn’t really whine about. Nevertheless, it’s a force to be reckoned with and takes up a lot of your time. You have to consider your professor’s stance on the construction of the piece – Is it worthy of defense? Is he/she as excited about it as you are? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt to try to incite the fire you feel about your own work in someone else’s emotions. When it is finished and has been successfully defended you can pretty much guarantee a night of ruckus will ensue.
Since early September, I’ve been doing work on my master’s thesis at Michigan State University. It’s had its share of ups and downs, but it’s starting to come together as a legitimate work for chamber symphony. The instrumentation is as follows: flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, 2 horns, trombone, percussion, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, and bass (a total of 14 players). For a while, I debated breaking the piece into separate movements to complement a rounded architecture, however, I’ve come to settle on creating one longer movement somewhere in the vicinity of 10 or 11 minutes in duration. A sizable portion of the work has already been composed and I’ve made decisions about every aspect…except the title. This is where you come in.
My friend and colleague Dave MacDonald has been on this “crowdsourcing” kick as of late and I’ve found myself entertaining the idea of using it in my compositions…our compositions. Since I haven’t been able to come up with a title for my piece, I’ve decided that I’d like some help. Now, you may be asking yourself, “This isn’t a small, insignificant work. It’s for a grade and the completion of his degree! Why would he leave something like this for the public to decide?” Well, the piece is not built on any preconceived subject matter. Also, I think it would be refreshing and insightful to get input from many different people on such an important, yet, superficial part of a piece of art music. I’m a subscriber to the idea that music should be for the people, that it should be heard; not sit on staff paper in a closet collecting dust. To me, this seems like a great way to let the people play a role in the composition. It’s also an experiment in determining the effectiveness of a title.
A little bit about the piece: Slow introduction (broad, full, eighth note = 89, three min. or so), Jump to fast tempo (quarter note = 172, short with inconsistent pulse and driving rhythm, three min.), Short respite in a slower tempo (one min. or so), Finish at fast tempo (loud, fuller chords building and filling out the rhythmic activity then dying away softly, three min.).
In the next few days, I’ll be posting a survey so that you can post a potential title and/or vote on others’ titles.