How to write a piece for Baroque ensemble and not get caught.

So I’m working on a piece for Baroque ensemble. A bunch of passionate musicians playing recorder flutes, guitars, cello, harpsichord and double bass. And the greatest part is I’m really getting to learn a lot. This is because – believe it or not – I’ve never ever written for guitar. Nor have I ever written for recorder flutes. Nor is there a chapter on recorder flutes or more than half a page about a guitar in any of the books  I have on orchestration and music in my cupboard. Apart from the fact that this probably says something about the books I have in my closet, I am, to put it politely, in more than a jiffy… 🙂

Oh yeah have I mentioned it’s supposed to be for this week in Christian culture called The Good Week?  And I’m not really Christian (mom’s baptised but I’m not) … nor am I Jewish, really (dad’s Jewish, but technically I’m not because my mom’s not) … but I do have my own take on spirituality and was profoundly touched by a fabulous text which was posted on the blog called the ‘Diversity Chronicle‘. To read it click on the following link. http://diversitychronicle.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/pope-francis-condemns-racism-and-declares-that-all-religions-are-true-at-historic-third-vatican-council/
This text was being portrayed as speeches and other thoughts formulated by the new pope. Very inspirational words, which I hope he will actually speak for real one day. Still I do believe that this pope has more balls than his predecessors and I do believe positive change is on it’s way…

So anyway : this blogpost of mine  is about how to write this composition for amateur Baroque Ensemble – right? Well : basically I did the following.
0.  Have fun (repeat incessantly with every step)
1. Find inspiration. Yes – you read it correctly –  I didn’t say ‘WAIT until inspiration strikes’. Go get it. Find meaning in what you are doing, in what you are writing. If there’s no reason to do it, don’t do it. But I bet you there always is a connection to be found somewhere. Music should always transcend music itself. Now this may sound esotherical but it really isn’t. Transcending something to me is adding a meaning to it. When you are asked to write for cello, you should find a reason why you want to write for cello. Why there is the necessity to write a piece in the first place and second why it has to be cello.
2. When you’ve found that connection and have managed to put it into notes (more on this step later – I’m still writing a blog post and not a book here) you’re ready for the logistics.
3. Pick up a guitar and try to play what you wrote. If you can play it and you’re not a guitarist – that should mean any person having studied guitar for more than a week should be able to do it. So that’s already not bad.
4. Ask another guitar-player to play it. I will ask Antoine to proof-play the harder guitar-parts I wrote – which I can’t play – but that doesn’t really mean much.
5. Realise that recorder flutes will always sound a bit off – and don’t worry too much about it. The reason for this is that apparently recorder flutes are not at all ‘uniform’ in how they were made. Recorder flutes from different ‘brands’ have different tunings and in most ensembles you will find all these brands of flutes mixed together. So that makes that even when you right notes that should sound great, technically speaking, you should be prepared for some soundwaves crashing into each other.
6. Have the ensemble play your piece and listen to the recordings & live sounds. Correct where you feel it’s needed.
7. Have fun. (repeat this step at every step)

I started this blog-post some time ago – lost lots of thoughts I had written down as soon as I had hit publish the blog says  like ‘oops something went wrong’. So before it does that again – and while it’s still relevant – I’ll quickly post it before re-reading. So please be compassionate with possible missssstakes – yes? Thank you oh so much… Susan

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