Solo piano piece up: To Change the Height of Musical Surroundings

And here’s my new composition – To Change the Height of Musical Surroundings.

This was piece was a journey (and it portrays a journey too, but that’s another blog post for another day): prompted by my teacher’s challenge to compose “away from the piano,” I took out a piece of staff paper and drew reckless slashing lines and shapes across it to create something like a graphic score.

Next, I overlay 8 measures per line and began a very precise process of assigning
pitch values and rhythms to these abstract shapes. Inspired by a big band piece I was performing
that used the “jazz” altered scale, I interpreted the shapes using a mix of jazz altered scales, octotonic scales, and whole tone scales.

I input the results into Finale, then spent several sessions improvising on the contents of each
page – each improv session was about 15 minutes long. From this plentiful material, I excerpted
the parts I liked, notated them, and then began expanding on them and rearranging them into a
piece. It was a labor-intensive process, but worth it.

This piece has also been educational in learning how to use Finale and what notation
conventions to use to make a piece intuitive for a performer. I need to check the page turns, and then I’ll upload it to the score to IMSLP.

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