For my first draft I followed my babysteps to develop some initial material, of which I then took to my tutor to receive feedback upon. A picture of this is below.
While obviously lacking in some respects (pedalling, dynamic and tempo, it showed my basic compositional ideas. As you can see above, I utilised the whole tone scale pitch set starting on C, and implemented many open 8ve and 5ths. The bottom hand also contains the chordal accompaniment while the top contains fragments of melodic figurations, as outlined in the initial stages of my baby steps.
However, one thing I was struggling with were the chords in the left hand as they needed to span an octave or under in order to be playable simultaneously, however being in the lower register, they also needed to be adequately spaced as to not sound muddy. When showing my progress to my tutor, he suggested I appegiate the chords allowing for a larger range, while also sounding smoother and less sudden. I realised that this also contributed to the sense of rhythmic freedom that I had discussed in my baby steps and hence I implemented this feedback in my later revisions.
Some additional feedback I received included to consider the phrasing and length of the melodic lines, especially in comparison to other major impressionist works.
Having received the feedback from my tutor, I decided to refer to a previous impressionist-style composition of mine, of which I modelled my baby steps off of. In reflection, I realised this composition didn’t quite fit the impressionist genre as I had intended, largely due to its fast pace and lack of space. I thought that having not yet submitted this piece for assessment, that it would be worthwhile to return to this piece, modifying it in line with my baby steps and the feedback received. A copy of this initial composition can be found here to document its transformation.
I took melodic fragments and ideas from the first composition, developing them through my baby steps and different compositional devices such as transposition and doubling the rhythmic value, shaping it into my new composition. For instance, I took the chordal motif from the start and extended it for my new composition. This can be seen below. While I largely kept the idea of contrary motion, I reduced the amount of block chords either through appegiation, or through the creation of new melodic lines that were based off of motivic ideas found later in the piece.
I took this new version of my composition to a class seminar so that I could receive peer feedback on the content I had currently created. While some of it I expected (enharmonic equivalents, editing errors, etc.) there were comments on the repetitive nature of the harmonic relationships. While I had considered this when writing, I was yet to consider the impact it had upon the composition. I decided therefore to adjust my composition in line with these comments. As you can see below, I added additional colour to the chords, chosen aurally. I plan to repeat a similar idea throughout on sectional repeats, however these repeats would not be exact repeats but slightly modified. This way the harmonic relationships remain varied and interesting throughout.
In reflection upon the left hand of my composition and the register it sits in, I decided to modify the intervals it plays to predominantly octave intervals. The benefits of this can be seen when looking at the harmonic series, as lower intervals are greatly spaced, and become closer together as they become higher in pitch. This is to avoid a sense of muddiness within the chord, and also encouraged me to further utilise the range of the piano. I supplemented this reduction by adding chordal colour in the right hand where I placed layered appegiated chords, sustained through use of the pedals. This can be seen in the image below.
Following on from my third reflection, I modified my repeats of the chordal passage to add slight variations. This can be seen below, comparing bars 1-8 to bars 13-19. As you can see, the bass and tenor line of the chord have been transposed down in the second passage. Additionally, upon reflection I realised that these figures needed more space, particularly art the start, so that each added colour could be properly appreciated. For this reason I extended the left hand octaves at the start of both passages. I feel as though this also adds to the ambiguity of pulse, especially considering where the following entries fall.
Following from my previous reflection, I decided to focus on the middle section of the composition. Here I planned for the momentum to increase, however I wanted to simplify aspects of what I had previously written as to contribute to a more impressionist feel (comparisons can be made to draft uploaded in reflection 2). To do this, I simplified the left hand part, reducing the amount of attacks and the octave doubling in the chords. This can be seen below in bars 27-37. Bars 31-34 show a new iteration of the melodic motif, transposed and modified slightly in the contour and rhythm to create a mirroring passage. Without this, I felt the piece progressed to fast, again lacking the space it requires. A full version of this draft can be found here.
It has been a long process, however I am now near the end. I have been working on editing my score, deciding on a suitable layout for heightened playability. There have been many notational decisions that have needed to be made throughout, such as the use or no use of octave higher notation as the music transgresses into the upper register, along with the use of multiple voices towards the start of the piece to notate the spread chords, indicating the continued sustain. While this part of the process is not creatively taxing, it is equally important as it allows for the smooth communication of one’s compositional intent. You can now see the full score completed, shown here.