My Repertoire Selections (finally!!)

I have finally decided upon my repertoire selections (all except one) for teaching this unit of work. They are as follows:

Composer Date Title
FOCUS WORK Liza Lim 2009 Invisibility
Additional work Paul Stanhope 2014 Jandamarra – This is our Home
Additional work Bree Van Reyk 2017 Light for the First Time
Additional work Chunyin Rainbow Chan   (not sure yet)
Additional work Jacob ter Veldhuis 1998 Lipstick

In exploring these works, I will also be drawing upon other compositions as to show the influence and development of the stylistic movements the are a part of.

I settled on Liza Lim’s invisibility after exploring quite a few of her works. Being a solo instrumental work, it provides contrast to the remaining works, while also making issues of analysis a little bit simpler (movement 3 in Tongue of the Invisible has triplet divisions which sit half on one beat, half on another!). It still showcases much of Lim’s style and innovation, particularly as seen with her use of both the guiro bow (hair wound around the wood of the bow) and the regular bow, microtonality and unique extended techniques. It also relates to the Australian focus being firstly composed by an Australian, and secondly, being driven by Lim’s experiences and understanding of Aboriginal culture, seen in her exploration of the aesthetic of shimmer. The only thing is, this work has already been included in a education resource kit distributed by the Australian Music Centre, and I was hoping to focus on a work outside of this kit as to contribute something new to the world of educational resources.

I otherwise selected works mainly focused on cross-cultural collaboration or transcultural experiences, as I feel this represents much of Australia and the globalised world in both the students’ personal experiences and in the landscape of creatively collaborating in the greater music field. Paul Stanhope’s This is Our Home represents a different model to the distributed creativity embodied by Lim, built instead from the traditions of Peter Sculthorpe (having studied under him) but including Aboriginal culture bearers in more of the decision making process. Chunyin Rainbow Chan’s music is impacted by her transcultural experience having moved from Hong Kong at a young age, however this influence is more consciously present in her installation work than her pop music, which I was hoping to focus on.

The remaining pieces were chosen as I felt they connected the repertoire choices nicely to one another, with Lipstick by Jacob Ter Veldhuis representing a model to combining recorded and synthesised sounds with those of acoustic instruments, demonstrating how notating them would work (necessary for HSC Music 2 students’ final composition assessment!). Bree Van Reyk’s Light for the First Time introduces the idea of indeterminate music and the use of extended techniques in a slightly more accessible and easily performed form compared to Lim’s Invisibility. 

Therefore, I hope to structure my composition tasks building from one composition and model to another, so that by the final task, students have a pallet and sounds and possibilities that could be combined together into one synchronous composition.

Well that’s the aim at least… I think it’s time I get writing!


Repertoire Choices for Students

Choosing repertoire and approximating the AMEB grade level for instruments you don’t play is quite a hard task. Furthermore, commenting on what particularly the student should focus on for assessment purposes without sounding repetitive makes it even more complicated. Throw in the fact that it was near impossible to find more than a score sample for each of these works without having to purchase each score you were considering, this process becomes even more difficult. However, this was something I needed to go through. It is much better I struggle with it now in my undergraduate degree than if I struggle with it when I am working and have a group of year 12 students expecting me to know my stuff. Anyhow, after much deliberation, I have finally decided upon the recommended repertoire for my fictional students as can be seen in the table below:

Repertoire Composer Instrument Approx. standard (use AMEB grade if you like) Skills Assessed
Coil Gerard Brophy Percussion Advanced Rhythmic and Pitch accuracy requiring agility. Dynamic contrast to shape phrases.
à l’aube: dawn Kirsten Milenko Classical Guitar A.Mus.A Rhythmic accuracy: creating expressive phrasing while reflecting the specific rhythmic values and expressive technique directions. Natural harmonics will also need to be practised as to form a natural flowing part of the melodic line.
Blue Silence Elena Kats-Chernin Flute Grade 5 Phrasing and melodic line. Maintain a consistent tone and smooth line throughout despite shifts in register.
Red Blues Movements 2 Central and 4. Spartacus Carl Vine Piano Grade 6-7 Contrast between sections, dynamic control separation in both hands, rhythmic accuracy.
From a Quiet Place Movement III Allegro Vivace Betty Beath Viola Grade 8 Intonation and phrasing. Fast arpeggiated phrases require quick and exact intonation but not at the expense of phrasing. Being performed with piano, ensemble awareness and communication is also required.

I must admit, I started with a far bigger list of potential instruments and compositions, but after listening to each of them a few time, these were the ones I felt most comfortable with my judgements on them.

I would also like to send a personal big thank you out to the Australian Music Centre, which has a list of HSC Music 2 Mandatory Topic appropriate repertoire to help students of every instrument (or at least almost every instrument) find a piece of appropriate repertoire. I used this list, combined with a perusal of the Australian Music Centre’s page for some select composers I was familiar to devise my repertoire list. Although I commented that phrasing was an assessable component of pretty much every piece, I believe my observations were tailored towards the features of each individual piece. I doubt I have a done a perfect job, but I imagine this will be a skill I develop with time and experience.

Repertoire Selection Step 1

I have decided on my focus composer.

It isn’t quite a focus work but it is one step closer.

I have always been intrigued by Liza Lim’s music, particularly after hearing her composition seminar presentation earlier in my degree and hearing about her through a friend of mine who studied with her.

I am aware she explores the concept of distributed creativity in relation to composition and performance practise, blurring the boundaries between these two realms that are often kept separate. I think that this could be incorporated into the classroom by having students pair up and act as both the composer and performer for one another, which would by turn encourage passing of knowledge between peers rather than the teacher-centric model, while also creating an experiential and individual learning environment.

I still have to read up on this a bit more however I have found some sources that sound like worthwhile reads to me, which I will link below (one is even by Lim herself!):


Developing A Music 2 Unit of Work

Hello and welcome back!

I have a new project I am beginning to work on, being a Unit of Work for the NSW HSC Syllabus Music 2 Mandatory Topic ‘Music of the last 25 years (Australian Focus)’ (wow that was one heck of a string of words – I hope you understood!).  For this I will be creating a unit of work of 6 to 10 weeks in length complete with all resources, mandatory topic performance pieces selected for 4 imaginary students and lesson plans for 3 of those planned weeks. At this stage it is an intimidating prospect, but I know the end product will be of great value to me in my professional life and next practicum experience.

At this stage, I have some vague ideas on the repertoire I would like to focus on, however I am unsure how I will link and sequence it together, while providing adequate range in the repertoire studied. My classes have provided me with some great ideas and teaching ideas, so hopefully those will help inspire me to create a cohesive and valuable unit of work. I will keep you updated as I face each component of this task in future blog posts.

Until then,


Composition Journals

Reflection 1:

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.

Impressionist baby steps

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.

Reflection 2:

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.


Reflection 3:

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.


Reflection 4:

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.

impressionist chord spread_0003

Reflection 5:

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.


Reflection 6:

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.


Reflection 7:

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.

Digital Creative Project: An Update P3

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 4.51.46 am

The next video is live! Except I’m having a copyright issue and so it won’t show on youtube… I guess it’s to be expected when I have an example video from a movie. This is something I will definitely need to look into for the future.

Anyway, for now you can still view the video since it is uploaded to my google drive instead. You can see it here.

I also thought it would be a good idea to share the process I took in planning and producing this video. Click here to download/view a pdf of the script I wrote for this video and for the ones following. I plan to finish these and upload them sometime soon in the future.

Anyway, the process for creating this video tutorial was rather similar, using Canva and Sibelius to make any visuals or sections of text, and developing my own model in line with the activity of each video. This hopefully shows students the stepwise nature of the work and reduces their stress in relation to the task.

I didn’t cover it in my previous post but I have decided to shift my Digital Creative Project from an iBook to a video series. This is for a few reasons, firstly tech-compatibility. While the current iBook Author app allows you to create wonderful iBooks free of charge, they are only compatible on Apple’s own products. This is fine in a school where apple products are used, but it means that windows-based schools won’t be able to use my resources. While it definitely would have been nice to create interactive widgets to accompany the videos and associated activities, I decided I would instead focus my energy towards only creating the videos, hopefully increasing their quality.

Anyway, that is all for now, feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section below.

A Final Reflection

Wow, what a semester this has been. It certainly hasn’t been easy, having our practicum in the middle of it, however it was most definitely enriching. Last Friday evening, I had the pleasure of being involved in my class’ presentation of learning seminar. We each presented what we had accomplished with our negotiated creative projects, which was incredible to see. There was a great amount of variety in the projects presented, from maker-movement instruments which were creative and midi compatible, to a documentary on beatboxing and why it must be included in the classroom. The work of my peers was definitely inspiring, and I really enjoyed seeing the work they had to present.

This course, Technology in Music Education, has been a great eye-opening experience showcasing the future of music education and the wide range of musical experiences and resources that can exist in our classrooms in the present day. While it was only able to skim the surface of a lot of these areas, it has provided me with much food for thought around the many faucets of music education, which I know I will explore in more detail as I progress down my professional path. I particularly enjoyed the game-styled approach to assessment, where students have the opportunity to continually improve their marks if they wish, as I feel that this approach contributes to an environment of self-directed continual learning, where the focus is on the process rather than the product. I know that I will definitely be looking to include this in my future units of work wherever I can have it fit.

I also appreciated the practical skills we gained and the resources we have created over the semester that will be highly useful for us in the future. I now feel far more comfortable navigating a camera and using video editing software which I know are Indispensable skills in this day and age and that I will use greatly during my career.