2018 Open/Close Choral Consortium
Second Update: Closer to Home
Re-read the first update or skip to the third update.
When I planned these updates, I assumed I'd be writing both pieces at the same time.
As it is, I've been focusing on finishing Closer to Home before I move on to Faster. Faster is still in-progress--I got pretty far in the sketching process for that one before Closer took over, and the text is done--but sometimes, if the luxury of time is available, I like to let a piece rest before I come back to it. This allows me to return with fresh eyes and ears. I'll never be able to experience my own work as a first-time listener will, but stepping away from a piece for a bit gets me a little closer to that experience, and that can be so helpful for proofreading, revising, and moving forward with a piece.
When I last wrote to you, I assumed this update would focus on Faster, but since Closer to Home is actually nearly done, I'm going to share how that piece is coming along, what the score looks and sounds like now that I've moved from handwritten sketches to the engraving process, and how the different arrangements of "Closer to Home" (SATB, SSAA, and TTBB) are shaping up.
To your right is an in-progress draft of the SSAA arrangement of Closer to Home. I almost hesitate to call it an arrangement, because that implies the SATB version is the "original" one, as if the SSAA and TTBB versions are somehow lesser. Here's how the process of working on all three versions of the piece (SATB, SSAA, and TTBB) at the same time has gone so far:
- Focus on writing the SATB version.
- About once a week, assess the music I have and arrange those sketches for the SSAA version. (This version is in G major, and the SATB version is currently in F major; I think these keys fit the range of each ensemble better, but I may take the SATB version up to G as well.)
- Make changes within the SSAA version.
- Go back to the SATB version; make some changes informed by the process of working on the SSAA version.
I've left out the TTBB version, so far: that will be last in the process. I'll transpose the SSAA version down an octave as a starting point, and then tailor the piece to specifically fit these lower voices. It'll be similar to the SSAA version, but not quite the same, as each ensemble has its own limitations and advantages. I don't want the treble and lower-voices arrangements to feel like "watered down" versions of the mixed-voice arrangement just because there's a smaller range in which those ensembles can sing. Ideally, every voice part will have an interesting part, or at least several interesting moments to sing, and each voice part will get to move around within their range.
A demo of the current SATB draft; please forgive the rigid MIDI recording!
Click the above image to download the PDF of "Closer to Home" in its current SATB draft.
I was listening to a podcast interview with the writer Jennifer Egan this morning, and she called her first drafts "not fit for human consumption." I agree with her, and I've watermarked these PDFs; I definitely wouldn't want anyone performing this piece in this draft-y stage! I've actually noticed that I'm a little hesitant to share these drafts with you, even though letting you in on this process was part of the plan for this consortium from the very beginning. I've been fussing over these drafts for the last 24 hours. (I meant to send this update yesterday.) I've been trying to get them perfect even though the entire point of sharing them at this stage is so that you can see them as drafts: typos, incomplete dynamics, errors in the piano reduction, and all. Composers are human, too; the music isn't always perfect on the first try.
Speaking of resistance, here's a photo of Ian Malcolm, my cat, impeding the composing process (and bringing up the "clefs" editor in my notation program with his foot--thanks, Ian). Helpful or not, he's been a part of writing these pieces, too.
Click the above image to download the PDF of "Closer to Home"
in its current SSAA draft.
Here's audio of where the SATB version currently stands; you can follow along with the first PDF above. Remember, these are still drafts; even though the score looks nearly complete, there's still a little of fine-tuning and editing to do, and I may still go back and re-write portions of the piece or re-voice sections. I'm also playing this a little under tempo; ideally, they'll be sung a little faster.
What you can expect in update #3: Finally, a look at the second piece! I'll be writing about the evolution of the text for Faster from tiny phrases into a completed text, as well as showing you drafts of that score-in-progress and the story behind that piece.