In this activity you will have the chance to compose a duet for BCMG's NEXT musicians by creating a graphic score. Send your graphic score to us, and the NEXT musicians will perform a selection of your music in an online concert on Tuesday 22 July.
This week we have special activity for you! You are invited to compose music for musicians from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group's NEXT programme. Your task is to compose music for two of them - a duet!
NEXT is a training programme that BCMG runs with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for music students and professional musicians looking for a career as performers of contemporary music.
As this activity is bigger than other ones in this series, we have broken it down into a series of pages, which you can navigate through on the blue band above. There are five pages as follows:
Your task is to use the ideas you find on these pages to create your own graphic score for two musicians.
Take a listen:
At about 5 minutes into the video below, you will hear Maja (violin) and Rebecca (flute), two of our NEXT musicians, playing a Duet No.4 by composer Harrison Birtwistle. Listen carefully:
Register to have your music played:
If you would like our NEXT musicians - Maja, Raddon or Raymond to play your music, please register by sending us an email HERE by Tuesday 30 June (so we know how many to expect). Then, send us your graphic score by Tuesday 7 July. You can also tell us which two instruments/musicians you would prefer to compose for. We will try to make sure they are the ones playing your piece but can't guarantee this as we want all our NEXT musician to have a go!
You can now watch our What NEXT? Performance HERE.
For a PRINTABLE version of the resource CLICK HERE
You will have the opportunity to compose for two out of three musicians. Maja Pluta (Violin), Raddon Stephenson (trombone) and Raymond Brien (Clarinet). Each of them will introduce themselves and their instrument then share 6 ideas:
As you listen to the videos, you might want to draw the shapes of the sounds that you hear. You could use these when you compose your duet.
Maja Pluta - Violin
Raddon Stephen - Trombone
Raymond Brien - Clarinet
You are going to create a graphic score for your duet. A graphic score uses shapes, images, lines and words to tell musicians what you want them to play instead of traditional music notation. Google graphic scores to see lovely examples.
It is really important to IMAGINE your SOUNDS first, and then think what shape or line it might be, not just draw any old shapes and lines
When you draw your graphic score, there is lots to think about. First of all you need to know that the musicians will be reading from left to right, like reading a book. This means your lines can't go backwards like in a loop.
You also need to think about:
PITCH (how HIGH or LOW a note is): move from bottom to top or top to bottom of the paper to show how high or low you want a note/pitch to be.
DURATION (how LONG or SHORT a sound is): makes lines and shapes longer or shorter to show how long or short you want a sound to be.
DYNAMICS (how LOUD or QUIET a sound is): make lines and shapes thicker or thinner to show how loud or quiet you want a sound to be.
CHARACTER: change or decorate your line or shape to show the character of your sounds and melodies.
One way you can think about your duet is as a conversation between the two musicians. Maybe you could imagine that each of the musicians has a particular character??
In a conversation, one person starts (in green) and the other replies (in purple). When they reply they could answer with:
The same shape/line:
The same shape/line with something added to the beginning, middle or end.
The same shape/line but at a different pitch or dynamic:
All or a bit of the idea broken up, backwards, upside down etc.
Something completely different!
And sometimes they are rudely interrupted!
Make sure it is clear which bit is for which musician. You could divide the page in two horizontally or you could use different colour for each musician as I have done here.
Another way for two musicians to play together in a duet is for one musician to have a main idea and for the other to accompany them with a simpler idea. This second idea might complement, decorate, interrupt or give a particular character or mood to the main idea. Accompaniments could include:
A drone (long note): this might change dynamics (how loud or quiet) or how it is played (trill, tremolo, flutter tongue).
An ostinato (repeating pattern) underneath: this could stop and start and could also be melodic as well as rhythmic
A counter-melody or second idea
Complementing and decorating:
Remember, you can swap as many times as you like which musician has the main idea.
Again, make sure it is clear which bit is for which musician. You could divide the page in two horizontally or you could use different colour for each musician. I have done both here.