Tool #25: Rehearsal Letters or Rehearsal Numbers?


Firstly, let's agree that if you are writing anything medium-short length or longer and for more than one performer, you should include some form of rehearsal markings in addition to clear, visible measure numbers (I prefer to put the measure number font to 14 to 18 Arno Pro with no italics, and make the ranges …

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Rudyard Kipling’s “If” as a word of advice to composers


I recently had the pleasure of performing a work by composer Josh Hummel, a movement called "Yours Is the Earth" from his set of choral pieces "The Games".  The chamber choir in which I sing performed it at our winter concert just over a week ago.  Its text is taken from Rudyard Kipling's poem "If", …

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Form Should Always Be a Top Priority


I'm a huge proponent of taking care with form in a piece.  Too often I see pieces that suddenly switch sections jarringly, unnecessarily, and disjointedly, to the point of rendering the listener lost, clueless, and unnecessarily startled for no reason.  Disjunct form is great for theatrical and dance works because it is often subject to …

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Genres: Necessary or Too Divisive?


It seems that we have a myriad of genres that demand audiences' attention, and while it is good that we celebrate a host of different musics, I have reservations about this multiplicity of genres.  At times it feels like the borders separating these genres of pop, classical, jazz, world, etc. and all of their sub-genres …

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Tool #24: Asymmetric and Mixed Meters


Now I'd like to talk about two (really one in my use of them) of my favorite compositional devices: asymmetric and mixed meters.  The goals I use them for are throwing rhythms off, motivic development, and playing around with perception of beats and time. My main use of them: Asymmetric and mixed meters can be …

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