Sound Collage Project Final Proposal


1. Try- Andrew Norman.  I just had the opportunity to perform this piece with the Contemporary Music Ensemble at CMU. The piece is a musical expression of the composer’s doubt and frustration in his compositional process.  The piece was very effective in communicating these emotions, and as the performers we felt heaviness, frustration, doubt, and sadness when we played it.  It was bold of Norman to expose this side of his musicianship (especially for a piece commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic!).  This piece made me realize that all musicians can relate to these experiences and communicating them is powerful and engaging.  I want to use musical language to create my own work to convey my experiences to others. Here is an audio recording of our performance from last weekend:

2. I am sitting in a room – Alvin Lucier.  We listened to this piece in the very beginning of this class and it has stuck with me, as it has made me consider the speaking voice to be a legitimate instrument.  After I listened through the piece entirely, I could go back hear the initial recording differently.  My ears had attuned to the resonant musical qualities of the speaking voice.  I want to use the voice as a main component of my piece, and highlight the musical qualities of it through editing.

3. Red Bird – Trevor Wishart.  Another work that we experienced in class.  A powerful quality of this piece is that without any background knowledge (not even the name of the piece), I experienced extreme emotions when I listened to it.  The beginning of the work especially gave me such an intense feeling of stress and a desire to escape.  The fact that the sounds Wishart used were able to cause such an overwhelming response to the listener inspires me to try to impart emotions through my work.

My Project – Etude no. 1

As musicians we often hear from others that we must be so happy to be “doing what we love.”  The life of a classical musician seems charmed on the outside, but in reality there is a lot of negativity that most people never see. I want to create a piece that embodies the stress, pressure, frustration, and doubt that classical musicians experience on a day-to-day basis.

There are two main categories of found sounds I will use in this project:

a. Playing of etudes and exercises. These sounds represent the part of classical music that non-musicians never see. These are the sounds I am surrounded by every day.  To the non-musician, the musical excerpts probably sound pleasant.  To us, they are necessary exercises for survival in our line of work. They take a great deal of physical and mental effort and we often have a hard time seeing the payoff.

b. Spoken word.  I want to interview musicians and collect spoken samples of them retelling stressful or discouraging feedback they have received about their musical playing.  Our peers, relatives, teachers, and potential employers remind us every day of our limited possibility of success and of the techniques we still lack.

I plan to structure the piece in a “classical” way, with a form analogous to a sonata-allegro form.  The first part of the piece will introduce the themes, the middle – and longest – part of the piece will “develop” them, and the end of the piece will be a restatement (with some changes) of the first part.  The inspiration for using sonata-allegro form is that it is one of the most common forms utilized in classical music.  Every musician has had to play repertoire written in this form, and every listener has experienced it at some point.  It is a basic form with rules that will help keep this piece structured, yet there is plenty of room for compositional creativity (especially in the development section).

The piece will be ultimately rendered as an audio file that can be listened to anywhere – it is not site-specific.  That being said, there are certain locations that would create a stronger listening experience.  If the listener were to experience the piece privately in a practice room, they would gain more of the full experience that I am attempting to convey through the work.

My goal is to create a piece that conveys the tension and self-doubt that classical musicians experience.  The listener’s background in classical music will influence his or her perception of the piece – it will probably be more relatable and stress inducing if the listener can directly relate to the sound sources.  Regardless of background, the listener should still experience some level of the emotion and atmosphere I am trying to convey.


One thought on “Sound Collage Project Final Proposal

  1. Hi Allyson,

    Lots of really interesting ideas here! You should check out this piece by composer Richard Logan-Greene:
    It will take a long time to load. It’s a piece that also uses interviews with individuals, as well as instrumental sounds. In his case the instrumentalists are listening to the interviews and then imitating the voices. Another work that might be interesting is this one I mentioned by Jo Anderson:
    Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a recording online.

    After you’ve laid out the exposition, I encourage you to get feedback, and then consider (and perhaps try) a few different directions for the development, to see what suits your concept best. Also, I’d encourage you to think early on about how the recapitulation could differ from the exposition, particularly since you probably won’t have all of the conventions of tonality to fall back on. I think in a purely recorded medium you might find you want a less literal recap than you might otherwise.

    If you need help with reaper or any other software, don’t hesitate to ask! There are lots of opportunities to explore your sounds with various plugins, etc. I noticed you mostly stayed away from this in your previous composition. Processing your sounds is not required, but I think it could really open up interesting avenues in the development, particularly.


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