Composing Music – Part 1 – Exploring Rhythm

Project 2 – Duets

As I start this I have absolutely no idea if I am doing this correctly or not, so here we go completely into the further unknown. Am I being too naive or am I heading in the right direction.

This duet is for woodblocks and snare drum

Woodblocks and snare drum duet
Woodblocks and snare drum duet audio

For my next duet I chose to use the Tambourine and the Side Drum and tried to make some kind of conversation between the two of them. I am a little happier with the way in which this has turned out as I am getting more to grips with Sibelius and its commands. Now I have worked out how to add the decrescendo and crescendo notations I am happier with the overall sound of it.

Side Drum Tambourine Duet
Side Drum and Tambourine Duet

Now for the next set and some fun with variable metre. I am dreading this, I know what it is but it is getting it right.

This piece took a particularly long time as I was playing around with instruments and mixes and I did not like some of the mixes. I wanted to use woodblocks so I decided to create my variable metre using woodblocks first and then I chose my complimentary instrument and after playing about I chose the tenor drum. I then played around with the sounds but I decided that I liked the way it was, a heavy sound all the way through. This is why I chose heavy as I think it works with the heavy sound on both. The variable metre in this piece has been constructed thus :- 3+2, 2+3, 1+4, 4+1. I now hope that I have done this correctly.

Tenor drum and Woodblock variable metre

This is my final piece and yet again I find myself using the woodblocks. I like the sound they produce and this is why I like using them, I like it when they double up – its an instrument that I probably would have loved to have a go at some time.

Bass Drum and Woodblocks variable metre

Bass Drum and Woodblocks variable metre
Research Point

Variable Metre and Boris Balcher

Paganini Variations by Boris Blacher

This has certainly been a surprising and enlightening listen. Each variation seemed to alternate and the dominant themes I heard were ones which were more of a march in style and others which seemed to have more of a jazz feel. Very unpredictable but I really liked this and I have liked what I have listened to. During some of the variations the strings seemed so speedy that I wondered how on earth they could be played but I was very drawn to them enjoying this speed and the sound of the melody.

I do believe that the variable meter made some of the instruments stand out more from others which I found very effective. I noticed this mostly with the woodwind and strings. It was sometimes dramatic and sometimes softer. That may seem odd but that is how it sounded to me as I listened. It was an immersive listen and overall I was pretty impressed with how breathtaking the piece sounded with the variable meter.

Here is my timeline for the life and notable works of Boris Blacher

1903 – born 19th January, Niutschuang, Manchuria

1914 – moved to Irkutsk

1919 – moved to Harbin, Heilongjang province, China

1922 – moved to Berlin to study architecture and mathematics at the request of his parents

1924 to 1926 – studied composition with Friedrich Koch at Berlin Hochschule fur Musik

1927 to 1926 – read music at Berlin University under Schering, Blume and Von Hornbostel

1931 to 1938 – worked in Berlin as a composer and arranger

1937 – Concertante Musik

1938 – appointed director of a composition class at Dresden Conservatory

1939 – withdrew from the Conservatory as his teaching did not conform to the cultural policy of the Nazi regime Nazi policy eras against what they called degenerate art or “Entartete Kunst”. Composers whose views contradicted those of the Nazi policy were given this label, some were exiled some were sent to the concentration camps where they lost their lives.

1943 – Romeo und Julia

1945 post war – returned to work as a composition teacher at Internationales Musikinstitut in Berlin – Zehlendorf

1948 – Professor at Berlin Hochschule fur Musik

1953 to 1970 – Director of Berlin Hochschule

1949 &1950 – summer lectures and seminars at Bryanston

1950 & 1951 summer lectures and seminars at Salzburg Mozarteum

1953 – wrote the textbook Einfuhrung in den Strengen Satz

1955 visited Tanglewood Music centre Massachusetts USA

1955 – appointment regular ember of music section at West Berlin Academy of Arts

1961 – appointed director of West Berlin Academy of Arts

1968 to 1971 – appointed president of West Berlin Academy of Arts

1948 – Die Nachtschwalbe (The night of the Swallow

1949 – Hamlet

1949 – Preussisches Marchen

1950 – composed Ornamente and introduced the term “variable metre”. Blacher was influenced by Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve tone method of composition

1950 – Lysistrata

1952 – Second Piano Concerto

1953 – Abstrakte Oper No 1

1953 – Orchester – Ornament

1956 – Homage a Mozart

1960 – Rosamunde Floris

1965 – Zweihunderttausend Taler

1947 – Orchestervariationen Uber win Thema Von Niccolo Paganini

1961 – Variation Uber Erin Thema Von Muzio Clemetiti

1975 – 30th January – died

Notable pupils included Ballif, Burt, Von Einem, Erbse, Klee, Reimann and Sheriff

Awards – Bach Prize of Hamburg , Grosse Kunstpreis of North Rhein- Westphalia