Emma’s composition 1 submission was outstanding, and serves as an excellent example of what can be achieved within the brief for each assignment. While her work had a consistency of quality throughout, the counterpoint exercise at Assignment 4 was particularly worthy of note. This is often a difficult point in the course for many students, as creating the right balance between an independence of parts and a development of musical material is quite a challenge. Emma has written for flute and vibraphone, and the influence of Bach can be strongly felt at the opening. The melodic idea is strong, and the material is developed and reused in an interaction between the two parts which takes on the feel of a dialogue. We see unison used to strong effect, providing a contrast against the textures used in the rest of the music (Bach does something similar in his two part fugue in the Well Tempered Clavier). There are some good compositional skills on display in Emma’s piece, along with some creative ideas and a good understanding of counterpoint.
See how the opening idea is developed. There’s a lot of inventiveness here, and the majority of the material can be traced back to the initial ideas.
While the assessors would usually expect to see a through-composed piece for this assignment, Emma’s piece is divided into sections, allowing for contrast in the middle. While breaking the piece up in this way can sometimes disrupt the sense of flow, Emma has maintained a sense of coherence by connecting the melodic material to the ideas first introduced at the beginning of the piece. Here, the music is transformed into a slower, and more dreamy, Romantic-influenced section in 6/4. We are suddenly taken back into the mood of the opening with an effective burst of energy. The more dreamy material returns, though and the ideas are combined through an effective use of augmentation. The end is characterized by some tight imitative writing which maintains the independence between the parts but sees them closely connected.
The detail given in the score is also worthy of mention; although some additional articulations for the vibraphone would be welcome, the flute part includes a lot of detailed performance instructions, and dynamics are clearly communicated, including some relatively quick changes. The change of time signature in the central section also shows that Emma has learnt from previous assignments and is exploring different ways of organising the material than the confines of 4/4 allow.