Practice, Practice

Practice, Practice

Once again, the deadlines loom. Unlike 95 percent of my music which is composed for me to perform myself, this piece is for a quartet (three musicians plus Carl). With the four players coming together from the far flung corners of Europe, Asia, LA, and New York, just a day or two before the performance (which includes a lot of new music for them), I am able to get the assurance of two hours to run through the piece I am writing for them. And that’s it.

Unlike the music I compose for myself, where rehearsal time is typically not an issue, in this case it most certainly is. Luckily for me, they are all superb musicians and we have good relations all around, so I can count on their dedication and tenacity. Still, I’m nervous. This issue is, of course, nothing new to the many of you who compose for ensembles routinely or write for orchestra. I have never met a composer who told me, “Gee, they gave me too much rehearsal time.” But what’s your solution when you know going in that it is going to be tight? Dumbing things down isn’t the answer. I’d be very keen to know any tips or tricks you might want to share. And I promise to let you know how it all turns out.

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3 thoughts on “Practice, Practice

  1. Dumbledore wannabe


    As a performer in similar situations, I have found it very helpful when the composer sends me practice files ahead of time. The best case scenario is when I receive my part(s) and an audio file.

    This has worked well for me as a composer, too.

  2. tubatimberinger

    Cues > all.

    Unless it is one of those ‘everyone reads off the score’ type of deals cues make a helluva difference. I have been reaffirmed of this countless times for both orchestra (student and pro) and smaller groups. If they are great musicians, it even if things go wrong in concert, they can get right back on track.

  3. palong31

    A quick and easy way to do this is to have each part consist of staff two lines – one containing the music for the performer, and the other filled up with whatever material from the other parts seems most useful. So, even when someone is playing, there is other material for them to look at and match up with.

    Using Finale or Sibelius, this is really easy to do via quick cutting and pasting.


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