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Advice for Composers

Stolen Moments: What Makes a Composition Difficult?

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This has got to be the worst time to start something you want to keep up. Blogging, now, with work and a 4 month old baby? Are you nuts? Well, silly question.I figure this stuff is in my head anyway, might as well get it out and get on with my life.

A composer asked me the other day what is it that makes a piece really difficult? Here’s what I came up with. Please bear in mind, these are not mistakes or pet peeves. For a list of frequent mistakes, please click here.

  • rapid microtonal (or quartertone) passages
  • anything that requires doing two techniques in different rhythms (i.e. key click and voice in different tempi or polyrthythm)
  • no place to breathe
  • extended passages outside the “normal” range of the flute

I’m sure I’ll add to this list as time goes on. Please note that this is not a list of things to avoid, I list them only to create an awareness of potential difficulty. It’s great to work with someone who cares to ask the question! Now for the next step, to list my pet peeves! Hee Hee

One reply on “Stolen Moments: What Makes a Composition Difficult?”

Hi Helen,

Found you on FluteList, and I am so pleased to see/hear your comments for composers. As I am one myself (and used to be a singer), I am always aware that I know much less about the instrument I am writing for than the performer does, so it is really helpful to me to hear your comments about what works and what doesn’t. I’ll come back to your blog! And congratulations on your new baby!

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