Music Composition Camp


​Music students were fortunate to spend 2 days immersed in the Music Composition Camp at QACI this term.  Charlie Watts, Year 11 provides her reflection of the experience...

Composition camp. According to Ms Freeman, '(it's) the highlight of my year; it really celebrates the diversity of QACI'. So, what was it like this year?

We began with tango, to start us off with a band. The Mendoza Tango Quartet visited and not only did they play us some brilliant tunes, but they also taught us about the origins of tango music. Did you know that tango originates from Buenos Aires? Well, neither did I until now! The Mendoza quartet also included our own amazing Ms Collis on double bass. It was really interesting to learn about a genre we'd never explored before in music. Most people, specifically Charlie Orford 'liked the cricket noises' that the violin made during the tango performances.

Next up we listened to Nicole, our in-house composer. She talked to us about the difficulty of being a woman in composition, and the how to make a piece your own. We discussed and analysed her piece Stolen, a 45-minute composition for solo guitar and chamber ensemble. We found out that even with your own composition, they can be played completely differently to how you see them. The life of Nicole's piece, for example, became both a strictly classical piece and a more improvised jazz style piece.

'I think (composition camp) is so important because it gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture and diversity of different musical styles and backgrounds.' Mr C said as we moved on exploring the contrast and connections between classic 20th century music and modern sound-based technology.

Here we met Tom, a classic composer who used sound design, folly and electronic synthesis to create his compositions. Tom himself loves working with the instrumentalists and directly with the sound. He showed us how he manipulates sounds such as engines, water droplets and vegetables to create different feelings and soundscapes for his pieces. He said that '(to me) hearing music in sounds that aren't necessarily musical' is his favourite part of his composition process. His use of sound experimentation was interesting to watch and we even got to try his experimentation near the end of the lecture. To quote Tom, 'that's what we've got to aim for, being inspired', and this lecture definitely inspired me and so many music students in the audience on Friday.

'The element of play is really important (to me), as a composer I've got to be moving around.' Tom said, and this message stuck with me. If you cannot help yourself to enjoy composition then how can you compose? Tom's message is not only an important message to musicians, but for all artists. Remember to use the element of play when you are working on your art, from theatre to visual art.

'Every woman and her llama' (Tom) enjoyed this lecture. After the lecture we learn about the dance that Tom composed to, and we saw how dance interacted with music in a collaborative way.

On Saturday we began with a session on Logic Pro and remixes, run by Mr C. We experimented by remixing the song Superstition by Stevie Wonder. I don't know anything about remixing and technology-based music mixing, but by the end of this session I understood how to remix a whole song in my own way.

According to many Year 10s, '(composition camp) is good'. They all enjoy it and every one of the music students at composition camp learnt something new.

We watched a performance of Indian classic music with elements of traditional Aboriginal music. The interactions between the sitar and didgeridoo were almost ethereal in nature, and it was incredible the way that three instruments can make such a diverse and complex set of sounds. The meshing of cultures was incredible to watch and listen to. Many theatre students may have recognised the Chinese flute that was played throughout a few of the traditional raag compositions performed to us, as it is a common instrument used in the Shakuhachi music. Interestingly, the traditional Indian classical music does not have sheet music, similar to improvising over a metronome. They have certain forms but all of the traditional songs are memorised from oral teachings.

Overall, composition camp was an interesting and developmental experience, teaching many music students different ways to use contrast and traditional instruments in our work.

...article written by Charlie Watts, Year 11

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Last reviewed 21 March 2019
Last updated 21 March 2019