17th, 18th and 19th of June 2015

Adding details

I finished the final music Green Afternoon for solo piano on the 19th of June. I had originally intended the piece to last for roughly five minutes (see Day 2) but it actually runs for around eight and a half minutes. The last three days I've been fixing and adding details. This is the time in my compositional process that I am most likely to give myself an overuse injury (RSI) from all the fine motor score editing and mouse clicking (though I use a track pad these days which seems more comfortable and less prone to causing injury). To put things simply, adding details/expression is turning what originally looks like this:

Figure 17.1 music without details

......into this:

Figure 17.2 music with details added 

It takes almost as long for me to get the details completed as it does for me to get the notes down. In the two above examples, the notes are exactly the same but the way they are played, the emotion they convey and the way they will sound is vastly different. In addition to the details that are shown in Figure 17.2, in a number of bars including bar 68 you will notice accidentals (sharps, flats, naturals) in brackets (called cautionary accidentals). These aren't necessary but are advisable to add in instances where the performer may be uncertain about the intended notes and to avoid ambiguity. I have included them in bar 68 because this motive occurs in other parts of the music using G#, F# and E natural as shown in bar 63, and I wanted to make sure the performer understood that this change in accidentals was intended as a variation and not simply a misprint in the music.  


In these final days completing the music, I changed a lot of the slurring (legato: indications that the notes should connect smoothly to one another) in the water ripples motive. The slurring I had added originally to the notes on day 14 and 15 (see Figure 17.3) felt like it accented each beat of the bar too much and therefore felt a little robotic, so I changed this slurring (see Figure 17.4) to make the pulse feel less predictable and more expressive.  

Figure 17.3: example of original slurring used for water ripples motive 

© Katherine Rawlings 2015

Figure 17.4: example of changed slurring for water ripples motive 

© Katherine Rawlings 2015

The ending

I added an ending to the piece. In Green Afternoon the piece ends in a similar way to how it began, but in reverse. Instead of having the rain drops motive lead into the water ripples motive, the piece concludes (the coda) by touching on fragments of the water ripples motive first and finishes with a variation on the beginning of the rain drops motive. I have used this technique of beginning and ending in a similar way a couple of times before in my music. I like the way it acts like a frame for the music within, like sunrise and sunset - the beginning of light and the end of light with the earth's rotation, or like the beginning of a dream and the end of a dream. It often feels satisfying to end the music the way it began. Perhaps because it feels familiar and therefore reassuring. 

Proofing and dedication

The rest of the process for completing the music involved printing, proofreading, fixing minor details and repeating this process as many times as it took to get to the finished product. Finally I added a dedication "For my daughter Genevieve who loves to dance". When I was on my way to the front door of my little flat in Hong Kong a few days prior to making this dedication, I could hear the playful children section of Green Afternoon in the hallway. When I opened the door, I saw Genevieve dancing along with my music that I had previously recorded (very badly) into my electric piano. She seemed to really like it, and so it felt appropriate to dedicate the piece to her.  

Where to from here

Upon completing this solo piano piece, I had originally intended to publish it through the Australian Music Centre and on my website making it available for download. Unfortunately I have put this intention on hold as an opportunity has become available to submit an arrangement of this work for a competition. Published works are ineligible and so you and I will have to wait (I'm super impatient, so this is hard to do) for a while longer to see and hear the final music and recording of Green Afternoon for solo piano. If you have been following these posts from Day 1, thank you for staying with me through the process. There is much more to be done. I am still to compose music for four more of Roseline Koener's paintings.


AuthorKatherine Rawlings