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Author Topic: 'Senior Project'  (Read 10089 times)
AltaSilvaPuer
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« on: September 02, 2006, 06:47:08 AM »

I'm hoping this is the right place for this; if not, please tell me.
My name is Matthew Reed, and I am a senior in highschool in Augusta, Georgia.  Certain counties in this area require completion of a 'senior project' in order to graduate.  It consists of a major research paper and a product to demonstrate what exactly we learned through the course of the project.  The hard part of the entire endeavor is that we have to find a mentor to guide us through the process of creating this project.

For my senior project, I've chosen digital music composition.  My product will be to compose and orchestrate an original piece of music, as entirely through digital means as possible.  I've fiddled around with Finale before, and created short clips of music, but I lack the music theory background to really do much, and I lack the knowledge and ability to improve the quality of sound produced by Finale and the MIDI instrument set on each individual computer.

I enjoy composing, and have considered majoring in it in college, which is why I've chosen this specific topic for my senior project.  The problem is, that because of my lack of music theory, finding a qualified mentor is a high priority.  So far, I've been unable to find anyone willing to undertake the job.  I know a small amount of theory, from 6 years of oboe and 3 years of trumpet, but not much.

Does anyone know of someone they feel would willing and able to fit the bill, or have any ideas where to continue my search for one?
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"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
- Aaron Copland
jerico
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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2006, 11:17:19 AM »

That's tough mate, and you need to get this by the end of the school year?

I'd of course check with your band teacher if you haven't already, see if you can arrange some time where you could work with him/her on some basic stuff.

The reality of the situation, though, is the amount of theory you will be able to learn in the time you have may not be as much as you're hoping for.  My advice would be to listen to music like mad, and if you can find a large amount of music in the style you hope to make your composition, then all the better.

Composition, for me at least, is quiet time.  Don't try to hurry the process or start a project with enormous expectation, or you'll create nothing but wicked frustration for yourself.

I was given the opportunity to write a song our band would play at my high school graduation.  Wonderful experience, really, just as this project you're about to undertake will be for you.  One thing I had to keep in mind was my peers would be playing it, and I know that's not the case for you but this may still be helpful: because my friends would be playing it, I was strongly encouraged to make each part worth playing, and avoided too much repetition.  In the end there was plenty of repetition, actually, but it was much less because of that gentle amount pressure I had on myself.  So consider something like that to keep you motivated and writing to the best quality you are capable of.  Nobody would expect any less, because nobody will expect anything greater than what you are capable of.

Cheers dude
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AltaSilvaPuer
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« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2006, 01:00:25 PM »

Thank you for the advice and encouragement, jerico, every bit helps.

And I figured that would be the easy route, so I asked my band director if she knew of a good place to start, and she directed me to the woodwind teacher at the local college, who's evidently known for being pretty good with the digital aspects.  Problem is, though, that I'm taking more of a software approach to it, and he knows hardware, but not the software.  I know at least enough theory between what I actually know and guesswork to write half-decent music, my problems lie in being able to continue on with working on it, and the fact that I'm required by the project guidelines to have a mentor.

So I guess what I should have asked was
Do any of you know of anyone who might be willing to take a look at my work as it progresses and say "This is right, this is wrong, work on that", etc, and sign off on paperwork provided by the school saying that they were my mentor, that I completed the requirements of the project, and that my results were satisfactory.  Preferably someone in the southeastern quarter of the US, but that's somewhat flexible.  It does not seem to be required by the project guidlines to meet with the mentor, but it would be ideal to meet with them at least once, in person.

I'm also required to find someone (can by my mentor or not, doesn't matter) to interview on the subject, and that does need to be in person, barring a few rare special circumstances, but that's somewhat of a lesser priority at the moment.  
I am technically past my deadline for when I should have known who my mentor was, but Labor Day weekend saved me and one day late gives me three days more to look.
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"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
- Aaron Copland
AltaSilvaPuer
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« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2006, 01:13:13 PM »

Just as a quick update: Shortly after I posted the above, I checked one of my email accounts to find a reply back from the professor at USC that I had emailed.  I have a name, number, and email address, of a grad student who seems willing to help.  Crossing my fingers, wish me luck.

I do still need an interviewee, though, if anyone thinks it might be interesting/etc.  I only need one by the requirements, but the more interviews I have, the more first-hand knowledge I have for the research paper.  Barring rare special circumstances (in fact, I'm not 100% sure what they are, because its that rare that it happens), the interviews are done in person, and I have to be able to provide a taped recording of the interview with the project.  Other than that, there really aren't any hard requirements.

Let me know if anyone's interested.
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"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
- Aaron Copland
Goliath
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2006, 07:59:03 PM »

As much as I'd love to help you, there are a few problems.

1. I am actually a junior in high school, trying to teach myself theory till I can take the course next year, so I couldn't quite tell you "this is right" and "this is wrong," etc.  However, my advice is this: You've been in band for 6 years; use your instincts.  Take a few cool ideas from pieces you have played, change it around a little, ya know.  As many have said before, "Why re-invent the wheel?"  Hey, marches are always easy with their set forms.  Play around with stuff in Finale.  It's what I (try to) do.

2.  I'm on the other side of the country  Sad all the way over in New York.  Sorry bro.

Oh, and I have to reiterate what Jerico said, you have to take your time with it, be inspired, be in the mood.  Things will come out better that way.  They have for me, at least.

May the force be with you!
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rink up me 'earties yo-ho!
AltaSilvaPuer
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2006, 08:22:04 PM »

Yeah, that's pretty much what I do at the moment.  I played a song my freshman year that had a jump from a Bb to an Eb that sounded really cool, so you can see a couple fourth jumps (not sure of the exact term, but oh well.  Wink ) in the music I write.  We had an AP Theory class on the books for this year, but it apparently failed to make, sadly.  As a side note, New York is actually close in the grand scheme of things.  It's only a 16hr drive to some of my relatives in upstate NY; we make the drive almost every summer.

And thanks for the advice, Goliath.
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"Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness,
or perhaps of subconsciousness—I wouldn't know.
But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness."
- Aaron Copland
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