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20 February 2009

The MODART diaries, part III

Melody Eötvös Image: Melody Eötvös  

Melody Eötvös continues our series of Modart diaries. The fourth edition of the Modart composer development initiative by AMC and The Song Company was set in motion in Sydney at the beginning of February.

I arrived in Sydney at the workshops with a fairly in-depth idea about what the setting of my composition would be. I knew that I didn’t want to use all six of the voices and that I would need to take advantage of the next few days in order to sort out how I would approach composing a work for only 2-3 singers a cappella.

After the first workshop I went away and composed some draft material around particular elements of the text that I thought would stimulate a response in me, then came back a few days later and presented them to Roland and the singers. At this workshop, one of the other composers, Mark, had set up a live electronic system through which one could manipulate the sounds and tones produced by the singers. This turned out to be an ideal solution for how to better set a composition with minimal voices: the resonance and textural expansion you can achieve this way was a brilliant revelation.

During the workshop, Roland and the singers also demonstrated the possibilities of what I could explore with the small amount of music that I had developed so far. Out of the few lines I had, we were able to improvise five minutes of music. The structural freedom that could be invested, when generating music this way, is incredible.

Being able to workshop the music and being able to hear what everybody else was creating was a wonderful and informing experience. It really is the best way to develop a composition; working with the ensemble and director and sorting out all the technical problems at the initial stage of the work. Now I am beginning to work out the musical fragments, and how these are going to work with my text and the existential vibe behind it. I have a lot of work to do in familiarising myself with electronics and understanding the scope of sound that is now open to me, and how I will push the vocals through into that dimension to create the piece as a whole. But I am confident that whatever the result of this new experiment, the singers and Roland will continue to give all their expertise and experience to the final outcome. I can compose with an easy conscience now, knowing more about who I am composing for and the breadth of possibilities open to me.

Further links


Melody Eötvös was born in the Southern Highlands, NSW and attended the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University, studying composition with Stephen Leek and Dr Gerardo Dirié. She began composing piano music at the age of 8, and won her first composition prize at 14. She graduated in 2005 with First Class Honours and then began her Masters in 2006 at the Royal Academy of Music, London, studying with Simon Bainbridge.


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