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Clark Ross
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Ostinatos; making a lot from a little (2. Rite of Spring)
Further to my previous blog entry , if the 339 consecutive repetitions of a 2-bar rhythmic ostinato pattern in Ravel's Boléro (1928) don't constitute an over-reliance on predictable patterns, then what does? Perhaps the biggest reason most listeners do not ...

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Ostinatos; making a lot from a little (1. Boléro)
An ostinato is a musical idea that repeats immediately (as opposed to returning later in the composition) and persistently (it usually is repeated more than once). It can be melodic or rhythmic, and is usually fairly short – one to four bars – but it can be...

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Music Notation Software – Pros and Cons
In today’s post, I will explore how the use of notation software can affect the composition process, in ways we may not realize, both positive and negative.. There are several music notation software available for computers and tablets, but the brands that ...

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Winning and Losing as Impostors
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same… ( Rudyard Kipling , " If— " 12–13) I have won a few prizes and awards, over the years, and I can tell you that winning feels great. I have also  seen enough Academy Awar...

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Recommendation Letters – Process and Etiquette
Among the many things that keep me busy at the end of the fall semester (i.e., late November, early December) are requests to write recommendation letters for students, so I thought I’d provide information and suggestions about this process for those who ma...

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Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
The expression, "ars longa, vita brevis," is a Latin translation of the first two lines of the Aphorismi  (Aphorisms) by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates , who is perhaps most famous for the Hippocratic Oath . It translates as, "art is long, life is ...

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Post-Tonal Harmony Ideas (3)
I wrote a short piece for today's post, scored for flute and piano. I based it on the arpeggiated chords presented in my Post-Tonal Harmony Ideas (1) post . Those chords were constructed by superimposing different harmonic structures found in tonal music, s...

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How much theory do you have to know in order to be a composer?
This is a question that I am sometimes asked, and it came up recently in a conversation I had with Karim Al-Zand , the visiting composer for our recent (January 26-28, 2012) Newfound Music Festival .  I won't attempt to quote him from memory, but my sense o...

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Post-Tonal Harmony Ideas (2)
My previous post touched on some of the many approaches to post-tonal harmony, and included several examples of tonal chords that could be combined to produce post-tonal sonorities. I will come back to that idea in my next post, but my plan today is to expa...

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Post-Tonal Harmony Ideas (1)
"Post-Tonal" harmony refers to harmonic practices not based on tonality that emerged since the end of the nineteenth century. Basically, this includes any variety of atonality, such as free (i.e., non-serial) atonality and serialism, but, at least in my def...
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