WEEK 8 (continuation/completion of
Week 7 task)
Now, having heard and evaluated every group's work,
revisit your own GarageBand compositions with a critical ear. How
can your work be revised, edited or otherwise transformed into the
composition it really should be? Below is some food for thought
as you revisit your project.
What Makes "Good Music" Good?
_1._Is the piece technically well
executed? Regardless of the style, the performance - whether
improvised, derived from notation, or electroacoustically produced -
should be free of extraneous notes, sounds, effects, nuances of any
kind that do not contribute to communication of the musical ideas.
_2._Does it exploit a variety of
elements of music, i.e. rhythm, harmony, melody, texture/timbre?
Although a quality piece of music need not have all elements equally
represented (in fact, many if not most fine works do not), a piece that
relies solely on any one element is likely to be less than fulfilling.
_3._(note: not directly
applicable to our project) Is
the chief attraction not the music but the words? If the answer
is yes, then the piece probably should be considered more as a theater
piece or as poetry, than music. For music is the most abstract of arts,
and although the marriage of text and music can be transcendent, the
best does not need verbal associations to enhance it.
_4._Are the elements of the work
highly integrated so that each supports the other’s function?
Melody, for example, cannot exist without at least some degree of
rhythm; rhythm, however, can exist without melody, as can harmony
without either rhythm or melody. But it seems that most truly
satisfying music exploits the elements in ways that cause the product
of them to be greater that the sum of the elements, disparately.
_5._Does the piece appeal on a variety
of levels – intellectual, emotional, spiritual? A piece can be
strong enough in any one of these areas to justify being called good,
but the best music somehow seems to appeal on many levels.
_6._Is there a feeling of "musicality"
about it? That is, does the piece invoke a desire for body movement
that corresponds to the gestures in sound? Musicality is
distinctly human and inexorably connected to physical movement in ways
that are imbedded in our psyches from the first expressive sounds
uttered by our ancient ancestors to experiences as recent as our last
_7._Is there satisfying formal
organization to the way the gestures are presented and developed?
Since music occurs over time and for practical reasons, if for no
other, music has to have a beginning and end, it seems to be our nature
to expect some kind of sequence and development of the ideas that we
find satisfying as anticipation and memory blend to create a mental
image of form.
_8._Is there a good balance between
familiarity and variety, appropriate for the length of the piece?
Clearly, very extended pieces will need to introduce more variety than
very short ones; likewise the task of maintaining coherence within
greater diversity is more difficult and expected in longer pieces.
_9._After having been listened to many
times, does the piece still have appeal, appeal that is based on
some new revelations rather than solely on comfortable familiarity?
Complexity in and of itself is not especially valuable, but exceptional
music seems to have many facets, and holds up well and continues to
interest even after many listenings.
_10._Do you feel positively
stimulated, better, richer, fuller, or improved in some way for having
heard the piece? This may seem a lot to expect, but truly great
pieces (which, or course most music, even very fine music, will not be)
often have a beneficial effect on careful listeners. Like the nutrition
axiom "we are what we eat," (which, although obviously not literal,
makes the point that our physical health is affected by our diet) in
the arts we are what we consume, and what we habitually listen to
affects our spirits. The best music makes us better by stimulating our
minds and touching our hearts, and helps us feel better about ourselves
and the world.
excerpt from an essay by Mickie
Willis, composer and jazz pianist
Summary: Cut away the
wasted notes. Use a variety of elements. Make those
elements work with each other. Ask yourselves and others, "do you
like it?" Organize your music. Balance familiarity and
variety. Ask, "does this bear repeated listening?"
(updated from last week)