Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Composition Project: Duets

I'm currently working on composing a few elementary level duets.  My goal is to compose three duets by the end of November.  Since I have never attempted to compose a duet before I thought it would be fun to share how I got started and the result: my first duet!

For the first one I decided to make a duet arrangement using the Shaker song "Simple Gifts".  I was inspired by two versions of this popular melody: first, Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring-- which, with its full orchestral sound just fills your heart-- and second, a recording by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss that features a simple and absolutely beautiful arrangement. 

I didn't really know how to get started; I essentially needed to compose two pieces that would be played at the same time and hopefully sound great.  I started by writing out the melody and assigning the harmonies I wanted for each chord change.  After this I found an accompaniment style I liked: a repetitive drone.  Next I pieced it all together, trying to make sure both parts shared some of the melody, and toward the end inserted a few fun canon-like entries.  So take a listen and see what you think of the finished product: a Grade 1/2 level duet arrangement of Simple Gifts.
~ Jennifer

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