Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Living 36 hours in the Composition Studio!

Tuesday the 27th of May. All I can say is: I MADE IT! I managed to finish and hand in my 10 min orchestra piece Unborn!!! And I feel like every juice of energy that I ever had in me has been squeezed tightly tightly out, ever so thoroughly…

Title page of my piece Unborn for symphony orchestra.

So what happened after the 14h party? On Sunday 25th of May, after sleeping for 6 hours I got up again at 16 o’clock, ate lunch, went to evening mass then went home, picked up a blanket, food and everything I needed for composing and headed of to the composition studio. I arrived at about 20.30 o’clock and started composing. I had been invited to a party, I had even brought a dress in case I could make it there as well, but now the earnesty of the situation was catching in on me: I HAVE to get everything done within this month so that I can graduate next month, and I HAVE to graduate next month in case I want to begin with my masters at the Academy of Music in Malmö in September 2014! There will come several parties, but to graduate I have to do NOW! So I didn’t go anywhere else except for eating and toiled in the next 36 hours!

I composed the first night until from 20:30 until 5 AM, then spread out my blanket on the floor and slept for 2 hours. At 7 AM I had my alarm ringing again and composed until lunch. I had quite a long (2h) lunch break, then I continued composing all afternoon and night until 4 AM. The second night I slept 3 hours, again on the blanket on the floor. At 7 AM again my alarm rang, and I was still quite worried, I had only got 8:30 minutes so I had to write an other 3-4 minutes before the deadline at 14 o’clock. So I wrote and wrote, and decided to cut out some of the ostinato in the strings, and make a 10 minute piece in stead of a 12 minute piece. At 11 AM I finally was ready! I knew there were typos and mistakes and missing slurs, but at this point I have to say I didn’t care anymore. (There wasn’t any orchestra hungrily waiting for my piece anyway…)

So for comparison; here is a pic of the original drawings of my piece, dated 21.5.
© Cecilia Damström
And here is a pic of the score of the same part of the piece.
(See the glissandos and French horn cluster?)
© Cecilia Damström

So after 36 hours in the composition studio I was finally free to leave. It was very ironical, it was like if the time of the year had changed while I was those 36 hours in the studio. I had arrived in a summer dress and sandals, it had been +26°C, and now it was suddenly +10°C and hailing! I walked home on shaky legs (both of tiredness and cold, wearing sandals while it’s hailing isn’t my sport…), showered and changed to some warmer clothes, headed to the main building for printing the score and having lunch, and then headed off for the final hour of doom, my composition class with Hannu Pohjannoro.

I can’t describe how proud and happy I was, despite the exhaustion, when I lay down the score of Unborn infront of Pohjannoro. He looked at the schore, listened to the midi of the Sibelius file and looked at the score again. I could see relief in his face, which made me very happy. After a long silence he finally said: “The piece works. There are still a few small things that should be corrected, but the piece in it’s entirety works. Congratulations on that. For being honest; I was very worried and wondered how on earth you would manage to get the piece ready on time, I didn’t think it was possible. But your choice to start over again (with the dialogue) was good, the new material you have worked much better than your previous material. Sometimes you just have to have the courage and throw everything away, even at a late stage, so it was good that you did that. Oh well, I guess this was it, this was our last lesson.”

This news struck me with surprise, I hadn’t even thought this far! But yes, it’s the end of May, of course this was my last lesson! But I told him I will be back, for private lessons, so this is not our last lesson. I will be back, as they say...

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