top of page

Acerca de

Composition in Music Ed



I’ve been really inspired lately by Luke Byrne, especially his collection of pieces on the Grimm’s Fairytales. Throughout his works, Byrne uses lots of open 5ths and 4th, creating this mystical, nostalgic feeling in his pieces I’ve always admired. His piece Three Snake Leaves also uses this element, but also has a lot of movement in it, creating a very heroic, adventurous mood I was hoping to recapture in my own piece. The idea I composed I tried to capture this feeling using the features listed above, and I really liked the idea of using this as my middle section.



I knew I wanted my composition to be in ternary form — in all my high school compositions I found this to be the most successful way to create a shorter compositions while also demonstrating motivic development. 

I wanted my first section to be contrasting, a little more still and spare in texture as well. For this I drew inspiration from Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil. Throughout the piece the primary motif that returns is a simple minor third, representing the hypothetical veil which may exist through life and death.



I decided to use this simple idea and develop it in my own way, using the influences of Luke Byrne’s work as well. I used parallel fourths here to create that mysterious, uncertain feeling, which I thought would contrast my first section really well. I thought this section would probably get boring quickly, so I’ve tried to keep it quite short and hope it will act as a nice introduction.







My feedback from Jim in this session was primarily to be braver in the opening section and allow the sound and texture to remain thin and sparse for longer. I was quite surprised as I thought this section would be critiqued for being too boring, but I’m excited to expand on it. 

I think I’ll try to develop the motif a little more tonight. 

I’ve also been playing around with some ideas for modulation but I don’t think my current attempts are really working out. I just find that they feel a little unnatural and don’t follow the flow of the piece very well, but I think this is because these modulations only happen over the one bar, and I think the change is perhaps too sudden.






I think I’ve found a successful way to modulate in the first section, but I’m not sure if the modulation back to the original key is too abrupt. 



So I’ve found myself in E minor (I think) and I need to get back to A minor, and I thought I could do this using the original motif, and play around a bit by having the piano and violin interact with it a little.




I have no idea if this works, but I’m hoping to get some ideas on what I can do tomorrow in our first workshop session with Ella. It seems alright to my ear, but I’m not sure if I’ve just gotten used to the sound of it.

I’m still tossing up on a title, but I’ve been researching some fairytales I could perhaps steal an idea from (in a similar fashion to Luke Byrne).


I also finished the recapitulation, restating the motif and returning to the more sparse texture. I think it’ll work really well, and I think bringing back the motif will help tie the piece together a bit more.






I got some really good feedback on my composition from Ella today. She really liked my little modulations and thought the two sections worked really well. She was really pleased with my recapitulation and my use of the recurring motif as well.


I decided to title the piece after the legend of Hy Braesail, a mythical island off the coast of Ireland shroud in mist which only appears one day every seven years. I thought this suited the tone of the music I’d already composed — the sparse, high and atmospheric section represents the mist, and the more excited middle section I think shows the mist lifting the the journey over the waves to reach the island (but I think does this successfully without taking on a narrative form).


She gave me some good ideas on incorporating some piano rolls as well as more depth in the left hand of the piano during the middle section. I’ve added some more chords and octave there, as well as some double stops in the violin part. I’m hoping this will make the climax of the piece louder, but also much more intense.

This will create a greater amount of contrast which will make the transition into section A1 even more effective. I’m happy with the piece at the moment and excited to see what EJ and Caitlin have to say about it next week.




EJ and Caitlin were fantastic today, they gave me some fantastic ideas and corrections.

I’ve removed and altered a few double stops and changed some of the intervals in the piano l.h. — a few of them were too large to play. I’ve also added more accents and more pedalling in the piano as well. 



These were some of the notes I was given by them:

— upwards rolls no arrowhead needed

— gliss + held note too hard — make the double stop a dotted minim

— change double stops in violin part

— bar 25 develop —> maybe unison double stops 

— quiet dynamics = no double stops

— more power markings — be more specific about dynamics and more extreme

— make sure markings are across parts

— double barline @ 16 to denote new section

— put pause and timing changes into EJs part

— bar 30, double stop change to harmonics instead

— sul pont at the beginning

— bar 17 — full pedal




I’ve implemented a few more changes based on the following suggestions sent through by EJ:


Couple more suggestions 

  • It would be nice for you write your name on the composition 

  • Bar 13 - pedal marking? 

  • Bar14-15 - perhaps a slur over RH?

  • Bar 21 - perhaps place the metronome marking after Majestic, strong 

  • Bar 35 - can you put rall in between the piano part rather than above the RH? 

  • At the end of the piece, do you want the silence for the whole bar of rest or do you want the sound to disappear? In other words, do you want the violin part to come off first then the atmosphere/overtone is held by the pedal?


I’ve edited the score accordingly, hopefully all will go well next week when we record.




Recording went really well. I’ve only made a few changes — I took out the piano rolls in the first section as I wanted the attacks on the notes in bar 10 and 13 to be more together and strong. To achieve this more effectively we also changed the dynamics to mf and sfz respectively.

I’m quite pleased with how this process went, and glad to know I this have some composing skills, despite not doing it for a while. 

Screen Shot 2023-05-24 at 10.32.01 am.png
Screen Shot 2023-05-24 at 10.34.31 am.png
bottom of page