Looooong time no post!

I’ve been plodding along despite having a bad cold. I’ve been in 2 brass band concerts, a wind dectet concert, and, um, that’s it, but lots of rehearsals for the Mbawula Sing! Africa concerts this Thursday and Friday. When that’s over with I have another brass band, wind ensemble, and symphony orchestra. All the rehearsals have kept me off of the Aikido mat, which is unfortunate but unavoidable; I’ll be getting back to it next Thursday, I hope.

Class went really well yesterday. I generally enjoy my arranging class, but yesterday was particularly rewarding.

I learned about diminished (octatonic) scales, and quartive harmonies, and stuff like that, and got more certain about how to refer to the degrees of the chord; they’re interval-based, not sequence-of-scale based (this is not actually important if you aren’t in a scale with a non-standard number of notes, but I was), but using a higher number implies a chain of 3rd below it, which is why a sus-4 is different than a chord with an extension tone that’s an 11th. Also learned about Lydian Dominant mode, which I hadn’t encountered before; it’s got the raised 4th note of Lydian, and the lowered 7th note of Mixolydian, and one of the reasons this is cool is because the harmonic series has those (before it has, say, the ordinary raised 7th or P4th from tonic).

I got a question answered about the F9#11 chord that I wasn’t quite sure how to harmonize in 4-way close, as well as a typo corrected. I need to go through my draft of that assignment, chord by chord, and make sure that I’ve actually got the right notes in the right places. Proofreading in music is not as easy as proofreading English.

I like learning this stuff. It tickles my brain! It stretches! I might go get that Schoenberg book out of the library to read over my trip to Canada. Does that make me a hopeless swot? Probably. Do I mind? Not really.

I’m feeling a little less happy about the improvisation class, which I find rather on the ill-defined side, and don’t enjoy as much as I hoped I would. I’m considering whether it’s worth trying to switch to conducting. I think the only sane way to do this would be to do some of the work the conducting class has already done while I’m away over Christmas; I’ll at least talk to Student Services and find out what’s involved. In the meantime I’ll stick with the improv class for now and see whether things settle a bit.

At the moment I’m in the process of trying to move house, which is taking up a lot of time and energy that would be better spent in other things. I need to guard my academic time carefully so that I don’t fall behind in the planning and documentation aspects of the degree. After that I’m off to Canada to visit family for a while, which will be a welcome change.

UBS Verbier Orchestra

I’m considering auditioning for the UBS Verbier Orchestra in February. It’s one of the few ‘youth’ orchestras that I’m still young enough to participate in, with an upper age limit of 29. I’m actually quite unlikely to succeed at such an audition, but it would be a good experience. I have many, many orchestral excerpts to learn for the end of year exams this year, and a February audition would be a good midpoint to aim for.

I don’t really have strong career aspirations toward orchestral playing, but this is at least partly because of a lack of orchestral experience. I don’t dislike orchestral playing but the images it conjures up in my mind are of amateur orchestras fraught with politics and violinists who have not practised their parts. If I were to pass an audition, either this year or next year, for the UBS Verbier Orchestra or something of similar standard, it would give me a chance to try it out in a more intensive way and see if I end up liking it. The Verbier would be particularly good because all food, travel and accommodation are paid for, plus a small remuneration of CHF50 (that’s £20-ish) per day, which would keep my rent back in London covered.


I’m a student at Trinity College of Music, London, and I’m planning to use this blog for documentation of various musical and academic projects I’m involved with. If you look hard enough you can probably figure out who I am, but I’d really rather you didn’t.

It’s the third week of classes this week and I’m enjoying things, so far. Improvisation classes on Wednesdays are a bit unstructured and I need to take better notes on those immediately after the class. Arrangement classes on Fridays are wonderful and I’m very glad to be studying with P. again.

There is some paperwork difficulty over my principal study lessons, but it looks like it is on the way to being sorted out properly. I’m looking forward to getting started on this.

I have many, many orchestral excerpts to try to learn in the next few months, before the big exam at the end of Year 3.

Rehearsals have started for the concert with Mbawula at Blackheath Halls. It’ll be showing on Thursday, 8th November and Friday, 9th November at 19.30.

I’ve also been rehearsing for the Trinity Brass Band performing a selection of works by Goffin, Steadman-Allen and Eric Ball as part of the Regent Hall Brass Arts Festival 2007. This concert will be at Blackheath on Tuesday, 16th October. It will also be at Regent Hall, W1C on Friday 19th October at 12.30pm.

Finally, I’ll be playing in the Van Brugh Ensemble; this wind dectet will be playing a concert on Tuesday, 23rd October at 13.00, at St. Nick’s Church, Aberfeldy Street, Poplar E14 0PT.

I’m not yet sure what is happening with horn quartets or wind quintets. I’m meant to be in a quintet but the scheduling has been problematic.