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How Classical Composer Richard Sortomme Sketches Ideas to Finish Music

Richard Sortomme discusses how the composing process began and developed for his piano concerto, which received its world premiere in 2020. He includes his history with the wonderful American pianist Pamela Mia Paul, who commissioned the concerto. There are seven short excerpts where he shows how his ideas appeared. And how he sketched those ideas, developed and orchestrated them, and how they got to the final piano score and full concert score. -TOPIC TIMESTAMPS- [0:00:00] Welcome/Intro [0:00:18] Writing a concerto for a particular soloist, Pamela Mia Paul, is interesting and a fascinating process, & history [0:01:13] Knowing what kind of ensemble will perform with piano soloist is paramount [0:01:29] Explains exactly what a wind symphony is [0:01:49] What it is like to compose for an ensemble with no strings [0:02:22] Brief discussion of musical ideas. They are the heart and soul of every composer. [0:02:53] But developing musical ideas is more important. [0:03:32] Maurice Ravel’s comments on his piano concerto in 1931. “…The opening theme came to me on a train between... But the initial idea is nothing…Writing music is 75 percent an intellectual process.” [0:04:28] 1st example. Shows sketch. Only 3 notes started the process. Used in chords. [0:06:30] Play 1st example, bar 1, in computer Logic Pro X [0:06:51] Play 1st example, bar 1, video of live world premiere [0:07:09] Comments on how much more beautiful piano soloist, an actual solo artist, is than a computer [0:07:56] 2nd example. Shows sketch. Only those 3 notes. Used in fast, separate notes [0:08:43] Play 2nd example, bar 2, Logic Pro X, 1st slowly then fast [0:09:06] Play 1st & 2nd example, bars 1 & 2, video of premiere [0:09:26] Comments on interpretative power of Pamela using sustain pedal [0:09:53] 3rd example. 3 notes. Somewhere between melody and a virtuoso passage [0:10:30] Play 3rd example, bar 13, Logic Pro X [0:10:51] Play 3rd example from video of premiere [0:11:10] Comments on Pamela’s rhythmic freedom, her ideas as a soloist [0:12:20] Comments on unaccompanied piano introduction to the concerto. Most concertos start with an orchestral tutti where the composer advances his/her musical ideas. My 2 minute unaccompanied piano introduction is to lay out 3 or 4 musical ideas so that when they come back later they are recognizable. [0:13:06] 4th example. 3 notes. Much more melodic. [0:13:33] Play 4th example,Logic Pro X [0:13:57] Play 4th example from video of premiere [0:14:20] Comments on 1st flute doubling melody in right hand of piano [0:14:49] Comments on importance of conductor keeping ensemble/piano together [0:15:50] 5th example. 3 notes. Much different. Extremely dramatic use of 3 notes [0:15:33] Play 5th example,Logic Pro X [0:15:50] Comments on upcoming video. Pamela and wind symphony roaring along, playing wildly. Pamela drops out and wind symphony winds down, softer and softer, the BAM!! Pamela rudely interrupts with this figure 3 times. It actually catches the audience off guard, which was my goal all along. [0:16:55] Play 5th example from video of premiere [0:17:44] Comments. Again, the conductor’s importance cannot be overemphasized [0:18:13] 6th example. 3 notes. Used in tender a melody, both ascending & descending [0:18:46] Play 6th example, Logic Pro X [0:19:11] Comments on upcoming video. Very small orchestration. Just a duet between the alto flute and Pamela. [0:19:37] Play 6th example from video of premiere [0:20:02] Really interesting comments here! Young woman playing alto flute is actually the 2nd flutist in the ensemble. The alto flute has been sitting in a stand next to her for 17 minutes, in an air conditioned concert hall, so it is cold. A couple minutes before she had to play she silently blew her warm breath through the column of the alto flute, to warm it up. If she had not it would have sounded flat, out of tune. [0:20:56] Comments. Concerto is between 22 and 23 minutes long. [0:21:06] 7th example. 3 notes. It is extremely rhythmic, even bombastic. I use the 3 note figure but with a TWIST: instead of going up 1 ½ step and then another, I go up 1 whole step and then DOWN a ½ step. [0:21:58] Play 7th example, Logic Pro X. [0:22:38] Comments on upcoming video. Orchestration is very developed here. From the Coda to the en is about 3 minutes I use every instrument in the. [0:23:08] Play 7th and final example from video world premiere [0:23:26] Closing comments. This video has been dedicated to exploring the use and development of ONLY 3 notes. But they are far from the totality of the concerto. More is coming. Please visit my website to see the video of the entire piano concerto live at the premiere! -Follow Richard Sortomme- Official Website:
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