Friday, March 11, 2011

Mind vs. Phonetics

Perhaps the most frustrating thing I have encountered in the past few days is the struggle I have found with “musical phonetics,” as I have temporarily (and probably not originally) coined it. Translating the sounds I hear in everyday life that inspire me into readable and accurate notes is almost impossible when it comes to ambiguous chords.
My journalism class was presented with a video broadcast project, and my group and I chose to profile one of the orchestras at my school. The one we were able to get the most filming on is a middle school orchestra mostly comprised of students who have played for a year or two, and when we filmed them rehearsing one of their new songs, they were slightly out of tune and were placing their fingers either just below or just above the correct finger placements. I could tell the piece they were reading was meant to be melodic and (maybe) major, but their notes created a vague and dissonant sound that sounded a bit off when we were in the room with the camera. But once we edited the film down and came up with a 8 second clip of that piece, I heard something amazing… the mistakes they made lined up perfectly in that moment and sounded interesting and perfectly creepy. I have been trying to figure out how to take that mash-up of sounds and put it on paper, but it proves difficult. For now, I’m just going to reserve time to live at the piano for a little while with that clip nearby, plucking out notes that present themselves. I know I’ll never be able to copy it exactly, but I can see how far I will get. 

But who knows? Maybe that orchestra is playing more modern stuff than I thought. 

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