When Thomas Bonte approached me on behalf of the MuseScore team about using one of my compositions as the new demo score for MuseScore, I was honored. Something of mine would show up every time a new user first started MuseScore! But I quickly realized that nothing I had already written would quite fit the bill. The MuseScore team had some pretty specific things they wanted this demo to entail. It was to be a fully notated piece for solo piano; a complete composition that would fit on one page but contain plenty of "bling", as they termed it. The idea was to show off the capabilities of MuseScore with respect to piano scores, taking advantage of as many features as possible. This included time signature changes, key signature changes, multiple voices on each staff, triplets, slurs, articulations, dynamics, tempo markings, and so forth. But I was supposed to take care that the result didn't look "messy". Oh, and while playback was not the most important consideration, it would help if it were "catchy" :-)
So I sat down one evening to see if I could take that list of requirements and somehow make music out of it. What you are looking at is what I came up with!
Some time soon I hope to put together an "annotated score" showing all the MuseScore features I took advantage of, so you can use it as a guide to how to create different types of notations. Meanwhile, though, I thought some of you might like to know a little more about the composition itself.
I don't have one fixed method of writing, but I often start by sitting at the piano and just playing around until something strikes my fancy, and then I go from there. I remember deciding to start with a pickup that involved sixteenths (semiquavers), to show of those features and to give the piece a rhythmic kick right from the start. The main theme fell out from under my fingers within a few minutes. I almost rejected it as being too simplistic (trite, even), and not as rhythmic as I was originally planning. But something told me to persevere and see what came of it. As it turns out, the basic ideas for the rest of the piece flowed out from there almost without thinking, so I felt I had no choice but to complete it.
When the piece first started taking shape, it already had the key change from F major to D major that you see now - I had planned for that from the beginning. But the time signature changes were grafted on as something of an afterthought. Despite that, I think the piece is actually better for them. The passage in bars 7-8 in particular felt awkward in 4/4, but seem perfect to me in 3/4. I should point out that the harmonizations in this passage, as with those in several other passages (like measures 3-4 and 9-10), are borrowed from jazz pianist Bill Evans. For that matter, the main melody itself is probably similar to any number of other simple melodies. As I said, I was concerned that the piece was too simplistic at first, but I think the added Evansisms help a lot. There other harmonic devices - like the Italian augmented sixth chord (for you theory students) at the end of measure 14 - that help increase interest as well. I also tried to use a few rhythmic touches like the syncopations in the accompaniment, although it is still not like what I originally set out to write in that respect.
As a demo, hopefully it succeeds in showing off what MuseScore can do. If my goal was to create something catchy in the sense of having an obvious "hook", I suppose I failed. But I do find the final result a whole lot more *beautiful* - to look at, to listen to, and to play - than I was at first expecting to end up with. And based on the comments I have received - both on musescore.com and when I have played this piece for others "live" - it seems people do appreciate its musical qualities. It's just ironic that this composition started out as a checklist of notational devices to use!
A list of the notable MuseScore features used in this demo:
- pickup measure
- tempo markings
- dynamic markings
- double bars
- multiple voices (I used up to three per staff - see bars 7-8 in the top staff)
- courtesy accidentals, with and without parentheses
- manual adjustment of slur shapes, note and accidental positioning, etc (not usually necessary, but nice to have!)
- tempo changes
- time signature changes
- clef changes
- articulations (tenuto, accent, fermata)
- key signature changes
- crescendo & decrescendo/diminuendo, both using text and via "hairpins" (and I used a plugin to make these play back!)
- pedal markings
- note values down to 1/32 aka demisemiquaver
- small notes
- cross staff beaming
- octave markings
- text symbols