It’s been a loooooong time since my last post. Since then, I’ve started learning the clarinet, acquired more technology that I don’t understand, and sharpened my composing talons a little (just a little).

And it’s that which brings me here today.

My clarinet teacher is a composer and has been tutoring me in stuff like tonal harmony and modulation. The most recent project is the one I’m most pleased with because it’s the first time I’ve felt I’m beginning to understand the technical aspects of counterpoint and harmony, whereas previous stuff has relied just on my ear – which is fine as far as it goes, but it limits the entry points to discovery. I find that having even a little bit of a grasp of how and why music has developed over the centuries (in the Western World, at any rate) seems to open a lot more possibilities than only drawing on my own limited creativity.

ANYWAY – this project started as a simple exercise in tonal harmony. It then transmogrified into an exercise in modulation when I set myself this challenge:

Take it off at an extreme tangent and then try and get back to the beginning without anyone noticing…

  1. Change to the key farthest from the current one (the opposite key in the circle of fifths – in this case, from C to F♯/G♭)
  2. Change the tempo dramatically
  3. Change the tune dramatically
  4. Return to the original key, tempo and tune as seamlessly as possible.

I should have added change from major to minor to the list to make it even more challenging, but I didn’t. As it is, it goes through six key changes before it returns to the original tune – and then an extra one, up a semitone, just for fun.

It was hard to return to the original tempo without obvious changes along the way, but I think I managed to disguise the key changes pretty well (except the final one, which is intentionally noticeable).

It’s called Ooh Look – squirrels! because I imagined it as a conversation that someone suddenly disrupts by being distracted by squirrels, and which then takes a little while to return to because everyone’s been watching the wildlife.

It’s a seven-minute piece for piano and clarinets. Here it is:

Ooh look – squirrels! by citizensheep