Composing a Fanfare for Crew Dragon: Day 2

I wrote some good harmonic lines! I started learning a new notation software program!

Assumed audience: Anyone interested in the process of writing composed music.

I made less progress today than I hoped — there was a bit of, uhh, disruption in the former of a very emotional child who has been cooped up without friends for far, far too long (so say we all right now!) — but I did make some progress. That progress came in the form of two steps forward:

  • I did manage to work out the harmonic progress for the first of the two ideas I posted yesterday. It took me most of the morning and a bit of the afternoon today, but I’m quite pleased with where it ended up. It has a nice, bright, fanfare-style progression to it, with enough interesting things in the moving harmonic lines under the main melodic line to keep it from being bland or boring.

  • I copied that material into a new orchestra project in Dorico, and started fleshing out an orchestration for it. When I say started,” though, I really mean barely started,” because I spent a decent bit of the rest of the day figuring out Dorico basics. That was well worth it: I really, really like Dorico so far and I’m quickly finding myself to be as or more productive in it than I ever was in Sibelius. I’ll have more to say on Dorico at the end of the week, after really putting it through its paces; for now, suffice it to say that I think I’ll be fairly productive with it for the rest of the week, and I really like it.

My other big takeaway from the day: I really, really wish I had taken an orchestration class in college. It’s one of the few missing pieces in my equivalent-of-a-music-minor, and there are just annoying gaps in my ability to translate into the page what I hear in my head. I got by in high school and college by staying away from a lot of the more sophisticated voicings and articulations, but this piece really wants some of those, at least as I hear it in my head. I will likely be scouring the internet for resources tomorrow, and if I end up composing more regularly again I’ll likely pick up a good volume on orchestration and study this in earnest over the next year, so that I can actually express what’s in my head in the score.

So what I have to show for the day is this really basic start to the orchestration work. It’s literally just one trumpet, because this export doesn’t include the piano underline with the interesting harmonies that I’ll fill in with the rest of the orchestra!

a single trumpet playing the fanfare line

Hopefully — hopefully — tomorrow’s entry will have a fully-fleshed out version of this opening fanfare, and some of the transition into the more melodic variation represented by the second sketch in yesterday’s entry!