Composing a Fanfare for Crew Dragon: Day 6

A surprising amount of progress over the weekend—the muscles are coming back!

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

To my great delight, I was able to spend some more time yesterday and today working on the fanfare I started a few weeks ago. Yesterday, all of that time was spent at the piano, hammering at ideas I had a few weeks ago for the second section of the fanfare and trying to turn them into something I can actually work with. Happily, I made reasonably good progress in those stretches yesterday — much of that progress in the hour before my daughters woke up. Everything I liked, and even a few ideas that were just okay, I wrote down in the same music notation notebook I have used for everything in this project.1

This afternoon, I took the materials I had sketched out yesterday and actually orchestrated them in Dorico — which I continue to find a real delight to work with.2 The result of today’s efforts is definitely a very rough draft: there are a great many things about it that need to be reworked. In particular, the use of percussion is iffy, it could use a slightly thicker texture (likely from bringing in some more strings and winds in counterpoint), and some of the rhythmic harmony that drives underneath needs to do something besides just jam on E

The key, though, is that despite having had relatively limited time, I made very good progress. I managed to relatively fully orchestrate these 45 seconds of music in a matter of about 4 hours total: not far off from the speed I worked at when I was studying composition in college! The mental muscles are coming back, and they work well, all these years along.

Without further ado, the piece as I have it today:

the first draft of the first half of the second section (read the score)


  1. To my amusement, I have had this notebook for over fifteen years now: I have sketches from high school in it. During high school and college, though, I did the vast majority of my work composing straight into either the Clavinova we owned or into Sibelius. I did not particularly understand the sketch-into-a-notebook workflow, and in fact this project is the first time I have ever tackled things keyboard-and-paper first. I like it a lot, though; I find it very productive, and it’s much quicker for jotting down an idea than keyboard entry in a notation program ever will be. The only thing I can see going faster than this would be direct MIDI input with Dorico, and even that has its downsides. ↩︎

  2. More on that in a dedicated review when I’ve actually finished composing this piece! I have a few small nits to pick, but it will be a very positive review in the main! ↩︎