“Waterfall, how does this sound? Do you think I should give the bassoon a bigger part in the second measure?”
“No, the bassoon sounds fine. You don’t want it to fight with the horn for attention.”
“What about the last couple of measures? I think I need to scrap them and start over.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Hubster. I kind of like the part where the violin gets hypomanic.”
“Then you think the sudden move to sixteenth notes sounds OK?"
“Mm-hmm. I think the element of surprise is kind of effective.”
Yes, this was a real conversation between me and my husband. It occurred last night, as I was reading in bed and he was on the computer, playing with his new game.
It’s really my new software, a free download of Finale Notepad that I use for some of my music theory exercises. The other night, the Hubster heard me working on an exercise. Curious, he came into the office (where I was) and watched me work.
“What a neat new game!” he exclaimed, jokingly, as he knew it was more of a tool than a game for me. (Even though it is fun.)
"Wanna learn how to play it?”
So I explained about quarter notes and half rests and key signatures and tempi. In Finale, you basically click on the quarter-note symbol if you want to add a quarter-note. And, depending on where you place the note on the staff (by clicking), Finale “sings” the note back to you, in the voice of whatever instrument you’re writing for. Then you can click the “play” button, and Finale will play the composition back to you.
So music-writing software is a very cool thing. The Hubster appreciates that. Even though he doesn’t know the first thing about reading or writing music, or even playing an instrument (though he does play a mean air guitar with his Leki poles).
Would you believe, that man played with Finale Notepad until late into the night? I know, because I went to sleep with the sound of odd, dissonant notes being played by instruments out of their range. The violin was playing four-note chords at a Paganini-esque pace. The bassoon sounded more like an oboe having a panic attack. But, in a strange way, it sounded … not bad.
Last night, I opened Finale to find that the Hubster had “written” two pages of “music.” I played it. Every now and then the strangely dissonant chords would fly past a triad or seventh, bringing a sense of … order? to the “music.” And the sudden shifts from a measure of quarter notes to a wild two measures of sixteenth or thirty-second notes did have kind of a nice element of surprise, of movement.
I played my own music-exercise from the night before, and it sounded languid, limp, and bland in comparision. It sounded planned. Figured-out. Boring.
The Hubster’s “composition” sounded exciting. Particularly when you got to the measures where he obviously learned how to use the “sharp” and “flat” icons.
What’s the lesson in this? Should I ditch my hard-earned theory knowledge and just wildly click notes onto the page, as the Hubster did?
Of course not. But I can also stand to be a little less controlling. Yes, I’m just a music-theory student, and yes, most of my exercises are for competence rather than creativity. But it wouldn’t hurt for me to throw in a little hypomanic rush every now and then among the slower parts. Or a braking near-stop among the faster parts. I can do that with the harmonic rhythm as well with as the tempo itself.
And maybe the occasional wild flinging of clicked notes onto the screen isn’t such a bad idea. Who knows what kinds of insights the results will yield?
Hubster’s new game really is a good game. His experience of the sheer excitement at having “written music” also gave some insight into why I spend so much time with George in the Inner Sanctum, studying Bach chorales and trying my own harmonizations. There is such a thrill in having created music. Someday, when I have money and know a bit more about composing, I'll invest in Sibelius notation software, as Emrah has recommended.
Life is good. I love music. And I have the greatest Hubster in the whole wide world.