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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Iyer

My UIUC Fall Semester - New Experiments

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Hello! It has been a while since my last blog post, and for that I apologize; I have been extremely busy with university life. However, I have been composing quite a lot of music, only some of which I will share on the site. I am waiting until potential recordings for things come in before I create dedicated pages for them. For now, let me provide an update on a few of my projects I have finished this semester, as well as a look at planned projects during the holiday break and into the start of next year.

Let us begin with a YouTube video I just finished last night for a composition project for one of my classes on music since 1945. One of the many eclectic genres of music we discussed in this class was Open-Form music, a kind of aleatoric music where the piece's structure is determined in some degree by the performer. Having started sketching graphic scores for a class with dancers, as well as creating a puzzle-piece card game out of one, I decided to create a musical dice game with this piece.

The piece is written for an indeterminate number of violins, and the throw of the dice (not unlike John Cage's I Ching!) determines the pattern for a musician to play among the three pieces. You can read more on this piece and directions for how to play it in the score below, but I have also created a YouTube video on my "CityFolk66" YouTube channel with a sample realization I did over the weekend, which you can watch below.

Variable Waltzes - Score
Download PDF • 455KB

The next piece I am excited to discuss is my brand-new string quartet, entitled "isolation(replay)". This is technically my third String Quartet I have written. I just finished the work at the end of November, to submit it in two composition contests. I started working on this piece back in August, although it was more conceptual at first. I was feeling quite down in terms of my musical and compositional excitement at the time. As the semester went on, I finally gave in and started sketching for the work in early October. I penciled the entire piece for the full score, taking walks in the autumn ambiance at the University of Illinois Arboretum by campus. I won't reveal too much of the piece right now, but it does focus heavily on mental health, especially during the 2020 pandemic. The three movements (that all transition into each other) are: (I.) hopelessness; (II.) panic; (III.) light. If nothing comes of these two competitions, I can still create a page for the piece and upload a score. This turned into a very personal project that really helped me feel better about my composing, and I am excited to go into the New Year with renewed vigor.

Finally, I will briefly mention a piece which will get its own page very soon: Coin Flip, composed for the Civitasolis Reed Quintet's Miniatures series. Over the summer, they put out a call for scores of very short pieces to play, and mine was chosen amongst many to get a dedicated video. These videos were put out every Friday; Coin Flip was released on Black Friday, as it happened. I will link it below, but do keep an eye out for the dedicated page I will make on it in the next day or so.

I am quite optimistic about where my music-making has taken me. As I reflected on my blog I wrote just before this, it has been great to play a lot more violin this semester. It has caused me to think of new avenues in music-making that I haven't thought of before. We will see what potential rebranding there will be on this site in the coming years, depending on where I end up after I graduate.

Briefly looking ahead to future projects, I am planning on a piece for the woodwind trio Ritual Action, a wonderful group that plays a lot of new music and student works. I haven't started thinking of actual ideas quite yet, but I hope to build upon Coin Flip and my 2019 Octet in terms of working on my woodwind writing. (The Octet, by the way, should hopefully soon have a recording and a page!) In addition, we are planning another Facebook Live composer's recital for early next year. For the recital in October of this year, I was inspired by my colleague's love-letter to the guitar that he wrote. I would love to do something similar for the violin, or write a piece for my roommate on trumpet. Perhaps I could blog a bit along the journeys for both of these pieces, as these are pretty much set-in-stone.

I have a whole list with a lot of instrumentations planned, such as a harp solo or a horn + electronics piece; but I think I will leave it at that for tonight's blog post. There is a lot of archiving of my recent music to do on the site; do look forward to the coming weeks and months for more updates and more music! I'm ready to put even more into my composing and experiment even more with my style, and we'll see where that takes me!


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