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The melody finds you

"Compose an atonal piece for flute," said my teacher. I have played with flutists before and know they are capable of playing single notes rapidly in the three octaves above middle C.

In atonal music, there is complete freedom to do whatever you want. The sounds need not be friendly to the ear as long as the notes are playable on the instrument. I decided to experiment and create something out of nothing.

Key by key, I try to find a melody that is playable and original. It reminds me of how much time we spend searching for things. We search for our dream job. We search for our dream house. We search for our dreams. But sometimes they come looking for us.

After composing the flute piece, I decided to let my fingers run wild on the piano keys. I tried a few chord progressions and a few arpeggios. Before long, a melody emerged.

And it took me by surprise. It was as if the melody existed long before I even tried to find it. The melody started on an initial E major chord and danced above an F major chord. The consecutive modulations took me to new chord patterns and harmonic colours that I didn't know were compatible.

Note by note, the melody revealed itself like a story unfolding. How is it going to end? As the Singapore Airline motto goes, the journey is the destination. Composing music, playing piano, running through the woods, the process of getting there is the fun part - but not arriving at the destination.

I don't need to decide when or how the story will end. The melody will show me, as cleverly as it finds me.

26 March 2004 Friday

About the concert flute
Free sheet music at analyticalQ
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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