Assignment Two – [Pt. II] – Reflective Account

Part Two of ‘Music 1: From the Present to the Past’  has presented some challenges for me. The main challenge being how to limit my time and choose between such important and innovative composers. In the end I settled on focusing on Impressionism. I decided to not pick what I was most familiar with, in my case that would have been Stravinsky. On the other hand, I didn’t want to delve into Schoenberg and Serialism unless I had a huge amount of time to spend on it.  I find the music a challenge and a lot of it isn’t to my taste. Hence, Impressionism seemed like a reasonable choice. I enjoy listening to it, but I had very little knowledge of it prior to this course. I also felt that it would be very useful for me to understand how it is constructed. I am particularly interested in composing for film I think it’s a style of music that would be very valuable for me to study. I can hear echoes and influences of Impressionism in modern day film music. I’ve tried to learn and incorporate the techniques used by these composers in my own writing. This has been hugely interesting and inspiring, but has caused me to struggle with time management issues. In your guidelines and assessment criteria the recommended time to spend on each course part is about 80 hrs and to spend about 20% of that on the listening log. I have found that to fully absorb and analyse this wonderful music I have needed far more time. I have wanted to spend at least a couple of weeks on each piece of music. I must have spent in excess of 10 hrs just listening to Claude Debussy’s ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’. For my next assignment I need to learn how to limit myself and do less in-depth research. I need to focus more on getting a general overview and understanding of each period rather than become completely entranced by the music I’m studying. Another point of struggle has been how to find ways of backing up and defending my own opinions in an academic way. Most of my opinions have been formed by what I’m hearing, by what my ears are telling me, rather than based on any prior knowledge. I have then had to work backwards to find critical opinions and reviews done by respected scholars and critics so that I can defend my views in a professional manner. This has sometimes been difficult and time consuming detective work. Example: above I stated that I can hear influences of Impressionism in film music. I had no way of proving that this is the case. I spent a week unraveling that thread. In doing so I found a lot of interesting material, information and  connections- all beyond the scope of the course and the assignment. It became overwhelming and unmanageable. In the end I was not able to fit much of it in.