This weekend, I attended a masterclass with Alice Parker (composer, conductor, song leader, and long-time collaborator of Robert Shaw) at her home in Hawley, MA. The class was ostensibly on "The Anatomy of Melody," or, "what makes melody great." Though not typically a "melodic" composer myself, I find that my generation of composers is not only clueless about composing melody, but is mostly clueless about what to do with pitch at all in their composing. I have many pet theories about why we are incapable of constructing meaningful pitch contours., but I won't go into them here. Regardless, this seemed like a prime opportunity to think about doing some pitch thinking.
Now I could be mistaken, but I don't think we ever actually talked "the anatomy of melody" per se. We came close once on Sunday afternoon, and then we went veering off in another direction...which is not to say that the class was at all disappointing - Alice is one of the most vital humans I've met. She conjures spirits, shoots lightening out of her eyes, makes a mean roast turkey, lives in the most idyllic plot of western-MA land imaginable, and raises storm-surge waves of sound just by willing them to exist. She also gave me great hope for my life when she said she had not taught in a public school since 1951.
Basically, the class was fantastic. Everybody should spend some time with Alice Parker.
Here's the class. (photo courtesy of Matt Hoch's camera, taken by Alice's daughter Liza):
mid: Dan, Esther, Nick
back: Mark, Matt, Alice
Off to Walden tomorrow. Huzzah and huzzah!