The BBC News captures the spirit of “A Toronto Symphony”. Watch below:
Check out this press release from the CN Tower!!
March 9, 2013, approx. 9pm
March 7, 2013 (Toronto, ON) Toronto residents and all those within sight of the CN Tower are invited to watch a unique CN Tower light show synchronized to the world première of A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City – the first symphony created for, by and about Torontonians.
Tune in to TSO.CA for a live webcast where you will hear a live audio feed of the concert as well as see visuals, which will include graphics, video, and photos illustrating both the piece and the process of its creation, alongside a live video feed of the CN Tower’s light show. The complete concert is performed live at Roy Thomson Hall on March 9, 2013 beginning 8pm, and the webcast and CN Tower lighting will be live with the A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City première at approximately 9pm. Continue reading
During September’s Culture Days, composer Tod Machover met with the talented players of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra to introduce “A Toronto Symphony” and lead them in a collaborative exercise using the opening chord progression. Here’s a taste:
Over the summer, a couple dozen Toronto music teachers convened workshops to develop an exciting new music curriculum incorporating Hyperscore, a music composition software that uses a graphical annotation interface enabling anyone to express themselves creatively through music. Here’s Tod Machover explaining how the curriculum is now being taught to several hundred Toronto school kids.
From Tod Machover:
Now that I’ve collected a range of sounds from you all, we’re ready to begin using Hyperscore to create music!
Hyperscore uses lines and color as opposed to typical musical notation to express musical ideas so that people of all ranges of skills and musical training can compose. Over the past months, we have had the opportunity to work with teachers from the Toronto School District to create curriculum that will encourage students to compose with Hyperscore. This spans across middle and high school levels, and we’re hoping to connect younger and older students to collaborate on the same pieces. Younger students can create melodies that older students can combine into compositions and send back to the middle school for reflection and thoughts on improvement. Eventually, these projects will become part of the Toronto Symphony project.
Don’t worry—if you aren’t a current student, I still want you to be involved. This is the link to Hyperscore: http://hyperscore.com. I will be sending out ideas for sections of the final piece or small Hyperscore fragments for you to work on alone and with the other participants of the project so we can reflect together on the best melodies and short compositions for the final piece. Let’s get started!
If you’d like to try your hand at composing with Hyperscore, the company is making the software available to “A Toronto Symphony” participants at a discount. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the discount code.
The sounds made by this friendly mob of two-wheeled musicians and revelers will make you all kinds of happy! Do they make you want to compose your own music?
So I hope you’ve had a chance to take a look at the first bit of music I made with the Toronto Symphony musicians. Now it’s your turn, to see what your reaction is to the Launch Music and maybe to see if you want to add something to it. You can look at the chords, play them on the piano, look at the video, you can hear the chords, you can hear the full piece. It’s a combination of my chords, what the musicians wrote in response to my chords, and then some improvisation we did back and forth. You can look at the score, and it would be great to hear any comments.
This music might be what A Toronto Symphony actually feels like. It might start with these chords and with this shape. So I’d love to hear if you think this feels like the beginning of a symphony, or if we might change it in some way. And I would definitely love it if you would send chords that you like that maybe my chords suggest to you, you might want to add chords to my chords, you might even want to take the audio recording of the chords or the music we made and jam on top of them. You can sing on top of it, you can play instruments on top of it, or you can use it to write out music that might go along with it.
So that’s my challenge to you now. Here’s this Launch Music. Tell me what you think of it, change it, add something to it, and let’s start working together to shape the opening of this piece based on this music. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
UPDATE: Here at last is the edited video from the ideacity 2012 presentation, with a performance of the Launch Music exercise by members of the Toronto Symphony:
Continued from Part 1…
With chords in hand, I contacted Jeff Beecher, bass player in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and co-chair of the musician’s committee, to see if he and some of his colleagues would be interested in working with this initial chord progression for our first collaboration. Jeff was willing, found eight other players who also wanted to participate (2 violins, viola, cello, Jeff on bass, bassoon, french horn and clarinet), and we were off.
I sent them the chord progression and asked if they would augment and modify what I had written, by adding new chords, writing melodies to my chords, and/or proposing sounds suggested by my chords. All eight of them got back to me within a few days with a wealth of remarkable music including quirky melodies, jaunty and sometimes jagged rhythms, and some quite unusual sounds. It was a very pleasant surprise that they responded, and even a better surprise that what they send back was so interesting and so unexpected. Continue reading
To officially launch our A Toronto Symphony collaboration, I created a series of chords last month to serve as a kind of “genetic” code for the project, and also to serve as material that we could share back-and-forth to modify and to make new things. Chord progressions are great because they are both simple – a kind of musical backbone or skeleton – yet complex enough to truly tell a story. Just think of the chords in a classic piece by The Beatles like “Michelle”, or the way Bach squeezes a universe of expression out of his seemingly simple 4-part Chorales.
I have always enjoyed composing harmonic progressions, and the one I have started for A Toronto Symphony is typical of the way I work (see score at right). There is a strong melody line that helps to shape how each chord moves to the next, and how the whole line together creates a story. In my music, the bass (lowest) line is equally important…and of course I care about the rest of the notes too. In addition, this chord progression starts and ends simply, but moves in waves, zigzagging from simple/familiar to complex/strange chords, from notes bunched near the center of the keyboard to those spreading from low to high, and from chords which feel restful and resolved to those that seem dense and tense. Sometimes the movement from one chord to the next feels fluid and natural, sometimes surprising. I have tweaked this all fairly carefully, so that the whole progression feels pleasing and complete but also has much variety and potential for further development.
You can hear how the first section of the chord progression sounds by listening at 9:10 in the video below, from my ideacity 2012 talk:
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Feel free to download the score and play around with it yourself. Try it on an instrument, add your own melodies, rhythms and variations, and share it back. I’d love to hear what you do with it!
Coming soon, Part 2
Sam’s contribution to “A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City” is the soundscape at Yonge-Dundas Square. You too can send us your soundscapes of Toronto. Post a video on YouTube, capture sounds on your cellphone and upload the mp3 to Soundcloud, YouTube or direct to Facebook, and share the links via our Facebook page! Tweet it to @ComposerCity and we’ll share your #SoundsofToronto far and wide. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need technical help finding your way around all this social media technology.[media width=”600″ height=”450″ width=”100%” link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2BWXvzu0Is”]