The composition of a piece of contemporary music for solo piano, 16-piece chamber orchestra, and 6-channel, computer-processed sound was tracked and documented from its initial conception to its concert premier. Notebooks, sketches, diagrams, recorded interviews, and the final score were used to address the solving of three compositional problems raised within the context of the piece. The first problem concerned the need to compose the five themes for the piece (23––100 s in duration) for both solo piano and chamber orchestra. Issues of performance constraints associated with the two media and on translation from a restricted to a more open timbral palette played an important role. The second problem involved composing the two major parts of the piece with similar temporal structures but vastly different ways of traversing the same thematic musical materials. Spatial, graphical representations and self-imposed graphic organization of the score were important factors in resolving this issue. The third problem involved conceiving of the computer component to accompany either of the two major parts, because the piece could be played with them in either order. The solution involved organizing the computer component into discrete parts that had fairly continuous textures and finalizing this component before the final composing of the instrumental components. Issues concerning the aspects of compositional problem-solving that are available for study, the types of representations used in problem solving,and the generalizability of such results to other pieces by the same composer or other composers are discussed.
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Research Article| March 01 2004
Problem-Solving Strategies in Music Composition: A Case Study
Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Ecole Normale Supéérieure
Address correspondence to Stephen McAdams, Déépartement d'Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supéérieure,
45 rue d'Ulm, F-75230 Paris 05, France. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Music Perception (2004) 21 (3): 391–429.
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STEPHEN McADAMS; Problem-Solving Strategies in Music Composition: A Case Study. Music Perception 1 March 2004; 21 (3): 391–429. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2004.21.3.391
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