Adopt a Music Creator blog: Bursts of notes

Rebecca Demott of the Bedfordshire Woodwind Academy Flute Ensemble (BWAFE) describes their group's latest workshop with Edgar Divver, as part of their collaboration for Adopt a Music Creator 2022.

Last week we held a Saturday workshop so that Edgar could introduce us to each of the five movements of the Brushstrokes suite. This is the moment we'd had all been waiting for!

In our February workshop we had experimented with sounds, inspired by the five paint shades: Citron, Green Smoke, Red Earth, Elephant's Breath and Borrowed Light. It was hard to imagine how Edgar could take our sounds, thoughts and opinions and combine them with his own expertise and creativity. Edgar had composed 4-5 minutes of each movement, with parts for C flute, piccolo, alto, bass and contrabass. With most of the ensemble attending (we forgave those who had already gone on their summer holiday), we had each part covered and could get a true sense of what the final piece will sound like.

'Very quickly we started to recognise bursts of notes that were familiar - Edgar really had taken a lot of what we'd contributed in the original workshop and included it.'

We played through each movement, first all the way through, then stopping and starting to get a better handle on rhythms and dynamics, and to get Edgar's direction and feedback as we went. Each movement is totally different - for example, the sweet melody of Borrowed Light contrasting with the eerie, building tones of Red Earth. Very quickly we started to recognise bursts of notes that were familiar - Edgar really had taken a lot of what we'd contributed in the original workshop and included it. This was amazing to hear; not many of us would ever be in a position to compose something ourselves, so to hear the sounds we had created was incredible, and exciting!

Members of the group have a group discussion with composer Edgar and Musical Director Liz

Something else that was apparent very quickly is that Edgar is focusing on each type of flute equally. Generally, flute ensemble pieces are mainly C flute-focused, with accompaniment from the low flutes and with piccolo as an embellishment. Not only movement to movement but even within them the emphasis changes. It had always been likely that the low flutes would shine in Elephant's Breath - and indeed they do - but it's far more than that, such as pairing the piccolo and alto in Green Smoke. 

After a break for cake - you will have gathered by now that we do like cake - we regrouped to go through the movements again. We did this first with Edgar conducting and then with our Musical Director, Liz - after all, Liz will be guiding us through as we rehearse each week. Finally, we ran through the sections of all five movements without breaking between. This was a good chance to hear how the movements sound, contrasts and all, as our audience will eventually hear them - or maybe not... Edgar's using that opportunity as food for thought in terms of what order the movements will eventually run in.

Musical inspiration found in paint shades

Before we left for the day, we talked through what we had liked, and particularly what we would like to hear coming through as Edgar builds on the foundation sections. There were general ideas, and some very specific ones - you'll have to wait until next time to find out what Edgar decides to do with that feedback - as will we!

Thanks once again to Edgar for making the trip, along with his wife Emily, who joined us for the day, which was fab! And, as always, to Jenni our mentor for her support and guidance.

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The Adopt a Music Creator project matches vocal and instrumental leisure-time music groups with some of the UK’s most promising music creators to collaborate on creating a new piece of music. The project leads to a premiere performance and possible broadcast. If you’re a music group or music creator and you’d like to take part, find out more.