Ezra is 1 of 10 students invited to work with Contemporary Music for All (CoMA). Here is a diary of his recent visit to Sheffield:

Journal from my experience at CoMA:

On the 2nd of December to the 3rd of December, I participated in a composition workshop where we worked together to create pieces. CoMA is a programme that allows 10 young musicians from across the UK to work together to learn more and eventually create a program to perform in London.

2nd of December: In our first session, we worked with an amazing vocalist, Supriya Nagarajan, who is an improviser from the indian western tradition. We learnt about ways to improvise in groups with no written notation. We used ragas and, as a group, came up with an image in our head of what we wanted to depict. It was very different improvising in groups, as I’m only used to playing in an orchestra where you have set rhythms and notes.

Later that day, we were all given the opportunity to watch a contemporary concert of a quartet: double bass, harp, clarinet and a vocalist. I found it very interesting how it was arranged, the harp and double bass somehow imitated each other rather well, and the clarinet supported the entire group without much notice. 

3rd of December: In our second session, we worked with Heloise Werner, the vocalist from the concert we saw last night. In groups, we worked on text scores, where you read a text as stimulus and play together to depict it. We then had the chance to create our own text scores, our group came up with a text about water and worked to create an ebb and flow effect. Secondly, we worked on graphic scores. We got given a graphic score first, created a piece and then created a graphic score ourselves. Throughout the two days I didn’t see a single piece of standard notation, which meant nothing we did could be wrong, we had many choices on what we wanted to do.

We then played some ensemble rhythm games, where we tried to feel the pulse as one, which we found difficult at first, considering there were 11 of us. But eventually we got used to it and got better and better.

Lastly, as a whole group, we did a couple open improvisations with our eyes closed. We weren’t allowed to talk beforehand and come up with a theme, we were just meant to create something from the silence. In the first improv, there was an imbalance of texture, there wasn’t enough space to allow everyone to play. But in our second attempt, where we took steps back, the whole piece managed to flow and have everyone playing. It made it sound so much richer and interesting with sparser instrumentation.

I found this weekend a lot of fun and learnt a lot of new things. I look forward to attending later sessions as well.