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  Music which is easy to play  MartinY at 09:32 on 17 September 2008

On the weekend of the 13th September I attended a performance of the 17 entries to the Lute Society Composition Contest, where the brief was to a write an elementary piece with some pedagogic content. All 17 pieces submitted were at an intermediate level, not elementary. This brings home who difficult it is to write easy pieces, much harder than writing for grade 8 plus players! Also the specification of easy for a fair competition must be precise. The level could be related to a progressive system of pieces such as the Kodaly method or Bartok’s Microcosmos, (or the few books of pieces influenced by Microcosmos by other composers, e.g. Reginald Smith-Brindle’s guitar book.

The grade exams provide another way of specifying difficulty. It is noticeable in graded pieces that the quality of the music increases with the difficulty as one progresses from elementary to intermediate. How difficult it is to write inspired music with few notes and limited rhythm. It is especially difficult for modern composers as, even if the music is tonal, we tend to think in extended mode tonality, not the diatonic system which pupils are being taught at the level required.

Does anybody have any ideas or plans to write elementary pedagogical pieces in a style which is culturally and aesthetically 21st century?