New music: Surge of the Sails – Hannah Shelmerdine

Today we are privileged to unveil the new composition by North West-based musician Hannah Shelmerdine.

Hannah has been guest-blogging on our site, giving us insight into how she came to be involved with DMLab, the instruments and tech she has been using and her creative process.

This has all been leading up to this big moment – the reveal of her wonderful Surge of the Sails composition!

Hi there everyone and welcome back to this, my final Drake Music blog.

Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, the unveiling of my composition of ‘Surge of the Sails.’

Three people smile at the camera, Hannah has blond hair, a fringe and wears a patterned cardigan

So, as previously mentioned, the best way for me to create musical compositions is by way of experimentation.

Initially I intended to use Ableton music making software, however Ableton software is not favourable when creating classical compositions. It does not contain the many instrumental sounds played within an orchestra and so therefore was not a suitable piece of software to use to create this composition.

After a discussion with Billy (musician & technologist from Drake Music North West) I decided to use Logic, as I felt this piece of music making software contained all of the elements required, allowing me to fulfill my musical brief.

The beginning

I began by creating a soundscape of water, wind and sailing related sounds, which I looped continuously throughout, forming the basis of the piece.

I then built the composition up layer by layer, choosing instrumental sounds from the orchestral section which I liked.

I experimented along the way, trying various combinations to see what worked most effectively to give the composition its desired feel. I wanted to take the listener on a journey with me, enabling them to experience sailing through music.

I gave the composition rhythm by using a consistent drum beat throughout. The base clarinet also gave rhythm, helping the entire piece with its timing and structure.

I introduced clarinets which played in various scales to add interest and complexity to the piece. This also aided in the melodic feel.

Collaborating with Rachael Moat

To bring it to life further I enlisted the help of a clarinetist, Rachael Moat, who I asked to improvise along to the music. This, I feel really enhanced the piece adding yet another melodic layer.

It was also a great experience for me to be up close and personal with a real clarinet, as opposed to the sound of a computer generated one. Plus it was nice for me to be able to direct someone. The use of a real clarinet also makes the piece sound much more organic.

Something I’m taking away from this is the learning that if I were to create a similar piece again, I would record the real instruments first and build the rest of the composition around it, to aid with the timing of the piece and ensure it all fits together.

I thoroughly enjoyed composing and creating Surge of the Sails and I really do hope you enjoy listening to it.

Surge of the Sails