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Young Composers' Competition 21017 for QLD students.

Once again, ASME QLD now has entries open for the Young Composer Competition which allows students in primary, middle and senior years valuable feedback with detail from adjudicators about their work, a workshop from industry professional, and to meet other peers who are passionate about their compositional desires outside the set school curriculum.

There is a small handful of competitions like this available to students in each state, and I believe those with a passion for composition should be encouraged to enter all of them. One of the biggest benefits is feedback during these crucial young years of exploration and development.

Once you reach university level and start entering larger competitions, you receive no feedback. Not even a glimmer of hope to know if your work cut it close. You may find rejection after rejection, and a cold response of 'only winners will be notified'.

As much as some people prefer to avoid competitions for composition, I can only emphasis that in your school years, go for it, embrace it because this is the time you will receive the most feedback, support, and encouragement during these activities.

And if you are a young female composer in school, definitely enter! Last year for 2016 we had a majority of winners who were female composers exploring songwriting, orchestral, and electronic music. Don't be intimidated by the constant radio play of historical male composers, or the emphasis of male composers in your classroom work. Go for it, as the creation of music doesn't have a gender ( but let's save that for another post!)

If you are a student who used to take composition lessons with me at a school - make sure you enter even if you've had a break. If you're a student I have never met, make sure you enter. As long as you are a QLD school student.

There will be a pre-concert workshop on the 22nd October with feedback from the adjudicators offering tips and guidance on developing your music. They have offered some fabulous tips below, if you are considering entering.

Be brave, get creative, and give it a go. Who knows, you might win a prize too!

Details below:


ASME Qld Young Composers’ Competition 2017

Young Composers from Years 1 to 12 attending a Qld school can enter their works across three sections: Electronic/Film Music, Song Writing or Vocal/Instrumental. All entries for YCC are to be submitted electronically.



For a taste of what to expect, our adjudicators have kindly offered some tips and suggestions:

Tips from Adjudicator Dr Paul Bonetti

( Composer, Educator, Singer/Songwriter):

I believe it is important for composers to aim for a coherence of structure & form. One of the most important ways that this can be achieved is by linking, revisiting and developing key melodies and thematic ideas throughout the piece.

By contrast, there are some bad ways to go about this: On the one hand, simply beginning new melodies one after the other can easily confuse a listener, yet on the other hand, repeating a melodic theme over and over again ad nauseum can easily tire a listener's interest.

The solution I believe, is to strive for a balance between invention of new material and repetition of old material!

In a sense, 'developing' ideas within a composition, is like a 'tug-of-war' match between new material and repetition: New material needs to sound fresh in order to maintain interest; yet also needs to incorporate some degree of repetition in order to establish familiarity.

Tips from Adjudicator James North (Owner of James North Productions, award winning producer, engineer, composer and musician):

These apply to both song writers and electronic music:


You must consider the listener in your song, so make sure your piece contains plenty of dynamic range. Sometimes this means that the chorus (or regularly repeated element) of a song is obviously larger/louder than the verses, but it's equally useful if the whole song is one big crescendo and it ends much larger than it finishes. There are no hard and fast rules of how far to take this and where your dynamics should lie, but one rule to obey would be that you song should not have the same level of dynamics from start to finish - it will very quickly cause the listener to become restless, regardless of how long the song is.


At the end of phrases (typically 8 or 16 bars in most popular music) make sure you indicate to the listener that a change is coming. If you have written a phrase with 4 repeated motifs in it, the 3rd or 4th repeat should vary in either melody or rhythm (or both) to suggest to the listener "ok, we're about to bring in a new part". This is particularly important in electronic music as you have no lyrical content to make these suggestions for you. However, it is a huge part of good popular song writing as well in both lyrics and melodies as well as the supporting chordal structure . If you pay attention to great songs you will hear these elements reflected all over the genre spectrum. For songwriters - change the melody or the beat on which your lyrics start. For electronic writers - change the pattern by dropping or adding something in before the end of the phrase.

These apply to each area:

Electronic Variation

Don't stay on a loop for too long before mixing up the beat or pattern. There is no mathematical theory to this as 'how long is too long' will vary with tempo and the frequency at which melody or chords change in the pattern. Great electronic pieces will allow you to feel the emotion of a part for just long enough that you will want to be uplifted or dropped into a synth pad abyss just at the time the composer makes that change. Use dynamics to help with this, but always consider the listener!

Natural Lyrical Phrasing

Make sure the words you use in your lyrics follow an accepted poetic beat or at least natural spoken phrasing. Unnaturally dragging words out or forcing the unnatural shortening of words in your lyrics just to fit the rhythm or melody of a part is a common mistake. The best way to check is to speak the words in time with the rhythm of your song without singing the melody. If they sound pretty natural - it's probably pretty right.

I look forward to going into more depth about these things and much more in the workshop later in the year at the pre-concert workshop on the 22nd October.

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