Student Composition Cycle (2012/2013)

Veronika Davy Piano Studio



Emma’s composition is divided into four parts, each describing one phase in the fossilization process.  First we hear the life of the fish that will eventually become the fossil. Emma uses a bright, major sound in the upper-middle range of the piano for this section.  The key changes to a minor, and we hear the fish’s life come to an end. In the second section, tectonic plates below the earth’s surface collide and cause sediment on the ocean's floor to rise from the depths, swirling around in the dark waters, and finally settling again - covering the fish completely.  In the third section we hear the actual fossilization process in which a mold of the fish is created in the settling and hardening sediment. The chords in this section are in a lower range.  They are played slowly and shift gradually to represent the millions of years over which this process spans.  The fourth and final section represents the fossil’s discovery by a palaeontologist. We hear tools and hammers hitting the stone a few times before it begins to crack and the fossil is revealed.  Finally we hear a familiar tune – a reprise - showing that by being found the fish has been given a 'new life'.

© Veronika Davy 2010, all rights reserved.

In 2012/2013 the senior and intermediate students in the studio participated in the FORCES OF NATURE COMPOSITION PROJECT in which they were challenged to portray various ‘forces of nature’ through sound at the piano.  Elements of music such as dynamics, articulation, range, tempo, texture, rhythm, melody, and harmony were explored.  The complete composition cycle was performed at the 2013 Spring Recital.  Students also made a CD and compiled a book of their scores.

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Emmett was inspired by the energy and force of the tornado. He uses the entire keyboard and a wide dynamic range to create a dramatic and powerful composition, evocative of this spectacular but destructive natural phenomenon. Emmett also uses rapid triplet passages and circular patterns to represent the spinning nature of the tunnel cloud. The piece ends with a dramatic sfz chord in the lowest registers of the piano.


Natasha’s composition evokes the stillness and calm that descends with a winter snowfall. In the opening section we hear snowflakes gently blanketing the trees of a forest. A simple, solitary winter melody based on the same harmonies follows. The composition ends with a return to the opening material. 


Olivia’s composition begins with an improvisational introduction in which no time signature or standard metre is used, mirroring the free-form undulations of sand dunes. A gentle, poignant melody follows, supported by a ‘rolling sand dunes’ accompaniment pattern in the left hand. This melodic material develops, shifts, and changes as sand dunes do in the wind, before coming to a gentle close.

SAND DUNES - Olivia Tom

Ava’s composition is made up of three sections. In the first, we hear the iceberg’s formation. Forte chords ‘crushed’ together with acciaccaturas evoke large sections of ice breaking away from a glacier (a process known as ‘iceberg calving’). Each is followed by a gentler, rolled chord suggesting the resulting waves. In the middle section, we hear the iceberg traveling slowly through icy waters. In the final section, chords in the middle and lower range of the keyboard represent the large mass of ice that lies below the surface. These are paired with single melody notes in the upper register, representing the much smaller ‘tip’ of the iceberg.

ICEBERG - Ava Singh

The opening theme in Jordan’s composition evokes a typical day in an imagined coastal region. Suddenly, far in the distance, tectonic plates collide beneath the ocean floor and a disaster is set in motion. A rumbling turns into a powerful wave that approaches and strikes the shore. Jordan uses rapid diminished 7th chord passages to create this wave. Water then rushes through the streets of the villages. Finally, we hear a plaintive melody - an elegy for the victims of the tsunami.

TSUNAMI - Jordan Low

Emily was inspired by the gentle, floating nature of clouds, as well as the hypnotic feeling of lying in the grass and watching clouds drift across a summer sky. She uses the middle to upper range of the keyboard, gentle dynamics, a light legato touch, and the sustain pedal to create this effect. Emily was also interested in the gradual shifts and changes in shape and form that occur as clouds are blown by the wind. She captures this in her composition by repeating melodic fragments with very subtle changes.

CLOUDS - Emily Lopes

Fog is mysterious, undefined, directionless, floating, dreamy, heavy, sorrowful, and drowsy. Zachary begins with dense, hypnotic chords to suggest these impressions. The chords are regularly punctuated by a two beat motive, representing the two beams of light from a lighthouse that offer safety, security, and hope. In the section that follows, the ‘fog chords’ are continued in the left hand and we hear a plaintive melody in the right hand. Finally, there is a shift to a major key and a string of rising notes in the upper most register suggesting the first light of dawn.


- Zachary Low

Gabrielle’s composition opens with the sun rising on the ocean’s horizon. A warm light fills the sky and the water begins to sparkle with the reflection of the sun’s rays. Clouds then darken the sky and an ocean storm follows. Once the storm passes we hear a gentle melody rising and falling on the waves.


- Gabrielle Chan

Adam and Olivia’s composition is written for violin and piano.  It opens with a ‘water theme’ in which we hear a small trickle of water grow gradually into a wide and swiftly flowing river that will eventually create the canyon. The ‘Grand Canyon theme’ that follows was inspired by the breathtaking panoramas, sheer size, and power of this natural formation. The third theme is a haunting melody evoking the spirits of the Native American people who first lived in and around the canyon. This theme suggests the trails of smoke that may have risen from their fires, and the mystery of the ancient paintings on the Grand Canyon walls. The composition ends with a duet between the water theme (in the piano) and the Grand Canyon theme (in the violin).

Adam was inspired by the unusual properties of The Black Sea. Lying at a lower elevation than any other body of water on earth, and surrounded by mountains, its crystal clear depths are so highly concentrated with salt that they are virtually uninhabitable. For this reason the Black Sea is sometimes called ‘The Dead Sea’. This salt concentration also creates a buoyancy that can not be experienced in any other body of water on earth. Adam begins his composition with a mysterious string of arpeggiated chords. An expressive melody, accompanied by a ‘watery’ left hand, conveys darkness, intrigue, wonder, and sparkle. A rising chord progression suggesting the lift, and buoyancy of the Black Sea brings this composition to its haunting end.

THE BLACK SEA - Adam Sheeres-Paulicpulle


- Adam Sheeres-Paulicpulle and Olivia Tom

CORAL REEF - Adele Lopes

Adele was inspired by the sparkling, aquamarine waters of the oceans’ coral reefs. Her composition is in 6/8 time to create a gently rocking and watery feel. Splashes of sixteenth notes are used to represent schools of fish darting through the clear waters. The music becomes darker and more ominous to represent the presence of a predator shark in the reef. The composition closes with a return to the tranquility of the opening section.