An Inciting Incident in E Minor

This almost-six-minute song marks my second wild venture into the world of instrumental composition. I first wrote it for a piano, a D pennywhistle, and a low A pennywhistle (a version that’s currently in F# minor). But then I recently arranged it for piano, D pennywhistle, and cello, and decided that version was superior and therefore definitive. In this song I experiment a bit with modulating between keys and including notes outside of the key signature (how bold!), and I’m also a little more adventurous in my harmony than I’ve been before. This being said, I do not think my harmony is adventurous by objective standards; the pennywhistle and the cello, for instance, spend a great deal of their time switching off, and one hand of the piano spends it days just playing simple chords over and over. And in general, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I know a few basic things about what chords are and what intervals are supposed to be consonant or dissonant…but I certainly have very, very little in the way of training in composition or even in just plain music theory. I have only my ears, a piano, a pennywhistle and some music notation software. As usual, I would happily accept constructive criticism or any other help with my songwriting if you are willing to give it.

I call this song “An Inciting Incident in E Minor,” and there’s a bit of a story behind it. A woman (the pennywhistle) and a man (the cello) are fighting (the key of E minor), even though they can both see how they might be able to be happy together again (G major). What they don’t realize is that there’s something far more sinister (B major, represented by its emissary the B major chord) that’s looming over them, something that they should be working together to combat. I imagine this song being the first part (the first movement?) of a larger work – it is, after all, only the inciting incident. The second part would be about the woman and her backstory; the third part would be about the man and his backstory; and finally the fourth part would be about them confronting the key of B major. I already know about both their backstories (because who doesn’t have backstories worked out for the instruments in their compositions, right?), but I doubt I would be able to write the fourth part anytime soon with all its harmonic instability and key mushiness. I already have a germ of an idea for the second part, though.

So here is a recording of my song and the sheet music for it. Unfortunately, I don’t own a low A pennywhistle and I don’t play or own a cello, so at the moment I can’t record an actual performance of it. I’m hoping to eventually get my hands on a low A pennywhistle and record the two-pennywhistles version, but I doubt I’ll be able to record the version with the pennywhistle and cello unless a friend of mine that plays cello wants to learn it. So for now you’ll have to make do with an MIDI version of this song. Below I have an MP3 recording of the song as synthesized on my computer, and I also have a link for downloading the original MIDI file if you want to synthesize it yourself. Finally, you can download the sheet music if you want. And if anybody is interested in the version with two pennywhistles, please comment or contact me, and I would be happy to post it or send it to you!

The MIDI file
The sheet music

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