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Emily Bai
Third prize winner in Ages 12-14 division
Winning composition: Night Watch
How old were you when you started composing?

What do you love most about composing music?
I love that it's art, but also so different from visual art so that it is uniquely it's own thing. I feel as though I can express a whole different level of emotions and thoughts through audio-based art.

Tell us a little about your winning YWCC composition
Inspired by the idea of liminal space, Night Watch portrays the eerie feeling of an unoccupied space that is normally occupied. In the absence of fellow humans, the space left behind -- especially at nighttime -- seems to exist as a foreboding voice, as if you should not be there. The longer you spend in such a space, the more the uneasiness of this experience grows and horrifies you; your own brain concocts frightening images of what may be in this nothingness. The dissonance in Night Watch, first quiet and distanced before rising to a tumultuous conflict, is a reflection of this idea.

What was your process/approach to composing your piece for YWCC?
I generally listen to other composers' works that I admire and try to borrow and adapt some elements in their works that I find fascinating. For Night Watch especially, from the get-go I had a general idea of the eerie sort of idea I wanted to present, so I focused on tones and progressions that I felt reflected these images.

What is your advice to someone who is interested in composing a piece but does not know where to start?
You should have a base level of understanding of music (notes, chords, basic ways one can manipulate an instrument, etc.) but from then just go with the flow! I think one needs to experiment first. Once you get your bearings with it, however, reference prior composers' music (styles, formats, ways you can manipulate the tone, etc.) to see how you can grow your own compositions.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I play the violin!
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