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Sage Marshall
First prize winner in Ages 15-18 division
Winning composition: The Lore
How old were you when you started composing?
15 years old

What do you love most about composing music?
It can be anything. There are no rules and there’s so many ways to approach composing whether it be for release, a challenge, to illustrate a story, the list goes on!

What was your process/approach to composing your piece for YWCC?
Our challenge was to see what we could illustrate with 3 instruments + sound effects, so I imagined a movie score type theme when I was first beginning to compose this. I really wanted to emphasize this story about government/politics, betrayal, and overall intensity for the duration of the piece though, hence why there are several sections throughout the piece and I tried to keep that theme throughout my entire composition process. I continuously made little sections, melodies, phrases, etc… day by day.

What is your favorite instrument to compose for and why?
The piano, simply because I’ve been playing it for longer than any other instrument. The piano is more polyphonic compared to cello or violin and has the greatest frequency and dynamic range out of those instruments. Piano is also key in Western music and puts our Western note structure in a graphic perspective, so it’s very interesting to learn about especially when it comes down to music theory.

What is your advice to someone who is interested in composing a piece but does not know where to start?
A lot of days I did not know where to start when I sat at the piano and was completely clueless for what to compose next in my piece. Something that really helped me though is to refer back to the show I was writing this piece about. I find that if you have some sort of story that your basing your composition off of, whether it be lyrics, a show, general theme etc.. you know then that you have at least some general structure for your song and how it should feel to you and to the audience. It makes the composition process that much more exciting when you base it off of emotion and passion instead of focusing on the fact that you don’t know what to compose in the present moment. Another important thing to composing is to practice! You may create things you may like some days and others not so much, but it all counts if you do something a little bit each day.