Composition One – Progress Report

In my project proposal I outlined Composition One as follows:


“A recorded composition that uses vocal samples relating to the theme of the search for meaning in life in today’s society. Initial inspiration for this comes from Paolo Nutini’s ‘Iron Sky’ from album ‘Caustic Love’ (Atlantic Records, 2014) which uses a speech from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ (1940) (Herald Scotland, 2014).”


Chaplin Dictator
Charlie Chaplin in ‘The Great Dictator’ (Image taken from


My piece has continued to work along this theme using vocal samples from neurologist, psychologist and author Viktor Frankl’s 1972 speech at Toronto Youth Corps on searching for meaning in life. The way in which I present and arrange the material is quite different to the way Nutini uses Chaplin’s speech, however.


In my composition I intersperse Frankl’s voice with sung lyrics. These work together at progressing the narrative. Frankl provides the source material, while I develop on the themes more in my lyrics. I also cut up and arrange Frankl’s voice to provide rhythm in tandem with the natural dynamics of his voice. This contrasts with the sample in ‘Iron Sky’, which is presented as a continuous whole on one track of the recording. I feel my piece needed to deviate from this formula to create a sense of movement and progression.


Image of Viktor Frankl taken from Wikipedia


I split up the journey of Frankl’s speech. I start with his reference to a study of American students, moving on to his anecdote about his flight instructor and projections of where he would land depending on where he aimed to land and finally conclusions he has drawn from this and other evidence. I use repetition, double tracking and further arrangement of the vocal samples to create tension and rhythm in my piece. I use a longer, continuous sample at the end of the piece. This is coupled with a more relaxed musical setting to show the conviction, clarity and the strength of the message in his conclusions.


The instruments and style in my piece indicate a sense of modernity, placing us firmly in the present even though the sampled voice recording is forty five years old. I use synthesised sounds and syncopated rhythms to create an almost electronic dance music (EDMJUNKIES, 2015) feel in the piece. This reflects the fact that the issues discussed are equally relevant now as they were back a number of decades ago.


This piece is probably complete in terms of structure and length but there is still work to be done in terms of arrangement and additional recording and mixing.


– Sandy Power

Composition One – Progress Report

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