The format of the program notes was very organised and easy to follow. Ratray presented the program at the beginning, which contained basic information such as composer, title and the year published. The italics that he used to write titles of the songs and each movement were a little difficult to read as they did not stand out and made it difficult to distinguish which part is the name and which part is not. It also had an approximate length of the concert which perhaps would’ve been useful for the audience to organize their schedule after the concert.

Ratray included detailed background information about each composer and the work performed at the concert. There were around 500 words for each piece. It also had the composers’ own explanation about their pieces and these were helpful to understand the meaning and stories behind the music. For Reich’s Double Sextet, Ratray quoted Reich’s own explanation of the work which he went through the compositional process step by step and even referred to his other works to put the piece into context.

Since all the pieces were composed in the late 20th to the early 21st century and difficult for the listeners to put music into context, the writing may be improved by comparing each piece to other composer’s work in the similar field and explain how the piece stands out from others.

At the end of this program note, it had a brief profile of the ensemble, Eight Blackbird. The format of this profile was different from the other parts which were quite peculiar and difficult to follow. At the beginning, it had a dictionary style of writing, which had ‘definitions’ of the eighth blackbird as if ‘eighth blackbird’ was a verb, adjective, and noun. For the verb, it said ‘to act with commitment and virtuosity; to zip zap, sock’, and caused me some confusion.

However, overall it was an informative program note which I was able to understand the each piece very well.


Ratray, L. Eighth Blackbird: Shifted During Flight. Available from https://theclarice.umd.edu/sites/default/files/program-notes/cspac_030813_blackbird.pdf Accessed on 22 May.