Here is something that you rarely get when you receive a rejection letter: an explanation.
I had the offer to talk to the head of the CCM Thesis Committee and ask why my proposal to complete a few opera scenes this summer. This does not solve the immediate question of how on earth I am going to support myself and others without a stipend during the summer, but maybe I can figure out what the CCM Thesis Committee is looking for in a proposal?
They had a problem with my explanation of my Research Strategy or
Plan. Here's what I wrote.
"The composition of a full-scale opera can take considerable time for completion; therefore this grant requests assistance for two out of the total six scenes, with each fifteen-minute scene taking approximately 160 hours to compose with revisions. Despite its relatively simple comic plot, the poetic structure of this particular opera is precise, modeled after a replicating strand of DNA (befitting an opera about clones). The music must be composed to match this format: the two acts are copies of each other, but at the same time they must revolve in a splitting double helix pattern. As such, frequent rewrites and edits are required in both music and libretto to ensure all the moving parts continue to fit into the double helix structure in much the same way that biologists work to decode a genome. One part can not be altered without effecting others."
One person on the committee had the issue with the "double helix structure." What exactly is this double helix structure, and how does it pertain to my music?
I think I fell into the trap of writing this grant toward Muggles (non-musicians and quite possibly hard-science scholars) and forgot that I had to present this grant to the Wizards in my own department. Oops?
How could I explain this? And more specifically, how could I explain this in less than 5 pages?! (My complete grant had to be within the 5-page mark.) Do I mention the words "invertible counterpoint?" Do I provide sketches? Do I provide a copy of the complete libretto? (It's not complete.)
What I should have mentioned was that each scene has its cloned scene. Act I Scene i will have an aria, and Act II Scene i will have the parallel/cloned aria. Also, some arias will be layered on top of the cloned arias. It's a bit complicated, and I haven't figured it out yet. Of course, that's why I applied for funding. I need to do some research. Also, there will be a duet where the text is invertible and mimics a double helix structure. One line has 10 words, the next 8, the next 6, then it spirals out to 8 words again, then 10, etc. (Something like that. That's the plan, anyway.) At this rate, I feel like I shot myself in the foot by writing the words "double helix" into my proposal. They wouldn't be having this debate if I didn't mention those words.
I was told I should have included an explanation of invertible counterpoint and provided sketches. Maybe I can provide a fake sketch, because I'm asking for money to start writing this.
Anyway, this was a fair criticism for this grant proposal. I could have been a little more specific, and I will be in the future. Stay tuned for the second half of this explanation, which raised questions like "Is she capable of writing a successful comic opera? How do we know this?" Oh yes.