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pateceramics last won the day on February 25

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About pateceramics

  • Rank
    Seasoned Composer

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  • Biography
    I'm 33, and just got into composing over the last year or so, although, I was always the kid who made up an extra harmony part when singing along to the radio. When I was a very shy teenager, I'd sing a little harmony part when we sang at summer camp, and other people picked the part up until, suddenly we had two parts. And then I'd make up another part, and other people would pick it up too, and then there were three parts. It made me unbelievably happy.

    Since I'm mainly a singer, I've been writing for a cappella choir, but when I feel a little more sure of myself I'd like to learn to write a decent piano part if nothing else.

    Over the years I've had 5 violin teachers, 2 banjo teachers, a brief fling with penny whistle lessons, 3 voice teachers, and sung with 2 a cappella groups, 7 choirs, and a wee bit of musical theater which got me out of taking gym in high school. Thanks for the warm welcome to this community and your continued feedback. Can't get better without feedback!
  • Gender
  • Location
    Malden, MA, USA
  • Occupation
    contralto, potter
  • Favorite Composers
    Vivaldi, Brahms, Lauridsen, Thompson, Gillian Welch
  • My Compositional Styles
    Eh, you tell me.
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
  • Instruments Played
    alto, clawhammer banjo

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  1. Yes, in terms of "economy," you may find it extra difficult to get a set of pieces like this performed. The whole set only takes up a minute and a half of concert time, but they require eight players. The more players you require, the harder it is to get on a program and the more substantial a piece has to be to earn a space in a concert. Think like the director putting a concert together. Every time you need to add one more player, life becomes harder. Someone needs to know a good player who plays the instrument. That player needs to have a gap in their schedule that will allow them to make at least one rehearsal and the concert. If they are a professional player, you need to have funds to pay them. If they are not a professional, you need to be sure that they really can handle the music without stage fright issues. So if a piece calls for 8 players, instead of 4, there needs to be an obvious reason that each player is really necessary. Because for each player you add, putting on the concert becomes slightly more difficult. The groups I perform with both regularly change the instrumentation of pieces they perform. Either we can't manage to book a good quality harpist, so we cover the harp part on piano; or we can't justify hiring an English horn just for one piece in a 90-minute program, so we have someone else in the brass who isn't playing during those measures cover that English horn part. Sometimes there is no good work around solution, so we just decide not to add a piece to the program. Sometimes the composer, or a later editor, has thought about this possibility and there are several editions of the piece available, each with different numbers and varieties of instruments to cover all possible budgets and shortages of quality players. Particularly because your "Sententia" are so short, they become harder to justify in a program. They aren't substantial enough to be half of a concert program, or a quarter of a program in which they are contrasted with other pieces in other styles. It's very rare for a director to be putting together a program and think, "I just need a minute more music." They need 10 minutes more. Or 15 minutes more. If you need a minute more music, you can just as easily do without the minute more music. It doesn't really solve a problem for the person deciding what will go into the program. Grouping these is a VERY good idea to get around that problem, but you may want to group them in larger numbers. So if you want to write very short pieces, they are probably best for an instrument or two, as you have been doing, so they can be used in a recital setting. When a single player, or a player plus accompanist can pick whatever they want to play, it's easy for them to pick up one more piece, (your piece), to learn, just because they like it. The more people there are, the more expensive it becomes to add each piece, in terms of time and money, so there has to be enough content there to justify the choice of the piece. I think that's what Luis and Monarcheon are getting at.
  2. I've got that book too. Some of the exercises are things that have definite correct answers: Circle all the 1st inversion chords in the provided example. Circle the cadence. What type of cadence is it? Some of them are more subjective and have more than one right answer: Using the given soprano line, create three lower parts that follow the rules of voice leading. Matheus, you might be able to purchase a teacher's edition of the book, which would have correct answers to the exercises that have definite correct answers. You may also be able to find some free online music theory tests which will have similar exercises and give you immediate feedback on your answers, so you can be sure you are understanding the concepts correctly. Purchasing a second music theory text by a different author may also be helpful, so you can hear the same basic concepts explained in slightly different ways. Sometimes that can reveal any misconceptions you had about the material. More and more colleges are starting to create online courses that are inexpensive (at least compared to going to university full-time), and open to students anywhere in the world. There are generally graded homework exercises that you complete online and receive the correct answers to after you finish, so you can tell if you are understanding the material. That would be another avenue you could explore. Keep looking for explanations in as many different places as possible. You will start to have a better sense of the whole. But I'd agree that asking for homework correction every day here will make people tired very quickly. And might get us in trouble if a student in an official class for a grade at some university, using the same text, discovers our helpful set of correct answers and stops doing their own work. Try to find answers on your own, and then ask specific questions here if you are really doubting your understanding and feel stuck.
  3. Ooh, thought of one more way to give the performers a little room to leap gracefully. You can also divide a part at those spots. Soprano ones make the big leap, and concentrate on sticking the landing, at the expense of the previous note. Soprano twos make a smaller leap and are in charge of singing the previous note to its full duration. In the same way that magicians use showy stagecraft to draw the eye away from the mechanic that makes a trick work, and cheerleaders set up to throw someone dramatically in the air behind a line of other people, so you don't notice all the spotters and lifters, you can make a big leap feel cleaner and more dramatic if you find a way to hide the preparation for it in the rest of the musical texture.
  4. This is excellent! I have one piece of advise for your next choral piece that may make for a more successful performance. You have several very big leaps in the lines. The soprano part for instance, leaps by an octave up to a high G. Because of the different ways one shapes the mouth and uses the breath to sing a low G and a high G as a soprano, it can be helpful to give them a way to take a tiny pause to make the switch smoothly without sliding to the high note, or cracking. It's not that the high note is out of range, it's just that you need to change things, and it takes a fraction of a second to make the change. A piano or guitar player can set a finger for the next note while singing the current note, but a singer doesn't have that option, so to get as clean a switch as possible give them a way to cheat without spoiling the integrity of the line. There are two good ways to help them do this. One, have another voice part singing the same note and the same syllable with them in unison on the note before they make the switch. That means they can leave that note a little early, and the audience won't hear the space in the line. So for the low G, high G example, the alto part could also be a low G, and the same syllable at that point. If you can't easily manage to get another part in unison with them, having another part in octaves with them and on the same syllable is still pretty good. Two, if the writing has some counterpoint, or at least isn't strictly homorhythmic, you can put those big jumps in places where it is natural for there to be a little breath in the part with the jump anyway. Make sure the note before the leap is of long enough duration that they don't need to omit the note entirely. So the note before shouldn't be, say, an eighth note, where they are the moving part that resolves a chord. That note would be too important for them to omit, and too short for them to shorten gracefully to give themselves a pause to readjust their vocal space for the leap. I say to do this where there is already some counterpoint because the glory of a leap is in it's leap-i-ness. If the music stops in all parts for a breath, and then they leap, it loses some of it's excitement. If only one part pauses to prepare for the jump, it retains it's feeling of momentum. Hope that's a help for your next one! The more skilled a group of singers is vocally, the more gracefully they will be able to navigate something like this. They will be in better athletic vocal shape to jump cleanly. But even a very good singer will need a fraction of a second to make the switch, and will appreciate that you have built in a graceful way to cover it for them that doesn't hurt the music.
  5. Thanks, Noah! I was trying to keep divisi to a minimum for this piece, so that's out unfortunately. I've been aiming for a low difficulty level with my pieces lately. Not that this is appropriate for beginning middle school choir, or anything, but there are so many solid musical groups that are made up of volunteers, and don't have a lot of members, (and then someone has laryngitis and someone else has to leave town for a funeral). So I've been concentrating on writing things that can be pulled off successfully with the group you have, rather than the professional group of your dreams. No big orchestra, not a lot of parts, easy ranges in case you need an alto to sing tenor, etc. Maybe the next one will have a bit bigger budget! :D Glad you liked my chord changes at the end! It's a shift into harmonic major, so half the major scale and half the minor scale. To my ear, it feels like it adds a sense of mystery.
  6. This is really lovely. There's no reason you shouldn't be thinking about ways to get your music in front of the eyes of musicians and about writing for musicians instead of just the laptop. :D Personally, I just put my scores out for free and make sure they are very google searchable if someone is searching for a particular type of piece. So, for this one, if someone is looking for "piano flute Nocturne" they might find you here, but there are probably a lot of pieces that fit that description that they will stumble upon in their search results first, so if you tag it with "free score" or "contemporary composer" or your country of origin, someone trying to find music in a hurry on a budget, or someone who wants to put together a program of contemporary works, or works by composers from... will stand a better chance of finding you, since they are searching for something more specific. Tag it with your university and when the Alumni Affairs Office is planning Reunion Weekend, they may get in touch.
  7. I love this text from Pliny the Elder's "Natural History," and I think it suits itself particularly well to text painting as a choral piece. I'd love any feedback, but particularly if you notice problems with my use of the latin (I never studied latin), or can think of any changes I should make to the piano reduction (I'm not a pianist.) Thanks! sed turrigeros elephantiorum miramur umeros taurorumque colla et truces in sublime iactus, tigrium rapinas, leonum iubas, cum rerum natura nusquam magis quam in minimis tota sit. ...cum in contemplatione naturae nihil possit videri supervacuum. We marvel at the shoulders of elephants carrying turrets, and bulls tossing aside whatever stands in their way with their strong necks, at the ravening of tigers, at lions' manes, but Nature is nowhere greater than in her smallest works… in the study of the natural world, nothing is superfluous. Here is a youtube of the music with the score rolling by. You may need headphones to hear the bass part clearly because of the midi sound quality. Sorry about that.
  8. This is lovely. I agree with Monarcheon: be careful about splitting voice parts. There are choral pieces out there that create very effective changes in dynamics without changing the dynamics marked in the score. They just split voices into more and more parts or bring them back into unison. It really makes a great deal of difference in the amount of sound. I'd also add, that you want to be wary of very low notes in the range for any part toward the end of an unaccompanied vocal piece. Choirs almost never go sharp. They always drift flat. So if you use very low notes at the end of a piece, they may have slipped far enough from the original key that no one can actually sing that low note. It may have started out in the range, but it's not any more! You show some real promise for working with choirs here. I hope you'll write some more choral works!
  9. Egads! You're right! Sorry, I should have double checked before I posted. My Carmen score doesn't have them all marked, but I think that's because it also has an alternate English text underneath and sometimes rhythms are marked to accommodate the English. I'd imagine that's the case for the other examples I'm thinking of. Ugh... goes back to edit score... Thank you very much for drawing my attention to that! Rats.
  10. Hey Mark, I did intend the e's to be separated, but life happens. Many of the singers had very good French pronunciation, (the concert was actually mainly in French), but there were occasional things that weren't perfect. Ah, well. Generally the separate e's aren't marked in vocal scores, just like shadow vowels on final consonants in English texts aren't marked as a separate syllable with a note value assigned. It's assumed you know to do them, and it's one of the things directors are constantly fussing at their musicians to fix in rehearsal, and to mark in if they need the visual reminder. On the whole though, this group had really good french for Americans and they did a beautiful job for a small group of singers. This piece needs really good breath control to make it feel seamless and floating, which is hard to achieve when you only have a couple of singers on a part when the notes divide. It means you can't stagger breathe. The Shenandoah connection hadn't occurred to me, but now I hear it!
  11. A choir in NH was nice enough to send me the recording of their concert so I could make a new demo video for my piece. Enjoy! -Maggie
  12. Quite nice! Nothing wrong with simple, it allows the text to be clearly understood. And church choirs in particular are always looking for pieces that they can put together fast! When you need a different prayer response, benediction, and two anthems each and every Sunday, plus more elaborate music for major church holidays, and, by definition, a church choir is generally open to anyone who would like to participate, regardless of previous musical experience, it makes a little room in an always frantic rehearsal schedule to have something that can be learned quickly. This would come together easily with a few run-throughs and uses the text very nicely. Lovely job!
  13. If you want to wrap your ear around some quartal harmony try searching for "Sacred Harp" on youtube. Most of the songs were originally written as quartal harmony. Alto parts were added in the 20th century editions, but many chords were still left as 4ths or 5ths, with the new alto part only occasionally completing a triad. It's fun stuff. Be warned, the singing conventions are not classical. It obeys it's own set of rules distinct from the classical ones.