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Stargazer - Score.pdf

Hi all,

Here's my entry in the Winter 2017 competition. It is titled Stargazer and written for concert band.

Here's the story:

We begin with a young sci-fi fan looking up at the stars, imagining the possibilities they hold. His gaze darts from constellation to constellation, contemplating the characters embodied in each. He thinks about the possibility of venturing out to those stars one day and setting foot on a strange new world.

 

As sleep comes, he closes his eyes and suddenly finds himself aboard a spaceship about to rocket away from the Earth. As the ship travels towards the stars, he feels the freedom of flight.

 

Soon, they reach a strange new world and he is asked to explore it! He journeys out into the rough landscape, searching for new life. Following a faint glow, our young explorer enters a cave and finds a beautiful treasure. He studies it and decides to take it back to the ship so the others can see.

 

With explorer and treasure safely aboard, the ship leaves the planet. It soon enters a strange realm, haunted by the spirits of composers. It is the place from which musical ideas emerge. Musical fragments drift around the ship half-formed, waiting to be brought forward by a composer. Soon, though, the ghost of a particular composer comes forth and there is silence.

 

The ship shakes, rocked by a shockwave. Our young explorer looks up to see an alien ship attacking. The battle has begun! As he maneuvers the ship, the captain has our young explorer man the weapons. The ship rocks again and again as the two vessels trade fire, but our young explorer’s aim is true and soon the attackers are driven off.

 

Feeling victorious, the captain orders the ship to resume course. Quickly though, they discover their alien pursuers are back as the ship is rocked by another hit. Once again on the weapons, our young explorer delivers a crippling shot to the alien craft, driving it off for good.

 

The crew of the ship enjoys their moment of victory while the captain determines where they should go next. Our story ends as the ship, and our young explorer, depart for their next adventure.

Hope you enjoy it!

 

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Adrian,

It's nice to see a band piece that uses the full clarinet choir.  To many current pieces, (mine included) have stopped using all but the Bb and the bass.  (An unfortunate result of too many schools not having the funds to provide the instruments in their programs.)

Very nice writing for the ensemble overall and well orchestrated (bandestrated?). 

I like the melody you created at m39, however, to me the 16th note turn in the second measure feels awkward.  I also tried playing it, and it plays a bit awkward as well.  I think a simplified turn would flow better for both the player and the listener.

I'm curious as to why you chose to use a transposed C score.  Just not used to seeing this in band literature.

The piece is titled well for the storyline you created.  It could stand on the title alone.

Thanks for sharing this.

Tim

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Posted (edited)

Hi @tmarko, Thanks for the comments!

Re: the turns around m. 39, which instrument did you try playing them on?

Re: the transposed score, it's the preference of the conductors I usually work with. I went with null key signatures when I set up the work because it originally it shifted tonality a little more than the final version does. I may revise it to use key signatures appropriate.

Re: the story, I didn't originally have it fleshed out as thoroughly, but it was part of the requirement for the contest here.

Edited by Adrian Quince

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Hi Adrian

I played it on trumpet.  Did both the figure in m 39 as well as it's return at 103.  I tried the fingerings for the horn where they have it also.  Technically it's playable without a problem, it just didn't seem to flow well to me.  Please don't think I'm saying it's bad, just seems awkward to my ear.

I agree with a transposed score, I was more wondering about the use of a null key.

Like I said, the title set up the listening experience even without the back story, so it was aptly named.  (The story was neat, too!)

Tim

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Hi @tmarko,

I've played around with different configurations of the 16th-note turn gesture and the smoother it gets, the more classical it feels to me. There's a certain amount of kitsch in the music that I'm hoping gives it some character.

Regarding the null key signatures, there are portions of the piece where the tonality is shifting every 3-4 bars (like mm. 1-22) or extremely nebulous (like mm. 109-131). In these places, it doesn't make much sense to me to put a key signature on it. Key signatures carry certain expectations with them when players see them in a part that the material doesn't fulfill. There are other portions, like mm. 39-57 and mm. 58-99, where the music could definitely take a key signature since they have a strong tonic.

My feeling, which may be wrong, is that a piece should be consistent about using key signatures or not, since a null key looks like C Major/a minor when used with other key signatures. When dealing with different transpositions, I've seen this generate a lot of questions as musicians compare their parts.

BTW, in looking back over the piece to check where I could put key signatures, I found a couple of typos. Thanks!

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I see your point regarding the 16th pattern.  Your right, it would get  "classical".

I agree that whatever you decide, it has to stay consistent.  You've obviously put a lot of thought into your decisions, I was curious as to what those thoughts were.  Thank you for the clarification and education. 

lol, I could edit my scores 20 times and still find another few mistakes.  It's the part of the process I hate most, and yet is the most important.  If you just found a few, you're doing pretty well.

By the way, I do like the piece.

Tim

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Hi Adrian,
Can you attach a timpani part to this thread? Just for my purposes. Thanks!

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Hi @Monarcheon, sure thing.

PDF

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9 hours ago, tmarko said:

I see your point regarding the 16th pattern.  Your right, it would get  "classical".

I agree that whatever you decide, it has to stay consistent.  You've obviously put a lot of thought into your decisions, I was curious as to what those thoughts were.  Thank you for the clarification and education. 

lol, I could edit my scores 20 times and still find another few mistakes.  It's the part of the process I hate most, and yet is the most important.  If you just found a few, you're doing pretty well.

By the way, I do like the piece.

Tim

 

Hi @tmarko,

Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how the piece turned out.

In terms of how I approach notation, it really comes from being a conductor. Rehearsal time is valuable, so I always gear my notation to avoid questions and ambiguities. If I'm unsure on a particular topic, I'll consult my trust copy of Behind Bars by Elaine Gould. The book is written with the mindset of producing the clearest notation possible. I personally think it's a must have for any serious composer.

Finally, editing music is super tough, especially if it's your own. I find my eye "filling in" things all the time, like that darn flat that I swore was in the tuba part... One trick I picked up from my mom, who used to edit a newspaper, is to use a piece of paper to reveal one staff at a time while reading down the page. It forces the eye to stay in the details and not zoom out.

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