Noah Brode

The Dying Ode of Ragnar Lothbrok

8 posts in this topic

This is the second of two vocal pieces I wrote after being inspired by a translation of ancient Norse poems (the other one is here). [ I'd originally planned for three, but I thought the third one wasn't worth pursuing further. ] In this piece, the narrator, Ragnar, relates the story of his life as he dies from a snakebite. I couldn't include all the stanzas, because there were approx. 1,000,000 of them, but I did my best to keep the most important parts.

I'm a little concerned that the second statement of the second theme (in A Major, toward the end) sounds a bit muddy, but I like the unique sound of the extended chords being played in such a low register. Comments and criticisms are very much welcome! Thanks for listening.

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Posted (edited)

Good job. A few comments:
1. The fast passages in the piano right hand part don't quite match the harmony sometimes, but this mismatch can be cool.
2. At 3:24, there could be an E1 in the piano left hand rather than G-sharp1.

Edited by ilv
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Thanks, @ilv! Yeah, the mismatched tones in those quick passages were just meant to add color atop the basic harmonic scheme of I-iv-I-iv-vi-II-vi-II in the second section.

I was actually wondering whether those piano passages would be too hard to play, particularly when the left hand comes in. I just started taking piano lessons, so I'm not good enough to pull that off myself, but I thought it'd be okay for a skilled player.

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Very dramatic, I love it.

At M38, the piano phrases on the right hand don't properly accompany the singers descending phrases. Choosing more deliberate spots with the those runs allow the singer to sink into the style change starting at M33.

M47, the word "warriors" doesn't roll from the mouth easily. "Wawr-ee-er" is particularly difficult to end the 8th tied Half on because the word doesn't end on a consonant and contains two vowels clashing to form a clear dipthong, ee-er. I.E. you started M33 with the word swords. "Sohrd" is a word that both ends on a consonant and extends only one vowel.

Thanks.

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@Alamo Thanks for the compliments! 

It looks like I should read up more on the mechanics of singing -- I'm new to the vocal genre. I have mainly been treating the voice as an 'instrument with lyrics,' but, judging by your comments, it seems much more complicated than that. 

Yeah, some of the topmost notes in those piano runs are non-chord tones thrown on top for some added flair. I thought it sounded almost Impressionistic; it was meant to give a nice contrast to the straightforward CPE style of the 'march' section. 

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Nice work..  The human voice is perhaps ...the most complex musical instrument in existence.  A really well trained singer, can introduce color in/out at will..  fade vibratos  in/out, and control the speed of the vibrato (most singers only have one speed of vibrato..  This level of control, can greatly enhance your composition.. Of course singers of that calibre, are going to want a fair amount of $$$ to sing for you.. 

Never cared much for vocal libraries, way too static..  but it's what most of us must defer do, because of recording cost, accommodation of several singers.   I had one excellent untrained singer,, I often had to rewrite lyrics/melody to get the best performance out of him.. That is an important aspect a composer must take into account..  You obviously want to make the singer sound the best he can be.. Yes, learning all you can about the human voice as an instrument, can only benefit your compositional process.

Years ago, I had a singer friend, who was singing in Bernstein's 'Mass"..  He was having vocal node problems, and was going to resign, cause he couldn't perform his part the way it was written.. Leonard Bernstein, was gracious enough to rewrite his part, so that he could sing it, and stay in the company..  Now thats the sign of a great composer.. 

Keep up the good work

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Thanks, @markstyles -- that's a really interesting story about Bernstein. From the videos of his I've seen, he seems really likeable.

Not knowing any musicians is one of my main problems... I need to find some way to connect with local musicians. Using these computerized sounds is going to drive me crazy eventually.

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I quit playing in bands when 30,,  and did most music parts myself..  But it is always great to find other instrument players, singers, because it greatly adds to the music.. I constantly put it out there.  Check out bulletin boards in music colleges, have a card with links to music..  It is possible to find singers who have some knowledge and want to improve their skills..  I offer to give them valuable insight into recording voice (pretty different than singing live)..  I have come across some great players, who I bartered services with..  I did demos for them in return for them singing on my pieces.. 

And the truth is, with each musician/vocalist, you can learn a lot too... The beauty of music is that it can be approached from so many dirrections, with people of varying degrees of knowledge..  I've met some incredible musicians totally self taught..  But also a good working knowledge of music is very helpful at being efficient in creating music.. 

Creating music is a great way to socialize.. good luck in your endeavors

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