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pateceramics last won the day on March 11

pateceramics had the most liked content!

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About pateceramics

  • Rank
    Seasoned Composer

Profile Information

  • 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. Ubi Caritas

    Sounding good! Were you intentionally playing with word stresses? You frequently have a rhythmic stress on the second syllable of "Ubi," for instance. (If you made the word half-note, followed by quarter, instead of quarter-note followed by half, it would fit with the natural way we speak more seamlessly). Nothing wrong with playing with that to add some complexity to a piece, but I just wanted to be sure you were doing it on purpose, since your treatment of the text is generally aiming for simplicity. With a text that so many people will recognize from the chanted prayer, that's the sort of small detail that will stand out as a strong musical statement. You might consider putting an additional marking under the "u" of "ubi" to suggest the stress to help people sight-read it correctly on the first run through if you like this the way it is. An accent, a tenuto, some dynamic marking... whatever is in line with the feel you envision for the piece, but reminds readers not to give any extra weight to the second syllable of the word. I like that you are treating the text homophonically. Because it's such a lovely verse, it's a good to let the audience really hear the words, and it forces the choir to really treat the text as special and take it tenderly.
  2. Sicut Cervus

    Thanks for taking such a thorough look at this NRKulus. I'm afraid the tritones don't bother me. I had fun with the text painting in this piece. There's nothing inherently wrong with a tritone, they just want to resolve, so having one at measure 13, on the word "desiderat" feels very appropriate. How better to express the verb "to desire" (some editions translate it as "to long," "to thirst," or "to pant") for water, than with chords that ache particularly harshly for a resolution? The main objection to them in choral music is that they can be hard for singers to hear in their heads, so sometimes a few people land on the wrong note, and the tuning falters. There's a tritone in, I want to say the Faure "Requiem"? that half the alto section chronically misses because they are leaping down to it and it feels so much more intuitive to leap to the tenor note. (Audiences don't notice, because the altos who get it wrong are still on a note in the chord). But in this case, it's a harmonic tritone, not a melodic one, and the notes are in the key already, and are approached by step, not by leap, so it should be solidly tuned without any problem. At measure 40, the Bb in the alto is serving a similar purpose of text painting. The psalm text is all about the soul longing for God, so "anima mea," "my soul" crawls its way chromatically, hand-over-hand up the scale. The journey is supposed to be a struggle musically, since the text compares longing for God with a wild animal desperate for water. So we're crawling by half-steps. The thinning of the texture at the top of page 5 was to another way to play with dynamics (four voices in harmony at forte is quieter than four voices in unison at forte because of the way the sound waves cancel each other out or augment each other). At the end, I really like inverted chords, and since the text speaks of longing, but never of union with God being achieved, it felt appropriate to leave the audience hanging. We resolve a little, out of all that polyphony, we're at least quieting down into homophony and heading back home when we finally get to the text "ad te Deus" and find out what it is all this unquenchable desire has been about, but there's no promise that we've found God, so landing on an inverted chord, and then cutting the lights and saying, "that's all folks, show's over" felt fun to me. Does it all work? I don't know. Your objections are certainly valid and well-reasoned and there may be better ways I could have supported my intentions. Shrug. I'll have to see if I can get someone to sing it and see how it sounds live. (:
  3. Annibelle Lee

    My mom used to read us Poe by candlelight when the power went out, so I have fond memories of Annibelle Lee. This has a really nice feel to it. I'm trying to figure out what it reminds me of, and it's right on the tip of my tongue, but I can't quite place it. The other possibility is that you've just nailed the style so well that it feels like it should be familiar! Very nice work!
  4. Where once Poe walked (SATB)

    Yeah, midi is the pits. I write mainly choral music, and I totally agree.
  5. Ubi Caritas style

    Here's one of the traditional chant with the text rolling along so you can follow it: https://youtu.be/b_QEP-RHYLY Note, they sing "Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est" instead of "Ubi caritas et amor." (Where charity is true, God is there, not Where charity and love are, God is there).
  6. Ubi Caritas style

    Here's a thingy. (Below) There's the original chant that is a prescribed part of a church service, and always done the same way, like the Lord's Prayer is always said the same way, and like everyone in an Episcopal church knows when to stand up and when to sit down and when to kneel. Some church denominations still have much of the service sung by the priest and cantors. (Armenian church). Anyway, here's a thingy about it: https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/6665/five-5-different-versions-of-the-ubi-caritas-chant-for-holy-thursday/p1 There are also choral anthems that are based on the original chant, but act as stand alone musical moments in a service to be sung by the choir or can be sung by secular choirs in regular old concerts. They can change the original setting of the chant however the composer chooses. The Durufle is a famous one: https://youtu.be/l1BTWCpEFRQ Ola Gjeilo has recently put out this one, which is gaining popularity rapidly: https://youtu.be/Xp3IHBSyZKY You can hear the original chant in both of them, but both composers add elements of their own as well. Hope that's a help. I don't know much about chant. I grew up Episcopalian, so there was a little of it, but not as much as there is in other religious denominations.
  7. Where once Poe walked (SATB)

    The amount of reverb in the sound makes it a little hard to follow, for me. I know you were looking for a mysterious effect, but if there's a way to adjust it down a little that would make this more effective as a demo. As it is, sometimes it's hard to feel the beat. I like the idea of the chimes as accompaniment. It should help keep the pitch true, since this is a longish piece to hold the key a cappella. You got a good graveyard vibe to the text. Nice job.
  8. Sicut Cervus

    Thank you so much, Ken! I'm always worried there's a pianist out there somewhere, looking at one of my scores and quietly swearing. :D . I'm afraid I like the F# to G in the alto, though. I can't really describe why other than it's so wrong, it's right. It injects a little tension into that section. It sounds prettier with one of your suggestions applied, but then the transcendence later feels like less of a release. Hope that makes sense. Thanks for your thoughts!
  9. Through the Coldness

    You're doing a good job exploring a range of instruments and moods, but I feel like you transition from one to the next a little too quickly. This feels like a video game soundtrack where the character is constantly going in and out of the village, in and out of the meadow, etc., so the theme music is constantly transitioning back and forth. I'd love for you to hang out in each section a little longer. There's enough material here to either make a single longer work, or to split into several movements. It's all good stuff. Get comfortable just hanging out with a particular bit of music for a while. You're not going to bore us, I promise. One easy way trick is to just repeat each section after you introduce it. If you play the repeats back to back, you'll often find that you want to change one or two notes on the repeat, or swap which instrument is leading, vs. supporting, and that will be all it needs to maintain a sense of forward development. This sounds great and I'll be looking forward to what you make next!
  10. Sicut Cervus

    I'm sure I could find more things to fidget with, but I'm tired of staring at it. Anyone else want to stare at it for me instead? Suggestions for notating the piano reduction are particularly welcome. I'm not a pianist and there are a lot of moving lines to squish in there. I'd love to know what people think in general. Score attached so you can follow along with the words while you listen. The text is from the psalms and translates to "As a hart longs for the flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God." Hart is an old fashioned word for "deer." It's also a pun on the word "heart." Thanks! Here's a youtube with the score rolling by:
  11. forsake, afraid, discouraged

    That makes sense then. Nothing wrong with it, I've just never seen things split by syllable, and then that voice part never getting the rest of the syllables of the word. I've seen rests inserted between syllables of a word to make it punchier, and phrases where different voices sing each word in the phrase so that the line is spoken by a giant communal organism, but I've never seen it taken quite this far. (:
  12. How to compose music?

    I used to teach adult visual art classes. You have no idea how many people dinked around their studio time for YEARS because they were waiting to be "good enough" to feel like they had permission to approach a gallery, or sell at open studios, or even to just try making something they hadn't specifically been taught to do. Surprise! There is no local art association that's going to approach you and give you a certificate giving you permission to be an artist. You don't get a letter from Hogwarts that you have been chosen. Just make stuff and start sharing it with people.
  13. forsake, afraid, discouraged

    It sounds like you've been listening to Schnittke. (: I like what you are doing musically very much. A few notes on vocal music notation protocol: If you combine voices onto fewer staves (SATB with up-stems and down-stems instead of breaking it out into S1, S2, etc.), it will be easier for the singers to sight-read: fewer page turns mean they can read ahead more smoothly, and vertical condensation means they can more easily check themselves by comparing with other voices. I would also suggest including a piano reduction as the bottom staff for use in rehearsal. It's easier than reading an open score and is pretty much expected for a cappella works these days. (Mark the piano reduction "for rehearsal only" and mark the whole piece "a cappella" just under the title.) The phrase markings that you've included across multiple syllables are not really done in vocal music. Ex. T1 at measure 15. In vocal music, slurs imply multiple notes to a single syllable. They are used to help singers keep their eyes on the notes instead of having to constantly look down at the text to see if the next syllable has arrived yet. Just write an expressive direction instead: legato, or as smoothly as possible, or whatever you're looking for. I'd change out the directive about Bel Canto at the beginning for something phrased in the positive instead of the negative. "Without vibrato, simplice, ethereal, floating, etc." sounds less preachy. I'm performing a season of Baroque work at the moment. It's just understood that you minimize vibrato and sing with a lighter tone for Baroque period. If you've been exposed to lots of Bel Canto, it may feel like that's all anyone does, but there are certain classical vocal genres where it is completely stylistically inappropriate, so no one does it. Don't worry, this won't be a novel concept to experienced singers, and inexperienced singers aren't going to be performing your piece. You will definitely turn some heads with your treatment of the text, so I'd think hard about your decisions. (It's a contemporary work, so you can do what you want, but if you weren't meaning to be pushing boundaries, you should know that you are!) It's normal for the text to be broken into phrases so that different voice parts sing different parts of the phrase at different times. It's normal for one voice to start a phrase and a different voice enter and finish the phrase. It's not normal for a voice to sing only some syllables out of word. Ex. T2 and basses at measure 16 "du... ve... est." You can do it, but know it's going to raise a few eyebrows. If you wanted the same effect with a less revolutionary feel, you could make that particular section "duc (half note) - tor (quarter note on the same pitch). The consonants would line up with the T1s, so you wouldn't really notice them, and you could use dynamic markings to minimize the T2 and basses even more. Different publishers have different guidelines for how syllables are split, but going with the way words are split in a standard dictionary is generally a good start. For your text you'd probably come out with et Do-mi-nus qui duc-tor ves-ter est ip-se e-rit te-cum non di-mit-tet nec de-re-lin-quet te no-li ti-me-re nec pa-ve-as. Use commas any time the same part repeats a word or phrase. (et, et, et Dominus...) That's everything I can think of. It should be lovely!
  14. How to compose music?

    If you wait until you know "enough," you will never start, because there is ALWAYS more to know. And as Maarten said, you learn a lot from trying to write. It gives you definite problems to experiment with (is this too high for an oboe?) and well-defined things to research (how do you make an ending feel like an ending?), so it helps organize your music theory reading (which otherwise can feel overwhelming, because there is so much to learn). You didn't need permission to start drawing when you were little, right? No one expected your first crayon sketches to be "good." It was just important that you were enjoying yourself, and you slowly gained coordination. No 6-year-old playing T-ball is "good" at baseball either. That's not the point. The point is to go ahead and start so you can enjoy yourself now, learn as you go, and get better over time. The best part about learning to compose is that, unlike drawing or baseball, it doesn't take up a lot of room for art supplies, and you don't have to worry that your ineptitude is holding back a team. It's hard to find a hobby that's less of a bother to other people, so give yourself permission to start. Have fun and welcome to the club!
  15. String Techniques

    I feel like a party pooper, but I'd suggest you try writing a few pieces with very standard string parts first, if you've never written for them. Be sure you understand the mechanics of the basics before writing anything with extended techniques, so you can be sure you're confident with the whole toolbox and that the extended techniques will really sizzle when you do add them. You want them to provide a strong statement and contrast, so make sure the material they contrast with is confident. Maybe a string quartet that uses the basics? You want to get your most fundamental questions answered early in your compositional journey, so simplify the material you produce and people will be able to give you stronger feedback. The simpler the material, the more clearly the strengths and weaknesses stand out. I'd suggest you get some scores out of the library, or listen to music on youtube that has the score rolling by in real time, or go to some concerts, and see how other composers have used their string players historically. If it's possible, go sit in on a rehearsal and listen to the way the conductor adjusts the balance of the orchestra when a composer hasn't gotten things quite right and some voices get lost in the larger texture. (It's not unusual for conductors to add or subtract players from what is specified in the score in certain sections of a piece if the balance isn't working, or change dynamics from what was written, although the timber of individual instruments or acoustics of the performance space is as likely a culprit as the composition). Take notes about what you like and what you don't like. Enjoy the journey! And definitely go read about extended techniques and take some notes. (: