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jawoodruff last won the day on February 26

jawoodruff had the most liked content!

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About jawoodruff

  • Rank
    Elite Composer
  • Birthday 05/05/1980

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Profile Information

  • Biography
    Patience, diligence, persistence, and sincerity will lead to success.

    Composer based in Indianapolis, IN. Studied music composition and viola performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts.
    While not composing, I am also an entrepreneur and a business owner. Let's chat sometime!
  • Gender
  • Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Occupation
    Freelance Composer, Entrepreneur, Business Owner
  • Interests
    music, history, science, religion
  • Favorite Composers
    Mozart, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Gubaidulina, Stravinsky, Schubert, Berg, Ligeti, Ravel, Debussy, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Stockhausen, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, Takemitsu, Chopin, Murail
  • My Compositional Styles
    Modernism, Post-Modernism, Minimalistic, Serialist
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Finale 2009
  • Instruments Played
    Viola, Piano, Sing

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  1. I absolutely love writing for string quartet -probably due to the fact I play viola (?) That said, there's a few things to consider: 1. Strings possess similar timbre and sound. Each string also has it's own unique qualities. On the viola, for instance, the A string (the smallest) possesses a more nasal tone quality. That doesn't mean it can't sing as well as the E string on the violin. Cello's have a very resonant sound throughout much of their range -thus, they can cut through to be fully audible through even the busiest string textures. 2. Writing for string quartet, it's important to remember that each part while -as Luis pointed out- maintaining and independent character ALSO work together in a more conversational manner. This nature of string quartet writing can be found throughout the repertoire from the earliest to the most modern. So, yes, you want each part to be independent to some degree -but you also have to unify the parts into a cohesive whole. (Not that 4 competing parts wouldn't be an interesting premise -if done in a way that presents itself cohesively). 3. Strings when playing unison provide a strong effect -and should be used when needed. To get an idea of it, listen to the opening of Beethoven's Grosses Fugue (originally part of the Opus 131 quartet). In the opening, Beethoven presents the melodic notes of the fugue in full unison. The effect is powerful. 4. Do cross voices. While, traditionally, one is taught to preserve the SATB nature of quartet writing by NOT crossing voices, within string literature, it is customary and expected for the strings to cross voices -particularly for quartets. Again, each line 'converses' with one another -adding it's own two cents within your textures. This can be achieved without crossing -but... you'd be missing out on exploiting the full range of the strings. 5. Don't neglect the inner voices. While 2nd violin and viola -especially in the early days of the form- are customarily given accompaniment material, they also add unique qualities to the quartet. Don't forget to give them decent material to play. Trust me, from a violists point of view, the instrument can do much more than provide harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment. 6. A String Quartet is not a concerto. While you may be writing a string quartet for 4 'divas', those divas do come together much more intimately. It's chamber music, after all. And this gets me to my last comment regarding the form: String Quartets often provide a fuller glimpse into both the talent and the personality of the composer -even in the modern era. From Mozart (who transcribed Constanza's labor pains into one quartet) to Shostakovich (who grappled heavily with state suppression of his modernist tendencies), the catalogue is replete with countless examples of this. String Quartets provide a composer with 4 instruments that possess similar timbre -that means you can't fake it with orchestration. Your music HAS to be on point. Your form, structure, and motivic material lay raw and bare. There has to be substance -or else the entire work will flop. I don't mean to make the form sound so lofty -but that is the reality of the beast (whether we like to admit it or not). Many composers gave the form the best compositional prowess they had to offer. It's no wonder that a lot of modernists, especially in the early days, composed very few string quartet works for this very reason. It's a difficult ensemble to compose for. You can't just hide behind instrumentational coloring. You actually have to compose. *gasp*
  2. That's an interesting interpretation. I can see it.
  3. I set out to challenge myself with this particular work. As chromaticism is a strong component of my musical language -I decided to do away with it for this particular episode. The transitions are more seamless and are derived from fragments of the ending section (something I'm becoming fond of doing, to be honest). The score is a tad messy -but I'll provide a clean copy eventually.
  4. There's a couple of things I think would be helpful to consider. First, as I've said in other posts, scalar material is often the most difficult to work into a piece -and this piece presents a good example of why that is the case. Measures 8-15 sound totally awkward musically. While you're attempting to use the scale to build momentum harmonically.... this fails dramatically. Partly because the unison alberti bass pattern is less interesting then the rhythmically punctuated scale that preceded it (and the cresc doesn't help). Alberti bass can be used to great effect here -perhaps with the rhythmic punctuation taking the foreground in the texture? I'd consider reworking this passage to get your ideas across. In Mozart's work, he often demarcates the sonic arena that follows with either a leap up to the highest note he uses or down to the lowest note (in his longer works with introductions, the intro laid out the range of the work). Give his scores some review and you'll see this pattern in nearly every work. This gives you an area to focus on within the piano range -allowing you to better gauge and develop your material. Mind you, Mozart wasn't known for overtly developing material. He was much more apt to do it more discreetly over the course of a composition. This leads to the other concern I have with this work: where's the brevity of ideas? Mozart was gifted at taking his motivic material and transforming it into any number of distant sounding -though thematically related- variants. While he may seem to have presented 3 or 4 distinct themes... they were often rooted via related motivic units (or kernals as some theorists have called them). I think you should take note of this method of composition and consider applying it to your works. Brevity of material is a good hallmark of compositional mastery. It's not the number of ideas or quantity of material you come up with that matters, it's how you work it -and chamber and solo works are an amazing arena to develop this important compositional skill in an intimate way (reference the vast repertoire of Beethoven's piano works for an exceptional example of this). That said, you could've chosen a more Mozartian Beethoven quote for this work. Beethoven considered Mozart's piano concerti to be lofty works -so much so that his early piano works often imitated and built upon the ideas found within them. The Ode to Joy melody, on the other hand, isn't a good quote for the work and instead reminds one of Mozart's A Musical Joke (which was written with the purpose of showing elementary compositional mistakes common at the time). Sorry for the long critique and I hope I've given some food for thought here.
  5. I had the pleasure of meeting and studying with Schelle in the 90s as part of the Great Lakes Music Camp at Butler. He was my first introduction to modern music. He is definitely an awesome resource at Butler and an often silent voice here in Indy. Sadly, Indy is quite conservative musically -aside from him and the faculty at IU in Bloomington. Modern music aesthetics arent quite appreciated here. That's why I studied in Chicago. My teachers at Roosevelt were amazing and I couldnt have asked for a better conservatory experience.
  6. Yes, Indy. I didnt even know we had a chamber orchestra until last week -and I was raised here. Lol
  7. I figured it was intentional -just thought maybe other possibilities would further enhance this piece. Bolcom's works are played regularly here in Indianapolis. Your use of traditional harmony is very similar to his (figured there was some influence). I'm not the biggest fan of his -but you add a nice, almost jazzy, element to it which makes it a little more my liking (I'm more a fan of the modern, atonal styles.. lol).
  8. Definitely a lively fanfare -and I do love the semi-canonic treatment. My biggest take-a-way is your handling of brass instruments. You definitely have a good inner knowledge of how to write for brass -as well as what they can do. Ironically, I do see the influence of Bolcom on your work (I noted that you studied with him). I think many members, myself included, would love to see a well informed post on how to utilize the brass as well as tips and tricks that you could provide from your own experience. Compositionally, I think one thing that would be interesting is if instead of having the canons restricted to instrument choir... did you consider perhaps intermingling the canonic material intra-instrumental choir? For instance, the canon starts in the trumpets... perhaps you could have the canon shared amongst members of each choir (1 trumpet, 1 horn, 1 trombone, tuba, and euph). Would be an interesting interplay, I think -and would lend more room for contrapuntal manipulation and variance. That said, nice work!
  9. Guibaidulina's Viola Concerto is the first that comes to mind.
  10. In regards to your critique. I'm glad you like it. This is going to be the first movement of a much longer work. So, the 'breath' will come in the later movements. I'm working on strengthening my orchestration skills. I suppose what one can say this work is focusing on is taking the voice I've developed in my piano and chamber works and expanding it to the full orchestra. The thickness of the textures and overall style of the piece is a result of that. I've always felt overwhelmed writing for so many instruments and creating something that is fully coherent and organized. You don't get that as much with works scored for smaller ensembles and soloists. That said, you mentioned something about 'opening the door' in terms of orchestration. I've no idea what that means -but am intrigued to learn more. I'd like to develop and strengthen my orchestration skills. Any tips and pointers would greatly help that endeavor. Again, thanks for the comments and feedback!
  11. The bass part is an octave lower than written -which is normal for string bass -MuseScore set the clef. The ascending c major scale was just an idea I had toyed with. I was going to make that a theme or motif but decided against it -and just kept it cause I liked that passage. I use the strings a great deal because I'm more comfortable writing for them (it's the violist in me!). The winds are so used a large amount during this movement. Brass far less since they are the most foreign to me. But I'm improving!! Glad you liked it. 🙂
  12. I think this is an excellent piece so far. I love how you're playing with the distinct timbres of each instrument. Good job!
  13. I'm especially in love with the opening material. Definitely a good example of Yiddish style (with a tinge of gypsy thrown in). It almost reminds me of Fiddler on the Roof. After this opening, you seem to blend Copeland and Stravinsky very well. I love it. Look forward to hearing more.
  14. Nice piece. I love the build up, though.. I wish there were more here. This definitely doesnt seem complete yet.
  15. This has a very Liszt-like quality to it -that I love. I like the simplicity of your material -you develop the four note motif nicely (and with great interest). The harmonic exploration is also very much welcome -I especially loved the chromaticism towards the end. Good work -nice growth!
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