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stewboy last won the day on March 27

stewboy had the most liked content!

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About stewboy

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    Starving Musician
  • Birthday 06/27/1992

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  • Instruments Played
    Percussion, piano

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  1. stewboy

    The Juggler

    There was a recent call for scores put out by the Edinburgh University Brass Band for a new concert march, and I'd been looking for an excuse to write something for brass band for a while. The march genre is one I've had quite a lot of experience in as a performer and so the style came fairly easily to me. I haven't submitted this yet, but I probably will fairly soon.
  2. stewboy

    Midwinter Poem (wind ensemble)

    Yes, I feel like there's a little bit of metal percussion overuse. I've played pieces in band where there were cymbal rolls all over the place and that annoyed me a little - I feel that overuse of these percussion effects can lead to them losing their effectiveness. I think in particular, the triangle notes in bars 24 through 29 felt superfluous. The glock was also starting to feel overused by bar 53. Changing the role of the instrument can help. I liked the glock at bar 74, for example, because it was clear that it was a supporting role. Doing that gives the piece more variety of colour. I stopped noticing the triangle later on in the piece because it too became part of the texture, and it became a welcome addition instead of feeling old. Using a particular percussion instrument all throughout a piece isn't always necessarily a bad thing. John Mackey is one composer who tends to rely on the same percussion instruments quite a lot. His 'Aurora Awakes', for example, makes extensive use of the vibraphone and marimba throughout its second movement (about 6-7 minutes worth of music). I think the reason it works there is the reduced attack of those instruments, and the fact that the piece only draws attention to them when they first come in, before then fading them into the musical texture. A glock sticks out a lot more. Having said all that I did enjoy your piece, and there were some really nice unexpected colours in there!
  3. A while ago I decided that writing for wind band was something I wanted to seriously pursue. After a couple false starts this year, I finally got going on a second wind band work (after 'Aviary', which was performed twice last year), and gradually worked on it over the last two months. It's now become my longest single-movement work so far, and I'm quite proud of a few of the ideas in it. I'll soon be sending it around to a few conductor friends of mine to see if anyone will be willing to play it, but I'm pretty sure that someone will somewhere. The score still needs a bit of polishing here and there but I'll leave that for if/when I have to make some presentable parts.
  4. stewboy

    Steps to Follow

    It certainly would be playable by pianists who had a very good sense of rhythm. I've actually performed 'Fractalia' myself and I personally would be fine with playing this piece, at least rhythmically speaking. I think for me, your piece doesn't do enough interesting things harmonically. 'Fractalia', being for percussion ensemble, has a much greater range of timbres available to play around with, and one of the attractive aspects of it is the contrast between the out of sync marimba playing, and the in-sync untuned instruments - but even having said this, I would understand if an audience member found 'Fractalia' too boring. Another piece that I've performed comes to mind as well, 'The So Called Laws of Nature' by David Lang - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELN47gnPUVg. It has the same idea - all four players have the same part, but rhythmically displaced by various amounts. The piece has a very effective climax about 9 minutes in when the drums all sync up after being chaotic for so long. However, I personally feel it is not worth the 9 minutes it takes to reach that point. I think the piece stretches out its idea for far too long. (It's also ridiculously difficult to play.) There's still some lessons you can take from it though. Extended chaos builds tension, which you can choose to release at your discretion, but the most effective way to release tension from chaos is to become orderly. Constant rhythmic displacement, by itself, isn't really enough to sustain a piece - unless you want to do what Steve Reich did in 'Drumming', and go absolutely all-out on the rhythmic displacement and ignore all else. It's good that you have split your piece into a few distinct sections - this provides some sort of contrast - but the piece as a whole doesn't sound very coherent to me, and I think your harmonic language isn't helping. It's often quite unclear what the harmony is supposed to be or where it's going. One thing you can do is to have less notes in each phrase, or chord. 'Fractalia' has quite simple, spaced out chords, and this is very effective when you have the same phrase displaced against itself. Runs and scales like you've written (especially with the pedal down - consider taking that out maybe!), when overlayed with each other, can easily become messy and confused. I've often used this overlay technique when I write electronic music, and I almost always use it on arpeggios or on very limited melodies. I do think that this general idea is a good one to have in your toolkit though. A great piece could well be written that uses this idea, but it would have to incorporate other musical aspects as well. 'Nagoya Marimbas' (also by Steve Reich) is another good piece to look at which uses this idea - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OrfZI-JRXY. Reich also uses very simple chords and arpeggios, and the displacement is always very carefully considered. In this example, there's no point of sudden order to release the tension from the chaos - but it's not really needed.
  5. stewboy

    Timmy's Adventures in Dingleland

    It got performed last week by members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, here's the recording!
  6. stewboy

    Birth of a Star

    Thank you guys! I think I'm getting pretty good at taking a short idea and making the most of it.
  7. stewboy

    Birth of a Star

    This was written for a collaboration project between the masters students at my conservatoire and some postgraduate astronomy students from another uni, each of whom was working on their own project. Each composer chose an astronomer, to write a piece in some sort of response to the astronomer's research. We had a given instrumentation, which was essentially wind quintet + string trio + electric guitar, and we were free to write for any combination. I decided to just write a wind quintet, since I like writing for winds. I think the rest of the composers all wrote for the full ensemble. My partner's project was to do with how stellar clusters form and grow. Specifically, he was trying to modify an existing simulation to add in another factor (some sort of gas) which has not previously been considered in the growth of stars, just to see if it actually does make a difference. The inspiration I took from this was to do with the general growth of stars (rather than his specific project, which was kind of uninspiring musically). I had the idea to create a piece which starts relatively chaotic, and gradually becomes simpler and calmer while still in some way retaining its initial character. The way I tried to do this was to have one single motif represent the star, and have it present throughout, becoming slower every now and then. This is meant to represent the star forming out of a flurry of gases, and becoming larger, slower, and more predictable over time. It's probably the most 'dissonant' of my pieces so far, which made it very difficult to work on, as my usual musical instincts weren't always present. I'm quite proud of myself for pushing through it though - I think allowing myself more dissonance has really allowed me to experiment more, and I'm happy with the resulting piece. The score isn't quite 'final' yet, I've still got to get some feedback from my tutor before I tidy it up and send it off.
  8. Yep that's completely fine! It's actually surprisingly unusual to play two timpani at once. There's nothing difficult about it, and I certainly wish more composers did it, but I'm just letting you know. I think the reason might be that the timpani generally supports the bass, and having notes close together in the bass can occasionally get muddy - but there's no intrinsic problem with that. Mostly, timps might get written in octaves or 5ths. As long as you're aware of what you're doing though there's no problem with writing them in 3rds or less. The other thing I notice about the part (and it's in other parts too) is your tendency to write quavers in sextuplets, for example starting in bar 108. This is technically correct but can be a little misleading. When I read the part in my mind, my instinct is to play them in the space of a crotchet instead of a minim - and then the last quaver triplet, oddly enough, gets played as a crotchet triplet because I subconsciously realise I have two beats left! I think my brain sees the '6' and automatically assumes that they are semiquavers, because 95% of the time I only see sextuplets with semiquavers. Writing these as separate triplets would be better - even in a full bar of triplets, the safest way of writing them is generally as four separate triplet groups. The same goes for crotchets - it's more common to write a crotchet sextuplet as two separate crotchet triplets, although it's not quite as confusing as the quavers.
  9. Wind bands are extremely widespread and are often happy to play new compositions, even if just once at a rehearsal. I've played student compositions myself while in my uni wind band, and I've had a composition played by them. However, this isn't quite a wind band piece - for example, the standard wind band orchestration includes 2 flute parts, 3 clarinet parts, 2 alto sax parts, 3 trumpet parts, and so on. It's flexible, but having 1 of each part makes it seem like it's for a very specific ensemble. Yes, the timpani part is unplayable as is, because most of the time only 1 timpani is able to go down to that range of E and below, and you've written 3 notes in that range. Putting it up an octave would help, but it's also rare to get the top timp going up to a C.
  10. stewboy

    Sonatina (I)

    My last piano miniature (Haze) was a little short, so I started another one intending on making a longer miniature, but then it turned into a full-blown piece. My tutor remarked that it felt very much like the first movement of a sonatina, and I've never attempted one for piano so I thought I would try. I'll start work on a middle slow movement next!
  11. stewboy


    Here's another piano miniature, because I'm slightly overdue for one. Emphasis on the 'miniature' this time - it's only 80 seconds or so! It basically only explores one idea/texture though, and was just an excuse for me to play around with some chords. (As are a lot of my pieces, to be honest!)
  12. stewboy

    Serious Music for Violin and Piano

    @pateceramics Ask and ye shall receive!
  13. stewboy


    Thanks! My tutor said he liked the beginning and the ending of the piece, but he found the middle less convincing. In particular, he said that ending the melody at bar 47 left an unanswered question which I didn't adequately return to, and suggested I add a couple more bars to it. I'll have a think about it.
  14. stewboy

    String Quartet No. 3 in C minor

    I agree, it's quite nice harmonically, there's very little that sounds 'wrong' to me. My issue is that it doesn't really do anything all that interesting. It doesn't tend to modulate, or go on journeys. I think bar 31 of the minuet was the first bar that really stood out colour-wise because of your harmonic choices. To be honest, I probably wouldn't enjoy an actual Haydn quartet all that much, so maybe I'm not the best judge here, but I would very much encourage you to start branching out and experimenting with the harmonies and structures of later periods, because you clearly have a very good foundation. Perhaps play around with sonata form. One harmony that stood out in a bad way was the F in the cello in bar 12 of the adagio. I'm not sure exactly why it sounds out of place, but for me, leaving out the F and just going Bb for a crotchet, then leaping up to the other Bb would work better there. Bar 37 of the adagio also felt slightly off, probably because of the Ab in the second violin part. The finale definitely felt the most 'fun' for me, and I think that's where you really started to play around a little with appoggiaturas and a little more experimental harmony. Keep going in that direction! I will also say though that the ending didn't feel satisfying, like it arrived too soon without a conclusive finish.
  15. This is a work I've been looking at on and off for a few months now. It began its life as the opening few bars in my head for a week until I wrote them down. I decided that I wanted to try and write a very light-hearted and maybe (hopefully) occasionally humorous piece, while still keeping it interesting and musically varied. It's quite clearly very 'Candide'-inspired, but I tried to take it in my own direction as well. I'm also using this piece for another subject at uni, where I have to write an essay about some aspect of critical practice, and I'm talking about humour in music in general, and what my approach has been towards composing this piece. I'm happy to share the essay once I finish it in a week or two, if anyone would be interested in it! There are still a few notation issues to work out before I can submit it as part of this year's composition portfolio for my degree, such as the pedal lines, but now that the music is basically complete I wanted to share it with people anyway. I've also got a soundcloud link if people prefer that player - https://soundcloud.com/fotytoo/serious-music-for-violin-and-piano/s-Howou.