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johnbucket last won the day on October 6 2017

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About johnbucket

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  • Birthday January 2

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    Sibelius 7
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  1. johnbucket

    String Quartet No. 3 in C minor

    Good attempt, though not without very many problems. You have a reasonable grasp on the harmony and stock phrases of the style, but there's much to improve. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to look at this at any great detail.
  2. johnbucket


    I have listened to this through a handful of times; the piece reminded me of Scriabin's Prelude in C major from his op. 11 set (embedded at the bottom). I really like the initial figuration, which you spun out for a considerable span of time whilst maintaining my interest, but I'm sorry to say that I didn't care much for the section where the texture becomes syncopated between the hands. To address your concerns: the main weakness in the large-scale structure, to my ears, can be located in where the music breaks off into the F-sharp major section (after which you introduce the textural shift mentioned above.) In my hearing, the main climax of this piece is the glorious affirmation of E major in bar 67. Whatever comes after that sounds to me like a dying away, and being the classically-trained listener that I am (classical with a small c), I was expecting a reprise of the initial tonality and material, perhaps modified in some respects, or even something that is recognisably a version of the opening material. That being said, I don't think the fact that there isn't a governing tonality (or 'home key') is a problem in itself, as other members have pointed out; the question is how you can end satisfactorily in that different tonality, whatever that may be. The problem I had with the overall structure is that you have an influx of energy from about bar 87 onwards with the (re-)introduction of F-sharp major harmony. I was led to expect this F-sharp harmony to be transient, probably because this was how it functioned in bar 62. Instead, you stamp your foot down and go, nope, there's going to be a section in F-sharp major. Fair enough. But I was still expecting the music to move at bar 95, where the texture changes, and even at bar 110--i.e., I was happy to accept this section as a parenthesis of sorts--but this expectation was never fulfilled. I suspect that is what made the reprise of the original material in bars 111 et seq. sound so flabby and formulaic to me. (The insensitive mock-up didn't help things.) I think you would do well to re-write a version of this piece that maintains the opening texture throughout--the shifts in tonality and rhythmic accents provide more than enough momentum and interest to my ears--and see what would come out of that as an exercise. Try to bring the music back to the opening tonality and figurations from bar 67; I think you can afford to keep everything up to bar 86. You may well find that the product of that more aesthetically appealing than what you have now. Let me split my further comments as they pertain to two different dimensions of the music, harmony and [surface] rhythm, although the two aren't always easy to separate (and it isn't clear to me whether it's advantageous to do so). I love the idea of the music getting ever flatter. You nearly traverse the entire circle of fifths, and I think the introduction of flat(ter) elements was well-paced. (I disagree that the initial tonality is necessarily in A minor, incidentally: to my ears, it begins incontrovertibly in C major, although what the governing tonality is after that--F Lydian/major?--and where the substitution of one tonal framework for the other happens aren't as clear.) You make good use of flat submediant relations (i.e. I-bVI), and that's how you allow for this drive towards E major as the climax, and I didn't mind the unresolved ninths as much as I thought I would, with the effect that I hear a certain haziness between the harmony of the root and the harmony of the scale degree above that root; e.g. in bars 40-44, there's a shift in focus from C-flat major to D-flat major, and it's not easy to place it, although it happens somewhere within bars 41-42. (I think you should insert pedal markings to make your conception of the harmony clear, although I like the idea of leaving it to the discretion and musicianship of the performer.) The harmonic reinterpretation of bar 23 in bar 29 was effective, since you subverted the expectation of a repeat through this harmonic shift. I find it interesting that I hear B-flat as the chord tone in bars 25 and 26, whereas I hear G as the chord tone in bars 31-33. (By analogy, it should be A-flat.) That being said, it's not hard to explain. I heard the main harmonic motion as that between F major and B-flat major-ish with an added sixth (or I-ii6/5; take your pick) up to bar 22, so I wasn't inclined to hear the return of F without an accompanying F in the bass. On the other hand, the shape of the figuration in bar 30, which emphasised G and E-flat as the consonant notes, the insistence on E at the top of the figuration in bars 31-33 and the fact that this was repeated for three bars led me to hear this as an E-flat major chord in second inversion that was nonetheless tense; i.e. I was waiting for the arrival of E-flat in the bass. I wonder if it might be more effective (if less subtle an effect) to change the figuration from Bb-A-F to A-Bb-F in bars 25 and 26. I'm not sure if I was convinced by the weak harmonic transition from bars 47-50; essentially, you've introduced the notes of the natural E-flat minor scale by bar 48, and although this anticipates the following E-flat minor, it doesn't make that E-flat minor sound like an arrival, even though it feels like it should be one because of other events (the introduction of the scalar motif [i.e. Eb-F-Gb in the left hand, the introduction of new material, the start of a new period [bars 51-58]). I wonder if a plain bII-i would have worked better. In any case, I do like this play between E-flat major, E-flat minor and E major. (Speaking of which, I think you could have done more with that scalar motif. Perhaps, if you did rewrite this as an exercise, you could combine this scalar motif with the opening material for the reprise?) In general, your sense of harmonic pacing is good, although I found the phrase structure somewhat distended at times. Cases in point: bars 10-11, 14-16, 23-26, 29-33, 40-44, 47-50. In contrast, I felt that the built up to the E major wasn't long enough. I think that's because we get so little of the flat 'pre-dominants'--only bars 65-66--whereas just an additional bar of some other flat pre-dominant--say, B diminished (i.e., 'ii[7]')--or even D minor (either root or first inversion) would have helped. Or maybe it's not a matter of length, and what I really want is increased rhythmic activity leading up to this climax. (It is arguable whether the E major in bar 67 is a tonic or a dominant; I personally hear a dominant-like quality to it yet I wouldn't say that A major is the governing tonality at that point. But it isn't really in the Phrygian or the Mixolydian, either. I would prefer to refer to a harmony like this as simply E dominant.) I think you have a predilection for two-bar units and you shy from breaking this evenness, and that saps the vitality of the music somewhat. This discussion allows me to segue into rhythm. I love how you constantly shift the patterns. That being said, your preference for metrical regularity restricts what you can do somewhat. The repetition of bar 3 into a two-bar unit is anodyne; why not try changing bar 4 into a 2/4 bar (you do implicitly change metre from compound duple to simple triple from bars 1-2 to bars 3-4), with the r.h. figuration thus: A-D-C-E-B-D-G-C? That would break the monotony of having every bar here begin with C-B, while throwing off the listener, too. I think you should strive to make the piece even less regular than it is. And for bars 8-10, why sit on the bass A with the same figuration? I think you could easily excise one bar, and change the bass to A (and the figuration correspondingly) at some point in bar 9 (perhaps the fifth quaver?); this would reinforce the impression of compression given in bar 8. Likewise, I don't think the unexpected accent in bar 16 provides sufficient interest, let alone momentum, in this passage. I think you'd want to reserve stasis for special moments; as it is, the frequent recurrence of such moments of flatness comes across more as uninspired vamping than anything--sort of like an improviser stalling for time. There's probably more I could say, but I've spent too much time on this as it is.
  3. johnbucket

    Sonata! (suggestion)

    https://www.amazon.com/Classical-Form-Functions-Instrumental-Beethoven/dp/019514399X https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Sonata-Theory-Deformations-Late-Eighteenth-Century/dp/0199773912 Seriously, the people who would do it really well don't have the time to spend on this site.
  4. johnbucket

    Help me for writing Nocturne and Waltz

    There you go; you are restricting 'genre' vis-à-vis music to its popular meaning, which, as it so happens, classifies music at a much larger scale, and are unaware that the term itself has a much wider range of uses and associated scopes and concepts. But good. I wouldn't have replied if you hadn't contradicted me so baldly and, as it turns out, without good reason, but at least we agree on something now--superficially as the case might be. Espero que tengas un buen día.
  5. johnbucket

    Help me for writing Nocturne and Waltz

    You either don't understand or know what a genre is or are assuming a very narrow definition of it. EDIT: Here's some text which I hope may be of some help. From Jim Samson's 'Chopin and Genre' (1989) in Music Analysis, Vol. 8 No 3: 'Genres might be compared with stylistic norms or formal schemata.* All three are abstractions - 'ideal types' - but abstractions whose basic principles flow from actual musical works. All three are based on repetition, codifying past repetitions and inviting future repetitions. Because of this all three can help to regulate the area between content and expression within an individual work, while at the same time mediating between the individual work and music as a whole. Given these parallels and given too the obvious importance of the concepts as agents of communication, it seems worth exploring a little more closely the relationship between genre, style and form, and in particular the differences in their mechanisms. In its widest sense, especially as presented in some popular music theory, genre is a more permeable concept than either style or form, because a social element participates in its definition, and not just in its determination. In this broad understanding of the term the repetition units that define a genre, as opposed to a stylistic norm or a formal schema, extend beyond musical materials into the social domain so that a genre is dependent for its definition on context, function and community validation and not simply on formal and technical regulations. Thus a genre can change when the validating community changes, even where the notes remain the same. The social dimension can extend, moreover, to the function of genre within the validating community. As several authors have noted in literary and musical theory, a genre behaves rather like a contract between author and reader, composer and listener, a contract which may of course be broken. It is above all in the incorporation of this social element as to definition and function that genre theory in literary and musical studies has developed beyond its presentation in early twentieth-century poetics, notably in Russian Formalism.' […] 'Chopin's project and achievement was to give generic authority to the free- ranging devices of an emergent repertory, crystallising the meanings of some existing titles, transforming the meanings of others and devising new titles to meet new generic requirements. In each case there is a measure of consistency in the semiotic relation of the title to the formal and stylistic features of the piece. As we know, the "sign" is bipartite, and both parts are essential. The title is integral to the piece and partly conditions our response to its stylistic and formal content, but it does not create a genre. Equally a taxonomy of formal and stylistic devices will not of itself establish a consistent basis for generic differentiation. It is enough to consider the substantial overlaps between Chopin's genres in this respect. Without the title we might have difficulty classifying even some of the nocturnes. It is the interaction of title and content which is important.'
  6. johnbucket

    Help me for writing Nocturne and Waltz

    There is no set nocturne form; it's also difficult to pin down general characteristics, although one can try (and many have). One might even say that there are sub-genres of nocturnes. I suggest you take one of the early nocturnes and write a nocturne based off it.
  7. johnbucket

    Sonata-Fantasie in B flat

    I'm afraid I don't have the time or the will to review this in-depth, but I've taken a quick listen through it and liked the general style. Juste un seul petit bémol: I'm not sure what's going on in your title, but it's Sonata-Fantasia in Italian, Sonate-fantaisie in French and Sonate-Fantasie in German. I would personally go with Sonata-Fantasy, myself.
  8. johnbucket

    [Open discussion] Young Composers Magazine

    While I definitely approve of this in principle, I am concerned about how ambitious it seems to be. 32 pages of content is quite a bit! I wonder if it might be more propitious to use a rolling-article system instead, where different contributors could release new articles as and when it suits. I would be happy to contribute an article, once it is clear which area needs more contributors, and to edit in general. I could do with the practice. However, it must be said that I'll be very busy with work until late next month, and even more so once I start what the Americans call 'grad school'.
  9. I confirm that I experience the same problem on Chrome; however, I am able to move through the playback on Firefox. @chopin should look into this.
  10. johnbucket

    Symphony in C Mov. III - Allegro molto

    I found this movement much better than the first. I love the tonal scheme in the scherzo: a to d to E-flat//B-flat to a. The extensive use of and focus on D minor in the recapitulation was a clever touch, I thought, and the return of A minor comes across as a sting-in-the-tail. Definitely loving how you have managed to transform a conventional point of return into something so witty. Certainly, it makes sense to have the trio in F major, the submediant of A minor, given the emphasis on the Neapolitan (also the rising fifths from E-flat to B-flat to F [and in the next movement, to C!]); even then, F is so strongly highlighted in the main theme. And, of course, A minor is the submediant of C major! I love how you feigned the return to the scherzo in the middle of the trio, but it is a sleight of hand that works only once; I know why it's there twice (because you repeat the 'second half' of the trio literally), but the structure of the trio is flawed, since you already have a 'rounded binary' that closes in F for the 'first half' (with no repeats or cadential articulations, and the ending of the A section and the very brief bridge being run-on? That could work as a clever play with conventions, but ... I won't go so far as to say that the entire trio section comes across as a misreading of how Beethoven repeats the trio twice, with the 'dance' interspersed, in the 'dance' movements of some of his symphonies, e.g. nos 6 and 7 ). If I were to do it, I'd expand the 'first half' here (i.e. trio proper), and continue from the feign in the 'second half' here as if I were repeating the 'first half' (trio proper) again, but veer off subtly and prepare for the return of the scherzo. Other advice: I would have loved to hear the rhythmic elements more carefully incorporated into/delineated by the structure, because the syncopations appear to be all over the place, although that's fine in its own way, and I think some of the sections could do with some tonal tightening, but I'm not prepared to give any advice on that front without having analysed the music first with the aid of a score. But it's good work as it is. Again, my quibble is that the weaknesses are plainly audible to anyone who's put in their time for analysis; you might want to consider picking that up further to help with composing this kind of stuff. Some 'peccadilloes': you really should get rid of the parallel octaves and consecutive (unequal) fifths around 0:37 to 0:38 (the two bars with C-Ab-F and Bb-G-Eb in the bass), and wherever else. Well done; congratulations!
  11. johnbucket

    ORCH 102: String Extended Techniques

    This is looking very promising. Do you reckon it'd be worth putting in some samples of what these techniques sound like or linking an online resource (website/Youtube channel) that has them?
  12. johnbucket

    String Quartet in C major

    This piece is incomplete, conceptually, but because it's going to stay at this stage for much of the foreseeable future, I have decided to upload it here. I suppose it is best described as a postmodern parody of Beethoven's late quartets, but make no mistake: it is serious music.
  13. johnbucket

    Beethovenian Symphony Movement for Piano

    Matthew, Let me preface my (brief) comments. I thoroughly approve of and encourage this sort of stuff. Like languages, the best way to learn music is by actively practising it, whether through performing, composing, analysing or simply listening engagedly. So long as you have learned something from composing this piece and you are confident of you artistic agency in your creation, you have done something worthwhile. Never pay heed to those who refuse to take stylistic composition seriously, those who attempt in vain to resurrect the dead horses of modernist conceptions of originality and authenticity and drape them around themselves, as if the rotting carcasses and accompanying swarms of flies could mask the sight that the emperor has no clothes! It's precisely these people who don't want to understand, and possibly even dislike, older music. Now on to your music. I've only listened through once, and because I'm not at liberty to give you detailed feedback, especially without the aid of a score, my comments will necessarily be short and general. You seem to have developed a fair grasp of the harmony, melodic figurations and textures of the period. That being said, there were some slip-ups (e.g. inexplicably abrupt modulations in the development, or the superimposition of D-C# over melodic B-G-E-C# in the bass at the medial caesura). While this was stylistically reminiscent of Beethoven as a whole, bits of it were rather Schubertian, but that's not a bad thing. What I found disappointing was that you don't seem to demonstrate enough awareness of how classical music functions at the middle- and large-scales. Take your first 'theme', for example. Are you aware that what you have here is very unusual for a first theme? It's essentially a 'cadential' phrase (i.e. what you expect to be the second half of a theme, and its recognisably cadential despite how persistently and artfully you evade the strongly implied perfect cadence) stated four times, with the last two bars repeated once before the true cadential bit comes in. I appreciate how you subtly delay and build towards this first perfect cadence, but the 'theme' strikes me as unidiomatic nonetheless. I also felt that there wasn't control over the pacing of form or the rhetoric (the recapitulation wasn't prepared for), and surprising elements or events don't often have an obvious musical logic to them, when it should be in this (early/late Beethovenian) style. I'm ready to illustrate and defend what I mean in analytical terms, so feel free to ask. However, it will be a while before I can respond thoroughly.
  14. johnbucket


    Thank you both for your kind and encouraging comments. @Sonataform: I wouldn't say this is 'atonal' as such, since it has elements of tonality. Just post-tonal. @Monarcheon: Thanks for using British lingo, but I can read American just fine! Personally, I don't like using three staves, because it makes it harder for the pianist to read, but I'll give it a think. It's a bit of a clutter, but I feel that the rests have to be there since it's strictly in four parts, and I like the archaicness of that notional style. I wouldn't change it to three semiquavers, no; it'd look too much like an anapaest or a displaced dactyl and that'll affect how the pianist would play it, whereas what I'm going for are three terse and more-or-less equal utterances (you could call it a tribrach, I suppose). I'll look over how it could be engraved better in my own time. I get what you mean about Boulez, even if I'm using a rather different compositional procedure (which I think I devised myself, but it might have slipped in from somewhere and I just can't recall). Could I just clarify what you mean when you refer to 'cautioning about enharmonics every so often'? Is this a notational issue (sticking in more cautionary accidentals/changing 'incongruous' spelling), or do you simply mean that you feel that the false relations can be a bit gratuitous at times?
  15. johnbucket


    This is an old piece (it'd be about six years by now) that I've recently revised. It's probably the only 'good' piece of music I ever wrote in those years, if short. Little has changed in essence: the pitches remain untouched, and there are very minor adjustments to rhythm and articulation (I was weary of changing these two too much because they are 'structural'). What's been overhauled are the dynamics, which make musical sense and aid in articulating the form now, the presentation and the title. I'm not sure what to call it, to be honest, but a Sinfonia (in the sense of Inventions and Sinfonias) is what it resembles most closely. Not much to say that's not already obvious from the music.