Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
j.hall

would tremolo strings overshadow this flute solo?

Recommended Posts

I'm working on a piece and I'm considering opening it with a flute solo of the theme with tremolo strings.

The melody's range is Eb 4 to C 5. Would a melody in that register be heard if it was played on a solo flute accompanied by strings playing unmeasured tremolo at piano dynamic (Vln 1 at C4, Vln 2 at G3, Vla at Eb3, Cello & D.B at C3)?

I appreciate all comments and suggestions. I'd prefer not to put up the sheet music.

Regards,

Jorgen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey,

I highly doubt it would be audible if I'm honest (although I'm sure more experienced composers on this site will correct me if I'm wrong)

The flutes first octave is by far it's weakest area of it's register. you would have more chance if you slapped the melody up an octave (I think 2 would be kinda unnecessary as it would be a bit too high with those high C7's.

Hope this answers your queries,

Oscar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah that's what I'm afraid of. I'm writing it for a contest with a fixed set of instruments so there's no possibility to get an alto flute which probably would be more audible.

I have considered transposing it up an octave but it's really the low flute sound I was looking for.

The other instruments I've been considering are clarinet and oboe, leaning towards the oboe in those cases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends a bit on various factors:

- How good are the string players? (A good orchestra should be able to play very quietly too.)

- How many strings are there? And are they using any special technique (sul ponticello, con sord., whatever)?

- What are the room acoustics and the disposition of the orchestra? (For example, if the flute was standing in front as the soloist, it would be a lot easier to come through than in the back of a huge orchestra.)

- And obviously: How loud do you want the flute to play?

Personally, I think it should be possible, but you might consider using the strings with mutes (that can make a great difference), and not using all of them (leave out the double basses for example). And you might replace the piano with a pianissimo. Maybe even specify "punta d'arco", i.e. only play with the tips of the bows, even though they'd probably do this anyway in this dynamic. You've already done one important thing in keeping the strings out of the flute's range, by having them play in a lower register. If it's a reasonably good orchestra, I think that should work.

If you are ready to do something a bit less conventional, you might even consider having the strings play "col legno tratto", i.e. bow with the wood of the bow, which works very well for soft tremolo things like this and gives a less clearly defined, "nebulous" sound. And if you -really- want it to be quiet, just use four string soloists (i.e. a string quartet) instead of the whole string section and let the others come in only later. This can be a really nice for the start of a piece, since you're not giving away the "full orchestral sound" right away, allowing you to introduce it a bit later to great effect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The six finalists in the competition will get to hear the orchestra rehearse their pieces (and the winner gets to have his/hers piece played all over the country). It's the professional orchestra in the city I live in so I suspect they are good enough to pull off what you mention. I'm not sure I'll stand a chance against the composers in the competition who have studied composition at the universities (I haven't gotten there yet, applying next year), but.. "you never know" and I like to have a real goal to work towards, I tend to end up with half finished compositions because I'm such a perfectionist (which gets out of hand a lot for me).

Pianissimo with mutes sounds like the way I'll go (My style is in a rather romantic idiom), but I'll have to give col legno tratto a serious thought. Thanks for the ideas. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey,

I highly doubt it would be audible if I'm honest (although I'm sure more experienced composers on this site will correct me if I'm wrong)

The flutes first octave is by far it's weakest area of it's register. you would have more chance if you slapped the melody up an octave (I think 2 would be kinda unnecessary as it would be a bit too high with those high C7's.

Hope this answers your queries,

Oscar

^^^^^

This.... the strings would have to be soft, but yes, probably the flute, if higher could be heard :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can, I recommend you check out the score to "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" by Debussy. Look at bars 11 through 14. The orchestration and range of the instruments are very similar to what you want to do. It worked very well for Debussy. Debussy instructed the tremolo strings to play "sur la touche". This creates a softer, mellower string sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As long as your string players aren't dolts and can actually play piano, the solo should be heard fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips everyone! I will check out the Debussy excerpt you mentioned Gary. When I think about it I probably have gotten the inspiration for the low flute melody from Debussy's "sound". Wrote an essay about him and I have listened to him a lot. But this particular work is more Brahms-like in the spirit so I didn't even think of looking up Debussy lol. >

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...