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Song without Words for Viola and Piano


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A re-upload of one of my most recently completed works, a short lied with a viola substituting for a singer.  Let me know what you think.

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  • 2 months later...


I has a strong structure. The two instruments well balanced, the piano usually is in second place, except when que viola is at rest, or in those moments where the two of them bega to "fly". One interesting thing is that the viola part is written as if it would be sung (that's why you call it song without words).

Is this part of a cycle?

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Very nice. I particularly like around page 6 with the accidentals. It's a nice surprise and leads the ear really nicely as well as having great interaction between the viola and violin. A few criticisms:

When the theme (eighth-dotted quarter-eighth-triplet-eighth-eighth-dotted quarter) is introduced and repeated on viola, and oftentimes just in general when the viola is playing, I think there is far too much going on in the piano part. It seems like there the viola should take prominence, yet the piano has all these moving notes and it just feels kind of over-clustered. Where I think you balanced this much better would be where the piano has straight eighths on the treble line and the viola is playing the dotted quarter-eighth pattern, because the bass line is moving more steadily to balance it out (though there it does feel more like an interaction and it works, whereas when the viola has the theme I think the viola should be much more prominent than the piano). 

When the piano has it's opportunity to play the theme and come out soloistically, I think you're missing an opportunity to use the viola in an accompanying role this time. Even if it's just playing half notes or a repetitive pattern, it would add more depth and just make the piece more interesting overall I feel, as well as making the piece more balanced.

And my last (as well as least notable) criticism is this: use the C string more! I'm a violist myself, and I would say that one of the greatest parts of the viola's sound is it's beautiful C string. 

Overall nice job, you develop the theme nicely and overall it feels very complete.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for your comments!  I take the point about the piano part perhaps being a bit too active when accompanying the viola melody.


As for not using the viola in an accompanying role, and not using the C string much, that is largely because I was writing as if for a singer, as Monarcheon said.  Though I suppose you could argue that in that case I should have just written an actual song (with words) instead of writing for viola.


It's not part of a cycle, but I think I would like to write more in this vein; it was fun to write, and overall I'm rather pleased with the result.

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