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JairCrawford

Suite for String Orchestra Mov. II (Needs Revising)

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This was the second piece I composed for my degree after the Choral Fantasy, but I don't feel like it's quite up to par. I feel like it's mostly there but there are things that need to be cut in certain areas and/or reworked. This is intended to be a second movement for a larger work. I'll post both the Sibelius Essentials and the live recording from my recital but the live recording has a considerable amount of errors in this one, so do keep that in mind.

I would love to know what works and what doesn't with this piece. I can't seem to decide if I like how lush it is in the beginning, or if I need to keep it more simple and make it more harmonically dense later on. And then there are some developmental parts which I'm just not quite satisfied with. I decided to post this here though instead of in the Incomplete Works forum because I feel like any cuts and changes I would make wouldn't be all that major.

Please let me know what you think!

Suite For String Orchestra Mov. II

(c) 2013 Jair W. Crawford

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If this is a real live performance then you are ahead of the game because it sounds great. But to me, musically, it sounds like a long development section that never had the benefit of an exposition to proceed it. instead of the lush opening, as you call it, which is not bad, but doesn't solve the problem of needing a strong-ish theme, a statement. Even being the second movement doesn't obviate that need. And I would start right out with it. No warm ups or anything. Check out the opening in Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto to see what I mean. After that opening he goes all over the place. But without that opening, everything that follows is meaningless.

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The audio player has been acting a little weird for me, so I didn't get to hear all of it, but what I did hear was quite lovely! I say remove everything before measure 14. Too long, meandering, and pointless (though it COULD work as an 'attaca' from the 1st movement...but I don't think it will). I concur with what Ken said, you need a strong exposition and have a primary "theme" from which all of your stuff develops from. What you have does kinda sound like the "B" section of the traditional ABA slow movement format. 

Your string writing overall is very nice. I think you can divisi up some of your stuff within sections to make it sound more cleaner...especially some of those tricky triplet passages (around measure 49 in the 2nds). Your string bass writing looks a bit awkward and difficult, with giant leaps and higher than usual ranges (measure 48 looks treacherous)

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Ken has quite a point there. Granted, your musical setting is great (fitting for such a grandiloquent Psalm), but one feels something missing over there. I usually tend to think about music as storytelling, and will use an example to bring home my point: you kind of jumped straight into the story's "conflict" without setting up our musical "characters". Nothing wrong with the writing itself - it's rather an issue with the piece's structure. But I must add that I appreciate very much the work as it is, and feel absolutely related to what you're attempting to tell. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks guys for the feedback so far! Yes, I agree that it's the structure of the piece that's a bit... scatterbrained. It's how to go about restructuring it that will end up being the key. And I also agree the more and more I listen back to it, the more unnecessary that long intro sounds.

Now I am curious as to what you mean @danishali903. Do you mean that what I consider the main theme of the piece (after the intro) sounds more like what should be a B section? That could be problematic because I already have a B section after it, and if I put something before it, I would have two B sections, essentially. I feel that would confuse things even more.

Hmm... thank you for pointing that out about the Bass. I hadn't considered that and I'll definitely take a look at that.

@Ken320 Are you referring to the sustained note and pizzicato in the beginning (that I feel like I can easily cut), or even all the way up to when the cello starts rolling that pattern?

 

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I like this composition. The use of independent lines is well crafted, the energy of the piece is well monitored. Good job. I find distant similarities with Richard Strauss's Metamorphoses although his music is much more dark in expression. Your piece is more like a sunshine.

Sadly, the performance is frequently out of tune, perhaps it was simply too difficult for this ensemble to play properly. There are many pretty "nasty" leaps in instrumental lines, like Danishali903 pointed out.

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16 hours ago, JairCrawford said:

Do you mean that what I consider the main theme of the piece (after the intro) sounds more like what should be a B section?

Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't really discern a main theme. I think the problem maybe it's not...developed (maybe repeated?) enough...or is just too "unstable" to hold anyone's interest. But to answer your question above: yes. 

PS: I agree with Sojar about the Metamorphosen comparison. 

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The more I think about it, the more it does seem a little undeveloped. Either that or the main theme is just too short and moves onto the development sections a little too quickly... hmm... that could be it too. This is giving me a lot to consider, and certainly helping to point me in some good directions. Thanks again for all the advice!

I'll have to check that Metamorphosen piece out.

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