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luderart

Nine Sententiae for String Trio Op. 277

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This is my "Nine Sententiae for String Trio Op. 277". It is my 2nd composition inspired by the YC Summer 2016 Competition on the theme of Shakespeare and is my entry for that competition. It is a set of nine sententiae for string trio inspired by and intended to demonstrate the truth of the Shakespeare dictum from Hamlet (Polonius), "Brevity is the soul of wit."
 
'Sententia' is a form I have originated and define(d) it thus:

'Sententia' (plural: 'sententiae') is the Latin for the word 'sentence'. The Oxford dictionary defines 'sententia' as "A pithy or memorable saying, a maxim, an aphorism, an epigram; a thought, a reflection." For me a 'sententia' is a musical utterance of a thought that is complete in itself, like a sentence. It is also an utterance that finds no need for any elaboration or development. Hence my sententiae are short pieces that come in sets and are often related to each other in some way.

I have also provided the extended context of the Shakespeare Hamlet quotation in the PDF of this description.

I hope that these sententiae that are in fact themselves examples of a form based on brevity have succeeded in demonstrating that famous Shakespeare quotation. I fully believe it, as demonstrated by my development of the form of the "sententia", and was inspired by this Shakespeare quotation to compose nine of my best sententiae. As is usual with my sententiae, they are brief. But in tribute to this great Shakespeare quotation occasioning them, I have taken extra care to ensure that they are pregnant with meaning and witty in their brevity! I am aware that composing to "demonstrate" such a quotation exposes me to being judged by it, by the principle that it proclaims. But I hope that I have succeeded to meet the challenge in these nine sententiae! I think that this Shakespeare dictum is unique in that it itself demonstrates what it proclaims, the truth it declares. It is witty in its brevity! It sets out a profound truth about wit, wisdom, insight, cleverness, intellect, intelligence, and/or humour (to use some of the synonyms/connotations of 'wit') in the briefest possible way!

Edited by luderart
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These are very enjoyable. Some of the best miniature writing you've done, in my opinion. I would say that generally the most successful pieces are those like Nos. 1, 7, and 9, which seem to only try to represent a single idea in their short time span. Those that seem to present more than one distinct idea (such as no. 2) seem a little less fit for a fun size package, in my opinion. 

One personal criticism, the part writing in No. 5 is a little too homogeneous for me. All parts have mostly the same rhythms and mostly parallel movement. I wish there was some more counterpoint, or at least more contrary motion between parts. Maybe it's a matter of taste. Also, the notes in bar 42 (No. 3) seems to have had a stem malfunction.

At any rate, I really liked a lot of these pieces, and I think I detect some serious improvement in your craft, so job well done!

Edited by fishyfry

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Thanks fishyfry for your encouraging and thorough review. I cannot respond to much of your opinions since this is a competition entry.

27 minutes ago, fishyfry said:

These are very enjoyable. Some of the best miniature writing you've done, in my opinion. I would say that generally the most successful pieces are those like Nos. 1, 7, and 10,

By No. 10, you mean No. 9?

 

29 minutes ago, fishyfry said:

 Also, the notes in bar 42 (No. 3) seems to have had a stem malfunction.

 

Thanks for spotting the stem malfunction and telling me about it! I corrected it and posted the corrected version.

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Very enjoyable. Brevity is indeed the source of wit! It's a well thought out concept well executed throughout. But also wit I think requires a little barb here and there, something a little off, something to make the listener ask, Is he serious about this or just kidding. I would have liked to hear more of that in the music. You know, take a small risk here and there. But for your own reasons you chose not to take that route, staying in the key, etc, or were satisfied instead with subtlety, some of which a got and some not. I like the instrumentation, that was a good choice. Very Nice!

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I'm quite pleased to see that your penchant for miniatures found a very adequate outlet when associated with the idea of Shakespeare quotes. Of course, I'd would have liked to find a bit more of mood variations here and there (all the Sententiae seem deadpan serious, and quite often fall into square meters and either C major or A minor, which leaves the impression of having listened to the same piece several times). Bear in mind that Shakespeare didn't shy away from humoristic wit, which he valued almost as much as his tragic vein.

Nevertheless, I must commend the first two Sententiae as the best of the bunch, along with No. 7. I'd say that these were perhaps the closest to your own stated ideal for a Sententia, which isn't exactly an easy feat.

Well done!

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#1 I like the canonic structure. Not sure about the ending in pizzicato (it sounds humoresque, to me)

#2 The motive is very elaborated

#3 Nice delovepement of to motives

#4 Good! this is more in counterpoint style

#5 Sorry, I don't see the point in this one. Too many unisons, but the thing I don't like is the G# at the end because it breaks the modal sense that the piece had.

#6 Again beautiful countertpoint

#7 Yes, the broken rhythm in the violin and the viola are greatly supported by the cello.

#8 The violin part in pizzicato is a bit odd (it sounds "pop").

#9 Love the canonic parts.

 

In summary, the set is congruent and it expresses the sense of brevity of wit by means of sentences.

 

 

 

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Thanks Ken, Austenite & Luis for your reviews, valuable feedback, and opinions.

Ken & Austenite, indeed wit has several connotations. In my music I might have gravitated more towards its "wisdom" and "insight" connotations than to the "humour" connotation.

13 hours ago, Ken320 said:

 I like the instrumentation, that was a good choice. Very Nice!

Thanks. I agree that I made the right choice in instrumentation.

8 hours ago, Austenite said:

Nevertheless, I must commend the first two Sententiae as the best of the bunch, along with No. 7. I'd say that these were perhaps the closest to your own stated ideal for a Sententia, which isn't exactly an easy feat.

Well done!

Thanks. That is good to know.

1 hour ago, Luis Hernández said:

In summary, the set is congruent and it expresses the sense of brevity of wit by means of sentences.

Thanks for your detailed comments about each sententia Luis. It is great feedback to have in addition to the overall feedback.

 

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