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Sean Brown

Symphony No. 1 in F Major

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My first attempt at a symphony, as well as my first post on this site. Hello everyone!

It's only about 21 minutes -- I'm definitely not yet at the skill level required to write an hour-long piece -- but it does qualify as a four-movement symphony. This took me about 5 months to write from beginning to end.

The last movement borrows no less than 4 different themes, all from different works. Three of these are somewhat obscure national anthems; the other I think you'll have no trouble recognizing.

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Hi Sean

Great work. I would prefer to see an actual score, but don't know if you write that way. The video-roll, so long, seems to me a pointillistic picture in motion...

Inside this tonal language, one of the issues that happens many times is that the work follows, more or less, a particular style... But you go out very easily, and mix other styles. The first part seems very classic, the second part (well, a funeral march is seen in the last romanticism. Mahler, for example) has thicker densities, the third part sounds as if Beethoven would have rise the head (also, it has a Shostakovich air), and the fourth seems to go back to classicism (yes, Beethonven is quoted nicely, but perhaps too much).

This last movement doesn't convice (to me). It's like versions of other musics. A quotation is just a that, but when it's so long...

These are just my impressions.

I think it's quite difficult to fing a personal unique style, and it's normal to have many influences. It's risky to be in a style and go in and out, because we all know those forms of music (classicism, romanticism, etc...). I don't say it's bad, of course. It's only my way of feeling composition (not music).

Anyway, the whole piece is very nice, I think it has anything a classic symphony must have. Dialog, tutti, crescendos... So, congrats.

 

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Specific comments:

Opens nicely, definitely. 1:00 struck me as off because it clusters G-sharp, A, and B-flat as passing tones. Same with 1:03, but transposed. Picardy third transition to D minor was a little awkward, following.
1:26 with the augmented 6th chord to the dominant was a weird interjection. I get the point of it as a transition, but it was awkward as well. 1:48 made me question the style of the piece... I'm confused, I guess. Didn't seem defined at all there. Section at 2:08 felt shoehorned in with weird neighboring tones.
3:51, I heard a B-flat in a B minor chord??
7:30 weird mix between D major and minor a little bit?
8:18 was very forced to me. Minor transpositions tend to do that.
8:53 was a weird transition that could have felt different with a better lead in.
10:23 minor 6th in an F minor chord.
11:04 section feels awkward. Would be okay with the style was consistent throughout, but it's not.
In fact, this whole slow section confuses me with a lot of major 6ths used atop minor chords, but it's typically not melodic minor.
Section at 11:51 will be a little hard for the horns to breathe properly since there doesn't sound like a lot of pauses.
13:47 minor 9th interval. Is kind of okay, but sounds unnatural with all the chromaticism before it.
16:43 - that's an intense tuba line, there, haha. 
The whole last movement could use a lot more bass I think. 
20:30 wasn't convincing.
Ends in F# minor? Strange, but it's okay, I suppose. Weirdly pessimistic way to end a "Liberty" Symphony.

General comments:
I once tried to do a piece like this in the past (one of my first pieces, actually) and it was terrible garbage. You pulled it off much, much better than I did.
It's pretty nice. You have a great sense of chromaticism in your piece and some of your chord changes are really unique.
The problem with the latter thing is that it sounds like you're trying too hard sometimes to be inventive with the chord changes. Let it relax a bit.
My old conductor who took a look at a lot of my pieces always wanted me to keep a section going longer, or at least the feel, and I think I should extend this to you as well. You break sections with tension a lot.
The third and fourth movements are where it hit its stride, I think. The 4th movement with the huge quotes makes it sound kind of cartoonish, but I can see what you were going for.

Pretty good work, I think. It's like not writing a horrifically verbose paper... keep it elegant, let it flow.

Cheers!

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I think it sounds amazing. Though I can't go into detail the way Monarcheon and Luis can I am interested in what instruments and what program you used.

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On 10/7/2016 at 1:34 PM, Monarcheon said:

Specific comments:

Opens nicely, definitely. 1:00 struck me as off because it clusters G-sharp, A, and B-flat as passing tones. Same with 1:03, but transposed. Picardy third transition to D minor was a little awkward, following.
1:26 with the augmented 6th chord to the dominant was a weird interjection. I get the point of it as a transition, but it was awkward as well. 1:48 made me question the style of the piece... I'm confused, I guess. Didn't seem defined at all there. Section at 2:08 felt shoehorned in with weird neighboring tones.
3:51, I heard a B-flat in a B minor chord??
7:30 weird mix between D major and minor a little bit?
8:18 was very forced to me. Minor transpositions tend to do that.
8:53 was a weird transition that could have felt different with a better lead in.
10:23 minor 6th in an F minor chord.
11:04 section feels awkward. Would be okay with the style was consistent throughout, but it's not.
In fact, this whole slow section confuses me with a lot of major 6ths used atop minor chords, but it's typically not melodic minor.
Section at 11:51 will be a little hard for the horns to breathe properly since there doesn't sound like a lot of pauses.
13:47 minor 9th interval. Is kind of okay, but sounds unnatural with all the chromaticism before it.
16:43 - that's an intense tuba line, there, haha. 
The whole last movement could use a lot more bass I think. 
20:30 wasn't convincing.
Ends in F# minor? Strange, but it's okay, I suppose. Weirdly pessimistic way to end a "Liberty" Symphony.

General comments:
I once tried to do a piece like this in the past (one of my first pieces, actually) and it was terrible garbage. You pulled it off much, much better than I did.
It's pretty nice. You have a great sense of chromaticism in your piece and some of your chord changes are really unique.
The problem with the latter thing is that it sounds like you're trying too hard sometimes to be inventive with the chord changes. Let it relax a bit.
My old conductor who took a look at a lot of my pieces always wanted me to keep a section going longer, or at least the feel, and I think I should extend this to you as well. You break sections with tension a lot.
The third and fourth movements are where it hit its stride, I think. The 4th movement with the huge quotes makes it sound kind of cartoonish, but I can see what you were going for.

Pretty good work, I think. It's like not writing a horrifically verbose paper... keep it elegant, let it flow.

Cheers!

 

I ended in F# minor because based on what I've seen, every time liberty is reclaimed, it slips away again. I'm getting a bit political here, but that's my perspective, and that's why I ended it pessimistically.
Thanks for the specific feedback -- I that lets me know you listened to the whole thing, which definitely makes me happy. :)

I'm still working on my harmony and development skills.

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On 10/7/2016 at 1:27 PM, Luis Hernández said:

Hi Sean

Great work. I would prefer to see an actual score, but don't know if you write that way. The video-roll, so long, seems to me a pointillistic picture in motion...

Inside this tonal language, one of the issues that happens many times is that the work follows, more or less, a particular style... But you go out very easily, and mix other styles. The first part seems very classic, the second part (well, a funeral march is seen in the last romanticism. Mahler, for example) has thicker densities, the third part sounds as if Beethoven would have rise the head (also, it has a Shostakovich air), and the fourth seems to go back to classicism (yes, Beethonven is quoted nicely, but perhaps too much).

This last movement doesn't convice (to me). It's like versions of other musics. A quotation is just a that, but when it's so long...

These are just my impressions.

I think it's quite difficult to fing a personal unique style, and it's normal to have many influences. It's risky to be in a style and go in and out, because we all know those forms of music (classicism, romanticism, etc...). I don't say it's bad, of course. It's only my way of feeling composition (not music).

Anyway, the whole piece is very nice, I think it has anything a classic symphony must have. Dialog, tutti, crescendos... So, congrats.

 

 

I do write in Finale, but I figured putting a several-dozen-staff score on screen probably would make it impossible to read. I used graphical score because I felt it would condense the information and be easier to understand. I don't know about you, but I've been a huge fan of Stephen Malinowski's (smalin) graphical scores for years.

Edited by Sean Brown

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On 10/10/2016 at 0:22 PM, LostSamurai said:

I think it sounds amazing. Though I can't go into detail the way Monarcheon and Luis can I am interested in what instruments and what program you used.

 

I used Finale, plus the included Garritan sounds. The instrumentation is 3-3-3-2/4-2-3-1/Timpani/Strings.

Edited by Sean Brown

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