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O Vos Omnes


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Hi everyone! 

This is my newest composition, and only my third, I wrote it for a competition, so I had a few friends record it with me. The quality i far from professional, but i'm open to all feedback and would really appreciate it!! 

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Hey @Monarcheon! Thanks so much for the feedback! I was actually really inspired by Monteverdi's vocal writing and Bach's stile antico writing for a lot of the parts where there are suspension chains, so I realize that things are not resolved or led correctly but I guess it was more of an affect kind of thing! - Pat

Edited by tentoria
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  • 2 months later...

Very nice piece! I absolutely loved listening to it. Just a few tiny thoughts:

  • You are excellent at painting the mood for this piece, establishing the character. However, this comes at a cost: while the first three words are not by far the most interesting part of the text, they get a lot of attention. The next bit of text ("qui transitis per viam") is at least as interesting as "o vos omnes", but gets a lot less attention in your music. This could be, of course, a decision you make in composing this music to this particular text: for you the mood seems more important than the specific words. And that's absolutely a good choice. But making this choice knowingly could lift your music even higher.
  • Try to sing your parts yourself and take some distance from your own score while doing this. Look at it as if you're a singer and not the composer. You will find that this music, while its atmosphere is very touching, is not very fun to sing. The parts on their own are a bit dull. Professional singers will sing this just fine (they get paid to do so), but amateurs will protest. Of course, then it's the conductors job to combine this with other, more challenging pieces, but that's another discussion.
  • On the same note, maybe consider adding a c to the alto part in bar 28. The jump from ab to the d (first altos) is unexpected and not too easy to sing. The jump from g to low ab in the basses in bar 36-37 is the same, maybe you could add the low g on 'per' in bar 36 already? Just a suggestion to make the parts easier to sing. Again, singing them yourself is the best way to detect places like this. (Also, in bar 78 the basses have to jump from b to low c)
  • The ending is too abrupt to my liking, not fitting in with the rest of the mood.
  • Bars 38 to 44 are absolutely brilliant! Good voicing, interesting music, just beautiful!

I'm looking forward to hearing more!!

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Hi Patrick,

Lovely writing. The mood is beautiful and you have a very good instinct for using dissonance to add color.

A few thoughts:

  • Altos are generally better at handling tough intervals than Sopranos since they have experience on inner parts, so don't be afraid to give them dissonance. For example, m.4, the I'd leave all the Sopranos on Eb and split the Altos Db-C.
  • It's not easy to spot that the Soprano notes in m. 22-25 actually move since the slurs look like ties. Use a single slur from G to E and it'll make the scale pop off the page.
  • I'm wondering why you split into 8 parts at the end of p. 4. You've got two more systems with almost identical material. You could do those as 4 page systems, split at m. 60, and come back together at 68. That brings everything up a page. If you're worried about the page turn during the rest, any good chorister (or choir director) will ensure that the page turn happens during the loud fermata so the rest is silent.
  • What did you intend by the breath marks in m. 70 and 72? Are they just breaths or do you want a more defined lift?
  • For sake of voice leading, consider add a middle C for Soprano 2 to arrive on from the D. The leap to the G from the D with the Sop. 1 figure above feels awkward. Alternatively, in that same spot, consider adding a color note to the chord. After all the rich dissonance, the C-G sonority feels too open. Maybe leave Sop. 2 on the D?
  • Agree with @kvitske that the ending needs a little more to feel complete, whether it's a gesture from the solo Sop. or a more substantial choral figure.

These are all small things, though. Overall, very lovely piece!

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@kvitske thanks so much! Regarding your first bullet, I set the words in a way that I thought would show the longing of someone in pain seeing "all you people" walk by and ignore their pain, so I think that's why I lingered on that text a bit. I completely agree about not giving too much attention to the next set, I'll probably end up re-working that section a bit! Also thanks so much for pointing out the voice leading issues. I think adding those notes you suggested would really help make it a bit easier to sing. Thanks so much for the feedback!

@Adrian Quince I really like your suggestion about  the altos handling the dissonances at the beginning, I think that will lead to a better balance too! The whole 8 part thing was actually because I have no idea how to use sibelius well haha. I tried to split into 8 parts at m. 60, but every time I tried to collapse the pages before that into 4 staves, the whole project would really become a mess that I didn't know how to fix. As for the breath marks in m. 70 and 72 are most definitely supposed to be a kind of lingering pause, is there a more clear marking to use for that? Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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I don't have much to add to what's already been said. The music is emotional and well written. You set the mood very well and now that you've explained your wish to emphasise "o vos omnes" I understand where you're going. Just be careful with the nuances you require, not all notes within a singer's range can be sung in all nuances. For instance, in m. 54, you can't ask the Basses to sing a top D piano, they'll most likely switch in head voice, which if they're amateurs they don't master, and it will sound bad. Although this is a crescendo part, so it will most probably sound ok. Similarly, and probably more importantly, don't have them sing a low F fortissimo, because either they won't be able to produce it well and it won't come through (if they're mainly Baritones straining to get the note) or it'll sound like a belch more than like a proper note. In both cases they'll be drowned in the 1st Sopranos who are singing their high Ab at the same time - avoid combining voices in their opposite extremes, because the high part will always cover the low one especially in a choir, where by default, lower notes will be taken p (and it's almost impossible otherwise) and high notes will be taken f  because it's easier.

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