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Good job! I would be careful with extreme dynamics like ffff. A player singing that will most likely play about as loud as they can possibly manage, which may be more than you think. The balance on sound fonts can be extremely misleading. Otherwise, I think this is a really good first effort.

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Oo... there's a lot going on here. It's an orchestration detail I struggled with starting off... not everyone has to doing something important. Your textures are very convoluted and they don't need to be. It results in weird non-harmonic tones and a cluttered atmosphere. Let the music speak for itself; adding things isn't always the answer. 
ffff and pppp and things the romantic composers loved doing (especially Tchaikovsky). They have their place, but they're very dramatically placed within those confines. They should be a moment of pure energy or raw emotion, not simply another dynamic level.


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1) Your barline groupings are not consistent. You have barlines extending to parts they shouldn't. Fix it.

2) You have NO rehearsal markings. Absolute no-no.  Holst can getaway with that, not us.

3.) don't have Ob 1 and Bassoon 1 and not have a 2nd part. At least, make a 2nd Alto part.  There'll always be enough altos.

4) You have the marimba on the grand staff. No ma'am.

5) On your percussion part, label what it's suppose to be (snare, crash, etc)

6) Absolutely no quadruple-marked dynamics


1) Some of your phrases end abruptly like the euphonium in measure 46. 

2) Most bands that would play this might not have a bassoon.  That part may be better in the beginning should ether be cued or doubled in the Euphonium.

3) Ask yourself, "What is the intent of this piece?" Do you picture this being an opener?  When I hear it, I believe it could be that.  You can make some parts bigger and other parts breathe more.

4) That cross voicing in 37 to 39 in the trumpets, did you mean that? Cross-voicings are okay if they are believable. 

5) Meas. 45, The low voice in the trumpet might be better in the alto, tenor, or euphonium..even trombone.

6) Measure 52, switch the tuba and euphonium

7) Piccolo part too low at the end....

8)  All your trumpets should be playing at the end. it's the finale! LET IT RIP!

9) This piece is on the verge of being something great for the band repertoire. Take heed to what others have said. If you make these changes, you'll have a great chance of getting this played.  it's very catchy and approachable. 

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There's a lot to read below and I don't want you to get discouraged by it. You're off to a very good start! You have good materials which are readily accessible for concert band. Polish this up and it could be widely playable.

That said, here are my concerns about the piece and some advice on fixing them:

1. Too much material too soon:  I'm still getting to know the theme (glockenspiel, m. 1-4) when I suddenly have to pay attention to two rhythmically active new planes in m. 3 (Fl. 1/Cl. 1 and Bsn/Trb. 1). As a composer, you have to remember that only you are intimately familiar with your materials. Always assume your audience is hearing the piece for the first time.

In this case, for example, I think you could actually expand the first four bars into 8 bars, stating your theme first then layering in the 8th note counter line while repeating the theme. Save the syncopated figure in the low brass and winds for later in the piece. It would be a really useful intensifier as you grow the texture.

2. Undefined planes of sound: The key concept of composing for large ensembles is using planes of sound to create definition in the sound space. Using the beginning of your piece as an example, the Glockenspiel and Flute 2 form a coherent plane of sound. They say the same thing rhythmically at the same time and it's clearly differentiated from what else is happening (except for the 8th note offset between the parts in m.3). Likewise, Piccolo and Clarinet 1 form a coherent plane of sound in m. 3-4 with the 8th note idea. Clarinet 2 in m. 3-4 muddies the sound space by jumping from one plane to another. Switching instruments between planes of sound can be useful when done deliberately, but care should be taken.

The trombone figure in m. 3 also muddies the sound space because it is so rhythmically close to the 8th note idea in Picc./Cl. 1. Is that part of the flute plane or not? Likewise, the 8th notes in the Glock./Fl. 2 plane also blend into the Picc./Cl. 1 plane, but then they separate again.

So, what separates planes of sound, anyway? In short, the musical dimensions in roughly this order: Rhythm, Pitch, Volume, Timbre. In long:

a. Things that are rhythmically the same are heard together unless you *really* work to separate them (e.g. super high/super low, super loud/super soft, etc.).
b. Things in the same register are usually heard together, unless rhythmically different.
c. The louder voice will stand out, but only if there is rhythm or pitch separation.
d. Different instruments will be heard differently only if separated by the other dimensions.

For an example of super crisp planes of sound, listen to the March from Holst's First Suite:

Holst uses two or three planes of sound through most of the piece, clearly separated by rhythm and register. The lyric middle section features two contrapuntal lines that are rhythmically similar but separate at points, but live in different registers and timbres (Clarinet vs. Euphonium and Bari Sax).

For your piece, think about how you can be clearer when you're layering ideas. That should solve most of the problems and let you get those pesky ffff marks out of the score. The section starting from 25 to 32 is a place where you nailed it. The rhythmic and pitch differentiation between the lines is great and lets the three voice counterpoint work nicely.

3. Too many dynamics happening at the same time: It's rarely effective to have more than two dynamics happening at once. No matter what you write, players tend to play at a level that balances (or sometimes overbalances) the sound around them. If a section or line is to be "to the fore", write that up a dynamic or two, but leave the rest of the ensemble at the same dynamic. You have to use rhythm and pitch to separate figures before you lean on dynamics to do it.

4. Always show the middle of the bar: You've got several syncopated passages with a quarter note on the + of 2. Trombone 1, m. 3, for example. This makes it really, really hard to read. A couple of examples where e=8th, q=Quarter Note, and _=Tie:

a. Trombone 1, measure 3: instead of | e e e q   e e e |, do | e e e e_e e e e |
b. Flute 1, measure 13: instead of | e q   q   e e e |, do | e q   e_e e e e |

In both cases, the tie will show the player where beat 3 is. It reads much cleaner and saves a lot of mistakes.

Keep up the good work on this! Refining and reworking are the toughest part of composing, but they are really what turns an idea into a real piece of music. You're on the right track.

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I'm just astounded that you can make a piece with a full band. Me personally, I have a hard time figuring out what should play and at what time so I usually resort to a much more smaller set of instruments. 

The ending however made me crave more as I feel like it ended too abruptly.

Edited by LostSamurai
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Hi LostSamurai,

I compose primarily for concert band. I usually sketch pieces in a short score format: High WW, Middle WW, Low WW, High Brass, Mid Brass, Low Brass, Timps and Percussion. This makes sketching for band a much more manageable endeavor and would probably be a good starting point for you if you're comfortable writing for a few instruments.


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21 minutes ago, Adrian Quince said:

Hi LostSamurai,

I compose primarily for concert band. I usually sketch pieces in a short score format: High WW, Middle WW, Low WW, High Brass, Mid Brass, Low Brass, Timps and Percussion. This makes sketching for band a much more manageable endeavor and would probably be a good starting point for you if you're comfortable writing for a few instruments.




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