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Brian Boru Cantata - in progress

Marc O'Callaghan

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Hello all,

I have been absent for a few months, spending most of my evenings working on this project.

2014 was the thousandth anniversary of Irish High King Brian Boru's death. I decided to look his history up in detail and subsequently (around this time last year) realised it would be great material for music. I wanted to explicitly tell his story and the best way I found to do that was by means of a cantata. I wrote the libretto myself without even trying poetry and other niceties (as I said, my goal is only to get the story across, almost as if the piece was a film score). However, any comments on the text are welcome as well.

The job is by no means finished, in fact I'd say this is about half the final length, but I would like to have your opinions on what it sounds like so far.




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  • 3 weeks later...
2 hours ago, Opaqueambiguity said:

I got about a minute and a half in.


Well, it's certainly your right to find this piece useless and I'm quite aware of the fact my music isn't brilliant (reviewing amateur music is actually the whole point of YC, in case you didn't know), but at least be polite enough to explain why and what could be done about it.

Judging by your other posts you're not a particularly courteous person anyway, so unless you actually have useful tips for me and the rest of us who don't seem to be capable of writing up to your standards (even though you haven't shown us your own abilities yet), I'm not holding you back.

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Maybe not to you. Maybe the fact that I said anything at all woupd stimulate discussion. I don't really care. And I really have never understood this impulse to discourage discussion. Take it for what it is. Ignore it if it doesn't help. The music world doesn't care for your feelings. If you can't handle some mildly dismissive commentary from a stranger you are in for a major dissapointment when you start putting your work out to a wider audience.

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Personally, I think you can be as negative as you want, under the condition that you're using it constructively, and not just to belittle someone's work. 

I think that could have been an excellent post, if it read like this:

On 2/16/2017 at 2:29 AM, Opaqueambiguity said:

I got about a minute and a half in. Here's why:

(Reasons you found it boring, poorly written, etc. and ways in which you could go about making it better)

I don't think anybody wants to discourage discussion, but most people are very interested in discouraging pointless and dismissive comments. You've provided other people with actual criticism, so we know you're capable of it. When you haven't got anything useful to say, I think it's best to do what the rest of us do and silently move on to something else.

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@Adrian Quince I definitely see what you mean, and I am going to look for another solution. However, I tend to be more of an Independantist myself, but my argument to use Zadok the Priest  is that it has been used widely in coronations and royal weddings outside of England too. Besides, the actual text of the original piece never mentions England itself, all the references are biblical, which I find pertinent insofar as Ireland was a very Christian country.

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Hi Marc,

It may be worth a conversation with someone Irish over 60 to see how they'd react to that.

In general, quoting music is a double-edged sword. While quotes can be useful for a number of things, there is a very real risk that recognizing the quote can pull a listener out of your work and get them thinking about something else.

As a composer, your goal is to set up a musical universe that is internally consistent. In many ways, there are parallels between composing and writing good science fiction. You set up the rules that the universe is going to use, you define the characters (themes) that will inhabit it, and then you tell the story. A quote, if done right (like you do with Irish Soldier Laddie) can deepen the universe and help bring people into it. A quote that seems out of place or gets people focused elsewhere threatens the internal consistency of the story you're telling.

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