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Fred Kremer

The Ancient Forest Mov.I

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I have the privilege and great fortune to spend lots of time meandering through the old forests along the coast of Alaska. Within the last two years I have visited a portion of coast that contains Sitka Spruce trees older than the founding of our nation. One tree in particular, I have been informed, is more than 700 year old. The root structure is huge. Within these forests I often feel as though I am in a cathedral requiring great reverence. This is the first movement to a string quartet I have been contemplating. I initially thought of a chamber orchestra piece, but I think the intimacy of a quartet is more fitting. Your thoughts and critiques are welcome.

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Nice piece. I too love the forest, especially the redwood forests of my native California. Music sounds fitting for a nature documentary featuring forests. Nice work. 

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Crossed voices, friend. Way too many of them and they don't serve as any sort of Klangfarbenmelodie or anything here. It sounds awkward. 
Some of the double stops won't sound as smoothly as they do here, but glisses can be nice, I suppose.
It sounds pretty good as a soundscape, but could use a bit more refinement in voice structure.

Cheers!

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Monarcheon,

Thanks for the input. I am disassembling the piece and in light of your comment “crossed voices… that don’t serve as any sort of Klangfarbgenmelodie” I think you have a valid point. I hope that when the re-write is posted you will review it. And the new pdf will have the time signature viewable. :blush:

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The sound quality is wonderful as it flows smoothly. This was easy on the ears and easy to understand as it moved consistently; I see the description you mentioned etc. 

Good job!

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A very interesting theme, and a wonderful piece to accompany it! Well done.

It is amazing how musically interesting this piece is, despite rhythmically it being surprisingly simple. The melody flows very well and it all has a nice sense of atmosphere. The surprising addition of the triplets adds to the sense of ambience.

I am curious if the relatively sparse notation is intentional - for instance the entire first two pages there is not a single dynamic marking to be seen, but I see many opportunities to notate swells, diminuendos, etc. to give the music more complexity and intrigue.

Nice work.

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Thank you all for reviewing this movement, and yes the sparse notation is deliberate. What I am trying to achieve with this movement and those that follow is an experience of place, an old growth forest. Quietude, a feeling of subtlety with slowly shifting atmospheres – like the rain forests of Southeast Alaska. The other part of what I am hoping to achieve is allow for more freedom of interpretation by instrumentalists. Those that have some familiarity with old growth forests will sense where the dynamics lay. Another issue I am wrestling with is keeping the volume relationships close, no real dramatic variances. Very little in old growth forests shouts with the exception of woodpeckers and ravens.

A brief re-write, of movement 1, the elimination of most violin double stops, the cello and viola double stops I kept as I can address them on my cello and viola fairly smoothly, one of them is a little awkward but doable. The crossed voice I cleaned up a little, I am not so certain I understand the remaining problems with them outside of the violins. Perhaps a comment with measure numbers would help.

The complete string quartet, movements I-IV, are included in this post. I am trying to convey a typical day in the old growth spruce rain forest of SE Alaska. Rain is a given as is some wind.

I actually used this outline to write the quartet:

I The Forest - Andante con affetto

Solemn, large almost church like, reverent, sublime

II A Light Rain - Moderato Scherzando

A slight breeze and then the hint of rain

A gentle rain

Rain drops falling through the canopy to the forest floor.

The rain slows, a brief interlude

The rain resumes, slows and quiet re-enters the forest.

III The Wind - Leggiero becoming Scherzoso

Hints of a wind gently increasing in steadiness and intensity.

Rain drops clinging to the trees and bushes create rhythm as they fall the wind gathers strength and sways the top of the forest.

A lull, quickly followed by renewed strength in the wind.

The wind dies down.

IV Dusk in the Forest - Largo

Evening, fading light, quietude resumes

Recap and nightfall.

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