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Pieces for Pianoforte No. 1, Op. 21, "Intermezzo"


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This is a new little personal project I am working on. Your feedback is most appreciated.

For now, I have managed to write the first piece. 

* I have updated this post with the revised version of the first piece. 

* Apologies for the hiatus. I have been busy lately. 

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There's a lot to like in here. You've got interesting material and already good development of it.

Three big things, though:

1. The 5/4s and 6/4s, while interesting, don't seem to flow quite right. There's stuff occurring on strong beats that feel like weak beat material (16th notes on beat 1 of m. 5, for example) and stuff on weak beats that feels like strong beat material (the staccato 8ths on beat 2 of m. 5).

I think it would be a good exercise for you to re-meter mm. 1-22 in groups of only 2 or 3 to see where the rhythmic accents should really fall. (By the way, rather than fussing with the computer, a good way to do a first pass is just to use pencil on a printed copy.)

2. Remember that arpeggiated chords obscure where the beat is. The spots where you have two or three in a row feel really draggy compared to the stuff around it.

3. Compared, to the A section with its significant asymmetry, the B section in 3/4 is too square. Not only does the meter generally straighten out, but there's a regular rhythmic pattern in the left hand. A little more irregularity would in this section would help the work feel more unified to me.

Some smaller points to consider:

1. There's one point in your A theme where the 5/4 actually hurts the flow of the line to my ear. You have an energetic line in m. 6 whose momentum is stopped by the three quarter notes at the beginning of m. 7. What if m. 7 were a 4/4 and the first two notes in the melody were 8ths instead of quarters?

2. The split points when you've got the right hand coming in to the bass clef are hard to read at times. For example, m. 12 beat 2, it would be much clearer to have the B-flat in the treble clef and have the drop to the bass clef occur on a beat.

3. Might mm. 43-45 be a good place for a rallentando? Overall, the entire piece is essentially on a 16th note grid save for the sextuplets near the end. The figure in those bars seems to want room to breath and it would be a nice place to let the listener hang in suspense just a bit before the A theme comes back in.

4. Speaking of the sextuplets, they feel out of place in the piece. New material in the coda is always a tricky thing to pull off. If the hammering sextuplet texture is something that you're going to pay off in a later movement, then you're OK. Otherwise, I think they need to be a little more integrated into what you're doing here. Perhaps have the last couple of beats of m. 69 be sextuplets instead of regular 16ths? Maybe find a place earlier in the movement for a little triplet stuff so the shift in subdivision isn't so new?

Edited by Adrian Quince
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2 minutes ago, Adrian Quince said:

2. Remember that arpeggiated chords obscure where the beat is. The spots where you have two or three in a row feel really draggy compared to the stuff around it.

It definitely is in the way you structured it. If you even maybe put a really subtle pulse in there, it wouldn't be as much of a problem and could double as embellishing the arpeggio!

4 minutes ago, Adrian Quince said:

A little more irregularity would in this section would help the work feel more unified to me.

Bit of an ironic statement, but I see what he means. To me, it's not so much the meter that's distracting as much as the lack of really acknowledging a major change. lI don't think the meter needs to change here, just what's in it. Subtle transitions aren't always necessary, especially in such a free-ish piece such as this. Rite of Spring's main passage has a lot of rhythmic irregularity while not really changing the meter, and that'd be a good place to start looking if you like the 3/4, if you want to follow Adrian's advice. 
 

That's my major point: style. What is it? If you feel you can define it, to me, it's not really coherent. This is not a result of having two different sections. Rather, it's an issue of the connective tonal, rhythmic, or timbral fiber. I think it can be more explicit.

Cheers!

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I don't see any issue with the 5/4 section, though I can see why that argument would be made. I do agree about the arpeggiated chords taking away from the rhythmic pulse, but I also kind of enjoyed that too. To me, the only real issue was the weird jump from the A section to the B section in 3/4. The rhythmic change was jarring, but more so than that was the fact that it's so tonally disconnected from what came before it. I think the lead-in from there to the 6/4 part is okay. It didn't sound problematic to me, and from there on the entire piece works just fine as far as I'm concerned. It's just that one part that stuck out to me like a sore thumb.

Go ahead and take my words with a grain of salt, or a pinch for good measure. Sometimes I'm sympathetic towards choices that are different or strange at the expense of effectiveness and other times I nitpick too much, so I might be unreliable as a reviewer. I liked this though, so there's your positive thought for the day! Thanks for sharing.

Edited by KJthesleepdeprived
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On 3/2/2017 at 4:18 AM, Adrian Quince said:

There's a lot to like in here. You've got interesting material and already good development of it.

Three big things, though:

1. The 5/4s and 6/4s, while interesting, don't seem to flow quite right. There's stuff occurring on strong beats that feel like weak beat material (16th notes on beat 1 of m. 5, for example) and stuff on weak beats that feels like strong beat material (the staccato 8ths on beat 2 of m. 5).

I think it would be a good exercise for you to re-meter mm. 1-22 in groups of only 2 or 3 to see where the rhythmic accents should really fall. (By the way, rather than fussing with the computer, a good way to do a first pass is just to use pencil on a printed copy.)

2. Remember that arpeggiated chords obscure where the beat is. The spots where you have two or three in a row feel really draggy compared to the stuff around it.

3. Compared, to the A section with its significant asymmetry, the B section in 3/4 is too square. Not only does the meter generally straighten out, but there's a regular rhythmic pattern in the left hand. A little more irregularity would in this section would help the work feel more unified to me.

Some smaller points to consider:

1. There's one point in your A theme where the 5/4 actually hurts the flow of the line to my ear. You have an energetic line in m. 6 whose momentum is stopped by the three quarter notes at the beginning of m. 7. What if m. 7 were a 4/4 and the first two notes in the melody were 8ths instead of quarters?

2. The split points when you've got the right hand coming in to the bass clef are hard to read at times. For example, m. 12 beat 2, it would be much clearer to have the B-flat in the treble clef and have the drop to the bass clef occur on a beat.

3. Might mm. 43-45 be a good place for a rallentando? Overall, the entire piece is essentially on a 16th note grid save for the sextuplets near the end. The figure in those bars seems to want room to breath and it would be a nice place to let the listener hang in suspense just a bit before the A theme comes back in.

4. Speaking of the sextuplets, they feel out of place in the piece. New material in the coda is always a tricky thing to pull off. If the hammering sextuplet texture is something that you're going to pay off in a later movement, then you're OK. Otherwise, I think they need to be a little more integrated into what you're doing here. Perhaps have the last couple of beats of m. 69 be sextuplets instead of regular 16ths? Maybe find a place earlier in the movement for a little triplet stuff so the shift in subdivision isn't so new?

 

Whoa! Thanks for your detailed suggestions! I will look into them and see what I can do. 

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On 3/2/2017 at 4:26 AM, Monarcheon said:

It definitely is in the way you structured it. If you even maybe put a really subtle pulse in there, it wouldn't be as much of a problem and could double as embellishing the arpeggio!

Bit of an ironic statement, but I see what he means. To me, it's not so much the meter that's distracting as much as the lack of really acknowledging a major change. lI don't think the meter needs to change here, just what's in it. Subtle transitions aren't always necessary, especially in such a free-ish piece such as this. Rite of Spring's main passage has a lot of rhythmic irregularity while not really changing the meter, and that'd be a good place to start looking if you like the 3/4, if you want to follow Adrian's advice. 
 

That's my major point: style. What is it? If you feel you can define it, to me, it's not really coherent. This is not a result of having two different sections. Rather, it's an issue of the connective tonal, rhythmic, or timbral fiber. I think it can be more explicit.

Cheers!

 

In terms of style, I was going for an east-meets-west sort of thing, with the pentatonic scales in the end parts and the sort of mini polonaise in the middle part. Maybe there could be a better way to do this? 

On the mm changes and rhythmic irregularity, yes, I am still pretty much experimenting with this. 

Anyways, thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it. :D

On 3/3/2017 at 6:05 AM, KJthesleepdeprived said:

I don't see any issue with the 5/4 section, though I can see why that argument would be made. I do agree about the arpeggiated chords taking away from the rhythmic pulse, but I also kind of enjoyed that too. To me, the only real issue was the weird jump from the A section to the B section in 3/4. The rhythmic change was jarring, but more so than that was the fact that it's so tonally disconnected from what came before it. I think the lead-in from there to the 6/4 part is okay. It didn't sound problematic to me, and from there on the entire piece works just fine as far as I'm concerned. It's just that one part that stuck out to me like a sore thumb.

Go ahead and take my words with a grain of salt, or a pinch for good measure. Sometimes I'm sympathetic towards choices that are different or strange at the expense of effectiveness and other times I nitpick too much, so I might be unreliable as a reviewer. I liked this though, so there's your positive thought for the day! Thanks for sharing.

 

Awww, this is sweet. Thanks! :D

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