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Hi All,

This is another piece I've been working on in the last few months. I'm fairly happy with the music but the score is a mess and the dynamics in particular I could really use some help with, both in getting Sibelius to play it better, and in the actual musicians score. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I should go about getting a better sound, I would really welcome some tips. my music theory is not very good and all tips on glaring mistakes are really welcome too.

As always I welcome suggestions and comments, good or bad on the music too. I have to say I like it as it is, but there is always room for improvement!

Thanks in advance for listening.

Mark

https://www.dropbox.com/s/podfpbm41v...minor.mp3?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/io0ndaouob...minor.pdf?dl=0
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Hi

The sounds are not bad. Yes, the score needs some changes. I guess the cello would benefit from the alto clef in some parts.

I've listened to it several times. In general I like it. 

Anyway, I have some comments :

1. The first theme is a bit long. It's the same for a minute. I don't think it's bad but the horn is silent and it could add some texture in the last part of this section.

2. You use one bassoon all over the piece except for just few measures (19, 21...) It's ja matter of economy. For those few notes you'll need another player.

3. My main "objection" is that the rhythm patterns in the strings remain unchanged all the time, except in measures 38-40 and 75-78.... The mood they bring is nice (the motion), but some contrast in the middle (or wherever) would be nice. I think this is the reason why there is no a clear climax (always needed in tonal music).

One of the strong points, in my opinion is that the chromaticism sounds quite well, I love it. Otherwise, I'm sure it would be a bit boring (for me, sorry). There are only one or two spots where I think the dissonance seems strong. One is measure 71 when the bassoon attacks the low E. Not sure why...

In general, I would try to use more counterpoint lines. Yes, they are there, but many times the oboe and the bassoon are in a question and answer "mode"....

In some parts there is a Spanish mood (in the last part when it sounds major). Nice contrast.

 

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Hi Luis,

Thanks a lot, you certainly gave me a lot to think about.  I do agree with you on most points.

The first theme probably could use some assistance from the horns.  I know it could be a bit samey.  I see it as setting up the conversation between the oboe and the bassoon, but the horn is probably bored out of his mind by the end! lol.

I know the problem of needing a second player for a couple of very brief moments, needs to be solved.  I was imagining 2 oboes because I didn't know if just 1 would stand out well enough against the other much louder instruments, then I thought if I have 2 oboes, then I can have 2 bassoons playing divisi when needed, but perhaps that is a bit much.

The strings I like, but I also think a little variation would have been nice, and I tried a little, but I didn't really know how or when to diverge and return to it's main texture, but I will take what you've said and see what I can do with it.

I'm not sure about m71 either, I'll have to listen closer but I'm not sure I get what you mean.

The Chromaticism is one of the main reasons the strings don't vary.  Trying to introduce some variation whilst keeping the chromaticism sort of beat me I think because I didn't want to loose it too much, but I'll try again. A ver!!!

The counterpoint would have to be mostly down to the horn as the question and answer mode of the oboe and the bassoon is sort of the main idea behind the piece and again I don't want to loose that too much, but I will have a look.

Lastly, you don't need to apologise for your thoughts, there are some monotonous elements in the piece.  I'm reasonable happy with most of them, but there is always room to improve and people only ever say nice things about my (or anyone's) work, then it's hard to advance your skill, which more than anything, is what I want to do.  So thank you again for you comments and your help.

Mark

 

Edited by Mark101
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Good work. A few suggestions:
1. I would divide the oboe solo between several instruments and vary the motion more.
Note: Cello does not read alto clef but tenor clef.
2. At 5:5, I would have a melodic figure going during the long F note.
3. I feel that you could add a little tail at the end of the piece that ends with a D minor chord.

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Hi ilv

Thanks for the suggestions.  Do you think that dividing the oboe would loose the conversational aspect?  Perhaps not, a conversation doesn't have to be always just between 2 participants.

Tenor clef for cello, noted

I'll have a look at the section you mentioned at 5:5 and see what I can do and I do like the idea of getting back to the home key to end, I'll take all of this into consideration so thanks a lot.

Here's the truth.  When I was about 26, (I'm 51 now)I wrote a lot of stuff on an old Atari ST and a crappy progam called MT pro (ah, the good old days lol), and then life happened and I forgot about them.  Last year I found an ST emulator for window and since I kept all the floppy disks from those days, I trawled back through some of the stuff I wrote and decided to see if there was anything I still thought had any merit.  This piece was one of them, there were not many, but I sort of re-mastered them with the set up I have now.  However, I didn't really change much about the music itself as I still remembered them very well on hearing them again, and so I think I've been guilty of not wanting to change them too much because of some misplaced nostalgia.  I haven't really brought much of the last 27 years worth of experience to them in my rush to get them transferred to todays format.

I will endeavour to rectify that I think.

Thanks again for your help

Mark

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It's not bad. In fact it's pretty good and very good in some parts. Overall it's very good and I didn't read the other's concerns  before I formed my own opinion. But I agree with Luis about the accompaniment in the staccato strings. This part really needs a life of its own. It must have its own propulsion and logic seperate from the melody. And I would start out early on varying it, mostly to expand the narrow range it's in. As Luis said, you did this late in the piece, and only once. Given the length of the piece you might do this three or four more times throughout, and you wouldn't have to change the form at all! And I think if you did this the other problem, that of an unadorned melody, would sort itself out as you now have new ideas for the accompaniment.

This is good stuff and I hope you don't just move on to something else without giving this the attention it deserves. Most people here, I'm sorry to say, ignore good advice, so ... I leave it to you.

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Hi Ken,

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.  I do usually take note of all suggestions and advice that people give me and I am at the moment working of some of the issues with this piece.  You and others are of course right about the ridged form of the strings, although I do love the form it takes (I was looking at it in this particular piece, as being the road that the wind and horns drive along), I accept that it should have a bit more life of it's own and I'm working on that, also the duality in the bassoons, also I'm looking at giving the horns some more counterpoint here and there.  I'll post the results when I've finished so keep an eye out, your input would be much appreciated.

Thanks again

Mark

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Folks,

I was really pleased with the help and advice from your good selves and I have spent a couple of weeks trying to address the issues with this piece.  I really would appreciate knowing if you think there has been an improvement for the work I've done with it.  I think I addressed most of the comments people gave me, but the score is still not right although a lot of things are as they are in order for Sibelius to play it properly.  There are though, I'm sure, lots of obvious mistakes like sharps and flats in the wrong places etc., and if you see any please let me know.

The new links are here

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4kbk9qes0613are/Discussions around D minor.wav?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/grv0iq9mtbq34ol/Discussions around D minor.pdf?dl=0

I hope it's better, thanks a lot

Mark

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Hi Mark

Yes! I love it!

I remembered well the piece (because I liked it). So, the changes are clear for me. Mainly two issues that makes it better:

1. In the intro, the Horn is in much earlier, with a third counterpoint line!

2. In the second part I see you have rewritten most part of the strings, changing the initial rhythmic pattern (which was my main "concern").

I think that makes it much more interesting. The chromatic work is fine.

Congrats!

Muy buen trabajo.

Luis.

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Thanks for reposting! I know it’s sometimes difficult for composers to change things, once written. It flows better now I think. The chromatic lines are essential and good and come in surprising places that hold my interest because even after a few times I still don’t expect them! I just remembered where I’ve heard something like this before, and that is in the Martin Scorsese film Hugo, music by Howard Shore. Check it out.

Having looked closer at the score there is one thing that puzzles me. Why did you not use 4/4 or 2/4 time and let the strings play 8th note triplets throughout. Then the melody would not have to use consecuative dotted 8ths, which would be confusing for players. Or, if you want to keep the melody part syncopated you could write it in 3/4. Then the strings would play exactly as you have written, except in 8th notes, and the melody still syncopated but without consecutive dotted 8ths, which are confusing. The way you’ve written it makes the rhythm vs. melody ambiguous, and there’s really no point in doing so because everyone will hear this as 4, clearly defined by your melody, as sounded. See my two examples.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 7.54.21 PM.png

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Hi Ken,

Thanks, yes it can be difficult to change things once you've written something, not only because of a reluctance to change it, but also because it can be difficult to come up with something new that works after spending so much time with the original.  I'm still not sure it's finished either, I wanted to look at changing the monotonous bass in places too, but I'll look at that later. 

Yes of course your right, 4/4 would have been the obvious choice for the time signature, but the answer is going to be a bit disappointing I think.  Laziness lol.

I wanted a repeating pair of arpeggios in each bar so that each bar starts with a chromatic rise or fall from the last bar (in the stings at least).  I could have achieved this in 4/4 but I would have had to write hundreds of triplets.  I don't know if you can write continuous triplets in Sibelius without having to keep pressing control 3 each time you want a new triplet, which would have made inputting the strings a very slow and laborious job, so I opted for the quickest rout I could think of which was 6/8.  You're disappointed now aren't you, I knew you would be Lol.

Now that I have the piece in a more or less finished state, I might rewrite at some point so that the score makes more sense.  I'm sure there is a way to write continuous triplets in Sibelius, so I'll investigate. 

Thanks again for you help with this piece.

Mark

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I’m not disappointed at all because I also use Sibelius too and sometimes I cannot see the forest for the trees. And I let things slide just to get them out there. But there is an easy fix for triplets. You must do the first bar as you say. Thereafter, since the strings use the same basic figure throughout, copy and paste them as you go. Or, if the piece is 212 bars, you could paste all the way to the end. Each time you copy you are copying larger sections, until you are pasting like 48 bars at once. It takes about two minutes. Then you can correct the pitches in each bar by dragging the notes where they differ. See? But you wouldn’t want 3’s and brackets all over the place in any case because of the clutter. So you could just write simile at the third bar and never mention it again. In classical and romantic works the three is written only on the first triplet in the fist bar and don’t write simile at all if the music is clear and predictable, which yours is. If I had to do that (control-3) thing, I wouldn't do triplets either! I don’t input using flex time either, that seems more trouble than it’s worth. There is a Summer Competition in the works here and I will be one of the judges. I would be obliged to take off points for this kind of thing in the score.

Something to keep in mind for the future.

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Hi Ken,

Yes you're right, pasting the bars would have been easier, I'll keep that in mind if I come to rewrite it.  I know about the simile or sim., but I don't think Sibelius will play it.

A couple of people have said that they tend to keep two scores, one for Sibelius to playback a faithful reproduction, and another for presentation or for players (that doesn't actually playback as you might want, but that looks correct).  I think it's a good idea, but since I don't imagine anyone will ever be playing my music, I haven't yet made a presentation score of any of my work.

Incidentally I think taking points off for a messy or incorrect score is completely justified in a competition setting.

Thanks again

Mark

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