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A work in progress string quartet

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In my opinion, there are too many ideas for the time the piece takes. I mean, less things and more development is better.

The writing is typical of "beginners": except for a few momentes, there is a lack of counterpoint, which is essential in a quartett. We all have been beginners, or we are. I don't dare to write a string quartet yet...

The final part has nothing in common with the previous part. When the pizzicato and some sort of pentatonic scale comes.

To be a serious score you need to put dynamics and accents.

It's nice as an exploration of the quartet, but there is much to do, always.


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As a presumably tonal piece of music, it needs a lot of work, mostly in the areas of voice and chordal leading. There are some orchestrational problems as well.
First of all, beaming your music in a believable way seems like extra work, but is absolutely necessary. Let's look at m. 11:
It has to be 8 + 16 + 16 + 16 + D8 (dotted eighth) + tie -> 16th + 16th + 16th + 16th + tie -> 16th + 16th + 16th. In 4/4, you must have separation by the centric point in the measure, or beat 3. If it does not appear this way, the beaming is off for the performer. Curiously, this is the only place where this is a problem.
Your chords don't also seem to line up sometimes. m. 18 has you on a V chord in first inversion, but your melody resolves to the tonic before the bass does, creating this obstructive minor 9th between the voices. This happens quite often, especially in the C# minor section. This leads me to the next thing...
Your orchestration is very stratified. A lot of things happen separately, and when they don't a lot of the time, they are very separate, just in terms of how far away the notes are from each other. For this reason, the extended harmony in the beginning is an interesting touch, but lacks depth because voices aren't moving with each other fluidly, or creating a tonality in the sense of the word. Open chords like these often are just there to sound nice, when that shouldn't really be the case. Make sure your bowings work out too, because you're going to have a lot of confused performers. Don't be afraid to use slurs. We have a masterclass on intro cello (string) writing on this site.
As a composer, the hardest part (and really the only part) is getting your ideas down, and like Luis said, you have a lot of them in such a short period of time. But that's probably not how they came to you, yeah? "How can I execute this sound that I want?" "Is there a chord or movement that will satisfy me?" It's the composer condition, so to speak, and it will take time to develop, just like the music you write. Good luck.

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Nothing wrong with it as a start.  Keep going!  I like that you passed off the melody line from player to player like handing off a baton.  That's not something that usually occurs to many people in their early composing efforts, and it can be very interesting to play around with.  I also like that you have a variety of note lengths giving rhythmic texture to the piece as a whole.  That's also something that doesn't always occur to people when they start composing.  And you are adding some harmony that doesn't just go chord, chord, chord, so well-done, you! 

Luis makes an excellent point.  The most crying thing for you to work on going forward is relating each section to the one before so that there is a sense of development and momentum.  It's a tricky thing to do.  You need enough sameness to make the whole thing feel unified, without so much sameness that it gets boring.  I'd give yourself an exercise for a future piece.  Write a piece that has a simple distinct form.  Whatever you like:  ABA, ABABA, AAA.  But decide how long the piece is going to be, how many sections it will contain, do the math to figure out how long that means a section is, write a melody of that length, harmonize it, then copy and paste it and just tweak the repeated section somehow so that the piece as a whole feels interesting and like it has momentum.  You can try repeating a section, but moving it to a new key, for instance, and that will suddenly suggest a few other changes because of the new range for the instruments, or because in the way you connect the first part to the repeated part, you introduce a new element that you want to continue playing with. 

It can help to find a poem to start with and set it to music.  Poetry often has a distinct structure and rhythm, and when you set it to music you end up with naturally repeated sections and a feeling of momentum, and the words can suggest ways to vary the different sections in an orderly progression.  And then you erase all the words and call it a string quartet in A minor. 

It can also be an interesting exercise to take a single instrumental line from one of the inner harmony voices of a piece you already like, say the viola part, and write 3 new parts to go along with it, and then erase the viola line and write a new one to go with the harmonies.  Again, someone else has already built something with a structure and you can lean on that structure, and make something completely your own from it.  

Keep going, and we'll be interested to watch what you do next.  

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