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Gustav Johnson

The Last Battle: Summer 2018 Competition

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The_Last_Battle_UNFINISHED.mp3

Hi all!

I'm submitting this under the unfinished category because there's more work I WANT to do with this one. There are some transitions I want to massage and one last section to add, and the ending doesn't quite feel right, but beyond that the piece is complete. I've busted tail for this, and I'm really happy with it as a whole.

The piece is for collaboration between:

woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon)

brass quintet (trumpet 1-2, horn, trombone, tuba)

post rock ensemble (guitar 1-2, electric bass, keyboard/piano, drum set)

 

Composer's notes are attached, written quickly between lessons with my students.

 

Would love feedback, and want to give a hearty thanks to YC (especially Monarcheon) for the competitions that spur my motivation and my imagination. I'd be a worse composer without them.

Thanks!

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Before I start, please remember:

I just came back from the army a few hours ago. 

I'm really "down" and tired.

I know that it's not going to be a nice review.

Please don't expect a cheered up one.

 

Farther up and farther in.

I read all Narnia books in Hebrew a few years ago.

If I remember right, they saw the End-of-the-World Giant somewhere underground in the Silver Throne book,

and they've been told that when he'll wake up it'll mean that the world has ended.

 

Now to the music.

I expected some references to the Narnia soundtrack, especially this:

Also Narnia is an epic fantasy land with mythological creatures,

so I expected something more folkish.

Some of the notation was weird:

image.png.ce87afc3c5dfe058d464aba053e41781.png

and it felt longer than it should be.

I felt that it was more of a background thing, 

didn't have a... lyrical theme I expected.

 

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Thanks @Rabbival507, glad you're home.

It didn't occur to me to use the soundtracks as a listening tool (I've listened to all of them many times, they're some of my favorites). I'm going to keep working on this piece, so your feedback was helpful. Thanks!

Gustav

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Since I am listening this on my phone, I am not able to look at the score. This feedback will therefore be relevant only to the sounds.

The first part was really interesting! One tone that does not sound boring after a relative long time is hard to achieve. I think you could compose an entire composition with only this first section. 

Around 1.10. The bassoon plays a mysterious melody, which could be made even more effective when you add more layers to it, harmonically and contrapuntally. It sounds too empty for now, but you can do a lot with it. 

The part around 2.00 when a piano suddenly joined in sounded too out of context for me. I would leave it out or compose a smooth transition that introduces the piano sound with its antrimetric figures. 

I really liked the orchestration! (sounding). Overall, I think you can do a lot more with less. 

In other words, you state too many new ideas and melodies. You do not really develop the music, only sometimes. Try to go deeper in the music and try to see what you can do with only one part of the composition. For example, the first part. 

At the moment it sounds more like a random collection of melodies that do not have much in common except the ensemble. Maybe that is because it is not finished yet. 

Do not get me wrong. You have great ideas, but they need some polishing. Furthermore, I think you can leave out some melodies and replaces those empty parts with developments of the remaining parts.

I hope this helps you further! 

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Great! Thanks @Maarten Bauer, that helps. In your opinion, would the piece get overbearing if rather than nix some of the melodies, I added development of the existing? That might help ease the feeling of ADD I frequently achieve with my melodic writing, haha.

Thanks again!

Gustav

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Hi Great work. Particularly, I think you did it with orchestration (being idiomatic) and I like uyou incorporate drums and other pop-rock instruments.

Perhaps this works would need some motif or theme that appears throughout the piece, making it more cohesive. I've notices the initial one-note motif appears hear and there, and it's ok but more rhytmic than melodic.

Besides, I would like to hear more the "drama". The parts come one after the other but there is not a climax, a high (or low) point, which taking the story in mind could be in the shift of the worlds.

PD: I have no idea about Narnia. I have not read any books or seen any films. Sorry.

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This is a very fine achievement, Gustav. It is both episodic and cohesive, both within the movements and between them. Never boring, you carried a high emotion throughout the momentum and essentially never let up. All good qualities for battle, and music. I didn’t walk away with a melody to hang onto but that’s fine. I think you challenged the limits of some of the players with lengthy ostinatos, and I agree with Luis about leaving the repeated notes naked for too long. Not at the beginning, but for me, at the end. And a melody superimposed over them would have been icing on the cake. And in any case, it's back set driving. Good luck to you in the competition!

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Hi Gustav -- Sorry it's taken me a little while to get in a review of your piece. After two listens, I really like it. I agree that some of your transitions need to be smoothed out, but I do think that each section managed to be unique while still relating to the other sections. I did get a pop music influence from the drum kit,  and I wish it had been used more. There are some really cool piano parts that reminded me of pop passages too, though I think the piano could've played a more consistent part throughout as well. I think your ending could be built up to a little more dramatically, although I like what you've done there. One big issue for me was the sound library. I wish I could've heard this on a really good sound library! I hope you will post the final product!

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@Noah Brode I actually have no idea how to use other sound libraries. I only use the Sibelius default sounds. Any help with where to find information about that kind of thing? Also, I'm continuing to refine the piece - especially the drum and piano (and guitar) parts, with what you said in mind because I agree! What a fun project 🙂

Gustav

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