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Hi all.

I want to get involved in orchestral music, bit by bit. I chose a not large orchestra to write this. Surely, there'll be mistakes. For example, although I've checked it, one of the flute is in a very high register, but a piccolo couldn't do the lower notes of the phrase).

I have thought about this piece in terms of color, timber, and sound masses.

Please, don't tell me I should have deleted the empty staves because I don't want to do it. I like to see the silence as part of the score.

I think I have thankfully been influenced by Brahms, Ives, R. Strauss, Shostakovich, and Gorecki... Dear Masters.


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I really enjoyed the canonic section from B-C, and when it varies after C. There are a few spots where some dissonances were created that didn't sit quite right with my ear (the B naturals, like measure 74). Must be some sort of theory thing I'm missing, since you use that technique so often, but most importantly (1) if you like it and (2) it does what you intended it to do, the keep it!

Cool rhythmic pulsing at H, and in general.

Wow, really LOVE the last 2-3 bars, I might steal that orchestration from you sometime.

Big ideas from me: I think parts of the piece may sound somewhat muddy because there are so many things--especially sustained things--happening at the same time and in similar ranges, they may conflict a little bit. I don't feel this way when you make the parts more distinct (i.e. the rhythmic pulsing), or when you reduce the total number of ideas happening simultaneously.

A good piece! I see you posted several today, I'll try to check out a few more 🙂


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That lovely fugue/canon you have at "B" might be better served if the basses weren't by themselves.  Although I'm slightly perturbed at no trombones in this piece, this can really be a fine piece.  I agree with Gustav Johnson about what he said about those dissonances.

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Thanks for your comments.

Dissonance / consonance are relative (for me). I use them as tension / relief. Although some parts are nearly tonal, the whole piece isn't.

Since this is my first attempt to write for orchestra, more instruments weren't included, I took the early romantic model.

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This comment comes with the preface of 'I might not know what the heck I'm talking about' and listening up to letter E.

Bar 3: You lost me. To really guide me through your idea you have two choices as I see them 1) Start with bar 1 and 2 as they are and follow up by breaking them down or 2) Start with the initial idea and present it before bar 1 and 2. I'm bewildered all the way through the A section so that I get to the B section (which actually kinda makes sense but we'll get to that) I'm totally lost as to what prefaced it.

Oh and get rid of the timpani, it seems to get in the way of your ideas.

B section: Good initial idea and nice initial incorporation of the B natural. However when the other voices set in the whole section gets a very tonal feeling and the B natural just sticks out. Make it either tonal or make a setting where the B natural will shine.

Now on to notation

Bar 1 woods (and other places): Slurs missing in some voices.

Horns and trumpets don't have key signatures.

Bar 3 brass: different dynamics. Make it uniform and voice your chords to suit each other instead of relying on the 'mixing board of dynamics'.

Page 2: Pizz are not tied. Write it as an eight note simply

Page 3: legato is not a technique. write 'legato' as an expression.

Double barline at new section

Page 7: make string diminuendo uniform and collective mp.

Page 10: Woods are not playing a solo. What you are asking for is the first player only to play. Write '1.' (also indicate in the instrument name how many players there are!)

Page 11: nat. is not necessary. I would however advise you to slurring this section especially.

Page 12: Vib. is the natural state. Do you want more? write piú vib. or molto vib.

Page 13 E bassoons: I don't understand the point of the figure but delete ord. and rewrite B-flat as A-sharp.

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@bryla thanks for your comments and suggestions. Very useful. I will go over the score.

However there are some points I don't understand well

"Horns and trumpets don't have key signatures"..... The key signature is the one correponding to the transposition.

"legato is not a technique. write 'legato' as an expression. " ¿Play legato? Do you mean to  write the indication under the staff?

Sorry, I'm new in this world.


Regarding the harmonic issues and formal.... I don't feel restrained by anything. What's the point using a dissonant B in a tonal atmosphere? I wanted it. I understand you, or evrerybody, don't like it. But I don't think it's wrong.


Thanks for your time.

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Horns and trumpets don't use key signatures regardless of tonality. Choose the instrument in Dorico that is called 'No Key Sig'

Not 'play' legato but p legato meaning piano and dynamic.

Regarding the B - it's fine that's what you wanted. It just doesn't fit in. Either change the B in the scenario or change the scenario.

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5 hours ago, Monarcheon said:



Yes the convention in professional orchestras the last 100 years has shifted to horns/trumpets/timpani to be instruments that don't take key signatures. I guess for horns that has been the case since the natural horn anyway given they only played the harmonic series of C. For trumpets it's because the C Trumpet has been widely adopted and you can't really be sure what the player prefers to play on for any given piece. It's easier to transpose with accidentals.

For timpani I guess it's because of the security in pedal changes that either way would need cautionary accidentals. Historically though it was also a transposing instrument playing only C and G and tuned to the tonic and dominant in the given key.

Maybe amateur orchestras do it differently – I wouldn't know – but when I work with a new orchestra they give me their specifics for notation and these three instruments are always without key signatures.

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@byrla  I don't understand one thing: in that case of the horns and trumpets (I suppose any transposing instruments), you don't put any key signature whenever there is no key signature in general. Is that corrrect? Then, with no signatura, the notes are transposed or must be in concert pitch?

I've seen scores by Rautavaara without key signatures for horn, trumpets and clarinets (however it is written: 2 Clarinets in Bb).

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I am very glad that you are venturing out into using the orchestra! And so far so good! I have speculated that your compositions would benefit from just this sort of thing, to  It bring it up to another level. I do hear Ives in he juxtapositions and a bit of Stravinsky's Symphony In C, which you may or may not know. It doesn't matter, just an observation.

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Okay, so there are several ways to do this and it can seem very confusing at first. Let's look at the two different conventions of key signatures.

1: The key signature of a piece (or section of a piece) is presented at the clefs. In D-major the flute, violins and the like will have two sharps, clarinet in A will have one flat. The horns, trumpet and timpani will have none. If the horn should sound an F# it will be written a fifth above as C# with an accidental. If the trumpet should sound an F# it will be written as an F# with an accidental (because writing the trumpet in concert is preferred for trumpet players, so they know how they should transpose, should they choose to play on another trumpet).

2: The key signature is absent on all staves. This does not mean that the piece is not in D-major. It's just that all the F#'s are written with an accidental (with the rules of course that the accidental lasts the rest of the bar, in the same octave and the same clef). If the horn should sound an F# it will still be written a fifth above. Compared to the previous way, there is no apparent way to immediately see if the score is transposed or not, so the first page should be marked either TRANSPOSED or CONCERT.

This leads us to:

- Both of these options can be written transposed or in concert. -

3: In transposed score is what I described that in D-major the Clarinet in A will have the key signature of F-major (sounding a minor third lower). If there is a key signature it takes the one flat. If key signature is absent it simply has the notes of the F-major tonality.

4: In concert score all instruments will be written where they sound. If key signature is present the Clarinet in A will have the same key signature as the flute (but not in the part. The part will always be transposed). If key signature is absent it will just have accidentals but an F#'s sounding will be written as F#.

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Trying to come up with appropriate puns about key signatures and trumpets... The best I could find is this joke:

Image result for puns about key signatures

 😄 I guess I don't care how you notated things, focus on the composition itself first so (1) you enjoy the piece and (2) others enjoy the piece (and hopefully play it!), then go back and fix your "grammar mistakes".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I doubt the title "Romantica" is proper. Sure, there are emotionally tinted momentums such as "string chorale" throughout second minute but it is more varied in use of elements. The music itself is surprisingly original, I cannot pick out all these influences. They are well hidden, which is good job. Perhaps the closest comparison might be with "Arioso for strings" by Finnish composer Paavo Heininen.

I really like these dissonant clushes between strings and winds. 🙂


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On 9/11/2019 at 2:12 AM, Gustav Johnson said:



 😄 I guess I don't care how you notated things, focus on the composition itself first so (1) you enjoy the piece and (2) others enjoy the piece (and hopefully play it!), then go back and fix your "grammar mistakes".


Thanks! It's all done. I went over the piece and those thins have been corrected, but I didn't change the video in order to see those mistakes, in casi any other people listen to it.

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