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celloman99

Adam and Eve: The Fall of Humanity

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Hey everyone,

Here is the piece I composed this semester for my composition lessons at university. It's about 18 minutes long, so if you only want to listen to and review a small portion, that's totally fine. This piece is still under revisions, so any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2Z780ZKZIY

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As this is for a jury (note the title of the PDF), I'd be interested in hearing what your teacher has to say of this piece -certainly you took notes while in lesson?

That said, just some initial thoughts (I'll give a more formal review in the morning):

There's a lot of material here to sift thru. 

The opening 9 bars provides a great deal of material. However, I wonder if the piece might work best if the introduction played more with the E-B motif you introduce in the flute (measure 10). The bars following it strongly imply a 'second introduction' that flows amazingly well into the piece as it progresses. In a way, this second introduction counters the preceding 9 bars (which, I suppose given the subject matter fits nicely with the double creation narrative featured in Genesis). 

At any rate, that's my thoughts as of now. I'll give this a more thorough listening in the morning.

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@jawoodruff

Given that I worked on the piece with my teacher (a graduate assistant) for the past few months, he didn’t have a lot to say about the finished product. His comments mainly were directed towards the individual sections as I was writing them. That being said, he didn’t mention the sort of odd nature of having two introductions, as you pointed out. I do agree that it seems a little weird because of that. However, I like the feeling of the “Let there be light moment” followed by the absolute stillness of introduction 2. 

In the jury itself, the faculty didn’t comment on this piece, other than to ask some basic questions about why/how I wrote it.

 

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@celloman99

That's crazy. You'd think they'd have given you instruction, commentary, critique, etc. 

Well, I think the subject matter is very grandiose -and by that I mean... the scope of the subject matter requires a grand work.

Here's a more in depth review, of sorts -from my own perspective.

1. First, program notes are in order. As you have a large work here -with multiple 'scenes', it'd be good to explain each scene and how it pertains to the creation narrative. 

2. Compositionally, I'd look at reworking the beginning (and mind you this is uber subjective -as in this is what I would do sort of thing). I think the flute passage at measure 10 - 13 provides awesome motivic material that you could easily build the beginning up with. Ironically, I think you stated this material in the full orchestra in measure 4 -which is probably why I viewed it as 2 distinct introductions. I'd reverse the two and use the descending 4th as a building motive. Start the flute passage at the beginning and then gradually bring the orchestra in -illustrating the various phases of creation (light, firmament, etc.) The strings would be ideal starting points for the subject matter -especially with the warm ethereal tones. Expand the phrases into the winds and brass. These added phases would then add awesome coloration and texture to the motivic idea itself. At any rate, what's important here is to test out the various options at your disposal with the forces you are writing for -hence why I said this is subjective.  

3. While I love the piano line at measure 13, I'm not sure that type of movement was needed at the point. It seemed to interrupt the texture you had laid out. Not sure if that was your intent, but, I think as a foreshadowing device (since I note this material returns later), it doesn't really do much to bring it in at this exact junction. Stylistically, the end of the theme is interesting in and of itself (almost jazz or blues-like in a way). This could be material to work with later?

4. I especially love the section that starts at measure 27. The string ostinato here really adds a nice change of texture. My only critique is that I think the winds could add some interesting contrast. Perhaps you could reference the motive that starts the piece and use that as sort of a suspension over the ostinato pattern(?) The piano passage from measure 41 to 45 seems a bit odd looking. I know the ostinato pattern comes before -but it is an odd ending you have there- it doesn't quite seem to flow much (Which I think the ostinato requires). Have you thought about adding more to the piano part here to strengthen the importance of this material?

5. The string passages that you introduce measure 52 (particularly violin 1 and 2) are interesting in that they could be viewed as imitative counterpoint or stretto -considering both parts play the same material. I think more could be done with this material. At this point, I haven't looked ahead at the score, but I think this could lend itself well to a fugato passage. 

One thing that strikes me -and you don't hear this in the recording- is the orchestration isn't all that imaginative. You have awesome material here -but I don't see much interplay between the forces you are writing for. I see some doublings here and there -but mainly each part adheres to its own material. This could be due to a lack of orchestrational knowledge on your part -or perhaps this piece isn't quite finished in terms of what you are planning. 

I don't want to be too critical -but I hope that these points help. One thing I will state is that it's nice to see a piece like this. You definitely have some potential with this piece. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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