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Screechy

3 Piece Suite for Full Orchestra "Mountains Suite"

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Come critique me! This 10-minute piece is my 4th complete piece over the past year (ever) and is in 3 movements, which are shown in-video.

Inspired by the mountains of the world, this piece is a way to express my love for nature and my desire to explore the world around me.

Video :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GcnyomDeMk&feature=youtu.be

Score: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h1zs3c4acoxht17/Mountains_Suite.pdf?dl=0

Thanks to anybody who provides constructive feedback!

(This was copy and pasted from a reddit post on r/composer, so excuse the fact that it links to a dropbox. If this is against the rules or it needs verification (it's a pdf file), please let me know in the comments.)

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Some pointers on notation:

- Bassoons are the lowest staves of the woodwinds

- Horns are above trumpets. (bracket those horns)

- Euphonium is above bass trombone

- Consolidate all percussion beneath the brass. Timpani don't bracket. Timp don't take key signatures as well (neither do horns and trumpets)

- Tempo information goes above the system and above Strings.

- no viola? Those first chords really need them and second violins. Too many small intervals at the bottom for sonority.

- slurs go to the end note in a tie.

Get a habit of writing flutes 1 and 2 together as well as all other instruments 1 and 2. Makes for a way better read.

Remember since you use Sibelius to hold down cmd or ctrl while inputting 'mf' or 'fp' for expression.

Slurring in strings is quite different than for winds. A two bar slur in bars 10-11 is too long of a bowing.

- bar17: a2 trumpets is not a solo. Neither is bar 30.

- A Tempo AND Meno mosso? Don't make no sense

- tutti is only a string or section term. It has no place in bar 32.

Second movement:

bar 1: solo? only 1 player? should be bar 1 when you start a new movement.

bar 2 and on: again same thing with slurs and bowings.

page 8: flute too low in general. Also don't write flute 2 generally higher than flute 1.Goes for all instruments.

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On 12/30/2019 at 9:45 AM, bryla said:

Some pointers on notation:

- Bassoons are the lowest staves of the woodwinds

- Horns are above trumpets. (bracket those horns)

- Euphonium is above bass trombone

- Consolidate all percussion beneath the brass. Timpani don't bracket. Timp don't take key signatures as well (neither do horns and trumpets)

- Tempo information goes above the system and above Strings.

- no viola? Those first chords really need them and second violins. Too many small intervals at the bottom for sonority.

- slurs go to the end note in a tie.

Get a habit of writing flutes 1 and 2 together as well as all other instruments 1 and 2. Makes for a way better read.

Remember since you use Sibelius to hold down cmd or ctrl while inputting 'mf' or 'fp' for expression.

Slurring in strings is quite different than for winds. A two bar slur in bars 10-11 is too long of a bowing.

- bar17: a2 trumpets is not a solo. Neither is bar 30.

- A Tempo AND Meno mosso? Don't make no sense

- tutti is only a string or section term. It has no place in bar 32.

Second movement:

bar 1: solo? only 1 player? should be bar 1 when you start a new movement.

bar 2 and on: again same thing with slurs and bowings.

page 8: flute too low in general. Also don't write flute 2 generally higher than flute 1.Goes for all instruments.

 

To answer about organization of staves: It's the way that Sibelius organizes it. If I try and change it, Sibelius gets very angry and puts tempo markings inside of the trumpet staves. Idk why.

I know there is no viola, made that specific setup without one for some reason. The current piece I'm working on does include one ūüôā

I often keep flutes 1,2 oboe 1,2 etc separate because writing them as one stave is super annoying and takes more time than it saves. It also helps my workflow, imo.

In many scores I have seen Trumpets using key signatures, and although I do know horns don't usually have a key signature in orchestral works, I give them one so it's easier to write. I can always change it to F and Sibelius will automatically update accidentals, thankfully.

If you're implying the dynamics don't work unless you hold down ctrl to type them, they do indeed still work.

I thought tutti was for all sections to indicate the end of a solo? In band I recall the composers of our pieces of music using them (if I remember correctly).

A Tempo Meno Mosso is saying to play the original tempo but a bit slower, exactly as it implies.

I know it should be bar 1 but I forgot how to fix it, and knowing this will never get played I didn't bother with it.

Flutes can go as low as Sibelius says they can, they produce a different effect and do different things, obviously.

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Posted (edited)

Quite a nice sounding work but a little unadventurous with tonality. By 1'00" I was hoping something different would happen but it seemed to peter out. With the clarinet entry at 1'45" I thought 'here we go'. But no, a return to the opening. The second movement lost my attention after the first couple of minutes. Journey of the Andes started lively but at about 7'00 faded out again. At 8'20" it lost me. You missed many chances of changing tonality. It ended with no real climax. I didn't get the feel of the huge openness of mountains at all. Apologies if I wasn't meant to.

Can I ask if you did the composing on Sibelius or at a piano? I mean, could you play a short score in some form or another?

Don't we just love notation software that won't do exactly as we want? No. I don't. I hate it. I don't use it. And renderings reliant on it never sound convincing. You've got some pretty good sounds out of yours though.

By the way, I see that bryla claims you don't need key signatures for horns and trumpets. This is debatable. If the key of the piece were to turn to something like F# major, practically every horn and trumpet note would need an accidental. Many modern atonal works don't use key signatures but that's a different matter. Many classical/romantic composers apply key signatures to these instruments. 

No comment on how you lay out the score (for me, others are more particular) as long as I know what instrument is playing on what stave. [Edit] It helps to follow convention which you almost do.[/edit] (I always put strings at the top because I like it that way. They're usually more important. It's easy to change order with my daw notation view limited though it otherwise is for those who object. 

But about the scoring itself, I thought the lower register, especially in the opening (bar 10 on) sounded muddy/thick, quite un-mountain-air-like and noted that you have a) rather a lot of doublings in the lower notes (cello+basson+deep brass) and b) give the basses an independent part which, in context, muffles the harmonic relationships with what's going on above.  Given the overall dynamic is quiet, is it worth uncluttering that a little - but hey, it's your work and if that's the effect you want, that's where it's at. I can only comment on my impression.

There's also the small point of the triple-stopped pizz cello and violin chords at the opening. I haven't mapped them to check if they're playable but could present problems. The violins for instance: the F# minor triad. How would you do that? Stop the F# on the D string, leave the A string open... then how do you play the C#? You could do it fingering high on the board. Stop the F# on the G string, the C# on the D string and leave the A open. But the next triad, E maj? I can't see how that can be done. As for triple stops arco - they're out of the question altogether. Best to divisi the parts to two for those opening bars.

Maybe there's a violinist/cellist here who could comment?

 

.

Edited by Quinn
thank God for an edit button.

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This score looks more like a concert band format with strings.

Another point: Horns should go above trumpets.

 

On 1/4/2020 at 5:37 PM, Screechy said:

Flutes can go as low as Sibelius says they can, they produce a different effect and do different things, obviously.

Yes, they can play low. They do indeed produce a different effect. I don't think this is the effect you want. I may be wrong.

The timpani part is bordering impossible. Unless the timpanist has many many drums, they cannot play so many different notes. The timpani notes are set from the beginning of the piece. In the Classical period, they were usually on the tonic and dominant. Although the notes can be changed throughout the piece, it has to be during a period of rest. (A professional timpanist can change much quicker than an amateur, because of their added experience.)

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On 1/4/2020 at 11:37 AM, Screechy said:

To answer about organization of staves: It's the way that Sibelius organizes it. If I try and change it, Sibelius gets very angry and puts tempo markings inside of the trumpet staves. Idk why.

I know there is no viola, made that specific setup without one for some reason. The current piece I'm working on does include one ūüôā

I often keep flutes 1,2 oboe 1,2 etc separate because writing them as one stave is super annoying and takes more time than it saves. It also helps my workflow, imo.

In many scores I have seen Trumpets using key signatures, and although I do know horns don't usually have a key signature in orchestral works, I give them one so it's easier to write. I can always change it to F and Sibelius will automatically update accidentals, thankfully.

If you're implying the dynamics don't work unless you hold down ctrl to type them, they do indeed still work.

I thought tutti was for all sections to indicate the end of a solo? In band I recall the composers of our pieces of music using them (if I remember correctly).

A Tempo Meno Mosso is saying to play the original tempo but a bit slower, exactly as it implies.

I know it should be bar 1 but I forgot how to fix it, and knowing this will never get played I didn't bother with it.

Flutes can go as low as Sibelius says they can, they produce a different effect and do different things, obviously.

 

Just a quick remark on flute range. Flutes can of course play low, however, it is difficult to hear them under the orchestral texture even if everyone is playing piano, and it is difficult to produce sounds in those lower registers. Also, Sibelius' instrument ranges can be "off"; for example, oboes can play a D6, however it is more difficult to produce a consistent good sound compared to a flute.

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On 1/4/2020 at 12:37 PM, Screechy said:

To answer about organization of staves: It's the way that Sibelius organizes it. If I try and change it, Sibelius gets very angry and puts tempo markings inside of the trumpet staves. Idk why.

I know there is no viola, made that specific setup without one for some reason. The current piece I'm working on does include one ūüôā

I often keep flutes 1,2 oboe 1,2 etc separate because writing them as one stave is super annoying and takes more time than it saves. It also helps my workflow, imo.

In many scores I have seen Trumpets using key signatures, and although I do know horns don't usually have a key signature in orchestral works, I give them one so it's easier to write. I can always change it to F and Sibelius will automatically update accidentals, thankfully.

If you're implying the dynamics don't work unless you hold down ctrl to type them, they do indeed still work.

I thought tutti was for all sections to indicate the end of a solo? In band I recall the composers of our pieces of music using them (if I remember correctly).

A Tempo Meno Mosso is saying to play the original tempo but a bit slower, exactly as it implies.

I know it should be bar 1 but I forgot how to fix it, and knowing this will never get played I didn't bother with it.

Flutes can go as low as Sibelius says they can, they produce a different effect and do different things, obviously.

 

 

Okay, I'll start off and say, your initial post asked for critiques.  Your responses comes off as VERY defensive. perhaps that is NOT your intent, but just know it does.

 

My $0.02

Score order is score order.  Conductors will not acquiesce because of Sibelius issues.  Overcome them.  Trombones stays together. HOWEVER, everything else said is on point.  Bassoons are last woodwinds, Horn ABOVE trumpets for orchestra  

Do not give an orchestra an orchestra piece with no Violas.  VERY polarizing and probably won't get played. The orchestra will have 8 to 12 violas getting paid and not playing.  Normal for winds, not cool for the strings.

Trumpets get key signatures but you wrote for Bb Trumpets so you will need to notate that. Do know that American orchestras default to C.  So if you don't tell them that, they'll be mad.  Pops concerts they will play Bb.  

You have solo in the clarinet and then tutti afterwards. So is this a BAND piece or an orchestra piece?  In the orchestra, it would already be a solo.  If this is a BAND piece then where are the saxophones?  Additionally, if this is an orchestra piece, you might want to consider using Clarinet in A.


Once again, take my $0.02 with a grain of salt.

 

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