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PBStu

Double Bass and Viola Duet

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Recently I decided to compose a Contrabass and Viola duet for me and a friend of mine. Although it isn't very good I found this website and was like "As my first composition on this website I'm going to use the duet. So please review this and leave feedback. Thnx

 

Note: There is a a D.C. al fine but the recording (midi) doesn't do it. 

Made using Sibelius.

Edited by PBStu
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10 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

It's nice, sounding like a neo-baroque style. I'm sure it'll be much better live, there are not dynamics in the score (nor playback).

 

I was aiming for a baroque ish piece. I hope it's all right. Thank you. I left dynamics out for interpretation but the recording wouldnt pick up dynamics well anyway. 

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I'm not sure about the bass being the best choice for the 16th notes at the end. That's really going to take strong dominance over the viola part and is a lot of movement. I'm also not sure the parallel octaves are needed. That's going to be a strong statement -and it breaks the texture you have at the beginning quite drastically.

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I find it quite difficult to hear what's going on, due to the darker tones of both instruments.

I think you could use the upper register of the viola a lot more to provide a break in both tone and 'lowness'. The fast double bass at the end is good for solo, but as a bassline of the duo, it is likely to lose clarity. Perhaps this is the effect you want, although 

21 hours ago, PBStu said:

I was aiming for a baroque ish piece

suggests otherwise.

It will definitely sound considerably better live!

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3 hours ago, jawoodruff said:

I'm not sure about the bass being the best choice for the 16th notes at the end. That's really going to take strong dominance over the viola part and is a lot of movement. I'm also not sure the parallel octaves are needed. That's going to be a strong statement -and it breaks the texture you have at the beginning quite drastically.

 

What do you believe I should do?

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1 hour ago, aMusicComposer said:

I find it quite difficult to hear what's going on, due to the darker tones of both instruments.

I think you could use the upper register of the viola a lot more to provide a break in both tone and 'lowness'. The fast double bass at the end is good for solo, but as a bassline of the duo, it is likely to lose clarity. Perhaps this is the effect you want, although 

suggests otherwise.

It will definitely sound considerably better live!

 

Thank you. Hard to hear is just recording problems. I didn't use the upper register... actually I don't know why. Im trying to think of ways to improve the end but i dont know.

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Hi PBStu,

❤️ My pleasure to review your piece ❤️

 

I'll take from the beginning for more clarity.

Write your nuances cause it's really important for us to be able to feel how tragic or calm you want your music to be and how it changes. ❤️

You are definitly adopting a contrapuntal style in the beginning and it makes total sense with Baroque music. There are at minimum 3 principles that structure this kind of composing.

Counterpoint definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpoint

1) Melodic quality: Counter point is a style that revolves around vocality and polyphony (wich is how to combine melodic lines). The quality of the melody is always important. As personnal or traditionnal the melodies you compose can be, the more interesting they are on their own the better. When you play them separatly idealy they should be epxressive, have their own purpose like their own personnality. 

-For exmaple bar 3 to 5: The Viola melody (and therefore the Cello line) seems a little bit systematic wich makes the line predictable. Although you are making a strict canon in this short passage wich is very clever, the systematism of the line makes it a little too rigid.

Here a random example from the Bach's canons: https://imslp.simssa.ca/files/imglnks/usimg/f/f7/IMSLP88821-PMLP18465-BWV_1073.pdf. If you look at the melody used for this canon, the melody doesn't repeat itself too much because it is already going to be repeated through the other voices during the canon.

 

2) Rythmic complementarity: It is important for the clarity and the interaction between the lines and the motifs you are using. 

bar 3 -5 is a good example of the kind of things you can do with rythms: Viola plays half notes when Contrabass plays quarter notes and the opposite and your motif alternates from one voice to the other. They are not stepping on each other toes. It's the same thing as in a conversation, you don't want two people to talk about complicated unrelated things at the same time.

 

3) Harmony and intervals between notes. When two voices are playing at the same time you can hear intervals between them (example at bar 1 you wrote a 3rd then a 5th, 8ve,6th, 8ve). The sequence of intervals created by these two voices singing together determines a lot how well your counterpoint is going to sound. 

Whitout talking about how counterpoint uses intervals traditionnally I'd just say that the first thing to do is to play your piece slowly listening to these intervals and judging if you like how they succeed to each other. 

 

*🧁You can look at that if you want it's written with two voices only 🧁

Bach 15 Inventions https://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/6/6b/IMSLP396133-PMLP03267-Bach,_Johann_Sebastian-Werke_Breitkopf_Band_3_01_BWV_772-786.pdf

 

 🐞In your piece you can begin by trying to avoid writing things too similar between your two instruments. For example bar 9-10 they both play the same things in octaves but it won't sound very good. At bar 14-18 The Cb. is playing the octave of Viola on each first quarter note, same it won't sound very well returning every beat on the octave. It is also very true to be carefull with the writing of the Contrabass that can easily overwhelm your Viola part with too much quarter notes.

 

I hope it Helps ! 🦸‍♂️

Edited by Paul Orsoni

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1 hour ago, Paul Orsoni said:

Hi PBStu,

❤️ My pleasure to review your piece ❤️

 

I'll take from the beginning for more clarity.

Write your nuances cause it's really important for us to be able to feel how tragic or calm you want your music to be and how it changes. ❤️

You are definitly adopting a contrapuntal style in the beginning and it makes total sense with Baroque music. There are at minimum 3 principles that structure this kind of composing.

Counterpoint definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpoint

1) Melodic quality: Counter point is a style that revolves around vocality and polyphony (wich is how to combine melodic lines). The quality of the melody is always important. As personnal or traditionnal the melodies you compose can be, the more interesting they are on their own the better. When you play them separatly idealy they should be epxressive, have their own purpose like their own personnality. 

-For exmaple bar 3 to 5: The Viola melody (and therefore the Cello line) seems a little bit systematic wich makes the line predictable. Although you are making a strict canon in this short passage wich is very clever, the systematism of the line makes it a little too rigid.

Here a random example from the Bach's canons: https://imslp.simssa.ca/files/imglnks/usimg/f/f7/IMSLP88821-PMLP18465-BWV_1073.pdf. If you look at the melody used for this canon, the melody doesn't repeat itself too much because it is already going to be repeated through the other voices during the canon.

 

2) Rythmic complementarity: It is important for the clarity and the interaction between the lines and the motifs you are using. 

bar 3 -5 is a good example of the kind of things you can do with rythms: Viola plays half notes when Contrabass plays quarter notes and the opposite and your motif alternates from one voice to the other. They are not stepping on each other toes. It's the same thing as in a conversation, you don't want two people to talk about complicated unrelated things at the same time.

 

3) Harmony and intervals between notes. When two voices are playing at the same time you can hear intervals between them (example at bar 1 you wrote a 3rd then a 5th, 8ve,6th, 8ve). The sequence of intervals created by these two voices singing together determines a lot how well your counterpoint is going to sound. 

Whitout talking about how counterpoint uses intervals traditionnally I'd just say that the first thing to do is to play your piece slowly listening to these intervals and judging if you like how they succeed to each other. 

 

*🧁You can look at that if you want it's written with two voices only 🧁

Bach 15 Inventions https://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/6/6b/IMSLP396133-PMLP03267-Bach,_Johann_Sebastian-Werke_Breitkopf_Band_3_01_BWV_772-786.pdf

 

 🐞In your piece you can begin by trying to avoid writing things too similar between your two instruments. For example bar 9-10 they both play the same things in octaves but it won't sound very good. At bar 14-18 The Cb. is playing the octave of Viola on each first quarter note, same it won't sound very well returning every beat on the octave. It is also very true to be carefull with the writing of the Contrabass that can easily overwhelm your Viola part with too much quarter notes.

 

I hope it Helps ! 🦸‍♂️

 

Ummm... Thank you for this extremely long but interesting review and for all the help you've given. I'll have a look through the piece and try to fix up bits. Thanks

Thanks

Thanks😁

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5 hours ago, Paul Orsoni said:

 At bar 14-18 The Cb. is playing the octave of Viola on each first quarter note, same it won't sound very well returning every beat on the octave. 

 

Um... you do realize that this is virtually impossible right? The Cb sounds an octave lower than written... meaning that the passage you mention would be played in a much lower range than the open C string on the viola! Honestly, I think if he placed this material in the viola and the bass played the quarter note... this passage would be fine with the right articulations. 

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2 hours ago, jawoodruff said:

Um... you do realize that this is virtually impossible right? The Cb sounds an octave lower than written... meaning that the passage you mention would be played in a much lower range than the open C string on the viola! Honestly, I think if he placed this material in the viola and the bass played the quarter note... this passage would be fine with the right articulations. 

 

Hi jawoodruff,

Contrabass is indeed sounding an octave lower than written and I'll explain what I meant.

in the bars 14-19 every time the Viola plays a note (ex bar 14: Fsharp/A/Csharp/D) we can see that the Contrabass is attacking the same note one or two octaves lower at the same time (the interval being an octave or a double octave is considered as the same in this case). 

This passage contains not 2 voices but 3 wich help me explain what I said:

1-Viola part

2-Contrabass first quarter notes of each beat (wich is playing always one or two octave lower than the Viola)

3-the remaining of the other quarter notes played by the Contrabass (an actual repeated Fsharp) that is considered like a static voice.

We do have voices 1 and 2 that are playing at one or two octaves of distance all the time.

The problem is that, the way this passage is written, it accentuates each first quarter of the beat by playing octaves wich is the most transparent interval (not considering the unison). Accentuating on something that pure and stable than an octave each beat makes the music kind of stopping every time it is accentuated.

If we look at this passage 

page 3

http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/d/d3/IMSLP01135-Bach_Tocatta_%26_Fugue_D_moll_565.pdf

we have the same sort of writing. At 2.45 we consider 3 different voices:

1- highest voice repeating D in quarter notes (it is not exactly what plays but this is the idea)

2-intermediate voice in half notes begining with C/Bfkat/A/G etc...

3-lowest voice with F/Fsharp/G/C/Bflat etc...

Voices 2 and 3 never play two consecutive octaves because it is considered weak in the tradition for various reasons. One of them being that this weakens the harmonic aspect of the music. When you play consecutive octaves you don't make the harmony progress.

 

 

Edited by Paul Orsoni

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27 minutes ago, Paul Orsoni said:

When you play consecutive octaves you don't make the harmony progress.

 

 

 

The descending scale in octaves offset by a quarter beat already establish the parallel octaves (parallel double octaves in this case). So I'm not overly concerned that this passage violates the sacred, eternal rule of no parallel octaves. My concern on the octaves is the tendency of strings to strengthen when playing at the octave. One only has to gander at the quartets of haydn, mozart, and Beethoven to see octave doublings abound in string writing- for dynamic and timbre purposes. My concern is that the bass is playing fast material that would fit more idiomatically in the viola part and vice versa. It's clear the composer isnt going for antiquated contrapuntal observation -even the first part isnt quite 16th century. 

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1 hour ago, jawoodruff said:

The descending scale in octaves offset by a quarter beat already establish the parallel octaves (parallel double octaves in this case). So I'm not overly concerned that this passage violates the sacred, eternal rule of no parallel octaves. My concern on the octaves is the tendency of strings to strengthen when playing at the octave. One only has to gander at the quartets of haydn, mozart, and Beethoven to see octave doublings abound in string writing- for dynamic and timbre purposes. My concern is that the bass is playing fast material that would fit more idiomatically in the viola part and vice versa. It's clear the composer isnt going for antiquated contrapuntal observation -even the first part isnt quite 16th century. 

 

You are absolutely right on all of these points. If we invert Viola Contrabass I still do think that the redundancy of the process or maybe the length of the passage is too much.❤️ My idea is to show the concepts not narowing them to an antique style.

 

Edited by Paul Orsoni
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