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Piano Quartet in G# minor - 1st movement


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Hello all!  This is a Piano Quartet (Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano) I just finished which would probably not exist in it's current form if I hadn't found a Piano Quartet on this website.  Originally I thought I would make this a solo violin and orchestra piece but found that this ensemble, once I was made aware of it, was the perfect match for my melodic material!  I came up with the melodies for this piece as I was falling asleep.  Luckily I keep a musical notepad next to my bed in just such a case.  This is also my first attempt to write in sonata form although I'm sure I break quite a few rules if you'd like to point them out.  I welcome your criticisms, suggestions or even just observations would be great.  Hopefully this will be the first movement in a multi-movement work.  Enjoy!

Edited by PaperComposer
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I got used to the sounds of musescore, but violin is really bad. Sonatina orchestra is free and works on musescore. For a squeaky violin effect sound, you can also try:
https://vis.versilstudios.com/vsco-community.html

Thank you for the helpful information!  I was kind of worried about the soundfonts of the individual string instruments sounding squeaky.  That and they're sometimes a bit unresponsive on staccato notes.  Also - I wouldn't need to use a digital audio workstation for those plugins?

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The melodic ideas on the violin are nice but I think they can be developed. 

I do agree that the first theme could stand to be more developed.  I wasn't shooting for a huge development section in this as this is my first and modest try at sonata form and I wanted all the sections of the form to stay balanced in relation to one another.  I am working on another movement which will further develop the first theme (after the introduction) so I guess it will be more of like a part 2 to the first movement.

Thank you for your input!

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35 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Thank you for the helpful information!  I was kind of worried about the soundfonts of the individual string instruments sounding squeaky.  That and they're sometimes a bit unresponsive on staccato notes.  Also - I wouldn't need to use a digital audio workstation for those plugins?

There is no creaking on sonatina's violin. you can use them directly in musescore, no other player is required.
The squeaky violin sound , good works on chords, making them more realistic.
in this video I used two different violin sounds ( sonatina and vanilla sfz ) here to make it look realistic: https://youtu.be/uZC1NCCtCUk(still not as good as a vst, but not bad.) 

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Really good work! I really liked your melodies and each instrument has unique, independent, and interesting lines pretty much throughout the piece. I also liked the contrast between the light major theme at m.38 and the darker section preceding it.

I will say I think it might be a little "violin-heavy". For pretty much the entire piece the violin took the spotlight; if some of the melodies were passed around a little more it might add more variety. I also think the piano was particularly underutilized. 

21 hours ago, PaperComposer said:

This is also my first attempt to write in sonata form although I'm sure I break quite a few rules if you'd like to point them out. 

I'm certainly no authority on sonata form, but I thought you did a good job. Here's how I interpreted it:

  • m.1-19 - Introduction
  • m.20-37- Theme A
  • m. 38-42 - Theme B
  • m. 43-74 - Development
  • m.75-84 - Recap Theme A
  • m.85-89 - Recap Theme B
  • m.90-98 - Coda

Am I close? I liked your development section and thought you did a good job twisting and turning the themes into new ideas. I will say the restatement of m.75-84 seems a little short since there was an additional phrase the first time I heard it in m.20-37. Maybe add an additional phrase like the first time to make if feel more balanced?

Lastly, the end of the piece doesn't feel resolved to me, was this your intention? I think since I hear D# in the bass in m.96, followed by a big G# major chord in m.97, I'm expecting to hear a C#, rather than ending on G#. I have a feeling this was your intention since you hint at this being the first movement of a larger work, but just wanted to be sure.

Again, really good work, and thanks for sharing! If I were in your shoes I would make it my goal to get my hands on some decent sound libraries and put together a good audio representation of the piece, (or better yet, get it performed). The sounds you used aren't too bad, but I don't think it does the piece justice.

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Really good work! I really liked your melodies and each instrument has unique, independent, and interesting lines pretty much throughout the piece. I also liked the contrast between the light major theme at m.38 and the darker section preceding it.

Thank you for your encouragement!  I was worried that the major theme at m. 38 would seem a little out of place but I slowed it down a bit and quieted it down to give it a 'galante' feel.

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I will say I think it might be a little "violin-heavy". For pretty much the entire piece the violin took the spotlight; if some of the melodies were passed around a little more it might add more variety. I also think the piano was particularly underutilized. 

Yes, as mentioned I originally conceived of it as a violin piece but the extra lines seem to demand three solo instruments instead of one so I made it a string trio.  I do switch things up a bit in the development section though.  As far as the piano part is concerned - I didn't want to use too much doubling as I wanted the instruments to keep their independence.  So I tried as best I could to find a fourth independent part for the piano so it rarely plays full chords with both hands as a result.  I don't know how I would add more fullness to the piano part without muddying things up and doubling the strings - do you have any ideas?

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I'm certainly no authority on sonata form, but I thought you did a good job. Here's how I interpreted it:

  • m.1-19 - Introduction
  • m.20-37- Theme A
  • m. 38-42 - Theme B
  • m. 43-74 - Development
  • m.75-84 - Recap Theme A
  • m.85-89 - Recap Theme B
  • m.90-98 - Coda

Thanks for your analysis!  It's curious that what I think of as the A theme you categorize as part of the introduction.  I actually originally had rehearsal letters written into the score that gave away the form but I thought it would spoil all the fun of analyzing it for people lol.  When I wrote it I thought of it like this:

  • m. 1- 4 - Introduction
  • m. 5 - 19 - Theme A
  • m. 20 - 37 - Theme B
  • m. 38 - 42 - Theme C
  • m. 43 - 60 - Development
  • m. 61 - 68 - Re-transition (based on the intro)
  • m. 69 - 74 - Recap Theme A
  • m. 75 - 84 - Recap Theme B
  • m. 85 - 90 - Recap Theme C
  • m. 91 - 98 - Coda
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Am I close? I liked your development section and thought you did a good job twisting and turning the themes into new ideas. I will say the restatement of m.75-84 seems a little short since there was an additional phrase the first time I heard it in m.20-37. Maybe add an additional phrase like the first time to make if feel more balanced?

I shortened the themes a bit in the recapitulation because I thought the listener would get bored (it's a trick I learned from Bartok's music which often also has abbreviated recapitulations).  I might try inserting the removed measures to see how I like it with the extra phrases mentioned.

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Lastly, the end of the piece doesn't feel resolved to me, was this your intention? I think since I hear D# in the bass in m.96, followed by a big G# major chord in m.97, I'm expecting to hear a C#, rather than ending on G#. I have a feeling this was your intention since you hint at this being the first movement of a larger work, but just wanted to be sure.

I guess you hear a big ii V progression.  That's curious - it wasn't my original intention and I don't hear that particular expectation - I often end on the major chord of any given minor key that I'm in so maybe I've just gotten used to it.

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Again, really good work, and thanks for sharing! If I were in your shoes I would make it my goal to get my hands on some decent sound libraries and put together a good audio representation of the piece, (or better yet, get it performed). The sounds you used aren't too bad, but I don't think it does the piece justice.

Thanks for reviewing it!  The drawbacks of my MuseScore soundfonts have already been mentioned in the above discussion - but if it's really that easy I might get the Sonatina Orchestra vst.  I don't know how realistic it is to hope that this will sometime in the future be performed ...  At least now I could print out a proper score and parts if deemed necessary.  And that's a big step for me - when I joined this site I was still inputting my scores into a dated Windows XP machine - into a really old midi sequencer without really an ability to create a pdf score (nor the ability to record a stereo mp3). 😆  I guess I have my work cut out for me!

Once again - thank you for your time spent reviewing this piece and since I know you too endeavor to write better developments - good luck!

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26 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Thanks for your analysis!  It's curious that what I think of as the A theme you categorize as part of the introduction.  I actually originally had rehearsal letters written into the score that gave away the form but I thought it would spoil all the fun of analyzing it for people lol.  When I wrote it I thought of it like this:

  • m. 1- 4 - Introduction
  • m. 5 - 19 - Theme A
  • m. 20 - 37 - Theme B
  • m. 38 - 42 - Theme C
  • m. 43 - 60 - Development
  • m. 61 - 68 - Re-transition (based on the intro)
  • m. 69 - 74 - Recap Theme A
  • m. 75 - 84 - Recap Theme B
  • m. 85 - 90 - Recap Theme C
  • m. 91 - 98 - Coda

Interesting, I hadn't considered there being three themes, I guess I'm biased toward assuming there would be only two for some reason. As I listen again this structure is more clear.

 

29 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Yes, as mentioned I originally conceived of it as a violin piece but the extra lines seem to demand three solo instruments instead of one so I made it a string trio.  I do switch things up a bit in the development section though.  As far as the piano part is concerned - I didn't want to use too much doubling as I wanted the instruments to keep their independence.  So I tried as best I could to find a fourth independent part for the piano so it rarely plays full chords with both hands as a result.  I don't know how I would add more fullness to the piano part without muddying things up and doubling the strings - do you have any ideas?

I'd say give it the melody somewhere, and maybe trade back and forth between the other instruments. As an example, maybe give the right hand in the piano the melody in m.20-27 while the violin has a secondary role (maybe an echo to the piano an octave lower when the piano plays sustained notes), then have the violin take over to finish off the section. This also might make it more clear that a new theme is starting.

39 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

I guess you hear a big ii V progression.  That's curious - it wasn't my original intention and I don't hear that particular expectation - I often end on the major chord of any given minor key that I'm in so maybe I've just gotten used to it.

Yes I do hear it as a ii V. As I sit and play the progression (G#m, D# Major, G#m, G# Major) on my piano a few times I hear what you're saying and I'm somewhere in the middle now lol. Maybe since the G# major on the downbeat of m.97 isn't immediately preceded by the D# Major on beat 3 of m.96 it doesn't sound as resolved to me? And since the D# major leads to the G#m, the G# major comes as a surprise? I dunno, if you're happy with it don't let me change your mind lol.

44 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Thanks for reviewing it!  The drawbacks of my MuseScore soundfonts have already been mentioned in the above discussion - but if it's really that easy I might get the Sonatina Orchestra vst.  I don't know how realistic it is to hope that this will sometime in the future be performed ...  At least now I could print out a proper score and parts if deemed necessary.  And that's a big step for me - when I joined this site I was still inputting my scores into a dated Windows XP machine - into a really old midi sequencer without really an ability to create a pdf score (nor the ability to record a stereo mp3). 😆  I guess I have my work cut out for me!

I remember, you've come a long way in such a short time. At this rate you'll be composer in residence at a major orchestra by December 😂.

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I'd say give it the melody somewhere, and maybe trade back and forth between the other instruments. As an example, maybe give the right hand in the piano the melody in m.20-27 while the violin has a secondary role (maybe an echo to the piano an octave lower when the piano plays sustained notes), then have the violin take over to finish off the section. This also might make it more clear that a new theme is starting.

Well - there are a few places where I do double the melody an octave above the violin, like m. 13 - 17 with ornamentation.  While in m. 28 - 37 the violin and viola are already engaged in canonic imitation so I would hate to break that up lol.  I think I see what you're saying - maybe I could have a canonic imitation between the violin and the piano in m. 20 - 27 too?

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I remember, you've come a long way in such a short time. At this rate you'll be composer in residence at a major orchestra by December 😂.

LoL!  That will be the day!

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Hi, beautiful and interesting. I love the exposition, every instrumente has its own work, the counterpoint seems to be born naturally.

The FIRST change to the "dance" part m. 38 sound a bit odd to me, coming from a thicker and dramatic section. Very smart those previous glissandi with a "comic" effect that lead to the happier "dance" part. The second time I hear this is not so unnatural, once learned. The development of this part is briliant, only some spots are a less clear, in my opinion: m. 55 - 56, ... probably because there are too issues to have in the ear: 3 agains 2 rhythm, trill, staccatto...

Nice work anyway. These are only minor impressions of mine. Overall, there is lot of work here.

Interesting tonality, not often seen, particularly in orchestral sets (where some sections are better written in other tonalities, enharmonic following transpositions). But some works comes to my mind in this tonality: Scriabin piano sonata, nº 2, Liszt La Campanella, Shostakovich string quartett nº 8 (movement II).

 

Edited by Luis Hernández
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The development of this part is briliant, only some spots are a less clear, in my opinion: m. 55 - 56, ... probably because there are too issues to have in the ear: 3 agains 2 rhythm, trill, staccatto...

Thank you for you comments!  I personally don't mind the 2 against 3 in m. 55 - 56 and on.  It doesn't bother me.  What I was more worried about when I was writing the piece was the 2 against 3 in m. 21- 27 first in the viola, then the piano playing a duple figure while the rest of the instruments playing triplets.  I guess it was my way of 'smearing' theme A into theme B but I'm still at a loss of what else I could do instead of that to fill up the piano part.

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Interesting tonality, not often seen, particularly in orchestral sets (where some sections are better written in other tonalities, enharmonic following transpositions). But some works comes to my mind in this tonality: Scriabin piano sonata, nº 2, Liszt La Campanella, Shostakovich string quartett nº 8 (movement II).

The tonality was originally meant to be in G minor but I had to transpose it up a half step in order to avoid having to tune the cello in scordatura so that it could reach a B natural below the staff in bass clef.  Thanks for those musical references!  I'm stoked to do some listening, although I have had trouble finding works by Shostakovich and Scribin that I liked.  Lately I've been listening to Liszt Transcendental Etudes to find ideas for virtuosic piano figurations.

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Nice work anyway. These are only minor impressions of mine. Overall, there is lot of work here.

Thanks for the time you've spent listening and analyzing!  I appreciate it!

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@Luis Hernández I've just listened to the Scriabin Piano Sonata No. 2 and it was surprisingly sweet and melodic!  The 2nd movement was quite passionate and intense as well but I like the first movement better.  In my limited experience Scriabin is just a guy who writes outlandish chords lol but I'm glad that you told me about this piece as I like it very much.

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Hey PaperComposer

I really liked this. There was a lot of creative time signature switching up, and I think you orchestrated this really well. I'm not a string player, so I won't comment on the triple stops (Looks daring haha). I love how you broke up the 7/8 theme in different ways, and really enjoyed the clever use of each instrument. It's always nice to pick out different parts when listening and follow along without getting bored. 

I will say that I didn't care too much for the B theme. I felt like the A material was strong, and I appreciate the nice contrast it gave, but as a whole it felt a bit out of place to me. Kind of like I went back in time to a noble's manor in all its splendor every time I heard it. 😜

Moving forward, I would work on your transitions and pacing. You have great ideas that are uniquely you, but it felt rushed in between sections, like it was all just crammed together. Spread it out! You have four instruments, let them all have their time to be heard. You have contrast in your thematic material, but an easy contrast to employ is simply letting the viola and piano play for a little, or solo violin, or whatever combinations you would want to create. 

For some reason I've listened to this piece several times within the last days without commenting, so I figured I would share a few thoughts since I've enjoyed it so much. Thanks for posting 😄

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I really liked this. There was a lot of creative time signature switching up, and I think you orchestrated this really well. I'm not a string player, so I won't comment on the triple stops (Looks daring haha). I love how you broke up the 7/8 theme in different ways, and really enjoyed the clever use of each instrument. It's always nice to pick out different parts when listening and follow along without getting bored. 

Thanks!  I know that the triple stops were definitely possible in the original key that this was written in which was G minor.  I wish a string player took a look at this to verify if it's actually possible to play the most virtuosic parts.

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I will say that I didn't care too much for the B theme. I felt like the A material was strong, and I appreciate the nice contrast it gave, but as a whole it felt a bit out of place to me. Kind of like I went back in time to a noble's manor in all its splendor every time I heard it. 😜

LoL.  This made me laugh.  I did worry that it would feel out of place, and you seem to have verified that here, but I don't know how I can do without that theme and the contrast both in tempo and dynamics that it provides.

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Moving forward, I would work on your transitions and pacing. You have great ideas that are uniquely you, but it felt rushed in between sections, like it was all just crammed together. Spread it out! You have four instruments, let them all have their time to be heard. You have contrast in your thematic material, but an easy contrast to employ is simply letting the viola and piano play for a little, or solo violin, or whatever combinations you would want to create. 

You're right that the weakest part of the piece is it's transitions.  In general, finding ideas for me, to insert in between the themes that aren't extra themes themselves is hard for me.  I guess I use the 3/4 transitional theme (m. 9) a little too much to fill in those holes and it's not entirely adequate as such.

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For some reason I've listened to this piece several times within the last days without commenting, so I figured I would share a few thoughts since I've enjoyed it so much. Thanks for posting 😄

You're welcome and thanks for listening!

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