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Good evening everyone,

I am excited to present a new piece I have been working on: "Sinfonietta No. 2 for Large Orchestra". I have been working on this piece since last December (with a few interruptions due to the pandemic and life in general) and just added the finishing touches this last week. I chose what you might call an "extended" sonata form, with a longer introduction, exposition of two themes, development, recapitulation, and resolution/coda. I am interested in any and all constructive feedback. Since I just completed this piece, I'm very interested and open to ideas on how it could be improved. 

Like my last work, it is a little long clocking in around 20 minutes, so I broke it up into "chunks" if you want to listen a little bit at a time:

  • (0:00 - 4:12) Introduction
    • (0:00 - 1:33) A piercing opening that leads into a stormy "Infernal" theme
    • (1:33 - 3:48) An ominous theme that leads into a passionate proclamation
    • (3:48 - 4:12) - Brief return of the opening theme
  • (4:12 - 5:48) Exposition of Theme A, a thundering overflow of aggression
  • (5:48 - 6:32) Brief Transition from Theme A to Theme B
  • (6:32 - 8:19) Exposition of Theme B, a wandering chromatic theme underscored by a heavy ostinato
  • (8:19 - 14:03) Development, referencing and expanding the themes above, while deriving a few new ideas from the themes as well
  • (14:03 - 15:35) - Recap of Theme A, transposed
  • (15:35 - 16:00) - Brief Transition form Theme A to Theme B
  • (16:00 - 17:45) - Recap of Theme B, transposed
  • (17:45 - 20:18) - Resolution/Coda, a somewhat impatient, but ultimately triumphant finale

As you listen, there are a few things I would like to hear your opinions on:

  • What effect does the music have on you? Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story? This can be the piece as a whole, or a specific part or parts.
  • What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite part?
  • Do you have any comments or critiques on technique, e.g. harmony, melody writing, counterpoint, orchestration, voice-leading, etc.?
  • How do you feel about the overall form? Is it effective?
  • Do any of the parts seem impractical to you? I tried to challenge myself with this piece and as a result I wonder if I pushed the expectations of some of the instruments too far. For example, I included "optional" Eb and D clarinet parts for some of the higher clarinet parts, but I'm not sure if it was necessary. I'm also not sure if some of the string technique in Theme A and the "Infernal" section is practical or not. Do any clarinet players or string players have any insight?
  • Do you have any comments of the quality of the performance in the audio file? I really want this to be a decent representation of how the piece would sound if it were performed live, since it is unlikely it ever will be. For example "I would have liked xxx instrument to be louder/softer here" or "The xxx instrument technique sounds sloppy here and could use some cleaning up" or "The balance in the xxx section was all out of proportion"
  • I have included a score and welcome any constructive feedback on its presentation. And if you're like me it's a lot more fun to follow along with the score.
  • Do you think "Sinfonietta" is a appropriate designation, or would you call it something else? If you could name this piece, what would you name it?

Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy! As always, if you liked something I did and want me to explain how I did it I am happy to do so. Or if you just want to tell me it's awful that's fine too.

gmm

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😮 The classical music equivalent of a mic drop.

Fine job, sir. I can't even... find the words. The late Romantic feel combined with the rich sonorities was very, very refreshing. I'll have a closer look at the score later and perhaps come up with better feedback.

Just... wow.

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Wow another over-achievement by the great gmm!  I love this piece and I only hope that my critique will be worthy of its grand scale!  LoL

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  • Do you think "Sinfonietta" is a appropriate designation, or would you call it something else? If you could name this piece, what would you name it?

To me much of your melodic and harmonic language sounds cinematic but there are many sections that are virtuosic for various groups of the orchestra especially the winds and the strings.  For that reason I was leaning towards, through much of my first listen, the title of "Concerto for Orchestra" (and I don't think you need to include the word 'large' in your title).  The only drawback of that is that you don't really feature the brass virtuosically in this piece although I do love the melodies you have both for trumpet and for horn (and at G the brass does engage in some more difficult chromatic lines).

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  • I have included a score and welcome any constructive feedback on its presentation. And if you're like me it's a lot more fun to follow along with the score.

My only gripe about the score is - why do you put the French Horns above the Trumpets?  That just puzzles me.  Usually Trumpets are at the top followed by Horns, Trombones, and Tuba.

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  • Do any of the parts seem impractical to you? I tried to challenge myself with this piece and as a result I wonder if I pushed the expectations of some of the instruments too far. For example, I included "optional" Eb and D clarinet parts for some of the higher clarinet parts, but I'm not sure if it was necessary. I'm also not sure if some of the string technique in Theme A and the "Infernal" section is practical or not. Do any clarinet players or string players have any insight?

If you're worried about the constant down-bows in the strings, I don't think that's impractical.  It's a very strong sound out of the strings that you were going for so that's what you're going to get with down-bows.  I played the clarinet once and you only really touch on some of the highest notes on it that really need special fingerings so once the clarinetist passes those notes the coast is clear (I was looking at the run you have just prior to A).

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What effect does the music have on you? Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story? This can be the piece as a whole, or a specific part or parts.

Your music contains many emotions and moods and would lend itself well to many cinematic/incidental situations.  It could portray many different kinds of film scenes for which reason I think another appropriate title for it might be "Fantasy for Orchestra" or something along those lines.  At other moments it has more neo-romantic influences such as Mahler.  The surprising beginning chords and descending runs in the strings and winds sound especially Mahler-esque to me.  You also have fanfares in the brass that are reminiscent of Mahler (especially in the introduction).

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What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite part?

I really like the part at 1:11.  The melody there is very Mahler-esque also but I love it.  The melody you have at 2:23 in the strings is very beautiful also.  The strings and horns interact really nicely at 3:10 and I love the impressionistic harmonies you employ.  I like the effect you achieve at 4:20 which sounds very ominous and threatening.  It reminds me a little of Alan Silvestri's score to Back to the Future part II.  And the way you resolve it with the harp glissandi is awe inspiring.  The oboe melody you have after the 9 minute mark reminds me of Star Wars's desert theme (which is actually inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring).  I love the descending figure you have at 11:30 in winds and pizzicato strings.  I love the chromatic development you have of one of your themes after the 13 minute mark.  The Coda has a nice build to it and it's drawn out without being too long.  The breath-taking breakthrough you have at 19:20 is amazing!  Reminds me of the Grand Canyon Suite for some reason.  Great finale!

Just a note:  Although I have referenced many previous composers works above, I by no means believe that you are copying anybody or deriving your work from others.  You have an individual voice and I can hear the work you've put into this piece, whatever you ultimately choose to call it.  I haven't looked at the score as closely as I should have and maybe I will at a future time but it looks good to me!  Great job!

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13 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Wow another over-achievement by the great gmm!  I love this piece and I only hope that my critique will be worthy of its grand scale!  LoL

Of course! You always give insightful feedback.

 

39 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

To me much of your melodic and harmonic language sounds cinematic but there are many sections that are virtuosic for various groups of the orchestra especially the winds and the strings.  For that reason I was leaning towards, through much of my first listen, the title of "Concerto for Orchestra" (and I don't think you need to include the word 'large' in your title).  The only drawback of that is that you don't really feature the brass virtuosically in this piece although I do love the melodies you have both for trumpet and for horn (and at G the brass does engage in some more difficult chromatic lines).

Interesting, I hadn't thought of it as a concerto... I didn't necessarily intend for the music to come off as virtuostic (if that's a word), but your comment makes me want to check out some existing works with this title to see if I think it fits. Thank you!

 

13 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

My only gripe about the score is - why do you put the French Horns above the Trumpets?  That just puzzles me.  Usually Trumpets are at the top followed by Horns, Trombones, and Tuba.

I think having trumpets above horns is more of a concert band thing? Unless its become more of a contemporary convention I've always seen horns above trumpets in orchestral scores.

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20 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

If you're worried about the constant down-bows in the strings, I don't think that's impractical.  It's a very strong sound out of the strings that you were going for so that's what you're going to get with down-bows.  I played the clarinet once and you only really touch on some of the highest notes on it that really need special fingerings so once the clarinetist passes those notes the coast is clear (I was looking at the run you have just prior to A).

On the strings, I'm more concerned about the speed and some of the runs in the upper register, see below:

pg. 22-25 might be a little fast at 160 bpm, but they might be able to stagger with half the section playing one bar and the the other half playing the next for example

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pg. 45-46, I'm not sure how practical these runs are in the upper register

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On the clarinet, I had a hard time finding a source with the range for the Bb clarinet. Some sources were saying the written Eb on the third line above the staff was the limit, but the samples I have go higher, and Sibelius seems to think it can play even higher. I understand the upper limit depends on the player, but since you used to play do you know any rules of thumb?

31 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Your music contains many emotions and moods and would lend itself well to many cinematic/incidental situations.  It could portray many different kinds of film scenes for which reason I think another appropriate title for it might be "Fantasy for Orchestra" or something along those lines.  At other moments it has more neo-romantic influences such as Mahler.  The surprising beginning chords and descending runs in the strings and winds sound especially Mahler-esque to me.  You also have fanfares in the brass that are reminiscent of Mahler (especially in the introduction).

Thank you! Mahler is my favorite composer, so I don't mind my music being mentioned in the same sentence as him at all 🙂

33 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

I really like the part at 1:11.  The melody there is very Mahler-esque also but I love it.  The melody you have at 2:23 in the strings is very beautiful also.  The strings and horns interact really nicely at 3:10 and I love the impressionistic harmonies you employ.  I like the effect you achieve at 4:20 which sounds very ominous and threatening.  It reminds me a little of Alan Silvestri's score to Back to the Future part II.  And the way you resolve it with the harp glissandi is awe inspiring.  The oboe melody you have after the 9 minute mark reminds me of Star Wars's desert theme (which is actually inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring).  I love the descending figure you have at 11:30 in winds and pizzicato strings.  I love the chromatic development you have of one of your themes after the 13 minute mark.  The Coda has a nice build to it and it's drawn out without being too long.  The breath-taking breakthrough you have at 19:20 is amazing!  Reminds me of the Grand Canyon Suite for some reason.  Great finale!

I'm glad you liked all these parts, and I'm flattered by the comparisons! I'm particularly happy you enjoyed the ending - I think this is the third iteration or so before I found something I was happy with (and I still am not 100% satisfied lol).

 

36 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Just a note:  Although I have referenced many previous composers works above, I by no means believe that you are copying anybody or deriving your work from others.  You have an individual voice and I can hear the work you've put into this piece, whatever you ultimately choose to call it.  I haven't looked at the score as closely as I should have and maybe I will at a future time but it looks good to me!  Great job!

I didn't take it that way at all, and I openly admit I borrow a lot from the greats. A wise man once said "You'll see farther if you stand on the shoulders of giants."

Thanks for listening and for your thoughtful feedback!

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On the clarinet, I had a hard time finding a source with the range for the Bb clarinet. Some sources were saying the written Eb on the third line above the staff was the limit, but the samples I have go higher, and Sibelius seems to think it can play even higher. I understand the upper limit depends on the player, but since you used to play do you know any rules of thumb?

I don't have any fingering charts laying around but I'm pretty sure since you only touch on the F# above the staff in treble clef, that it's quite possible to play the passage I was looking at before A.  My orchestration book says the highest note on Bb Sopranino Clarinet is the written C an octave above the C above the staff in treble clef.

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pg. 22-25 might be a little fast at 160 bpm, but they might be able to stagger with half the section playing one bar and the the other half playing the next for example

In general, all the string instruments are very versatile technically and don't need any breaks or staggering.  That's just an extra gratuity you're providing for them that they don't necessarily need.  (although I don't know if you've heard of the dispute in some orchestras that the strings want to be payed by the note since they have to play more notes than any other part of the ensemble LoL).

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I think having trumpets above horns is more of a concert band thing? Unless its become more of a contemporary convention I've always seen horns above trumpets in orchestral scores.

Gawd you're right!  Show you how long I haven't taken a look at a score for.  LoL

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Interesting, I hadn't thought of it as a concerto... I didn't necessarily intend for the music to come off as virtuostic (if that's a word), but your comment makes me want to check out some existing works with this title to see if I think it fits. Thank you!

I especially recommend the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra and Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra (and if you like that try his Symphonic Variations as well).

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3 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

I don't have any fingering charts laying around but I'm pretty sure since you only touch on the F# above the staff in treble clef, that it's quite possible to play the passage I was looking at before A.  My orchestration book says the highest note on Bb Sopranino Clarinet is the written C an octave above the C above the staff in treble clef.

Off the top of my head I think the below passage on pg. 74 (which I cued in the D clarinet) is the highest I ask the Bb clarinet to play, which goes up to a high A#, is this feasible? If not, is it odd that I would ask the clarinet player to have their D clarinet ready for the entire piece only for this one passage?

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5 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

I especially recommend the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra and Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra (and if you like that try his Symphonic Variations as well).

Cool, I will check these out!

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I found this fingering chart online:  https://clarinetfingeringchart.com/understanding-the-clarinet-fingering-chart/

Honestly, it's been a while since I've played the clarinet and I don't remember how difficult it might be to pull off that particular passage.  There are many alternate fingerings for the highest octave of the clarinets range so it's conceivable that it might be doable with the right fingerings but would take some practice.

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Very nice, gmm! But I think the Pesante section on p. 28 is too similar to the Pesante in Respighi's Roman Festivals (p. 10 of the full score). I assume that was the inspiration for this passage.

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I don't really know what to say. This is really impressive! You have amazing knowledge of the orchestra's capabilities. The music was intense from beginning to end. I can't really give any constructive criticism about the orchestration, because I think I could actually learn from you!

21 hours ago, gmm said:

What effect does the music have on you? Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story? This can be the piece as a whole, or a specific part or parts.

To me, it felt like a stormy battle between opposing forces of gigantic scale; demonic, angelic, earthly, otherworldly... and it seems like the just side won at the end, based on the mostly positive and consonant chords at the end. 

21 hours ago, gmm said:

What was your favorite part? What was your least favorite part?

This is only based on personal taste, but I liked the slower and more melodic parts the best; I don't really have a least favorite part.

21 hours ago, gmm said:

Do you have any comments of the quality of the performance in the audio file? I really want this to be a decent representation of how the piece would sound if it were performed live, since it is unlikely it ever will be. For example "I would have liked xxx instrument to be louder/softer here" or "The xxx instrument technique sounds sloppy here and could use some cleaning up" or "The balance in the xxx section was all out of proportion"

I actually thought the audio quality was amazing! I didn't find any of the parts unbalanced, and to me it felt almost real! That's a real achievement in computer orchestral software! 

21 hours ago, gmm said:

Do you think "Sinfonietta" is a appropriate designation, or would you call it something else? If you could name this piece, what would you name it?

I kind of agree with @PaperComposer, I think I would have called the piece "Fantasy" as well. To me, the name Sinfonietta suggests that the piece will use a full orchestra, but will usually be lighter in style and of a shorter length, and would be more like a formal suite based on symphonic form (i.e. sonata, rondo), but smaller than a standard symphony. On the other hand, I don't "Sinfonietta" is a bad name for the piece either, because really you can give it any name you want, whatever feels appropriate to you.

I apologize if my comment isn't very helpful, but I didn't feel right about not saying anything about the piece. It's really a major achievement.

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28 minutes ago, Theodore Servin said:

I don't really know what to say. This is really impressive! You have amazing knowledge of the orchestra's capabilities. The music was intense from beginning to end. I can't really give any constructive criticism about the orchestration, because I think I could actually learn from you!

Thank you, that's very kind of you to say! FWIW feel free to ask me anything anytime, though I"ll warn you, I don't have any formal credentials in composition, so all my knowledge is "school of hard knocks".

35 minutes ago, Theodore Servin said:

To me, it felt like a stormy battle between opposing forces of gigantic scale; demonic, angelic, earthly, otherworldly... and it seems like the just side won at the end, based on the mostly positive and consonant chords at the end. 

This is only based on personal taste, but I liked the slower and more melodic parts the best; I don't really have a least favorite part.

Interesting, I'm glad it had a clear narrative structure for you, and I'm glad the more lyrical sections are effective.

43 minutes ago, Theodore Servin said:

I actually thought the audio quality was amazing! I didn't find any of the parts unbalanced, and to me it felt almost real! That's a real achievement in computer orchestral software! 

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I think people should place more emphasis on producing high-quality representations of their music with samples. With the quality of samples that exist today I think its becoming more realistic that one could produce a commercial product using only samples. Of course, it will never replace a live orchestra, but I think they are certainly capable of producing something people would listen to for their own sake. And it would go a long way for showcasing what the music could sound like if it were performed. 

36 minutes ago, Theodore Servin said:

I kind of agree with @PaperComposer, I think I would have called the piece "Fantasy" as well. To me, the name Sinfonietta suggests that the piece will use a full orchestra, but will usually be lighter in style and of a shorter length, and would be more like a formal suite based on symphonic form (i.e. sonata, rondo), but smaller than a standard symphony. On the other hand, I don't "Sinfonietta" is a bad name for the piece either, because really you can give it any name you want, whatever feels appropriate to you.

This is one of my hangups with calling it a "Sinfonietta" as well, that the name implies something smaller and lighter, which is contrary to the somewhat larger ensemble I used. However, there is of course Janacek's famous "Sinfonietta" that uses like 14 trumpets or something, so I guess it's not completely unheard of.

53 minutes ago, Theodore Servin said:

I apologize if my comment isn't very helpful, but I didn't feel right about not saying anything about the piece. It's really a major achievement.

It's always helpful to hear what people think about my music, feel free to chime in anytime. Thanks for your kind words and feedback!

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Wow, I have no words for that. Absolutely brilliant. All motifs are very nice and original and also very well combined with each other. I also love the different moods and characters you combine and how you transition from one to the other, from the most tender and lyrical solo passages to the most vivid and rythmic with powerfull brass and percussion. It reminds me somehow to an suspense movie from the late 60's or 70's and I could imagine the different scenes in front of me. When I see a 20min long piece I don't hear it all through most of the times, at least at ones, but from the first second I was absolutely captivated and couldn't stop hearing till the end 🙂

Definitely one of the best pieces I've ever heard in that forum. Congratulations!!!

Thanks for posting and please keep it up!!!

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Fantastic. Really fantastic.

On 8/6/2020 at 9:52 PM, gmm said:

What effect does the music have on you? Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story? This can be the piece as a whole, or a specific part or parts.

I don't know what effect this has on me, but this sure conjures up a whole lot of images. In fact, I feel like every story could have this as its soundtrack. I kept swapping the image in my head all the time, and at all times the track fitted perfectly.

I guess what I said above fits as feedback for the form. This is all chopped up, but in a way in which it always makes sense. Almost as if looking at a puzzle. Each piece has clear boundaries, but that's not what matters. What matters is the final image.

If I can give any feedback as to the composition itself, these are the things I would perhaps do differently:

I would maybe tweak the section at 16:00 (this is just my ear, not because of any technical reasons). Perhaps a snap pizz. in the low strings will add to the whole timbre of the section. Maybe not right with the hits, but in between them. 

I feel like the ending would be absolutely perfect if it didn't have any of what happens after 19:45. The slower section right before it was very cathartic, and I felt like that kind of broke it. Maybe hearing this live I would come up with a different feeling, as it's always amazing when a big orchestra comes out with a bang, but that was my impression.

Anyways, it was awesome to come back to this forum and see this fantastic work right up there.

Congratulation, my friend.

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50 minutes ago, Jean Szulc said:

Fantastic. Really fantastic.

On 8/6/2020 at 7:52 PM, gmm said:

What effect does the music have on you? Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story? This can be the piece as a whole, or a specific part or parts.

I don't know what effect this has on me, but this sure conjures up a whole lot of images. In fact, I feel like every story could have this as its soundtrack. I kept swapping the image in my head all the time, and at all times the track fitted perfectly.

I guess what I said above fits as feedback for the form. This is all chopped up, but in a way in which it always makes sense. Almost as if looking at a puzzle. Each piece has clear boundaries, but that's not what matters. What matters is the final image.

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

58 minutes ago, Jean Szulc said:

I would maybe tweak the section at 16:00 (this is just my ear, not because of any technical reasons). Perhaps a snap pizz. in the low strings will add to the whole timbre of the section. Maybe not right with the hits, but in between them. 

You mean like an up beat pizzicato between the down bows?

 

51 minutes ago, Jean Szulc said:

I feel like the ending would be absolutely perfect if it didn't have any of what happens after 19:45. The slower section right before it was very cathartic, and I felt like that kind of broke it. Maybe hearing this live I would come up with a different feeling, as it's always amazing when a big orchestra comes out with a bang, but that was my impression.

I don't know that I'm too crazy about this seciton either. While it does tie in material from earlier in the piece(around 8:20 or so, and the recurring woodwind techinique and timpani rolls like at 0:10 and other spots), and it does feel like "an ending", but something feels a little cliche about it to me. Are you saying you think it would work better if it ended with the slow section though? To me I think that would feel like everything came to a screeching halt...

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

Anyways, it was awesome to come back to this forum and see this fantastic work right up there.

Congratulation, my friend.

You're very kind, thanks for listening and giving feedback!

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24 minutes ago, gmm said:

Are you saying you think it would work better if it ended with the slow section though? To me I think that would feel like everything came to a screeching halt...

I think you could expand it, but still have the piece ending on the slow section. I don't think it would sound too abrupt, quite the oposite really. To me it felt like the piece had finally reached it's final statement. This section brought conclusion. What came after made it sound (to my ears) like the piece was slowly getting to it's end but suddenly accelerated once again and stopped. Kind of like an unideal plane landing, in which the pilot has to catch some speed in the last second so that people don't die in a crash. Unorthodox example, but I think it expresses my feelings.

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Hi @gmm, just wanted to drop in on my first listen and say ... wow, this is brilliant. As far as more detailed feedback goes, I'll wait until I find more time to look over the score (I just pulled into a parking lot after listening in the car, haha). For me, this piece really sounds like a great achievement. Bravo. More to come.

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On 8/6/2020 at 8:28 PM, Tónskáld said:

😮 The classical music equivalent of a mic drop.

 

I couldn't have said it better. This piece is the bar for the orchestral music here, bravo! I really gave this some thought with several listens, and since you took the time to break down the different sections as well as pose questions to what your curious about your writing, I'd love to dive deep into this one. I know you would like help with this score, but damn man it looks clean to me, I just don't have the experience to really critique it. I'll instead focus on compositional technique, content, overall impact, etc. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

(0:00 - 4:12) Introduction

I love this a lot. The fast descending lines in the strings (which are very prominent and notable throughout the piece) are a great introduction to the flourishing infernal theme. Are you Russian by chance? Haha I only say that because I hear lots of Stravinsky and Shostakovich influences, maybe some Mussorgsky? As PaperComposer mentioned, I heard some film influence as well. Yeah the John Williams is there a bit, but it's absolutely unique enough to where I only hear an influence to your musical voice. The slower spots remind me of The Rite of Spring, but again, I feel like you merely learned from his great use of ostinatos to create something that speaks only of you. 

I will say that I didn't care for the heavy string RHYTHM at around 0:37. I liked when you developed it later on, but the strong "ta ta ti-ti-ta" just kind of caught me off guard. Maybe if it had a tiny bit of syncopation...I dunno, could just be me. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

(4:12 - 5:48) Exposition of Theme A, a thundering overflow of aggression

Your A themes are my favorite parts of your composition. I love the simple melody, it's chromatic and angular and uses sequences...it's awesome. I really enjoyed how it's a suspended crescendo, and how you took ostinatos to insane soundscapes. The harp and wind figures were a treat, you took advantage of the whole orchestra with your build up to the heavy brass melody. My only critique for this spot is that I wanted it to be longer. Maybe explore lighter textures to give the players a rest while you keep up momentum? Could just be a personal taste thing, but say...do you know Shosta 10th symphony? That killer heavy metal middle finger to Stalin 2nd movement? Check it out if you haven't, I learned a lot on how to make 4 minutes of music stay furious while not being terribly exerting to the performers...plus it's badass. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

(5:48 - 6:32) Brief Transition from Theme A to Theme B

I'm glad you marked your transitions. Honestly I feel like they can be as important as your thematic material. The warm orchestral texture was light and alluring, perfect for this moment.

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

Exposition of Theme B, a wandering chromatic theme underscored by a heavy ostinato

I liked the chromatic theme a lot, and the counter play with the strings was nice. The texture of the heavy ostinato was really well orchestrated, but again, I think the rhythm was a bit bare. Maybe a slight variety in orchestration with it? You could syncopate the rhythm slightly, but I kind of like the hits the way they are. The accents are good, but ever so often maybe through in a light hit with the upper strings. It would at least catch my ear to draw it back to it, because after a bit it's more background to what I'm trying to hear in the melody. I love the strings near the end getting to the development, reminds me of Night on Bald Mountain. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

Development, referencing and expanding the themes above, while deriving a few new ideas from the themes as well

Love this part. That sped up string ostinato reminds me of Duel of the Fates by John Williams, great build here! I like how you brought back the previous themes developed in a collage of different colors. Around the 10:13 mark was especially nice, I'm glad you brought a sense of comedy to that material. The pizz sections and muted brass overall brought a dimension that your piece needed at this moment. You have a great gift for creating suspense. The string lines leading to the lush brass are something that I strive for in my writing. I love your overall balance too; you bring in Mahlerian melodic fragments in to create beautiful touching moments. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

Recap of Theme A, transposed

Ah yes, back to my scraggy. This spot even had some Danny Elfman likeness to it. This was about the same length as the previous A section, and ya I know it was a recap but I wanted more of this! Some of your most interesting material to me happens with the A theme, especially the crescendos, possibly draw them out a bit more? 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

(15:35 - 16:00) - Brief Transition form Theme A to Theme B

Sounded good, not much to say here

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

Recap of Theme B, transposed

This is the one spot that I didn't care for too much. It's still good, but personally I felt like a crescendo with your A theme and transition didn't want to lose that momentum. It could just be the pervasive heavy accents again, and you do such a brilliant job with orchestral coloring around all of that, but I just didn't feel the effect you were going for. It could also be maybe an adherence to the extended sonata form, idk. Something I though could be cool would be having your B theme the way it is, but maybe motif-like pieces of the A theme dispersed throughout? Sorry to keep bring up Shostakovich, but that man was a genius and I can think of a few spots he does this well. 

On 8/6/2020 at 6:52 PM, gmm said:

Resolution/Coda, a somewhat impatient, but ultimately triumphant finale

I like the idea of the triumphant finale, and you sure as hell pull this off well. But, to be honest, I knew it was coming. The orchestral texture of rapid violin high notes with a luscious brass melody is something that works, I just could smell it :P

 

I hope I didn't sound too critical. Even though my profile won't show, I've been around this site since around 2008, and this is far and away one of the greatest pieces I've ever heard here. It was hard at moments to find anything critical; I first heard this and was blown away. Anything I had to say as "constructive criticism" is merely subjective and nit picky. You have created a masterpiece as far as I'm concerned, and this piece is one of the reasons I'm happy to be back at this site.

Not trying to sound like too much of a gmm fanboy 😜

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On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I love this a lot. The fast descending lines in the strings (which are very prominent and notable throughout the piece) are a great introduction to the flourishing infernal theme. Are you Russian by chance? Haha I only say that because I hear lots of Stravinsky and Shostakovich influences, maybe some Mussorgsky? As PaperComposer mentioned, I heard some film influence as well. Yeah the John Williams is there a bit, but it's absolutely unique enough to where I only hear an influence to your musical voice. The slower spots remind me of The Rite of Spring, but again, I feel like you merely learned from his great use of ostinatos to create something that speaks only of you. 

Not Russian, but a big fan of the early Stravinsky Ballets. I haven't spent as much time listening to Shostakovich as I probably should have (I've mostly just heard the 5th symphony), so it sounds like I should get more into his works. You mention his 10th symphony, any other good starting points you would recommend?

On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I will say that I didn't care for the heavy string RHYTHM at around 0:37. I liked when you developed it later on, but the strong "ta ta ti-ti-ta" just kind of caught me off guard. Maybe if it had a tiny bit of syncopation...I dunno, could just be me. 

I was going for something very stately in this section to contrast with the previous section. Up until this point the piece has been characterized by the string and woodwind technique, the big brassy chords, and the timpani punctuated by the somewhat disjointed "percussive" chords in the orchestra. I wanted these 8 bars to be a decently constructed melodic phrase to give this opening section it's own identity before leading into the "infernal" theme. Since the opening is largely characterized by the more percussive and technical elements, the intent was for these 8 bars to be the most "melodically memorable" moment of the opening up until Rehearsal B. So when the listener recalls this section, they have a very simple melodic phrase that is easy to remember and recognize. So I gave the strings a simple and recognizable "ta ta ti-ti-ta" repeated phrase, while the trumpet plays the simple melody and the woodwinds echo.

This might sound a little far-fetched, but I consider this "ta ta ti-ti-ta" rhythm to be derived from the motive originally presented by the 1st Trumpet in Bar 9 (see below). If you look at the trumpet motive at a high level, it's two "long" notes, followed by two "short" notes, then another "long" note. If I distill that down to a very simple form, I end up with the "ta ta ti-ti-ta" (long long short-short-long) rhythm. I then gave this rhythm to the cello/bass as a scale, with the upper strings hammering out the same rhythm above them. The intent was to give the two different sections something that thematically ties them together (even if it's a little subtle and distant). This was what I was trying to do throughout the piece actually - derive material from what has already been presented rather than invent new material at each new section so that the entire piece has a sense of unity. Like I said - it might be a little unorthodox, and I might need a little more practice to perfect it, but in my crazy head it at least makes a little sense, so I went with it. Hopefully this shows that it wasn't completely arbitrary, and since I used this new "ta ta ti-ti-ta" to develop new material later in the piece I'm kind of reluctant to change it. 

image.png.ab90e68b4765870b6fd15a32c84df313.png

 

On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Your A themes are my favorite parts of your composition. I love the simple melody, it's chromatic and angular and uses sequences...it's awesome. I really enjoyed how it's a suspended crescendo, and how you took ostinatos to insane soundscapes. The harp and wind figures were a treat, you took advantage of the whole orchestra with your build up to the heavy brass melody. My only critique for this spot is that I wanted it to be longer. Maybe explore lighter textures to give the players a rest while you keep up momentum? Could just be a personal taste thing, but say...do you know Shosta 10th symphony? That killer heavy metal middle finger to Stalin 2nd movement? Check it out if you haven't, I learned a lot on how to make 4 minutes of music stay furious while not being terribly exerting to the performers...plus it's badass. 

Oddly enough I always think my A themes are the weakest parts 😂, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! I do have a hard time imagining how I would extend it without it sounding forced or growing tired, so I'll check out your recommendation for sure.

On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I liked the chromatic theme a lot, and the counter play with the strings was nice. The texture of the heavy ostinato was really well orchestrated, but again, I think the rhythm was a bit bare. Maybe a slight variety in orchestration with it? You could syncopate the rhythm slightly, but I kind of like the hits the way they are. The accents are good, but ever so often maybe through in a light hit with the upper strings. It would at least catch my ear to draw it back to it, because after a bit it's more background to what I'm trying to hear in the melody. I love the strings near the end getting to the development, reminds me of Night on Bald Mountain. 

I also intended this to be derived from the "ta ta ti-ti-ta" rhythm, with some embellishment to fit the new time signature. I wanted there to feel like there was a lot of space between each note so they would feel heavier, and I left it exposed for the first two bars so the listener would feel like it is the heaviest moment of the piece. That way when trombones come in and add the 5th it takes it to a whole new level of "heaviness". When you say a light hit with the upper strings, do you mean on the beat or off? Bowed or pizzicato? I'm interested in the idea, but having a hard time imagining in my head how it would fit into the texture. 

M.20

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M.199

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On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

This is the one spot that I didn't care for too much. It's still good, but personally I felt like a crescendo with your A theme and transition didn't want to lose that momentum. It could just be the pervasive heavy accents again, and you do such a brilliant job with orchestral coloring around all of that, but I just didn't feel the effect you were going for. It could also be maybe an adherence to the extended sonata form, idk. Something I though could be cool would be having your B theme the way it is, but maybe motif-like pieces of the A theme dispersed throughout? Sorry to keep bring up Shostakovich, but that man was a genius and I can think of a few spots he does this well. 

I'm definitely adhering to the sonata form pretty strictly, but maybe some variation would be good. I'm working on threading the needle between "too much the same" and "too much different". I like the idea of peppering in some the motives from the A theme, I'll give that some thought.

On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I like the idea of the triumphant finale, and you sure as hell pull this off well. But, to be honest, I knew it was coming. The orchestral texture of rapid violin high notes with a luscious brass melody is something that works, I just could smell it 😛

Maybe it is a little cliche, but was it effective to quote the brass chorale from pg.51 as this triumphant moment on pg. 81? This was kind of the epiphany I had when writing this piece: the material from the development can be used as the climactic moment in the resolution (probably should have realized this sooner lol). If you remember from my last piece I thought the resolution was kind of underwhelming, I think it was because I didn't have any material from the development to draw from. Maybe the execution here wasn't perfect, but I plan to make better use of it in the future. 

On 8/9/2020 at 11:43 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I hope I didn't sound too critical. Even though my profile won't show, I've been around this site since around 2008, and this is far and away one of the greatest pieces I've ever heard here. It was hard at moments to find anything critical; I first heard this and was blown away. Anything I had to say as "constructive criticism" is merely subjective and nit picky. You have created a masterpiece as far as I'm concerned, and this piece is one of the reasons I'm happy to be back at this site.

Thank you so much for taking the time to give a detailed listen and feedback! It means a lot to hear this kind of praise from a YCF veteran such as yourself. If there's every anything I can do to help you out in any way please let me know!

 

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54 minutes ago, Esper said:

Very nice. How long did it take you to compose this? 

 

Thank you! I started it December 2019, and have worked on it on and off since then with a few interruptions. Maybe 6-7 months when it's all said and done.

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4 hours ago, gmm said:

I was going for something very stately in this section to contrast with the previous section. Up until this point the piece has been characterized by the string and woodwind technique, the big brassy chords, and the timpani punctuated by the somewhat disjointed "percussive" chords in the orchestra. I wanted these 8 bars to be a decently constructed melodic phrase to give this opening section it's own identity before leading into the "infernal" theme. Since the opening is largely characterized by the more percussive and technical elements, the intent was for these 8 bars to be the most "melodically memorable" moment of the opening up until Rehearsal B. So when the listener recalls this section, they have a very simple melodic phrase that is easy to remember and recognize. So I gave the strings a simple and recognizable "ta ta ti-ti-ta" repeated phrase, while the trumpet plays the simple melody and the woodwinds echo.

This might sound a little far-fetched, but I consider this "ta ta ti-ti-ta" rhythm to be derived from the motive originally presented by the 1st Trumpet in Bar 9 (see below). If you look at the trumpet motive at a high level, it's two "long" notes, followed by two "short" notes, then another "long" note. If I distill that down to a very simple form, I end up with the "ta ta ti-ti-ta" (long long short-short-long) rhythm. I then gave this rhythm to the cello/bass as a scale, with the upper strings hammering out the same rhythm above them. The intent was to give the two different sections something that thematically ties them together (even if it's a little subtle and distant). This was what I was trying to do throughout the piece actually - derive material from what has already been presented rather than invent new material at each new section so that the entire piece has a sense of unity. Like I said - it might be a little unorthodox, and I might need a little more practice to perfect it, but in my crazy head it at least makes a little sense, so I went with it. Hopefully this shows that it wasn't completely arbitrary, and since I used this new "ta ta ti-ti-ta" to develop new material later in the piece I'm kind of reluctant to change it. 

For one, I hope I didn't come across as if you should change anything. It's pristine as is; anything I'd recommend would just be ideas to consider for future endeavors. 

One of the reasons I liked your piece so much was the craftsmanship with developing your material. The whole ta ta ti ti ta thing I think comes from me teaching guitar, and that's the go to strum pattern I use to start people out. It just sounded a bit rough with the hard attacks from the strings to me. I think it was the development section that starts off with that phrase sped up and works wonderfully. It's like this: You and I go get ice cream. You pick chocolate, I pick vanilla (let's say...ta ta ta ti ti). I like chocolate too, but prefer vanilla, and we're both happy.

4 hours ago, gmm said:

Maybe it is a little cliche, but was it effective to quote the brass chorale from pg.51 as this triumphant moment on pg. 81? This was kind of the epiphany I had when writing this piece: the material from the development can be used as the climactic moment in the resolution (probably should have realized this sooner lol). If you remember from my last piece I thought the resolution was kind of underwhelming, I think it was because I didn't have any material from the development to draw from. Maybe the execution here wasn't perfect, but I plan to make better use of it in the future. 

This was directed purely at the orchestration and not it's content. I expected Shosta 5 at the end, but you still nailed the effect.

4 hours ago, gmm said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to give a detailed listen and feedback! It means a lot to hear this kind of phrase from a YCF veteran such as yourself. If there's every anything I can do to help you out in any way please let me know!

Yes there is! You provided so much content, but not so much context. What's this about? Anything in particular? Covid? A new beginning? A sex change? I'd love to hear.

Also, I think a title of Sinfonietta fits, but I'm curious what your intentions are with it. Do you plan on having it performed? Is it feasible wherever you live? This shouldn't matter, but it does: who are you trying to reach with your music? Would your friends and colleagues and family be more intrigued by your music if it had a more unique title?

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11 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Yes there is! You provided so much content, but not so much context. What's this about? Anything in particular? Covid? A new beginning? A sex change? I'd love to hear.

Also, I think a title of Sinfonietta fits, but I'm curious what your intentions are with it. Do you plan on having it performed? Is it feasible wherever you live? This shouldn't matter, but it does: who are you trying to reach with your music? Would your friends and colleagues and family be more intrigued by your music if it had a more unique title?

I spent a great amount of time coming up with the ideas behind what this piece is "about", but I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to show my cards just yet. Give me a day or so to find the best way to articulate it, and I might end up messaging you directly rather than posting it publicly if that's ok?

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For that clarinet point: I played clarinet for nearly twenty years and I wouldn't be able to do those high notes. I'm sure it is doable for someone who is an orchestra, but it seems pretty high. I haven't played for a bit now, though, so I cannot honestly say.

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1 hour ago, pequadcob2009 said:

For that clarinet point: I played clarinet for nearly twenty years and I wouldn't be able to do those high notes. I'm sure it is doable for someone who is an orchestra, but it seems pretty high. I haven't played for a bit now, though, so I cannot honestly say.

 

That's what I was afraid of 😕 Do you think they are feasible if played on Eb or D clarinet?

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