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Minuet in D


Coxi
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Hi! Minuets are trendy here it seems, and I've been recommended to try my hand at some.

So here is a first minuet and trio for piano and flute. I feel it would be hard to dance on it, I realized  I'm not very comfortable with a ternary rythm (and I forgot halfway that it was supposed to be a dance at all).

The overall structure is: minuet1 - trio - minuet 1', where:

  • minuet 1 is written in 2 parts for piano. It is made of 2 repeating sections [A] and [B-A']. A finishes on a half-cadence, B modulates and brings contrast, A' is same as A but ending on a perfect cadence
  • the trio is in the key of dominant and the flute comes in. Its structure consists of 2 repeating parts [A] and [ B]  (yeah, ok, I'll admit that I forgot A' and I was too lazy to change haha. But I think it's not too bad to have a bit less repetition)
  • minuet 1' is the same as minuet 1 but without the repeats (thank god)

Let me know if you have any comment/recommandation/suggestion/corrections 🙂

425491448_menuet1png-1.thumb.png.8f56f5be47385140c2071eea9c24c0bc.png572888150_menuet1png-2.thumb.png.0fcd1e2188049e23d8152d6508be643c.png

menuet #1 v2.mp3

Edited by Coxi
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I think its nice! I only had time to go over the first Minuet but I will try to check the trio as soon as I can (unless somebody else goes over it before). As you know I am no expert in counterpoint so take everything I say with a grain of salt, I might be wrong in many things and, in the end, in music everything comes down to personal preferences. In any case, later somebody that knows more can probably clarify us many things.

Regarding the first minuet:

- m2: Second inversion chord on a strong beat. Usually, in strict counterpoint, the interval of a 4th is considered dissonant so using it in strong beats such as here is not recommended. I   believe in strict two-voice counterpoint is always avoided but in not so strict counterpoint it is usually used  when arpegiatting a chord or sometimes when the underlying chord has been clearly stablished. I think the reason is that when, like here, you start a measure with the interval of a fourth, the ear can interpret the bottom note as the root and expect the top note to go down, to form a 4-3 retardation. In this case it does go down and the notes move by step so it is actually quite okay, but just to let you know that the fourth is considered a dissonance in two-part strict counterpoint.

- m6 to m7: The bass does not change from last beat of a measure to the first of the next. It is not a bad thing but not really common since in the change of measures is when moving the voices is more needed for creating movement. In this case you can try to repeat the Mi and Sol of the last measure. But, as always, if you preffer the sound of it like this is okay.

- m8: Direct fifth. It is whithin the same harmony so four-part writing would be okay. In two-part counterpoint is better to try to avoid it but, in any case, since it is happening in the last measure of the first part (so in the half cadence) it is probably okay.

- m9: Here you start using three voices at some points. It is okay, nothing wrong there. As a personal opinion, since most of the first minuet is in two-voices I would stick with it, even if it is only for the sake of writing a full two-voice counterpointed piece. But again, nothing wrong with those two measures.

- m13: Here you have Fa and Mi in the bass. In the treble you have a line which have some high notes, which also go Mi and Fa. In strict counterpoint those would be parallel octaves. As a rule of thumb, if you have three notes against one note in the bass, try to leave at least three notes between any parallel or direct octave and fifth. In this case there are only one note in between, the A. Also, since the movement Re-Fa-La-Mi-Sol-Si has quite a large range, the line could be also understand as implying two voices: Re-La-Si and Re-Fa-Mi-Sol. The implied top voice would be the one causing the parallel octaves.


- m14: Bass note does not change in the change of measure.


- m15: fourth interval used as consonant twice (implying a second inversion chord). For example, in this case, if the first interval was not a La in second inversion, but in root position or second inversion, the second fourth would be better since then the third inversion La7 would be perfectly clear.


- m16:direct octaves similar to the direct fifth in m8.

I liked many parts, specially the first main motive, particularly when you add the trill is quite beautiful, at least for me. As personal opinion, I would try to focus more on taking the few motives you have in the beginning and developing or stating them again in some way throughout the piece (this goes actually more for the part of the flute, where I felt that when the flute was about to do something really nice and interesting you would drift to other new ideas). But I think its a nice piece!

 

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Oh my! Thanks for such a careful observation! Actually, I feel quite bad! I should have stated that I didn't try to follow counterpoint at all in this piece (I only started looking at counterpoint when I was almost done with this). I was using the minuet more as a way to explore different melodic possibilities with  some light harmony on it

Regardless, many of your comments are intersting and make sense to me

Quote

- m2: Second inversion chord on a strong beat. Usually, in strict counterpoint, the interval of a 4th is considered dissonant so using it in strong beats such as here is not recommended. I   believe in strict two-voice counterpoint is always avoided but in not so strict counterpoint it is usually used  when arpegiatting a chord or sometimes when the underlying chord has been clearly stablished. I think the reason is that when, like here, you start a measure with the interval of a fourth, the ear can interpret the bottom note as the root and expect the top note to go down, to form a 4-3 retardation. In this case it does go down and the notes move by step so it is actually quite okay, but just to let you know that the fourth is considered a dissonance in two-part strict counterpoint.

Ok! this is interesting. I definitely didn't formalize those rules like this as I'm not familiar with counterpoint and more used to having 4 voices, but the ambiguity you mention makes sense. Looking back at it, I'm not sure why I decided to write it like that. I had other options that seem better. I changed that part to a 1st inversion, I think it does sound better. Thanks a lot!

 

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The bass does not change from last beat of a measure to the first of the next. It is not a bad thing but not really common since in the change of measures is when moving the voices is more needed for creating movement. In this case you can try to repeat the Mi and Sol of the last measure. But, as always, if you preffer the sound of it like this is okay.

That's a good suggestion indeed. I tried to change the bass line a bit, I think it sounds better, thanks 🙂

Quote

- m8: Direct fifth. It is whithin the same harmony so four-part writing would be okay. In two-part counterpoint is better to try to avoid it but, in any case, since it is happening in the last measure of the first part (so in the half cadence) it is probably okay.

From my non-counterpoint background, I was not paying attention to that (only trying to avoid 2 5th in a row). It is not really shocking to my ear (I have a bad ear 😄 ), so I think I will leave it as is. I think it is less melodic and gives a more of a  "pure harmony" kinda sound, which I like for the half cadence, if that makes sense

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- m9: Here you start using three voices at some points. It is okay, nothing wrong there. As a personal opinion, since most of the first minuet is in two-voices I would stick with it, even if it is only for the sake of writing a full two-voice counterpointed piece. But again, nothing wrong with those two measures.

Yes, I did not strictly limit myself to 2 voices in the menuet, I liked to introduce a 3rd one occasionally for contrast, opening the B section. I liked the sound of it, so I just went for it

Quote

m13: Here you have Fa and Mi in the bass. In the treble you have a line which have some high notes, which also go Mi and Fa. In strict counterpoint those would be parallel octaves. As a rule of thumb, if you have three notes against one note in the bass, try to leave at least three notes between any parallel or direct octave and fifth. In this case there are only one note in between, the A. Also, since the movement Re-Fa-La-Mi-Sol-Si has quite a large range, the line could be also understand as implying two voices: Re-La-Si and Re-Fa-Mi-Sol. The implied top voice would be the one causing the parallel octaves.

Oh interesting. This one I did notpay attention to because the 1st octave is on the downbeat, and there is a leap of 5th passing before the 2nd octave which to me totally masks the consecutive 8ves. I tried tweaking the harmony a bit to avoid this consecutive 8ves, but I really can't hear a problem being solved (again bad ear). As would like to keep the stepwise descending motion of the bass on this part, I think I will leave it unchanged here. But interesting point, I will try to pay more attention to this kind of things in the future

Quote

- m14: Bass note does not change in the change of measure.

Changed that too, sounds better, thanks!!

Quote

- m15: fourth interval used as consonant twice (implying a second inversion chord). For example, in this case, if the first interval was not a La in second inversion, but in root position or second inversion, the second fourth would be better since then the third inversion La7 would be perfectly clear.

Again, why did I make that choice? haha, I'm quite confused by what went through my mind at that moment. Here too, I tried a first inversion instead and I think it makes more sense harmonically. Thank you a lot 🙂

 

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 m16:direct octaves similar to the direct fifth in m8.

Similarly, they don't disturb me much, I think I wont change them

 

 

Thank you very much for all those elements. Many useful insights really!

Edited by Coxi
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Nice minuet!

Just try comments:

- I would have expected the flute playing all through the piece, not only in the middle part. For exemple, flute could play the piano right hand part on the repetitions.

- You use the flute just on its low register, upper register of the flute is much more brilliant. Low register is dark and very soft. I would transpose it all to the upper octave, or use a alto flute, clarinet in Bb or even a english horn instead.

- In last measures I would have written Ritardando "rit." instead of Andante and Adagio, because it's actually a Ritardando what you did and not a tempo change.

I hope it helps.

Edited by Guillem82
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What a pleasant surprise for others to compose a minuet. Other than Guillem82 who posted one in recent memory which incidently found its way into the Haydn score he found! Haha. It took a couple of months spamming the piano forum with my attempts to persuade others but they are fantastic for beginners and I can't recommend them enough for helping to improve even if they are approached as an exercise. 

Its a beautiful stately piece which I listened to quite a few times to get a feel for it. I like the idea of the piano playing alone for the first theme and the change in harmony before the flute came in is beautiful although I think having the flute stay until the end would be more appropriate. 

I like the main theme and the melody is full of catchy motifs. My only criticism of the piece is that the balance between variety and familiarity is slightly more on the side of variety which diminishes the effectiveness of the melody i think as a whole. Fewer motifs are needed i think but that's open to debate because it is a preference. 

Overall I enjoyed listening to it and I think its a great start. I hope you compose more dance forms in the future, I'd gladly listen to them. 

 

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Thanks everyone! I'm always glad to get so many feedbacks!

@Guillem82 Thank you! I wanted to have the flute playing only on the trio, to give it a distinct flavor. Not sure that's a good choice, but I'm just trying out some stuff, see how it sounds 🙂 I would write a ritardando but my software doesn't have this feature apparently haha. And, for the  higher register of the flute, I think you're right actually. I had tried different instruments and registers based on the first notes on the melodies and I thought the lower register of the flute was the smoothest transition. But now that I listen to the whole thing again, I do think the upper register has a nicer feel to it! Thanks for the tip

@PaperComposer Ah! Yes! I was waiting to see if someone would be bothered by it. I realized after writing it that it was probably not very good in terms of rythm. But... it made it easier for me to have a coherent harmony this way. So I thought I'd wait to see you guys' opinion on this. After reading your remark, I tried to write another version for the bass that is less binary. Honestly, it still sounds a bit weird to me but probably more dance-like. Thanks for pointing this out, I had my doubts about it!

@DarrenEngland Oh, I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks. Actually I'm also interested in the fact that you would have liked more motivic repetition and less variety. @JorgeDavid also mentionned it but I forgot to adress it (sorry). For me, I felt like the repetitions built in the minuet form were already kinda monotonous. I can never listen to the whole thing without getting bored haha (but it might be cause I listened to it a dozen times anyway). So I tried to have the writing varied and not to be too insisting on the motives. Especially true for the trio that I saw as an opportunity for contrast between the 2 main minuets, so it has very little repeated themes. But it's interesting to see that you guys would have liked more repetition/variation on the main motives. I guess the writer of the piece always has a different way of listening to it and gets bored more easily of repetitions. Good to know for the future!

 

Since I modified the piece quite a bit after all the comments, here is a v2 🙂

 

menuet #1 v2.mp3

1609218054_menuet1v2-1.thumb.png.21b2c3d83bb723b40ebdb5d894837fea.png

640350961_menuet1v2-2.thumb.png.2bb9df6fe7712e419feab7ef7fdc61fb.png

Edited by Coxi
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I personally think it's an improvement on the previous version.  Just to be nit-picky (again) ... in meas. 17 beat 3 you have parallel octaves which isn't bad by itself but in this case it causes your voices to combine and lose their independence.  I think you could have had the bass play F#, G and then an F# in meas. 18 (I don't know if that presents a problem in voice leading in the following measure).  Just (another) suggestion!

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