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Good evening everyone! I'm excited to present a new piece I have been working on for the last month or so: Scherzo for Orchestra. I deliberately wrote this fairly quickly, with the intent to write something fun, conventional, and maybe even a little whimsical. I'm interested in any and all constructive feedback.

I had a few goals in mind as I composed this, feel free to critique my success or failure on these:

  • Write something a little more informal and accessible, with catchy, memorable themes.
  • Start with a very simple idea, and build the entire piece off of it. The four bar opening phrase in the 2nd violins popped into my head one day, so I tried to build the entire piece off of this motive and transformations of this motive.
  • Practice having multiple contrapuntal lines. Some details on this are below.
  • Write something that would work as a middle movement of a larger work, such as a symphony.
  • Write something under 10 minutes, since I might decide to enter it into a competition and a lot of competitions have a 10 minute time limit.

The piece is loosely structured in a three-part rondo form (ABACABA).

  • (0:00 - 1:32) - A Theme - A very quick staccato theme in C# minor. I based this on the idea of a fugue, with each voice entering at different scale degrees, before they all come together to cadence. I'm sure I broke a few rules on the counterpoint, but it got the job done. The section ends on the V (G# minor)
  • (1:32 - 2:21) - B Theme - A soaring theme in E major, then restated in Db major. Here I tried to have descending chromatic lines to complement the ascending melody.
  • (2:21 - 3:04) - A Theme - Restatement of the second half of the A Theme, this time ending on I (C# minor)
  • (3:04 - 6:31) - C Theme - A waltz in D major that begins very timid, gradually gains confidence, and goes out with a bang.
  • (6:31 - 8:01) - A Theme - Restatement of the A Theme, this time in D minor, with the orchestration modified slightly. I threw in a couple unprepared modulations up a half step, to Eb minor and E minor. As a result I may have broken a "rule" here since I ended the section on B minor (which is not the V of D minor, the key I eventually return to).
  • (8:01 - 8:49) - B Theme - Restatement of the B Theme, this time in Db major and Bb major.
  • (8:49 - 9:37) - A Theme - The second half of the A Theme again, eventually returning to D minor to end the piece.

As usual, I have an onslaught of questions I would like specific feedback on. Feel free to answer as many or as few as you wish:

  • 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? It's a pretty fast piece with a lot of technique, so I'm curious if some of the parts are impractical. I don't mind them being difficult, I would only be concerned if they are borderline impossible.
  • 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. Feel free to put your "conductor hat" on and critique the "orchestra".
  • 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.
  • Are there any composers this reminds you of, that I might enjoy listening to?

Sound libraries:

  • Spitfire Symphonic Orchestra and Spitfire Percussion
  • VSL Trumpet (only for some of the lyrical trumpet melodies)
  • VSL Violins (only to layer with the violins in Spitfire)

Thanks for listening, I hope you enjoy! If you liked something I did and want me to explain how I did it, feel free to ask as well.

-gmm

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Overall an enjoyable classically-leaning piece certainly befitting of the title of Scherzo!

58 minutes ago, gmm said:

Write something under 10 minutes, since I might decide to enter it into a competition and a lot of competitions have a 10 minute time limit.

To start off, I felt like you forced yourself to cut the piece off before the 10 minute mark and it sounded unfinished to me like it needed a longer coda/denoument.  I just listened to the end again and it does seem like it has a short coda but the last two chords still don't sound finished to me - they imply another continuation like took place earlier in the piece when the first compound ternary (ABA) section came to a close before the Waltz.  Now that I listen to that part again I understand why the end sounds unfinished - it concludes in exactly the same manner as the first compound ternary.  Some kind of alternate coda would seem more appropriate, possibly incorporating the material from the waltz as well.

58 minutes ago, gmm said:
  • Write something a little more informal and accessible, with catchy, memorable themes.
  • Start with a very simple idea, and build the entire piece off of it. The four bar opening phrase in the 2nd violins popped into my head one day, so I tried to build the entire piece off of this motive and transformations of this motive.

I do have to say that your themes are very conducive to contrapuntal treatment as this piece flaunts that property quite effectively.  At the same time they're very scherzo-like and the themes in the waltz are very waltz-like.  You seem to enjoy creating rhythmic illusions or hemiolas since your themes both play around with emphasizing the weak beats (like the A section fugal theme and the 2/4 hemiolas in the waltz).  As far as building the entire piece off of one simple idea - I sympathize with the endeavor but I don't really see how the theme from the A section is related to say, the waltz theme (although you can correct me if I am missing something).  Also, the type of theme that you chose to build on doesn't really have the kind of simplicity and lucidity (in my opinion) that would be necessary to make a really audible connection/union between all the material in the piece and achieve the kind of accessibility that you were going for (or that Beethoven was going for in his 5th Symphony when he attempted the same).  The A theme sounds kind of like an incomplete fugue subject.  It's still fun of course but I'm just trying to give you some (imo) constructive feedback.

1 hour ago, gmm said:
  • Practice having multiple contrapuntal lines. Some details on this are below.
  • Write something that would work as a middle movement of a larger work, such as a symphony.

I think you succeeded on both those fronts.

1 hour 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.

I feel like this piece is really a very exclusively classically informed piece and as such I don't feel like it really so much as tells a story but more presents the listener with a clear form/structure.  It certainly isn't in the vain of your usually cinematically-inspired orchestral works.

1 hour ago, gmm said:

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

I like the frantic clarinet noodling that you have couched into the A sections throughout the piece (0:57 and whenever that comes up).  I don't have a least favorite part.  I also like how you pass solos between the trumpet and horn in the A sections.

1 hour ago, gmm said:

How do you feel about the overall form? Is it effective?

Besides the above remarks about the need for a longer coda, I thought the form was quite effective.  You don't talk much about the form of the waltz.  I am guessing that you'll probably tell me it's just through-composed with the last section meant to bring the waltz to a frantic close while returning the piece to it's original tempo - clever!

1 hour ago, gmm said:

Are there any composers this reminds you of, that I might enjoy listening to?

In a piece as contrapuntal as this I am glad to say that it does not remind me of Bach - you have definitely put a personal and original spin on this genre.

Overall quite an enjoyable Scherzo!  I see a future where you submit whole symphonies with multiple movements at a time with upwards of an hour of listening for our lucky ears.  Thanks for the music!

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7 hours ago, Left Unexplained said:

I love the section with the flute staccatos. Love the dynamism. The way you layer everything is absolutely incredible.

 

Thanks dude!

7 hours ago, Esper said:

This sounds wonderful. Which DAW do you use for notation? 

I just used the entry level version of Cubase to make the audio file, then exported the MIDI into Sibelius to make the score.

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10 hours ago, gmm said:

Does in conjure up an image? Or an emotional feeling? Does it tell you a story?

great. reminiscent of escape-exploration movie themes to me. (I felt this escape theme more intensely in your previous piece.don't know what kind of theme you want to feel, but that's what I felt.) I didn't correlate this theme with the middle part, but the contrast is good.
Do you write this in daw and then export it to the notation software? I've never used a daw. which is easier to work with? Does writing in daw or notation software affect your creativity differently? thanks for sharing  

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7 hours ago, PaperComposer said:

To start off, I felt like you forced yourself to cut the piece off before the 10 minute mark and it sounded unfinished to me like it needed a longer coda/denoument.  I just listened to the end again and it does seem like it has a short coda but the last two chords still don't sound finished to me - they imply another continuation like took place earlier in the piece when the first compound ternary (ABA) section came to a close before the Waltz.  Now that I listen to that part again I understand why the end sounds unfinished - it concludes in exactly the same manner as the first compound ternary.  Some kind of alternate coda would seem more appropriate, possibly incorporating the material from the waltz as well.

Yeah I'm not crazy about the ending either. My (poor) excuse is that if it were included as a middle movement of a symphony, it wouldn't be the end of the piece, so I could worry about a more satisfying ending in the finale. I made a couple of attempts to write a coda, but couldn't come up with anything I was happy with, so I left it as is.

7 hours ago, PaperComposer said:

As far as building the entire piece off of one simple idea - I sympathize with the endeavor but I don't really see how the theme from the A section is related to say, the waltz theme (although you can correct me if I am missing something). 

It's a bit of a stretch, I'll admit, and I'm certainly not at Beethoven's level by any means. It's not so much that I went directly from the A theme to the waltz, but that I went from A theme, to B theme, to waltz theme. I'll try to demonstrate:

I took the three-note ascending motive from the second violins in m.5 to build the B theme:

image.png.80add02140d73a490d9041b19b85702b.png

Instead of having the two three-note groups offset by one scale degree, I moved the second group up one scale degree, and tied the repeating notes together. Here's the first Violin in m.143, pg.12:

image.png.173c5091d93ac2a498324ab661af1b61.png

I continue to use these three-note units to build this entire section. Here's the first violin, m.151, pg.12:

image.png.0dceb7c9cf2e1122ce224f7e86ad0734.png

I used the below motive from the second violins in m.3 to build the violin melody in .m.155, in retrograde inversion (and shifting the scale degrees around a bit)

image.png.12d8ef7a44e9a74f506b8d48638a4c79.png

image.png.c73e3b7253b65986173f5ff1b22e3684.png

Now to get to the waltz theme, I took the violin melody in  m.143 and offset it by a beat, so the second note landed on the downbeat. This gave me the "shape" of the melody, which I altered the notes to be chromatically ascending instead of by scale degree, m.280-282, pg.21:

image.png.f198275ebf3bec798843ce8c60e6d33f.png

image.png.995a21d2e8c985a8a7877d54c9f6fde2.png

Like I said, maybe a bit of a stretch, but it helped me avoid coming up with completely new material at each new section, and resulted in melodies that I was happy with. To make the connection a little more concrete, I tried to hide a few of the motives from the ABA section within the C section:

Trombones/tuba m.400-403 is the B theme from the violins at m.151:

image.png.99efc816bea904a58befde785bb61f9e.png

Violins, m.408:

image.png.aeeb2b422453bb013906b097d53dc90d.png

Violas, m.305:

image.png.ebc7690a3168ad0c01b7f0a9d783f81a.png

The chromatically ascending horn at m.139 is used for the flute, clarinet, and violin at m.346:

image.png.50b4251735076d4a8b5ccecd4f3f959e.png

image.png.8c84d620737142cfbb0ca42ae615b138.png

9 hours ago, PaperComposer said:

You don't talk much about the form of the waltz.  I am guessing that you'll probably tell me it's just through-composed with the last section meant to bring the waltz to a frantic close while returning the piece to it's original tempo - clever!

It's ABCABC, A (m.269-313), B (m.313-345), C (m.345-359), A(m.359-379), B (m.379-396) C (m.396-422). I tried to alternate the "moods" between each time the A and B themes were heard. A is first timid, then confident, B is first confident, then timid. C is first light and floaty, then heavy and bombastic (and I needed an excuse to use the trombone gliss lol).

9 hours ago, PaperComposer said:

Overall quite an enjoyable Scherzo!  I see a future where you submit whole symphonies with multiple movements at a time with upwards of an hour of listening for our lucky ears.  Thanks for the music!

Thank you very much for your thorough listen and insightful comments, as always! If the pandemic ever ends and I encounter you IRL, drinks are on me 🙂. I'm not 100% sure, but I think a symphony might be my next big project, but it will of course take quite some time...

image.png

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33 minutes ago, ClasiCompose said:

great. reminiscent of escape-exploration movie themes to me. (I felt this escape theme more intensely in your previous piece.don't know what kind of theme you want to feel, but that's what I felt.) I didn't correlate this theme with the middle part, but the contrast is good.
Do you write this in daw and then export it to the notation software? I've never used a daw. which is easier to work with? Does writing in daw or notation software affect your creativity differently? thanks for sharing  

 

Thank you! Yes I composed this within Cubase, then when it was complete and the audio file was to my liking, I exported the MIDI to Sibelius to make the score. For me personally this has always been easier. Within the DAW I feel like I have greater control over all of the performance aspects of the composition than I would in Sibelius. It's easier for me to edit CC values, use key switches, and play with things like changing the levels of different mic positions in Spitfire than I would in Sibelius. That, and I can easily add EQ, saturation, and limiting, which I'm not sure if Sibelius is set up to do.

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@gmm I do see now how the themes are connected ... I was just trying to wrap my head around where you got that figure in m. 283 from (where the strings glissando up a 6th).  I also hear how you bring the A theme back into the end of the waltz.  Great job!

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1 hour ago, PaperComposer said:

I was just trying to wrap my head around where you got that figure in m. 283 from (where the strings glissando up a 6th).

Not gonna lie, it's not related, I just pulled it out of thin air lol.

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Congrats on another superbly crafted piece. You continue to demonstrate your talented skill as a composer with each piece I've heard from you. I also really enjoyed sifting through the comments and seeing some of my questions answered with your responses to others; they're always well detailed, clear and concise. You not only exemplify your artistry with your music, but also with your ability to teach others what you were going for with an easily digestible explanation. 

You remind me of another member here (maybe he's gone now?), Austenite. You seem to have embodied a romantic-era style that is truly your own. The orchestra is used very maturely as you give many instruments their own time to shine, and the overall color throughout was a treat. I'd say one of your biggest strengths is how well you orchestrate. Your chords sound bold and full when you want them to, the crescendos across the different sections build into these great dramatic moments and were some of my favorite parts. The dynamics are extremely smooth, done with a great deal of finesse. You've absolutely captured the atmosphere of a scherzo with this piece. 

The A section gave off a Beethoven 9th scherzo vibe. Loved it. I'm a sucker for rhythmic motifs being the cornerstone to a piece (or section). I thought the B section was really cool too. The chromatic lines in the melody and harmony balanced really well, and gave this the contrast it needed. You've shown from your other comments how you constructed the B section which I appreciate. 

I'm kind of torn on the C section however, and it's possible you could even scrap it if the intention is for this to be a middle movement of a larger work. For one, I think the transition was a bit sudden. I like the horn transition, but maybe it could carry on with the ta-ti-ti-ta rhythm a bit for continuity? And while we're on that subject, I heard a few other spots that I think could have benefited from that as well, because the piece sometimes sounded a bit disjunctive. During the B section, I thought it would be could to have a low pedal tone playing that rhythm beneath the gorgeous chromatic textures. Or in the C section, with the opening statement of the melody, I could hear it echoing after the phrases, maybe giving a comedic effect too.

You do a really good job of "hiding" your themes in other sections, and manipulating them for more thematic material, but sometimes I think if you used them more brashly and obvious to the listener, it would create a smoother flow, where the sections are different but easy to hear and see their relationship together throughout the piece.

This may be just me, and I'm a low-art musician at heart, but I always strive for the perfect balance of cerebral craftsmanship/language with the idea that music is communication, and I don't want anyone to hear my music without being able to take something away from it. Not saying that the language or tactics you use is indecipherable, but keep the catchy or identifiable moments at the forefront, and use them as glue when putting say a subtle but then bombastic waltz with a vigorous flurry of strings with a cascade of chromaticism. 

If you were going for a statement in how romantic-era music could be composed today, well done. But I'm very curious with how you view your musical voice and what you wish to accomplish with your music. For instance, percussion in that era is relatively primitive sounding to me because we live in an age where rhythm is so dominant and explored. The percussion seemed mostly limited to the C section. I think with a more liberal usage of it in the other sections, your music could sound romantic inspired but very modern. 

Overall, I'll continue to be a gmm fanboy after hearing this. I listened to this a few hours ago, and gave it multiple listens since then to make sure I really knew what I wanted to say. The A theme is really catchy, it was stuck in my head as I ran a bunch of errands today.

I love your style man, I'm excited to hear how you continue to evolve!

 

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On 10/9/2020 at 9:53 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Congrats on another superbly crafted piece. You continue to demonstrate your talented skill as a composer with each piece I've heard from you. I also really enjoyed sifting through the comments and seeing some of my questions answered with your responses to others; they're always well detailed, clear and concise. You not only exemplify your artistry with your music, but also with your ability to teach others what you were going for with an easily digestible explanation. 

Thanks dude! I spend a lot of time thinking about these kind of things, so I always enjoy sharing with those who are interested.

 

On 10/9/2020 at 9:53 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I'm kind of torn on the C section however, and it's possible you could even scrap it if the intention is for this to be a middle movement of a larger work. For one, I think the transition was a bit sudden. I like the horn transition, but maybe it could carry on with the ta-ti-ti-ta rhythm a bit for continuity? And while we're on that subject, I heard a few other spots that I think could have benefited from that as well, because the piece sometimes sounded a bit disjunctive. During the B section, I thought it would be could to have a low pedal tone playing that rhythm beneath the gorgeous chromatic textures. Or in the C section, with the opening statement of the melody, I could hear it echoing after the phrases, maybe giving a comedic effect too.

I see what you mean. There is of course a balance that must be struck, because at the opposite end of the spectrum the listener is just inundated with the "ta-ti-ti-ta" rhythm for ten minutes straight. That's why I tried to take it away for a bit so it's refreshing when it returns. For example, in the B theme it returns at the end of the phrase before pivoting to the new key:

image.png.9a74fa5f966fab1c0cd0f9f43aa6362a.png

Then for the C section, since we've been hearing it for the last 3 minutes or so, it goes away for a while, only to return at the very end (pg.35):

image.thumb.png.20ca08826f7bfa65db28958a24cc0407.png

On 10/9/2020 at 9:53 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

If you were going for a statement in how romantic-era music could be composed today, well done. But I'm very curious with how you view your musical voice and what you wish to accomplish with your music. For instance, percussion in that era is relatively primitive sounding to me because we live in an age where rhythm is so dominant and explored. The percussion seemed mostly limited to the C section. I think with a more liberal usage of it in the other sections, your music could sound romantic inspired but very modern. 

This is true, and I'm working on bringing more rhythmic elements into my music. On the other hand, one might argue that rhythm has become overly emphasized in modern music. Think about how pop music, and even film music, seems to put rhythm at the forefront, while melody, harmony, and counterpoint take a back seat. I would think a composer that writes good melodies would have a fairly easy time distinguishing themselves. Though I will admit it's a lot harder to bob your head to some fugues...lol.

On 10/9/2020 at 9:53 PM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Overall, I'll continue to be a gmm fanboy after hearing this. I listened to this a few hours ago, and gave it multiple listens since then to make sure I really knew what I wanted to say. The A theme is really catchy, it was stuck in my head as I ran a bunch of errands today.

I love your style man, I'm excited to hear how you continue to evolve!

Thanks for your kind words and the time you took to give a very thorough listen! I thought I saw you say somewhere you were going away for a while - I certainly hope you stick around. I enjoy your music and your insightful feedback around here!

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Congrats, a most accomplished work.

  • 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.

Not particularly aside from maybe a ballet episode in an opera. A happy piece

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

None. All equal - too many bits that caught my ears as it were. But I thought the ending was sudden - expected a couple of hammered chords at least. But you've already acknowledged this.

  • Do you have any comments or critiques on technique, e.g. harmony, melody writing, counterpoint, orchestration, voice-leading, etc.?

None. The orchestration sounded accomplished, balanced. I couldn't see the full score throughout as I'm working on a laptop but there was nothing to make me pause to have a look. I went for the overall effect rather than things to pick on. The slower waltz section was a little quiet though, given it was a contrast.

  • How do you feel about the overall form? Is it effective?

If I may say so, a little long. 

  • Do any of the parts seem impractical to you? It's a pretty fast piece with a lot of technique, so I'm curious if some of the parts are impractical. I don't mind them being difficult, I would only be concerned if they are borderline impossible.

Like I said, I didn't check the score for fine details. Your ability with orchestration suggests you know what's weak and strong, have a good working knowledge of the instruments, balance etc. If you've made a boo-boo that would come out at rehearsal. 

  • 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. Feel free to put your "conductor hat" on and critique the "orchestra".

I felt the rendering was a little blurry in places, the incisiveness blurred by the reverb. It seems a feature of Spitfire....could be me but the reverb in spitfire seems difficult to tame. It didn't mar the piece though, I've heard more blurry in the concert hall, particularly if that happens to be a church.

The stereo spread was as I'd expect toward the middle or back of a concert hall.

  • 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.

Always the same with big scores - impossible to see a full page in a browser/pdf reader so it effectively means study, scrolling up and down. It looked ok from looking at various pages though. (The site doesn't allow me to open it in Adobe's pdf reader).

  • Are there any composers this reminds you of, that I might enjoy listening to?

Interesting. Only one came to mind. If it was a balletic interlude in an opera, Meyerbeer!

Like I said an accomplished work that deserves live performance. Hope that comes to pass...

Cheers, Quinn.

PS, wouldn't it be nice to have a review option before posting?!

 

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@Quinn thank you very much for your kind words and review!

3 hours ago, Quinn said:

I felt the rendering was a little blurry in places, the incisiveness blurred by the reverb. It seems a feature of Spitfire....could be me but the reverb in spitfire seems difficult to tame. It didn't mar the piece though, I've heard more blurry in the concert hall, particularly if that happens to be a church.

The stereo spread was as I'd expect toward the middle or back of a concert hall.

Interesting... do you have any particular parts that sounded blurry to you? I may be able to play with some of the mic positions to make it more clear.

FWIW the big selling point Spitfire always emphasizes is that their samples are recorded "wet", with the full reverb of the hall recorded in with the samples. None of the reverb is simulated. That's good if you want the "natural" sound, but on the other hand if you don't like the sound of the hall, you're stuck with it. They do include "close" mic positions, but even they don't completely remove the sound of the hall.

I've always liked the sound of the hall, so it hasn't bothered me. My main gripe with Spitfire is that some of the legato patches are a little lacking, particularly the solo trumpet. That's why I got the VSL trumpet, which has very clean legato, as a supplement.

3 hours ago, Quinn said:

Interesting. Only one came to mind. If it was a balletic interlude in an opera, Meyerbeer!

I've certainly heard of Meyerbeer, but I don't know that I've ever heard any of his music, I will give it a listen!

Thanks for listening, I hope to hear more of your music on here as well.

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1 hour ago, gmm said:

@Quinn thank you very much for your kind words and review!

Interesting... do you have any particular parts that sounded blurry to you? I may be able to play with some of the mic positions to make it more clear.

FWIW the big selling point Spitfire always emphasizes is that their samples are recorded "wet", with the full reverb of the hall recorded in with the samples. None of the reverb is simulated. That's good if you want the "natural" sound, but on the other hand if you don't like the sound of the hall, you're stuck with it. They do include "close" mic positions, but even they don't completely remove the sound of the hall.

I've always liked the sound of the hall, so it hasn't bothered me. My main gripe with Spitfire is that some of the legato patches are a little lacking, particularly the solo trumpet. That's why I got the VSL trumpet, which has very clean legato, as a supplement.

I've certainly heard of Meyerbeer, but I don't know that I've ever heard any of his music, I will give it a listen!

Thanks for listening, I hope to hear more of your music on here as well.

 

Difficult to pin point exactly where because the score is difficult to follow at the pace of the work (having to scroll up and down to see what's going on). But one place the articulation and harmony seemed blurred at letter R.

For that matter, the articulations of the bassi entry in bar 9 sound blurry but I fail to see what you can do about that with the reverb as it is. 

Point is that it contrasts with, eg, the articulations at B which are utterly clear .

Round about 8'10", W,  the harmony is more chromatic and does blur.

However, rather than create inconsistencies it's probably best to leave things as they are. The consistency and excitement carry it through. The orchestral balance is remarkable suggesting you've had plenty of live instrumentation experience or studied a good few scores. It shows in the handling of tutti with full brass,e.g. at AA, or the lead up in bar 590.

Superb altogether.

PS, just the smallest point. I notice that at AA you reduce the horns to a single stave. I've presumed this is still the 4 horns, 1,3 unison on the upper part, 2,4 on the lower, justified by how they expand to 2 staves at 679 the same unisons in that bar.

Edit: Meyerbeer. I was thinking of his grand opera Il Crociato in Egitto or possibly l'Africaine rather than Hugenots. A composer who helped Wagner on the way up (getting Rienzi performed) but whom Wagner hated because of his success in Paris. Meyerbeer's ordinary orchestral works have never really hooked me. 

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6 hours ago, Quinn said:

For that matter, the articulations of the bassi entry in bar 9 sound blurry but I fail to see what you can do about that with the reverb as it is. 

You're exactly right and this has been bugging me the entire time. It's a shame this happens right at the beginning, as it puts a bad taste in your mouth right out of the gate. I do have a few ideas of how I might fix it though:

  • Adjust the blending with the "close" mics
  • Adjust some of the velocities - some of the different velocity layers might be more clear
  • Layer with VSL basses - I think these have a little more clarity, but I'm not 100% sure
  • Double with cello at an octave above - (not sure I like this one, I think it might interfere with the violas, but worth a shot)

Your comment makes me want to give this a second look. I'll look at it over the next couple of days and see if I can come up with a solution.

6 hours ago, Quinn said:

PS, just the smallest point. I notice that at AA you reduce the horns to a single stave. I've presumed this is still the 4 horns, 1,3 unison on the upper part, 2,4 on the lower, justified by how they expand to 2 staves at 679 the same unisons in that bar.

You are correct, I think it would be a good idea to specify just to be safe. I will update the score.

6 hours ago, Quinn said:

Edit: Meyerbeer. I was thinking of his grand opera Il Crociato in Egitto or possibly l'Africaine rather than Hugenots. A composer who helped Wagner on the way up (getting Rienzi performed) but whom Wagner hated because of his success in Paris. Meyerbeer's ordinary orchestral works have never really hooked me. 

Thanks, I will check these out.

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I do have to say that this piece keeps me coming back and listening to it more and more so I think you've definitely succeeded at making it catchy!  Upon further listening it sounds to me like many places in it resemble a musical and at 6:54 I hear a theme from the original Mary Poppins sneak in there (it sounds like the intro and end coda of "Chim Chim Cheree" to me).

Mary Poppins - Chim Chim Cher-ee

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Wow, this is impressive! Though I've come to expect that from you. 😉

On 10/9/2020 at 12:07 AM, gmm said:

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

Definitely my favorite parts are the moments with the 1st 'fugue' theme, I really love the intensity and polyphonic effect those sections create for me, especially the opening. In fact, this is probably one of the first successful uses of this fugal-opening effect I've heard so far, as I notice a lot of them tend to be overly sarcastic and ironic, or just boring, as far as my personal taste goes. You made it straightforward, flowing and instantly appealing! Also, I don't really have a least favorite part, as I've enjoyed the piece the whole way through!

On 10/9/2020 at 12:07 AM, gmm said:

Do you have any comments or critiques on technique, e.g. harmony, melody writing, counterpoint, orchestration, voice-leading, etc.?

There were some little parts in the waltz section I was mildly bothered by, but nothing significant; just some tiny details in the bass line and countermelody, but it's fine as it is, unless you would like me to elaborate. Otherwise, I enjoyed basically everything.

On 10/9/2020 at 12:07 AM, gmm said:

How do you feel about the overall form? Is it effective?

I think it's very effective, I really enjoyed the structure!

On 10/9/2020 at 12:07 AM, gmm said:

Are there any composers this reminds you of, that I might enjoy listening to?

There are a couple of pieces I was reminded of, the 2nd movement of Rachmaninoff's Symphony no. 1 and the 3rd movement of Hans Rott's Symphony in E major. These are both the "Scherzo" movements of the symphonies, as can be expected. Both are brilliantly orchestrated, and quite underrated, especially Rott's symphony. I'll link the pieces here:

 

Another high-quality orchestral work from you! I wish more 20th-century symphonic scherzo music sounded like this.

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@Theodore Servin thanks for your comments and critique!

On 10/12/2020 at 1:51 AM, Theodore Servin said:

There were some little parts in the waltz section I was mildly bothered by, but nothing significant; just some tiny details in the bass line and countermelody, but it's fine as it is, unless you would like me to elaborate. Otherwise, I enjoyed basically everything.

Yes, go ahead.

 

On 10/12/2020 at 1:51 AM, Theodore Servin said:

There are a couple of pieces I was reminded of, the 2nd movement of Rachmaninoff's Symphony no. 1 and the 3rd movement of Hans Rott's Symphony in E major. These are both the "Scherzo" movements of the symphonies, as can be expected. Both are brilliantly orchestrated, and quite underrated, especially Rott's symphony. I'll link the pieces here:

Wow thanks for sharing! I had never even heard of Hans Rott. I did a quick google search of him and found out he was a friend of Mahler, and I can hear many similarities with Mahler's early symphonies. I quite enjoyed his Scherzo, and I definitely want to take a deeper dive into his symphony.

On 10/12/2020 at 1:51 AM, Theodore Servin said:

Definitely my favorite parts are the moments with the 1st 'fugue' theme, I really love the intensity and polyphonic effect those sections create for me, especially the opening. In fact, this is probably one of the first successful uses of this fugal-opening effect I've heard so far, as I notice a lot of them tend to be overly sarcastic and ironic, or just boring, as far as my personal taste goes. You made it straightforward, flowing and instantly appealing! Also, I don't really have a least favorite part, as I've enjoyed the piece the whole way through!

Thanks I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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On 10/11/2020 at 9:47 PM, PaperComposer said:

I do have to say that this piece keeps me coming back and listening to it more and more so I think you've definitely succeeded at making it catchy!  Upon further listening it sounds to me like many places in it resemble a musical and at 6:54 I hear a theme from the original Mary Poppins sneak in there (it sounds like the intro and end coda of "Chim Chim Cheree" to me).

Mary Poppins - Chim Chim Cher-ee

Ha! I'm not too familiar with Mary Poppins, but I definitely hear the resemblance, I'm glad you enjoyed!

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