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Scherzo for Strings


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I just finished writing this today. It is a scherzo for string orchestra, but not quite in the traditional sense. While it roughly follows the form, it's actually a much more serious work than the title might imply. I am especially fond of the melodies I came up with.

Video: 

Score: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lU_yXhXWz95pmtSFzREG3TQoiddnUzpp/view

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Good. Nice string writing although I found it rather repetitive. Development of each theme (of the two I listened to) seemed to be elaborations on the previous iteration. 

The change of tune at bar 151 was welcome but this followed a similar scheme. The surprise modulation at just before 5'30" was most welcome along with the string of harmonic changes following, a more accomplished development.

I had to break at around 6'30" (early morning admin!) and will try to get back later. My initial reaction is that for a work close on 10 minutes I'd have liked more variety - but then if you've only just finished it you'll probably review it after a few days and have your own feelings. The harmony is sound and the progressions start to get interesting after around 5'30"

I have yet to find out what else you do, therefore, but am hoping to hear a few solo lines (or even solo instruments) and their interplay.

In the words of big Arnie...."I'll be back!"

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On 9/1/2021 at 2:00 AM, Quinn said:

Good. Nice string writing although I found it rather repetitive. Development of each theme (of the two I listened to) seemed to be elaborations on the previous iteration. 

I wasn't really intending to develop the themes much. I was really just going for a "modified repeat sign" in the scherzo, so to speak. (The trio ends just after 7'15", so you'll be hearing scherzo material again soon -- once again, in its third iteration, a bit different from both prior iterations.) I generally dislike just slapping a verbatim repeat sign on things or just copy-pasting whole passages. I like to spice it up and put some new twist on it each time it is heard.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting use of harmony! I like that while the main theme suggests a perhaps overly-happy character, the harmonies still contain a depth, and even darkness, displaying an emotional conflict within the piece's character, without resorting to harmonic sarcasm (or maybe I'm mistaken about your intentions). Honestly, I didn't find the orchestration repetitive. I quite liked the trio as well, though I thought the Maestoso transition could have been played back a little slower, but that's not important.

I found the transition section in bars 316-323 a bit weak, though. I think it could benefit with a longer section that acts more as a formal development than just a transition from G major to A major, perhaps with more key changes along the way, more like the rest of the piece (which I thought was very well developed), and it would make it more structurally consistent; it wouldn't necessarily need to be very long. At least, that's what I felt when I heard it, and of course you can just leave it as it is.

Overall, very nice job! It's definitely a work to be proud of 🙂

 

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I like your Scherzo. And no need to worry about it being serious, the Scherzo actually has a wide range of character. Key and composer both influence where a given Scherzo falls on the spectrum, but these are the extremes of the Scherzo spectrum:

"Haydnesque" Scherzo

  • Major key
  • Lots of syncopation and other rhythmic twists
  • Joyful and Humorous character
  • Minor harmonies tend to be brief

Although not a Scherzo itself, the very Scherzo-like Gypsy Rondo is a great example of this.

Ominous and Serious Scherzo

  • Minor key
  • Lots of modulations
  • Sticking more closely to a simpler rhythm, less syncopation
  • Big chords, especially minor and diminished
  • Major harmonies tend to either be very brief or very prolonged before going back to minor(Beethoven scherzos lean towards the latter)
  • Very serious character, even ominous if the melody is in the low register

Beethoven tends towards the more serious side of his Scherzos, even his major key Scherzos tend to be more serious sounding than any Scherzo-like movement by Haydn.

Rhythm though is one thing that ties all Scherzos together. Scherzos tend to have a similar rhythm regardless of character or time signature. It tends to be a waltz or march-like rhythm, but with contrapuntal voices(which are much less obvious than those of its predecessor, the Minuet) instead of bass chords.

So yeah, there's an entire spectrum from Haydnesque humor to Beethoven being ominous and everything in between. Your scherzo seems to be like right smack dab in the middle of the spectrum, not quite humorous or joyful like Haydn, but not quite serious or ominous to the degree seen in Beethoven either.

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