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Experimental string quartet.


Ivan1791
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First of all I want to say that this project (even if I spent around 68 hours on it) ended up being a disaster. But I still think it was worth it because it taught me a lot about composition and form. I even got to study Beethoven's late string quartets in detail.

This string quartet was writen for a composition contest  held here in Spain (I didn't win anything obviously). My idea was to somehow blend contemporary music with old music and do some kind of stylistic collage. So I decided the whole piece would be basically some kind of distorted Menuet and a fugue that interrupt each other. In each interruption the fugue gets more modern and abstract and the opposite happens to the menuet, but both of them keep some kind of modern/old feeling. The piece was supposed to have the introduction, 6 sections and a long CODA, but because I had to write this in a rush I only managed to write 5 sections and a short CODA (I composed the last menuet bit and CODA in 3 hours, and pretty much from 0, it was improvised lol).

This piece has a lot of details to highlight but I only will do so if some people show interest.

Also if you don't want to waste your time too much just listen to the first fugue bit and the CODA.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/26/2021 at 1:59 AM, Ivan1791 said:

First of all I want to say that this project (even if I spent around 68 hours on it) ended up being a disaster. But I still think it was worth it because it taught me a lot about composition and form. I even got to study Beethoven's late string quartets in detail.

This string quartet was writen for a composition contest  held here in Spain (I didn't win anything obviously). My idea was to somehow blend contemporary music with old music and do some kind of stylistic collage. So I decided the whole piece would be basically some kind of distorted Menuet and a fugue that interrupt each other. In each interruption the fugue gets more modern and abstract and the opposite happens to the menuet, but both of them keep some kind of modern/old feeling. The piece was supposed to have the introduction, 6 sections and a long CODA, but because I had to write this in a rush I only managed to write 5 sections and a short CODA (I composed the last menuet bit and CODA in 3 hours, and pretty much from 0, it was improvised lol).

This piece has a lot of details to highlight but I only will do so if some people show interest.

Also if you don't want to waste your time too much just listen to the first fugue bit and the CODA.

 

 

 

Here you have the link to the competition I wanted to submit my piece lol: https://www.muvac.com/en/vac/musikagileak-euskal-herriko-musikagileen-elkartea-53bea09

And the winner of this competition was this guy (I didn't manage to find anything else on YouTube): 

 

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As you say an experimental piece, a style in development. What can be gained from it is up to you. 

For me it didn't work too well because it lacked transition between the 'old and new' as you put it. That's just my reaction. I didn't study the score enough to recognise serial music but the opening sounding like it. At bar 59, the late Beethoven quartet style became apparent! Same with the minuetto from bar 135. The old v new balance seemed fine although the components that made up the coda were unbalanced in dynamic.

As usual, rendering from notation software can be dodgy and this is no exception- shame you couldn't bung it in a daw. Rendering problems that I felt were:

Violin 1 was weak most of the time. Take for example the entry in bar 75. Musicality suggests it should be more prominent.

Bar 80, the violins were lost altogether.

Bar 97, Violin 1 - is the sul pont pizz or arco? As it stands it would be played pizz.

There was too little difference between the sul pont and naturale sound.

The entries with a fugue that started in bar 59? were too indistinct.

But these are all problems with rendition. Quartet players would sort them out. Many of your special effects were lost because the software doesn't seem to allow them.

A great effort and now it's up to you to work out how to proceed, whether the experiment worked or not. 

.

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Marylyn here, the "real" owner of the account LOL.

I looked at the score with your introduction explaining the special effects. If you don't mind me saying so, I hope not, I think these would be difficult to render unless your note player can do them but even so, they appear to detract from the piece. Modern or contemporary doesn't have to depend on unusual effects unless you really want them. They're probly too extreme for this experiment and would be great if the entire piece was written in a contemporary vein.

The blend would be smoother with only standard playing techniques : naturale (obviously), sul pont, sul tasto, pizz, gliss, portamento (all muted and not) and col legno and harmonics natural and otherwise.

Just a thought or two.  

An ambitious piece and the tonal aspects tell that you know what you're doing!

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Hi Ivan,

I finally got to listen to your quartet yesterday. I felt compelled to say something, in spite of my own personal stylistic biases, because I could tell that in the short span of time you were left to work on it that you put in a lot of effort. I will leave the special orchestrational details up to the other commenters, because I have no experience writing with such ornaments. I think I know what you were trying to go for in this piece, and I suppose the shortcomings with it is that the ideas feel somewhat cut short; however, I recognize that this is probably because there wasn't much time to develop these ideas fully (which I think would have helped bridge these sections more smoothly), and you tried to make up for it by making the most creative arrangements for them, and I think you were more successful with that. Of course, I quite liked the tonal moments, especially the middle one, as I thought it sounded the most individual of them all (I think I would have liked to have heard more of these tonal sections).

It's hard to successfully write a piece with so many contrasting sections. I've heard many contrast-y pieces by established composers that I thought still failed in this respect, in that it always seemed to me that they were only writing these pieces the way they did simply for the contrast's sake (though I'm sure some would disagree with me on this point). I think that considering what you tried to do, you made a fine effort in tackling this form.

And even though your piece clashes with my tastes substantially, I will say that it is infinitely better than the piece that did win the competition.

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  • 6 months later...
On 11/9/2021 at 11:42 AM, Quinn said:

As you say an experimental piece, a style in development. What can be gained from it is up to you. 

For me it didn't work too well because it lacked transition between the 'old and new' as you put it. That's just my reaction. I didn't study the score enough to recognise serial music but the opening sounding like it. At bar 59, the late Beethoven quartet style became apparent! Same with the minuetto from bar 135. The old v new balance seemed fine although the components that made up the coda were unbalanced in dynamic.

As usual, rendering from notation software can be dodgy and this is no exception- shame you couldn't bung it in a daw. Rendering problems that I felt were:

Violin 1 was weak most of the time. Take for example the entry in bar 75. Musicality suggests it should be more prominent.

Bar 80, the violins were lost altogether.

Bar 97, Violin 1 - is the sul pont pizz or arco? As it stands it would be played pizz.

There was too little difference between the sul pont and naturale sound.

The entries with a fugue that started in bar 59? were too indistinct.

But these are all problems with rendition. Quartet players would sort them out. Many of your special effects were lost because the software doesn't seem to allow them.

A great effort and now it's up to you to work out how to proceed, whether the experiment worked or not. 

.

 

(I have no idea but I never saw these replies until today, how weird. ._.)

Yes, the biggest problem with this piece were the transitions. 

True, the rendering was very far from how it should sound.

I don't think sul ponticello can work with pizzicato, so I thought it was obvious to play it with the bow.

I know, I don't have any option to change the timber in Musescore, all the weirder effects of this piece were impossible to mimic in musescore.

Indeed, a real string quartet could have balanced out a lot of details.

 

To Marylyn it is true I probably went too far with the aesthetic contrast considering how short the piece is. With 20 minutes maybe but nit even 7 minutes of room makes it feel clumsy. I planned on blending both sides in a CODA but I finished the piece in a rush and I couldn't do it.

On 11/12/2021 at 8:48 AM, Theodore Servin said:

Hi Ivan,

I finally got to listen to your quartet yesterday. I felt compelled to say something, in spite of my own personal stylistic biases, because I could tell that in the short span of time you were left to work on it that you put in a lot of effort. I will leave the special orchestrational details up to the other commenters, because I have no experience writing with such ornaments. I think I know what you were trying to go for in this piece, and I suppose the shortcomings with it is that the ideas feel somewhat cut short; however, I recognize that this is probably because there wasn't much time to develop these ideas fully (which I think would have helped bridge these sections more smoothly), and you tried to make up for it by making the most creative arrangements for them, and I think you were more successful with that. Of course, I quite liked the tonal moments, especially the middle one, as I thought it sounded the most individual of them all (I think I would have liked to have heard more of these tonal sections).

It's hard to successfully write a piece with so many contrasting sections. I've heard many contrast-y pieces by established composers that I thought still failed in this respect, in that it always seemed to me that they were only writing these pieces the way they did simply for the contrast's sake (though I'm sure some would disagree with me on this point). I think that considering what you tried to do, you made a fine effort in tackling this form.

And even though your piece clashes with my tastes substantially, I will say that it is infinitely better than the piece that did win the competition.

 

(I have no idea but I never saw these replies until today, how weird. ._.)

Yes, I tried to blend all the ideas in a "box" that was too small.

Actually I wrote the piece mainly for the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone as much as possible. But I can say it is very difficult to blend such styles in a format that actually works and doesn't feel too artificial. I bet the polystilism ideas would work better in a programatic setting, maybe an opera, because that way you have language to justify some of the changes.

And I'm glad you enjoyed the tonal sections, I appreciate the comment. 🙂

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  • 5 weeks later...

Your dexterous use of string techniques is impressive, and your writing is far more adventurous than mine. I do struggle somewhat with this musical idom, admittedly, as I am very accustomed to music with more 'predictable' structural development. I feel as if there are just so many ideas here that the listener is bewildered, so much that the relationship with older idoms is less clear.

I did enjoy the fugal material and in particular how you ended it. Thank you for sharing and I will be taking a look at your other work for sure...

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