Jump to content

Clarinet Quintet no. 1 in C minor


Henry Ng Tsz Kiu
 Share

Recommended Posts

Thatguy v2.0
This post was recognized by Thatguy v2.0!

"Outstanding work here. I've yet to wrap my head around this one, but am happy to say I'm eager to share my thoughts on your massive work!"

Henry Ng Tsz Kiu was awarded the badge 'Chamber Guru' and 5 points.

Hi! I am a newcomer to this forum. It's really fascinating to see many young composers sharing their pieces here. I guess if I would have the right to be called a composer at all, so I would like to present a piece I recently finish here.

 
For me this piece is about despair and meaning, and their dialectic relationship. It's in c minor in all four movements to present the gravity of sadness, especially in our time. It's in a four movement structure, and here is the brief synopsis:
00:05 First Movement: Allegro ma non troppo Modified Sonata Form .One is despair to find the meaninglessness of existence. One would like to find a dream to flee but fail. One is defeated by the despair.
21:06 Second Movement: Scherzo: Presto, Sonata Form. Defeated, one starts to free the self to crazy thoughts, though still reasonably (with its tonal structure ). After this one instead finds moment of calmness.
30:27 Third Movement: Adagio Meastoso - Fugue: Andante ma non troppo. One starts to dwell into the root of despair. One uses different kinds of approach and finally finds something hopeful. But despair soon arises, and hope defeated is worse than hope never appeared. One ends in utter sadness but finally knows the root of it.
45:40 Fourth Movement: Allegro con moto . Sonata Form/Sonata-Rondo.  Seemingly to know the root of despair, one pretends to be free of it, although the nightmare keeps reminding the one its presence. After the combat between despair and meaning, one finally knows that without despair there won't be meaning at all, therefore accepting the despair and ends in tranquility. It ends with Beethoven Op.135 since it perfectly fits here, and it is one of my favourite piece, if not the most (The other being his op. 131).
 
It seems like a long piece but I just cannot stop it. I have too many things to tell. I really would like to know whether this piece worth other's attention or not, so I would be extremely grateful to have other comments, whether it's positive or negative.

 

 

Edited by Henry Ng
Adding audio files
PDF
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I couldn't bring myself to listen to the entire 1 hour however I skimmed through several times and have somewhat an understanding of your compositional ear. I hear good use of melodies with almost quickly or rapidly played scales, sometimes just sticking with something simple or possibly even a main section to return to to make people remember you're Clarinet Quintet in C Minor, however as I'm listening on there's good use of the diatonic chords and you seem to know your way around musically. The introduction almost sounds like it could be the lead to a jazz standard you want to make it something more memorable, just my opinion.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me the opening motive act as the seed of almost all the subsequent themes in this long 1 hour piece (I don't intentionally make it 1 hour, but I just can't stop XD). But I have never considered making it jazz, because my jazz knowledge is almost negligible and personally it's not my musical style to do so. For me the C minor in this piece is really important as to signify someting despair and inescapable, thus ending in E flat major at the very end accepts the despair and console it by accepting.

I think the third movement and fourth movement are better movements, in the third I grudgingly use counterpoint and fugal technique, while in the fourth I try to make it as flowing as possible.

Thank you so much for listening and reviewing my piece!

Edited by Henry Ng
wording
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
Thatguy v2.0
This post was recognized by Thatguy v2.0!

"Legendary dedication to helping members here"

Omicronrg9 was awarded the badge 'Keen Ear' and 5 points.

So let's begin. I don't know how many hours this will take but I definitely felt the need to do this. First of all, I do think you should really consider uploading more of your works here. They are already in YouTube, so they're already public, and I believe some people will definitely like those. I have listened to a few before fully listening this quintet and I can say that despite your totally understandable opinion I must insist, they are worth of being uploaded here!

 First movement:

  • God, 6 years of work?!
  • It's a pity we cannot listen to this with real instruments. I imagine it would cost a decent amount of money to hire professionals and a lot of effort to make it in a DAW, but perhaps better soundfonts would have helped. Anyway, after a short "presentation" things start to move.
  • Double-bass: It has a lot of work between M[60-70] and its solo at M100 would surely sound more convincing (as everything, but this in particular) with more real sounds. 
  • Nice, the whole section around min 4-5 is very enjoyable for me. It gives a brief mood change. God damn those tremolos would sound 10000 times better with the deserved sound!
  • Why? image.png.1d61e223c49d0ee603972d4be06cd5e8.png (why not compressing the silences? Just curious, I would do it so I ask)
  • The passage starting at 172 and the likes are so nonchalant, they really give a clever contrast for those sections with string tremolos and scales and give the fair amount of importance clarinet deserves in my opinion.  
  • The climax you reach at M213 really gives me the feeling of despair. Probably everything you've built from around min 4 to this point is my favourite part in this movement.These figures image.png.00839e2cf41f637bc03a5a877813ed75.png would be a nightmare to play on the piano (most likely) but strings have it easier (...right???).
  • I know this is being too specific but since it's obvious how much you value (righteously) your work I'll be specific and tell you, beware with music notation software alignment, they do things like these: image.png.f81b48b2913c060afb170230ce245042.png which hinder readability a bit (see how the flat collides with the dot) and needs manual adjustment. This is an issue that Music Jotter won't have isn't that right @chopin? 😜
  • Well now that I'm done with this totally planned spam let's continue. Again I would have compressed these silences: image.png.8ab7a93423313993b89dfccc2ee461a0.png(M220). Noticed a bunch more of these before 220 on a second listen.
  • That tremolo cresc. just after those M22X is really fitting despite the sound isn't the desired one.
  • Here image.png.d80835460862ad074385f1b6b669e461.png I get what you are trying to do but I am not totally sure whether you may get what you wanted. Instruments may sound connected in the digital interpretation but this may not happen in real life. I would have extended the last note a bit... But anyway, you clearly indicate legato.
  • I notice many modulations and ideas coming in and out. Though some are based on the main motive, one could get lost on a first listening. Not that this is necessarily bad, but I feel that the section that begins with the above measures could work alone as a movement itself. However, since this is a quite long first movement I guess this works as the "B" or "development" and additionally it sounds beautiful, comes back to the main motive or variations of it, I really like the pizz. passages and some beautiful melodies that make me getting more immersed in this first movement. 
  • The phrase starting at M400 is EPIC.
  • And from near 400 on I suppose we come back and go to the recapitulation of this movement. It's really grandiose up to M500 where I feel a bit lost in the 20 next measures. From ~M530 and so on there's a series of "false finals" that exhaust the motive. In my opinion, from all those "finals" you could have chosen, the one you decided didn't convince me too much but I think this is influenced by the overall sound of the piece. Probably it would be far more convincing, again, with better soundfonts and surely if played by real interpreters.

In summary, a quite long but well developed first movement driven mainly with a single motive and variations of it and containing really epic sections, contrasts, lots of modulations and key changes and last but not the least important recognizable enough structure.

Second movement:

  • Making use of the chapter function in YouTube will be really useful in this case. 
  • The beginning is structurally a repetition of the 1st movement. A clear and solid presentation of the motive for the listener, will this one drive the entire movement like it happened with the first? I shall see in 9 mins (well actually more, it's 19:22 and I started writing this at around 18:30 lol, time passes quickly).
  • Finally the clarinet comes to the party and strikes with a difficult variation with the motive, very nice development, I'd say that there's some pro... Oh god the pizz. section sounds incredible! There's a learning curve here I believe.
  • I still see these image.png.dda2cb9245fa4d65930889308ddf800f.png silence sets that don't make sense to me. 
  • Despite being also in a ternary time signature, the change of tempo speed & form makes this still fresh and enjoyable. I am not even halfway through the piece so perhaps I'm speaking too soon. But I'm not getting bored at all for now.
  • What you did at M284 was unexpected. I'm not sure of it but my ears aren't really displeased.
  • The second voice that arises from the strings complement the clarinet neatly (starting near M425). This, along the pizz. parts are my favourite parts of this movement. The slow build-up that reaches the beginning of the movement would enter in that list too.
  •  Between ~M[650-700] I feel a weaker melodic line on the clarinet which makes me wonder where this is going. The changes in dynamics still serve as a guide, but the strings are "advancing and going back", it's like they cannot really go anywhere without the clarinet and the clarinet is not present enough because it's also doing the same "advance and go back" over and over. This leads to a kind of chaos that isn't solved and after that we get that final pizz. part which doesn't conclude anything to me, thematically speaking. Still I don't find this misleading, we are about to enter in the second part of this great quintet.

In summary a powerful scherzo, perhaps a little repetitive in some parts and with a confusing final, but with a really great beginning, a solid motive and a very successful feeling of anxiety in some sections like min 27-28.

Third movement:

Well, after a pause to have dinner I have re-listened to the first two movements and added comments and criticism here and there, let's continue:

  • From M1 to M12 you completely got me, but that abrupt pause took me out a little.
  • Nice counterpoint that keeps incorporating the voices up to they all reunite in a well notated and good-sounding web of voices where the sustained prominence of one is rather uncommon. Well constructed fugues always make me lose my chronoception.
  • Whoa, now that I reached the adagio mesto it gets even better, everything from (and specially) the dynamics to the disposition of voices and the beautiful mixing of them reaches new heights compared with everything else in the composition. I am not going to stop the track this time to analyse anything first and just re-listen, I cannot, these kind of pieces always are satisfying to listen to the point I cannot see where is the right spot to pause them and comment, so I won't do it. 
  • I read some legatos and in the clarinet (M161) and I wonder why you want them to stop every 3-4 notes instead of lasting up to the end of the phrase.
  • The clarinet solo convinces me when imagined in real life, but the transition to the next section not so much.
  • I'd say this movement ending is the best one up to now (to my ears).

Alone, a great work. Along with the other two movements, an inspiring third movement that acts as the great contrast (in tempo form and speed) with the other two and precedes the final movement of this surprising work. Surprising not because it's particularly revolutionary, but because this is supposed to be one of your first works, (isn't it?) and yet it's incredibly solid and it gets better with every movement. Even if it took that much to you, I am sure you'll make many more, but this isn't the proper time τ to digress. It is time to enter into the grand finale of this quintet and see if it's up for the high standards left by the prior movement.

Fourth movement:

  • OK. I'd not exaggerate if I say that the first few seconds did tell me more than a lot of sections of this piece. It's definitely keeping up to the previously established standards and honestly it surpasses my own expectations. All the tricks you've been using on the 3 prior movements that didn't convince me too much here work perfectly up to now. The abrupt pauses no longer sound neither a little bit unfitting, voices are much more recognizable and the clarinet and the strings mix as good as in the 3rd movement but with a more varied thematic. This movement is something else, it is completely a "level up" compared with the first. The use of dynamics is refined, the question-answer structure of many sections here demonstrates in my opinion the peak of the learning curve that can be seen in this composition which would just deserve my 5 stars only by this work alone. 
  • Really everything feels much more "clever" here.
    On 9/15/2022 at 4:59 AM, Henry Ng said:

    It seems like a long piece but I just cannot stop it.

    That can be perfectly seen around M389 of this movement. You could have ended there, but why? Nah, you kept on and produced epic sections like the one with sfs near M432.

  • I would really pay to see this movement in a concert and I'm sure I would not be able to look away. I wonder if what this movement tells and the fresh and powerful strength with which it speaks is also due to the preceding movements. In any case, God, I am already past min 58 and I don't see a clear trace of a final.

  •  I don't know Beethoven's string quartets enough to give an opinion about your statements. Wherever Beethoven is, I'm sure it's alright, but I have even heard a past motive from another movement just before reaching the first hour.

  • Lol there's even a cadenza at ~min 61 that sounds kinda jazzy in the end (perhaps you're interested @Tom Dahlenburg lol). 

  • I am not really sure of the effectiveness of pp vs. ppp but the ending is perfect and unexpected (in Eb). 

I promised myself that I had to check this piece fully before the end of this weekend, but lol, it's 23:59 so I'm afraid this reply will be published on Monday. No worries though, the whole piece was enjoyable both by parts and as a whole. My favourite movement was, by far, the fourth, which I listened to again before continuing with what I'm writing now. It's long, yeah, but I have listened to 10-15 min pieces (not necessarily here) that didn't say me anything and felt like much more time. 

 

Hats off, and my sincere congratulations for achieving this and persevering for years till this final draft. Again, it has been a pleasure to listen to this commendable, exciting, unsettling, peaceful, full of despair and hope work, the C minor clarinet quintet, movement by movement and as a whole, as well as reviewing it here. I know I've been pedantic specially with these last words, but really I'm still under the magic of the last movement and I just want to add: excellent, keep composing, keep uploading your works both on here and on YouTube!

Kind regards and thank you for sharing.
Daniel–Ømicrón.


 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Henry Ng said:

I am speechless skimming through your commentary. I will reply to yours later, after studying it. Thank you so much! I have nothing to say how thankful I am to your effort paid.

Kind Regards!!

Henry

 

It's nothing man, I really felt the need to review your piece and give it a deep listen. BTW, this probably won't help at all with diffusion but I have made a post in my YT channel featuring yours, perhaps some friend of mine takes the bait and listens 😎. (I also featured Tom's channel because he also uploads nice pieces to YT).
This is the publication (made in Spanish and English)https://www.youtube.com/post/Ugkx40Cev1leqmesBn-845cUuwIiGLBYKwEK 

I will possibly also feature your piece in my newly (re)made twitter, lol. 

Looking forward to your next publications!!

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I took the time to listen to your piece as a whole, and I will rate my favorite movements from greatest to least as a start:

  • Movement 3
  • Movement 1
  • Movement 2
  • Movement 4

Movement 1 is very strong

Movement 1 actually is quite strong, since you had a clear theme / motif, and you captured my interest for the full 20 minutes. A tremendous feat to have someone intently listen for that long. Your key changing is phenomenal, and loved your usage of the tremolo.  Chords though? Be careful because it is impossible for string instruments to play 3 notes a time. Always write your music with playability in mind. Even if you don't expect to ever get performed.

Be careful of tiring the ear

Let me just get this part out of the way. In terms of length of your piece, given the style (baroque), an hour long seems like a lot. When music doesn't have too many breaks and goes on for such a long time, it tends to tire the ear. You want to be mindful of that. I also think that your movements aren't differentiated enough to provide that sort of relief. For example, I've lately been listening to Tchaikovsky's symphonies, and they are super long. However, his movements are quite different from one another, and although they tie into his themes, they are still different enough as to keep the listener engaged.

I also feel like baroque style music is tough to listen to for such long lengths just due to the nature of the style (lack of pauses, breaks, lines of notes, etc). But let me stress, your first movement kept me engaged for the full 20 minutes....so you clearly have skill.

What if...

As I was listening to your work, I was thinking that you have the skill to write a full symphony. This piece is skillfully done, and your attention to detail is quite amazing. Your usage of crescendos and decrescendos, tremolos, pizzicato strings, legato and other articulations shows me that you have a lot of practice. I really would love to hear you write something with...more breaks. It would really bring out your music.

Speaking of bringing out your music...

Please invest in some better sounds! You are a fantastic composer with so much attention to detail, I want you to, no I order you to invest in instruments! And reverb! You need good reverb! If I am going to listen to an hour of your music, my ears require something that sounds much better than the sounds you are currently using. Even crappy soundfonts would sound better than what you have. Isn't there a Yamaha GM soundfont that's floating somewhere on the internet? Invest in better sounds, this is something I have to nix you on 🙃

Movement 3 is absolutely amazing, and I mean it

This movement was my favorite, and I will tell you the reason why. You changed it up big time in the beginning of the movement with those slow chords. Then you get into a fantastic fugue! I LOVE fugues and counterpoint. Your counterpoint here is skillfully done and you make use of all of the instruments, where they all have their different parts. No doubling up from what I could hear, and I could just imagine how much more amazing this section would sound with proper instruments. But here's another reason why you want better sounds. The viola is a beautiful instrument, and I want to hear the beauty of that viola play in your counterpoint. The cello is such a mellow sounding instrument, but sounds like it is droning on, and the violin sounds like it is whining. You get the point, right? It is a turn off to people who may be inexperienced at critical listening.

But it is such a great movement, and your strongest. You captured my attention for the entire duration of this movement as well, and that is a tough feat because I am quite picky with music. Really good job here. Overall this is a great piece and I would be curious to see how you do with larger orchestral writing in the future.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, chopin said:

Gave you a shoutout here, and clipped my favorite part here.

Just want to slightly mention: In the third movement I've used all 4 forms of subject: Prime in 1st section, Retrograde in 2nd section, joined by Prime, and Inverted, retrograde-inverted in the Eb major section. The coda is the appearance of all 4 forms together.

I will explain later in the post. I am just too happy to say anything, and I am speechless to you guys, what an effort you have paid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was so happy and exhausted reading the comments and criticisms that I could not reply yesterday. I will reply little by little now.

On 11/28/2022 at 10:11 AM, Omicronrg9 said:

It's nothing man, I really felt the need to review your piece and give it a deep listen. BTW, this probably won't help at all with diffusion but I have made a post in my YT channel featuring yours, perhaps some friend of mine takes the bait and listens 😎. (I also featured Tom's channel because he also uploads nice pieces to YT).
This is the publication (made in Spanish and English)https://www.youtube.com/post/Ugkx40Cev1leqmesBn-845cUuwIiGLBYKwEK 

I will possibly also feature your piece in my newly (re)made twitter, lol. 

 

23 hours ago, chopin said:

Gave you a shoutout here, and clipped my favorite part here.

I am so gracious about that. I basically never shout out for myself😅 since I am not sure whether my piece worth that. At least I know now that someone will be interested to it and that gives me motivation and confidence on composing. Thank you!

On being Symphonist

23 hours ago, chopin said:

As I was listening to your work, I was thinking that you have the skill to write a full symphony.

 

23 hours ago, chopin said:

Overall this is a great piece and I would be curious to see how you do with larger orchestral writing in the future.

That's my goal too. I started composing on solo piano, then on chamber works to prepare for that. I think I have to be more familiar with other genres first to compose symphonic pieces, since I am no Mahler. I don't listen to and analyze symphony enough to compose it, so I definitely need to listen to more and practice my orchestration first in the future. But thank you @chopin for giving me the compliment. I think compliments from you are really invaluable.

Scoring and Sound

On 11/28/2022 at 7:36 AM, Omicronrg9 said:
  • It's a pity we cannot listen to this with real instruments. I imagine it would cost a decent amount of money to hire professionals and a lot of effort to make it in a DAW, but perhaps better soundfonts would have helped. Anyway, after a short "presentation" things start to move.
  • Double-bass: It has a lot of work between M[60-70] and its solo at M100 would surely sound more convincing (as everything, but this in particular) with more real sounds. 
  • Nice, the whole section around min 4-5 is very enjoyable for me. It gives a brief mood change. God damn those tremolos would sound 10000 times better with the deserved sound!

 

On 11/28/2022 at 7:36 AM, Omicronrg9 said:

I know this is being too specific but since it's obvious how much you value (righteously) your work I'll be specific and tell you, beware with music notation software alignment, they do things like these: image.png.f81b48b2913c060afb170230ce245042.png which hinder readability a bit (see how the flat collides with the dot) and needs manual adjustment. This is an issue that Music Jotter won't have isn't that right @chopin? 😜

23 hours ago, chopin said:

Please invest in some better sounds! You are a fantastic composer with so much attention to detail, I want you to, no I order you to invest in instruments! And reverb! You need good reverb! If I am going to listen to an hour of your music, my ears require something that sounds much better than the sounds you are currently using. Even crappy soundfonts would sound better than what you have. Isn't there a Yamaha GM soundfont that's floating somewhere on the internet? Invest in better sounds, this is something I have to nix you on 🙃

I actually blame myself for the bad scoring and sound too. I used to have a naive and platonic conception that scoring and sound are just reflections of what's in my mind, the idea and sound in my mind is the best. But that's wrong, and you are right to point that out. You have to have clear scoring and good sound to help others know what's in your mind. But I am just too lazy and parsimonious on that issue, and I focus too much on composing process. That's my mistakes. I should take note of that too to allow others better listening experience. I am grateful to see how much care you guys have given me and urged me to invest in sounds!!

On 11/28/2022 at 7:36 AM, Omicronrg9 said:

Here image.png.d80835460862ad074385f1b6b669e461.png I get what you are trying to do but I am not totally sure whether you may get what you wanted.

 

23 hours ago, chopin said:

Chords though? Be careful because it is impossible for string instruments to play 3 notes a time. Always write your music with playability in mind. Even if you don't expect to ever get performed.

I know that triple stopping cannot be played together, though you can have an illusion of that if played in the short note value. I don't intend to have the 3 notes played together, I just want them to play like the opening chords of Beethoven's second Razumovsky Quartet. But the software (which is Sibelius 6, too outdated) just plays the three notes together. Thanks for pointing out that, I really have to consider using updated software.

Learning Curve

As @Omicronrg9mentioned, I myself believe there is a learning curve composing this piece. I started this piece on 2016, but only intensively composed the 1st movement in March 2019 and finished the first draft in July 2019. I then took time to compose other things, and focused on this only from Feb 2021 onwards. I've composed 2 string quartets before, but I don't think that's enough for this quintet. The structure and voicing in the first movement is for me quite sprase and unsatisfactory, comparing to the third and fourth movement. So I totally agree with what @Omicronrg9 has said:

On 11/28/2022 at 7:36 AM, Omicronrg9 said:

This movement is something else, it is completely a "level up" compared with the first.

Not until I compose the third movement, when I have to give the instruments their invidual voices due to the fugal and contrapuntal nature of the movement, do I recognize how to mix the clarinet and strings well. I also don't have experience on playing strings or winds, since I only play piano. I learn so much composing the third and fourth movements, and they definitely push my limit. It's weird to be thankful to your own music but I am.

I will then reply to your commentaries about the music itself, then movement by movement. Let me just summarize them in later posts!

Edited by Henry Ng
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Design of the Whole Quintet

This quintet for me is about despair, dream and hope. I have the first inspiration of the opening theme when I was riding a train, thinking about the despair of humanity and existence. I was thinking about Nietzsche, Kant, existentialism, Ingmar Bergman, and at that time I was listening to Brahms' Clarinet Quintet intensively. And suddenly the theme was born.

For me despair and angst in human beings will appear continuously and recklessly to exhaust you to death, just as what Kierkegaard said, "Despair is the "Sickness Unto Death"", in his book "Sickness Unto Death". I've read almost all Kierkegaard's books, so he definitely gives me an insight what despair and religion is.

On 11/28/2022 at 12:55 PM, chopin said:

Be careful of tiring the ear

Let me just get this part out of the way. In terms of length of your piece, given the style (baroque), an hour long seems like a lot. When music doesn't have too many breaks and goes on for such a long time, it tends to tire the ear. You want to be mindful of that. I also think that your movements aren't differentiated enough to provide that sort of relief. For example, I've lately been listening to Tchaikovsky's symphonies, and they are super long. However, his movements are quite different from one another, and although they tie into his themes, they are still different enough as to keep the listener engaged.

I also feel like baroque style music is tough to listen to for such long lengths just due to the nature of the style (lack of pauses, breaks, lines of notes, etc). But let me stress, your first movement kept me engaged for the full 20 minutes....so you clearly have skill.

I keep the pacing moving without rest in this piece because I would like to depict the exhaustion despair brings to us. This will for sure exhaust listeners and tire their ears out as @chopin mentioned. It is also maybe because of that you consider this piece in baroque style:

On 11/28/2022 at 12:55 PM, chopin said:

Let me just get this part out of the way. In terms of length of your piece, given the style (baroque), an hour long seems like a lot.

 

On 11/28/2022 at 12:55 PM, chopin said:

I also feel like baroque style music is tough to listen to for such long lengths just due to the nature of the style (lack of pauses, breaks, lines of notes, etc).

I intend for that effect, but don't know whether it is a really good thing to do because most listeners won't want to listen to exhausting music. I make sure there's maximal flow in the music to depict the restlessness of mind during despair.

I also deliberately tried to be monotonal to use C minor as the main key in all four movements .When I was planning the quintet back in 2016, I planned to have an A-flat major slow movement instead to allow the escape of despair to dream and let the listeners rest as well, but later found the idea of despair should include exhaustion as suggested by Kierkegaard, thus I banned the idea and use C minor in all movements instead.

The Motives

The opening motive, I call "Despair Motive", serves as the seed of everything happened in this piece:

 

1060175064_DespairMotive.png.4da472ffd827f29ef0903c498a86cb57.png  (Transposed in B flat, will be Eb-D-C-B natural, [0134] in set, or DSCH motive)

The beginning of the 2nd subject in the first movement is what I call "Dream Motive", which will later be transformed to "Hope Motive" by changing its context, is the second most important motive in the piece:

99362408_DreamMotive.png.8ceb9532122454003ca30ea9606c5f95.png(Transposed in B flat, will be Bb-Ab-Gb-Db, [0247] in set, or minor version [0138].

But the two motives are quite similar to each of them, with the only big difference of the last note. I combine them for the later movements, for example in the 2nd subject of the 2nd movement:

251247904_2ndsubjectof2ndMov.png.3ce1b7296551a70fe61bef0a387af1ee.png

Prime Subject of the Third Movement:

1299037044_Primesubjectof3rdMov.png.a4729e44fc5f114495d257a949d4628e.png

And the 1st theme of Fourth movement is directly borrowed from the subject of Third Movement, even more simplified:

1961610516_1stsubjectof4thMov.png.eb6f0de89d102f95a36a9cbfdc157caa.png

Even the ending is the combination of them, although despair is accepted and dream transformed to hope:

Ending.png.568e7c69cff41ea2b6bc1860eedece17.png

There's also a subsidiary motive of chromatic scale:

 963732595_Chromaticmotive.png.0883daa494af9948b54a6b8f840eeb7d.png

I understand that these motives need not to be heard during listening, but that's my compositional approach to do that. I am not a composer good at presenting "the moment" like @Omicronrg9, so I have to use these to help myself composing.

I will then explain movement by movement, stay tuned!

Edited by Henry Ng
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really love your passion and the amount of work you put into this! I'll touch upon a few points from memory after reading your responses...

Investing in sounds

I understand why many composers ignore this part. It's the same reason why programmers love to build but hate the debugging process. It's boring! But here is an analogy for you. As a computer engineer / programmer, if I am just building and not talking with the potential customer, and my software is unusable, isn't my obligation to fix the software before I continue building it? Otherwise, no one will use the software. Well its the same for composers, writing the music is just half the battle. Because guess what? The only thing your audience cares about is how it sounds. Most of your audience will not have the critical listening skills that I have, just keep that in mind. So having a really great audio output is extremely important. I clipped a part of my livestream where I talk about nuancing your music, and how important it is. The livestream is over an hour long so that's why I clipped just 60 seconds of it 😂.

I challenge you to...

Create your next composition with audio output in mind. Keep it under 5 minutes or so, this way you can practice working on your audio.

Music Appreciation

If you want to become a better composer, the easiest thing you can do is listen to other works! I listen to so much music, not for the sake of becoming a better composer though, but because I absolutely love music. The only reason why I became a composer was because of my love of listening to other works. It's the same reason why I became a computer programmer. Not because I wanted a job, but because I loved the art of creating new things. The more music you listen to (and I mean actually listen, don't just put the headphones on), the more well versed you will become at the art of composition!

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, chopin said:

I understand why many composers ignore this part. It's the same reason why programmers love to build but hate the debugging process. It's boring!

Yes I am definitely ignorant on this. When I am studying my lecturer already told me that music is a performance art, not an idealistic one floating above the world. I have never thought of this problem though, since I don't think the video presented to be the final form of it, but I guess I should have more knowledge on that and take serious consideration in it.

All my composing skills are self-taught. What I find interesting most in composition is form and structure. I remember when I was a teen, I loved reading music books about forms most. I loved sonata form and tried to use that form to compose, I loved motto theme (as from Tchaikovsky's Symphony no.4!) and used that in my composition. 

But to improve my ability I must take note on other parts of compositions, and your suggestion is really crucial as well! 

1 hour ago, chopin said:

Create your next composition with audio output in mind. Keep it under 5 minutes or so, this way you can practice working on your audio.

My audio output is always in mind, which for me is perfect but for others unfathomable and unrealistic to do so. I should try to learn the audio part of it more, or if I have the ability to have others play it for me, then it's fine. I will play my piano sonatas by myself and post them here in the future, so at least the audio issue can be solved.

1 hour ago, chopin said:

If you want to become a better composer, the easiest thing you can do is listen to other works!

I utterly agree with you! One of my problem is that I don't listen to enough music by different composers. Even if I do, I do not dig through them enough. It's such a blessing and luck for me to discover this forum by mere chance because I can discover much more music by different composers! I can listen to them and review them as learning, also have others reviewing my piece. These experiences are invaluable to my growth! I will definitely keep listening and reviewing pieces here as well as those by masters! i am really happy to join this forum!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi ... I have only one observation.  All (woodwind instruments) have different tonal qualities.  The clarinet has its beautiful - hollow - moody - and "jazzy" tone.  I didn't feel this work recognized and/or exploited those characteristics or other ones associated with the Clarinet.  I would have really loved for you to bring out the unique character of the instrument.  I wouldn't write for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, or Horn etc ... as I would for Clarinet.  Was there a reason you chose the Clarinet for this composition rather than another instrument?  Eager to hear your thoughts ...

Mark

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, MJFOBOE said:

Was there a reason you chose the Clarinet for this composition rather than another instrument?

Because that's the instrument I heard in my first inspiration. It's pure, naive but can be thoughtful in its clarion, deep and serious in its chalumeau and penetrating and powerful in its altissimo. It suffers, can be naive at the same time mature like human beings. I love its sound so much! Flute will be too simple and naive to suffer from despair, oboe too penetrating to shout out the despair (like that soliloquy in Beethoven' Fifth), bassoon too dark and sinister, horn too loud and public.

 

3 hours ago, MJFOBOE said:

I would have really loved for you to bring out the unique character of the instrument. 

I think I try to bring that out and do bring that out. I mainly use the register to bring that out. Flute and oboe cannot play the low D and bassoon the high C. The sound library for this audio is basically bad, so I guess a live playing will solve it 

3 hours ago, MJFOBOE said:

The clarinet has its beautiful - hollow - moody - and "jazzy" tone. 

I know that clarinet can be moody and jazzy, but that's not what I want in this piece. I use it here using Brahms and Mozart as my main inspiration. If it becomes moody and jazzy, then it will be quite shallow to reflect what I want to reflect here: the heaviness and seriousness of despair. I don't have a particular liking of jazz music since I don't like music to be relaxing. That's my prejudice you can say.

What will you write to a clarinet? I would like to know that. And thank you for reviewing this piece concerning the usage of clarinet!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

14 minutes ago, Henry Ng said:

What will you write to a clarinet? I would like to know that. And thank you for reviewing this piece concerning the usage of clarinet!!

 

Here's one piece I wrote for Clarinet and Piano. 

Mark

MP3
0:00
0:00
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

is the real clarinet or from software? That's really like live instrument! It is idiomatic writing! (But so do I, haha!) What a lovely piece that is! It's so sweet. I love the modulation to flat submediant, so effective and beautiful! But for my piece I don't intend this refreshed beauty. That's way too serious to have this light beauty.

You should really put this in an individual post!

Henry

Edited by Henry Ng
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey--

First, congrats on your musical staying power!

   I listened to the first movement.  And finished it.  For me this is a compliment as I have little time and I usually can't get that far...

I think a comment by Omicron sums up my general feeling of the movement:

I notice many modulations and ideas coming in and out. Though some are based on the main motive, one could get lost on a first listening. Not that this is necessarily bad, but I feel that the section that begins with the above measures could work alone as a movement itself.

      I recall from reading when Felix Mendelssohn's father brought a sample of 15 year old Felix's compositions (the piano quartets if I recall correctly) to Cherubini, asking him what he thought-

   His criticism:  Too many ideas in each movement!

                 Focus, develop.

 

       Other than that, he recognized a first order genius who would do well.  he was right.

 

        And so my impression, as an informed listener, is that this movement suffers from to many ideas.  While I am convinced you can harmonize anything, and write counterpoint for anything, the real question for any composition is WHY? ( WHY all the modulations?  (for example).  If things are getting stale, reiteration in another key will only go so far...) 

            As Omicron suggests, focusing on 3 or 4 ideas, developing with an ear towards HOW IT FEELS as a listener would bear immediate fruit.

                                             Lead with the heart, not the head.

                   I see you have many philosophical ideas (as did Mahler, interestingly), but music --as any film score composer knows-- is, ULTIMATELY about the FEELS.

            That is why John Williams is a multi millionaire and _______________ (fill in any academic or late 20th, early 21st century composer) are at best "doing well".

 

          Your technical competency is excellent.  I would do less to do more.

         

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Rich,

Thank you for reviewing the first movement! I myself think that the first movement is worst of the four movements too. Too many ideas and modulation, especially in the development section, that's right! That's a loose part of the piece. If I composed that now, I wouldn't like this. But as Omicron noticed, there must be a learning curve! At least it's much tighter in the later movements.

I can defend myself to say that the movement is composed in a span of almost 3 years between. I wrote only under an underlying sonata structure, and I myself was finding my way to compose the movement. That's why too many unnecessary passages are added.

5 hours ago, Rich said:

While I am convinced you can harmonize anything, and write counterpoint for anything, the real question for any composition is WHY? ( WHY all the modulations?  (for example)

But there is a reason why for all these. The modulations are used to fufill an underlying tonal plan: E minor, E major, G sharp minor, combined with the overall c minor, and B major, G major and Eb major, with the tonic taken each forms a augmented chord which I featured in this piece to stress the uneasiness of despair. But this treatment is not quite effective. It's much better in the fourth as @Omicronrg9 noted.

5 hours ago, Rich said:

Lead with the heart, not the head.

That's why the movement ends up like this. I actuall feel everything in this movement and the wrong I did was to use too much heart without a clear brain to provide a clear structure and cut out the unnecessary part. At that time I wrote what I feel then there without a clear plan, so it is messy writing. But I honestly felt all those feeling. I myself is a person easily fall to despair and melancholy. I feel that I would like to escape to dreams in the G flat major 2nd subject. I feel the crush of dream at the beginning of development, struggle in the e minor section, striving for hope in the E major section, the hexatonic pole of c minor. I feel the disbelief of of hope in the g sharp minor section, struggle again later, and despair overall in the later sections of c minor. I cannot agree with this because I never write anything I don't feel deeply. If you yourself cannot feel it, your audience certainly won't. But it's my mistake to write too much in this movement, I totally agree with you.

6 hours ago, Rich said:

as any film score composer knows-- is, ULTIMATELY about the FEELS.

Personally that's the reason why I don't like film music. They focus too much on the feeling but not what to reflect. Feeling and meaning should be balanced.

I invite you to listen to the later movements (if you have time)! That should provide a better listening experience. I will also explain in later posts concerning the structure and my feeling of the movements Thank you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/3/2022 at 1:22 AM, MJFOBOE said:

Here's one piece I wrote for Clarinet and Piano. 

Lol imagine reviewing a piece inside a post of another piece. Nice, and neat piece, very charming, sounds like what I would expect to be heard when my character returns home in some story, at least for some seconds. 

Thank you for sharing it again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Omicronrg9 said:

Lol imagine reviewing a piece inside a post of another piece. Nice, and neat piece, very charming, sounds like what I would expect to be heard when my character returns home in some story, at least for some seconds. 

Yeah that's a really nice piece. I feel like I've earned unearned views for that😅!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All these insightful reviews and not ONE Person asked two of the obvious questions: what is with the random 2/4 measure at the beginning? This pause could have just been made with a fermata over the last rest in the previous bar. Also.... why do you have the clarinetist using an alto (c) clef? This isn't idiomatic -at least from my experience. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...