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The Tortoise and The Hare


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Hello,

I chose the Clarinet for the Hare and the Bassoon for the Tortoise with orchestral accompaniment. 

My reason for choosing the Clarinet as the Hare is because of the Clarinet's agility and capability to hop around very easily. The Clarinet also possesses an ability to make a laughing sound effect that I attempted to emulate (https://youtu.be/PMjAAH86cIk?t=30).
My reason for choosing the Bassoon as the Tortoise is because I imagined the Tortoise as a bass instrument. While most instruments are able to produce sonorous sounds in their lower registers, I believe the Bassoon was the best choice.

I decided to stick with the original Aesop story as my inspiration:
The music starts with the Tortoise's motif and the Hare making fun of the Tortoise for being too slow. I use a common childish tune with pizzicato strings to represent the child-like nature of the Hare while it dances around the Tortoise's motif using polytonality to represent how different the two are. 
The Hare asks the Tortoise a question, "Do you ever get anywhere?" The Tortoise then responds with proving that it can beat the Hare in a race. I imagined the Tortoise talking very slowly and labored, so I slow the tempo down to give the Bassoon time to talk. 
I like to think that there would be a moment of anticipation as the Fox readies the runners. The Fox is represented by the Oboe. I also put a spot in where the Fox would say, "Get ready, on your marks, get set, go!"
As the race begins, the Hare immediately jumps ahead of the Tortoise. It eventually sees that it is so far ahead that it begins to lighten its' pace and slow down a bit. The Hare will eventually mock the Tortoise's words from earlier.
As everything quiets down and the Hare is far beyond the Tortoise, it will take a nap. I write in a part for the Solo Clarinet where the performer will snore. The Brahms Lullaby is played with quiet, pizzicato strings to imply the Hare is sleeping. The Tortoise's motif then enters quietly building up to a forte and back to piano. I wanted to emulate the Tortoise passing by.  
The waking of the Hare is signaled by the Clarinet quote from the opening of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue - I always imagined that line as being a waking of something. With the Tortoise being nowhere in sight, the Hare begins to question itself before realizing the Tortoise must have passed it while it was sleeping. This realization is signaled by this sound effect (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6rq_8EQkOI).
The Hare then sprints as fast as it possibly can in an attempt to catch up to the Tortoise. However, it's too late.
The ending is a repeat of what the Tortoise said earlier with all orchestra instruments involved. I imagined that all of the other animals are rejoicing with and congratulating the Tortoise.
The Tortoise then walks off with a final laugh at the very end.

I included the judge's notes. The .pdf has minor changes that are not present in the .mp3.

Edited by WowBroThatWasReallyEdgy
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Hey man this is really awesome! You perfectly captured the mood the competition was going for, and the piece vividly portrays the narrative.

I really liked your use of motives, and how they portrayed each character. The clarinet with its fast scale runs and grace notes portrays the hare perfectly. As does the bassoon portraying the tortoise with its longer, more lyrical melodies and the staccato notes alternating by a tritone. I thought it was very effective to quote the turtle theme at M140 as his victory theme.

I think my favorite part was when the tortoise sneaks past the hare as he’s sleeping. Musically, it was very creative to juxtapose the sleeping theme (with the hare snoring on top of the Brahms quote) with the opening theme, symbolizing the tortoise slowing sneaking past the hare.

I have a few questions I wanted to ask as well:

  • M32, I’m curious why you voiced the brass this way? I noticed the trumpets are below the horns for the most part. I think this fanfare would stick out more if the trumpets were brought up higher in the voicing.
  • M43, did you mean to leave out the violas in the descending string run?
  • M51, the minor 9 between the clarinet and the strings jumps out at me, not sure if this was intentional. I think it sticks out a bit because the clarinet is ending its phrase and it sounds a little awkward to my ear.
  • M124, is there any reason you left out the trombone glissandos? When this theme is first heard in major mode I thought the trombone was really cool, I think it could have a similar effect here, especially since the hare is supposed to be scrambling to the finish line.
  • M132, for me personally the transition into the victory theme seems a little sudden and unexpected. Are the brass dotted eighth-sixteenth notes here related to another theme in the piece. Or perhaps quoting something? Maybe I’m just not picking up on it. I do think it leads well into the triumphant tortoise theme.


Overall I think this is really awesome and you should be very proud. Congratulations on your YCF HOF placement, I look forward to hearing more from you!

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Hey gmm,

I'm glad you liked my submission. To answer your questions:

2 hours ago, gmm said:

M32, I’m curious why you voiced the brass this way? I noticed the trumpets are below the horns for the most part. I think this fanfare would stick out more if the trumpets were brought up higher in the voicing.

Great suggestion! I think this slipped past me at some point as I got tired of reviewing these sections and just didn't notice it anymore. Thanks for pointing that out.

2 hours ago, gmm said:

M43, did you mean to leave out the violas in the descending string run?

Yes, I wanted real-life performers to have a break and mental preparation before they have spiccato eighth/sixteenth note runs. In the future, this part will definitely be up for review. I had to make a decision and stick with it.

2 hours ago, gmm said:

M51, the minor 9 between the clarinet and the strings jumps out at me, not sure if this was intentional. I think it sticks out a bit because the clarinet is ending its phrase and it sounds a little awkward to my ear.

It is intentional. I wanted the race to sound as goofy as possible with no stagnant feeling, so continuing the whole tone progressions in the "middle-ground" instruments made sense to me. 

2 hours ago, gmm said:

M124, is there any reason you left out the trombone glissandos? When this theme is first heard in major mode I thought the trombone was really cool, I think it could have a similar effect here, especially since the hare is supposed to be scrambling to the finish line.

Yes, the Hare isn't joking about beating the Tortoise anymore! It's all serious in this part. I only used the trombone glissando to implicate the Hare's childish antics. 

2 hours ago, gmm said:

M132, for me personally the transition into the victory theme seems a little sudden and unexpected. Are the brass dotted eighth-sixteenth notes here related to another theme in the piece. Or perhaps quoting something? Maybe I’m just not picking up on it. I do think it leads well into the triumphant tortoise theme.

Sudden is the intended effect I went for. The Hare wasn't expecting the Tortoise to be just steps from the finish line - I imagined the Hare coming to a complete stop with a look of awe across it's face. The Tortoise looking back at the Hare as it's foot crosses the finish line and the spectators going crazy. There's no musical reference or quote here as I did want it to be entirely different from the rest of the piece.

 

Thank you very much for your kind words! I hope I answered your questions thoroughly.

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