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(incomplete) Overture in F major


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PeterthePapercomPoser
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Here's my ~40% completed French Overture (first movement of my keyboard suite WIP). In particular, the fugue will be set as an extended (~200 bars) "concerto"-type fugue (think Bach's Orchestral Suites) based on a ritornello theme (bars 39-70). The texture will alternate between "tutti" with material derived from the ritornello theme, and "duet" which will generally be a dialogue between the upper voices.

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9 hours ago, Henry Ng said:

Amazing! That's really mature counterpoint and fugal writing! I admire you for that! Hopefully the work will be completed early!

Thanks!

Do you find the fugal section a little chaotic-sounding? It's a mess of phrases of various lengths (2, 3, 4, 5 bars long all used here), and I'm not too sure if it sounds too disordered and disconnected.

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4 hours ago, muchen_ said:

Do you find the fugal section a little chaotic-sounding? It's a mess of phrases of various lengths (2, 3, 4, 5 bars long all used here), and I'm not too sure if it sounds too disordered and disconnected.

I don't find that messy. That irregular length will conversely create driving power for the music. Even in Bach's fugue there's always subjects get in early to form a stretto, making the phrase irregular. Maybe you can add stretto for your subject at the end too since the subject can easily be in stretto.

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48 minutes ago, Henry Ng said:

I don't find that messy. That irregular length will conversely create driving power for the music. Even in Bach's fugue there's always subjects get in early to form a stretto, making the phrase irregular. Maybe you can add stretto for your subject at the end too since the subject can easily be in stretto.

Cool! 😀

Good catch on the subject's stretto potential! I composed the subject with this in mind, and stretto will be one of the main ingredients of the duet sections. You can see this already from bar 71!

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32 minutes ago, muchen_ said:

Good catch on the subject's stretto potential! I composed the subject with this in mind, and stretto will be one of the main ingredients of the duet sections. You can see this already from bar 71!

Yeah I notice that stretto in bar 71 too. That can be further developed and extended. It can even be in three part stretto too! Or with augmentation at the bass with subject of normal values in soprano and alto/tenor. You have already used inversion well, and I don't think diminution and retrograde match the fugue subject. Your subject has a great potential that really allows all kinds of treatments and techniques into it.

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Nice, a couple of things though:

• The first 16 bars of the score look more messy than they should/could. I am almost sure you can get rid of and/or compress some silences without hindering readability. On the contrary, improving and easing it (as much as it'd be possible with 3 voices in a single hand)

• To my taste the use of mordents is a bit abusive combined with the presence of 32th notes in that rather short time interval. But if you find it good it's alright.

Questions: 
• Is the audio detuned half a tone?

Your work seems definitely challenging to play! Looking forward to see it finished (don't hesitate to ping me if you upload it in this very same post when it comes out please!)

Kind regards.
 

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3 hours ago, Omicronrg9 said:

Nice, a couple of things though:

• The first 16 bars of the score look more messy than they should/could. I am almost sure you can get rid of and/or compress some silences without hindering readability. On the contrary, improving and easing it (as much as it'd be possible with 3 voices in a single hand)

• To my taste the use of mordents is a bit abusive combined with the presence of 32th notes in that rather short time interval. But if you find it good it's alright.

Questions: 
• Is the audio detuned half a tone?

Your work seems definitely challenging to play! Looking forward to see it finished (don't hesitate to ping me if you upload it in this very same post when it comes out please!)

Kind regards.

Thanks for the comments! I spend a lot of time and effort on engraving - the spaghetti mess you see here is just an unavoidable consequence of an unfortunate marriage of a five-part piece and a French overture. I can't get rid of the silences and lines here because they indicate part movements without ambiguity, and the overture is basically composed on the principle of procedurally playing two key motives (and their inversions) across the five voices (like the exposition of a fugue). It's probably instructive to compare this to a keyboard reduction score of the six-voiced fugue of the Musical Offering. Both are very messy because rigour is of higher importance than readability for a pianist - and that is too my goal.

Of course, I'm still learning - and one aspect of the overture I don't like so much is its playability. Bars 4 and 6 are in particular borderline impossible to play. I think if I know of a pianist particularly interested in playing this work then I'd spend a good proportion of the time adjusting the counterpoint with playability heavily in mind!

Edit: forgot to mention - yes, the playback is set to Baroque pitch A=415Hz.

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I'm puzzled by the varied dynamics of this harpsichord piece.  Are there harpsichords that can vary their dynamics in the way you have it set up here (as in - not gradual, but terraced dynamics)?  Usually, as far as I am aware, the harpsichord doesn't have dynamic change capability, unless someone invented a harpsichord with some kind of special pedal or switch LoL.  Great job so far though!  Musically the piece is a great specimen of Baroque contrapuntal writing.  Thanks for sharing!

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11 minutes ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I'm puzzled by the varied dynamics of this harpsichord piece.  Are there harpsichords that can vary their dynamics in the way you have it set up here (as in - not gradual, but terraced dynamics)?  Usually, as far as I am aware, the harpsichord doesn't have dynamic change capability, unless someone invented a harpsichord with some kind of special pedal or switch LoL.  Great job so far though!  Musically the piece is a great specimen of Baroque contrapuntal writing.  Thanks for sharing!

Terraced dynamics (and timbre) is available on a dual manual harpsichord. The upper and lower manual pluck different sets of strings giving rise to differing volumes and timbres. Here's an example of a piece which explicitly calls for this. On some harpsichords there's even a little switch at the side which moves one set of plectrums extremely close to the strings, producing a distinctively "brassy" sound often associated with the lute when played. My Scherzo and Trio from the same suite employs exactly this effect.

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5 minutes ago, muchen_ said:

Terraced dynamics (and timbre) is available on a dual manual harpsichord. The upper and lower manual pluck different sets of strings giving rise to differing volumes and timbres. Here's an example of a piece which explicitly calls for this.

Wow - I really like that last Bach piece in that French Overture!  Usually the last movement of a Baroque dance suite is the gigue - but here there is a piece that comes after the gigue that Bach called an "echo", I guess because he used those terraced dynamics in a characteristic way of an echo (duh) LoL.  That's really clever!  Is this "echo" movement in the form of any particular dance from a dance suite or is it just an instrumental - not meant to be danced to?  Thanks for showing me this!

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19 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Wow - I really like that last Bach piece in that French Overture!  Usually the last movement of a Baroque dance suite is the gigue - but here there is a piece that comes after the gigue that Bach called an "echo", I guess because he used those terraced dynamics in a characteristic way of an echo (duh) LoL.  That's really clever!  Is this "echo" movement in the form of any particular dance from a dance suite or is it just an instrumental - not meant to be danced to?  Thanks for showing me this!

By the time Bach got around to composing dances, they have generally evolved into a category of movements with general rhythmic and tempo features that are not meant to be danced to. Bach sometimes even disregarded this - for example in this famous Sarabande. The note values used throughout are so atypical that the given name Sarabande is almost an oxymoron! It's also rare for Bach to add non-dances to a suite, but he did it on occasions. The Echo is an example, and another is the Fugue in BWV 997.

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