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String Sextet in G-flat major, 1st movement


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Thatguy v2.0
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"One of my favorite pieces I've heard on this site"

Henry Ng Tsz Kiu was awarded the badge 'Prolific Composer' and 5 points.

Hi everyone! I'm here to present my most recently finished work, the first movement of my String Sextet in G-flat major. I name this piece a subtitle of Heaven, Earth and Human to express my view on their relationship. (What a self bragging guy this is...) 

The piece is dedicated to my friend Johnson Ho. Guys and gals, please help me pray for his declining health and wish him all the best. He is definitely one of the reason why I start this piece and the reason why I finish this piece.

Special thanks to @Thatguy v2.0 with his always original ideas which sparked my inspirations and new thoughts. Every time after discussion he always gives me new ideas on my composition and musical idea. And he's the one who make this audio perfect in my opinion. Thx so much and I'm so happy I get to know you in this forum and become friends with you as my musical guidance.

I will post the mp3, pdf and YT video here first since I'm going to brag all those details after it haha🤣:

Final First Draft of First Movement of String Sextet.pdf

https://youtu.be/cI8MAn2XEPk

If you don't want to read them, just ignore them!!

(spoiler alert)😀😃😄😁😆😂🤣🥰😍🤩😘🤑😵🤢🤮🥶😨😱😭(spoiler alert)

(spoiler alert)😀😃😄😁😆😂🤣🥰😍🤩😘🤑😵🤢🤮🥶😨😱😭(spoiler alert)

(spoiler alert)😀😃😄😁😆😂🤣🥰😍🤩😘🤑😵🤢🤮🥶😨😱😭(spoiler alert)

(spoiler alert)😀😃😄😁😆😂🤣🥰😍🤩😘🤑😵🤢🤮🥶😨😱😭(spoiler alert)

(spoiler alert)😀😃😄😁😆😂🤣🥰😍🤩😘🤑😵🤢🤮🥶😨😱😭(spoiler alert)

This piece is inspired by the thoughts of the great New-Confucian Chinese philosopher, Tang Chun-i. I immerse much in his philosophy and am always delighted reading his huge books. This work is particularly inspired by his thoughts of 9 states of mind, and I really hope I can depict what I feel towards the ninth state, the state of Heavenly(天) Morality Transcending (sorry for my bad English Translation... but this is way too technical for my standard....), his philosophy and Chinese thoughts in general.

I choose G-flat major as the tonic since 1)the initial inspiration comes in this key, 2)it's the key of transcendence for me, 3) I want the sound less bright by get rid of those open strings notes, since truth for me is Aletheia in Heideggerian sense, which is hidden but to be disclosed only, rather than a bright thing to have. I know there are some discussions concerning key choice of strings recently, so I'm clarifying here.

I had my initial thoughts for this piece in 2021 May when I woke up midnight, but then I was busying with my composing of Clarinet Quintet in C minor and thus ignored it. I wished to continue it in 2022 August after finishing my Quintet, but find it real hard to continue since I don't have the craft to do it. Until I joined YC and saw the following two posts:

(Hey Jean @Jean Szulc I said I would learn something from your piece, and this is the product!!!!🤘🤘🔥🔥 Thank you! Will you post here again?)

(Yo Vince my bro!!!🤘🤘 Thank you!)

These two are absolutely great pieces (go check for them! Vince's piece is still on the "Our Picks" section) and they use the quartal harmony so well. I also learn from Jean's piece on the more extended techniques for strings. Then I had some ideas to finish the piece. This one gonna be something Chinese which is weird in a sense that despite being a Chinese I never write something Chinese. It's always Beethovanian and I really would like to reduce that element in my new piece. After writing the Clarinet Quintet in C minor, especially after having complete an all-controlling piece (esp. the 4th movement), I realized that I have too much reliance on forms and motives and I hope I can make them less explicit in my new piece. I love sonata form very much, but you cannot compose every pieces in it. And for me all the hard work pays off.

For the instrumentation is two violins, two violas and two cellos. I love how the addition of 1 extra viola and cello (to a standard String Quartet) thickens the voice and strengthen the middle and low registers. It also gives more chance for viola and cello to sing while having their partners doing the accompaniment. For me the violins stand for the Heaven, violas stand for human and cellos stand for earth, though this is not mandatory interpretation of the piece as it's not always strict imagery. 

The structure of this piece is more a 3 part one. I have added some rehearsal marks on it to indicate the parts, and I will describe below with some (hopefully) interesting thoughts: (Timepin according to the video)

First Section:

00:06 A, main theme. The accompanying texture comes from the first movement of Brahms's String Quintet no.2, one of my favourite of his piece. It starts with viola to emphasize the human call for me. Notice the theme in viola II in 00:23. That theme will appear throughout the whole movement. (Is this a Qi(氣) theme?)00:31 another important theme. 00:38. I like this theme for its contemplative nature. The theme comes from my Clarinet Quintet in C minor. Can you find it? I find it two days before in a wonder LoL.

00:54 B, continuation in high register with added voice.

01:24 C, transition, old theme disguised as a new one.

01:54 D, in D flat major/Mixolydian. The "Heaven" section in my original planning.

02:36 E, continuation in G flat major.

02:59 F, I love the conclusion in 03:13 very much. Modulate to C major to next section in 03:42 and I love the transition so much since it's real hard to compose.

03:42 G, the "Earth" section in my original planning, with cellos taking the lead

04:12 H, repeating the earth section in G-flat major

04:35 I, closing of first part, one of my favourite portion of the movement. I especially love that A-flat major outburst in 04:46. It's magical and I have no idea where does it come from as I only realize it's composed after I finish it. I always imagine Leonard Bernstein conducting this part, LoL. Very synchorinzed here, but it's denied and turn to minor (which will be further developed in the 2nd movement)

Second Section:

05:21 J, the minor section. I believe this is the worst part of the movement but Vince's audio saves it. It appears a bit anguished here. The new theme in 05:28 is the basis of both section II and III. Some sort of fugato and imitations happen here though it's not time for it.

06:47 K. I love this part!! Very fluent in violins, and I like 07:06. It's a diminution of the theme of the previous part. I use sul ponticello here to make the sound more silvery.

07:29 L. Trying to reach back to opening section by quoting the first three notes of the theme. But it's external only since it's in F sharp major. Maybe the key difference is only visual and I may change it to G flat major. Also I don't know whether the harmonics work for the violins. I like this section though.

08:24 M. A pizzicato section further developing what's doing in part L. Daniel @Omicronrg9 must have inspire me for this part. I like the contemplativo section in 08:56 too with some call and response between the two violas (humans)

09:34 N. Transition to section III. I freakingly love this part! The transition for me is smooth, and it's transforming the minor theme of section II to a major/pentatonic one.

Third Section.

10:05 O. Introduction of the fugue subject. 10:20 is the start of a triple fugue, with the subject in Violin the main one for me. 10:52 theme from 00:38 quoted. Subject through G flat, Eb minor, G flat.

11:10 P. First longer episodes, theme from part F quoted Subject through D flat. I love the preparation for the first climax of the fugue in 11:41. I love the climax in 11:48! Subject in G flat.

12:03 Q. Another episode to direct to C flat major. Themes in part D and the theme in 00:31 quoted. Subject in C flat and A flat minor

12:42 R. The great Con spirito! One of my favourite portion of the movement, The A-flat major is chosen to echo in climax of section I in part I. Final appearance of the subject of the fugue in climactic G-flat major, and leads directly to the coda. In 13:17 I have a moment when the first cello is higher than the violins to correspond with a Chinese philosophical concept in the book of Change, when the power of earth is up and the power of heaven is underneath, it's auspicious since the heaven and earth are communicating instead of isolating themselves. The Chinese words 乾下坤上 is written in the score though lest you know Chinese haha!

13:28 S. Coda, with a decreasing of tempo. I am initially perplexed whether to write like this, since my little Wind Quintet piece has kind of same treatment in its coda. But I just decided to write like this since it's beautiful and the two pieces are interconnected anyway. I want this passage to be like human successfully synchronize with the heaven and earth. It's quite similar to a Chinese opera here in my opinion. I freakingly love that half cadence in 14:03!! The coda ultima in 14:08 is written much earlier, in Nov 5th 2022. I know the conclusion but find the ways to it very difficult. But I'm happy I am able to achieve this ending!!

This plan to be a 2-movement work, but I'm not gonna compose the 2nd movement until I'm ready. It will be very different from this movement though.

It's such a long post LoL. Feel free to criticize or critique it if you have anything you don't like about it, or compliment it if you want! I don't mind any comments and I will love to have all of them whether they are long or short, good or bad, positive or negative!

Thanks for listening! If you happen to read through this LONG post, thanks so much for it!!!!! I have too many things to tell LoL. Love y'all!!

Kind Regards,

Henry

 

 

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A contemplative piece indeed. I can hardly find major faults at anything, other than my own inadequate techniques thus finding a lot of passages awkward for my hand, and that the piece sometimes sound slightly repetitive and long.
But I understand the necessity of the G-flat key in order for section G to sound especially effective.

The beginning of the piece somehow immediately reminds me of Dvorak's American lol, maybe it's the pentatonic harmony.

Perhaps a few things I could critique, but then again it's always easier to say what's wrong than what's right. The whole movement feels organic and smooth.
Bars 111-113 I don't understand the tremolo with slurs.
Section K: just bars 375-376 and nothing afterwards, do you think the sound gets more powerful if both cello play double stops?
Bar 580 random alto clef lol

I do hope your friend finds comfort in your music.

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Beautiful work, @Henry Ng Tsz Kiu !

It was nice receiving on my email that you had mentioned me in a post, an coming here to see you were inspired by my work.

Congratulations on a very expressive first movement, it is very soothing throughout, and seems consistently well written. I like the central section, in minor - the contrast was very much needed in my opinion, and it was refreshing when it arrived.

The themes sound really nice, which for your style is really important, so congratulation on that aspect aswell.

I don't understant why the pizzicatos are also notated with stacatto markings, and sometimes even with stacattissimo. It's not like you could control the duration of a stacatto anyways (technically you could, by raising the finger off the fingerboard before the sound died off, but it's not like it would make much of a difference either), so I would just remove the stacatto markings throughout. Unless you have a precise reason why you did it, of course. In that case, notate it on the beginning of the score so that there will be no confusion on the part of the performers.

Also, some slurs are way too long. For exemple on M.79. When writing for strings, don't forget that slurs indicate bow changes.

As a fan of chinese music, and of Qigang Chen in particular, I loved to hear your sextet. I'm very interested in hearing your second movement, and in where you take this. I personally feel like we need a big contrast next, given that the first movement is already very continuous in its writing. But of course, this is for you to decide :)

Good luck! 

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Hi @PCC,

Thanks for your review! 

4 hours ago, PCC said:

But I understand the necessity of the G-flat key in order for section G to sound especially effective.

Haha for me the inspiration just comes in in G flat major, so I use that key anyway.

4 hours ago, PCC said:

The beginning of the piece somehow immediately reminds me of Dvorak's American lol, maybe it's the pentatonic harmony.

Yeah I love Dvorak's American as well! But I really forget him while composing!

4 hours ago, PCC said:

Bars 111-113 I don't understand the tremolo with slurs.

Yup I should delete the slur! Thz for pointing out.

4 hours ago, PCC said:

Section K: just bars 375-376 and nothing afterwards, do you think the sound gets more powerful if both cello play double stops?

I think I'm reserving the more powerful double stops for later usage like in b.395.

4 hours ago, PCC said:

Bar 580 random alto clef lol

Yeah that's a good catch! I should put that later in b.581.

5 hours ago, PCC said:

I do hope your friend finds comfort in your music.

Thank you, I hope he can too.

Thanks for your in-depth review!

Henry

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Hi @Jean Szulc,

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

It was nice receiving on my email that you had mentioned me in a post, an coming here to see you were inspired by my work.

Haha looks like my strategy works! Thank you so much for your Octet! I do inspired by your marvellous piece. Do you have recent pieces composed? If you do, will you have a chance to share it here as well? You are so talented.

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

don't understant why the pizzicatos are also notated with stacatto markings, and sometimes even with stacattissimo. It's not like you could control the duration of a stacatto anyways (technically you could, by raising the finger off the fingerboard before the sound died off, but it's not like it would make much of a difference either), so I would just remove the stacatto markings throughout. Unless you have a precise reason why you did it, of course. In that case, notate it on the beginning of the score so that there will be no confusion on the part of the performers.

The reason is probably I get confused myself LoL. Thanks for pointing out the issue. Yeah a pizz. should not have a staccato or staccatissimo on it and I will fix it. Luckily it's just a first draft!

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

Also, some slurs are way too long. For exemple on M.79. When writing for strings, don't forget that slurs indicate bow changes.

Yeah I know slurs indicating bow changes, but since I do not play a string instrument myself, so sometimes I am not writing idiomatically. I will fix on the issue and thx for pointing out!

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

Congratulations on a very expressive first movement, it is very soothing throughout, and seems consistently well written. I like the central section, in minor - the contrast was very much needed in my opinion, and it was refreshing when it arrived.

The themes sound really nice, which for your style is really important, so congratulation on that aspect aswell.

Thank you! Yeah theme is always important for me even though I'm not writing too motivic here. I'm not as rhythmic as your style is! I do think keeping the piece moving is important though.

1 hour ago, Jean Szulc said:

As a fan of chinese music, and of Qigang Chen in particular, I loved to hear your sextet. I'm very interested in hearing your second movement, and in where you take this. I personally feel like we need a big contrast next, given that the first movement is already very continuous in its writing. But of course, this is for you to decide 🙂

Unfortunately I am not at all familiar with modern Chinese composers like Chen Qigan, Tan Dun, Chen Yi etc. My second movement will be very different from this one, hopefully, as it will be much more in minor mode. I'm sure it will bring a contrast instead of all pentatonic here.

Thanks Jean for your advice and encouragement! Hopefully we'll see more of your great works here soon!

Kind Regards,

Henry

 

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Wowee, this piece starts off and ends in modern connotations, but the base of your piece has a more classical, baroque feel to it. And the way you are integrating from modern -> baroque and back is not something I think I've ever heard before.

These are the types of atmospheres in your piece that stood out to me:

  • Modern - pentatonic (did you put in some modern Bach at around 1:47?)
  • Somewhat Straussian at various parts (early Richard Strauss)
  • Turning into melancholy -> baroque / fugue (your least favorite part? but this part is awesome, how could this be your least favorite part??)
  • Your baroque section I feel nails it, but I love this type of music. The rhythmic variations that you have are well done, and you turn into an early Straussian at around 6 minutes in. At least to my ears in a subtle way.
  • Pizzicato section is gorgeous, and actually reminds me a little of Tchaikovsky at around 8:30 in. Damn...how did you do that?
  • And the fact that you are able to take these styles and smoothly transition back into the pentatonic scale is so crafty.
  • At about 10 minutes in, it almost sounds like it could be video game music of an overworld, with the repetition you executed.

The recording is also well done, great job @Thatguy v2.0! A piece like this deserves a good recording.

PS: I might suggest in your YouTube video, to break your music into the chapters as you've broken up in your post here.

 

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Hey Mike,

Thx for your detailed and insightful review! 

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Wowee, this piece starts off and ends in modern connotations, but the base of your piece has a more classical, baroque feel to it. And the way you are integrating from modern -> baroque and back is not something I think I've ever heard before.

I've never thought of this interpretation and honestly it inspires me. Should I go for Mass, Motet, Gregoraian chant setting, ars perfecta, faxbourdon, isorhythm, monophonic, meterless style in the 2nd movement before returning to modern? I would really consider these.

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Modern - pentatonic (did you put in some modern Bach at around 1:47?)

No I don't think of Bach in this moment haha! I'm thinking of a theme in Db mixolydian. Maybe there's Bachian blood in me?

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Somewhat Straussian at various parts (early Richard Strauss)

Wow I listen to very few Strauss. I should listen to much more. Which piece of him do you think my piece reminds?

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Turning into melancholy -> baroque / fugue (your least favorite part? but this part is awesome, how could this be your least favorite part??)

That's actually one of the last part I completed, only before the penultimate section before the coda ultima. I feel like I force the passage there and the melancholy is artificial and fake. But maybe I'm wrong.

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Your baroque section I feel nails it, but I love this type of music. The rhythmic variations that you have are well done, and you turn into an early Straussian at around 6 minutes in. At least to my ears in a subtle way.

Thx! I do use this technique much in this movement l: introduce a theme by its augmentation (like here) or diminution (like part O) first before getting in the real thing.

3 hours ago, chopin said:

Pizzicato section is gorgeous, and actually reminds me a little of Tchaikovsky at around 8:30 in. Damn...how did you do that?

I don't know... It just comes in like this... I think Daniel @Omicronrg9 must have helped me with this process as he complimented the use of pizz. in my Clarinet Quintet post here.

3 hours ago, chopin said:

And the fact that you are able to take these styles and smoothly transition back into the pentatonic scale is so crafty.

Yup I love that too, and I know how much work I have put to make the transitions as smooth as possible. Thx!

3 hours ago, chopin said:

At about 10 minutes in, it almost sounds like it could be video game music of an overworld, with the repetition you executed.

Yup I was thinking of the state of Heavenly Morality Transcending here. The fugue is a good devicr for it, since I'm going to display it rather than develop it here (Who can develop Heaven?).

3 hours ago, chopin said:

I might suggest in your YouTube video, to break your music into the chapters as you've broken up in your post here.

Originally I thought YT viewers wouod not take a look into my commentary, but you're right and I've just copy the text here to there!

3 hours ago, chopin said:

The recording is also well done, great job @Thatguy v2.0! A piece like this deserves a good recording.

I can't thank enough for Vince's effort. It's so great to have one who knows music, knows how to compose and so good at nuancing. His inspirations are also crucial to the composing of this movement as well.

Thanks Mike!

Henry

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33 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

Wow I listen to very few Strauss. I should listen to much more. Which piece of him do you think my piece reminds?

Take a listen to Richard Strauss – Divertimento after Couperin. There are parts of your piece that really remind me of this. I suspect this is an earlier work of Strauss, but nevertheless, there are some goodies here.

33 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

That's actually one of the last part I completed, only before the penultimate section before the coda ultima. I feel like I force the passage there and the melancholy is artificial and fake. But maybe I'm wrong.

You're quite wrong here. In music, its ok to have sudden mood changes, as long as the transition makes sense. You ease the listener into this transition, making this change quite pleasant. This change of atmosphere is critical in keeping the listener engaged, and you do just that.

33 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

Originally I thought YT viewers wouod not take a look into my commentary, but you're right and I've just copy the text here to there!

Ah, I see. I just feel like if you broke up your music into movements within YT, it will help the listeners see the different parts. Either way, chapters are also good for keywords! You can place your chapters below your description, which is what I do with my videos.

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Hi Henry!

I didn't read the really detailed description of the form of the piece, as I find much joy in just listening to it without having to know everything that is happening formally or the keys that you visit on your way to the final destination.  I find this piece to be like a breath of fresh air!  For me, for some reason, I always associate this type of lively Chinese music as being full of air or wind.  Even though this is not a piece for winds, the strings in this piece give this kind of really windy and busy impression to me.  I think it's the combination of pentatonic melodies with the quick tremolo ostinato accompaniment that contributes to this.  It reminds me of Shen Yun - a New York based Chinese dance company.  Their commercials (I have yet to go and actually see their performance) are always full of music of high energy and excitement which your piece reminds me of.  I like the whole piece - there isn't a weak spot or least favorite spot for me.  I like the contrasts that you introduce with the pizzicato strings and counterpoint.  Thanks for sharing!

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Hey Peter,

12 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I didn't read the really detailed description of the form of the piece, as I find much joy in just listening to it without having to know everything that is happening formally or the keys that you visit on your way to the final destination. 

Haha please just ignore them!

12 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I find this piece to be like a breath of fresh air!  For me, for some reason, I always associate this type of lively Chinese music as being full of air or wind.  Even though this is not a piece for winds, the strings in this piece give this kind of really windy and busy impression to me.  I think it's the combination of pentatonic melodies with the quick tremolo ostinato accompaniment that contributes to this.

Yup I really want to have the piece flowing like how the heavenly morality transcend and flow, as I'm inspired by this philosophical theory. For me the quick tremolo accompaniment is influenced hy Brahms String Quintet no.2.

12 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I like the whole piece - there isn't a weak spot or least favorite spot for me.  I like the contrasts that you introduce with the pizzicato strings and counterpoint. 

Thx Peter! That's a hard earned compliment I think especially from you haha!

Henry

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Henry Ng Tsz Kiu
This post was recognized by Henry Ng Tsz Kiu!

"Thank you so much for your effort on nuancing my piece! It may be easy for you but I'm sure it's a ton of works. I enjoy this collaboration very much!"

Thatguy v2.0 was awarded the badge 'Collaborator' and 5 points.

I've know I've mentioned a bunch of things about this piece to you already, and I've heard this in it's entirety roughly 700 times , but I figure I'll share some thoughts here as well. 

This is EASILY my favorite piece of yours. You're so knowledgeable about music and composition and it always shows in your music, whether it's this or the () piano piece or anything else. But some of your other pieces to me just show how knowledgeable you are and what a fine and thoughtful craftsman you are. This music however shows me a bit of who you are. It's just so delightfully you. 

Sure, there are your influences that shine through in this piece, but I think you also give us a healthy imaginative soundscape for us all to bathe in, one that couldn't have been crafted by anyone but you. It's my favorite thing about the music. 

Onto the music:

You had my attention right away with the first A section. There's innocence and a jovial quality to the music, vibrant and fervent in all it's themes and textures. The themes from this section got stuck in my head for days, and on several occasions I listened to this without the score or critical producer ears on and just enjoyed it for what it is. I like the heavier static textures in this section, they kind of remind me of the 1st mvmt. of Beethoven 6. Those con spirito spots were awesome as well. 

The B section grew on me after the first listen, which btw I'm glad you didn't go crazy heavy with the counterpoint there. I didn't feel like it would have needed it, but perhaps a tease of it for movement 2? I absolutely love the pizzicato section here though. 

The return of the A material was nice and expected and ofc needed imo. I love all the surfing you did through various keys, and you always kept the material refreshed. There was so much thought put into this, through the vast array of textures and clever tossing of themes through the different instruments. 

I'd also like to say, that even though I'm praising this piece very highly, I don't want you to think this is the key to your success as a composer. Write pastiche Beethoven if you want to, or stray away from pentatonics in the next one, or write a dense fugue after this. The point is, to me this was the first time I truly heard your own voice through your music, and no matter the medium or ensemble, I hope that your voice is always intertwined with the music that you write. 

For the future, I'd say the only thing I would change is how you're using the hairpins for dynamics. Our only real issues with playback were the long stretches on phrases with constant hairpins but not giving a dynamic marking. I think it'd be fine for real musicians, but since we're relying on computer playback for now, I think it just confuses Sibelius. Aside from that, your score was phenomenally clean. A couple spacing issues here and there, but no big deal otherwise. 

Great work Henry, it was fun to work on this with you. Trust me, it wasn't a ton of work, mainly just fixing volume issues. I'd happily do it again. 

Thanks for sharing this wonderful music with us!

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8 hours ago, expert21 said:

One Word: Wow. 

I'm speechless at how good this is.

Thanks Arjuna! A "wow" really boosts my confidence as I am always lack of it and sometimes I feel like this Sextet is not as good as I think. I am again in a period of postpartum depression right now after giving birth to my piece.

Henry

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Hey Vince,

Thanks for much for your sharing. I am relatively late for this as I'm having some thoughts on how to reply.

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

For the future, I'd say the only thing I would change is how you're using the hairpins for dynamics. Our only real issues with playback were the long stretches on phrases with constant hairpins but not giving a dynamic marking. I think it'd be fine for real musicians, but since we're relying on computer playback for now, I think it just confuses Sibelius. Aside from that, your score was phenomenally clean. A couple spacing issues here and there, but no big deal otherwise. 

Yeah that's careless of me and I will change that in the future. Thx for your nuancing!

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

This is EASILY my favorite piece of yours. You're so knowledgeable about music and composition and it always shows in your music, whether it's this or the () piano piece or anything else. But some of your other pieces to me just show how knowledgeable you are and what a fine and thoughtful craftsman you are. This music however shows me a bit of who you are. It's just so delightfully you. 

Haha I hope I really do hear what you say to me to make my piece more original and unique. I'm happy that it does appear more unique in this sextet movement. For me I think previously I think more on the emotional aspect of the piece, but now also on how to express the emotions in a more unique way. That's the biggest change I think I've reflected on after joining YC and meeting you. I have to admit that you remain the biggest influence on my music besides myself since my joining YC, and I'm very grateful to have known you Vince.

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Sure, there are your influences that shine through in this piece, but I think you also give us a healthy imaginative soundscape for us all to bathe in, one that couldn't have been crafted by anyone but you. It's my favorite thing about the music. 

Yup that's one thing I want to maintain in my major works: I always want my works to be healthy and restrained. The world for me is getting worse and worse now, and I don't want to add emotional burden to the world. Schubert's and Tchaikovsky's are beautifully tragic pieces, but the world has suffered enough for me to compose more painful pieces. I really would like my piece to be more useful to enhance listeners' sense of elevation and happiness, even though I appear bragging on this. That's my hope to achieve this as I don't want my music to stay in a lower level of personal sufferings.

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

You had my attention right away with the first A section. There's innocence and a jovial quality to the music, vibrant and fervent in all it's themes and textures. The themes from this section got stuck in my head for days, and on several occasions I listened to this without the score or critical producer ears on and just enjoyed it for what it is. I like the heavier static textures in this section, they kind of remind me of the 1st mvmt. of Beethoven 6. Those con spirito spots were awesome as well. 

Thx Brahms for his String Quintet no.2 on this! I definitely get the inspiration from him.

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

The B section grew on me after the first listen, which btw I'm glad you didn't go crazy heavy with the counterpoint there. I didn't feel like it would have needed it, but perhaps a tease of it for movement 2? I absolutely love the pizzicato section here though. 

I still think it's the worst part of the piece, after quite a number of people say the F# minor fugue is amazing and even one of the BEST part of the piece!!!!! For sure the composer is only one of the commentator of his own piece and he is not a special one, as once the piece is born the composer should let his pieces go, just like how a mother let go of her children. For me the pizzicato section is commonplace, but again my words are no way authoritative haha! It's just natural to write pizz. for the opening theme, I don't know why.

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I'd also like to say, that even though I'm praising this piece very highly, I don't want you to think this is the key to your success as a composer. Write pastiche Beethoven if you want to, or stray away from pentatonics in the next one, or write a dense fugue after this. The point is, to me this was the first time I truly heard your own voice through your music, and no matter the medium or ensemble, I hope that your voice is always intertwined with the music that you write. 

To be honest, I don't know why I write like this for the movement. I never try to be pentatonic or Chinese but the result IS indeed pentatonic and Chinese. For me I will just write what the music need and hopefully my voice shines through them! The 2nd movement, I promise, will be a very different movement. I think I will have some post-tonal treatment of the opening materials in the opening section, and I hope some Gregorian chant elements can mix too with antiphonal texture. I have some ideas right now but I'm just focusing on the first movement of my Third Piano Sonata right now (which will be finished soon I guess)so let's see what will happen!!!

On 6/5/2023 at 9:54 AM, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Great work Henry, it was fun to work on this with you. Trust me, it wasn't a ton of work, mainly just fixing volume issues. I'd happily do it again. 

Thanks for sharing this wonderful music with us!

Thx again for your tons of work (for me)!! Will I be shameless to ask for your help on other pieces, for example my little wind quintet piece?

Kind Regards!!!

Henry

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I can't imagine myself composing for more than 2 instruments and you did it for 6, it's awesome

The whole piece sounds magical and inspiring hehe 

I can't really review the piece in terms of harmony,etc

but my ears love it 😊

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On 7/5/2023 at 3:46 AM, 44W74l4 said:

I can't imagine myself composing for more than 2 instruments and you did it for 6, it's awesome

The whole piece sounds magical and inspiring hehe 

I can't really review the piece in terms of harmony,etc

but my ears love it 😊

Hey Aaron,

Thank you so much! This is for sure the most difficult movement I've ever composed! Thank you for your appreciation!

Henry

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow!

I don't think I have much else to add: everybody here seems to have provided heaps of constructive criticism and then some, so I'll just be providing my own opinions regarding the piece.

I caught some passing elements which sounded like Dvorak's 'America' string quartet (probably the string tremolos). The ebbs and flows of the music feel totally natural and work well for me. The pentatonic harmony is a joy to listen to, and the melody crossing instruments and doubling across certain parts made me reflect on my own string writing (probably because I don't write for strings often haha). Disregarding the theme and subject matters you sought to express, this is an enjoyable, well-structured piece of music; taking said themes into account makes it a truly excellent one!

Glimpses of early Mendelssohn's musical prowess (especially his D major sextet, op. 110) are evident in how deftly you handled the textural harmonies and structure of the piece. I feel I may have formed a new love for sextets after first listening to Mendelssohn's, and now that love and admiration is well-cemented thanks to you! 👍👍

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I don't think I had heard this work, mea culpa.
It's fantastic that you have this ability to organize large format works. And even more so with combinations as difficult as this one.

The tonality seems to me a bit unusual for a string ensemble. Is there a reason for this choice? Then I see that it modulates to C, it seems to me, a noticeable but very nice change.

I find the treble string work hypnotic and when combined with other lines below even more so. Some of the double bass entries are powerful.

The part where he modulates again (J) and the instruments dialogue is also very nice.

To me it resonates with certain contemplative styles of Nordic and Baltic composers, as well as some P. Glass-like technique.

A great work.


 

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Hi @Awsumerguy,

On 7/19/2023 at 12:08 PM, Awsumerguy said:

I caught some passing elements which sounded like Dvorak's 'America' string quartet (probably the string tremolos).

Yeah several people mention this! I love his America Quartet very much but I don't think I have consciously adapt it, as I think that particular Brahms Quintet is more an influence. Maybe it enters my subconsciois mind!

On 7/19/2023 at 12:08 PM, Awsumerguy said:

The ebbs and flows of the music feel totally natural and work well for me. The pentatonic harmony is a joy to listen to, and the melody crossing instruments and doubling across certain parts made me reflect on my own string writing (probably because I don't write for strings often haha). Disregarding the theme and subject matters you sought to express, this is an enjoyable, well-structured piece of music; taking said themes into account makes it a truly excellent one!

Yeah I make sure it flows well! It's quite difficult with an extra viola and cello, but I like the added thickness and allowing the viola and celli to sing without accompanying!

On 7/19/2023 at 12:08 PM, Awsumerguy said:

Glimpses of early Mendelssohn's musical prowess (especially his D major sextet, op. 110) are evident in how deftly you handled the textural harmonies and structure of the piece. I feel I may have formed a new love for sextets after first listening to Mendelssohn's, and now that love and admiration is well-cemented thanks to you! 👍👍

Actuallt tbh I have never heard of this piece before! I should take a look into it! 

Thx for your review!

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Hi Luis,

17 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

I don't think I had heard this work, mea culpa.
It's fantastic that you have this ability to organize large format works. And even more so with combinations as difficult as this one

Yeah I think this is the most diffficult piece I write, with that Sextet combination with few colours to choose from than orchestral piece, and trying to write without Sonata form. But I am happy for the result!!

17 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

The tonality seems to me a bit unusual for a string ensemble. Is there a reason for this choice? Then I see that it modulates to C, it seems to me, a noticeable but very nice change.

Yeah G flat major is for sure a difficult key for string players. I choose that key

On 6/2/2023 at 8:41 AM, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

since 1)the initial inspiration comes in this key, 2)it's the key of transcendence for me, 3) I want the sound less bright by get rid of those open strings notes, since truth for me is Aletheia in Heideggerian sense, which is hidden but to be disclosed only, rather than a bright thing to have.

Idk why I have the inspiration to modulate to C major there haha. For me everytime composing is an act of discovery and finding to right route.

17 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

find the treble string work hypnotic and when combined with other lines below even more so. Some of the double bass entries are powerful.

The part where he modulates again (J) and the instruments dialogue is also very nice.

Thank you! Several people love the J section which I personally don't like most, maybe the composer is like a mother who can never objectively value her works! I now find that passage more pleasant tho, thank you!

17 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

To me it resonates with certain contemplative styles of Nordic and Baltic composers, as well as some P. Glass-like technique.

I have neither heard the Nordic and Baltic composers, nor much P. Glass, but I do go for contemplation here!

Thx for your review Luis!

Henry

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