Jump to content

Symphony No. 1 "American"


Recommended Posts

Hey everyone! Sorry I've been absent from these forums for a while focusing on school work and... writing a symphony!

I started writing this work back in November 2022, beginning with the 3rd movement (the Adagio Molto), and have been toiling away at it ever since. The work is a semi-autobiographical programme symphony with great influence from the likes of Beethoven (daddyūüėŹ), Mahler and Berlioz. It tells the story of a Protagonist who travels to America from Europe, meets a young woman, falls in love, leaves America, becomes depressed, returns later in life and marries her.

My favourite bit is the 3rd movement- the funeral march- because it is the most idiiomatic and most effectively communicates my message. Plus I spent almost all of my time on it.

This symphony is close to being done, what I'm sharing is my third full draft. Some of the openings, transitions and endings still need to be reworked, and I'm sure there are plenty of notation errors that I've missed, as well as more articulation markings etc to add.

I'd be grateful for any constructive criticism on the musical and non-musical side as this will form part of my portfolio for conservatoire application here in the UK. Also tell me what you like (if there is anything). 

I have attached the score in pdf, the sibelius sounds rendering in mp3 and a sample of the programme in pdf.

I look forward to seeing what you have to say, and to review more work on these forums again myself!

-Charles

PDF
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apologies, I attached an ouutdated score and audio file. 

Here are the correct, up-to-date ones:

 

PDF
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi @Charles Geday,

I think this work is very ambitious. For me you can focus on smaller scale works first to work on your harmonic progression and counterpoints first before writing a huge work like this! I'm going to be critical on this since this relates to your conservatoire application, hopefully you don't find me nitpicky!

1st movement:

-The "Agitato" should be in small letter since it's a description after the tempo.

-For b.4 it's a V6 chord with the C# first inversion, but here you put too much emphasis on C#. For a major chord the root should be emphasized instead of the third since it will be too bright. 

- I find the tone of clash in b.23, 24 too harsh and not necessary.

- I find it abrupt to the slow section without preparation in b.27. Maybe adding a ritard will be better? The transition to the next section is also abrupt for me.

- In b.60 maybe you can change the instrumentation? Maybe let strings to take lead?

- I also find it abrupt in b.67 with that tone leap for the strings, and the mood is changed too quickly. I think in this section you can at least use the brass for the strong beats.

 2nd movement:

- I don't think the movement is minuet like since the tempo is slow for a minuet.

- You can add slurs for woodwinds and strings to indicate breathing and legato playing, just like what you did in b.180 for the low strings!

- Why do you use sul tasto in b.163? I'm curious on that.

 - I think it abrupt to end the movement in Eb major without preparation.

 

3rd movement:

- I feel like the movement begins in Bb major but find the chords quite ambiguious, likehe I6(?) chord without a root in b.4?

Fugue section b.271: I notice there are some parallel motions:

P.8 in b.274 btw. cello and double bass

P.5 in b.276 btw. viola and cello

P.8 in b.289 btw. cello and double bass

P.5 in b.293 btw violins and viola

P.8 in b.303 btw. cello and double bass

P.8 in b.305-306 btw. violins and cello

-Apart from these the parallel 2nd, 7ths and 4ths is not quite fluent for me. The tone clashes are somewhat unnecessary for me. There's no modulation within the fugato and makes it not moving forward. Sometimes the chord is ambigious to compensate for the counterpoint rules.

-I think you are going for less motion in b.334, but maybe it sustain for too long. The modulation to D# minor is somewhat abrupt for me.

-I like the flute melody with sustianed strings in b.351, but when the fulte leaves I feel like the sustained bass transition lasts for too long.

- The G minor ending of the movement is strange for me as it's never established in the movement.

 

4th movement:

- I think the tempo in b.377 is not "vivace" at all since it's not fast.

- For me I would say it's strange to quote Ode to Joy in b.418 and its orchestral setting to include the choir in the fourth movement. The length of this piece and the theme doesn't worth this gigantic setting for me. You have the organ playing only twice in the movement and I think it's not quite realistic to do so.

-For the instrumental chorale, I think b.412 and 416 have too many F#, and an A should at least be added. B. 413 would be ambigious with only F# vand A given there are five voices.

-To end on Bb chord in b.439 then enters with its tritone E in the next bar is strange for me.

- I love the ending near 16:24 since it's grand.

Hope these suggestions are helpful to you, and they are not too nitpicky. They are personal though.

On 6/25/2023 at 1:11 AM, Charles Geday said:

and to review more work on these forums again myself!

Hopefully!

Henry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi @Henry Ng Tsz Kiu thank you very much for your detailed feedback!

I know the writing here is not perfect, but a lot of the harmony is intentional and not simply a lack of practice/understanding. The orchestration/counterpoint/general writing for large ensembles I'll admit does need a lot of work, but that's why this is my Symphony No. 1 (I don't at all mean to sound hostile, I'm being serious).

I am making changes based on your points as I type this.

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

- I don't think the movement is minuet like since the tempo is slow for a minuet.

I am changing it to 'Danza' to fit with the programme whilst acknowledging the more throughcomposed structure and absence of a minuet tempo.

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

- Why do you use sul tasto in b.163? I'm curious on that.

Because I wanted a lighter, less full and imposing sound rather than only changing the dynamic marking.

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

- I feel like the movement begins in Bb major but find the chords quite ambiguious, likehe I6(?) chord without a root in b.4?

I'm not quite sure what it is myself, I just wrote it in Dmin but the Eb sounded more correct than the E so I guess it's in Dmin and Bbmj.

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

 - I think it abrupt to end the movement in Eb major without preparation.

There is a II-V-I cadence no?

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

Fugue section b.271: I notice there are some parallel motions:

It's not intended to be an actual fugue and to follow the fugue rules. I wrote 'come une fuga' to make it clear that I wanted it in the style of a Hammerklavier-esque long, continuous almost death fugue. But I will try to resolve some of the clashes certainly.

4 hours ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

- I love the ending near 16:24 since it's grand.

Thank you!

 

-Charles

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Charles,

1 hour ago, Charles Geday said:

The orchestration/counterpoint/general writing for large ensembles I'll admit does need a lot of work, but that's why this is my Symphony No. 1 (I don't at all mean to sound hostile, I'm being serious).

Hopefully you will keep your progress in your no.2 and so on! I think only Mahler can write his no.1 that well haha!

1 hour ago, Charles Geday said:

but a lot of the harmony is intentional and not simply a lack of practice/understanding.

I feel like they are indeed intentional but it's not effective and make me feel like it's an error, but I can be nitpicky on this.

1 hour ago, Charles Geday said:

Because I wanted a lighter, less full and imposing sound rather than only changing the dynamic marking.

Great!

1 hour ago, Charles Geday said:

There is a II-V-I cadence no?

First that ii-V-I is never in full harmony, i.e. they don't have the root, third and fifth and they are always on octave, thus the chordal progression is more lile forced. Second, the Eb major never appears important in the movement. I feel like the movement is more in Bb major, and ending on a IV when it's not prepared in previous passages sounds abrupt for me.

1 hour ago, Charles Geday said:

It's not intended to be an actual fugue and to follow the fugue rules. I wrote 'come une fuga' to make it clear that I wanted it in the style of a Hammerklavier-esque long, continuous almost death fugue. But I will try to resolve some of the clashes certainly.

But I think even Bee's Hammerklavier ending fugue follows counterpoint rules. The whole movement is an actual fugue and he uses retrograde and inversion in his fugue and you may try that here. For me it's more like a fugato here since it's not long and continuous. Since the piece will be handed to conservatories, these kinds of parallel motions , whether intentional or not, will be treated as academic errors, and these may be detrimental to your portfolio.

Thx for your reply!

Henry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Henry,

53 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

I feel like they are indeed intentional but it's not effective and make me feel like it's an error, but I can be nitpicky on this.

I will go back through the piece and try to fix the clashes then.

53 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

First that ii-V-I is never in full harmony, i.e. they don't have the root, third and fifth and they are always on octave, thus the chordal progression is more lile forced. Second, the Eb major never appears important in the movement. I feel like the movement is more in Bb major, and ending on a IV when it's not prepared in previous passages sounds abrupt for me.

I will rewrite the end of the movement to cadence in Bbmj then.

 

54 minutes ago, Henry Ng Tsz Kiu said:

But I think even Bee's Hammerklavier ending fugue follows counterpoint rules.

I don't think I phrased myself in the best way, my apologies. I meant that I wanted to recreate the feeling of a fugue (with the example of Hammerklavier) without actually writing one because doing this fits with my musical language and ideology.

 

-Charles

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.

×
×
  • Create New...