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Short study for string quartet


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Hi Forum 🙂

Here's, after a long time away from composing, a short study for string quartet in C minor.

Hope you'll like it 🙂

Regards

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello again @Marc Deflin!  I am glad to see you're back at composing!

What I observed about this piece is that it's orchestrated very sparsely, uses lots of parallel octaves, with mostly sparse textures throughout.  This means that your writing for the string quartet isn't very idiomatic (although it's adequate and playable and fine if you insist that that is the way you want to write).  You never take advantage of the ensemble's potential for fuller, more richly voiced harmonies.  With 4 string instruments, potential tutti chords in the ensemble can have up to 8 tones in them if the instruments double stop a chord.

You also cling to the key of C minor too much imo.  You do use natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor liberally throughout the piece, but sometimes you have wrong sounding cross relations between notes, most often between Ab and A natural (like for example, in meas. 4, beat 3 where the Cello has Ab and the Violin has A natural).  There are ways of pulling off cross relations like this to make sure that they don't sound bad.  The way not to do that is to do what you're doing here which is; moving through parallel motion, descending from D down to an A.  The parallel octaves on D establish a texture and put both instruments in the same voice treating them as a unity.  You then immediately contradict that with the Ab/A natural split which makes it sound like the voices wanted to continue playing in unison but failed because one of them made a mistake.  That's at least my explanation for why that didn't work.

At measures 26 and 28 your rendering is very poor and some articulations would have, I think, brought out more your intention of separated, repeated notes.

There's also the issue that this piece contains too many ideas that need to be developed further.  It's hard for me as the listener to find connections between your themes.  There's definitely themes here and you even do some sequential repetition to show that you know that you're working with a given theme, but the piece lacks a sense of a cohesive narrative.  Those are my thoughts on your work.  Thanks for sharing!

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On 7/10/2024 at 10:59 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

What I observed about this piece is that it's orchestrated very sparsely, uses lots of parallel octaves, with mostly sparse textures throughout.  This means that your writing for the string quartet isn't very idiomatic (although it's adequate and playable and fine if you insist that that is the way you want to write).  You never take advantage of the ensemble's potential for fuller, more richly voiced harmonies.  With 4 string instruments, potential tutti chords in the ensemble can have up to 8 tones in them if the instruments double stop a chord.

You also cling to the key of C minor too much imo.  You do use natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor liberally throughout the piece, but sometimes you have wrong sounding cross relations between notes, most often between Ab and A natural (like for example, in meas. 4, beat 3 where the Cello has Ab and the Violin has A natural).  There are ways of pulling off cross relations like this to make sure that they don't sound bad.  The way not to do that is to do what you're doing here which is; moving through parallel motion, descending from D down to an A.  The parallel octaves on D establish a texture and put both instruments in the same voice treating them as a unity.  You then immediately contradict that with the Ab/A natural split which makes it sound like the voices wanted to continue playing in unison but failed because one of them made a mistake.  That's at least my explanation for why that didn't work.

This is great advice. My thoughts as well. I don't mind the C tonal center throughout for a shorter piece, but that's more subjective I think. 

Don't worry though, your piece isn't bad by any means. To me, your music is creative and shows you have an awareness to take advantage of your whole ensemble. Peter is right though; all that parallel motion will lead to really thin sounds, unless your parallel chords are all already chunky (7ths and above I'd say). For your next string etude, what if the focus was on counterpoint and a more full harmony? Contrary motion and all that?

Nice work, and thanks for sharing!

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Hi all 🙂

Thanks for your constructive replies, it's always a pleasure to see that some people do take time to review your music.

The dissonance between A and Ab at measure 4 is a bare mistake, didn't even see it... My bad 🙂

I'm mostly an improvisator (on my flamenco guitar) and developed this skill in order not to became too much cerebral while composing. This means I want my music to stay connected to emotion (without it to be too much untamed). But I recognize I might lack some theory basis sometimes, hearing what I'll compose more than thinking about it. Maybe analyzing more scores or something would be of use, I don't know 🙂

Just finished my 7th study for string quartet. I wrote it before reading your reviews, so I hope you won't resent seeing some... parallel octaves in it 😄

Once again thank you very much.

Regards,

Marc

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