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https://soundcloud.com/larya/apollo-8

Gustav Holst wrote The Planets in 1913. Conspicuous by its absence from his symphony is the planet earth. Someone on the forum pointed out that The Planets is not about astronomy but astrology, so who is the god/goddess of earth?

Holst died in 1934 a mere 18 years before JFK's famous speech avowing to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Six years later three astronauts, Borman, Lovell, and Anders, orbited the moon., sending back pictures of the earth-rise over its surface. We saw earth for the first time as a tiny blue orb against the blackness of space. Our planet stands out as the most beautiful, fragile, and habitable place in the universe. The astronauts, inspired by the sight, read from Genesis 1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth....

Holst may be kicking himself, that he omitted the greatest planet of all. So here is my humble attempt to extol the forgotten planet, Ode to Earth, Apollo 8.

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Since I've never been to another planet I may be biased toward old terra firma.  You posted Williams, Leia's Theme, and I joked that if we could find the score on line we could tear it apart.  Actually I found the score and used some of Williams ideas in this piece.  If it is not his best work, it is certainly his most beautiful.  Leia's theme starts in one key and modulates mid theme. I used that idea.  After he plays the theme twice he uses a modulation device, i.e. repeats a measure up a half step per repetition.  But then he doesn't modulate to a new key.  He uses a modulation device as an interlude, which is somewhat peculiar.  Bach often modulates  a whole step per measure using a circle of fifths.  I modulated up three half steps, played the solo parts and then modulated back down to finish the piece, (the more traditional use of the device.)

     The ending is similar to Williams in that it builds to a climax and then ends softly.  So I stole from a Williams.  That just shows how hard up I am for new material.

Here's probably how he ended up with a modulation that doesn't modulate.

Williams: I just finished a beautiful piece for Leia's theme.

Producer:  How long is it?

Williams:  8 minutes.

Producer:  Kids don't come to the movies to hear music.  They come to see action.  Shorten it to 4 minutes and we will squeeze it in after the third sword fight just before the space ship blows up.

So Williams cuts out the middle section that was in a different key and the piece is 4 min. long, not 4:01 or 3:59.  It's exactly 4 min. long which makes time for 16 more explosions and 5 more sword fights.

Hi Lawrence,

I was about to say it could be a film score, then read your introductory post. Like Dave, I too was in a desert but I admit that my perception of that classic tonic to sub-dominat minor 7th(9th) progression has been tarnished by Stargate and a host of other scores.

Whilst I enjoyed a lot of it, there were some things I didn't like. I found the whole structure of the work including its phrasing, rhythm and material too repetitive. I enjoyed the serenity in the work, but some rhythmic variation and more development of your theme would have improved this considerably at least for me.

There where lovely moments, I liked the bass clt solo and the discourse with the vlas and I liked the flute solo. However the mix was, sorry to say not the best. You could immediately improve it by raising the level of the horns, which are out of balance - speaking of which, you should consider giving the horns the odd rest from say b142 cf as you are asking a lot of them with those parts.

From b110 on, I would re-space the clts into a unison with the oboes as the sound is rather thick and not helped by the mix, but that is a personal quirk.

Ray has brought up a critical point for communicating musically. You can create tempo maps easily enough, so I'd recommend that you emancipate yourself from the tyranny of machine playback and programme in rubato and more musical rallentandos, fermatas and general performance.

I like you better in your Hosltian incarnation and you have my total respect for the amount of study you are engaged in- I hope you feel it is paying off........

Lawrence,

That was breathtaking... I found the theme you chose for our beautiful, yet fragile planet very moving and touching.  I think it beautifully captures both the beauty and the fragility of our home planet, as well as hint at the drama of life that takes place on it -- the tragedies, the joys, all made possible only because of the special place we call home. I was almost moved to tears.

Just some nits on the score, though: I think there were a few places where there's overlapping notation, and also a flute passage or two marked with 8ve brackets, which AFAIK are not necessary because flautists are used to reading ledger lines above the staff. (But you may have a point if the notes consistently stay above 4 or more ledger lines, though, so if that's the case, ignore what I just said.)

I did wish the climax at around mm.160-163 was a bit more prolonged, though.  The way you have it right now, it seems to be so fleeting after a mostly serene and calm piece, and so quickly dismissed and wrapped up in the concluding passage.  I would have loved a more prolonged climax, if even for just a bar or two, or maybe just a little fermata, for dramatic effect, before closing a beautiful homage to our green planet.

Ray,

I can specify rubato, but that is up to the musicians and director to provide.  There have been a few posts where some recordings have varied tempo between and even within a measure but that goes beyond my capabilities.  These recordings are going to sound mechanical compared to the real thing, at least in Finale.
 
Ray said:

Lawrence,
My observation after listening to only the first minute of your cue.
Throw the metronome out the window. Unerringly constant tempo kills expression.
This is one of the first lessons I ever received from someone I consider to be a top rate composer.

Ray

I'm not a Finale user, but surely there's a way of inserting invisible tempo markings that only affect the playback, but aren't printed in the score?  You could simulate rubato this way (though admittedly it does require more effort, so I'd only do that in the most strategic places, not every single bar in the piece).

Mike,

     I shall work on the repetitious aspects of the themes and perhaps write another section before the finale.  The structure, however is purposely stylistic and won't change much, not your cup of tea.  I really don't think the tempo variations you suggest are a possibility on Finale unless there are new developments I am unaware of.  Thanks for the insightful comments. 
 
Mike Hewer said:

Hi Lawrence,

I was about to say it could be a film score, then read your introductory post. Like Dave, I too was in a desert but I admit that my perception of that classic tonic to sub-dominat minor 7th(9th) progression has been tarnished by Stargate and a host of other scores.

Whilst I enjoyed a lot of it, there were some things I didn't like. I found the whole structure of the work including its phrasing, rhythm and material too repetitive. I enjoyed the serenity in the work, but some rhythmic variation and more development of your theme would have improved this considerably at least for me.

There where lovely moments, I liked the bass clt solo and the discourse with the vlas and I liked the flute solo. However the mix was, sorry to say not the best. You could immediately improve it by raising the level of the horns, which are out of balance - speaking of which, you should consider giving the horns the odd rest from say b142 cf as you are asking a lot of them with those parts.

From b110 on, I would re-space the clts into a unison with the oboes as the sound is rather thick and not helped by the mix, but that is a personal quirk.

Ray has brought up a critical point for communicating musically. You can create tempo maps easily enough, so I'd recommend that you emancipate yourself from the tyranny of machine playback and programme in rubato and more musical rallentandos, fermatas and general performance.

I like you better in your Hosltian incarnation and you have my total respect for the amount of study you are engaged in- I hope you feel it is paying off........

H.S,

     Re: rubato.  I use the invisible tempo markings now but only for ritards and accelerandos.  I'm working on a better climax, and will post it in a few days.  I was thinking it was a little lame.  Thanks for the input.
 
H. S. Teoh said:

I'm not a Finale user, but surely there's a way of inserting invisible tempo markings that only affect the playback, but aren't printed in the score?  You could simulate rubato this way (though admittedly it does require more effort, so I'd only do that in the most strategic places, not every single bar in the piece).

https://soundcloud.com/larya/apollo-8redo

This piece was not ready for prime time, not because I was careless or lazy but because I was tired of it. I figured it was good enough for government work, but apparently not good enough for some members of the forum.

Re: Ray's comment, the theme sounded mechanical. I changed rhythms and stepped up the tempo a few beats to tie the lines together.

Mike's , too repetitive and poor mix. I nixed two iterations of the theme and wrote in a string section in minor to contrast to the theme. I corrected some mix problems and too many mistakes to recount.

H.S.Teoh's, the ending was lame. I added three measures to the ending. Hope these changes are sufficient because I'm calling this piece done, over, finee. Sometimes when a piece becomes boring or frustrating, it is best to put it away for a week and come back with fresh ears and eyes to make the final edits, (or just let the forum do the editing.)

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Hi Lawrence,

I liked the variations and the new bits, the end in particular with the wind flourish is effective. The horns are a little better, but I'll put the lack of realism down to the sounds. I know you are done with this now, but re the horns, give them more rests from 143 on. The same goes for the clts. There are plenty of places where you can give horns and clts a quaver or more rest and not upset the music, in fact it would help in places. If you really need a constant horn line, consider dividing it up among 3 players with overlapping notes.

The flute solo is lovely and is enhanced by the lightening of the background. 

I still found the predictable rate of harmonic change to be a bar to full enjoyment, but all in all for me it is improved and despite reservations, an enjoyable listen.....of course the most important issue here is wether or not you felt as though your revisions based on critique here have improved the piece, because thoughts here are just others opinions.

Hi Lawrence(of Arabia)... I didn't necessarily feel I was in the desert, but I did

get a sense or feeling of the Mediteranian.

I heard a bit of Parisian mixed with Italian,mixed with -oh say maybe Morocco.

I would thus title it, Apollo '8' mditeranian cuisine. A delicious mix of flavors as the music

transpired, but without the suggestion of space, I probably wouldn't have thought  of that.

As for the ending... I'd suggest a glass of good wine : >/              RS

Very enjoyable - even though its not in 11/8 :).  The piece does have a bit of an eastern, Mediterranean flavor which makes the overall feel somewhat familiar.  As you noted, since this piece focuses on the Earth, that is entirely appropriate.   Oddly enough, parts of the piece reminded me of the Richard Rogers score for "Victory at Sea."  I believe that Rogers used some eastern sounding elements in that score.  You continue to nail the genre!

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