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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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Ironically this reminds me of desert-centric film scores, no bad thing, and because those particular progressions and harmonies are so linked in my head with one particular landscape I can't extricate it from the planet as a whole. Anyway, I find other planets more beautiful so no harm done :)

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.

I've been studying Williams scores recently for orchestration and instrumentation ideas, as the particular role of instruments at certain points is something I'm still hazy on. Nothing wrong with cribbing from John, he knew his shit.




Lawrence Aurich said:

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.

Historically, it would more likely have been:

Williams: I have a beautiful piece of music but I can't quite fit it to picture
Director: I will literally cut the film around your music because it's that good

Would you concede that not EVERY moment in Williams' career has revolved around laser sword battletits? :)

I feel Michael Giacchino even outdid Williams with some of his Rogue One score. I'd ask your opinion, but . . . I don't think it's your thing (and the scene in question involves a particularly big explosion)


Lawrence Aurich said:

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.

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

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).

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