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Happy first day of spring to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! Because I'm seasonally confused, I just finished orchestrating this piece about autumn, and I'd like to get some feedback on it.

I'm pretty happy with everything in this piece EXCEPT the first 1'50". I'm curious what you think... is the first section up to par with the rest of the piece? If not, what didn't you like about it?

Comments on the orchestration are also welcome. As anyone who has written for it knows, concert band/wind ensemble can be difficult to balance... especially when attempting to write softer, more nuanced music like this.

AUDIO LINK: https://soundcloud.com/nicholaskelly/autumns-fire-wind-ensemble-ver...

Here are the cursory program notes (also included in the YouTube video)

This piece began life as a choral setting of William Allingham's "Autumnal Sonnet." Immediately after completing the choral version, I decided to explore the same musical material using a very different medium.

While the choral version focuses on the poem's underlying themes of loss and memory, the wind ensemble version focuses more on its surface imagery, using the band's rich variety of colours to paint a vibrant autumn landscape. From the sombre, reedy opening section (which might evoke the more drab colours we associate with autumn), more exciting textures start to emerge--first dark and brooding in the middle section (starting at 1:50 below), then bright and piercing in the brassy climax.

While this piece follows the form of the choral version, it is not a note-for-note transcription. In order to give the band's various sounds more time to speak, this version ended up being an entire minute longer!

Lastly, please listen ONLY with headphones or good desktop speakers. As a general rule, listening to classical music with laptop, phone, or tablet speakers is a bad idea, and that definitely goes for this piece.

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Nicholas,

I loved it. 

Thanks, Mariza!

I updated the audio slightly (adding in some rubato and a few extra beats here and there where I felt the music needed to "breathe" more.)

I'm curious: do the melodies make sense and hold together motivically? This is the first time I've orchestrated a vocal piece for an instrumental group, and when I listen to it, I still hear the words from the original (choral) version in my head. I'm hoping the melodies still make sense (without the words) to someone* who has never heard the choral version.

*(which is everyone, since I haven't published or recorded the choral version yet!)

Thanks, Bob! This is very helpful. I guess that's the challenge when arranging a choral piece for an instrumental ensemble: the words in the original help provide context and direction to the melodic lines. I guess the question is whether the lines wander TOO much in the instrumental version, or if this contributes to the expressive and unpredictable nature of the piece.

Nicholas,

I listened to the piece several times, and I love very much.

Indeed in the 1st part (which ends @1:53) the sequence of "events" does not have a clear logic to me.  There are 3 different swells (@0:22, @1:04, and @1:26) that are immediately followed by a deflation, sounding like we had gotten excited about something just to realize it had been a mistake.  Maybe in the choral version the lyrics help explain "what happened" but here it is just puzzling and a bit frustrating.

Once the central part starts @1:55 everything is marvelous and to me the melodies do make sense throughout the remainder of the piece.  Shortly after the central part starts, there is actually a sense of marvel and enchantment, reminiscent of Debussy, despite that it uses classical rather than Debussian harmony.  Looking at the picture, I can imagine that we are travelers who have arrived at a mythical place, a castle, which they are getting the first glimpse of through the trees.  There's a sense of achievement that culminates @5:00, and feels very satisfying.  After @5:22 some final important accomplishments are reached, and a calm sense of fulfillment sparkles through the end.  It all makes sense and feels very beautiful.  The orchestration sounds marvelous to me (though about that I know very little).

Mariza



Nicholas Kelly said:

Thanks, Mariza!

I updated the audio slightly (adding in some rubato and a few extra beats here and there where I felt the music needed to "breathe" more.)

I'm curious: do the melodies make sense and hold together motivically? This is the first time I've orchestrated a vocal piece for an instrumental group, and when I listen to it, I still hear the words from the original (choral) version in my head. I'm hoping the melodies still make sense (without the words) to someone* who has never heard the choral version.

*(which is everyone, since I haven't published or recorded the choral version yet!)

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