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Hi all.

A new member here, I only came across the website today, I'm hoping to have a long and fruitful stay!

The piece I've uploaded is my first original composition rather than arrangement.  I'm afraid to say that technically I flounder about in the dark a bit as I've never had any formal compositional training.

In terms of the score here, there are aspects I'm happy with and others that I cringe when I hear again.  The PDF is an earlier version and in some places has been culled.

Listening to the live performance there are sections of poor writing for instruments that I need to go back and look at again, particularly for Soprano Cornet in places.

I am hoping that posting the address of a live performance video is following the rules?  The only location of it at the moment is on Facebook so I'm hoping that it will embed ok into the forum.  If it is working, the music starts approx 3:20 into the video to avoid the waffle.

www.facebook.com/video.php?v=372305656266030

I have also uploaded a midi file, which is pretty poor quality (is the midi file working?)

I would love some criticism, and having looked at a few threads here some can be pretty close to the bone, but I feel it is hugely important to find out what I am doing wrong so I can look at doing things the right way (I think it's fair to say in general I have no idea what I'm doing and my writing is very much trial and error!)

Edited to add the mp3 file

Thanks for listening

Aaron

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Thanks Bob

I'm originally from a brass band background in Scotland, where I learnt to play, first on cornet/trumpet then moving to euphonium which I found a bit easier on my teeth!

I joined the Army in 2000 serving with the Royal Artillery Band/Orchestra (RA) for seven years, then was posted to the Royal Regiment of Scotland Band (RRS) until I left in 2011.  I've been driving buses in Edinburgh ever since.

I've always had a solid basic theory knowledge in music, but not a great deal more.  At the army school of music I did learn the cello as I was going to an orchestra, which was a real eye opener, musically and is probably the best musical learning experience I have had.  I started arranging, mainly for orchestra, in my time with the RA, mainly christmas music as it is easy to play about with - my first attempts, while I think I had some good ideas, were clumsy at best and horrific at worst, but again a huge learning experience.

What is amazing is how much one can glean from hearing a score live, and I was fortunate to have the chance of the orchestra to play a couple of items, another huge learning experience.  I was lucky enough to work in their extensive library as well giving me the opportunity to study some pretty rare scores.  All in all the RA orchestra (now sadly defunct) was a fantastic experience and a real musical education.

When I was posted back to Scotland I continued dabbling with arranging for wind band, again mainly christmas music and a substantial adaptation of Burns songs into an overture of sorts.  The latter was another great learning experience, and there is much good and bad about it.  The downside to being in a scottish band was bagpipes.  Oh, and small matter of playing Highland Cathedral several hundred times a year!

Having left the army, I've now regressed back to brass bands and back to where I started.  Cap"Ritchie"o was a target project for my sisters birthday back in June.  

That's pretty much it, I've kind of bumbled along and it's all been a bit of trial and error so far.  The big problem I've had with everything I've done has been getting constructive feedback.  There's been a lot of "oh, I like that" kind of comments when bands have played the music, (which is nice) but nothing that's helped me identify and understand any fundamental errors I may have been making!

Aaron,

     O, I liked that, and I don't think you are making any mistakes.  You have the background that makes a composer.  If you were a great musician in a prominent orchestra you wouldn't have time to compose.  Instead you have had varied experiences on different instruments, and composed in different settings.   Go with it and don't look back.

    We've had an ongoing discussion about avant garde music, and what is the future of the symphony.  It is music like yours and composers like you, not the minimalist, atonal, ear splitting noise foisted on us by the self appointed elites.

     I liked the frequent key changes, and chromatic passages interspersed.  One point that bothers me more as a musician is the frequent time signature changes.  Sometimes it breaks up the flow.  But that's just me.

Thanks for your thoughts Lawrence

I tend to be a bit hyper critical of anything that I write, possibly through habit (brass band competitions are an awful thing that instills a quite horrific post mortem of any performance) and lack of feedback.

The grounding in music that I received in the army was fantastic, just having to play a string instrument regularly in an orchestra was of huge benefit.  (I was never any good on the cello, in fact I learnt how to be a spectacular bluffer :) )

I'm interested in your comments about time signatures and is something that I can consider seriously for my next project.  Which of the sections do you feel becomes (I'm paraphrasing here) stodgy because of it.  I do realise that this is very much in the eye of the beholder, but it is very interesting and productive to get feedback on these kind of things.

I've been reading through the Avent Garde thread (at least one of them).  I'm struggling a bit in whether or not the discussion is serious, or very much tongue in cheek! (Quite possibly both).  Much "modern" music, in a fascinating way, as it tries to steer away from traditional musical structures ends up being very similar imo.  Is it possible for a middle road where these ideas can be mixed?  

Lawrence Aurich said:

Aaron,

     O, I liked that, and I don't think you are making any mistakes.  You have the background that makes a composer.  If you were a great musician in a prominent orchestra you wouldn't have time to compose.  Instead you have had varied experiences on different instruments, and composed in different settings.   Go with it and don't look back.

    We've had an ongoing discussion about avant garde music, and what is the future of the symphony.  It is music like yours and composers like you, not the minimalist, atonal, ear splitting noise foisted on us by the self appointed elites.

     I liked the frequent key changes, and chromatic passages interspersed.  One point that bothers me more as a musician is the frequent time signature changes.  Sometimes it breaks up the flow.  But that's just me.

Probably the only parts that bother me are where you put in 3/8 measures.  It feels like you skip a beat, but I understand why you would like to surprise the audience and keep them on the edge of their seats.  This might be due to age.  As I've gotten older I like things to flow smoother with no surprises. 

     I think traditional composing has incorporated avant garde's best ideas into "real" music.  The problem with avant garde is that it is so minimalistic, so narrow, that it cannot stand on its own.  Melody, chord structure,  counterpoint, dynamics, dissonance, etc. all the idioms of 500 years of western music combine to form a foundation on which modern composers must build.  The avant garde discards this history and attempts to start from scratch.  Good luck with that.

Hello Aaron,

I like this very much! It’s got verve and vigor, a light heart and good humor, with memorable melodies and lots of contrast. The shifting time is used to good effect. The four note melody introduced in bar 1 is nice and recurs nicely in various spots throughout. A couple of other motifs in the piece struck me as particularly effective: The repeating notes in bar 9 are fun and provide a feeling of lightheartedness and adventure; The rising melody in bar 18 which peaks at bar 19 and then drops off to the dotted quarter underpinned by the descending chromatic melody - a real movie moment - I picture some action like a car riding up a ramp, jumping across a cliff and then landing with a thump on the other side; The ascending repeated riff which first appears in measure 37 is delightful and effective. Overall I hear adventure movie music with maybe a John Williams or Elmer Bernstein influence. You have real talent! Thanks for posting and hope to hear more from you!

Aaron,

Thank you for bringing this truly unique genre.  Unfortunately, the "Brass Band" as popular on this side of the pond.

Kudos to the soloist in the video.  It's nice to hear someone play this instrument so well.

I like the piece.  It has a nice movement and excitement throughout.  The interplay you wrote between the soloist and ensemble was well done.

A few comments FWIW,

I like the shifting pulse.  It comes from the melody not the other way around.  I didn't feel as if you were forcing the music to fit.  I would even go so far as to change the beaming in the pattern you develop at letter A.  You currently have a standard 4/4 beaming and rely on the accents to give the pulse.  By beaming in a 332 pattern and conducted in 3, the line would flow a better IMO and make the 3/4 bar a 6/8.  This groups the notes musically.

Be careful in the orchestration at letter F.  With so many low voiced horns, close writing can get muddy very easily if not done carefully.  I do like the section.  It is a nice shift in mood for the piece, and again, comes about very naturally.

As to the score, you don't need double bars at every meter change.  These should be reserved for key changes and section changes (ie, letter F, I and K).

If you were floundering, it certainly doesn't show.  Well done and I look forward to hearing more from you.

By the way, I understand the reason all the instruments are in treble clef, but why is the bass T-bone left in bass?

PS  "Frisp Music" ?  I hear nothing repulsive or peasant-like in this! lol

Thanks for the very positive comments Gav and Tim, the feedback is hugely beneficial!  I do tend to spend a lot of time working things out in my head before actually starting anything.  Unfortunately it means I take an age to start new projects!

Tim, what you've said above now seems so obvious - it was something I hadn't even thought about or even considered at letter A.  Certainly, musically, presenting it this way makes so much more sense and fits what the soloist is doing.  Having thought about it now, I would possibly even go as far as changing the 4/4 to an 8/8 making the section a bit more uniform.  Thanks for that.

As for the trombone situation in brass bands - you've got me stumped a little.  I'm sure I've asked the question before somewhere...

I think...

As you've surmised, most traditional bands were "works" bands - engineering, mills, colliery and even transport with employees forming the makeup of the bands (a few are still around like Fodens, Rolls-Royce, Black Dyke Mills and Grimethorpe Colliery, although for the most parts the industry has long gone, or at least has a tenuous association at best).  Having everything in treble clef as transposing instruments meant that players could swap easily between Eb and Bb instruments without having to learn a new set of fingerings.  AFAIK, in the early part of the 20th C the trombones were the exception, all playing in concert pitch - Tenor Troms in Tenor Clef and Bass Trom in Bass Clef (The bass trombone was often a G trombone as well which may have had some influence).  From there it wasn't much of a leap to standardise the tenor troms into Bb transposing, as the notes sit in exactly the same place on the staff.  The bass trombone remains a strange anomaly.  

That's about the best explantation I can come up with!

As for Frisp...

I was very much thumbing my nose at my former service colleagues.  Being a Scotsman in London produced much close to the edge banter - Frisp is an often heard term of endearment in the Army - F... Repulsive Ignorant Scottish P... (We loved each other really).

I'll leave the conjecture on the first and last words up to you!

Can always tell an ex-serviceman as they always start laughing as soon as they see it, while everyone else is blissfully unaware.  I just stuck with it!


Gav Brown said:

Hello Aaron,

I like this very much! It’s got verve and vigor, a light heart and good humor, with memorable melodies and lots of contrast. The shifting time is used to good effect. The four note melody introduced in bar 1 is nice and recurs nicely in various spots throughout. A couple of other motifs in the piece struck me as particularly effective: The repeating notes in bar 9 are fun and provide a feeling of lightheartedness and adventure; The rising melody in bar 18 which peaks at bar 19 and then drops off to the dotted quarter underpinned by the descending chromatic melody - a real movie moment - I picture some action like a car riding up a ramp, jumping across a cliff and then landing with a thump on the other side; The ascending repeated riff which first appears in measure 37 is delightful and effective. Overall I hear adventure movie music with maybe a John Williams or Elmer Bernstein influence. You have real talent! Thanks for posting and hope to hear more from you!

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