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Hi all!

 

I continue creating pieces for chamber orchestra contest with solo EWQLSO samples (three mics): Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Tuba, 2 violins, Viola, Cello, Double bass. The idea is that each part is played by a single musician. I am planning to get a live performance recording of this piece this year if I win the contest.

The style is ambient.

I would be very glad to hear some criticism from you!

http://alch.us.to/project.php?p=Virtal

 

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Alch,

Let me start by saying I like the piece (and the "rock style" movement you also posted).  Neat works for a chamber group.

Since you are entering these works into a contest, these comments will hopefully help. (Sorry for the length!)

The rendering at times takes on quite a heavy feel, almost full orchestra quality.  Perhaps a bit more "intimate" sound considering only one person is on each part.

There are a number of issues in the score.  I normally try not to make the score the issue, but the people judging will be looking at it very carefully.  These apply to the "virtal-comet" score.

Page 1 should contain the full score whether they play or not.  After that you can hide non playing if you choose, but there are many who prefer a full score throughout.  The instruments should be written transposed, not in C.  Also, you may want to consider a different font.  The "jazz" font is not often used for works of this type. 

Violin in m3, the sound is a slide up to the note, the notation shows a fall off the note.  This happens throughout the first section with the violin.  If you are looking for a fixed interval each time, both notes should be notated, with a portamento marking.  If the starting note is to be random it still needs an indication to slide to the note.

m54 and m81, you have some dynamic markings in the flute when they aren't playing.

m62  A more "proper" way would be to notate the first pattern each instrument plays with actual staccato marks then use the term simile indicate it's continuation in this manner.  Same idea in m73 when you go to the legato interpretation.

In m85 you start using an "s".  Not sure what this is supposed to indicate.

m117 dynamics should be under the note.

Another thing to consider would be adding some form of rehearsal marks throughout the piece.  Whether letters, numbers or measure numbers, something to make rehearsal easier on conductor and performer.

Again, both pieces are really well done and show different sides to the same ensemble.

Hopefully this helps, and Good Luck on your entry.

Tim

Alch,

Following on what Tim said, I wonder what this would sound like with the tuba eliminated and a bassoon in its place. It will lighten the texture considerably and make it seem more "chamberish."

Dynamics: if you intend a composition to be played by human performers, its always a good idea to include dynamics in a part whenever an instrument enters after they have had a rest of even one bar. print out a part and look at it as though you were going to perform it. Any places where the dynamic is unclear will need the mark inserted.

Articulation, make sure you include slurs in the winds especially if you don't want notes attacked. I heard some nice legato sounds but the score did not include the slurs.

In #1 there is a glissando to a single note in the V1 part which idea is repeated for 40+ bars, maybe a little long.  Since this idea never returns it seems to me to be out of place and not related to the rest of the composition. Try restating that figure in the trumpet after the GP.

Nice work.

Tim, thank you very much for your detailed responce and criticism. I also hear that it sounds like a group of musicians plays each part, but I used only solo voices all the time (except tremolo strings). Also, when I listen to separate parts, it feels like solo instruments. And surprisingly the mix sounds like an orchestra.

Does a conductor really need a transposed score?
Violin slides - yes, I chose up-slide sample, but I want live musicians to play down slide at the contest. I am looking for "slide down and fade out fast" effect.

"s" means "start of block". I am not sure how to mark that correct.

Btw, I liked you Elegy for strings and Old 100. Old 100 sounds a bit Copland-like. Am I right?



Tim Marko said:

Alch,

Let me start by saying I like the piece (and the "rock style" movement you also posted).  Neat works for a chamber group.

Since you are entering these works into a contest, these comments will hopefully help. (Sorry for the length!)

The rendering at times takes on quite a heavy feel, almost full orchestra quality.  Perhaps a bit more "intimate" sound considering only one person is on each part.

There are a number of issues in the score.  I normally try not to make the score the issue, but the people judging will be looking at it very carefully.  These apply to the "virtal-comet" score.

Page 1 should contain the full score whether they play or not.  After that you can hide non playing if you choose, but there are many who prefer a full score throughout.  The instruments should be written transposed, not in C.  Also, you may want to consider a different font.  The "jazz" font is not often used for works of this type. 

Violin in m3, the sound is a slide up to the note, the notation shows a fall off the note.  This happens throughout the first section with the violin.  If you are looking for a fixed interval each time, both notes should be notated, with a portamento marking.  If the starting note is to be random it still needs an indication to slide to the note.

m54 and m81, you have some dynamic markings in the flute when they aren't playing.

m62  A more "proper" way would be to notate the first pattern each instrument plays with actual staccato marks then use the term simile indicate it's continuation in this manner.  Same idea in m73 when you go to the legato interpretation.

In m85 you start using an "s".  Not sure what this is supposed to indicate.

m117 dynamics should be under the note.

Another thing to consider would be adding some form of rehearsal marks throughout the piece.  Whether letters, numbers or measure numbers, something to make rehearsal easier on conductor and performer.

Again, both pieces are really well done and show different sides to the same ensemble.

Hopefully this helps, and Good Luck on your entry.

Tim

Frederick, thank you for reply. Ideas with bassoon and trumpet are interesting, I will use them in other pieces. Currently we do not have bassoon in the band. I will take into account ideas about dynamics and articulation.


Fredrick zinos said:

Alch,

Following on what Tim said, I wonder what this would sound like with the tuba eliminated and a bassoon in its place. It will lighten the texture considerably and make it seem more "chamberish."

Dynamics: if you intend a composition to be played by human performers, its always a good idea to include dynamics in a part whenever an instrument enters after they have had a rest of even one bar. print out a part and look at it as though you were going to perform it. Any places where the dynamic is unclear will need the mark inserted.

Articulation, make sure you include slurs in the winds especially if you don't want notes attacked. I heard some nice legato sounds but the score did not include the slurs.

In #1 there is a glissando to a single note in the V1 part which idea is repeated for 40+ bars, maybe a little long.  Since this idea never returns it seems to me to be out of place and not related to the rest of the composition. Try restating that figure in the trumpet after the GP.

Nice work.

Thank you for reply. I see that everybody is surprised by the Jazz font usage! :) I see it the other way: my pieces connect different styles, so visual design can easily be one more style :)

What repetitive parts are you talking about? Can you tell, which second? 

Chris Burridge said:

I agree with the points the other two have made. It is a very enjoyable piece, and I would very much like to hear a performance of it if you manage to get one! 

Tim and Fredrick have covered pretty much everything. It is good to remember that for any submission for competitions or calls for scores, be as thorough as possible. Double check symbols in the notation are the correct symbols, that legato slurs are in place, that the font is a standard font unless you are submitting a jazz piece, in which case the jazz fonts in Sibelius may be acceptable. 

If i was to add my own personal touches, i might look at some of the more repetitive parts of the piece; they look quite bare in the score, which may be what you want, however they sound much more lively in the EWQLSO realization - perhaps some articulation (i.e. accents or staccato) might enhance it further? To be sure of this you might need to have it performed, so don't rely too much on the realization even if it is as good as this one!

Hope that was useful!

Chris

I am happy to have so many reviews of the piece! Can somebody also review the second "rock" piece?

http://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/chamber-orchestra-in-ro...

Chris, thank you for this "explanation" idea. I will prepare it for the moment, when I will be able to say something to the audience before the performance.

As for the bare part. So I got that you are talking about that staccato repetitive part. The only thing I did was choosing staccato sounds instead of legato. Do you think I can use some more interesting articulation marking here?

I understand your point regarding the jazz font, but I agree with Chris, it really should be an engraved font unless it's a jazz piece.  Remember, you're sending this for someone else to read and evaluate.

Does a conductor really need a transposed score?

The current accepted practice is for all scores to be transposed, does he "need it", no, but he will probably expect it. 


Violin slides - yes, I chose up-slide sample, but I want live musicians to play down slide at the contest. I am looking for "slide down and fade out fast" effect.

OK.

"s" means "start of block". I am not sure how to mark that correct.

You may not need to mark anything.  Does the notation/marking aid the performer or conductor, or will it cause confusion?

I still think using "staccato" in the score can be better handled with actual articulation marks and "simile" or all marks, but Chris is right about how to handle the "legato" section depending on what you're trying to achieve (if an actual legato, then marks w/ simile or all marks, if not than ord or normal, etc.)  The important thing is the score and parts have to relay your intent as completely and succinctly as possible without creating confusion.

By the way, thanks.

Very original. I must agree that there are too many instruments here to make it a chamber piece. I would scale back each group. Do you really need 3 woodwinds? 4 brass? 5 strings? Or, if you don't want to do to do that, go in the other direction and add instruments, making it a true orchestral piece. I share your disdain for scores. It's unfortunate that so much importance is attached to them. It's kind of snobbish, in my opinion. Music should be judged on how it sounds, not how it looks on a page. If somebody likes it enough to want to perform it, then you can invest the time to make it conform to whatever foolishness is currently in style as far as scores go. But then, I'm a mere hobbyist, so I don't have to worry about scores...

Michael, thank you for your suggestions. What is wrong with the instruments quantity? If feel it to be normal for a chamber orchestra. As for the contest, I do not choose the instruments. Band is fixed for this contest and contains these 12 instruments. :)

Anyway, I would like to know why you want to increase or decrease number of instruments?

michael diemer said:

Very original. I must agree that there are too many instruments here to make it a chamber piece. I would scale back each group. Do you really need 3 woodwinds? 4 brass? 5 strings? Or, if you don't want to do to do that, go in the other direction and add instruments, making it a true orchestral piece. I share your disdain for scores. It's unfortunate that so much importance is attached to them. It's kind of snobbish, in my opinion. Music should be judged on how it sounds, not how it looks on a page. If somebody likes it enough to want to perform it, then you can invest the time to make it conform to whatever foolishness is currently in style as far as scores go. But then, I'm a mere hobbyist, so I don't have to worry about scores...

But Alch said these would be solo instruments, whereas a chamber orchestra consists of scaled down string sections, plus the solo winds.  To me it just sounds funny to have solo strings paired with that many winds. Not that it couldn't work, it's just unusual.

Not so unusual. Reference Stravinsky L'Histoire du Soldat, Schoneberg's opus 9 or  best of all, john adams chamber symphony  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbEk9Kzj5tc

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