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Chromatic rather than atonal but with some intended discords.

Concerto for String Orchestra. 1st movement. Strepitoso

Well, it started out as that but I’m not sure it’s demanding enough to call it Concerto. I completed this six weeks ago and set it aside to ferment, did some changes and now asking for serious criticism. I’m trying to break away from impressionism, attempting a more formal structure. Not sure I’ve succeeded…

I’d be sincerely grateful for any criticism. Be as ruthless as you like.

My feelings about it are it’s too short and the themes are underdeveloped. It needs to be about half a minute longer.

Around 1’20” there’s a fugual-type thing. I could try to develop it into a 4 part fugue that might add 10 seconds.

At 2’17” one of the motifs builds into a climax which to me is a bit weak. I could try to build that up more – without overdoing it - that would add what? 5 seconds?

I might also be able to develop a new motif from the introductory statement or do more with the first subject that comes in at 0’16”.

The second movement is calm and a bit out of character which may mess up the concerto idea. I'll offer that up shortly.


Thank you for listening.


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Thank you, Stephen. In fact you accord with my own feelings about - It needs further work and here's where working on paper can help. I can pull out "worthwhile" thematic material and rework it on the table in front of me. I thought the scoring was adequate but not the composition! You're right about the percussive effects - they now sound rather cheesy. I shall take your advice and get the duster out - con dustori !  As I said a few post above, I'll let it ferment just a little longer. 

It's forced me to re-look at a string quartet I'm on at the moment so these comments have been particularly valuable. Sincere thanks.

Stephen Lines said:


There's some interesting stuff here and the piece is enjoyable to listen to. There's lots of material that could be developed further - depending of course on just how far you want to go. Personally I'd drop the slapstick percussive effects which only IMO detract from the musicality. I think you could evolve this into something a little more by shifting and extending existing material to create a slightly more formal and coherent structure.

Having said this, I reiterate that I really did enjoy listening to it but, if you want it to be performed in public, it just needs a bit of manipulating to be wholly satisfying.

You've done the hard part by creating some really pleasing sounds - now you just need to get out the yellow duster and polish it a bit - thanks for posting what to me is an interesting and pleasurable effort.

Bob, thank you for responding and your opinion is valuable indeed. 

I suppose we all obey an inner compulsion to compose/create whatever our hopes may be. Perhaps we're as involved with the process as the result. So this piece of mine is still in process really. Comments tell me what I thought - it needs more work (on the composition as much as transferring it to the DAW which itself needs attention). But then, it's a new slant. It awoke me from compositional sloth, from through-composing, clichéd harmonies, overworked motifs and on.  

I agree 100% with you about listening shouldn't need work - a persuasion that came with the avant garde which, in the absence of a "common language" to me meant getting used to the sound of a work - which meant work. Occasionally one finds something that reaches in straight away. Berio's Omaggio a Joyce comes to mind...a few others perhaps. I choose my music to fit my mood, sometimes to cause it. Sometimes it has to be in the background. Time is precious when one has to spend an average of 1 1/2 hours a day practising instruments!

But thanks again, and please don't underestimate the value of your commentary and my appreciation of your listening to the piece.

Bob Porter said:


Please accept my comments with a grain of salt.

I don't listen to much on the forum these days.So much content is keyboard or small ensemble music. That's fine, but those formats hold little interest for me lately. I picked your piece because it is for orchestra. My weapon of choice. I like the sound you have created. I asked you what you think holds the piece together. Yes, I heard the repeating motifs and themes. But for my taste, the piece seems a little disjointed. Is that a bad thing. Not at all. Some people like the listening challenge you have presented. I don't put music on in the background. When I sit down to listen to something, that's just what I do. I don't want to have to work at listening. It's not laziness, it's wanting the music to take me somewhere I've always dreamed of going. It's almost like your piece tries to force me to go there, rather than leading me there. But that may be just my general lack of taste. 

I write for the fun and therapy of it all, so my opinion may not mean much. 

Thanks for posting this.  


I am constantly told that if I would just listen to new/atonal/modern/avant garde/whatever, then I would grow to like it. No dice so far. I just want to listen to music. And write some, now and then.

It actually reminds me of David Carovillano's music, with the rapid flow of ideas, and the excellent sound you achieve with your samples. I don't hear the impressionism Colin speaks of; to me it is more expressionistic.

As for what to call it, i feel this is most unimportant. If calling it a concerto confuses people, then call it Music for Strings. No ambiguity there.

Basically, although the writing is good, musical and effective, I an much happier with your impressionistic pieces. I think you have a rare talent there. Impressionism never goes out of style, in my opinion, as it so intimately involves feelings, both on the part of the composer as well as the listener. so much modern music has little or no appeal to people on an emotional level. While I can always appreciate when something is done well, I probably won't listen to it again unless it has engaged my feelings in a positive way.

Hi, Michael,

Thank you for your encouraging comments, and particularly for your remarks about my attempts impressionism.

As I said in the starting post, this was an attempt to break away from impressionism; to be more formal – dare I say it, to get out of a rut. It does seem to be closer to expressionist. In hindsight I should have offered a movement of a string quartet written at the same time in the same vein and more cohesive. However, the comments received have been valuable – suggesting something could be made with more work. Concerto is maybe the wrong title as three movements (or so) in concertante style seems a distant hope right now. I’ve decided to set it aside then revise it and hopefully will have learned more about transcribing things into a DAW by then.  It’s been a good lesson.

Another lesson prompted by one of my tutors was learn to write melodies. Take just a solo instrument…. Time I gave that attention.

You are a clever composer, Dane. This is a generous work, it gives me joy and experience and I am grateful. To me, this is the kind of modern music that I appreciate and bridges the gap between tonal and atonal music, so much needed for me. The music struck right into my whole body, if you see what I mean, just a feeling. Congrats for another good work.


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