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https://soundcloud.com/larya/curiosity-rover

     This piece has two good ideas taken not from Holst, but from members of the forum.  Bob reminded me of why I liked the sound track to 2001 A Space Odyssey,  the opening fanfare of Richard Strauss's Zarathustra.  The rest of the movement has a theme which contains all twelve notes of the chromatic scale.

     Another member, whose name I can't remember, the guy with the saxophone, posted a nice piece in 7/8 time.  So the main theme of this piece played by the horn, contains all twelve notes of the chromatic scale and is in 7/8 time.  Actually I put it in 7/4 time to avoid using 64th notes.  The former piece had 7 even beats.  This piece has the standard 3 beats followed by 4 beats.

     It depicts Curiosity Rover the robotic jeep that was launched by NASA in 2012 and is still making tracks in the red dust of Mars. The recurring theme represents Rover facing adversity yet plowing through onward and upward.  It keeps on going and going and going longer than the energizer rabbit.

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Guys, I just returned from a long weekend so need some time to catch up on this thread.  Probably we should try to decide what standards we should apply to scores posted on the forum as opposed to standards for a finished score.  I don't think they are the same, but I know I have not spent much time editing my scores or even producing a respectable score for the forum.  Get back to you tomorrow.

I think the idea of stating if the score is a "playback" score or a "finalized" score may help.

Then we do not have to possibly quarrel over notation issues if the poster states it's not a finalized score, or not a score intended for use by live musicians.

A solution, as someone else mentioned, could be to have two versions in your notation software - one version to make the playback sound closer to what you desire which is then intended to be rendered for audio, and then another version where the score is noted as it would be if in a live performance situation - for us to follow along with as well.

Actually, all you have to do is to state that it's a rough draft score, and we'll let it rest. :-)

Generally, when you post something for critique, it helps to indicate what kind of feedback is wanted / unwanted. A lot of my posts, for example, indicate that the midi rendering is rather poor, because I'm looking more for feedback on the composition itself rather than the production quality. Some people post here asking specifically for comments on production quality, because that's what they're working on. That helps direct commenters as to what area of the music they should comment on.

Similarly, you could just say that you're not looking for feedback on the score but on the musical content.  That would help prevent (or reduce) the frustration of getting lots of feedback that you're not interested in, or isn't your primary concern.

Oh, I suppose. Though I think it's obvious if a score is play back or not. I know, I know, obvious to me but maybe not to someone who doesn't know notation. But, as I said before, most folks here can't or won't post a score and probably don't care about them.

Also, as we get to know each other. less and less might need to be said. For example, I know Lawrence uses Finale. So when I see something like a funny drum roll, I know why it's there. Same with a mismatch number of instruments. I don't think anything presented on CF is a finished product, ready to go. Even professional music typesetters don't agree on everything.

And then there's the European way of doing things as compared to other Western countries. It seems fancy to use Latin terms, even though  bpm is more accurate. For years I thought Sibelius didn't have what I know as a gong. There is a gong, but it's more like an oriental (or something that sounds like a pipe) gong. But no, the British term is "tam tam". Say what? What a wimpy name. Maybe that is the proper name, but really? Now that's notation worth getting excited about :) That and they can't call a quarter note by that name. No, it's quiver, or a quaver, or sliver, or some such thing. Must go along with the metric system. 

Certain standards should apply, of course. One thing I often forget is that since I don't read alto clef, I write viola parts in treble clef. I sometimes forget to change clef before posting. Sure, I should always change clef, but I feel that it has absolutely no effect on the music if I don't. 



Mike Hewer said:

 

For b19 in the harp, you should notate the c + g sharps enharmonically to facilitate the playing. Great strings at b22, but at b25 there are 4 oboes! I think there are 4 trumpets somewhere too! Perhaps a little more distribution between brass and horns might be nice.

But, oh dear, please put more detail for performance in your score and parts. I know I've banged on about this before to you and I can see some phrasing in the winds, but it is not enough. The string parts need work too on the bowing as it is non-existent in places. Hairpins are sorely lacking, etc etc...perhaps I'll keep this paragraph and just copy and paste it into all my posts here....:-) You've written a nice piece, but it's let down again by the lack of thought into the important performance details - they are as much a part of composition as the notes themselves. You should be hearing your phrasing as you write it and in the background, the right articulations can make the difference when trying to project foreground material.

Speaking of performance, one thing I'd have done different (for what it's worth)...

I would have put a fermata on the climax chord at b77. and perhaps filter out some of the parts over the length of the pause to make a more effective diminuendo, but that's just me.

Great though Lawrence...

Mike.

Mike,

     You make all good points.  I was in B flat and suddenly out of the blue I put in sharps.  Was I trying to fool the musicians?  These kind of mistakes are inexcusable in any kind of score. 

     I would like to use a fermata or a break/pause but neither of these signs work on my program so I either tie in an extra measure or use rests for a break.

     Thanks for all your excellent comments.

David,

     Thanks for listening and for your comments.  There are parts of notation I need to improve on and spend more time editing.  On other aspects, I feel it is not part of the composers perogative to notate bowing especially if he does not play the instrument.  The same with fingerings.  I once wrote a technically difficult part for piano and put in fingerings.  Our pianist who was the size of a football lineman had fingers as wide as the white keys.  He completely ignored my fingerings which is probably the way he treated most fingerings written for normal size hands.
 
David Lilly said:

Loved the piece, Lawrence.

I can hear and picture in my head exactly how this would sound with a live performance- inspirational, breathtaking. This would surely do in any Tim Burton film just as well as an Elfman score would. (If you had the resources to get a live orchestra record it)

What's even better, even without this being set to picture it does well standing on its own. Musically, it still makes sense without the need for picture. That, to me, is always a sign of well composed film music. I'm sort of picturing my own film in my head of a Mars Landscape as Curiosity wanders about, and this is very, very setting of the mood I envision.
I could feel the 3 beat, 4 beat pulse very well - so even with the odd time signature, that's OK as there's still a good pulse for any listener to feel.

Additionally, I love the choice of odd chromatics and time signature for a piece of this nature. It just is fitting. Your samples did a good job of capturing the phrasing and dynamics you envision as well, while it's never the same as the real deal, I can again easily hear in my head the feel of a live orchestra.

As you're obviously more experienced than me in composition, I have no input in that aspect. I do agree, whilst following the score I thought that more detail is always better. I guess everyone can learn something from someone, so I'll share why I think it's important to be so detailed in notation: I think the music of the greatest composers that has survived (before recordings existed) is highly detailed because it needs to be. They didn't have a recording to show people how it was supposed to sound when the sheet music was distributed from a publisher. So the composers had to rely on their notation to ensure other people would not misinterpret their work. That is why, to me, it is still important to be as detailed in notation as possible. So if you ever do need to print this out and give out the parts to an ensemble, the players know exactly what you mean and there's no confusion. My college professors always stressed this to me that when you ask an ensemble (after distributing the score) if there are any questions, the best feeling is when no hands go up. I think the bar should always be set high no matter what it is you are doing - and I agree, a lot of people on the site seem to toss up pretty lackluster scores maybe because they're in the mindset "This will never be played live anyway". I still disagree and think everyone should do the best they can with absolutely anything, especially on a site like this where we love to nit pick the living daylight out of any and everything!

But just giving in an opinion from a listener's perspective, and it was a great listen. Thanks for sharing this.

Bob,

     How do you know Jack Benny was a good violinist.  Of all the years he appeared on stage with his violin I never heard him play a single note.
 
Bob Porter said:

Lawrence,

Great stories. It is indeed humbling to be exposed to great musicians.

I played in a church orchestra where the 1st violinist  was a Hollywood studio musician, as well as having done some time in various symphonies around the country. Oh and he was also Jack Benny's teacher. Yes, Jack Benny was a good player.

My family took lessons from the former second violinist from the Moscow String Quartet. She had the greatest stories about the KGB.

I was fortunate to be around these folks.

H.S.

     I have used the same template for the last maybe 30 pieces.  So the score labels never match the actual instruments.  I really never know how many instruments are available until we start to practice.  For instance, today I am talking with a band director about doing some pieces from my opera.  The band has no strings, so I will most likely condense the string parts for keyboard.  You do what you have to do. 
 
H. S. Teoh said:

- How many trumpets / trombones do you have in your orchestra?  The start of the score seems to indicate 2 trumpets, and an unknown number of trombones... but m.23 seems to be scoring for 4 trumpets and 4 trombones. 4 trombones is a bit of an unusual number, esp. if you're only writing on a single staff.

- You indicated "horns in F" on two staves, but it's unclear whether you have two pairs of horns, or just one horn each.  The opening bars seem to indicate the latter, but it becomes clear later that you probably had 4 horns in mind.  This ought to be indicated clearly in the score (e.g., "Horns in F I & II / Horns in F III & IV"). And in the monophonic passages you need to indicate whether only one horn is to play the line ("1."), or both ("a2").

- Also, I'm not sure if this is just a matter of different conventions, but it seems a bit unusual to write the second horn staff in bass clef while the first one is in treble clef.  I was under the impression that they should both be in treble clef, transposed.  (The problem with horn parts in bass clef is that it may give the wrong impression of being written in the so-called "old notation" where bass clef means the sounding pitch is a 4th above written rather than the usual modern day transposition of a 5th below.)

- How many clarinets do you have? The beginning of the score seems to indicate only 2 plus a bass clarinet, but then in m.33 you have chords in all 3 staves, which seems to indicate 4 clarinets and 2 bass clarinets?? While 4 clarinet works aren't unheard of, having two bass clarinets seem to be stretching things a bit. Worse yet, in m.35 the number of clarinets appears to multiply to a whopping 8 instruments(!). These resources need to be indicated up-front; you can't just randomly add more instruments in the middle of the piece, the clarinettist isn't going to suddenly multiply into two (or 4) copies of himself (and 2/4 copies of his instrument) in the middle of a performance! :-P

- Where you write chords in the string parts, you should probably also indicate whether they are to be played as divisi. No indications means multiple stops, and if so, they should be checked for playability.

Aside from these scoring issues, though, I quite enjoyed the piece.  I liked esp. the chords you chose; very colorful and interesting!

Dave,

      You seem to be saying that musicians will change your score over your dead body.  I always wondered why Mozart died at age 34.
 
Dave Dexter said:

Personally, the concept that musicians have veto over my own intent in a piece is pretty destructive. If I've got something wrong, sure. If I can benefit from their experience, sure. If they're giving up their time, or if they've acquired the music to play at a concert, whatever, I can't complain. But if, in-session, they will actually ignore me because they think their interpretation is more accurate, valid or plain better? Well, there are plenty more session musicians.

Most of the examples of pieces played differently don't really fit this scenario - established pieces, often with the composer dead, far more freedom to approach as desired because so many recordings already exist. If I write a piece today to be played tomorrow, especially if it's for a specific purpose, I want it done as I intend. It's not vanity and it doesn't inhibit creativity.


Bob Porter said:

So, then you say that the answer is for the composer to mark his scores as much as he can so that the players will know how his music should be played. To me that is the height of vanity and a destroyer of creativity. I have heard many versions of the same piece of music, both live and on recordings, that, while they differ greatly, are still great to listen to.

Haha! So Mozart died because somebody tried to change his score? Never heard that one before. Good one! :-P

As for my comments / nitpicks on your score -- I'm coming from the angle of scoring for symphony orchestra; if you're scoring for band, then many of my comments wouldn't be applicable. Also, it seems clear that your score wasn't intended to be the final product, but a sketch or draft which you'd adapt to various different instrumentations depending on the ensemble that will be performing it. So my comments about the exact numbers of instruments wouldn't apply either. I was coming at it from more of the mindset of writing for a symphony orchestra with a more-or-less fixed set of instrumentations, which therefore entails more precise handling of timbre / instrument balance by controlling exactly which and how many instruments play what.

Lawrence,

Sibelius has a way to define a fermata as to length and gap afterwards. I can't believe your software doesn't have something similar.

No, I never heard Jack Benny play either. You can tell from youtube videos that he knew what he was doing when he played badly.

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