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I just published on this site a video of the second part of my Diatonic Symmetries composition experiment. Here is the link: http://composersforum.ning.com/video/diatonic-symmetries-ii

It can also be viewed on youtube, at: https://youtu.be/WaJY6zLAF2s 

This second part is based on the same 'serialist' principles as the first, and on the same musical theme, which essentially is a recombination of its rhythmic structure and its tone row, easily recognizable from the first part, which can be found here: https://youtu.be/-mP7hPKO4Qg 

I consider serialism to be a broader concept than the well-known — or perhaps not so well known in the sense of being really thought through by its later adherents — twelve-tone theory of Schoenberg and his followers. In my interpretation its essence is to give priority to the (melodic or harmonic) interval structure of a musical motive above its tonal and harmonic embedding. In my composition this can be experienced from the remaining ambiguity, inherent in its theme, between the ionic (classical major) and the mixolydian modes. 

Please do not be intimidated by this rather theoretical introduction. You should know, however, that my composition efforts always stem from trying to solve, or at least find a way out, of the conundrums Western music finds itself in since a long time, Professionally I'm a philosopher, my musical occupations are only experimental spin-offs. So don't be reluctant in offering your (critical) remarks, to ask questions, or start a (confrontational) discussion. 

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Hi Geert,

listening to this is really an experience. It feels as if you hear the same melody again and again in one voice and simultaneously in different voices. The melody itself impresses by its pure beauty. Very interesting. The only odd thing I found is the long pause of the harpsichord. Why is that done?

Kind regards

Jan

Hello Jan, 

Thanks for your appreciating comment. The piece has a traditional ABA form and the long pause of the harpsichord marks off the "Trio" or B part. In this I followed a baroque device of having the middle part performed by a smaller group of the ensemble, and here this would either be the harpsichord alone or the strings alone. Because of the cantabile character of the melody I opted for the strings. 

There's something else to it. While the A parts tend to d as the tonal centre, the B part tends to g, although there never occurs any formal modulation. The different parts just explore the tension within the main melody itself between the mixolydian (d) and the ionian (g) mode. The silence of the harpsichord during the B part, and its return in the repetition of the A part, accentuate this tension and evoke a slight sense of modulation, if you get what I mean. 

Of course these things are a bit subjective. At first I tried to have the harpsichord in the middle part as well, but I wasn't content with it because it diminished the sense of contrast.

A question: Are you perhaps Dutch, or Flemish? I can tell by your name. 



Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hi Geert,

listening to this is really an experience. It feels as if you hear the same melody again and again in one voice and simultaneously in different voices. The melody itself impresses by its pure beauty. Very interesting. The only odd thing I found is the long pause of the harpsichord. Why is that done?

Kind regards

Jan

 It is amazing to me how every mind works just a little differently. 

My approaches to music are almost always from an emotional perspective first or an attempted conveyance of a feeling.

Your approaches are almost entirely theoretical ways to work through conundrums. Nothing wrong with either approach since everyone appreciates something different.

So in this case this music is held to a formula in order to attempt to make a point or a statement. Similar to some paintings, I think this music needs the right understanding in order to fully appreciate what it is. If you took someone off of the street who has no knowledge of music who knows what conclusions they draw? 

I think I see what you are doing with this music even though it doesn't personally engage me. I think it's commendable to always reach for something we don't quite understand or to try to find different contexts for what we do!

Hi,

no, I come from Germany. My first name is a swedish-german mixture, though ;)

Geert ter Horst said:

Hello Jan, 

Thanks for your appreciating comment. The piece has a traditional ABA form and the long pause of the harpsichord marks off the "Trio" or B part. In this I followed a baroque device of having the middle part performed by a smaller group of the ensemble, and here this would either be the harpsichord alone or the strings alone. Because of the cantabile character of the melody I opted for the strings. 

There's something else to it. While the A parts tend to d as the tonal centre, the B part tends to g, although there never occurs any formal modulation. The different parts just explore the tension within the main melody itself between the mixolydian (d) and the ionian (g) mode. The silence of the harpsichord during the B part, and its return in the repetition of the A part, accentuate this tension and evoke a slight sense of modulation, if you get what I mean. 

Of course these things are a bit subjective. At first I tried to have the harpsichord in the middle part as well, but I wasn't content with it because it diminished the sense of contrast.

A question: Are you perhaps Dutch, or Flemish? I can tell by your name. 



Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hi Geert,

listening to this is really an experience. It feels as if you hear the same melody again and again in one voice and simultaneously in different voices. The melody itself impresses by its pure beauty. Very interesting. The only odd thing I found is the long pause of the harpsichord. Why is that done?

Kind regards

Jan

When it comes to composing, I guess, only the end-result is what counts, not the way or method used achieve it. Different methods are like different ways to play with our musical material and to get a grip on it. 

I listened to your Snow Fall Night and my first impression is that you have penchant for modal tone scales and that you avoid the strong cadenses of classic harmony. What I try to do with my serialist approach in a diatonic context is something similar. If the interval-relations within a tone row or a theme have precedence over their tonal setting, then obviously one of the effects will be a freer style of harmony. In the classic style the harmonic constraints often determine the melodic flow. Here it is the other way round.

Timothy Smith said:

 It is amazing to me how every mind works just a little differently. 

My approaches to music are almost always from an emotional perspective first or an attempted conveyance of a feeling.

Your approaches are almost entirely theoretical ways to work through conundrums. Nothing wrong with either approach since everyone appreciates something different.

So in this case this music is held to a formula in order to attempt to make a point or a statement. Similar to some paintings, I think this music needs the right understanding in order to fully appreciate what it is. If you took someone off of the street who has no knowledge of music who knows what conclusions they draw? 

I think I see what you are doing with this music even though it doesn't personally engage me. I think it's commendable to always reach for something we don't quite understand or to try to find different contexts for what we do!

I find your music well thought out and constructed Geert and therefore it is interesting to me. You are using familiar musical elements eg rhythm, melody, harmony and counterpoint effectively if not in a traditional style.  You have limited use of dynamics, variation of texture and tempo; and your phrasing is not obvious, all of this by choice I assume. You also have a nine minute piece with little variation of formal structure which can be a challenge to the average attention span challenged listener, again by choice I assume.

I think you could increase the accessibility and appeal of this piece by making more use of the elements of dynamics, phrasing and variation of texture and structure.  I think you could do this without resorting to cliched sounds that we all are used to (and tired of).from the traditional use of these devices. This is only my own opinion and it's all your choice of course.

Phrasing and articulation decisions about this piece are left to the performers. This is very common in pre-romantic scores, which often contain nothing else but the notes, and I prefer to let possible ambiguities remain. I don't think a composer should try to control everything about how his music should sound. Oftentimes new and sensible interpretations are discovered by musicians who actually play it, and after a while they even get a better perspective on it than the composer. They are professional enough to introduce some variations, for example between the phrasings and articulations of the introduction of a section and its repetition.

As to the dynamics, big crescendos or diminuendos are obviously excluded by the nature of the piece. But perhaps there could be made minor accents here and there, or a terraced dynamic difference between the outer sections and the trio, which again, to my mind, are decisions best left to the interpretative job of the performers.

Ingo Lee said:

I find your music well thought out and constructed Geert and therefore it is interesting to me. You are using familiar musical elements eg rhythm, melody, harmony and counterpoint effectively if not in a traditional style.  You have limited use of dynamics, variation of texture and tempo; and your phrasing is not obvious, all of this by choice I assume. You also have a nine minute piece with little variation of formal structure which can be a challenge to the average attention span challenged listener, again by choice I assume.

I think you could increase the accessibility and appeal of this piece by making more use of the elements of dynamics, phrasing and variation of texture and structure.  I think you could do this without resorting to cliched sounds that we all are used to (and tired of).from the traditional use of these devices. This is only my own opinion and it's all your choice of course.

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