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Elaborate Revenge Strategies I (Very short orchestral cue, score feedback appreciated)

Ok, I'm finally getting to posting new work: https://soundcloud.com/davedextermusic/elaborate-revenge-strategies-i (mp3 is attached as well, but I find soundcloud more convenient.)

Background and context: I'd spent months working on a single piece for a contest, with many revisions helped by my orchestration tutor. Afterwards (early March I think) I wanted to write shorter cues in a few different styles, and this was the first. The instrumentation is partly informed by the orchestra I'm considering hiring down the line (more than two percussionists, excluding timp, are extra, and since I tend to write large percussion sections I figured it'd be good for me to pare down a bit).

It's pretty short, but I managed to get a fair bit into 40 seconds. See my recent post about short works!

Notes: it's a soundtrack piece and so the score is in concert C as per convention (haven't yet sorted out my approach to accidentals). It's 99% complete, so any mistakes or unfinished tidying I will claim as the 1%. I definitely need to indicate pedalling on the harp.

I haven't had this checked by my tutor yet, but there's a few things I'm looking for feedback on:

Flute/piccolo - when, where and how would you indicate to the 1st flute to switch to piccolo, or indeed any instruments that share staves?

Time signatures - it probably all works played through in 4/4, but there's some parts where it switches probably to 3/4 and back, any feedback on that would be great.

I like the music so am looking more for score/notation issues, but if you hate it then I suppose there's room for you :)

Thanks!

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Tempo indication and style as well.

Possible wrong notes on the last beat. Lots of F's but a few strange notes as well. 

Dynamics should be placed under notes and not rests.

Very exciting stuff!

If it was exciting then I did my job :)

Tempo, hah, my bad. Completely forgot it. Style (like con brio, adagio, lacrimoso and so on I take it?) is a bit of a grey area in soundtrack scores, which - happily for me - have their own distinct traditions, especially when different composers do things others composers say you should never, ever do.

I'm checking the last chord now. Everything's fine except . . . an E had snuck into the trumpets, that dick! No idea how I could have missed it, but this is why I post my stuff. Appreciate it.

It'll sound like too much protesting, but the dynamics thing I do know - I'd love to have a score where there are no compromises made and the dynamics can go where they should, but space! I could condense few instruments into shared staves, but I have (probably irrational) reasons for disliking that.

Kevin riley said:

Tempo indication and style as well.

Possible wrong notes on the last beat. Lots of F's but a few strange notes as well. 

Dynamics should be placed under notes and not rests.

Very exciting stuff!

You have a A flat in there as well!

Hope you get to hear it live.

That should be fine at least, it's an Fm chord so F, Ab (I call it G# - music is hard) and C are all there. The E, though, that was a travesty, I assume my finger slipped. Fortunately you can't hear it on the mockup. At least now these are all relatively minor issues compared to the unplayable dredge I was offering a year ago!

Kevin riley said:

You have a A flat in there as well!

Hope you get to hear it live.

If it is meat to be F minor you surely need more instances of the A flat for the tonality to be heard Dave?

You're right, but in this instance it's really just a quick hard hit on the F. The flutes and oboes carry the minor with the little run. I'm normally very insistent on splitting sections into obvious tonalities so I'm assuming that was my logic at the time.

Kevin riley said:

If it is meat to be F minor you surely need more instances of the A flat for the tonality to be heard Dave?

I can see what you mean but as those passages are rapid there is hardly any minor feel to the sound. Just my observation!

No, it's fair enough. It's more or less a power chord, I will tinker with it when I next work on the score.

Kevin riley said:

I can see what you mean but as those passages are rapid there is hardly any minor feel to the sound. Just my observation!

Dave,

First, I like the cue.  It has a very cinematic feel to it, so I think you accomplished what you set out to do.  Good work!

As to your score questions:

The score can be in C, but the parts have to be identified by key, ie, Horn in F, Trumpet in Bb or C etc.  The parts themselves have to be transposed.  The Ab in the horn2 part should be written as an Eb (the note the player actually plays)  The trumpet players will have to use Bb tpts. as the low F in measure 5 is unplayable on a C tpt.

As to your horn parts, the horn section scores top to bottom as 1 3 2 4.  Players 1 and 3 are high horns, 2 and 4 are low horns.  The scoring is good, just the part distribution needs work.

Assigning the tympani pitches at the start is a good idea, but you don't need to denote the drum.  FGC is all you need. They'll tune the correct drum.

The flute 2 player is usually the one who will double the picc part.  This should be indicated in the full name so the conductor and player know at the outset.  Flute 1/piccolo or Flute 2/piccolo.  As to the indication, in measure 9 it's not really necessary to indicate, I would indicate to piccolo in measure 11 so the player has plenty of time to switch, and indicate as you did in measure 20.  As soon as they finish playing the doubled instrument I would write "to instrument" whatever it may be and again show the instrument they should have at the entrance of the switch.

Why do you have the double bars at measure 13 and 22? 

I realize you don't like combined parts on a single staff, but remember, it's the conductor you need to make life easier for.  I always write on a staff with individual parts, but combine them for the final score.  This will also give room to annotate the score without it looking too crowded.

Again, I like the work itself.

Guys, this is such great feedback. It encouraged me to do some fixing and I've attached an updated score.

Tim, glad you like it. I claim these errors as part of the 1%, but it's really because I wrote this (for me) very fast and never properly checked.
 - Subsequent scores have the 1/3/2/4 treble/bass horn distribution. There's more tidying I can do yet to ensure the register distribution is uniform but I did some fudging just now that evens things out a bit. Same with trumpets, why was I writing so low? Stupid Dave.
 - My finished scores would instruct the timpanist to tune as they wish if they have a better allocation. This way, they can simply ignore the information, but if I leave it out I just know I'll anger a player who expects to be shown the tuning.
 - Good to know re flute/picc. So instruct a change asap? Makes sense.
 - I know I'm going to have to combine staves. I should bite the bullet.
 - double barlines break up the piece at obvious mood and dynamic changes, it's a visual aid I've picked up from some soundtrack scores. Speaking of which, the whole concert pitch/transposition thing - I've checked this exhaustively over the last few months to avoid huge clangers. With the exception of octave transpositions like bass, glockenspiel etc, soundtrack session scores are non-transposing. I don't believe this transfers to concert performances of those same scores, but when recording or in that environment (which is the main intent for these scores), that's the convention. I even recreated a tiny bit of a session score a composer sent me once to check as I'm always ready to be mistaken - nope, notated and played as is. There's bound to be some exceptions but every professional source and score I've consulted follows that rule.

Bob! If trumpets can't play my music then they can just MAKE BETTER ONES *slams door*

I improved matters some but why on earth I didn't spot that when composing I don't know, I'm well aware of sample libraries being misleading. So thanks/ I've tidied the horn parts for the moment. I'm convinced, I need to share staves, it's going to make things so much neater, it just . . . ewww.

Tim Marko said:

Dave,

First, I like the cue.  It has a very cinematic feel to it, so I think you accomplished what you set out to do.  Good work!

As to your score questions:

The score can be in C, but the parts have to be identified by key, ie, Horn in F, Trumpet in Bb or C etc.  The parts themselves have to be transposed.  The Ab in the horn2 part should be written as an Eb (the note the player actually plays)  The trumpet players will have to use Bb tpts. as the low F in measure 5 is unplayable on a C tpt.

As to your horn parts, the horn section scores top to bottom as 1 3 2 4.  Players 1 and 3 are high horns, 2 and 4 are low horns.  The scoring is good, just the part distribution needs work.

Assigning the tympani pitches at the start is a good idea, but you don't need to denote the drum.  FGC is all you need. They'll tune the correct drum.

The flute 2 player is usually the one who will double the picc part.  This should be indicated in the full name so the conductor and player know at the outset.  Flute 1/piccolo or Flute 2/piccolo.  As to the indication, in measure 9 it's not really necessary to indicate, I would indicate to piccolo in measure 11 so the player has plenty of time to switch, and indicate as you did in measure 20.  As soon as they finish playing the doubled instrument I would write "to instrument" whatever it may be and again show the instrument they should have at the entrance of the switch.

Why do you have the double bars at measure 13 and 22? 

I realize you don't like combined parts on a single staff, but remember, it's the conductor you need to make life easier for.  I always write on a staff with individual parts, but combine them for the final score.  This will also give room to annotate the score without it looking too crowded.

Again, I like the work itself.

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