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This is the first movement of Three Easter Scenes. The garden of course is Gethsemane. A fairly impressionistic work, I attempted to portray the agony as Jesus contemplates His coming ordeal. A choppy bass pizzicato figure is a kind of premonition of the march to Calvary (which becomes the opening theme of the next movement). In one section, a solo trombone substitutes for the words "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Toward the end, there is a section I think of as "dialogue between the Father and the Son." It features the harp technique "bisbigliando (whispering). The harpist plays 4 notes in a somewhat random pattern, while the left hand has an arpeggiated figure (I had to enter the notes in a definite pattern however) . The piece ends abruptly with a detachment of soldiers showing up, ending the scene.

This is a wave file (sounds better and discourages unauthorized downloading).

Copyright by Michael Diemer 2019

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Hi Michael,

I listened to your piece, and felt that it reflected the text well. You clearly have a strong sense of how to set the story to music and made some interesting choices with instrumentation and techniques.

Such a personal project will no doubt provide the motivation to completed to the best of your ability. Congratulations thus far and looking forward to the remaining movements. By the way, I recall speaking with someone on another forum that set scripture to music and was running Bible Opera performances in his state (Tennessee or Kentucky, perhaps?)  



Thanks for listening and your comments, David. This movement is close to being finished. The other two are well on the way, but more problematic, and will thus take more time.

Flows nicely with some interesting twists in the harmony. It conveys the mood your description seeks to capture. The scoring has that impressionistic feel. My only critical comment is that it seemed to stay too long at mezzoforte otherwise it's easy to listen to. Hope to listen to further movements soon.

Still can't edit the posts. I was going to add "Cheers" at the end!

Dane, thank you for your comments, and for listening. You're right about the dynamics. I am dynamics- challenged. It's the last thing I put in a score, and I hate doing it. It's odd because, when I sang or played guitar, I put lots of feeling into it. but I can never figure out in a score where to put all the mp's and mf's. So I just put in the bare minimum hoping that the performers will get at least a rough idea. they would probably be better off figuring it out for themselves. but it's almost certainly a moot point since my music will probably never be performed anyway.


Some nice moods.  I thought the instruments over power the harp most of the time.  Good mysterious chord at the end.  What is the bisbigliando technique.  I've heard the term, but never used it in a harp part.  Over all I enjoyed the piece. 

Lawrence, from Walter Piston's Orchestration: "The Harp tremolo most often employed in orchestral scores is bisbigliando (whispering). The fingers of both hands keep the strings in a kind of delicate rustling motion, without any particular sequence of plucking. As the term implies, the effect is appropriate in soft nuances. Three or four notes within the reach of one hand are written as a tremolo." (p. 336). So, it's technically a tremolo. In this case, I have the harpist playing the bisbi. part with one hand, while the other hand plays an arrpegiated figure. I cant's remember if it's 3 or 4 notes. I think I was still making an effort to ensure my harp parts were playable, but with every bar in this long passage a different chord, who knows. But I think it sounds pretty cool. Now, if some harpist comes along and says "no way," I'll have to reconsider. For someone who does not expect their music to actually be performed, it's really not an issue, however.

I listened to it all. Well worth a listen. Very nicely done. I do agree with Dane that it needs more dynamics. I think it will draw out the anxiety of the drama unfolding.

This is very nice music and I enjoyed the journey through all of the various moods presented. It sounds like the harp is panned hard left. I might move some of it over to the right. Just me. I say this because in a real setting you will hear the harp in both ears.FWIW I listened on ear buds.

To give more impact to your desired idea this would sound very good mated to a video showing the crucifixion and/or events leading up to it. Not sure how the copyrights work in that case. It's a shame really that copyright stands in the way of some really good things sometimes.People have to be payed though.

Reply by Stanley King 4 hours ago

I listened to it all. Well worth a listen. Very nicely done. I do agree with Dane that it needs more dynamics. I think it will draw out the anxiety of the drama unfolding.

Thanks for listening Stanley. I know I need to do something about those dynamics...
Tim thanks for your comments. I tried quoting them but this feature also is not working now. But as for the harp's panning, I have tried moving it in some in other works, and I think it did sound better. I'll experiment with this. It currently is panned about 72% left.

As for your other comment, this is just the first of three movements. The piece is called Three Easter Scenes. I should have been clearer on that. The second mv is To The Cross, and the third is Beyond The Tomb. All three feature a brief quotation from scripture, to be sung by a male voice (obviously). It is in range of any male voice, but probably would best suit a baritone.

As for visuals, I am even more challenged there than I am with dynamics. Besides, it is meant to suggest images for the listener's own private experience in and of itself. At least that would be my hope.

This is certainly impressionistic and it's always interesting to me where any composer heads off to at the end of each 'section' of their piece, and of course your multi-directional approach is a case in point. Sometimes I will spend weeks cogitating on 'where will I go next with this composition and why' and sometimes surprise myself with the results. This might go some way towards explaining why so many of us have in mind what 'form' we are going to use as a framework for our compositions - it makes the compositional process slightly easier.

I can understand why Timothy thinks this might have more impact as programme music to a video. Overall there are some very pleasant segments and some nice harmonies....and melodies too for that matter. I'm ashamed to say that I was not previously aware of bisbigliando - but the harp is a bit of a mystery to me and I should study it more. Where did I hear: 'A harpist spends 75% of his/her time tuning the instrument and the other 25% playing out of tune'?

The solo trombone is a nice touch and the detachment of approaching soldiers is well portrayed.

As a stand alone piece of music I agree it needs a touch more dynamic flavouring to maintain the interest - but you've already acknowledged this to be the case.

I would hope that a religious offering of this type, especially when the movements are complete, would attract the attention of an ecclesiastical organisation of some sort and end up being performed live.


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