Music Composers Unite!
This is an old song of mine in Greek text. It started off as a simple vocal idea accompanied by guitar and mandolin (a 3 minute song), and it ended up recently like what follows. Apart from questions on structure and orchestral texture, one of my main questions would be whether to keep it for solo vocalists as written or employ full male choir, or perhaps choose other vocal combinations, but always within the two-part texture that I have written. Also whether to employ just two or more mandolins, in which case guitar part has to be re-enforced also. Two are quite audible for a baroque size orchestra I suppose and I could keep that size, but xylophone and accordion are confusing a little the matter for me.(Sibelius + Note Performer that I use for the mock up cannot give me a realistic idea of dynamics and balancing the orchestra that I employ here).
In the Em section the tenor line goes quite high and it is meant for falsetto singing (as an alternative of course).
in bars 159-178 I wish I could make the mandolin tremolos more audible over the accordion solo line.
In the 1st violin part there are some quick changes from pizz. to arco and vice versa, which I hope are manageable, but I'm not quite sure if the fiddlers would get angry at me.
I wish I could make the final fade out shorter and more effective. Instructions like ppp or perdendosi are not really understood by Note Performer for what I had in mind.
Any suggestions/criticism welcome.
The song has only four verses that are sang first by tenor and then repeated by tenor and bass and it closes with verse 1 returning to Am.
"Clavelitos de mi Corazon" in the header refers to a traditional Spanish song. It means "Carnations of my Heart" and is usually performed with choir and mandolin/guitar orchestras. This song gave me the idea of a long song cycle which I still work on from time to time and this is the 2nd song in it.
The main poetic image/allegory that I am trying to capture here is that of a Jetty and a boat resembling two lovers.
A rough translation of my text:
(repeat every 4th line and then every complete verse)
My love, you are a little bird,
you have wings making you intangible,
fly to the stars, fly on,
but don’t be missing for very long.
My love, become a star,
illuminate my empty heights,
give light within my joy,
give light within my sorrow.
Within my sorrow when I don’t see you,
within my joy when you are visible,
I am a jetty, my love,
and you are a boat tying yourself on me.
So that I can tie to your love,
body, soul and emotions,
you become a jetty for me,
brought here by the waves.
Very nice Socrates, Upbeat, entertaining and with an 'old world' charm.
Two suggestions from an amateur ear... replace the vocals with some other instrument...
- I found this distracting rather than complimentary, and, as you retard the pace to finish, end
with a two measure flourish. RS
Thank you Carlo and Roger for your comments and appreciation;
I discovered some typos which I corrected and I changed the fade out section because it was too long to be repeated on a single chord, so I used some motivic elements previously heard and I think it goes better (smoother) now. I uploaded a revised video on you tube and new pdf.
This really is nice. I have the feeling this is very much 'you'. I wouldn't mind hearing the song accompanied by nothing more then a guitar and perhaps a bass. No drums please.
Lots of nice stuff here. I love the mandolin entries and the 5/8 twists in the pizz. The strings at b179 are very effective too and would sound lovely live.
I do have a gripe of course...:-) From b231-237 the bass singer is at a disadvantage compared to the tenors tessitura. The tenor sings passionate high notes and I feel for the bass who sinks into the depths. I would suggest you put the bass line up an octave in b232-233 and re-write slightly in b235 and the first part of 236. If you ever get it done live, the bass soloist will thank you as he will be able to compliment emotionally and musically , the tenor solo.
thank you Rowy and Mike for your comments/suggestions.
Rowy, yes this is very much me, about 20 years ago, abandoning serialism for good and trying to come back to good old unpretentious tonal language.
The song was quite close to what you say originally, albeit half its length and all in Am, for just voice guitar and mandolin, and I played it live like that for a couple of years. Then I forgot about "CLAVELITOS DE MI CORAZON" all together, and I am trying now to come back to them. My idea from the beginning was to have fuller orchestration for the whole cycle and also to have most of the time a role for mandolins in most of the (39 in all) songs, and now I'm trying to pick up that old effort. That means that I have to re-design completely most of the songs and extend their single tonalities and lengths with modulations etc, since this orchestral result.
Mike, regarding bars 231-237, you spotted very easily the place where I had many doubts also. The falling 6th in the baritone in bar 231 was originally a rising 3rd and there was not any tessitura problem that there is now, but in bar 235 the baritone was climaxing on a high D# and I wanted to avoid the climax on the leading tone for this part, thus the resulting present part which, I agree, will not be very audible or emotionally expressing the verse well.
Usually I try not to interfere with the ordinary flow of the verses, but I don’t hesitate to do so if I see real musical profit coming out of it, and especially so if the point that the words are trying to make, seems in some chancy or whimsical way to be enhanced (it's a little paradox to me, but this where I believe music can be much clearer than poetry by enhancing the colour or the meaning of words), and I am giving it a go. I just repeat some words, solving the musical problem by this repetition, but also improving on the meaning. I have translated in boxed text what I mean. If you would find the time to see both versions in the attachments provided and give me an opinion, I would be grateful.
Jetty 1 files are as it stands now. Jetty 2, as I purpose to change it, and re-orchestrate the whole passage. And I may have a look on the whole guitar part to see if I can improve on it too, cause some chordal factors clash in places with accented passing notes in close registers.
Writing this post, I did not see your new suggestions Mike, but I'll have a careful look on what you say. Thanks very much! :-)
Jetty 2 is better for me, but I still think the baritone line could be improved. I hope you don't mind me attaching an alternative to save a wordy response. This is not necessarily better than yours, it is just another composers' take on that particular passage which you may find useful - please ignore it if you wish. My version sings well and keeps the tessitura at the top end for the Bari. The unison at the end could be powerful if marked as such, but you may not want that. I have also used the melodic minor but again, the csharp might not be to your taste.
Just some food for thought....
I think I've done with this one.
Mike Hewer, thank you very much for all your suggestions and help. I put them all to good use, mainly on three areas:
I changed two sections from pizz to arco in the beginning. They do give a pleasant feeling of change.
Regarding the bowing, I had originally plan to do as you suggested, i.e. two bows per bar, but in some places I was carless not to do it. I changed a lot of marks there, but still quite a few bars remain which I cannot avoid giving 3 bows per bar like bar 250 (bass and cello) or bar 196 on the violins (because of the staccato marking of the 1st quaver) etc. In most of these cases I mean two down bows and one up, (and hope for the best :-) ).
In bars 231-237 I first wrote down what you suggested in your pdf, cause I thought it was solving nicely the problem of the baritone tessitura, and also the fact that both singers end on the tonic note, gave them the finality that was required (as this is the 4th verse repeated) and also the fact that the baritone was climaxing one bar later than the tenor.
It sounded quite good, but I still thought about it as I was writing out the other parts, and I decided to introduce an interrupted cadence that had not been heard at all in this piece so far, and it helps more the aesthetic behind it as something final is said in the words (5th verse is an exact repetition of the 1st and does not bother me very much, it is just confirming the meaning of the song). So I fitted the vocal parts to follow that logic, and did the rest of the instruments. But as it was a play of words there (brought here by the waves, waves, the waves, brought by the waves) I also introduced a ritardando-accelerando-a tempo for those 7 bars.
I hope it is not too difficult for a good maestro to see it through, perhaps more free and with more feeling than the strict tempo algorithms of Sibelius.
I am well pleased so far.
You are welcome, thank you.
Re b250 and similar, the last 2 (quaver) beats should be in one bow (a slur across all 3 notes) with the stacc. dot on the last one. Two up-bow strokes are not required, nor necessary - the one bow will give you the same effect. The 3 bows at b196 and similar are fine, but you might want to clarify with articulation what you want ie stacc or non legato or some such. The interrupted cadence is nice.