Music Composers Unite!
Here is a piece for violin and piano, which I wrote about 6 month ago. Originally, I wrote this in E-flat minor, but some violinist told me that this can be considered as an awkward key ( at least for the non-professionals). Therefore I transposed it into D-minor. I think that it sounds better in the original key, but the D-minor is also acceptable.
I would be very interested to hear what you think of this piece. Please be critical! Of course, everyone likes praise, but I want to improve and identify my mistakes, and learn from them.
The sound as well as the dynamics and expression of the violin are not particularly realistic. I used the VSL sound, but I could not get it to sound better (despite a lot of effort). Any suggestions how to improve this?
I like the piece overall. An enjoyable melody throughout that creates a nice motion.
I like your intent harmonically as well, but in spots it sounded uncomfortable to me. The intended harmonies are fine. ie: measure 4, you have the dmin/E to Caug/E to E7. The progression is nice, but the voicing between violin and piano didn't flow very well to me.
You might consider adding some ties to the violin line in places. Let the melody help drive the anticipation. ie: the F 8th note in measure 3 to the F qtr in measure 4. Let the harmonic shift pull the melody along and cause the melodic phrase to extend. Again possibly the 8th C in m 11 to the C in m12.
Question regarding you notation in measure 49. I'm not a piano player, but I'm surprised by the bass clef in the right hand. I've tried to figure out how to do this but as I said, I'm not a piano player, so whatever I try feels extremely uncomfortable.
Overall I like this.
I enjoyed this piece and thought it was very good.
Just a few points about the score. Not sure of the answer myself, but isn't it better to use slur marks instead of phrase marks like you have done? I can't see some of these phrases working as slurs.
Why are some of the dynamics stated as p (p) ?
Do you really need pause signs on both piano voices in bar 31? Not seen it like this before.
In bar 120 and 121 would it not be clearer to have the low Es as dotted quarter notes with stems pointing down instead of tied notes? I thought this might also be the case for some tied eighth notes on the last two beats of the bar instead using a quarter note.
But apart from these questions, very good piece.
Hello Tim and Adrian,
Thank you very much for your valuable comments!
Tim, your suggestion about adding some ties in the violin line is interesting. I agree that it would provide another kind of flow, but it will also change the rhythm of the melodic line. I have to think a bit more about this suggestion. In fact, I hope to get a violinist to play this piece, and then we can go through the different alternatives. The electronic output cannot provide the same articulations as a real player, and a much better flow could be obtained, even with the current score. For example, the F-F change from measure 3 to 4 could be played in one bow ( I should then change the slur to include both F-F´s).
Regarding your second remark ( ms 49), you are absolutely right. There is no point here to have this single note in the bass clef. ( I don´t understand why I wrote it this way). It´s corrected now.
Adrian, your comment about the slur vs phrase marks is really good. For the violin line, it´s a question of bowing, and I must say that I am not sure about how to deal with this in the best way. Again, I will have to consult a violinist, and I think that will lead to a lot of changes. The lines, which now look like phrase markings will probably be "chopped up" into slurs.
Your second remark about the p(p) is also justified. I tried to indicate a dynamic level betweem p and pp ( and I have seen this in some other scores), but I agree that it is unusual. I should perhaps just change it to p or pp. In any case, the marks are just a rough guideline, and real musicians will always make their personal interpretation of dynamics.
I entirely agree with your comment about the double pause signs. This is something which was automatically(?) added by the notation program (Sibelius), and I removed the lower sign.
Regarding your last comment, I agree that it could be written as you suggested, but I think that it´s a bit a matter of preference. Personally, I am happy with the tied notes, since I did not want to split the chords into two voices. But it would be OK to do it, if you think that it would enhance readability.
Finally, Tim and Adrian, I want to thank you very much again for your most helpful inputs! (and I will send you an audio file of a life performance in due time).
I like this, it has some nice melodic and harmonic turns. Personally, I think it would work better in a slower tempo. the piano tends to sound a little too insistent, and slowing it down would help restrain this. I agree that Eb minor is a weird key to start a piece in. D minor does work better, as D is one of the open strings of the violin, thus making it a more natural key. As for humanizing it, one thing you could try would be, again, tighter tempo control. Varying the tempo, even briefly, at strategic points in the music can have profound reuslts.
Yes but they resonate and contribute to a richer tone (I think).
I enjoyed the whole piece, and the melody and chords seemed to flow okay for me. Your first arpeggio in the piano came about half way through the piece. That is why the piano seemed insistent. I would find a way to vary the piano rhythm in the first half. Nice job.
Agree with Lawrence.
Hello Bob, Michael and Lawrence
Excuse me for replying so late, but I had some other things to take care of during the last few days. Thank you very much for your inputs! Great feedback!
BOB, all the music I write is for real players. That´s why the score is so important to me. But in fact, I usually have two scores (as you also seem to have). One for the real players and one for the Sibelius playback. My playback is in the “live mode”, where Sibelius does not read any dynamic signs or hairpins. But instead, I have all notes adjusted in velocity, so I can evoke these dynamics anyway. But regardless of this, I agree that it is highly preferable to have a dynamics sign after a hairpin!
I am familiar with the way to change note durations. And I use this option quite frequently. There are actually several ways to implement this (even in Sib.6, which I utilize). The notation of two consecutive holds in a measure has actually been used by several composers in the past. I did not do this for the Sibelius playback, but just to make it clear for the players, that there is a little longer pause. This could of course also be indicated by other signs, but I think it is a matter of what you prefer.
MICHAEL, I am not so sure about running at a slower tempo. I am afraid that the piece will lose some momentum. But I think that you have a point about the insistency of the piano. I think that it could be solved by some velocity/dynamics adjustments of the piano, and I could possibly lighten up the piano voice a bit by changing/deleting some parts of the piano bass line. You are of course right about bringing in some more tempo variations. But this is something I would leave to the real players. After all, the electronic playback just shows the basic idea of the piece.
BOB and MICHAEL, the issue of using open strings is highly interesting. There are beautiful examples how open strings are used to their full advantages (by Mendelssohn for example) but this is a complex business, and it would be better to discuss this matter in a separate thread.
LAWRENCE, you also brought up the issue of the piano insistency. I will have a look into this, and see how I can make it better. But I am very afraid of rhythm changes in the first part, because this mayl detract the focus of the melodic line, and it will weaken the effect of the introduction of the arpeggiated section. I will first try some of the things I suggested in the answer to Michael.
BOB, your last comment is very interesting. There is no other instrument which has the variety in expression as the violin (and differences between individual instruments). Indeed, the piece spends a lot of time on the G-string, and I know that it is often recommended to move to the D string (if this is possible), where one could get more levels of expression. But now I am talking about something, which I am uncertain about, since I am not a violin player! But I´d love to learn more about this.
For example, the velocity setting is once for each note, so that you can't reproduce a diminuendo on a half note (or longer). As you are a keyboard player, you would never run into the need to do this. But for every other instrument (except percussion, I guess), this is a very important form of expression. Dynamic change on longer notes , or any note, is part of the life blood of vocal and instrumental music. It is one of the reasons that writing for keyboard it very different from writing for anything else.
You are absolutely right, this is a crucial issue for non-percussive instruments ( and human voices), and therefore I agree with you here. I am a piano player, and there, the Live Mode is OK (as you pointed out). But in Sibelius, you can mix Live Mode with non-Life Mode (although it becomes quite tricky and some things will not be possible). Maybe best to work in a DAW.
I don't know. There are some (insert random instrument name) players that might disagree with you on the most expressive instrument idea.
Could be, I don´t know either
(Thanks again for the discussion,
Thanks Justin for your comment.
Thanks a lot for your feedback and the re-recording. This is a substantial improvement! The piano voice is mellowed and does not have the same insistance anymore.