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Hey all again - I'm closing in on getting two short pieces recorded with an orchestra. One you might have seen in the double stop thread that's floating around. This is the other - about half the length, a rousing fantasy adventure cue.

Aside from tidying and so on there's not much else I can think of to change or fix, so before I lock things down I'm grateful for any feedback relating to balance, arrangement, notation etc. Style criticism I'll take in stride but fundamentally the music is what it is!

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That Ab in the melody should probably be a G#. Just about everywhere. I'm not sure how annoying this can be for the players, but it will read more fluidly after the fix IMO, and since time is money...

Do you have some specific ideas on where the brass should breathe? Because there are no rests. They will of course figure something out but if you want consistency, you probably want the decision made beforehand. Again, time is money.

Sounds good.

Is a sight reading piece, I'm sure the conductor won't have any problems with notation, and any problem of balance will be rectified on rehearsal. Is a very idiomatic style. No mistake possible. 
I just would be worried about breathe. Just try to choice points where you won't get considerable vacuums and give some little rests for brass guys... they will thank you.


Thanks Greg! This is one of the pieces I tested through a horn and trumpet player (specifically asking for any problems) and that didn't come up so I wasn't considering it. Those melody parts are tongued so there's room to breathe, I'll use the player's recording as a template - uniformly at the 4th beat of every 4th bar - and put in some breath marks so everything has the right flow.

Bearing with me on my lack of theory, why is it G# not Ab? When I change the key to D the Ab does then become a G# but it's the same accidental . . . presumably to do with enharmonics or other things I don't understand. But surely it's pretty unambiguous in this context? This likewise wasn't an issue for my musician, but that's no excuse.


Greg Brus said:

That Ab in the melody should probably be a G#. Just about everywhere. I'm not sure how annoying this can be for the players, but it will read more fluidly after the fix IMO, and since time is money...

Do you have some specific ideas on where the brass should breathe? Because there are no rests. They will of course figure something out but if you want consistency, you probably want the decision made beforehand. Again, time is money.

Thanks Paul, appreciate it. It's a soundtrack session orchestra so it should be ok.

My worry with brass, and it's probably a stupid one, is inserting breath points when they'd still be able to comfortably play on. But the problem would come if I don't give enough rests, not if I give too many. I shouldn't worry about it.

(Oh, see my reply to Greg as it contains some context for the brass parts/breathing spaces)

Paul Wegmann said:

Sounds good.

Is a sight reading piece, I'm sure the conductor won't have any problems with notation, and any problem of balance will be rectified on rehearsal. Is a very idiomatic style. No mistake possible. 
I just would be worried about breathe. Just try to choice points where you won't get considerable vacuums and give some little rests for brass guys... they will thank you.


Dave,

     I would like to comment but I cannot read the score.  You have too many lines and the notes are microscopic.  This is a good score for printing out parts, but too big for performance.  Put the 4 horns on two lines. Same for flutes oboes etc.  If this piece is of any length you will need a fork lift to deliver the score.  Just because notation programs will print 100 lines doesn't mean we should.

Heh, this can be explained from several angles and it always involves a bit of handwaving. Welcome to theory.

Anyway, explanation #1: since this is tonal, the most, let's say, natural way of deciding enharmonic spelling is making sure the notes fit the chords that are currently sounding. Putting aside the sparkly background, your melody follows the simple pattern of D major -> E major -> D major. Ab isn't a note that fits an E major chord or scale; G# definitely is. Optimising the notation with this in mind lets you get more consistent with whatever classical repertoire your players are trained on. It might matter, or not, dunno.

Explanation #2: probably a bit more practical. It's maybe not necessary, but certainly helpful, to make your lines look similar to what they sound like. Example (following 1st Horn): measure 1 to 2 transition at a cursory glance looks like you aren't moving pitch, but it's in fact a significant half-a-step down. Tired musician doesn't notice the accidental and bad things happen. Measure 2 to 3 is worse - it looks, on paper, like you're going a third up and then back down, but the sound is actually major second up then down.

Again, I don't know how much this matters, really. I've had some situations where a player would read things in a hilariously wrong way when they weren't optimised. But then, they weren't professional session musicians. Either way, it may not be worth the risk to leave things be... OR it may not be worth the time to be too nitpicky about this. Who knows. It's yours to decide, I guess.



Dave Dexter said:

Bearing with me on my lack of theory, why is it G# not Ab? When I change the key to D the Ab does then become a G# but it's the same accidental . . .

You may have a zoom feature . . . it's not meant as a final concert score, just my working one. As with the other score, after everything is finished, I then merge a bunch of parts, clear some space and tidy up.

Lawrence Aurich said:

Dave,

     I would like to comment but I cannot read the score.  You have too many lines and the notes are microscopic.  This is a good score for printing out parts, but too big for performance.  Put the 4 horns on two lines. Same for flutes oboes etc.  If this piece is of any length you will need a fork lift to deliver the score.  Just because notation programs will print 100 lines doesn't mean we should.

That makes... some kind of sense. I forgot that the underlying chords were D-E at the start, since the suspension comes from not resolving to E until later on. Going through and changing flats to sharps didn't take long. An advantage should come from the orchestra and conductor mainly working with scores in C who've come across these issues before, and judging by their score guidelines some far worse ones! And the concert master checks scores weeks in advance, it's not just flung in front of them cold (I reassured myself nervously). It'd be nice to catch these more theory-based issues myself once or twice, though. Much thanks for the clarification.

Greg Brus said:

Heh, this can be explained from several angles and it always involves a bit of handwaving. Welcome to theory.

Anyway, explanation #1: since this is tonal, the most, let's say, natural way of deciding enharmonic spelling is making sure the notes fit the chords that are currently sounding. Putting aside the sparkly background, your melody follows the simple pattern of D major -> E major -> D major. Ab isn't a note that fits an E major chord or scale; G# definitely is. Optimising the notation with this in mind lets you get more consistent with whatever classical repertoire your players are trained on. It might matter, or not, dunno.

Explanation #2: probably a bit more practical. It's maybe not necessary, but certainly helpful, to make your lines look similar to what they sound like. Example (following 1st Horn): measure 1 to 2 transition at a cursory glance looks like you aren't moving pitch, but it's in fact a significant half-a-step down. Tired musician doesn't notice the accidental and bad things happen. Measure 2 to 3 is worse - it looks, on paper, like you're going a third up and then back down, but the sound is actually major second up then down.

Again, I don't know how much this matters, really. I've had some situations where a player would read things in a hilariously wrong way when they weren't optimised. But then, they weren't professional session musicians. Either way, it may not be worth the risk to leave things be... OR it may not be worth the time to be too nitpicky about this. Who knows. It's yours to decide, I guess.

Dave,

I'm sure the players and conductor will naturally determine this, but you might consider adding dynamics between hairpins so that everyone has an idea where they are going. How much diminuendo will there be before the crescendo: one p, two p's, mp?

Thanks Bob - I was working on the assumption that an unmarked hairpin goes to the next dynamic (in this case, those first long dim-cresc b5-8 would be F>mf<F). This was something I was told here a while back, but then if there's any room at all for interpretation adding the dynamic does no harm. Presumably you as a player would find my notation too vague in that case?

Bob Porter said:

Dave,

I'm sure the players and conductor will naturally determine this, but you might consider adding dynamics between hairpins so that everyone has an idea where they are going. How much diminuendo will there be before the crescendo: one p, two p's, mp?

I don't find it vague. Players will follow the conductor, and each other. You may well be right about one dynamic level. Though it seems to me that the amount of difference between ff and f is different from f and mf. I got into the habit of putting in dynamics at the end of hairpins because my software tends to ignore hairpins that don't have a dynamic after them.

I'm not knocking your score at all. My suggestion was only just that. 

As for breath marks for the brass, I don't know. I tend to see more breath marks in choral works. You might put some in if there is something you want phrased a particular way. That might be up to the conductor. He will demonstrate what he wants by the way he conducts. He isn't just up there to count time.

I'll always be interested in your suggestions. I might have sounded sarcastic (it's my thing) but I was genuinely asking if you'd find that lack of dynamic vague in terms of playing it - I know you weren't knocking it. If you weren't sure how much dim there was between hairpins though, then it's potentially unclear to others as well, I am not sure exactly where I found out that hairpin dynamic rule. If there's a chance for misinterpretation I need to change it, there won't be much rehearsal time.

I almost never come across breath marks in the scores I look at, and looking at brass and woodwind playing the pause for breath is generally tiny, but it's a valid point. For a unison melody it might be useful, like slurs in string parts, to keep the accents together. I'd look at it more in-depth if it was an exposed ww or brass section, where everyone breathing at once could be more noticeable.

Bob Porter said:

I don't find it vague. Players will follow the conductor, and each other. You may well be right about one dynamic level. Though it seems to me that the amount of difference between ff and f is different from f and mf. I got into the habit of putting in dynamics at the end of hairpins because my software tends to ignore hairpins that don't have a dynamic after them.

I'm not knocking your score at all. My suggestion was only just that. 

As for breath marks for the brass, I don't know. I tend to see more breath marks in choral works. You might put some in if there is something you want phrased a particular way. That might be up to the conductor. He will demonstrate what he wants by the way he conducts. He isn't just up there to count time.

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