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This is a very rough work-in-progress.  Score is not in presentable form yet, but below is a midi mockup of the current draft. I'm interested in any general thoughts you may have; my main concern right now is that even though the work is basically a monothematic arch form, the primary motive is not always clearly audible, and the development section ventures so far away from the tonal language of the opening that I have some concerns about whether it sounds cohesive.  

MP3 mock-up:  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9HY2GoDR54AajltUFhNUjM5OEE

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I can't get it to play.

Stephen. does this have a video that it supports? Otherwise, it fails, IMO

The 'horrors of the massacre' presented with still life photos might work,

but requiem? An exhibition of the dead is a documentary, not a requiem

that honors the dead. The nature of this piece is too 'strained' for me to

relate to as an honor to those that have died... and there have been far too many.

Hey, I listened, I gave feedback.... for what it's worth.    peace          RS

Thank you all so much for listening. 

Frederick, do you have Google Drive? What device/browser are you using?

Roger, thank you for giving me your honest feedback, even though you did not like the piece.  I could be wrong, my perception from your comment that a significant part of your negative reaction stemmed from the title suggesting a specific type of piece to you that this piece did not match.  Is that accurate?  Do you have any thoughts on the composition itself, setting aside your concerns about what a requiem should be like?  There are no videos or images that I intend this piece to accompany, and there is no particular act of violence that it refers to.  The "strained" quality is intentional, and I intended the piece to reflect a tension between conflicting emotional responses to the title's subject matter, including angst and grief, as well as peace, rest, and hope, which ultimately prevail in the piece's conclusion.  

Bob, I'm glad the form was coherent enough to follow; that's always a concern for me whenever I write in a freely modulating style with no literal repetition of material and a broad array of tonal languages in a relatively short piece. 

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding the work's orchestration?  It's currently a straightforward 4-stave string orchestra work with a fair amount of divisi, and I've been somewhat indecisive about keeping it that way, or rearranging for either string sextet (which could really highlight what I think of as the essentially intimate nature of this piece), or setting it for full orchestra with a rich wind and tuned percussion presence (which could provide much more textural variety and contrast; if I went the full orchestral route, I would of course have to be careful to keep a chamber texture through almost all of the piece except in the climax before the initial theme's return). 

Thank you once again,

Stephen

Hi Stephen,

If it was mine, I'd probably score it for full strings permanently divided. They can be breathlessly quiet and moving and would do also justice to the passionate outbursts. Perhaps some Harp, timp and snare to punctuate, the snare could be the aggressor perhaps! Percussion would give a contrast to the heart rending strings and give some serious weight to crescendos etc.. (I just know that you have heard Music for percussion and strings by Mr.BB)

I'll give you my thoughts below, please understand that it is a personal opinion and means bugger all outside of my head :-)

The problem for me with this piece is not the early 20th cent, to atonal language, but the playback and arrangement. As you know, the strings are capable of so much in the way of articulation. Shimmering ppp tremelos sul tasto would be nice in places, gentle pizz multi stops, harmonics tremelo, fingered trems. What about some solo work, or dividing the strings into 2 choirs for an antiphonal effect? Just some thoughts Stephen, but I mention these thing because I think much more thought on the arrangement prior to composing will lift this up from what at the moment sounds like a hands down approach, with inner parts just sustaining. I get the choral like arranging at first, but it out stays it's welcome and keeps holding the piece back. More attention to inner parts would help enormously and an opening out of the vertical field. Strings can sound good in almost any spacing - how about a wide gap in the middle of the vertical, to allow room for part of the theme played on (say) sul G by a section or a quartet. I could go on and on, but maybe there is food for thought there for you.

Sorry Stephen, I do get quite passionate about all of this, especially as I think the music could be very dramatic and moving, you just haven't attired it properly for public consumption. You would be amazed at how good recent sample libraries are at re-creating music. It would doubtless inspire you more so to keep writing and with that in mind, I'd recommend you spend some money on them. If you want advice, I'll be happy to help as I have most of what is out there.

Bob,

If you are referring to my post then let me say as perhaps clarification for Stephen, that I am not talking about special effects, just straight ahead common string writing and scoring, utilising the palette for emotional impact. Suspensions can be played with trems, beautiful and soft you know, that sort of technique is  just straight ahead writing in the real world. 

And by inner movement, I mean idiomatic accompaniment figures that do not complicate the foreground and are not footballs, (semibreves) which to any player who plays more than 16 bars of them will attest, they are a sure sign of a mediocre approach. I wasn't suggesting you do this all of the time of course Stephen, merely that you think about how you arrange the music.

I know you are an excellent pianist, how would you feel playing a grade 2 piece in a concert?  Having a good arrangement does not mean complication and will not detract from the simplicity when its done well, but will deliver your message in a powerful way.

Stephen, you are right. For me the title pre-programmed my listening mindset.

I think I would have titled it something more like 'Adagio for Man's Inhumanity to Man'.

The music itself was fluid and  had a dark and eerie 'appeal' to it, but in an almost

painful way. If that was your intent, then you succeeded. I didn't feel that the ending

resolved the journey or brought me back though.

Possibly a few hints involved earlier in the piece, leading to a stronger resolution

would complete the work..... at least for my ears  :>}       RS (resolution seeker)

Very grateful for all the feedback received so far on this piece.

Roger, do you think the work "Elegy" instead of "Requiem" would change your pre-programming at all? I'm very interested in the way titles affect listening, and I've actually never written a programmatic piece before, or used a title other than the form of the piece. You used the word "honor" twice in your initial response, and I agree that this piece really isn't about "honor" so much as it is about expressing a reaction. I don't want to change the character of the piece (although I certainly want it to be more polished, but I do want to be very careful with the title, especially given the weightiness of the subject matter, and make sure that I do not unintentionally set up unfulfilled audience expectations before the piece even gets started. Also, your point about the final resolution not bring the piece fully back home is well-taken; I think there's some work to be done in the final section to set up the expectation that the end of the piece is near. I've tried to set up D Major as a clear tonal center from the recap to the end, but

Mike, thanks so much for your detailed ideas on orchestration. I agree that the string writing could use more variety, as it definitely contains a lot of slow sostenuto bowing in its present state, and more subtle surface variety could be very useful in holding interest longer. I particularly like your antiphonal idea. Your comment has me thinking of setting apart a string quartet from the ensemble and treating the quartet quasi-antiphonally with the ensemble in places to create more timbral contrasts without changing the composition of the orchestra.

Bob, I'm glad you found this piece refreshing. I also dislike music that is obviously special-effect-oriented; I try to create unique textures and aspire to be able to take advantage of all the things the various instruments can do, but only for dramatic/rhetorical purposes; I hate pieces that basically have nothing to say except "hey, look, lots of harmonic glissandos over a really high bassoon part in an odd meter."

Elegy? Lament? Threnody?

Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima comes to mind, although the musical language is obviously radically different from yours. A piece mostly about depicting a reaction to certain events, regardless.



Greg Brus said:

Elegy? Lament? Threnody?


Don't want to use "Threnody" because it'll immediately induce comparison to Penderecki''s Threnody, which is a masterpiece, but is such a fundamentally different piece from this.

Hm. Lament or lamentation then :)

Jeremiad is nice and in a sense makes reference to religion.

Dang Fred, I always thought Jeremiad was a reference to a friendly bullfrog.

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