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Here is my most recent composition. Being my first extended work featuring harp, it proved to be a challenging but rewarding experience.
My aim with this work was to further develop the harmonic language in my String Quartet, which was quite a task considering the harp is often thought to be a rather harmonically limited instrument. However, despite my initial concern about these "limitations," I discovered that one can write harp music that is *very* chromatic and pushes tonal boundaries.

My harmonic language is based primarily on polytonality, which I used extensively in this work. The main "key" of the work is E, which is juxtaposed rather constantly with the key of Eb throughout the piece (particularly in the fourth movement).

The first movement ("Rubato") begins by introducing the main theme of the work, which appears both directly and subtly in all of the movements. The movement continues to develop freely, moving the theme through an assortment of variations before reaching a climax. The intensity of the music quickly drops, leading to a transitional section where rhythmic and thematic motives from the second movement are introduced quietly. The movement ends unresolved and the second movement begins abruptly, a dance-like scherzo characterized by a motive based on alternating 5/8 and 6/8 meters. The third movement ("Adagio") features the harp extensively and places a greater emphasis on textural experimentation. Building up to a dramatically virtuosic section for the harp, the music fades to nothing and is followed by another transitional section which emphasizes the polychords that are featured prominently in the fourth movement (the aforementioned E-Eb, and also Eb-G). The fourth movement ("Presto") moves perpetually, eventually reaching a climax where the cello plays the main theme of the work adorned by polytonal harp flourishes. After falling back down to pianissimo, the beginning section of the "Presto" returns. The music builds once more and then ends quietly, with the cello resolving in E and the harp in Eb.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Sonata for Cello and Harp - 1. Rubato
Sonata for Cello and Harp - 2. Vivace: Like a dance
Sonata for Cello and Harp - 3. Adagio
Sonata for Cello and Harp - 4. Presto

 

Score

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Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

I did take the time to listen, but I fear any comment that I make would be rather superficial. That's because this is quite intellectual music and with an equally dense and detailed score. The amount of feedback you'll get here will be quite limited for that reason alone.

I don't really feel qualified to comment - my music is tonal and has a high emphasis on melody. I hope somebody can comment, but there aren't all that many people here, I suspect, who can say something worthwhile, other than just saying "I like it/ don't like it".

Thanks for sharing this. Great emotins, richness of the language, well developed form, dramatism, unusual contrasts, surprising culminations. Even more important, you employ a host of virtuosic elements that provide a room for the performers to really enjoy the performance. I like every note completely and cannot make any constructive critics. I can only repeat Vlad Burlea's comment that it is not bad to accompany such pieces with verbal explanations and with bright and catchy titles. I think most of this music will sound great also in piano + cello setting, maybe even better (clearly depending on the performers). Great work! Unfortunately, even in this forum there are not many people appreciating atonality and polytonality. You are THE master!

Thank you Adrian and Andrew for your input. If what you say is true, then I find it rather unfortunate that people would be reluctant to comment because they feel unqualified. I'm not necessarily looking for an in depth critique (though I certainly wouldn't be opposed to that either) -- I simply want to know how others respond to my music, whether they be romanticists, neo-classicists, post-modernists, serialists, jazzers, metalheads, non-musicians, whatever. Some of the best feedback I have ever received has been from people who are the least educated in music. No matter what someone's musical background is, I'm sure they could at least tell me what they enjoyed/didn't enjoy about the music, and even if they have very little experience with the type of music I'm writing, any comment is helpful and beneficial.

Anyway, thank you both for responding, I appreciate it!

John, after reading your preface to this work, I knew I had to give a shot at listening to it, knowing, too, that it would likely be a difficult one for me...( I'm about as tonal as they come, I'm afraid, though I'd like to break away from that at least a little bit...) However, what I found out is, even though it WAS challenging for me, I could relate to it pretty much immediately on an emotional level, which is the thing most important to me personally about any music. And, interestingly, this isn't the first time I've had this sort of reaction listening to this style of music, which I've been a little fearful of and intimidated by. I think just maybe I have more of an ability to respond to atonal music than I've been aware of... I enjoyed it very much ! But I should clarify that, as of yet, I've only made it through the first movement; when I'm done with this, I'm gonna make me a mug of coffee, screw a fresh cartridge into a fully-charged e-cig, and head on up to my attic to check out the rest on the BIG SPEAKERS !

This first movement was very 'visual' for me. I'm sure it's silly, but I had 'images' of...subatomic things... As if the music was describing an interplay between unseen fundamental forces, between things that 'match up' in ways not perceptible to us, and that aren't necessarily meant to be. As if they are existing for their own reasons and their own beauty...macrocosm be damned. Maybe it was the 'lightness' in much of the harp part that lead me to such notions that may seem completely ridiculous to you, I'm not sure... Maybe what I'm trying to say is: It seemed a strange and beautiful world, with its own rules, and I enjoyed my time there.

Now I'm gonna go listen to the rest, and see what other places you can take me !  I'll let you know where I've been when I get back...

 

John...THIS music REALLY needs and deserves to be heard by LOTS of people...You, sir, are LIT UP with it !

Moving on to the 3rd movement...

I wish I had adequate words to express the emotional impact this sonata has had on me... I do know that I have been in the company of a genuinely superior voice, and nothing ever does give me greater pleasure than that. I love to be witness to the great things human beings are capable of, to lives given over to the creation of uplifting beauty able to actually profoundly alter one's state of mind. I feel like I've been in a beautiful world I'm unable to comment on, that I was allowed to see but make no clear report upon...( All my life I've been susceptible to hero-worship, so I have to be careful here...)

I'll be listening to the rest of your work ( and this one, too ) many times over, believe me !

 

 

Paul, thank you for your kind words. I am absolutely thrilled to see how well this piece has been received thus far -- now, hopefully, I'll be able to get a proper performance together!

 

Any other comments?

Hi John,

've heard a fair deal of sonatas but I'm by no means qualified to make a detailed comment, so I'll give you the only things that I could make out(with my very limited musical training and language).

 

I have to agree with Paul, this is a great work.

 

However, there are a few parts in the first and third movement where the tonality becomes quite exhausted and the texture doesn't develop the same way that it did previously. I probably can't explain this very well. But it seems there's an almost constant (if yet subtle) texture change that some parts lack, this is probably intentional. Also I believe the main theme is just a bit exhausted in the middle part of the first movement, but that's just my personal opinion which you probably shouldn't care about.

 

At times it also seems like the interraction is completely lost between the instruments(in the first movement), it's not that it's polytonal but it's rhythmic patterns and progression just don't "click", I only noticed it on about 4 places.

 

Really love the textures and the playfullness of this piece. Definately a work you should be proud of. It speaks to me.

 

Cheers

Thank you immensely, Vincenti. Just curious about one comment:

 

At times it also seems like the interraction is completely lost between the instruments(in the first movement), it's not that it's polytonal but it's rhythmic patterns and progression just don't "click", I only noticed it on about 4 places.

 

Would you consider this a negative thing? My concept for the first movement was basically that the two parts are, in a sense, intended to oppose each other (often obscuring the rhythm and making it very unclear which instrument is the "solo instrument"),  coming together as a unit in the second movement, being featured independently in the third movement, and then once again joining together consistently in the third. Would you say that this idea detracted from your enjoyment of the piece, or does the previous explanation make the lack of interaction seem a little less out of place?

I guess that comment was mostly angled toward the interplay between the instruments and the degree of how much they stray from eachother. In some ways I guess it detracted from my enjoyment since I focused on it a bit as something I would change if I was even able to make a piece as complex and interesting as this(which I can not), but as the piece kept progressing I found them to be very minor and probably just a matter of taste. Many people might have a completely opposite reaction to this though.

John Galt Carey said:

Thank you immensely, Vincenti. Just curious about one comment:

 

At times it also seems like the interraction is completely lost between the instruments(in the first movement), it's not that it's polytonal but it's rhythmic patterns and progression just don't "click", I only noticed it on about 4 places.

 

Would you consider this a negative thing? My concept for the first movement was basically that the two parts are, in a sense, intended to oppose each other (often obscuring the rhythm and making it very unclear which instrument is the "solo instrument"),  coming together as a unit in the second movement, being featured independently in the third movement, and then once again joining together consistently in the third. Would you say that this idea detracted from your enjoyment of the piece, or does the previous explanation make the lack of interaction seem a little less out of place?

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