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Hello Colleagues,

I recently posted a piece here for solo piano called Spies!, along the idea of a mythical spy movie theme song. Fellow Composers' Forum member Stephen Lines liked it well enough to arrange it for orchestra and I think it worked out pretty well. Here's Stephen's arrangement. Comments as always invited >

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Ha! Brilliant! I knew this would work....! Though may I suggest that at 1:09 the saxophones be harmonised? Ideally in a triad state so 2nd tenor would be in unison and octave below from the lead alto? And at 1:57 when the trumpets repeat it desperately asks for heavy trombones counterpoint... The rest is just glorious!

Thanks Claude! Perhaps Stephen might pop in on the orchestration comments -

Gav

Those of you who listen with big, bat-like ears will hear the piece is actually arranged for Big Band - not orchestra. I was so impressed by Gav's initial composition that I requested his permission to arrange it and this is the result. We are just waiting for the call from Cubby Broccoli's daughter asking if she can use it for the next 007 soundtrack - now that would solve the funding problem for CF wouldn't it!

Oops! Have just seen Claude's comments below (or will they be above after I press 'enter'?)...interesting! I'll have a scratch around and see if what you suggest improves the piece...watch this space.

Yeah I was tempted to ask Gav too, but got a bit too much on my plate at the moment. Great job by the way!

Stephen Lines said:

Those of you who listen with big, bat-like ears will hear the piece is actually arranged for Big Band - not orchestra. I was so impressed by Gav's initial composition that I requested his permission to arrange it and this is the result. We are just waiting for the call from Cubby Broccoli's daughter asking if she can use it for the next 007 soundtrack - now that would solve the funding problem for CF wouldn't it!

Oops! Have just seen Claude's comments below (or will they be above after I press 'enter'?)...interesting! I'll have a scratch around and see if what you suggest improves the piece...watch this space.


As you realise the saxes at 1:09 are already harmonised - I haven't doubled the alto 1 parts an 8ve down in the tenor 1 because the lower part would clash violently with the dominant pedal effect in the trombones...I consider that thickening the harmony at that point would require too much adjustment for too little an improvement.

I see where you're coming from re: heavy trombone counterpoint around 1:57 but honestly consider the rising figure in the trombones at m80 provide sufficient contrast and meet the need for the climax at that point...any counterpoint prior to that would diminish the effect somewhat.

Interesting points though and I heartily thank you for your observations. 

 
Claude Werner said:

Yeah I was tempted to ask Gav too, but got a bit too much on my plate at the moment. Great job by the way!

Stephen Lines said:

Those of you who listen with big, bat-like ears will hear the piece is actually arranged for Big Band - not orchestra. I was so impressed by Gav's initial composition that I requested his permission to arrange it and this is the result. We are just waiting for the call from Cubby Broccoli's daughter asking if she can use it for the next 007 soundtrack - now that would solve the funding problem for CF wouldn't it!

Oops! Have just seen Claude's comments below (or will they be above after I press 'enter'?)...interesting! I'll have a scratch around and see if what you suggest improves the piece...watch this space.

Sorry, the sax bit was actually at 1:06, it's just a short line that is suddenly in unison out of context with its surroundings. It just stood out to me, doesn't mean is wrong.

There's no score so I've no idea what you mean by m80, the motorway in central Scotland? Heh, heh, heh!

So you have this line that starts at 1:48 and then repeats at 1:55. The first time you have what appears to be a trombone pedal, but the second time, when it should either sound stronger or at least the same, the trumpets appear on their own. This would be fine if the whole line was weaker and you brought everything down, but basically you just have the first stabs on their own and they go full forte again but just with what appears to be a unison with the piano. This is the bit I say it needs some bass counterpoint, if you don't want to use the trombones you could always do it with the tenors and bari, but it won't have the power...

Stephen Lines said:


As you realise the saxes at 1:09 are already harmonised - I haven't doubled the alto 1 parts an 8ve down in the tenor 1 because the lower part would clash violently with the dominant pedal effect in the trombones...I consider that thickening the harmony at that point would require too much adjustment for too little an improvement.

I see where you're coming from re: heavy trombone counterpoint around 1:57 but honestly consider the rising figure in the trombones at m80 provide sufficient contrast and meet the need for the climax at that point...any counterpoint prior to that would diminish the effect somewhat.

Interesting points though and I heartily thank you for your observations.

Superb (both composition and arrangement) and deserving of a decent bond-style film. A grand prelude/overture.

Just a shame the score wasn't offered. There're things to be learned from Stephen's brass writing!

Cheers.

Thank you Dane for your kind comments,

I’m quite happy to append a score with Gav’s agreement!



Dane Aubrun said:

Superb (both composition and arrangement) and deserving of a decent bond-style film. A grand prelude/overture.

Just a shame the score wasn't offered. There're things to be learned from Stephen's brass writing!

Cheers.

This is great but personally I would do something about the incessant snare drum. Perhaps it stands out so much because there's very little other percussion (bass drums don't count :) ). I don't know, steal some texture ideas from John Mackey or something. Some colorful use of the entire percussion section would really make the piece shine. Because wind choirs are already on point.

Fine to post score Stephen

There are restrictions with Sibelius regarding drum kit and it’s lack of flexibility - even the tom-toms are difficult to bring to the fore. My experience of leading a big band for a number of years tells me that any half decent drummer would make this piece zing - indeed I have found on balance that keeping written directions to a minimum is a very pleasing thing for a big band drummer (same applies to jazz but more so). You will notice there are no cymbals, not even high-hat...but as I say, Sib has its restrictions. Played live this would be far more exciting.

Greg Brus said:

This is great but personally I would do something about the incessant snare drum. Perhaps it stands out so much because there's very little other percussion (bass drums don't count :) ). I don't know, steal some texture ideas from John Mackey or something. Some colorful use of the entire percussion section would really make the piece shine. Because wind choirs are already on point.

Stephen,

As You know, for the purpose of playback only, you can give each part of the drum kit its own  staff. Then you can control the volume of each. Too much trouble? If you're after somewhat realistic playback, why shortchange the drum kit?

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