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I liked the eerie harmonies and hypnotic, circling two against three rhythmic groupings. It seems a bit short, but this is the third movement so I have no idea how it fits into the rest, maybe it's just the right length. As far as the score, I question the double flats, I can see no good reason to include them, just hard to read, and in one spot there is a clef change where there is no clef change. But other than that, it's a pretty simply stated piece with a score to match.
Thanks for noticing the clef change. That was from a revision, and it has been taken out. As far as the double flats, the notes are g-ab-b double flat. I wanted to avoid having to put accidentals before each set of three, I could have put g-g#-a, but then it would be a natural sign, and then a sharp each time. I could have put g-ab-a, but same problem.
After looking at it though, I agree, it looks better with just the normal #'s an b's.
Hey John! (are you on composersforum.com also?)
here are some things to consider. You have the Octave Treble Clef for the Violas. Transposing in that range is a fairly uncommon practice. Just go ahead and put them in the Alto clef. String players don't really read transposing octaves like that except on the A string (violas_) and E string (violins.) It's like brass players; we're are use to doing it . It's not recommend.
Thanks, I am not a string player, and sadly in college I never had a chance to play in the orchestra, only the wind band and jazz band, so I never got to interact much with the string players. I appreciate the advice.
This will be my first comment on the forum.
Quite frankly, the piece interests me. I enjoyed listening to it while reading the score.
I like the introduction of the first violin on the note of G sharp, which occurs at 0:56 (in the 8th measure). The three-note motif repeated by the second violin, had smartly moved away from G and A, and had avoided G sharp; and so too had the viola maintained its distance, so the sustained G sharp was both prepared for, and wandered away from, in order that the impact could be made.
I am not sure what people mean today, when they say atonal. I don't find this piece atonal. (Some prefer terms like "pan-tonal" since it makes more sense to say "all tones" rather than "no tones").
I don’t even find this piece particularly dissonant.
This work is in a very definite mode, in Olivier Messiaen's sense of the term mode. In other words, a mood is sustained, in part, because certain notes are hit far more often than others, and a tonal center is created, even though there may be not a specific key.
This is fine, and it reminds me of some of the works of the Russian futurists, who went just a bit beyond Shostakovich and Prokofiev, tonally speaking, but not so far as Schnitke (or Schoenberg and Webern).
I am thinking particularly of the Russian Futurist Alexander Mosolov, and his String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 24. The first movement: Andante. (marked Andante non troppo, or Andante agitato, depending on the version of the score). You can listen to that on Youtube, if you wish.
As concerns the mood evoked, I do not really think it is anger, or even disgust. It appears to me fairly calm, and regular, and too slow to elicit anger. There is very little sense of agitation or unpleasantness, though there is definite tension and a build-up towards what could become anger or disgust. Stronger emotions appear on the verge spilling out into the soundscape. But they do not. Any tension hinted at is resolved in the coda.
I am not sure of the extent to which you intend to make your work "minimalist." The initial variations in the three note motif are subtle, perhaps too subtle for many listeners. That may not matter, but it is worth pointing out: one barely hears any significant change in mood until the 8th measure, though there are plenty of changes in reality, in the lines of the second violin and the viola.
I wonder if you experimented, in the earlier conceptual stages, with some slightly less undramatic fluctuations in the first seven measures, with regard to rhythm or string technique. A pronounced use of pizzicato, tremolo, some kind of vibrato or even trills might be worth trying out, just to see how they sound, if you haven't looked at that already. You could use some alternative string techniques without altering the tempo or rhythm at all, if you think the constant beat must be maintained. Personally speaking, I am not sure whether the repetitive and sustained motives are a strength or weakness of the piece. The best way to find out is through some slight (or even substantial) alterations, to see what the result would be.
Have you contemplated such an approach?
But I confess: I am no fan of lengthy sustained minimalistic technique, though I applaud the judicious use of perpetuum mobile, as used by such composers as Prokofiev, Poulenc and Hindemith. I use it myself, when I can, though I admit it is difficult to build one that has both power and variety.
One interesting way to analyze your piece, is to divide in half, into quarters and then into eighths.
Listen to what is happening at the half way mark, and compare that with the beginning.
Listen to what happens at the three quarters mark, and compare that with what happens at seven eighths, etc.
I do this because I can get an interesting gauge on the way in which mood gradually changes in the piece. I ask myself whether the change is too slow or too fast at various points, in relation to the progress of the piece as a whole.
People who perform this experiment, after listening to the whole piece, may come to different conclusions. Of course, what counts is the continuous experience, but the experiment is worth performing (like any "dissection" or analysis) because of the result it may yield for the composer, in reconceptualizing the piece.
Ondib, I thank you for your very in depth analysis. Sometimes I think other people can see more about a piece that you write, than you can see yourself. I guess it comes with the territory of writing music and why a place where others can dissect your music is such a good thing.
You have given me a lot to think about and in particular, listen to and write.
We each have our own ear for "harsh" -- this was not harsh at all in my ear. But I love close dissonances. Also I looked at the score before I listened and my first impression was "oh dear, another serial/minimalist type piece" so -- to be truthful I started with a prejudiced attitude. However as I listened the piece grew on me, developed, actually captured me -- for me that is a sign of "music instead of just notes." I like the cyclical pulse created by the repetitions and counter rhythm of the outside voices.
The length? I would love to see this developed into a full length piece. Maybe the way it fits into the rest of the music does that -- possibly its an episode? Would really enjoy seeing the rest of the piece.
The other comments have already been made . . like Alto Clef for Violas. Technical details.
Bentrup, thanks for the comments. I was trying to create something that truly developed, even in the small scale. I was actually feeling the tension when I was writing this and found that I had to listen to it several times. I guess its good when you like your own music. Sometimes I write just to write. Not this time, I really felt this piece.