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Hi everyone,

Recently I had been asked to write a small piano concertino for a local youth ensemble (about high school to college), and after I had worked through a first draft, I felt that it needed something more. This is the 3rd movement.

The file was too large to attach, so the sound file is here (sorry for the inconvenience):

If I had to describe the work, I guess originally I had been asked to make it a full symphonic work shrunk down into a small string chamber ensemble, so I did what I could. There are some obvious placeholder and ridiculous-looking notations that will be fixed, but the general shape is there. I have particular dissatisfaction with the transitions, but I would appreciate any feedback whatsoever.

Some notes:

I have had some comments that the piano part is difficult, but I know the piano player personally and this should be a cakewalk for him, perhaps just awkward at some parts. 

There is very fast pizzicato in the lower strings, and I was wondering if it was possible play this. One cellist told me it would be fine with some modified technique, but I have doubts in regards to the bass. If it's impossible, I will change it to arco.

The ridiculous pizz arco pizz arco pizz arco notation was just to get the program to play out the sounds. At the end, the piano tremolo being written out was going for the same idea.

Thanks for everything,


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Mr. Porter,

Thanks for the quick reply!

Sorry the score is in rough shape. I usually use a "Fill in with rests" option when I've completed the entire score to take care of the rests I may have forgotten in places such as that 3 1/2 bar.

In terms of the pizz part, do you think perhaps even if the pizz were played, it would just sound like a rumble of notes? I am kind of in a battle with myself over if I should change it to arco for the sake of clarity.

Thanks again for all of your tips and advice. I really appreciate it!

Bob Porter said:


What a great thing for this group to be able to play your piece. Thanks for posting it. I really like it.

I understand about marking a score to get the software to play what you want. Sometimes it is hard for me to know just what you are after in your markings, You have a lot of staccato pizz marked. I'm not sure that there is any other way, at this speed, to play pizz. Then you cover it all up with a lot of reverb. Perhaps this is part of the problem you are having of getting the program to play what you want.

And in bar 312, for example, there are only 3 and a half beats in the cello/bass lines. I'm surprised your software let you get away with that.

Since you have been asked to write this for a particular group, you need to know the abilities of that group. Community groups tend to vary in ability among the members. Sometime what is easy for some is not for others. You may have to aim in the middle.

There are so many triplets in the middle section that a meter change might be in order. I realize the triplets are not in the piano part. Just a thought.

Another approach would be to just give the orchestra the piece, have them play it, and let them tell you what they need. Then make changes. Besides, you might not like some of the things you wrote after hearing them live.     


I'm not a string player, so take this for what it's worth. 

I have been told that sixteenth notes at q=144 is about the max for speed.  The problem comes in the technique used to go this fast.  The player will use two fingers and alternate them to go at this rate, so they must have time to readjust the bow hand differently, as opposed to a slower one finger pizz.  They must have time to do this.

In measure 32, you have the cellos playing a sustained arco and on beat one of 33, they have 2 sixteenths in pizz.  The problem gets compounded with the double stops.

At your tempo mark, you are "pushing the edge", but I would refer back to what Bob said about having the players actually read the parts for you.  (An excellent learning tool for instruments we are unfamiliar with!)  This is how I acquired this information.

I personally wouldn't write basses anywhere near that fast.  The instrument needs time to speak, so I agree that it would be a rumble of notes.  Perhaps instead of pizz, maybe explore some other bowing techniques which may allow you to get the sound/effect you're after (ie; detache perhaps?)

I like the piece overall.  (Looks like you're using notion.  The default reverb is too much to my ear.)  Please update us on what you decide.

For a high-school/college youth group, the level of playing will be very diverse.  The saying goes.."if you're writing for pro's write for college, if you're writing for college groups, write for high school, etc.  If it was me, I would just dove-tail the pizz's divisi.  Then they only have to play 2 or 3 notes at a time.


Mr. Marko,

Thanks for the reply. I agree it is quite demanding technically. I was debating over whether or not to write the entire thing arco, but I feel like it would sound bland. I won't be able to meet the orchestra for a while, so at the moment I'm kind of hoping to adjust parts to make the first rehearsal go smoothly. 

If I were to re-write the two lower string voices, I think the closest thing that would sound similar to the current score would be cellos playing arco, and bass plucking two eight notes instead of the sixteenths. Does this sound reasonable?

Mr. Beringer,

Thanks for the suggestion. I was thinking I should probably mark several places divis, so I'll go back and try to rethink some parts through.

Just out of curiosity, do you think it would be possible to do alternate pizz, for example, having half the section play two eighths, while half the section plays sixteenth-rest, sixteenth, sixteenth-rest?

Thanks again

Tim Beringer said:

For a high-school/college youth group, the level of playing will be very diverse.  The saying goes.."if you're writing for pro's write for college, if you're writing for college groups, write for high school, etc.  If it was me, I would just dove-tail the pizz's divisi.  Then they only have to play 2 or 3 notes at a time.


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