Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

I’ve been working on a suite for an ensemble, the hope being that I can eventually get people together to play it. It won’t be without performance problems because of the a-rhythmic flow etc. So I have to know the score intimately. Putting together a mock up helps me drum it into myself and conduct in my living room!  


The instruments are 2 x violins, cello and double bass; piccolo, alto flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and horn; harp; a variety of percussion inc 2 tuneable timps. Additionally an alto sax if the player can be persuaded. At worst a piano could substitute for the harp.  


Although it’s atonal the texture is thin – almost a string of solos – so I hope it’ll be easy to listen to.  


Here are movements 1 & 4. 

Any comment would thankfully be appreciated.



The usual caveats with the DAW pdf score. Nothing has been transposed. I put the strings at the top for my own reference. Hope that's ok. And sorry about the percussion lines. Until I can rewrite the thing, these are at the mercy of the sample player.

The score for Part 4 is in the post below.

Views: 59


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The score for "Before the mirrors":


Hi Dane,

Beautiful music but the score is terrible. I am afraid you must

choose and use a modern notation program as soon as possible.

Otherwise your efforts will be sadly wasted.

All the best.


Note: I liked the music and succeeded to sight-read it

(in the second trial).

Hi, Ali,

Thank you for your kind compliment on the music. It'll eventually be for dance. 

As for notation software...I sigh wearily. Yes, I suppose I should get some as long as it does what I want. Musescore probably doesn't. I was looking through the user manual. Then there are loads of administrative problems - some seemingly small but to me, big. I await email replies but probably won't get them. If I went Sibelius I'd pay £500 (because there are times I'd go beyond 16 staves) - but is that the end of payment? Do I have to pay an ongoing fee annually? Can I get bug fixes? No use me subscribing monthly as the subscription is in $ which means the extra cost/fee for foreign exchange. Besides, I refuse to authorise direct debits or recurring payment anyway. So it would be an outright buy.... then I find it doesn't do something I want (like I initially work without bar-lines and time signatures and I put cues on a small stave ABOVE the stave they're cueing in. I don't think Sibelius allows this).

Finally, there's the learning curve (mostly about editing as the software would have to accept stepwise MusicXML files. 

No hope for me, is there? Still probably faster to handwrite scores - not as flashy-looking as printed score but I get by!

Again, thanks.


I have to agree with Ali that this is beautiful music Dane, and different from other pieces of yours that I have heard.  The use of a chamber group in a linear fashion with a more 'modern'  sound works very well for my ears at least.

If you are happy not using score software that is all that matters. I'm happy to look at the scores you do give us and my days of sight reading are long past so no problem there.

I recently tried a demo version of NotePerformer samples with Sibelius and for the first time in my life was able to get some decent orchestral sounds without endless tweaking and overdubbing and I am happy for that and I hope to pursue it further.

I do have to think of the money that most of us spend on our art. I think any quality instrument would cost much more than Sibelius, but it's all a matter of perspective.  I would think that you should try the free demo versions of the big three just to see if they might be useful to you. I don't like the learning curve and techie difficulties common to high end software but I don't have any other way to get results so I keep working. (and spending)

Many thanks, Ingo.

And thanks for noting the change of "style" such as it is. Seems a consequence of the string quartet and the solo pieces where I was trying to shake off "impressionism" and be more formal. These Suite pieces aren't formally structured so I'm unsure what happened! But there was also the issue of atonality and whether it could be listenable. I took inspiration from the Nature sounds while sitting in the garden last summer. The mood was far from disruptive - just birdsong mainly - so I wondered if a thin texture could work. I'm overjoyed at the compliments received from yourself and Ali that the pieces make sense. 




I just listened to Suites 1 and 4. I love this stuff! Somehow it works, don’t ask me how, but it works. Made me feel like I was on some alien planet strolling through the fauna. I also got impressions of the microcosm of creatures in my body, on my body, and everywhere and on everything. I f*ing love your stuff... can’t understand it for the life of me, but your colorful layers of sound and vivid textures dig deep into my structured sense of melody and trash the place completely.. and I love it!!!

I thought I was listening to a live recording. If those are samples, they are quite convincing.



Rick, you're very kind about my stuff and it's so pleasing that, giving time up to listen, it seemed to work. I don't get many comments on my ditties which I assume means most members find them boring or incomprehensible. Nice when a piece does say something therefore. It was a hope as I said in the intro that atonal though it is, it's listenable without too much pain. I hope to get at least some of it performed next year and if I can cut down on the cost of aspirins for the audience that would be nice.

That's why I work with thin textures now. I read somewhere that listeners can only 'comprehend' two lines of counterpoint at a time - can't remember who made the claim but perhaps there's some truth in it. So it's easier on the ear. 

The suite is one of those pieces that comes from the heart rather than technical procedure like serialism, sonata form etc. Nothing wrong with them but they aren't for me... nor you by the look of it!

So, many thanks indeed. And I see you've posted a new piece. I'll have a listen once I've got rid of the washing machine engineer who's due to turn up any minute.

Cheers?!?! Dane!  

Reply to Discussion


Sign up info

Read before you sign up to find out what the requirements are!


© 2021   Created by Gav Brown.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service