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As a few of you might know, I have been working on my symphony as means of completing my dissertation for my degree. Im in the editing phases of the writing process and thought it would be a good time to share with you what I have beyond just the audio one movement at a time. 

A little bit about the symphony and this movement:

The symphony pulls its inspiration from the Ocean, but through a scientific lens as oppose to nautical life. Each movement refers to a depth zone in open ocean:

The first movement is The Epipelagic Zone, also known as the Sunlight Zone. Its descends around 200 meters from the surface and is where most marine animals and photosynthesizing plant based organisms live. 

The music is meant to reflect both the organisms that live in this zone as well as ocean conditions here (such as currents, weather, and sunlight). 

About the score:

The music for the most part is done, though there are some areas that I might change or re-tweak. Notationally, however, it still needs polishing.

What I hope to gain from your criticism are a few things;

What do you think of the piece? Do you get a sense of the ocean and specifically the Epipelagic Zone?

Do you spot any notational errors that need correcting? Do you see anything that just not clear enough?

Lastly, what are your thoughts on the 4+5/4 composite time signature? Originally it looked like this:

However the problem with this is that it prevents multi-rest to form in the individual parts and can be very difficult to count (not that composite time signatures are any better).

Let me know what you think. I look forward to your comments. 

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Hi Tyler.  I enjoyed your piece very muchI   Somewhat impressionistic with other influences  as well..  I definitely felt i was taken into a world - a wonderful dreamy quality -  though not without its strong waves, especially near the end.. Quite grand and encompassing!    I have listened to your piece twice..but I shall listen again.. It is beautiful.  (I wasn't yet trying to match your description while listening… )

gregorio 

Hi Tyler,

I like the main theme. This would be a very good soundtrack for either a big ocean movie or a "space" movie. (both are realms which we have yet to fully explore).  Gregorio said it well when he said impressionistic and "other worldly". I actually listened b4 I read your spiel, (besides the heading), so I actually thought at 1st it was a piece about the deeper ocean levels - bc of the "other worldly" quality of the opening theme and therefore its "mystery'.  As an avid reader of science, and there being little to "explore" in the top layer of the ocean, I found the mood a little "off" in that regard. Of course, though for a symphony, the music must come 1st and I found the main subject absolutely compelling.

If I was writing such a piece, which is clearly very programmatic, I would b impressed with myself with coming up with the theme (in spite of my reservations of the "feel" that it conveys ie mystery, but would think this was a worthwhile sacrifice to make),I personally would include (and programme music is not me) more intense hyperactive sections conveying the intensity that this zone means to most of the animals in the oceans....ie. life and death struggles eg a few tuna  or marlin absolutely exterminating a school of small fish. I assume u have done this, but I would make it even more "to the point" with for eg, a fierce bassline rising against a falling high V1 part, then ending very abruptly(the fight is over). I would have this by far the most schizophrenic movement.  Also I would have less of the mystery theme and would make the movement shorter - if only to convey the sense of relative quickness of events in this zone. I think I would make the deeper layers longer, but I would like to keep your main theme for all layers, especially the quietest and most mysterious abyss region.

I like the whole idea. My initial thoughts r hard to validify without reference to the whole. If the "theme" for the 4th mvt is less compelling than the 1st mvt theme I would b disappointed as a listener, but perhaps there is something even better in store?

Oh I meant to say,... the feel of the piece in particular the main theme, reminded me of the feel of the soundtrack to the movie Intersteller, which I think was a great movie and a well-done score.

I don't have much insight to share. very, very nice ambience. My initial visuals were more space oriented. I will no doubt see other things on re-listening. It never really does resolve to the tonic, does it? In a piece like this, Im not sure the meter is really much of an issue. Nicely done, Herr Doktor!

Really nice piece. Very evocative and nicely orchestrated.

The first few minutes are particularly effective. I like how it starts with what sounds (to me) like waves and gradually adds layers until you have a richly complex texture 2 minutes in--it's like slowly descending under the waves and discovering more and more sea creatures until you're surrounded by a tapestry of sea life, all with the surface still in view. Given what you're trying to convey, I think it's a very appropriate start to the movement and the symphony as a whole.

Regarding the notation, no big errors popped out at me--just some missing dynamics here and there (when an instrument enters after a long rest, it's good to mark the dynamic even if it's the same as before the rest, e.g. flute 1 in m. 137 and tubular bells/vibraphone at 71.) Also, I'm pretty sure I saw "crash symbols" instead of "cymbals" in there, but... like I said, nothing major.

And the opening time signature is fine. It will be quite clear to the players and conductor when they look at the actual music.

Interested to see how the other movements progress!

Hey bud, no replies on the replies?

I am enjoying this again, after my first listening.

Nice expansion of tonal layers.

Thanks for posting it here.

If I had to choose one of the four elements for this movement in all probability I'd choose water and certainly air would be my last choice. So in the abstract sense it creates within me near enough associations to those that your music seeks.

On a first hearing (I will come back for more), I discerned 4 main sections following naturally from each other and I thought that the third section had some material from the first which starts its development like a passacaglia (well, a first impression), but I have to look more closely for that.

It certainly has (orchestration wise) the transparency and clarity that I would like to associate with the epipelagic zone and generally with water transparency and life. The challenge for subsequent movements I thought it would be how to go deeper and still keep this desirable quality, but I'm sure you will see to that. :-)

 

Excluding necessary changes of time signature between 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 & 5/4 where the music dictates it, I thought that scoring in alternating bars of 4/4 & 5/4 is not necessary and I would have done it completely in 9/4, but my rhythmic concept of 9/4 is totally Greek.

 

There is a traditional rebetiko dance called "zeibekiko" which is always written in 9/4 (take what wikipedia says on it with a pinch cause it is never in 9/8 apart from one specific version of it) and its main sub-divisions (and groupings thereof) are either 2+2+2+3 or 3+2+2+2, but never 3+3+3 as per western European usage. Both these sub-divisions come in a strait and in a syncopated form and I provide two links for songs from my web page demonstrating these later versions. The obvious rhythmical instrument to look for is the guitar and in the syncopated version it reminded me some of your practice.

BTW, the pdf provided is from the 1st song giving the recorder part which starts with a multi rest bar in 9/4

 

I enjoyed it very much and I look forward to listen to more of this work as you progress.

Thanks for posting.

 

LIFE-LONG LOVE AFFAIR

http://helicon.gr/abcweb.html?xml=downloads236&med=downloads235

 

YOU BIT IT IN FRENCH STYLE

http://helicon.gr/abcweb.html?xml=downloads336&med=downloads335

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Wow. I wasn't sure if I would like this piece, but after finally listening to it, I have to admit that it's actually pleasant to listen to. The first section is very reminiscient of shallow waters, close to a distant, pristine beach, untouched by human activity, with gently lapping waters. The instruments are nicely chosen to give a sense of both (what i perceive to be) the surface water movement, together with gentle undercurrents.

Wasn't quite sure what the subsequent sections might refer to, but there's quite a lot of interesting, contrasting material that it doesn't sound boring, in spite of being quite "repetitious" in the sense that many of the passages are rather static in mood.

Although this is clearly modern in harmony, I nevertheless hear a persistent tonal center throughout the piece, a mostly minor key sort of feel, that gives it a sense of mystery and remoteness, like a remote ocean far away from human activity, in depths never before seen by human eyes.

Sounds like it would serve as a good soundtrack for a documentary on ocean life, or as background music to an aquarium. :-)  Reminds me of certain sections of Sibelius' Tapiola, though much slower in pace.

Haven't really looked closely at the score, as I'm currently away from my home PC; the score is far too large to follow on a tiny laptop screen. But nevertheless I found that the sections are distinct enough that I could actually visually find my place in the score by looking at the general contours and patterns of the notes that look like what I'm hearing, even though I can't actually see clearly enough to identify individual pitches!

Thanks for taking the time to listen, and Im glad you enjoyed the piece. 
I get where you are coming from with the suggestions and how you would do it, and I did think about incorporating those elements before. The choice to make it more blurry and mysterious sounding is that for me this zone is mysterious, especially out in open ocean where the water, though light completely by sunlight, still is very hazy. I also made the choice not to play up the fight for life struggle to much but rather focused on ocean movement (like sudden changes in currents, migratory creatures, and how schools of fish traveling at high speeds can change direction suddenly). I also made the choice to not focus so much on themes and to put most of my efforts in color. As I post more movements, you will actually hear less themes, with the fourth movement being completely timbre driven. 


Paul Halley said:

Hi Tyler,

I like the main theme. This would be a very good soundtrack for either a big ocean movie or a "space" movie. (both are realms which we have yet to fully explore).  Gregorio said it well when he said impressionistic and "other worldly". I actually listened b4 I read your spiel, (besides the heading), so I actually thought at 1st it was a piece about the deeper ocean levels - bc of the "other worldly" quality of the opening theme and therefore its "mystery'.  As an avid reader of science, and there being little to "explore" in the top layer of the ocean, I found the mood a little "off" in that regard. Of course, though for a symphony, the music must come 1st and I found the main subject absolutely compelling.

If I was writing such a piece, which is clearly very programmatic, I would b impressed with myself with coming up with the theme (in spite of my reservations of the "feel" that it conveys ie mystery, but would think this was a worthwhile sacrifice to make),I personally would include (and programme music is not me) more intense hyperactive sections conveying the intensity that this zone means to most of the animals in the oceans....ie. life and death struggles eg a few tuna  or marlin absolutely exterminating a school of small fish. I assume u have done this, but I would make it even more "to the point" with for eg, a fierce bassline rising against a falling high V1 part, then ending very abruptly(the fight is over). I would have this by far the most schizophrenic movement.  Also I would have less of the mystery theme and would make the movement shorter - if only to convey the sense of relative quickness of events in this zone. I think I would make the deeper layers longer, but I would like to keep your main theme for all layers, especially the quietest and most mysterious abyss region.

I like the whole idea. My initial thoughts r hard to validify without reference to the whole. If the "theme" for the 4th mvt is less compelling than the 1st mvt theme I would b disappointed as a listener, but perhaps there is something even better in store?

It doesnt really have a tonic per say. It has an implied tonic but it doesnt treat any of the harmonies as functional. Thats probably why you are not hearing a tonic resolution. 

Art Lowell said:

I don't have much insight to share. very, very nice ambience. My initial visuals were more space oriented. I will no doubt see other things on re-listening. It never really does resolve to the tonic, does it? In a piece like this, Im not sure the meter is really much of an issue. Nicely done, Herr Doktor!

Glad you liked the piece and for catching those errors. I had already fixed a lot of the dynamic errors a few days after I posted this but I didnt catch that symbols spelling error. Glad you caught it because I probably would have missed it completely even after printing the scores. Thanks. 

Nicholas Kelly said:

Really nice piece. Very evocative and nicely orchestrated.

The first few minutes are particularly effective. I like how it starts with what sounds (to me) like waves and gradually adds layers until you have a richly complex texture 2 minutes in--it's like slowly descending under the waves and discovering more and more sea creatures until you're surrounded by a tapestry of sea life, all with the surface still in view. Given what you're trying to convey, I think it's a very appropriate start to the movement and the symphony as a whole.

Regarding the notation, no big errors popped out at me--just some missing dynamics here and there (when an instrument enters after a long rest, it's good to mark the dynamic even if it's the same as before the rest, e.g. flute 1 in m. 137 and tubular bells/vibraphone at 71.) Also, I'm pretty sure I saw "crash symbols" instead of "cymbals" in there, but... like I said, nothing major.

And the opening time signature is fine. It will be quite clear to the players and conductor when they look at the actual music.

Interested to see how the other movements progress!

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