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The tarantella is a dance that originated in southern Italy some 2000 years ago. If you were bitten by a spider you would dance around for hours or days and either die of convulsions or survive. The dance was believed to be a remedy for the bite. Later, members of your family or village would dance as you lay in pain.

The tarantella is usually in 6/8 time in a very fast tempo. Chopin, Rossini. Britten, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and many more have written tarantellas. I couldn't help but think of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee as I wrote this. The middle section gives a break from the frenzy and is intended to be a piece of Americana. Hope you enjoy it and give me some feed back.

https://soundcloud.com/larya/tarantella

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You captured the essence of a Tarantella very well! It moves in a fateful way, with good texture. The ending seemed very appropriate, dropping from the dominant to tonic suddenly.

Hey Lawrence,

Thank you for posting the score and also for posting the soundcloud recording.

Forgive me, if I am showing my complete ignorance here. Was the soundcloud an actual live performance or a high quality sampled rendering?

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the piece. The changes in key signature, the orchestration, and the contrasts in mood were perfect. A very well crafted piece indeed, by a composer who has worked hard.

I will comment more when I find out if the performance was live or sampled.

Best wishes to you and your family and bye for now.

Paul.

Hi lawrence,

I've only had one listen but noticed a few things you might want to consider.

The opening string scalic passages might be better served with one bow to the bar. Increase to 2 bows per bar for a louder dynamic from say mf cf. Bow change is inextricably linked to dynamics and tempo and is an important consideration especially when composing because articulation is also implicated. A case in point are the cellos at b217. The triplet semis should be bowed saltando but are not marked. If you do not know about saltando bowing then there are plenty of online resources about it. Lead violins at b217cf have no bowing neither. There is a misconception in this forum by some, that the concert master sorts out bowing. Well, yes, he/she will alter, if needed any bowing that is deemed impractical or does not enhance or help the phrasing and articulation. But, a concert master needs a starting point, a clue, as to what the composer wants. All composers have to be able to conceive and notate their lines with articulation, phrasing and dynamics to a standard that at least eliminates ambiguity for the performer. Only then will the performer be able to adapt the practicality of the part to the musical intent.

The same sort of longer slurring for strings might better serve the wind in places too. Many runs would be more sensible under one slur and not what seems to be a default 2 slurs to the bar.

These are the finer points of scoring that need to be mastered to lift your score and get conductors to consider a performance. Practical issues like bar 55 in the bassoon part for example, will be an annoyance to a conductor - do you want both players to play or just player 1 or 2? The rallentando before the middle section is not marked. Yes, I'm sure it is a WIP score, but I am being picky because I have seen these issues in all of your scores and not once have you posted a complete finished, bag it up and send it to Haitink version.

The 1st trumpet at b131 and similar is too high unless you want a coarse effect and even then the effect feels a little out of context because of the 'classical' nature of the piece. A very good player could do it, but you could certainly make things easier by  asking for a change to  D or Eflat trumpet perhaps, or even re-scoring or re-spacing. Still, I question whether or not that is the effect you want because it sure wont sound like the playback.

I like the central section at b89, but am perturbed by the trombone part, as would be the player.

You need to split the part between the 2 players to give each a rest. Do this by giving each player something like 4 bars each and dovetail the parts for a seamless sound.

I hope you don't mind me being critical Lawrence, it is because your scoring has imroved so much thanks to your studies and its a shame to see these finer points being missed because they are to the detriment of your piece. Anyway, apologies if this comes across as harsh, it isn't meant as such, just an old pro noticing some things that are unacceptable in the real world.

mikehewer.com


oops, that's all out of sync. Thanks anyway Ray. Bow pressure, travel speed and tempo are also deciding factors. More bow pressure=louder dynamic. Very fast tempos with lots of notes at a quiet dynamic can be played with more notes under one bow if required, whereas the same passage at loud dynamics would require more bow changes because for the same amount of physical time, the bow has to travel faster with more pressure to achieve a louder dynamic. That is a basic premise anyhow.


Ray K Bigglesworth said:

Thanks for that quick insight Mike. Suddenly in one paragraph you have made me think about bowing. I get it. I’m so pleased that at least one person here has the experience to be a real expert.

Ray


Mike Hewer said:

Hi lawrence,

I've only had one listen but noticed a few things you might want to consider.

The opening string scalic passages might be better served with one bow to the bar. Increase to 2 bows per bar for a louder dynamic from say mf cf. Bow change is inextricably linked to dynamics and is an important consideration especially when composing because articulation is also implicated.

The same sort of slurring might better serve the wind in places too. These are the finer points of scoring that need to be mastered to lift your score and get conductors to consider a performance.

The 1st trumpet at b131 and similar is too high unless you want a coarse effect and even then the effect feels a little out of context because of the 'classical' nature of the piece. A very good player could do it, but you could certainly make things easier by  asking for a change to  D or Eflat trumpet, or even re-scoring or re-spacing. 

I like the central section at b89, but am perturbed by the trombone part, as would be the player.

You need to split the part between the 2 players to give each a rest. Do this by giving each player something like 4 bars each and dovetail the parts for a seamless sound.

mikehewer.com

This is a sampled performance, Garritan Personal Orchestra, Finale program.  My recordings are usually panned, so after much trial and mostly error it's nice to know that I finally produced a recording that sound acceptable.
 
Paul Copeland said:

Hey Lawrence,

Thank you for posting the score and also for posting the soundcloud recording.

Forgive me, if I am showing my complete ignorance here. Was the soundcloud an actual live performance or a high quality sampled rendering?

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the piece. The changes in key signature, the orchestration, and the contrasts in mood were perfect. A very well crafted piece indeed, by a composer who has worked hard.

I will comment more when I find out if the performance was live or sampled.

Best wishes to you and your family and bye for now.

Paul.

S. Fox.

     This was my version of Flight of the Bumblebee.  I do my best when there is a solid goal in mind.  Thanks for listening.
 
S Fox said:

You captured the essence of a Tarantella very well! It moves in a fateful way, with good texture. The ending seemed very appropriate, dropping from the dominant to tonic suddenly.

Mike,

      I'm off to Las Vegas for the weekend.  Will respond next week to your voluminous comment.  Thanks.
 
Mike Hewer said:

Hi lawrence,

I've only had one listen but noticed a few things you might want to consider.

The opening string scalic passages might be better served with one bow to the bar. Increase to 2 bows per bar for a louder dynamic from say mf cf. Bow change is inextricably linked to dynamics and tempo and is an important consideration especially when composing because articulation is also implicated. A case in point are the cellos at b217. The triplet semis should be bowed saltando but are not marked. If you do not know about saltando bowing then there are plenty of online resources about it. Lead violins at b217cf have no bowing neither. There is a misconception in this forum by some, that the concert master sorts out bowing. Well, yes, he/she will alter, if needed any bowing that is deemed impractical or does not enhance or help the phrasing and articulation. But, a concert master needs a starting point, a clue, as to what the composer wants. All composers have to be able to conceive and notate their lines with articulation, phrasing and dynamics to a standard that at least eliminates ambiguity for the performer. Only then will the performer be able to adapt the practicality of the part to the musical intent.

The same sort of longer slurring for strings might better serve the wind in places too. Many runs would be more sensible under one slur and not what seems to be a default 2 slurs to the bar.

These are the finer points of scoring that need to be mastered to lift your score and get conductors to consider a performance. Practical issues like bar 55 in the bassoon part for example, will be an annoyance to a conductor - do you want both players to play or just player 1 or 2? The rallentando before the middle section is not marked. Yes, I'm sure it is a WIP score, but I am being picky because I have seen these issues in all of your scores and not once have you posted a complete finished, bag it up and send it to Haitink version.

The 1st trumpet at b131 and similar is too high unless you want a coarse effect and even then the effect feels a little out of context because of the 'classical' nature of the piece. A very good player could do it, but you could certainly make things easier by  asking for a change to  D or Eflat trumpet perhaps, or even re-scoring or re-spacing. Still, I question whether or not that is the effect you want because it sure wont sound like the playback.

I like the central section at b89, but am perturbed by the trombone part, as would be the player.

You need to split the part between the 2 players to give each a rest. Do this by giving each player something like 4 bars each and dovetail the parts for a seamless sound.

I hope you don't mind me being critical Lawrence, it is because your scoring has imroved so much thanks to your studies and its a shame to see these finer points being missed because they are to the detriment of your piece. Anyway, apologies if this comes across as harsh, it isn't meant as such, just an old pro noticing some things that are unacceptable in the real world.

mikehewer.com

I enjoyed it! Really nice. I wish I could hear it performed by a real orchestra!

Good point on the saltando, though I marked it spiccato because I don't know if it would be easier to play in down bow or up bow and I leave that to the musicians.  The two slurs per measure is not default.  It is the pulse of the piece.  From my years of playing in band and orchestra it is always assumed that all players play in unison unless the parts are split or stems on the notes indicate two separate parts (stems up or down).  So I don't see the necessity of writing tutti or solo in this instance.  The rallantando actually is a ritardando grosso and starts three measures earlier.  It's marked but hard to see and occurs earlier than expected.  This piece would probably be too difficult for high school orchestra, but at the college or professional level there is always a great lip who could hit a D without taking out a D trumpet for one note.  Bob and Rodney are two guys on this forum who could do it.  (Not me.  My range was Bb.   I could squeak out a C only on a good day). 

      Good point on the trombone part.  I marked the first section solo and then brought in the other trombone with the orchestra at meas. 217.  The solo part is only 45 sec. and not particularly challenging.

     Mike, I have perused some fifty scores in the past three years and can only think of a few where bowing is included.  There was a piece where the cellos had double stops for a grand intro and the composer wanted the chords in down bow to be emphasized.  In Prokofiev's first symphony there are a few marks possibly by the composer, but then there are multiple pencil marks by the conductor, Kostelanetz,  and his marks often contradict the printed marks.  Bowing is rarely included in older orchestra music except in special circumstances.  Certainly in solo work it is.

I come from a chamber orchestra where we played my compositions along with Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Pachelbel, etc.  Even when I wrote in my own bowings, they would change as we practiced and the tempo quickened.  I understand that you work in a commercial setting where recording studio time is expensive, so copious notation is necessary. 

   I very much appreciate your input, even though we may disagree on some points.  Saltando is a familiar term but I have not ever used the technique since taking cello lessons.

     One day my cello teacher came to the lesson all atwitter.  She had just had a  lesson with Yo Yo Ma who was in town for a concert.  She proceeded to show me bowing techniques that only a soloist like YoYo would use.  I thought, as if, but it is nice to know that these techniques exist.
 
Mike Hewer said:

Hi lawrence,

I've only had one listen but noticed a few things you might want to consider.

The opening string scalic passages might be better served with one bow to the bar. Increase to 2 bows per bar for a louder dynamic from say mf cf. Bow change is inextricably linked to dynamics and tempo and is an important consideration especially when composing because articulation is also implicated. A case in point are the cellos at b217. The triplet semis should be bowed saltando but are not marked. If you do not know about saltando bowing then there are plenty of online resources about it. Lead violins at b217cf have no bowing neither. There is a misconception in this forum by some, that the concert master sorts out bowing. Well, yes, he/she will alter, if needed any bowing that is deemed impractical or does not enhance or help the phrasing and articulation. But, a concert master needs a starting point, a clue, as to what the composer wants. All composers have to be able to conceive and notate their lines with articulation, phrasing and dynamics to a standard that at least eliminates ambiguity for the performer. Only then will the performer be able to adapt the practicality of the part to the musical intent.

The same sort of longer slurring for strings might better serve the wind in places too. Many runs would be more sensible under one slur and not what seems to be a default 2 slurs to the bar.

These are the finer points of scoring that need to be mastered to lift your score and get conductors to consider a performance. Practical issues like bar 55 in the bassoon part for example, will be an annoyance to a conductor - do you want both players to play or just player 1 or 2? The rallentando before the middle section is not marked. Yes, I'm sure it is a WIP score, but I am being picky because I have seen these issues in all of your scores and not once have you posted a complete finished, bag it up and send it to Haitink version.

The 1st trumpet at b131 and similar is too high unless you want a coarse effect and even then the effect feels a little out of context because of the 'classical' nature of the piece. A very good player could do it, but you could certainly make things easier by  asking for a change to  D or Eflat trumpet perhaps, or even re-scoring or re-spacing. Still, I question whether or not that is the effect you want because it sure wont sound like the playback.

I like the central section at b89, but am perturbed by the trombone part, as would be the player.

You need to split the part between the 2 players to give each a rest. Do this by giving each player something like 4 bars each and dovetail the parts for a seamless sound.

I hope you don't mind me being critical Lawrence, it is because your scoring has imroved so much thanks to your studies and its a shame to see these finer points being missed because they are to the detriment of your piece. Anyway, apologies if this comes across as harsh, it isn't meant as such, just an old pro noticing some things that are unacceptable in the real world.

mikehewer.com

Beautifully done. If that's all midi generated, it sure sounds great; absolutely lovely mix.

Hi Lawrence,

Case in point, you say you brought in the 2nd bone at b271, but it is not marked as such in the score and I for one had no way of knowing that was your intention. Similarly, it is not clear to me that a2 is implied on single notes in the aforementioned bassoon part and one should not rely on assumptions when a simple directive can be inserted. Almost all scores utilise a2, a3, 'solo' etc. see Holsts' 'Planets' for example.

I have perused a lot of scores too as you can imagine, and have always seen bowing indications along with music written to exploit the various ways of playing. I would encourage anyone who wants to learn  orchestration to study repertoire where the performance traits do not rely on common knowledge or practice and historical assumption to any great extent ie, scores that are lacking in performance detail. Rather study scores from the mid-romantic period cf because these score are rich in idiomatic detail and will be far more instructive in the way things are done these days. BTW, you say you marked the vc part spicc. (b217) I don't see that in the score you posted... again, details!

The Prokofieff symphony does indeed have bowing and as I said earlier, it is a starting point for the conductor and concert master - if it is done well and clearly, their job is easier and the musical intent is clear. Not putting in bowing or at the very least, articulation and phrasing of some sort is not an option these days and I will always encourage composers to consider these important details actually during the compositional process.

BTW this is nothing to do with a commercial approach, what you call copious notation is just clarity of thought and intent in a score, perhaps it should properly be called being professional and although I know you are an amateur, you are producing full scores which are not far from actually being professional, hence my getting on your case....:-)

Anyhow, yes, we might well disagree on some points, but I am in admiration of your work ethic and your seemingly prolific output and have gleaned moments of what I consider to be excellent music in your work, so forgive me for being forthright and picky about the finer detail - it really, really does matter.

Mike.

mikehewer.com

Mike,

     I made the changes in my score but have not posted it.  There are so many reasons why I do not feel comfortable marking bowings, mostly because I play cello at an intermediate level and am not qualified to give professionals my two cents.  Look up Prokofiev's Symphony no. 1 in the New York philharmonic digital archives.  There is a huge difference between the printed marks, which may or may not be Prokofiev's and the way it was actually performed.  I feel the same way about piano fingerings.  At one time I contemplated a career as a concert pianist, so I am qualified to write in fingerings for piano.  Early on I wrote in piano fingerings for chamber orchestra only to have them completely ignored.  At one time our pianist was a 6'3" college football player.  Later on we had a woman of Korean descent who couldn't have been over 5 foot and weighed less than 100 lbs.  Based on hand size they couldn't possible have used the same fingerings.

     But you say cellos are all the same size.  Except my cello is a little better than fire wood.  I use a great deal of pressure on the bow to produce reasonable tone quality.  Even if I get out my cello and play the part, the bowings will be different than a professional on a fine quality cello.  Even so, on the next piece I will attempt to put in some bowings. 

     One last point.  When a brass player comes to a triplet in presto time he automatically triple tongues.  No one has to tell him what to do.  But when a string player encounters the same notes we have to write saltando or spicc.  Are brass players that much smarter than string players?

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