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Hello! I recently finished another choral piece, and I'd like to share it!

I'm curious about 2 things:

1) The harmony in the first 1/3 or so of the piece is a bit more chromatic than the rest. Do you think this creates any sense of imbalance (or expectations that aren't satisfied later in the piece)?

2) The section starting at m. 64, where nearly the entire poem is broken up and passed around to different voices in counterpoint. Obviously it wouldn't be possible to hear all the words in this section (even in a live recording with good singers), and I'm wondering if anyone sees this as a problem (or as something that doesn't fit with the rest of the piece.) What I was trying to evoke in this section was (1) a sense of forward momentum and building complexity that is transcended by the ensuing climax and (2) a sense of being nearly overwhelmed by the imagery of the words (which have already been stated in a much clearer, more linear context earlier in the piece)

SCORE AND AUDIO

Pending a live performance, I made the recording with Virharmonic's Soloists of Prague. The English pronunciation isn't great, so I recommend reading along in the score even if you don't normally look at the sheet music.

Thanks for listening!

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I am GREATLY enjoying this, especially the first half.  I want to hear it several times before making a longer comment.  

I think it sounds a read very good. The chromatic harmonies are not unbalanced to the rest because it sounds like a large resolution to the entire piece. The counterpoint with the text is also not a problem and is very typical in choral music. The piece itself is very well written. I really like the harmonic language and how idiomatic it is for the voice. It sounds like something any choir anywhere would have on their program. I also like the amount of detail in the score. Very good job. Get this performed soon. 

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that. My ear is not good enough to try to analyze it to the extent you asked, but I didn't feel that there were any issues with the flow of the piece, I thought it moved very nicely, built well, and ended when it needed to. I loved the relationship between the piano and the voices.

I don't think the voices in counterpoint were a problem. Musically, it's a lovely transition. With choral music, you either listen carefully to the words, in which case they would have been picked up at the start, or you don't try too hard at all, and just treat the voices as another instrument. Either works in the context of this piece for me.

This is a beautiful work.   It definitely captures the pastoral setting that is presented in the text.  I do not think the first 1/3 harmonies are too chromatic, if anything it adds great interest and provides a lush setting.  The piano is spot on and delicately supports the choir.  I love the F sharp at the very end creating a C major +11 quality.  By the way you handle the Soloists of Prague very well and after hearing your work I am going to use it instead of my east west choir library.  Looking forward to hearing a live performance.  

Thanks, everyone, for the comments!

Tyler - Really glad you enjoyed it. I'll be submitting this to competitions, but if those don't work out, a local choir I've worked with before is also interested. Hopefully one of these will result in a better recording!

Rick - Thanks for your feedback, especially pertaining to my questions. I'm glad you think everything works... when we're working on new compositions, we can never be entirely sure how they will be perceived by others, which is why places like this forum are great resources.

Bob - You make a very good point. I sing in a fairly advanced community choir, and we do pieces in many languages... most of which obviously won't be understood by an audience in rural Canada. Maybe as long as the audience is aware of the meaning of the words, they can still understand how the music enhances them, and experience the union of words and music that makes choral music so powerful.
The difference between the choir and piano characters is intentional, and fairly common in accompanied vocal music (as far as I know). The piano and the choir are such different sound worlds--the piano has such a clean, precise tone and quick decay relative to the rich, gooey sustain of the choir that they won't really ever blend as one entity, and so I (like many composers of vocal music) use the piano to provide rhythmic drive and harmonic support to the choir's more melodic material.

Dave - Thanks for listening! I tried the EastWest Choirs for a month with ComposerCloud, and definitely found them harder to use than the Virharmonic products. In the end, I think the EastWest choirs ARE a little more powerful (they have a wider variety of vowel sounds and allow you a bit more control over the exact pronunciation) but for me they took so much time and work to make sound realistic that they weren't worth the effort. With Virharmonic, the programmers definitely did their homework (all of the shaping and vibrato is controlled quite convincingly with just the mod wheel)... there's still a bit of a learning curve, but I find it's pretty quick to create a realistic performance once you get it figured out.
By the way, Virharmonic also has a full-choir library (the Voices of Prague), which has a much bigger sound than this Soloists library... but it's also quite a bit more expensive.

Peter - Thanks! The discord (Db - G tritone) at 1:01 is intentional... the idea is to slightly intensify the preceding dissonance before the surprise modulation at 1:03 or so. Maybe I should introduce it sooner... in any case, I appreciate your perspective on that.

Bob - Now that I re-listen to it with your comments in mind, I think the main issue is the piano being MUCH too loud in this recording... when mixing, I tend to approach dynamics from a solo voice and piano perspective, which just plain doesn't work with choir. In any case, I'm curious to hear your perspective after I re-mix it (hopefully I will do this in the next few days). Thanks again

I like it very much. For me I don't really find it a problem that the romantic sound changes, it is, in my opinion, part of the New Moon, so to say.

Nice piece of work in my opinion.

Ok...I listened...and I am disappointed! Disappointed that I can't hear the piece through all the reverb. And I really do want to hear it...I can tell that something really good is happening.

Please repost with a much drier hall sound. It will serve the music better, I am sure.

Thanks for posting. I am really looking for to HEARING this piece.

bp

Very nice piece Nicholas, I feel that your melodies and accompaniment hold our attention despite the obvious problem with the lyrics, and the issues you mentioned do not bother me at all.  Your moving video score is a clever solution to the problem we all face with posting a score, you should give us a tutorial on that!

The Virharmonic library you are using has a good sound but the lyrics are not clear. I have been having the same problem with the East West Wordbuilder software for chorus lyrics, so I have no suggestions for you. You can here my effort posted elsewhere in this forum section titled "The Prophet".  I do think it would be possible for you to get a clearer and more transparent recording of the chorus track however; I would encourage you to experiment with compression and eq settings as well as reduce the reverb as others have mentioned. Good job!

Hi everyone - Thanks for all the comments on this! I updated the original post with a new audio file--in it, I responded to people's feedback by making the piano substantially quieter and reducing the piano's reverb. I only reduced the choir's reverb very slightly, however--the Soloists of Prague is (as the name implies) a solo voice library, and a good deal of reverb is necessary to make it sound "choral" (and non-robotic).

Ingo, I fully sympathize with your difficulties with East West Wordbuilder. I've never heard a track created with either EastWest or Virharmonic that has anything close to realistic English diction. But as far as I know, these are the only 2 choral libraries with actual word-building capabilities (as opposed to Latin-sounding gibberish), so I guess we're stuck with them for now. Although it's far from perfect, Virharmonic has enabled me to create mockups that were good enough to get a couple choral directors interested in my work--which will hopefully result in much better (live) recordings.

This seems lovely to me. I cannot comment on any technical aspects of it as I myself am a self-taught composer, but I greatly appreciate this work

Hi Nick, I enjoyed listening to this. I liked the balance/counter balance between

the vocals and the piano parts. Very nice.      RS

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