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Hi everybody.

Again a while ago, I know I'm not around much. I have finished another choral piece now. Sadly, I like to write my chorals in German, so the title is Das Opfer der armen Witwe. For anyone owning a Bible (or caring to look it up on the net) the text is derived from Marcus 12:41-44.

Again I used full orchestra and choir, and this time I used a tenor solo.

Feel free to comment. Especially the end (last two pages) need some attention, for I am a bit lost there.

Keep it friendly, honest and helpful please.

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Hi Erwin, I think you will have to examine the score again. Either you don't know enough about harmony to pull this off, or you are a very modern composer. Perhaps you made a couple of mistakes with the transposing instruments.

I seem to be a modern composer, trying to write classical music. Can you be more specific, please? I know there are a few dissonants in it, btw.

Can you explain the harmony in measure 7 and 8 to me?

Erwin van Delft said:

I seem to be a modern composer, trying to write classical music. Can you be more specific, please? I know there are a few dissonants in it, btw.

I see what you mean... Mmm... And I thought I had a good look at the harmonics.

To be honest, I made quite a mistake there, thank you. Solved it now.

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I'm afraid these two measures were only the first two that should be re-examined. There are so much weird harmonic structures, that I would suggest you analyse the complete piece first and then orchestrate it again. It would help if you make a piano excerpt. Most notation programs can do this for you.

Erwin van Delft said:

I see what you mean... Mmm... And I thought I had a good look at the harmonics.

To be honest, I made quite a mistake there, thank you. Solved it now.

It seems I had a bit of an off while writing this... And I put in so much time. No, that is a mistake too from my side, the numbers you gave are the numbers I should have put in, Dave. My error again (I am not used to making so many mistakes...)

It's not what I like. As a (retired) teacher I sense there's something fundamentally wrong here. If one of my students would have written this, I would give him the same advise as I gave Erwin, no matter what style.

When a composer thinks the composition sounds fine as it is, that is his right. But there's also something like experience and ability to use the theory you've studied. Usually it takes a couple of years before a student is able to find the mistakes himself, by listening to or by studying the score. That's why you study music composition. You need help.

To be quite frank, if Erwin was a student of mine, I would need several lessons just to clear up the score (but I'm retired, so I'm not going to do that; I just gave an advice) and that has nothing to do with a personal view. A composer can make mistakes, especially when he lacks experience and/or knowledge.

Dave Dexter said:

Re the instruments, that's just numbers, it doesn't affect the writing. As for the trouble Rowy has with your harmonic language, taking advice is great but if it's your personal voice and how you write, don't change it just because one person doesn't like it.

Erwin van Delft said:

It seems I had a bit of an off while writing this... And I put in so much time. No, that is a mistake too from my side, the numbers you gave are the numbers I should have put in, Dave. My error again (I am not used to making so many mistakes...)

Wrong is wrong. It's as simple as that. Now, let's hear what Erwin has to say.

Dave Dexter said:

Granted. But a composer in the developing stage is also at the most susceptible and suggestible point, so I think you should be more delicate than saying the piece is fundamentally wrong and contains many weird harmonies. You don't know if that's inexperience or the developing style, and you don't know if you're quashing that style. Some music is more easy to fit in the context of established theory and assess which bits don't fit; some music is not.

Yeah, you're right in that, Dave. And I must admit I changed it back for I like that better. I have been relistening the whole thing over again and I like it as it is. Only the ending bothers me a bit, still....

BTW I did this reply before I read all the other things you both wrote.

Hi Erwin,

Can I ask that you provide an English translation of your text, so that I may understand what spirit moves things the way it does in this piece. To me the text is of paramount importance for any vocal composition to start with.

Otherwise I had a quick look at the score and I agree with Dave regarding the orchestral balance, but also with Rowy regarding some harmonic rules.

For example the 1st entry of the choir at bar 21 sounds weird.

 

Cello ends its downward scale of D major on a low D and one would expect the same 1st chord to enter there on the vocal part. Well, it does apart from the bass singer who is on a C# (a major 7th higher than the cello). Would it not be simpler to give a D to the bass singer also there? Imo, it would as well as providing this vocal line with better voice leading, ie a repeated D weak to strong would sound better than the written repeated C# strong to weak, as well as establishing the tonality in stronger terms.

 

In the 2nd beat of bar 21 the vocal harmony moves to 1st inversion A chord over the cello deep D, that's fine, but what is the F# sharp doing in the viola still? You must decide there if the viola participates as a D or A chordal factor.

 

From 2nd to 3rd beat of bar 21 it gets more weird to my ears. The harmony progresses to a Bm chord with strongly pronounced parallel 5ths in alto-soprano parts (A-E => B-F#), while the C# on the 2nd violin is a kick to my ear and a confusion to my brain, taking away the joy of the (intended?) harmonic change.

 

4th beat of the same bar, I suppose can be taken as a 2nd inversion of D major, with elements of Bm7 (look 2nd violin part again). Would it not be better on this 4th beat to have a clear sounding A7 dominant chord to lead back to tonic in the next bar as notated? (but new ambiguities start on bar 22).

 

Perhaps this is some of what Rowy means (?). Anyway, if I can observe all these things in one single bar, I thing you should clarify the harmonic thinking behind them for us.

And please… the text. Do give us also some aesthetic/ideological reason for your choice which can be discernible in it perhaps(?)

You made quite an effort, analysing that measure. I didn't even go there, because there are too many faults in this score. Like I wrote, it would take me several lessons of an hour, just to clean up the score. I think it is water under the bridge. Erwin re-listened the entire score and he is satisfied. Pity, but no sweat of my back.

Socrates Arvanitakis said:

Perhaps this is some of what Rowy means (?). Anyway, if I can observe all these things in one single bar, I thing you should clarify the harmonic thinking behind them for us.

That I am satiesfied does not mean it is good, does it? Because if I thought it was, I would not have posted in Critics.

The text is Marcus 12:41-44

The Widow’s Offering

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

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