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This piece is getting on my nerves because I don't know where to take it.

Hello All,

This is my first contribution here, so please be gentle. I write very little for orchestra and this piece started life as a simple tribute to the city of Prague. In the end, the first movement has become a huge tone poem and it isn't finished yet. The inspiration was the famous astronomical clock in the city centre. The plan was to represent aspects of the zodiac and the clock itself as well as the city. I have gotten as far as the start of Winter, and it has taken me since 2006, working intermittently. There are two other movements, but I have separated them off as their subject matter is quite different.

There is one idea that goes continuously through the piece. The constant ticking of the clock. Sometimes a single instrument, sometimes a small emsemble. This is essential to the continuity.

The percussion parts contain references to the music played by the clock when it chimes and there are references to Czech folk music throughout. There is also a section in Spring parodying the changing of the guard that takes place at midday every day.

There are sections of related music for Spring, Summer and Autumn, each of which has subsections for the individual zodiac signs. I have begun the section for Winter, but I am not entirely happy with it, although I like the brass parts, which are loosely related to the horn parts in the previous section.

I just seem to be suffering from block - probably because it has taken me so long to write the piece.

Constructive criticism would be appreciated.

Many thanks

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Hi Mike.

This is a fine piece, worthy of completion. Lots of good invention but some areas like Summer where you need to make it more interesting to hold attention

I haven't been able to listen to all of it, limitations of my iPad, but will when I can. Think Summer ended up I n a loop.

The advice I once got from a professional "if you're struggling to finish a piece, shorten it. Finish it where it is. Move on".

Mike L

Thanks for your comments, Mike, much appreciated.

With my clumsy audio skills, I separated the mp3 at the end of Spring,  so that's all that's in the first mp3. The second mp3 contains Summer, Autumn and the start of Winter.

I take your point about Summer. I was thinking along the lines of hot dreamy summer days, but you are right, it needs, overall, more interest.

Thanks again.


Thanks Bob,

That's a great help. I think you are probaby right on the money about my string writing as my whole musical history has revolved around brass music - can't help but for that to influence everything I write.

I began the piece thinking that it wouldjust be a 3-5 minute movement of a tone poem, with the two other movements (The Three Kings and Slavonic Dance) forming a triptych. However, it just kept growing, and there was no way I could balance it with the others so I separated them off.

I think I'm essentially a miniaturist. I never thought of development of the themes beyond some very simple transformations and I was focussed on keeping the steady tick of the clock and very little else. Marking the passage of time with a quick look at each of the zodiac signs and the passing of the seasons.

You have given me some food for thought. I could make up Winter from developments of the themes from earlier in the piece! Thanks. That gives me a plan.

Thank you.
Bob Porter said:

Thanks for posting this. It is very fun.

You have many great, well executed, ideas. I feel that this is both the main strength, and weakness of this piece. There are too many ideas, few of which ever get fully developed. Maybe this is the reason you have run into a block. You have enough material to expand this to four movements. One for each season. As it is, the piece feels like a series of 20 measure sections stitched together. I just start to get into a section, and it changes to something else. That can be very effective sometimes, but maybe not for the entire piece.

The other thing is that I feel that your style of writing would make this a great concert band piece. Consider  the string entrance near the 1:25 mark. I don't know if it is the writing or the way your software executes the notes, but this section doesn't seem very string like. It is more wind or brass style.

Any way, keep at it. This is a must finish.

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