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Hello, all. I made this account a few years back, but had a few babies in the meantime and haven't posted anything until now. I'm really anxious to get some good feedback on my latest composition, which is a 25-minute suite of Romantic-styled orchestral music based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, Thumbelina.

I realize it may be a lot to ask the members here to listen to and offer criticism on a 25-minute piece (not to mention reviewing a 108-page score, if you're into that), so I'd be happy to return the favor by doing an in-depth critique on any composition of your choosing.

Thanks for listening!

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I didn't realize you can only upload three files at once. I'll try to work it out via the replies.

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More:

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And the finale, plus the score.

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03  Cute theme,  the parts blend well.  I thought the chord at 30 sec. was a bit abrupt or too loud.  I prefer the string section samples to the solo string parts if you are doing orchestra music and you have that option.

02  You have nice melodies running throughout but the orchestration is rather sparse in many places where some underlying chords would be welcome.  When the strings are playing melody the horns woodwinds and even trumpets can play chords underneath and vice versa.  Then add extra interest by playing the chords in an appropriate rhythm not just straight halves or whole notes.   Other places I feel like the bass is weak and can be supported by the bassoon.  String bass by itself is really inadequate with full orchestra.  Overall I liked the melodies and good work with the harp.

     So many days go by when there is very little new music on the forum.  Then someone dumps a whole symphony at once.  Spread out the work so we can have time to hear it all.

Hi Noah,

Always nice to see a new poster.

I've only listened to the first piece and enjoyed it very much, especially your harmonic sense. I tend not to comment on notes as such, because they are yours and so I'll just point out some technical points you may find useful.

The bassoons in the first 18 bars should be in the tenor clef, to avoid the 8va lines. Bassoonists are fluent in this clef. The opening wind triplets might be better served with tenuto marks on them. This slight difference in articulation will contrast nicely with the legato of the flutes. Good to see that you have marked the triplets ppp and the flutes a little more, I'd mark them p! Alternatively, as the 2nd flt is in a weak range and trying to cut through tightly spaced chords in the same register, you could give the part to clt 1 and let the 2nd flt take over around the 1st clt part. Good to see you have interlocked too as this aids in cohesion of sound, especially with a disparate group such as winds. 

The bowing of the solo at b4 could be a little different for me, in order to help the acciaccaturas and generally help to impel the line, maybe more bow strokes to slur the grace note to the main note. This would give it a more scherzando type feel which you may like.  At b33 the solo bowing feels wrong to me. The pick up notes might be better served as up bows into the downbeat down bows, and one bow per bar, starting on the first beat.

The portato in the main strings at this section feels awkward the way it is bowed at present . I would put 2 equal bows in each bar, slurring the acciaccatura with the first bow stroke. My reasoning is that this would give the part a more rhythmical precision for the ensemble, others may well disagree with this, such is the debate about bowing, but at least your musical intention is clear in the way you have bowed it. I'd also consider taking off the tenuto on the grace note as it is quite quick and needlessly complicated. Some bass pizz might be nice in this section....just a thought.

I can't help feeling that from C on, the string pads are boring, perhaps you might want to consider ways of making the parts more interesting and obviously idiomatic. Of course if it's what you wanted, then it'll work fine, but for me you might be missing some coloured/ timbral magic that is a cut above the average.

Hope some of this is useful to you.....

Mike.

Lawrence - You're right, I probably should have broken this up into a few different posts altogether.

That's good criticism on the second movement -- I've now heard from a few people that my textures tend to be too thin and lack emphasis on the bass. Orchestration is definitely my weak point overall.

I see what you mean with the abrupt juxtaposition in the third movement. I may have to add some kind of woodwind flourish to smooth out the transition.

Thanks for listening! I appreciate the feedback. I'm also looking forward to hearing the rest of your Challenger piece.

Lawrence Aurich said:

03  Cute theme,  the parts blend well.  I thought the chord at 30 sec. was a bit abrupt or too loud.  I prefer the string section samples to the solo string parts if you are doing orchestra music and you have that option.

02  You have nice melodies running throughout but the orchestration is rather sparse in many places where some underlying chords would be welcome.  When the strings are playing melody the horns woodwinds and even trumpets can play chords underneath and vice versa.  Then add extra interest by playing the chords in an appropriate rhythm not just straight halves or whole notes.   Other places I feel like the bass is weak and can be supported by the bassoon.  String bass by itself is really inadequate with full orchestra.  Overall I liked the melodies and good work with the harp.

     So many days go by when there is very little new music on the forum.  Then someone dumps a whole symphony at once.  Spread out the work so we can have time to hear it all.

Mike - All of it will definitely be useful to me. As far as orchestration goes, I'm pretty much a novice, so I want to soak up as many suggestions as possible to make the piece work well. I'm also not a string player, so your insight into bowings will be helpful as well.

I heard someone relate some advice once, that if they saw any hollow note-heads on the score, it'd better be the most interesting chord in the world. I dunno if that's overkill or what, but I think I'll go back and try to make the string parts more involved in that C section.

Is there a piece of yours you'd like me to take a look at? You seem to be more experienced than I am, but maybe I could provide some useful comments. Anyway, the offer stands.

Thanks for listening and commenting!

Mike Hewer said:

Hi Noah,

Always nice to see a new poster.

I've only listened to the first piece and enjoyed it very much, especially your harmonic sense. I tend not to comment on notes as such, because they are yours and so I'll just point out some technical points you may find useful.

The bassoons in the first 18 bars should be in the tenor clef, to avoid the 8va lines. Bassoonists are fluent in this clef. The opening wind triplets might be better served with tenuto marks on them. This slight difference in articulation will contrast nicely with the legato of the flutes. Good to see that you have marked the triplets ppp and the flutes a little more, I'd mark them p! Alternatively, as the 2nd flt is in a weak range and trying to cut through tightly spaced chords in the same register, you could give the part to clt 1 and let the 2nd flt take over around the 1st clt part. Good to see you have interlocked too as this aids in cohesion of sound, especially with a disparate group such as winds. 

The bowing of the solo at b4 could be a little different for me, in order to help the acciaccaturas and generally help to impel the line, maybe more bow strokes to slur the grace note to the main note. This would give it a more scherzando type feel which you may like.  At b33 the solo bowing feels wrong to me. The pick up notes might be better served as up bows into the downbeat down bows, and one bow per bar, starting on the first beat.

The portato in the main strings at this section feels awkward the way it is bowed at present . I would put 2 equal bows in each bar, slurring the acciaccatura with the first bow stroke. My reasoning is that this would give the part a more rhythmical precision for the ensemble, others may well disagree with this, such is the debate about bowing, but at least your musical intention is clear in the way you have bowed it. I'd also consider taking off the tenuto on the grace note as it is quite quick and needlessly complicated. Some bass pizz might be nice in this section....just a thought.

I can't help feeling that from C on, the string pads are boring, perhaps you might want to consider ways of making the parts more interesting and obviously idiomatic. Of course if it's what you wanted, then it'll work fine, but for me you might be missing some coloured/ timbral magic that is a cut above the average.

Hope some of this is useful to you.....

Mike.

Hi Noah,
I'm not a string player, but was professional as a composer for nearly 30 years. You can check me out here...


mikehewer.com

HI--heres Mikes site with a clickable link:

Mike Hewer's site

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

PS Hi Mike--I also emailed you from your site--I hope you received it--thanks Bob

thanks bob, I was on an iPad at the time, still not fully mastered iOS..I've emailed you back.

:You call this a melody.  Sounds like something Willie Nelson sings in the shower.

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