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Greetings, friends!

I present to you what will likely be my final orchestral work this year, a tone poem for orchestra. This work was inspired by—and, indeed, is patterned after—a poem by the 19th century Icelandic poet, Jónas Hallgrímsson.

Here is a rough translation of the poem:

White in the gentle air
Passing in the night breeze,
A gull wings over murky depths,
The moon is high o’er the sea.

A shark watches from the water
And looks up at the village,
A gull wings over its hiding place,
The moon is high o’er the sea.

O dear, fleeting soul,
You fear ever and aye,
Too near the water you stray,
The moon is high o’er the sea.

I'd greatly appreciate feedback, in particular concerning the overall structure of the work. To me, it sounds too much like filmscore and not enough like classical music, but it could be because I've listened to it so much I've become numb to objectivity altogether. However, I'd also appreciate your feedback on what feelings/images it invoked during your own listening, and whether it reflected the poem's mien to you.

The score is attached. I'd be grateful for feedback regarding the percussion notation and the harmonics towards the end of the score.

Thank you for taking the time to listen. I am indebted to you.

Jörfi

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Brilliant.

If you'll excuse me saying you come across as a fully accomplished composer in control of what you're doing. If it isn't a live performance it's a superb rendering. There's nothing to criticise.

I particularly liked your large time signatures on the score - can see no reason why the individual staves on a score should bear them. Although it could be my ears and the very quiet dynamic, the strings sounded as if they were muted.

The deep 'div' cellos and basses with their dissonances opened the work with an air of mystery and chill. Also noticed the way you notated the upper strings in bar 9 which gives a different fingering from G-flat to F. 

I noticed a few things about the score (nothing critical, more like tips on how you did it!!) but it would take ages to write up all I noticed.

The close was excellent. The brass in 155. The piece seemed bleak until the last few bars when some light seemed to show through.

I visited Iceland  a couple of decades ago but in early June when even in the south there's only a dusk, so I don't recall the moonlight at all. A marvellous place; beautiful scenery. As someone who runs from the cold it's probably best I don't go in December. 

Superb work.

Cheers, Dane

P.S. If this is your last orchestral piece this year....what next?

As always, your kind remarks are very humbly accepted and deeply appreciated.

This isn't a live performance, and I'm not an accomplished composer. Whether I'm in control of what I'm doing is debatable... although I believe I'm more in control than I used to be! :) I would, of course, be delighted to have this performed live. But the performing arts is not within my sphere of influence so, as I take stock of my life and career compliments of the current crisis, I'm making plans to become more involved in that, at least on a local level.

Thank you for the comments regarding the score. The strings aren't muted, though I did dial back the vibrato which, in this sound library, cuts down on some of the volume.

I'm glad you enjoyed the close. I agonized and agonized over it. I considered pulling a Picardy third to really give it a sense of finality. Sounded great in my head and in my rendering on the piano. But when I experienced it in context with the rest of the piece it just didn't sound right—it was too... obvious. So I settled on the modified A2omit3#5 chord. It sounds 'hopeful,' particularly against the quartals and dim5s that pervade the rest of the piece. Plus, the chord doesn't disobey the scale I was using (and a Picardy third would have).

After having finished this work, I don't plan on stopping composing for the rest of the year, I'm just not sure I want to tackle anything else orchestral. I'm going to enter this piece into a few competitions to see how it fares. In the meantime, I desperately need to write more chamber music.

Again, thank you for taking the time both to listen and to comment. It means a great deal to me, Dane.

Jörfi

Dane Aubrun said:

Brilliant.

If you'll excuse me saying you come across as a fully accomplished composer in control of what you're doing. If it isn't a live performance it's a superb rendering. There's nothing to criticise.

I particularly liked your large time signatures on the score - can see no reason why the individual staves on a score should bear them. Although it could be my ears and the very quiet dynamic, the strings sounded as if they were muted.

The deep 'div' cellos and basses with their dissonances opened the work with an air of mystery and chill. Also noticed the way you notated the upper strings in bar 9 which gives a different fingering from G-flat to F. 

I noticed a few things about the score (nothing critical, more like tips on how you did it!!) but it would take ages to write up all I noticed.

The close was excellent. The brass in 155. The piece seemed bleak until the last few bars when some light seemed to show through.

I visited Iceland  a couple of decades ago but in early June when even in the south there's only a dusk, so I don't recall the moonlight at all. A marvellous place; beautiful scenery. As someone who runs from the cold it's probably best I don't go in December. 

Superb work.

Cheers, Dane

P.S. If this is your last orchestral piece this year....what next?

Ah, your description of what feelings this work personally invoked really made my day! I realize my harmonic language favors the 'darker' emotional elements: unease and foreboding, as you so aptly described. The scales I employ don't allow for cadences—the perfect fifth—so I instead rely on diminished 5ths to drive the transitions. Dim5s, though, tend to 'confuse' the ear in regard to tonality, plus they're the basis of much of the "scary music" you hear in horror flicks. I certainly don't want my works to sound horrific!

For me, music has to be enjoyable. If it's experimental at the same time, fantastic, but it must first and foremost be a positive listening experience. Dialing the tension back and forth, thematic development, orchestral color, and melodic voice leading are tools I (try to) use in an effort to keep the music enjoyable, both for myself and for the audience. It's a work-in-progress as I feel out my harmonic language through different musical media (orchestral vs. chamber, etc.).

Don't worry if you don't feel qualified to comment on the theoretical aspects of this work. Hearing how it affects a listener emotionally is just as valuable—if not more so—to me than the most in-depth musical analysis of my works. In that vein, I thank you for taking the time to listen and provide feedback. It means a lot to me!

Cheers,

Jörfi

Phillip Crofts said:

This was a great listen, a very forbidding atmosphere, atmosphere probably being the best word to describe this piece. I felt many things during the piece, a sense of uneasiness, of looming danger. The orchestration really compliments the great use of dynamics, overall a very soft piece of music with some rise in tension in places. 

I thought the harmonics closing out the piece were well placed, leaving the listener on a more positive note with the moon lighting up what once was dark. 

I feel a bit out of my depth when it comes to talking about the more theoretical side of things, but overall a great piece! 

Hi Jörfi,

I liked your piece.  Quiet accomplished work, if I may say.

To me the best thing is the balance in your piece, the balanced use of the resources.

You even do not neglect the harmonics at the violins.  Embellishment notes are missing though... 

I do not remember...  bar 90 16th notes 6tuplets appear only...  Dane uses some rhythmically

striking entries...  could be even better with some of them...

Your use of 7/4 tempo together with modal approaches such as sansible to minor third below melodic

movements are very beautiful to me as a person coming from a modal music country.  But

I doubt all competition juries would be interested in this material.  So please make sure

the competition you apply is somewhat close to your musical  understanding.

A serene gracious work! Wonderfully done.

Congratulations.

Ali

Thank you for the kind remarks.

Rhythmic variation is something I'm lacking in, so I appreciate your pointers there. My next goal is to experiment more in this area over the rest of this year.

And thanks also for the advice about competitions. I'm pretty much an absolute beginner there!

I'm glad you enjoyed this modal work (and I'm guessing you're Turkish?). It's a shame that Western music hasn't quite embraced it yet, as I find it very melancholic and refreshing, as well as moving.

Thank you again for taking the time to listen and provide feedback. Very much appreciated!

Ali Riza SARAL said:

Hi Jörfi,

I liked your piece.  Quiet accomplished work, if I may say.

To me the best thing is the balance in your piece, the balanced use of the resources.

You even do not neglect the harmonics at the violins.  Embellishment notes are missing though... 

I do not remember...  bar 90 16th notes 6tuplets appear only...  Dane uses some rhythmically

striking entries...  could be even better with some of them...

Your use of 7/4 tempo together with modal approaches such as sansible to minor third below melodic

movements are very beautiful to me as a person coming from a modal music country.  But

I doubt all competition juries would be interested in this material.  So please make sure

the competition you apply is somewhat close to your musical  understanding.

A serene gracious work! Wonderfully done.

Congratulations.

Ali

Great work here Jorfli, I've listened twice now and enjoyed it both times while finding new things. At first I thought there's too much dynamic range because of the extended quiet parts but I was wrong, that's very effective use of your dynamic pallet. What I like best is that you are developing a language that speaks to our culture, our time. There is great music from other times and places and we love that and we learn from it and if we reuse it that's fine too but what we really need is music for our time. I feel that you and others here on CF are finding what speaks to us right now and it's very satisfying to watch this happen. Keep it up!

Hi Ingo,

Your response is most kind and flattering. I'm very glad you enjoyed the piece.

I quite echo your sentiments regarding pastiche and emerging music. Nothing objectively wrong with either, but I agree that more time-relevant music is needed. I'm honored that you count my music among them!

Thank you for taking the time to listen and leave a response. Much, much appreciated.

Ingo Lee said:

Great work here Jorfli, I've listened twice now and enjoyed it both times while finding new things. At first I thought there's too much dynamic range because of the extended quiet parts but I was wrong, that's very effective use of your dynamic pallet. What I like best is that you are developing a language that speaks to our culture, our time. There is great music from other times and places and we love that and we learn from it and if we reuse it that's fine too but what we really need is music for our time. I feel that you and others here on CF are finding what speaks to us right now and it's very satisfying to watch this happen. Keep it up!

Hi Jörfi,

I have just joined the forum and this was one of the first members' works I heard. I've listened several times and I really like this piece. "Tone poem" is a good description as you have described the inspiration from a written poem, and while you may not intend it to be program music, I feel that if I had synesthesia, the sounds could produce moving pictures of the moon's reflection in dark waters. It's not just moody, but a sort of journey. I will leave to more technically proficient composers to comment on the musical details as some already have, though it does seem to me that you make very skillful use of the tonal range and dynamics of an orchestra. I don't know what samples you use but they sound very convincing. The only thing that sounded a bit "samply" to me was the drum or timpani roll at 2:07 which might like a bit more dynamic variation.

Great work!

Thanks for sharing,

Bruce Irving

Wow, Bruce—thank you so much for the kind words! (And welcome to the forum, by the way!)

I'm very touched that you enjoyed this piece so much. I came across the poem and thought, "How very like our present day events this poem is!" The pandemic, the civil unrest, the failing economy: it's all a reminder of how fleeting life is, but it is encouraging to remember that "the moon is high above the sea."

I am glad that you were able to "see" the sounds I was attempting to portray in this work. My music isn't as complex as most—it's just not how I hear it in my head, at least not at this point—so I tend to emphasize the individual voices of the instruments. I know the harmonies sound a bit off, but my goal is to bypass the brain's role in interpreting music and tap into the emotions, the intuition. I want the sounds to wash over you, yet be just enough out of reach that you can't reliably predict what will happen next. Time will tell how well this works out for me, I suppose.

I appreciate your pointing out the odd-sounding timpani at 2:07. I agree with you 100% and will address this when I record it again. The sound samples are from Spitfire Audio's symphonic collections, and they assure me they're recordings of actual instruments.

Again, thank you for kind and detailed response. It means a lot to me!

Cheers,

Jörfi

Bruce Irving said:

Hi Jörfi,

I have just joined the forum and this was one of the first members' works I heard. I've listened several times and I really like this piece. "Tone poem" is a good description as you have described the inspiration from a written poem, and while you may not intend it to be program music, I feel that if I had synesthesia, the sounds could produce moving pictures of the moon's reflection in dark waters. It's not just moody, but a sort of journey. I will leave to more technically proficient composers to comment on the musical details as some already have, though it does seem to me that you make very skillful use of the tonal range and dynamics of an orchestra. I don't know what samples you use but they sound very convincing. The only thing that sounded a bit "samply" to me was the drum or timpani roll at 2:07 which might like a bit more dynamic variation.

Great work!

Thanks for sharing,

Bruce Irving

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