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I am new to this forum, so I thought I would go ahead and share my project from the 2016-2017 academic year. I have not yet had it performed, and the MIDI recording does have several inaccuracies, including one incorrect note close to the end of this movement due to its lack of wanting to play a high E on violin playbacks. Among the first of my completed works, this project was a study in form, counterpoint, harmonic function, and 19th century style:

Violin Sonata No.1 - I Audio

Score

Constructive criticism, thoughts, and comments are welcome! This work has been submitted to several competitions, and has been awarded multiply titles, including Honorable Mention in the 2017 TI:ME competition. I recently submitted it for further feedback to the NextNotes Highschool Composition Awards. I am working on pieces in a more contemporary style at the moment, though thoughts and feedback are always open to my consideration. 

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7/1/2018 

Hi Emily,

Just a few quick thoughts on a first listening (just ignore them if inappropriate)

 

The opening on the violin is very melodic and catchy (a bit more baroque to my ears rather than romantic, just my take)

 

the following contrapuntal section with piano and vln pizz is very effective and the techniques employed show enough acquittance with the instruments (especially the violin)

 

Third section is a skilful manipulation of the previous melodic material heard in the opening

 

4th section starting about 2'00'' to 2'48''  on the piano is poignant and builds up expectancy to the listener

 

Nice turn again to the major mode at 2'49'' with its acceleration. When the violin enters I find the rhythm inventive and exciting, it gave me a 8/8 feeling up to 3'25''

 

Nice working out of previously heard melodic material 3'25''-3'54''

 

Return to the opening theme at about 4'00'' quite properly placed (in a formal sense)

 

 

I do not have any serious (academic) criticism to offer (I'm not much interested in it if the music speaks to me, anyway), but is this an effort at classical sonata form? It is, to my mind, mixed with variation form(?), but then again variety in unity and unity in variety is everywhere present in good music.

 

Btw, is there a pdf of the piece which you could post for more detailed view? Nice to have a score always.

 

All in all I found it a very charming piece and I've enjoyed it very much!

 

Thanks for sharing and welcome to the forum

Violin Sonata No.1 Score

Thank you for your feedback! The piece was written with sonata form in mind, though not with complete strictness.Here is a copy of the score for reference. For whatever reason, when I export the Finale files as a pdf, the expressions tend to get misplaced on the score. Not sure yet how to resolve this error, though it has not always been this way.

I have just been notified that my piece may be performed as part of a honors composer recital hosted by the director of a state competition I have been applying to the last three years! They finally had enough strong submissions to justify hosting a concert to have these works performed. Date and performers have yet to be officially announced, though it has been disclosed that the composers will be responsible for hiring musicians to perform or perform themselves. Current projected date is late spring. I have confirmed with a friend who is a violinist that they would perform my work if the recital does happen. Here is a recording of the violinist I will have performing the sonata:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOi-4AboBWY 

Emily, 

I loved the theme and all aspects of your violin sonata. There are delicious details (just one example is the trilled notes in measures 21-22). I agree with Socrates' comments, especially admired your inventiveness in Part C. The theme of Part C is not obviously related to the sonata's main theme and it shows musical instinct to have identified it, because it does complement the main theme. I like the way the sonata ends, too. Basically loved the whole thing.

One funny thing, though, is that I kept waiting for the following derivation to come in, but it never did:

I thought maybe in Part B instead of the main theme you could have used such a derivation, which would cleanse the palate somewhat before hearing the main theme again later. If there was just one thing I would've changed it would be not having the main theme repeat so many times throughout the piece.

Maybe you strongly disagree and... you know best!

A small thing: are the ties missing in measure 26?

Great comments, thank you! About measure 26, I had slurred every two notes in the violin part previously, but the violinist I worked with to revise the part demonstrated why they might be better if taken out. I am not completely sold on that edit yet, though for now it remains in the score as indicated. I have reflected on the piece on several occasions now and may agree that the main theme is repeated perhaps to often, though I have moved on to other projects for now and may come back to that later. That is an interesting variation. What is funny about it? I was very new to composition when creating this work, so many things could have been further developed, but due to the stage I was at and the other circumstances involved, I moved on to other projects. Thank you again for your input!

Emily,

Oh yes, it's understood you've moved on! I just thought you'd like to hear what was on my mind as a listener, so I just shared my thoughts openly. Obviously I loved the piece.

That is an interesting variation. What is funny about it?

Oh, I just meant it was funny that I kept thinking about those notes, and expecting them to pop up somewhere.

You have a talent and I look forward to future pieces from you.

Hi Emily,

Congratulations on getting an upcoming performance.

This is very impressive work indeed. I found one thing in the score you might want to change for clarities' sake. Bars 2 + 6 after D, 3rd and 4th beats - you should beam the piano RH as dotted quaver and semiquaver followed by 4 semiquavers, always best to keep it simple if possible I've found.

I see you play violin and am curious as to why there is minimal bowing in the violin part.  On a similar theme, was it a conscious decision to not put phrasing slurs in the piano part too?

Mike

mikehewer.com

Emily, nice piece.  You are obviously very talented, and it's just for that reason that I'm give you detailed, nitpicky points to consider.

1) You rely very heavily on octaves throughout the piano part.  Among other things, I think this gives the accompaniment a lot of heaviness, which in turn, limits you ability to emphasize certain sections with additional heaviness (the dramatic returns of the melody, say).  For example, you have the subito piano at m. 11, but you only contrast this against m. 9 with a change in dynamic and articulation (the actual chords are similar, if not thicker).  If everything is full-on, it means nothing is full-on--if that makes any sense?  Octaves are also difficult and tiring for pianists to play for extended periods.  Octaves also are strongly evocative of 19th century piano music, which is part of what I think you mean when you suggest this music isn't that "contemporary".  For all the reasons, I would challenge you to try to play around with editing out the octaves in certain passages (in particular, m. 18 as written seems quite difficult to execute cleanly at this tempo).  I hope you will find that fewer octaves makes the accompaniment more nimble on its feet, more "contemporary" and actually brings greater contrast to the sections you want to be especially dramatic.  Sensitivity to octaves was one of the most important lessons I learned as a young composer.

2) Relatedly, the piano plays almost constantly throughout and even has an extended solo.  Consider if there are moments (even a measure or two) when the violin could play by itself.

3) In general, I wouldn't write pizz notes to sustain any longer than a quarter note, unless you are in a quite fast 2/2.  Just as an example, m. 88 you have a pizz half note tied to an eighth.  The notes won't be heard that way and if anything, it is likely to make the violinst question if you forgot to write in arco earlier.

4) In measures 58-60, you articulate the last two notes in m. 60 differently than the last two notes of the two prior measures.  However, at this tempo I'm not sure the difference is distinct enough to be noted by the listener as intentional.  Would be interesting to hear if a performer can make that work well.

5) There are some discrepancies between the recording and the score (e.g., m. 47 violin part).  Not sure which is the correct one, but obviously make sure the score reflects your final decisions!

6) The parallel 5ths between last eighth note of m. 104 (violin and piano RH) and the downbeat of m. 105 stuck out to me a bit, primarily because in the preceding measures it seems clear that you want those two lines to be in counterpoint (i.e., independent voices).  I noticed you avoid that in m. 108, which is similar material.

Hi Mike, 

Thank you for you notes! Do you mean to split the beam between beat three and four, to divide the beats for clarity? There are several spots this would make sense, though do to my limited experience with Finale software I had not figured that out yet. I will go back and make that adjustment now. Thank you for bringing it back to my attention!

On the topic of bowings, less is more in most cases I have found. The bowings in the part are as I played it, and generally how I felt it should flow. In the end, it is entirely up to the performer, so I did not feel the need to take a lot of time worrying over what to slur and what not to slur. I am still getting used to writing for piano, and although I have played piano for a while now, I did not feel the need to add phrasing marks into this piece. I had thought over it at one point during the editing process, but in the end I decided it was unnecessary. 

Once again, thank you for your comments!

Mike Hewer said:

Bars 2 + 6 after D, 3rd and 4th beats - you should beam the piano RH as dotted quaver and semiquaver followed by 4 semiquavers, always best to keep it simple if possible I've found.

I see you play violin and am curious as to why there is minimal bowing in the violin part.  On a similar theme, was it a conscious decision to not put phrasing slurs in the piano part too?

Mike

mikehewer.com

Thank you for your detailed comments John!

1) Yes, I have noticed when looking through last year's work that octaves were very prominent in my piano writing. Right now I am working on a project that does not include piano (a first for me), and I will say it is something I will be more careful to utilize in the future. It does add a more dramatic effect in some areas, though in others I see now that it may be best if left out or altered.

2) I had hoped to include a cadenza-style solo for the violinist, though due to the way things played out, that material was discarded. At the time, nothing I could come up with worked within the context of the piece. There are always many unexplored and undeveloped opportunities when it comes to composition. Part of the issue was I was working under a deadline at the time, and was in a hurry to wrap up the piece. Future projects will be constructed more carefully as time allows.

3) Yes, as a violist I see strangely notated pizzicato frequently in orchestral arrangements. I felt in this case it made sense as the note could ring in the extra duration, even if it is not entirely audible. This passage is material from rehearsal letter A, so I had felt it best to notate the theme as similarly as possible to make clear the intention, though it might still make more sense as you suggested, to fill the extra duration with rests. Or I could potentially clear up doubts regarding this notation by adding 'let ring' above the longer pitches.

4) This is something I practiced on violin to see if it would work. I believe a slight difference may be noticed, because the clipping of the last sixteenth note followed by the eighth rest is, at least to some degree, noticeably different.   

5) The score is updated with the latest revisions, the MIDI recording is not. Upon working with a violinist to further edit the part last summer, we came to the conclusion that the notes previously there should be edited for ease of execution. 

6) Hmm, that is not something I have heard before. I will look into that for future consideration.

Thank you again!

John Driscoll said:

1) You rely very heavily on octaves throughout the piano part. 

2) Relatedly, the piano plays almost constantly throughout and even has an extended solo.  Consider if there are moments (even a measure or two) when the violin could play by itself.

3) In general, I wouldn't write pizz notes to sustain any longer than a quarter note, unless you are in a quite fast 2/2.  Just as an example, m. 88 you have a pizz half note tied to an eighth.  The notes won't be heard that way and if anything, it is likely to make the violinst question if you forgot to write in arco earlier.

4) In measures 58-60, you articulate the last two notes in m. 60 differently than the last two notes of the two prior measures.  However, at this tempo I'm not sure the difference is distinct enough to be noted by the listener as intentional.  Would be interesting to hear if a performer can make that work well.

5) There are some discrepancies between the recording and the score (e.g., m. 47 violin part).  Not sure which is the correct one, but obviously make sure the score reflects your final decisions!

6) The parallel 5ths between last eighth note of m. 104 (violin and piano RH) and the downbeat of m. 105 stuck out to me a bit, primarily because in the preceding measures it seems clear that you want those two lines to be in counterpoint (i.e., independent voices).  I noticed you avoid that in m. 108, which is similar material.

Yes, hope my comments at least give some food for thought. 

FYI, some additional discussion relating to #3 here: http://www.timusic.net/debreved/its-the-pizz/

Emily F. Singleton said:

Thank you for your detailed comments John!

1) Yes, I have noticed when looking through last year's work that octaves were very prominent in my piano writing. Right now I am working on a project that does not include piano (a first for me), and I will say it is something I will be more careful to utilize in the future. It does add a more dramatic effect in some areas, though in others I see now that it may be best if left out or altered.

2) I had hoped to include a cadenza-style solo for the violinist, though due to the way things played out, that material was discarded. At the time, nothing I could come up with worked within the context of the piece. There are always many unexplored and undeveloped opportunities when it comes to composition. Part of the issue was I was working under a deadline at the time, and was in a hurry to wrap up the piece. Future projects will be constructed more carefully as time allows.

3) Yes, as a violist I see strangely notated pizzicato frequently in orchestral arrangements. I felt in this case it made sense as the note could ring in the extra duration, even if it is not entirely audible. This passage is material from rehearsal letter A, so I had felt it best to notate the theme as similarly as possible to make clear the intention, though it might still make more sense as you suggested, to fill the extra duration with rests. Or I could potentially clear up doubts regarding this notation by adding 'let ring' above the longer pitches.

4) This is something I practiced on violin to see if it would work. I believe a slight difference may be noticed, because the clipping of the last sixteenth note followed by the eighth rest is, at least to some degree, noticeably different.   

5) The score is updated with the latest revisions, the MIDI recording is not. Upon working with a violinist to further edit the part last summer, we came to the conclusion that the notes previously there should be edited for ease of execution. 

6) Hmm, that is not something I have heard before. I will look into that for future consideration.

Thank you again!

John Driscoll said:

1) You rely very heavily on octaves throughout the piano part. 

2) Relatedly, the piano plays almost constantly throughout and even has an extended solo.  Consider if there are moments (even a measure or two) when the violin could play by itself.

3) In general, I wouldn't write pizz notes to sustain any longer than a quarter note, unless you are in a quite fast 2/2.  Just as an example, m. 88 you have a pizz half note tied to an eighth.  The notes won't be heard that way and if anything, it is likely to make the violinst question if you forgot to write in arco earlier.

4) In measures 58-60, you articulate the last two notes in m. 60 differently than the last two notes of the two prior measures.  However, at this tempo I'm not sure the difference is distinct enough to be noted by the listener as intentional.  Would be interesting to hear if a performer can make that work well.

5) There are some discrepancies between the recording and the score (e.g., m. 47 violin part).  Not sure which is the correct one, but obviously make sure the score reflects your final decisions!

6) The parallel 5ths between last eighth note of m. 104 (violin and piano RH) and the downbeat of m. 105 stuck out to me a bit, primarily because in the preceding measures it seems clear that you want those two lines to be in counterpoint (i.e., independent voices).  I noticed you avoid that in m. 108, which is similar material.

Most certainly. Great article, thank you!

John Driscoll said:

Yes, hope my comments at least give some food for thought. 

FYI, some additional discussion relating to #3 here: http://www.timusic.net/debreved/its-the-pizz/

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