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So, I have been working on my overture for mid-sized orchestra, and have finally completed the score, which represents a major revision of the piece (it's almost a complete reorchestration of the original piece, which was written back in 2007 but was poorly orchestrated). The orchestration is much better now, but there are still some seriously problematic passages.

Am I the only one who is having serious doubts about the score right after finishing a major rewriting effort? Right now I feel like gutting one of the key passages and reworking it from scratch -- I had already rewritten this passage once from the original version, and afterwards made a major revision of it, but I'm still quite unhappy with it.

Not to mention, after I finished the score, I looked over it and noticed that in a few places I had written flute parts that are just one note too high, and oboe parts that drop down too low into the hard-to-control register. So there's still lots of things to cleanup.

I suppose these things are common issues composers have to grapple with... but the frustrating thing is, when I first set out to revise the original version of the piece, I had thought that it only needed a few touch-ups to get into good shape. Haha, how wrong I was. Now after essentially reorchestrating the whole thing from scratch, I'm still not done yet... Sigh.

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Comment by H. S. Teoh on April 2, 2015 at 9:59am

Haha, I guess I'm too naïve to think that it would be so simple. After all, Tchaikovsky was said to have made major revisions to his 6th symphony (IIRC?) after the first rehearsal, so I shouldn't expect to do any better. :-P

I actually started rewriting this piece in mid February, and have been working on it on and off, and only reached the end yesterday. I am still not happy with certain key passages. However, on the flip side, I should be glad I finished this second major version of the piece, since the first version was very badly written in terms of orchestration. I didn't even have proper instrumentation (the flute/clarinet parts were unclear whether they were solo or a2, some instruments were tacked on after the fact with poorly thought-out parts). At least with the current revision, I finally decided on the instrumentation and have my notation software setup properly so that I'm actually writing parts for each instrument separately, rather than working directly off a single orchestral page and making stupid mistakes like writing single melody lines for a pair of flutes with no thought about whether it's solo or a2, or writing 3-note chords for the pair of horns, etc..

Another thing that made it frustrating was that this piece basically came out of a not-very-interesting theme that I used mainly to test MIDI output back in 2007. Somehow it took on a life of its own and before I knew it, it had grown into an entire piece. So I'm not particularly proud of the themes, but there was something I liked about its dramatic progression, so I kept the piece. Anyway, I thought that since it was such a simple theme, it shouldn't be too difficult to finish it up. Little did I know how much effort it would take, and it's still not in a shape I'd call finished. I probably also made a ton of other orchestral blunders that I'm completely unaware of, which I'm expecting you guys will point out once I finish it and post it here. :-) I guess I'm just frustrated that even after so much effort on such a simple theme, the piece is still nowhere near a satisfactory state.

Oh well, I guess in retrospect maybe it was a good learning experience, a relatively simplistic theme that I can "cut my teeth on" in learning orchestration. Maybe it's OK that I made these blunders on what started out as a throwaway theme, rather than "waste" some of my other, better, themes that I hope to turn into full-fledged pieces one day.

Comment by Michael Lofting on April 2, 2015 at 1:17am

Welcome to my world.

I dashed off one piece in four days, wind horns and strings and haven't touched it since. It's "perfect".

I actually handed up one score to the conductor and had to give him a revision the next week. And.... on the second rehearsal gave the horns new parts which were different from the conductor's score.

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