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Here's a link to a relatively new trio for flute, viola and contrebass. Why these instruments? Well, the work was written in response to a call for scores. Thoughts?

https://soundcloud.com/bill-joel/trio-b-1

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Comment by H. S. Teoh on March 9, 2015 at 4:00pm

Do you have the score for this piece? I'd like to follow along and perhaps give some feedback.

But based on what I heard, I like your opening motif, it has an interesting flute line. I'm not so sure about the viola/bass parts; the viola writing seems somewhat non-idiomatic. Also, the lack of harmonic / texture changes in up to around 0:30 become monotonous after a while. The original idea is good, but it could use more interesting variations in its presentation.

The repeated 5-note motif around 0:33 didn't really do it for me... perhaps it's just my personal bias, but I found it quite non-idiomatic for these instruments. For this kind of demarcated or declarative motifs, I would have thrown in a pizzicato or two for the bass, and maybe double/triple stops for the viola, as a way to add emphasis and also more interest in the timbral texture of the music.

The change in instrument roles around 0:45 or so was a refreshing change -- IMHO you could mix things up like that more often to break up the monotony. I also like how at around 0:50 you a solo instrument play a motif and then add the other two instruments one by one as a kind of build-up. I found that quite effective; my only gripe is that you could have done this earlier, which would have alleviated the feeling of monotony at the beginning!

The stop/start phrases at around 1:15 to 2:10 I found a bit awkward. It feels like you're trying to produce some kind of atmosphere or mood of things breaking up and slowing down here, but whatever it is, it isn't quite coming through. Not sure if you know what I mean. I think the idea of breaking up the music with pauses in between is not a bad idea, but the way it's currently realized, makes me feel like it's just dragging a little too much. Perhaps a fewer number of pauses in between, maybe with each resumption faster and more frantic than before, would work much better -- like the music is trying to rush forward but keeps getting stopped in its tracks. That would be more dramatic and effective, IMO. Having too many pauses and slowing down at the same time feels a little too dragging to me.

Also, at the very end, I thought the contrabass part was a little dull, just playing the same note over and over. It would have been nicer if it also joined in the denouement and took its turn to echo what the flute and viola are playing.  You could even have the very last phrase played in unison, as a way of imprinting the main motif on the listener's mind loud and clear.

Comment by William J. Joel on February 14, 2015 at 3:33pm

Bob,

Thanks for the comments. Please note, mostly what I've been submitting to are calls for scores, but not really competitions. I shy away from them unless they look truly interesting. And I ignore any call that has an entry fee.

The only instrument I play well enough to say "I play it" is the clarinet.

Agian, thanks!

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