Against my better judgement, as fairy tales seem to have become an increasingly regular part of my output,  I decided to try and draw your attention here to my just completed (well, the first draft) Cinderella setting. Normally it's too much to expect those not already familiar with my style to not only sit through nearly half an hour of music but also to have a copy of the story at hand as the music follows the original story (the Grimm original, not any sanitised modern remake) quite closely. There's relatively little actual dialogue here so much of the work is instrumental. An additional problem is that there is no so much of a hint of a fugue in it so I expect to be met with stony silence.

At least I've made the score available so it's possible to follow the text in the event anyone does dip their toes in the water.  Those who've heard my Concerto for Piano and Ancient Instruments will be familiar with the eccentric instrumentation from VSL used here (the strings are different using a specialised Orchestral Tools library which is light on articulations so excuse the rather synthetic-sounding trills)

The work can be found on my Reelcrafter page here

Score 01 - Full score - Cinderella.pdf

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  • I have to go away, but I was so curious that I listened to a part of the score. It made me wonder why the hell I had to study at the conservatoire for six years. You would right fit in with the other advanced students. I guess you don't have a bachelor or master degree, but who cares? Does that bother you, by the way? I know that if you ask an orchestra in my country to play your work, the director would first ask you which maestro is your teacher. If you tell him you're self-taught, he won't be interested anymore.

    A question about your style. Is it still developing or do you expect major changes? In other words, is the music still experimental? I will listen to the complete work tonight.

    • you surely didn't have to study at the Conservatoire for six years? Or perhaps it's the only way to make musical contacts in view of your comment. I'm pretty well unteachable unfortunately and I'm sure if I'd been forced to study formally, I'd have given up composition afterwards in frustration. Anyway, thanks for giving this piece a try, Rowy, and will see what you make of it if you manage to get to the end.

      As regards style, I have different styles depending on the nature of the music. I keep on wanting to do something more "modern" and experimental but never get round to it and I'm not sure there'd be much point, anyway. However, most of my music could be defined as early 20th century in one of the various styles that were prevalent at the time.


    • Back in the day Music Composition took about 6 years - nowadays it's only 4 years. Although I wasn't there for the full 6 years. Due to bad health I had to take a sabbatical. And then there was some kind of reorganisation. I stayed home for that too. I guess all in all I was there for about four and a half years. When I finished my study I told the maestro that 2 years would have been quite enough for me. He agreed. That man had such a weird sense of humor. Still, I will always be grateful for the help he gave me.

      About Cinderella, I managed to get to the end and I have a few questions - which of course you can ignore: Are you sure a choir can sing this? You give the singers little support, neither in your harmony nor in the other instruments. As for that harmony, I assume that you are not really thinking in terms of harmony? Still, a triple flat as in bar 245 suggests that there is harmony, albeit temporarily. Or is that a typo?

      I would really like to understand how you write music, and I don't mean sitting on a chair or drinking beer. Is there a system? I'm not familiar with this kind of music. That might be my problem. Although I made my homework and studied scores that absolutely did not interest me - atonal, Webern and some serial rubbish  - I mostly managed to skip that stuff. That's the advantage of poor health. You can call in sick anytime. My teacher must have really liked me. I expected to get kicked out anytime.

      I do like the funny rythmic fragments like in bar 202/208. You must have enjoyed yourself there.

    • Hi Rowy -- just to address your points. First of all there is no choral music is this -- all the singing is for experienced soloists. The problem is there are no virtual soloists who can sing free text (at least in this sort of style) so a choir has to be chosen to represent this. It's true that the writing is rather chromatic and sometimes bitonal but I have tried to ensure the short singing lines do have a logical line within themselves and relate to the (usually light) instrumental accompaniment. Still, the work is only the first draft and I may still need to make a few refinements. Regarding accidentals, if you don't specify a key signature and then transpose something, Dorico has a nasty habit of creating double and even triple flats or sharps. They can easily be respelled but I don't notice everything at once.

      As regards my compositional method, in essence it is quite simple -- writing something which expresses what the story is telling, both literally but above all the feelings. There are no formal considerations regarding music theory in a work like this (it can be different in my chamber or orchestral works). As a final point, the nature of the instrumentation in this piece means it is of course not practical for live performance. Glass harmonicas are not to be found in every orchestra. Having said this, certain instruments aside, it's not designed to be unperformable either! Something like my Hansel and Gretel for instance would probably be better for performance by "real" people.

  • Hi David, I've listened to just under half of the piece and will listen to the rest later. The score was very helpful.

    I actually like the language you are using very much but have a few comments. First your spelling has many issues. In a functionless environment one has to be mindful of a kind of voice leading that makes sense in the part if not in combination with other instruments. I understand re Dorico and its quirks, but spelling is such a vital part of communicatiing to the player the correct sense of musical line that extra care must be taken to avoid unusual intervals. 

    Secondly, I love the quirkiness of your instrumentation for sure, but the score is too sparse imo. Much in the way of timbral enhancement, accompaniment, colour and emphasis can be done with the strings alone and I would recommend you think as much orchestrally as you are doing linearly. Imo, this would make for a fuller richer sound in places and make better use of what you've scored for. Simple things like a pizz emphasis or accompaniment can make all the difference and keep players engaged with the music.  Obviously sparesness is fine too but becomes dull after prolonged use without much in the way of a fuller texture.

    I've just got past bar 1222 cf which I absolutely love but frustratingly the mercurial nature of the writing so far never allows an idea to become a unifying parameter for a decent length of time, something I would have loved to hear particularly with this very Stravinsky-ish passage.  Thinking in terms of longer lines and more consistent and sustained (in time, not notes), texture/ideas is your choice of course but I do miss it here so far.

    That said, I salute your ear, particularly for the language which has already produced some striking if somewhat threadbare moments orchestrally speaking.

    • Hi Mike --- I'm just at the moment going through the piece and correcting one or two areas where the singer's line is either not entirely logical in itself or doesn't quite match the instrumental harmony (inasmuch as they are supposed to match as of course there is not supposed to be any "book" harmony here). I've paid little attention to the actual enharmonic spelling or other indications that might be useful for humans as the work in it's current form cannot of course realistically be performed so I see little point. It's designed primarily around the specific VSL library. Obviously you are used to having works performed by live musicians so have different priorities. If someone came out and said they wanted to perform this and had the resources to do so, I'd certainly put more work into the score!

      The more important point is about the sparseness of the instrumentation. This is a conscious choice, brought about partly because the specific instruments chosen are not really designed for thick blending. Nevertheless, I have also thought it might be nicer to have a richer sound at times but I fear that might require changing the instrumentation. However if you have one or two specific examples (I have one or two of my own) then I might see if I can do something. Incidentally, I don't know what bar 1222 is? A typo?

    • I've pm'd you on TC.

    • I've made a few further changes, taking at least one of your comments on board, Mike. Ultimately though, I think my concept of what I wanted to achieve here and what you think I should be doing are probably too far apart in various areas. But you won't be alone -- even those who enjoy my symphonic or chamber works sometimes scratch their heads over these fairytale settings which is why I don't often bother to advertise them except privately to the handful who understand what I'm on about and share my sense of humour and sentimental nature.

      Incidentally, instrumental sparseness is to some extent typical of all my works. I happen to think that most people over-score, writing too much which simply cannot be heard, both harmonically and instrumentally, often resulting in a blandness of sound. My favourite and most influential composer Janacek was accused of similar failings and his operas were reorchestrated by Kovarovic. It's only fairly recently that the originals have been generally preferred. Not, of course, that I come remotely close to his genius.


  • so, I've updated both the score and audio with a significant number of changes this morning including some extra instrumentation where it makes sense to do so. So now the climax to the ball has all 9 players active (not counting the glass harmonica which would make no sense here). The score this time doesn't show unused staves as Dorico had problems in one or two places fitting everything in (though with layout formatting changes I could have probably sorted it). In theory there should now be no double accidentals but the enharmonic spelling I've otherwise left to Dorico which claims to know what it's doing but unfortunately if you don't specify a key signature, it frequently doesn't.

  • David, I must say that this is my favorite among the works of yours I've heard so far.  You have created a unique texture in terms of the instrumentation in this piece through your use of several less commonly found instruments (I admit, I had to look up what a 'Serpent' was). It's not just the fact that the instrumentation is unusual, but also the selection and combination of these instruments. The instrumentation is commendable and, in my opinion, perfectly suited to both the music and, more importantly, the story being told here.

    Perhaps what drew me to this piece more than others of yours is the fact that there's a programmatic narrative that I can easily follow. The music, in this case, aids the story at some moments and certainly drives the story itself at others.  I've never read the original Brothers Grimm Cinderella,  but I plan to do so while listening to your piece and to understand exactly how your interpretation of the story through the musical (non-sung) moments projects. I form this mental picture of the story as the piece progresses, but there are moments in the music that are purely terrifying (I mean this in a positive manner), and I'm very curious to identify where in the text they are meant to correlate.

    I also found it easier to identify and pick up on recurring themes throughout the piece. Admittedly, the musical language is still quite unusual to my ears, but I believe it possesses a certain charm when applied in a context such as this. I envisioned a group of individuals in the medieval ages improvising on instruments behind the actors as they portrayed the story—not so far-fetched, as I think the original story dates back to the 1600s (although I'm willing to bet that most of the instruments used here did not exist in that time). Given the overall essence of the piece,  I feel that the thin texture of your instrumentation and writing is well-suited in this context.

    I've listened through the piece twice and haven't had the opportunity to review in depth / follow along the score yet, but it seems you're covered there. If I have any further thoughts after my listen while following the text I'll be happy to share.

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