Music Composers Unite!
I've managed to turn out a score that is, to the best that I've learned, not bad for the second movement of my Violin Concerto. All critiques are welcome.
The piece is here. https://soundcloud.com/artlowell/a-melody-for-violin-and-orchestra
Score pdf attached.
I'll check those out. Ordinarily with these VSTs, they won't go out of range. Guess I'll have to add an English Horn and a bass clarinet part. What would think of that? I picked the wrong clef for the trumpet. Should have been "trumpet in B♭" instead of "treble". Would it be better if I had the 2 clarinets just play in unison except for the divisi parts? I doubt it would make much difference. The clarinet sounds a minor third higher than written, yes?
If possible, try to have at least the leftmost barline connect all the staves from top to bottom, so that it's not mistaken as separate (consecutive) lines of music. But don't do this for all barlines, though, in order to make it easier for the conductor to quickly identify staves belonging to each section (winds, brass, strings, etc.).
In m.3, you wrote "divisi" for clarinets and bassoon, but there's no such thing for a wind section. "Divisi" only applies to string sections; for winds and brass, you simply write out multiple notes, one for each instrument on that staff. If the instruments are to play the same notes in unison, write "a2" (or "a3" or "a4" if you have 3-4 instruments on that staff). If only one instrument is to play, then write "1." (or "2.", etc., to designate which instrument among the many -- but usually single lines are given to the 1st player).
OTOH, when you write multiple notes in the string section, e.g., m.9, you should indicate divisi unless you intend the chords to be played as multiple stops. If the latter, you should check whether that multiple stop is playable. Or, more importantly, whether it has the sound you have in mind. If you go with the divisi route, you should write "unis." (unison) when the section is supposed to play together again. Also keep in mind that if you intend this to be performed by live players, divisi has a slightly weaker sound than non-divisi, so having a mix of divisi and non-divisi in a single phrase may sound uneven in terms of sound intensity. Not a show-stopper, but something to keep in mind -- and be sure that's the kind of sound you want. Unless you're sure that's what you want, it's probably better to write divisi as a full 2- or 3-part harmony rather than only dividing for the odd note here and there.
Also, the solo violin part should appear above the string section but below the harp. (Yes it's a weird order, but that's where people, esp. conductors, expect to find it, and changing the order without a good reason will get frowned on.) And horns should appear above the trumpets -- at least as far as symphony orchestra scores are concerned. Again, a historical accident that nevertheless has come to be expected, so one does well to adhere to it.
Also, in m.51 your 2nd oboe is below range, and in m.52 both oboes are below range. Not to mention that even though the 1st oboe in m.51 is technically within range, it's playing in the lowest register of the oboe, which is hard to control and will probably come out sounding not very nice. If your intent is to have live performance of this piece, that is. If you only care for DAW samples then it's understandable. But otherwise, it's wiser to keep oboe parts between G in the middle of the staff (i.e., above middle C) up to approximately G above the staff. This is the optimal range for oboe where players will excel at producing the best quality sound and expression. Straying outside this optimal range is OK occasionally, but it's unwise to do so for more than just brief moments. And preferably, avoid the lowest notes in the oboe range unless you don't mind the notes coming out sounding like a car horn.
mm.51-52 also has the clarinet out of range. You might want to consider using a bass clarinet to reach these notes.
m.88: are you sure the notes aren't too fast for the harpist to pedal that many changes in accidentals?
This is as far as I got with the score (sorry, audio on my PC is broken after an upgrade, so can't listen to the audio at the moment -- will have to fix it later). Hopefully that's enough to give you some directions in what might need some work.
Thanx. I'll make the adjustments tomorrow. (The only String double stops I am in doubt of are the fifths in the basses. All intervals are accessible for all strings, (up to a seventh for the bass. Probably an octave for a cello, eleventh for violin. viola somewhere between those. A fifth is just a simple bar, like a capo, for all strings). I'm still uncertain how to write a glizzando for a harp.
Just had one listen with the score. What a lovely, quirky piece, I really enjoyed this. There are a lot of presentation issues with the score, but I assume that it's a w.i.p. HS has mentioned some good points and I do agree with him about the harp part at B88. The mix needs a ton of work too to make the excellent music shine to it's full potential. You have written a great piece, but it is so let down by a terrible sound, not everyone will be able to get past that and hear it for what it's musical worth is. Notation software really does suck. If only I could convince you and some others to splash out on a DAW and decent samples - what a difference it'd make to a piece like this.
I enjoyed its' neo-classical feel and sudden bursts of romantic 6ths. It put me in mind of Stravinsky as well as an english composer called Malcom Arnold, do you know of him?
BTW..5ths on db's are fine. Basses are tuned in 4ths and the fifths are not adjacent on the strings, in fact the positioning of fingers is like a 6th on the smaller strings.
Great stuff Art, post the rest of it when you can.....
i've made most of the adjustments H.S. mentioned. As for the harp glizzandos at measure 88, there should be a pedal change at every quarter beat. I don't know whether that's too fast or not.
Here's my revised score. As to the quality of the audio, we do what we can with what we have. In fact, the mix is pretty much what I wanted. While it may not meet Hollywood movie standards, it far exceeds the quality of some of my favorite LPs, and it easily meets my standards. The thread is about the score, not the audio. The score lacks a lot of possible dynamics directions. Too much work to add in at this point. Mostly those that any professional conductor would interpret on his own. When I played in orchestras, we paid little attention to dynamics notations, except for major dynamic changes, but rather to what the conductor was asking for. We were usually playing the classics, and we all knew what they sounded like.
(BTW, I've only use a couple of DAWs, but I would put Logic Pro up against any of its competitors).
In reading reviews pitting Sibelius against Logic Pro, the consensus seems to be that, while Sibelius is good at producing pretty scores, it's absolutely terrible for creating the music in the first place. The major complaint about Logic Pro is that it requires MAC OS (and MACs are too expensive).
My several cents, Art.
The score needs 2 initial tempo (and metronome) marks placed above the highest Staff and Strings.
Rehearsal marks would help a conductor.
Is name Bass for Contrabass ?
Why would you use name Celli as a section and single instruments for other strings? Did you mean Cello?
m. 1 There are 2 slurs in Violin 1
m. 6 There are 4 dynamics for 3 lines in Strings
pizz. and arco are placed usually above the staff
m. 8 last note f is out of range in Violin 2
m. 26 Two slurs or none are required for Solo Violin
mm. 39, 71, 72, 73, 78 look at Slurs in B b Clarinets
m. 42 Pizz. in Bass should be in m. 43
As H. S. Teoh said, ""Divisi" only applies to string sections". Get rid of them in Eng Horns and Trombones.
m. 53 Trumpet in B should be replaced by Trumpets in B
m. 62 look at Slurs in Trombones and Trumpet in B
m. 72 not sure if it's playable in Violin 1
For score writing I'd recommend free MuseScore.
I can attach a score exported from MuseScore 2 I'm currently working on.
"The thread is about the score, not the audio".
Do you know what Art, I think my original post was all about the music and in a very (un-acknowledeged) complimentary way. My beef about audio is because your work deserves better, although according to your ears...not. Even now a compliment from a professional who has bothered to listen has probably bypassed you so, if it's all about the score, I now don't have the time nor the inclination....see Slavas' post above and doubtless multiply.
Whoa, no need to get so touchy, guys... it's OK to chill a bit around here. ;-)
Finally got to listen to the audio. I liked the music very much, especially in seeing the intent as indicated in the score. I know it's not your intent here to focus on the audio, Art, but I found some aspects of it really detracted from the quality of the music. The instruments aren't well balanced against each other; the flute / bass flute are way too soft, parts of the clarinet passages are too loud, and some sections of the violin solo sounded like it was played on a midi keyboard with a sustain pedal rather than a real violin. Please don't take this as harsh criticism or nitpicking; I'm just stating the perception the audio gave me. Which is a real pity, because musically speaking, this piece is so fun-filled and quirky that even something as simple as tweaking the instrument volume balances a bit could have made it so much more enjoyable -- even without necessarily going for expensive high-quality DAWs which not all of us here (including myself) can afford.
You may or may not choose to do anything about the audio quality, which is totally fine by me (I often face the same issue myself, and usually choose to focus on the music rather than the production, with what little spare time I can actually squeeze out of my busy day to work on music). But I just wanted to add a counterpoint (ha!) to Mike's comment that it may not necessarily require going full-out on the latest and greatest VSL/DAW to get much improved audio, even if it's not quite all the way there yet.
Duly noted, Slava. Apparently,my tempo notations disappeared in the editing process. (I didn't know that the strings got to have their own tempo marks. I'm not sure where the notes came from in bar 72 of the solo violin. The violin is resting at that point, both in the MIDI and the Logic Score windows. No notes at all. I've heard of Muse Score. It would seem unwise to be exporting midi clips out of Logic in order to import them into a different program. Too many things to go wrong.
I am pretty attached to Logic Pro for creating music, and Logic's score function seems pretty comprehensive to me. In fact, Logic has been developing its scoring function longer than it's MIDI function. I suppose people tend to develop a loyalty to things that they're most familiar with.
Everything that is wrong with my score is a result of my lack of knowledge about conventional scoring, plus sloppy proofreading. I didn't read through the score to check for errors like extra slur marks or "divisi" marks that I thought I had eliminated or erroneous instrument names.
So, thanks for the critique, especially the info about where to put the pizz and arco marks. I had questioned how to place both a "pizz" and a "mf" at the same place.
Ray, you haven't heard some of my LPs that were produced in the '50s and even the '60s. Some have been played so many times that they have giant gouges in them. The point being, that my interest is in the music, rather than in the stereophonic experience. And please accept my apologies for not acknowledging your kind words about the music.