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  • For some reason it would not load my text, so here it is.

    Last week Fredrick posted a quote of Tchiakowsky who said while hearing his own music, "All I hear is patches."  I think we can surmise what he meant.  You have probably heard legends of composers who could play an entire score on the piano.  But it is impossible to play twenty some parts with ten fingers, so some surprises were inevitable when they heard their music live for the first time. 

     Composers know which lines are melody but in performance, accompaniment, percussion, and secondary melodies can obscure, or cause the melody to sound patchy.  We prefer to blame this on the conductor.  At the end of this post is an arpeggio that starts in the bassoon, ascends to the flute, then piccolo, and back down again.  It took several tries to get the entire arpeggio to sound over a trombone solo and strings.  I did it by choosing instruments that pierce a din of sound like the bassoon, oboe and flute.  Instruments that are less piercing are the clarinet, horns, and strings.  I also reduced the accompaniment to bare bones and overlapped the instruments to make the transitions smoother.  These techniques are used by all composers but when to use them is not always apparent.  We have an advantage over composers of old (older than ten years) because we can listen to our music and make adjustments.  We have no excuse for patchy sound.  Now all we have to do is convince conductors and the gatekeepers of the symphony that modern techniques can be superior to the old methods.

  • Raymond,

         Thanks for listening.  You did listen, I hope.  We have the added advantage of presenting a recording to the conductor which is a reasonable facsimile of how we expect the music to sound.  These facts should mean that modern composing should supplant nearly all the music of yesteryear, but that is not happening in most concert halls,

    Lawrence

  • Bob,

          Who wrote out full scores?  Beethoven and Bach were always at the keyboard.  Handel made multiple revisions after hearing his work performed.  I think it would be possible for writing quartets or smaller but not full orchestra.

    Lawrence
     
    Bob Porter said:

    I think that one of the many things that separate us from real composers like...say.. Mendelssohn, or any of a number of great composers, is that they new what their works would sound like, for the chosen orchestration, as they wrote them. Some worked out parts on the piano. Others just went out in the meadow and wrote out full scores.   

  • Bob,

          Maybe Mendelsohn wouldn't have composed any better with a computer, but he could have composed faster.  We can only wonder what volume of work these composers could have turned out with the aid of a composing program. 

         I'm still waiting for your approval on our next musical.  Here's another idea.  A love story where the entire show takes place in an elevator.  It's called, "The Sound of Muzak."  I'll let you work out the dance numbers.
     
    Lawrence Aurich said:

    Bob,

          Who wrote out full scores?  Beethoven and Bach were always at the keyboard.  Handel made multiple revisions after hearing his work performed.  I think it would be possible for writing quartets or smaller but not full orchestra.

    Lawrence
     
    Bob Porter said:

    I think that one of the many things that separate us from real composers like...say.. Mendelssohn, or any of a number of great composers, is that they new what their works would sound like, for the chosen orchestration, as they wrote them. Some worked out parts on the piano. Others just went out in the meadow and wrote out full scores.   

    "Cappricio" concerto for piano and orchestra.
    Composers' Forum is a social network
  • Ok, I reviewed the score and there are problems with this piece though you have some good germinal ideas.

    AS has been noted the multiple voices in strings and cello have to be decided on - the cellos should be divisi or else you will have the pleasant sound of at least eight cellos breaking up that triple stop at different rates squishing what should be a nice consonant sound. Simply a due - or a 2 will make this achieve the sound you want. And divisi multiple voices will sound stronger than strops and afford some chance to determine what you want highlighted - inner or outer voice- in the upper strings?

    It seems the trombone and trumpet and horns are underutilized. Do you realize the horn is a valuable pedal point and harmonic filling in to give body to some of your string writing? In fact I wonder if your conception is truly for orchestra or for string quintet plus piano.

    As for the piano part, no distribution of the hands is suggested and the writing is a bit unimaginative at times (the arpeggios in left hand with a melody in right - not even in octaves- is found in thousands of concertos since the late 18th century, not saying it should be banned, but employed very carefully - Ravel's Piano concerto the slow mvmt is a famous example of a refreshing use of this tried and true formula). Sometimes such as the alternation of chords and single notes you just have to indicate hand distribution just by assigning notes to a clef. For glisses, no need to end it with a 32nd, just a eighth note staccato is fine and choose something on a beat, unless you are suggesting an alternate division of the beat (for example is 6/8 you want glisses suggesting 3/4).  It would begood to write above the gliss if it is a black key or white gliss - the pianist might figure this out or as with the A # think it is both black and white key.  Please indicate then white key, black key, or black and white key glisses.

    Other problems - where are the dynamics and articulation in the strings? The piano has insufficient dynamics and the brass and horn needs them too. The harp is not adding much that the piano could provide if the part is filled out more and made more virtuosic.

    So I consider this a sketch for a piano concerto which needs more work. Study the Prokofiev piano concertos or simply some of the Mozart concertos which do not have the Romantic period's pyrotechnics but of which some are fantastic and which Mozart makes the piano orchestral. For example in some of Mozart's slow movements of his piano concertos, he achieves a simple orchestral effect suggesting three choirs with low pedal notes starting below the first below middle C, chords usually center around middle C while the melody ranges from around the C above middle C and higher. Mozart doubles the melodic line, offers countermelodies, employs sixths and thirds.

    So if considered as a first draft OK start with the best part for me being the idea of the chords a semitone apart outlined or contrasted in blocks.  

     

  • Uh, I thought this was a music dissection forum not an online therapy session. I am not a moderator but I think it would be nice if people point out specifically what could be improved. For example I know think the concerto's first violin parts at some points (with the stops) would be better as viola parts.

    I will credit the composer for bravery - I have not even touched the concerto form and only recently did orchestration of a few piano pieces or songs. Trust me, despite some hard work my teacher pointed out some significant weaknesses with an orchestration of a very short Rachmaninoff song. One lesson - determine you articulation points, in traditional common practice it might be the big peak where the V64 going to tonic - woodwinds do best split into into intervals for a bigger sound rather than unison and a few other things such as doubling the seventh of a chord so it is heard and not buried as all things when starting to orchestrate can be easily missed.

    So, could we get back to specifics on how this composer's piece could be improved? I don't care how he came to his ideas - for all I CARE it could have been a dozen tequilas and a lawnmower that led to this piece.

  • Christopher,

         You raise a couple of good points.  I prefer to keep scores to a manageable size say less than 24 staves, so staves with multiple parts will have to be worked out when parts are written.  Otherwise scores, when printed with so many lines, are almost microscopic.  (You'll understand when you start wearing the bifocals.)

         I used to write fingerings for piano parts until I realized that most pianist completely ignore them, for good reason.  Our pianist in Kansas City was 6'3" and large hands.  Our pianist here in Arizona is all of 5 ft. and has tiny hands.  Any fingerings which are comfortable for my average size hands are useless for them.

         The piano parts that you call unimaginative, I call pianist pit stops.  If you were a pianist you would not complain that you did not get enough notes in this piece, and you would be thankful that I wrote these rest stops in.

         Thanks for listening.

    Lawrence
     
    Christopher Sahar said:

    Ok, I reviewed the score and there are problems with this piece though you have some good germinal ideas.

    AS has been noted the multiple voices in strings and cello have to be decided on - the cellos should be divisi or else you will have the pleasant sound of at least eight cellos breaking up that triple stop at different rates squishing what should be a nice consonant sound. Simply a due - or a 2 will make this achieve the sound you want. And divisi multiple voices will sound stronger than strops and afford some chance to determine what you want highlighted - inner or outer voice- in the upper strings?

    It seems the trombone and trumpet and horns are underutilized. Do you realize the horn is a valuable pedal point and harmonic filling in to give body to some of your string writing? In fact I wonder if your conception is truly for orchestra or for string quintet plus piano.

    As for the piano part, no distribution of the hands is suggested and the writing is a bit unimaginative at times (the arpeggios in left hand with a melody in right - not even in octaves- is found in thousands of concertos since the late 18th century, not saying it should be banned, but employed very carefully - Ravel's Piano concerto the slow mvmt is a famous example of a refreshing use of this tried and true formula). Sometimes such as the alternation of chords and single notes you just have to indicate hand distribution just by assigning notes to a clef. For glisses, no need to end it with a 32nd, just a eighth note staccato is fine and choose something on a beat, unless you are suggesting an alternate division of the beat (for example is 6/8 you want glisses suggesting 3/4).  It would begood to write above the gliss if it is a black key or white gliss - the pianist might figure this out or as with the A # think it is both black and white key.  Please indicate then white key, black key, or black and white key glisses.

    Other problems - where are the dynamics and articulation in the strings? The piano has insufficient dynamics and the brass and horn needs them too. The harp is not adding much that the piano could provide if the part is filled out more and made more virtuosic.

    So I consider this a sketch for a piano concerto which needs more work. Study the Prokofiev piano concertos or simply some of the Mozart concertos which do not have the Romantic period's pyrotechnics but of which some are fantastic and which Mozart makes the piano orchestral. For example in some of Mozart's slow movements of his piano concertos, he achieves a simple orchestral effect suggesting three choirs with low pedal notes starting below the first below middle C, chords usually center around middle C while the melody ranges from around the C above middle C and higher. Mozart doubles the melodic line, offers countermelodies, employs sixths and thirds.

    So if considered as a first draft OK start with the best part for me being the idea of the chords a semitone apart outlined or contrasted in blocks.  

     

    "Cappricio" concerto for piano and orchestra.
    Composers' Forum is a social network
  • Michael,

         But Mozart didn't fall out of bed with a symphony.  There was a learning curve for Mozart like there is for everyone else.  Frankly Mozart's early work wasn't that great.  Plus learning curves had to be shorter back then because life expectancy was shorter.  Here are some composers who lived less than 50 years:  Jeremiah Clarke 40, Henry Purcell 36,

    Mozart 35, Frederic Chopin 39, Felix Mendelssohn 38, Franz Schubert 31, Robert Schumann 46, Isaac Albeniz 49, Modesto Mussorgsky 42, Alexander Scriabin 43,  These people didn't have childhoods or adolescences.
     
    michael diemer said:

    I must admit that I too am guilty of this now and then. Thanks for pointing it out, Kris. I'm not sure what causes this behavior. It may be that we are so conscious of the enormous gulf between ourselves and the masters, that we feel obliged to indulge in a little self-deprecation, just to keep ourselves from getting too big for our britches. (How's that for an archaic metaphor? I'm not even sure what it means - pants, maybe?) In my case, I really consider myself a poet with modest musical ability, and, lacking proper training, I am fully aware of my limitations. Composing is not easy for me. Unlike Mozart, I don't fall out of bed in the morning already having fully conceived a symphony. And pursuing it as an avocation means little time to devote, and depleted energies to work with. Still, I hope to devote greater attention to it soon, when I am retired. Until then, I guess I will continue to think of myself as nothing more than a dabbler. But you're right, there are people here who are far more advanced, and already accomplished (performed) to varying degrees. So, I for one will try to keep my mea culpas confined to myself, so those farther along are not insulted. 
     
    Kristofer N. Emerig said:

    Perfectly played instance of "if I insult myself while being contemptuous toward others, they won't notice or challenge me."

    Mind that there are instances in which this ploy will not work. For instance, never stand in a group of ladies and proclaim "we are all a lot of ugly heifers". Your subtle use of the first person plural will not save you.

    Bob, there are probably hundreds, but at the least, dozens, of dedicated members on this forum who take their composing endeavors very seriously. I'm just curious what makes you feel that you are uniquely qualified to come on CF time and time again and insult them as incompetent wannabes.
     
    Bob Porter said:

    I think that one of the many things that separate us from real composers like...say.. Mendelssohn, or any of a number of great composers...

    "Cappricio" concerto for piano and orchestra.
    Composers' Forum is a social network
  • Fredrick, 

         I'm going to have to think about that one for awhile. Sometimes I don't know about you, Fredrick.
     
    Fredrick zinos said:

    I think everyone on this site loves music. And there is nothing quite so sad as unrequited love.

    "Cappricio" concerto for piano and orchestra.
    Composers' Forum is a social network
  • I don't have anything to add to Kristofer's rant.  I just like reading his schtick.
     
    Kristofer N. Emerig said:

    I'm much more cynical than you Michael. I hear these veiled criticisms and question not the truth content, but the motive for their expression. To me, the frequently expressed sentiment "everyone with a DAW nowadays thinks themselves a composer" carries with it the implicit inference, "but not me, because I am pointing it out". We all like to imagine ourselves as exceptional, and when others encroach upon those little sanctuaries by which we differentiate ourselves (such as being a "composer"), some become defensive, and even resentful. The "we" part is a subtle psychological game of dulling the knife before stabbing, an act of mock-humility, whilst attempting to discredit others, instead of achieving exceptionalism through distinguished performance. Exceptional people never have to point it out to others, it's tacitly recognized.

    I'm not personally affronted by these uncourageous barbs, because I'm not a composer. I've never put a morsel of food upon my table with music, and couldn't. Everything I present here is a documentary of my own learning experience, and held out as nothing more. There are those much more invested in the process here though, professionally, even emotionally, and I question the need (and I stress the word choice) to introduce to nearly every discussion, the sentiment, on a forum in which almost everyone composes with a DAW or notation, that they are a lot of incompetent hacks who don't deserve to be composing.

    Now imagine we're all in a room, and one member stands before us, declaring "Now we all know well that most of us are idiots". Most will recoil, and remain silent, wondering self-conciously "is he talkin' 'bout me?" . But I'm the type of guy who makes that uncomfortable moment of silence even more uncomfortable by raising my hand and asking "can you please let us know exactly who the idiots are to which you refer, just so we each know where we stand?"
     
    michael diemer said:

    I must admit that I too am guilty of this now and then. Thanks for pointing it out, Kris. I'm not sure what causes this behavior. It may be that we are so conscious of the enormous gulf between ourselves and the masters, that we feel obliged to indulge in a little self-deprecation, just to keep ourselves from getting too big for our britches. (How's that for an archaic metaphor? I'm not even sure what it means - pants, maybe?) In my case, I really consider myself a poet with modest musical ability, and, lacking proper training, I am fully aware of my limitations. Composing is not easy for me. Unlike Mozart, I don't fall out of bed in the morning already having fully conceived a symphony. And pursuing it as an avocation means little time to devote, and depleted energies to work with. Still, I hope to devote greater attention to it soon, when I am retired. Until then, I guess I will continue to think of myself as nothing more than a dabbler. But you're right, there are people here who are far more advanced, and already accomplished (performed) to varying degrees. So, I for one will try to keep my mea culpas confined to myself, so those farther along are not insulted. 
     
    Kristofer N. Emerig said:

    Perfectly played instance of "if I insult myself while being contemptuous toward others, they won't notice or challenge me."

    Mind that there are instances in which this ploy will not work. For instance, never stand in a group of ladies and proclaim "we are all a lot of ugly heifers". Your subtle use of the first person plural will not save you.

    Bob, there are probably hundreds, but at the least, dozens, of dedicated members on this forum who take their composing endeavors very seriously. I'm just curious what makes you feel that you are uniquely qualified to come on CF time and time again and insult them as incompetent wannabes.
     
    Bob Porter said:

    I think that one of the many things that separate us from real composers like...say.. Mendelssohn, or any of a number of great composers...

    "Cappricio" concerto for piano and orchestra.
    Composers' Forum is a social network
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