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Chromatic rather than atonal but with some intended discords.

Concerto for String Orchestra. 1st movement. Strepitoso

Well, it started out as that but I’m not sure it’s demanding enough to call it Concerto. I completed this six weeks ago and set it aside to ferment, did some changes and now asking for serious criticism. I’m trying to break away from impressionism, attempting a more formal structure. Not sure I’ve succeeded…

I’d be sincerely grateful for any criticism. Be as ruthless as you like.

My feelings about it are it’s too short and the themes are underdeveloped. It needs to be about half a minute longer.

Around 1’20” there’s a fugual-type thing. I could try to develop it into a 4 part fugue that might add 10 seconds.

At 2’17” one of the motifs builds into a climax which to me is a bit weak. I could try to build that up more – without overdoing it - that would add what? 5 seconds?

I might also be able to develop a new motif from the introductory statement or do more with the first subject that comes in at 0’16”.

The second movement is calm and a bit out of character which may mess up the concerto idea. I'll offer that up shortly.

https://soundcloud.com/acitore/concerto-for-strings-1st-movement

 

Thank you for listening.

Dane

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Well there is certainly no shortage of ideas here! Your leaning towards formal structure is there, however it is not straightforward to follow. Though to be fair I have only listened twice. Another thing I will mention is that it is difficult to hear this is a concerto as no instrument I would say features prominently. That said, that may be a dynamic issue, or indeed the limitation of your software playback - I can't know for sure without consulting your score. 

I did notice your fugal texture at the 1'20' mark and you are right that this could be developed further. 

Perhaps I am being subjective when I suggest this, and it is highly probable that I do not understand your genre of music enough to make an informed comment on style, though my specialization in classical forms will always lean me towards motivic clarity, as this helps inform the listener what is going on. I do hear how you have developed your ideas to an extent, and how you interact the different instruments which is clever. Though as I say it is difficult to probably judge those elements without meaningful audio, which again has much to do with dynamics and sound quality of your software.

Thanks for uploading and I look forward to your second movement. I would personally like to hear something deep and profound, where you exploit the melodic potential of your soloist and less emphasis on tonal dexterity. But that is my opinion and I know literally nothing about the school of music you adhere to! Thanks again...

Thank you indeed for that, Markus. 

Well, it was a concerto for orchestra (albeit just strings) so they all get a go. No one instrument dominates. I have to admit, the dynamics and balance were a headache and I still haven't balanced them entirely to my satisfaction. The general dynamic is mf to ff as that's the nature of the piece and why it really can't last much longer than about 3 1/2 minutes without a break (the second movement). It's inevitably going to be intense.

But your comment on development confirms my suspicion that I need to rethink this, perhaps even reducing the amount of material and making more of what's left. I also have a problem with extended melodies and it's time I gave myself some exercises in that direction!

Thank you for listening and your comment. 

Hi Dane

I've listened to this a few times and to individual sections that grab my attention. My overall impression is that it is still predominantly impressionistic. To my ears there is one dominant melodic theme running throughout the piece which begins around 0'55" in the low strings and pops in and out as the music progresses. I would like to have heard this developed a bit more. I can't pick out the first subject melodically at 0'16" although there is that rythmic change - the first melodic subject I can identify comes in at 0'32".

I would say this is just the beginning of a longer movement of maybe 6 to 8 minutes length where you have given yourself enough time to develop your themes & motifs and reach a conclusion.

Given the overall dynamics, I would call this piece "busy" rather than fiery.

Enjoyed listening to it. Colin

Have you considered scoring the solo parts between string and woodwind instruments? It would offer contrast and help to differentiate between the solo parts. 

There is much potential here I think it would help being able to follow the music better. 

Dane Aubrun said:

Thank you indeed for that, Markus. 

Well, it was a concerto for orchestra (albeit just strings) so they all get a go. No one instrument dominates. I have to admit, the dynamics and balance were a headache and I still haven't balanced them entirely to my satisfaction. The general dynamic is mf to ff as that's the nature of the piece and why it really can't last much longer than about 3 1/2 minutes without a break (the second movement). It's inevitably going to be intense.

But your comment on development confirms my suspicion that I need to rethink this, perhaps even reducing the amount of material and making more of what's left. I also have a problem with extended melodies and it's time I gave myself some exercises in that direction!

Thank you for listening and your comment. 

Dane, this is very interesting! It must have taken you a looong time to create.

I like being forced out of my tonality box every now and then, if something is done well, and this certainly is.

I kinda had a surreal image of a cello running through dark alley ways being tormented by swarms of flying violins.

Great stuff!!!

Good stuff Dane, I listened several times to try and catch the rapid flow of inventive ideas. I think you have a good feel for development because this all hangs together well in spite of being quick and intricate.

The question of whether or not this is a concerto is harder to answer, my reaction to 'concerto' was always "time to show off", but then I realized that there is contrast, role-playing, even some conflict between the participants in some concertos; but your choice works for me. And concertos usually have slow movements right?  Instrumentalists know that playing slow is not necessarily easier than fast; slow movements can be quite demanding.

I would not have thought impressionism here without you mentioning it.

Hey, thank you for these kind remarks and for the suggestions. 

Rick: It took about a month to compose on and off (partly because I couldn't play it on the piano - then there was the issue of fitting it into the DAW. They don't supply aspirins with my DAW...!

Ingo - a concerto for orchestra is inevitably a problem. I wouldn't dare write one for a full orchestra! Even with just strings the co-ordination across the board would be a headache for any but the most competent orchestras. For that reason I doubt it'll ever be performed. I hoped it didn't seem to model on Bartok's Concerto but thankfully wasn't victim to suspicions about influence by Peter Mennin which, with non-impressionist music I have to avoid like the plague... not that I'd ever measure up to Mennin anyway.

So...thank you all, and I'll leave it another few weeks then do more work on it.

Cheers.

Dane,

Some random thoughts.

There are ways things have been done in the past, and there are ways things seem to be done now. Now, you can call this whatever you want. Now, a three minute piece might be considered a movement. 

You might be surprised just how competent many orchestras are. Even at the community level. If you are writing things for real instruments that you suspect might not be playable, my question is why. Composing is a delicate balance of many things. If you are a painter, you can paint whatever you want, and leave it up to the viewer to figure it  out. But with live music, it's very different. There's an extra medium between you and the listener. And if you write only for your music to be performed by your computer, that's another story. Yes, you can write whatever series of notes you want, but my concern is more with how musical those notes are. Personally, my definition of music is something pleasant to listen to. It can be fast or slow, long or short, difficult or easy.  I realize that's too simple for many people. People want to be challenged. They don't want to hear the same old stuff. They want new and exciting. They want to break all the rules. I get it. Me, I want to settle in with my headphones and be fulfilled, relaxed, entertained and caressed into believing that life is good.

Sorry for going on.   

What, in your opinion, holds this piece together?

Hi, Bob,

Thank you for your valuable comment. I should say that I neither compose at a DAW nor use notation software – which isn’t to say that I write every note in score, short or long, before I get to the computer. One develops a kind of shorthand. And if I do accidentally hit on a super sound at the DAW I’ll keep it. I see this huge potential, though – creating a decent rendering as a mock-up when submitting work. And of course it’s how much film music is compiled these days.

For someone composing orchestral works DAWs can be dangerous. It’s too easy to cheat to get the balance one wants. Instruments’ strengths and weaknesses that can be overridden. I am as meticulous as I can be in avoiding that. I was lucky that my academic musical education finished before user-friendly DAWs and sampling machines appeared. (Didn’t stop us using 8-track R to R tape or a 24-track digital recorder.)  Of the things I wrote during and just after education some were performed and I learned. It was also the thing to study scores, to be able to rebuild the sound in mind from looking at the printed page. So it happened a different way back then.

So I know this movement is playable but that it would need a high level of competence. Just as our town orchestra wouldn’t try the Rite of Spring or Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, it wouldn’t try this piece.  I submitted it here to see if it’s worth pursuing further as it seemed to have potential - hence listing my misgivings and am really grateful for suggestions given.  In its present state I wouldn’t submit it to a conductor.   Shaped up, one always hopes there’s a performance in the future. Just don’t count on it. 

What holds it together (if anything)? The bridges.  

Again, thanks for your thoughts on it

Hi Dane,

Very interesting build ups that always leave the listener unsatisfied, more like the ear is kind of looking for a sense of relieve and never finds it, I think they call this a deceptive Cadence in music, you were not referring much to the key note; I believe that this deception what made this piece interesting, however, I think the theme was not quite clear, I felt that you had a lot to say in this piece as an artist but all was given at once all through the piece, may be you could have had given the theme a better understanding of the story sequence, it is like the story is beautiful but the narrator is giving away the end right from the beginning or in other words; the narrator is really good but he has no clear story to tell, but may be that was your goal which might be also interesting. Your piece is very technical and I understand your feelings about the piece, I loved your approach to break away from impressionism and I think you succeeded with that, it's a very formal structure, I have to give it up to you cause this is a very successful new experiment that you can build on in the future, I would definitely wait for your next movement. May be you can break away from impressionism by doing something as bold as this piece but with just a taste of impressionism instead of completely take it away, i think if you manage to figure out a way to combine between both, you will head off with this piece. All in all, it is definitely a unique piece. 

well done. 

Regards 

Islam 

Dane,

There's some interesting stuff here and the piece is enjoyable to listen to. There's lots of material that could be developed further - depending of course on just how far you want to go. Personally I'd drop the slapstick percussive effects which only IMO detract from the musicality. I think you could evolve this into something a little more by shifting and extending existing material to create a slightly more formal and coherent structure.

Having said this, I reiterate that I really did enjoy listening to it but, if you want it to be performed in public, it just needs a bit of manipulating to be wholly satisfying.

You've done the hard part by creating some really pleasing sounds - now you just need to get out the yellow duster and polish it a bit - thanks for posting what to me is an interesting and pleasurable effort.

Dane,

Please accept my comments with a grain of salt.

I don't listen to much on the forum these days.So much content is keyboard or small ensemble music. That's fine, but those formats hold little interest for me lately. I picked your piece because it is for orchestra. My weapon of choice. I like the sound you have created. I asked you what you think holds the piece together. Yes, I heard the repeating motifs and themes. But for my taste, the piece seems a little disjointed. Is that a bad thing. Not at all. Some people like the listening challenge you have presented. I don't put music on in the background. When I sit down to listen to something, that's just what I do. I don't want to have to work at listening. It's not laziness, it's wanting the music to take me somewhere I've always dreamed of going. It's almost like your piece tries to force me to go there, rather than leading me there. But that may be just my general lack of taste. 

I write for the fun and therapy of it all, so my opinion may not mean much. 

Thanks for posting this.  

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