I would like some comments on this piece I was told my other works had nice melody but my use of orchestra is too flat. Here I use only strings with the Oboe. It starts and ends in Quartal chords and stays in f basically Could you see better use of strings or is it ok. T

he pdf is attached ( I think) Thanks Bob



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  • Hi Bob,

    I like quartal harmony and I like some of the way you used it, particularly in the opening. It always brings a modern feel to a piece and is something I myself use and look for. I found the piece overall a little slow and monochrome and the melody did not seem to me to be distinguished. I would have liked to see more contrast (especially in energy levels) in the piece overall. I think you have some good ideas but I would like to hear them used in a more distinct voice. Best to you and thanks for posting -


  • Hi Bob

    There are some good moments in this piece. Like the 'cello movement at 34. The oboe is a fatiguing instrument and should be given more downtime. I think it is wasted on the quaver movement at 34 which could be given to the inner strings.

    But have to agree with Gav that the main melody lacks and the string accompaniment blocky and unambitious. Phrasing and articulation in all the parts will help.

    I have taken the liberty of playing with the first few bars just to give you some ideas. This could be a fine piece.


    Mike L.

    Forest Oboe Fantasy.wav

    Forest Oboe Fantasy - Full Score.pdf

  • This is a gentle, calm piece that's pleasant to listen to. I liked it.

    Since you asked about the string writing, I'd say that I found it a little dull after a while. Some things I would consider to improve it:

    1) Every now and then, have one of the strings "echo" a motif or phrase played by the oboe. It doesn't have to be exact, but just enough to give an impression of an echo. I would use this especially when the oboe is playing long held notes, or pausing.

    2) Another thing to consider is for the violins to occasionally harmonize the oboe a 3rd above for a bar or two, to add some color to the overall timbre of the melody. I see you have some counterpoint with the 1st violins in a few places, which is good; but harmonizing say a 3rd above or below the oboe line, at strategic places, may also help to accentuate the melody as well as add interest. (Or, if you're into quartal harmony, harmonize a 4th above/below.)

    3) Vary the thickness and register of the string accompaniment. Usually I'd say make it more lively, but in this case I can see that you're probably aiming for a gentler, calmer sound, so what I would do is to not have all the strings play all the time. Rather, sometimes thin it out by dropping out the bass (perhaps also cello), sometimes dropping out the violins, depending on the mood conveyed by the oboe melody at that moment. The simplest application of this is to only use the double bass occasionally, when you wish to underscore a particular bar.

    I would also consider varying the register of the strings -- from my two hearings of this piece, the overall feeling I got was that the string chords were more-or-less in the same register. There are some variations, esp. in the 1st violins, but overall, it sits approximately in the same range. It would add more interest if you had some passages where the string chords are moved, say, up half an octave or an octave (via chord inversions).

    4) The 8th notes passage in the oboe at mm.34-46 seems a bit weak... perhaps you should give the 8th notes to the violins instead? The oboe would have rests, but may come in occasionally, say, to echo or harmonize the cello/viola melodies at certain junctures.

    5) It may help to syncopate some of your string chords -- while there's nothing really wrong with the current half note / quarter note rhythm, having an off-beat chord every now and then would spice things up a little.

  • I want to thank the 3 of you who offered advise and even samples of improvement of what I could do. This is the first piece I composed with a teacher where we were,nt just using the piano and not looking at the instruments themselves. I am traveling with an iPad which I.m not good with but will listen to the oboe part you kindly provided when I.m back with Windows PCs . Thanks again to all of you

    Regards Bob Forrest
  • Greetings Bob,

    I like the Fantasy for Oboe and Strings in F.  Nice cello work.

    Very best,

    Larry Elliott

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