Fantasy for strings and organ

although the convention for this forum seems to be to write short works, I simply don't operate like this and (apart from the occasional song or piano piece) always think on a larger scale. My latest completed work is as much influenced by the particular virtual library as anything. The Orchestral Tools Tallinn collection uses rather icy, low vibrato strings with organ but in a reverberant church acoustic which gives a particular flavour to the piece. Some think it works all the way through, others find it ultimately becomes too cloying -- I myself am not quite sure. Anyway, the character, despite what superficially seems like a cheerful ending, is primarily gloomy and in the final movement heads for something close to a breakdown. The work is designed to be enigmatic. It can be found on Reelcrafter at There is also a direct link to the audio here

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  •  Hello, Owen,

    This is very much a preliminary as I intend to listen to it throughout when my household is quieter tomorrow. there are chance of seeing the score? The first few minutes suggest it to be a modern work and I can't quite work out what's going on - in the build-up in the first few bars (that sound more akin to thunder) then sometimes unable to guess whether strings or organ are playing certain phrases. The string spiccato was obvious enough though.

    Just that a score would help to make notes as I listen.

    Anyway, it sounds good. I'm a great fan of organ works (kind of play it intermediately, well enough to do some weddings as long as the "customers" don't ask for Widor's Toccata!)

    So I'll pop in tomorrow. 

    • thanks for your interest, Dane, Sure, you're welcome to have a look at the (in the first instance written for computer playback) score. A note on the organ -- it is the main organ from the Niguliste church in Tallinn. The intended stops are marked in the score but of course I know nothing about the layout of the organ itself so in the unlikely event of the piece ever being performed live, I'd expect an organist to make intelligent decisions about exactly how to perform it. Because of the nature of the library, the strings can actually sound a bit organ-like but, as you'll see from the score, the organ only comes in intermittently except in the middle movement where it dominates.

      I wouldn't regard the work as very modern, other than the sort of harmonic, sul ponticello and other textures which it is supposed to evoke

      01 - Full score - Tallinn -- a fantasy for string orchestra and org...
      • Started looking in more detail. Interesting that you mention the strings library vaguely sounding organ-like. Initially listening to the piece I was confused by this, some of the sounds at the given tempo sounded close to organ viol-type stops.

        It may not seem "very" modern but the overall effect gives a modern impression not just by the harmonies you use but the progressions - first example. the organ at bar 7. Then the polyphonic lines starting with the entry at bar 10 - bars following 12 defy yielding a tonal centre.

        I noticed the bisbigliando direction but, oh dear, haven't a clue how that might be executed on strings. I'm none the wiser listening to the passage.... I suppose as a barely adequate viola player I've lived too sheltered a life! 

        Are the Vn II harmonics in bar 49 playable? It's a heck of a stretch even reaching over the instrument played on the G and D strings? They might just be possible on the D and A strings for someone with long fingers.

        (Well, I won't be able to edit this so further comment will be in a subsequent post. It's a interesting, intriguing work.)

        Be back. 

        • just on bar 49 -- I don't actually remember doing this but obviously the violin 2 is divisi (this was surely an afterthought, I think, as originally I don't remember putting in any divisi) if that answers your question, otherwise it surely would be pretty well unplayable! The bisbigliando patch is actually called prosaically "sustains soft" but I think that's perhaps the most apt description -- at any rate is the sound I wanted. As for tonality, quite a number of my works are either bitonal or suspend tonality for a substantial period and certainly the first movement here comes into that category.


  •  I was able to listen to the second section. It took a little longer than expected because I had trouble following the score with the audio - normally I'd have a look through the score first but on spotting your registration and the general quietude of the stings realised I'd have to listen. 

    Fascinating. The strings were difficult to detect against the organ through most of the section. I noticed the pedals go down to a low G1 in bar 48. Is this ok? I'd thought the pedals only go down to a written C2 (this one I have at home does - an inadquate instrument but ok for pedal practice, standard 2 1/2 octave range). 

    Once more modern but a most interesting listen.

    Time permitting I'll try to get through the entire work.



    • many thanks for persevering with this, Dane! The second movement is certainly the one where the organ dominates, as opposed to making just cameo appearances though it's possible it should be a little quieter in this movement. The pedal is pure cheating, I'm afraid. I have only used the main organ from Tallinn so this uses the same stops as the 2nd manual. As I didn't even get the pedals with my purchase, I've no idea how low they can play but I think you're right -- from my very limited organ lessons at school, this probably wouldn't be playable as written but I specifically wanted the deep bass here. As I'm sure you've observed, a number of the organ stops are not tuned to what a piano would play so in the unlikely event of a work like this (which is really written for specific virtual library playback) being performed by real musicians, I'd of course make a number of adjustments. I'm pleased if the score helps you follow the music more easily but please don't take it too literally in its current form!

  • Hi David - I am listening to your Fantasy; I have made it through to what I believe is the start of the second movement at 11:45?  I looked quickly at the score but I didn't see where that point was in the score.  I think it would be useful if you could break this up into the movements for us. Obviously it would be best if we would hear this as a whole but that's not always possible. What are the percussive sounds at 10:30? I didn't take the time to find them in the score.

    But your piece is worth the effort certainly, it is a thoughtful, detailed and beautifully rendered work and I am enjoying it.  It seems to be a mix of modern and romantic language which works well for either style I think. I hope to finish it soon!

    • Hi Ingo, thanks very much for listening and your appreciation. You are quite right about the movements on the score -- for some reason I had accidentally disabled movement titles for that layout and have now restored this so you should be able to clearly see where each of the three movements start. I usually categorize my music as late romantic but some works (perhaps including this?) have more modern elements than others.


  • I don't know what the convention for this forum is supposed to be; I myself am partial to large-scale structures. (Even though currently, being confined by my fugal focus, I have not yet mastered it to the point of thinking in terms of large-scale structures yet.)

    I actually listened to this through in a one sitting (with score -- the last version you posted is quite easy to follow)... admittedly the language is quite foreign to my ears so I had a hard time with it. But I can certainly appreciate at least parts of the large-scale structure you've put into it. The return of the opening theme in the 1st mvmt for example, felt quite powerful. Parts of the slow movement sound almost "too close" to classical harmonies and feel almost out-of-place in the context of the rest of the work (even if it's a relief to my biased ears :-P).  Loved the way you used the organ's high register to give that icy, sparkly sound that I didn't even know was possible on the instrument. :-D

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