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I have done this for an english literature assessment on the gothic elements. One of the options for the assessment was a musical score. What I picked to do is obvious 

This work was made completely for synth sounds and an A+. I did not take into mind play-ability at all as this is not an entirely serious work (although I produced some ideas/chords I will use in the future). It is in 4 movements. This work is a very fun one to listen to, at least in my ears. 

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWeopRhJbhs

In addition to writing the piece, I also had to explain the gothic elements in it. And so that is what I did, albeit I went a bit overboard. Here is the full analysis for those interested (it may help to better understand the work):



Analysis of “Gothic Piano Concerto”

I should begin with some words not relating to the specificities of the work itself. Writing this piece has truly tested my sanity. Protagonist versus world, I have placed the lone piano into a grotesque atmosphere that it must overcome time and time again yet still it is roped back in. Gothic would be an understatement were I to describe the situation of the soloist. If there remains anything left of the piano’s broken spirit, I’d like to give it my apologetic regards. What follows will be my attempt at explaining what it is that I have done and how it pertains to the “Gothic” assessment.

The work’s first movement opens with bombastic minor chords, foreboding and scathing. The world is angry and the atmosphere of suspense is immediately put into play. The piano, a sort of musical anchor in this concerto, is completely genuine in its monologue after the orchestral blasts cease. It sounds as though it is telling a tale; a tragic legend. Things pick up with some help from quarter tone playing violins, and the piano plays a baroque dance reminiscent of a fugue. This ornate cadenza lends itself to the scene of a kind of Gothic cathedral or castle. After the orchestra’s string body briefly mimics the piano’s dance, those same strings begin to sneak up on the piano as it continues playing. After nearly enveloping the protagonist, the orchestra hurls itself to a kind of panic. Violins screech and trumpets frantically get in whatever they can. The piano, seemingly unaffected, keeps its composure and further relays its sad tale. The monologue is filled with emotion, and has a sense of “crying out into the night.” Layers of violins enter, each playing baroque circle of 4ths on different pitches. Clamorous brass bursts through, taunting the protagonist with its mimicking of the strings. The panic theme returns but then dies out along with the rest of the strings and organ. The movement concludes with an oddly calm chord played by the piano. This resolution, though not as roaring as the opening blasts, is just as foreboding. 

The second movement begins with yet another prophecy, one that predicts the end. The end of this movement, that is. After the organ and piano finish, the piano protagonist begins to express its pent up sorrow. It has been unjustly placed into this situation and feels the weight of true evil and a doomed fate. The piano is reminded of happier times but the pleasant memory is quickly dissolved and mocked by pizzicato plucking violins. A tragic soliloquy, the piano’s monologue gradually becomes more agitated as it realizes the dreaded string orchestra has yet again suddenly crept up. Immense emotion continues to pour from the unfortunate piano’s soul as the looming threat of horror and danger builds up in the form of the string body. Tensions are skyrocketing. Horns bash through with dull and dissonant moans, as though as ghost. The piano, almost as angry as the orchestra, screams with eighth note clusters and the dreadful peak of the movement lingers for an uncomfortable amount of time. It stops and there is peaceful silence for but a second, grossly interrupted by an almost drunken refrain to the opening blasts of the first movement. The piano finishes its frightened minor arpeggios, the cries of a damsel in distress, but then finds its composure and reclaims the stability of the opening prophecy, this time slightly less stable.

The piano protagonist has grown bored and begins to explore the musical surroundings of the orchestra with this “fun house” type of section. Beginning with an emotive but pastiche monologue, the piano lulls itself into a pompous waltz. Summoned from beyond, the orchestra accepts the challenge of the piano and develops on the waltz. Like a ghastly glimmer of misleading light, the clarinet hops along with a devious staccato melody. The piano has realized it has gotten itself into much more than what it had bargained for. But at this point it has no other option but to dance along beside the demented orchestra, with a feigned smile. In a short amount of time, the orchestra is dancing and interacting within itself. The horns, intoxicated revellers, sing their orotund verse with hearty grandiose, after which the strings continue a march-like ostinato, calling upon a percussion trio of bass drum, cymbals, and snare drum. The percussion and strings march on, and are taken through a kind of musical portal opened by the accumulating french horns, vanishing out of thin air. The piano, however, hasn’t finished. It’s tone becomes more serious, recalling the baroque circle of fourths motif that closed the first movement. The protagonist hopes to catch the orchestra in a time of pleasantness and coerce it into letting it go. The trumpets, though, see right past the piano’s schemes and mocks the protagonist with yet another waltz. The violin section descends into delirium with whole tone meanderings. Xylophone and celesta lightly enter with a chromatic circus-like theme. The piano protagonist, feeling the pulsing migraine that comes with all of these sounds, continues on with urgency. A large portion of the orchestra enters with a mockingly gleeful march (one that might be familiar to Edison ears) which further crowds the soundscape. All but waltzing percussion and the circus xylophone and celesta drop out. These themes harass the piano and it finally throws in the towel, exhausted. A pretentious string-only waltz makes its way, the melody being the song that the reveller horns played in the initial waltz. This time, though, the song is sung more ironically than it was before and has an eerie bite that further harasses the piano into remaining silent. A final orchestral burst thrusts the protagonist into a place it has not been before, a place that not only seems to harbor evil but directly represents the purest form of it. Violins screech continuous sixteenth notes accompanied by xylophone, providing a sinister backdrop for the piano’s near demise. The piano protagonist, fearing the worst, quickly plays its pastiche waltz tune, attempting to salvage whatever innocence the orchestra had before. The attempt is futile, as brass and low strings harbor the piano’s end, and give the protagonist it’s death blow. Quickly the innocent soul of the piano flutters away, followed by the cackling of the otherworldly orchestra. The contemporary anxiety of being thrown into a foreign environment and falling victim the unforgiving world has finally proven true for the piano, its corpse a mangled and forgotten one.

Movement four, a lamentation, is eternal grief. The strings play soft chords that sound like night. The horns and organ, both “neutral” characters in this piece, mourn the piano with a prophetic cry, a vision of what ends the piece. Strings grow to a climactic halt. An angry ghost of the piano enters with harsh dissonances, reminiscing of the past. A sympathetic organ helps it along. The piano protagonist begins its own funeral, giving a sermon and quietly weeping. It sobs with sophisticated and romantic pastiche. High strings continue with their night chords, softly at first, but then harsh and shrieking in an attempt to silence the ghost of the piano. The spirit of the piano presses on with transparent wanderings and nostalgic chords. The strings enter again, this time with a contorted but minor chord. Emotional cries from the ghost protagonist are heard but ignored, resulting in its frustration. The orchestra finally responds, not apologizing for what it did to the piano protagonist but reinforcing it. The omen that the horns and organ predicted in their lamentation has finally erupted, as the piano’s spirit cries out for help and retribution. But alas, again the piano’s attempts at salvation prove futile and the entirety of the hellbound orchestra bellows its farewell, taking the poor piano with it.

(score is attached [yes i know it is messy AF])

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Awesome, glad you enjoyed it Rob!

Rob Kennedy said:

Love it. Shows great flair and imagination. An exciting work. Very well done.

Hey guys just wanted to let ya know that I got a 100/100 which is incredibly rare from this particular teacher!  Thanks for all of the kind words :) :) :-)

YAY, DANIEL!!!!  I'm so happy for you!!!!   But the point is, your piece TOTALLY deserved that grade.

I have listened to it several times now, and it is completely impressive in quality and in the humor within it.  Which I see in I think every piece of yours I've heard.

I wonder how many forum members realize that's Alfred Schnittke's photo, and that you are a 16 year old who (likely) doesn't resemble him THAT MUCH...

CONGRATS AGAIN ON A REALLY FABULOUS PIECE!!!! 



Daniel Zarb-Cousin said:

Hey guys just wanted to let ya know that I got a 100/100 which is incredibly rare from this particular teacher!  Thanks for all of the kind words :) :) :-)

I agree with a lot that's said here- this is a really cool mix of Ivesian elements, baroque elements, gothic elements and other things.  You know, another composer that comes to mind in terms of juxtaposing things like this is Stravinsky- he has a tendency to layer things on top of each other too, although in a different way than Ives...

Thanks for pointing this piece out to me!

Stravinsky was actually my initial influence when I started composing.  He opened the gates for me into classical music.  I think it is because of him that I have always taken a certain "multi-layered" approach to music.  I have only recently (in the last month or so) listened to the Ives symphonies, yet a ton of my compositions seem to bring up the name of that composer when I show them to people of experience in music.  

Lara Poe said:

I agree with a lot that's said here- this is a really cool mix of Ivesian elements, baroque elements, gothic elements and other things.  You know, another composer that comes to mind in terms of juxtaposing things like this is Stravinsky- he has a tendency to layer things on top of each other too, although in a different way than Ives...

Thanks for pointing this piece out to me!

This is excellent stuff.

Thank you Joseph!  I'm glad you think so. :^)

Joseph Harry said:

This is excellent stuff.

Hi Daniel, I listened, tho' I don't know much about the genre, but I thought

this was interesting, very textured and colorful, and creatively constructed.

You certainly do have a career in music ahead of you. Loved the piano work.    RS

I, too, want to chime in and say that your vision of music is an exciting one. Perhaps this concerto is tongue-in-cheek, but you have the potential to create quite a body of work that will be significant. My advice, keep this score handy as you may find that you will want to alter it in the future for more serious pursuits.

So, how did you produce your recording? What software, etc. Did you use a keyboard to play each part into a sequencer, as usual?

Great to hear.  Thanks for the kind words!  I do intend to use some stuff that I wrote in this score.  All parts were 'hand-entered' so no keyboards.  The playback is a mix of Sibelius default sounds (the piano and some percussion) and Note Performer (pretty much everything else).

Al Johnston said:

I, too, want to chime in and say that your vision of music is an exciting one. Perhaps this concerto is tongue-in-cheek, but you have the potential to create quite a body of work that will be significant. My advice, keep this score handy as you may find that you will want to alter it in the future for more serious pursuits.

So, how did you produce your recording? What software, etc. Did you use a keyboard to play each part into a sequencer, as usual?

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