Horn Concerto in Ab Major

This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in Sibelius, having recently learnt more about it from other CF members on a different post.

The concerto is a little bit experimental and utilises a key that is not commonly used for horn concerti - but I wanted to add a little pathos and an extra flat always helps in achieving that. It's form is not entirely predictable, being in three movements rather than four...but hey! a bit of experimentation is good isn't it?

Predictably I think it hangs together OK (I would say that having composed it) - but I'd be very interested in hearing the views of CF members. I don't think I've ever posted on here without learning something new so go ahead please and let me have it both barrels!

Many thanks in advance of your comments.

Horn%20Concerto%20No.1%20in%20Ab%20Major%20-%20Score%20and%20parts.pdf

https://youtu.be/USBvArbqxjs

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Replies

  • Accomplished. What more to say?! Comes over with great confidence and panache (I mean, as I imagine it in concert.) Superb scoring. (That's my two barrels' worth.)

  • Michael, many thanks for this. The horn sound is what comes with Sibelius but it's much improved by NotePerformer3. It's very interesting what you say about DAWs versus Notation Software. I have recently learned to utilise fully Sibelius' mixer deck - much of which was so hidden away that I didn't even realise it was there. The biggest difference in my view has been the ability to use the panning feature to ensure the sounds of the orchestra come from where they would normally sit - panning adds much to the realistic effect I'm looking for. I've had some interesting dicussions about this very subject with David Carovillano on another recent thread - (David's Catch Me If You Can.) I think you and he could have some interesting discussions on this very subject...and you will understand why I am so pleased with your particular comment: Score one for notation software over DAWS.

    Anyhow, thanks for listening and commenting - much food for thought!

    michael diemer said:

    Nothing but praise here, Stephen, both for the music and the mixing. what a wonderful horn sound! What is it? I know nothing about Sibelius, so I would love to know what sound set you used. That horn is better than any I have, working in a DAW and using some low to mid-level sets. Also, I am very impressed that you achieved such good sound in notation software. It makes me wonder about switching over from the DAW world. I have thought of doing it before, and probably would have if Cakewalk had not been resurrected by Bandlab. And you did a great job mixing. Finally, the music is very appealing. Very sprightly, cheerful, like a horn concerto should be. Three movements is plenty IMO, as most concertos in general tend to hold to that structure (although perhaps horn concertos are different?). Anyway, lovely music expertly realized. Score one for notation software over DAWS.

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
  • Thank you Dane for your positive comments and for taking time to listen, much appreciated.

    Dane Aubrun said:

    Accomplished. What more to say?! Comes over with great confidence and panache (I mean, as I imagine it in concert.) Superb scoring. (That's my two barrels' worth.)

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
  • Michael, Something funny going on here I think. Half of my comments (above) appear to have disappeared into the ether. The full thing is shown below.

    Stephen Lines said:

    Michael, many thanks for this. The horn sound is what comes with Sibelius but it's much improved by NotePerformer3. It's very interesting what you say about DAWs versus Notation Software. I have recently learned to utilise fully Sibelius' mixer deck - much of which was so hidden away that I didn't even realise it was there. The biggest difference in my view has been the ability to use the panning feature to ensure the sounds of the orchestra come from where they would normally sit - panning adds much to the realistic effect I'm looking for. I've had some interesting discussions about this very subject with David Carovillano on another recent thread - (David's 'Catch Me If You Can'.) I think you and he could have some interesting discussions on this very subject...and you will understand why I am so pleased with your particular comment: 'Score one for notation software over DAWS'.

    Anyhow, thanks for listening and commenting - much food for thought!

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
  • Hi Stephen,

    This is certainly a musical jewel and an absolute pleasure to listen to.  I would agree with Michael in that you have achieved a very convincing performance, especially in light of only using Sibelius with onboard sound fonts. 

    What I really enjoy about this forum is, from my initial observations, it seems populated more with composers that focus on the music moreso than the production.  These are obviously not exclusive, as a convincing production will enhance the music, while production skills with weak musical material won't make the music any better.  That said, when I look at the hours that Becky and me put in to productions, relative to the facility I have with writing, it often doesn't seem worth the extra labour when such a good performance could be realized much more quickly using a notation program.

    Here's the one caveat:  while I can't prove that Stephen's piece would automatically be more convincing if shaped and tweaked in a DAW with higher level virtual instruments, I'm pretty sure it could.  What I mean is, after 5 years of sculpting over a hundred orchestral and chamber pieces in my DAW using a palette of virtual instruments (mostly VSL), if I go back and listen to some of my notation works that at the time I was convinced were brilliant sounding, I am shocked at the improved level of detail in my DAW recordings.  

    We can get used to the way things sound, so sometimes, listening to productions, for instance by Guy Bacos or Jay Bacal, might reveal the missing details in our own productions as we continue on the journey of learning.  Of course, when the music is as good as it is here, Stephen, and in light of your comments on our previous thread, I think you have found a wonderful balance between exercising your compositional chops and producing pleasant recordings that most people would accept as refined and convincing.  

    Kudos on this!

    Dave

  • Hi Saul,

    The programme is simply Sibelius but the output is much improved by the addition of NotePerformer3 (this latter a very inexpensive way of improving things generally and incredibly simple to use - it took me about 5 minutes to master it after purchase), plus a bit of judicious mixing utilising the quite basic mixer incorporated into Sibelius. Indeed you might want to buy the software direct and see what an improvement it makes to your score prior to me doing anything.

    If you add me to your list of friends on this site we can then email each other quite freely. For this experiment I might be willing to see what I can do free of charge - but first I need to see the score. It's not the simplest thing to copy into Sibelius from a pdf score - quite time consuming - I'll discuss with you further after I've seen what you've got. Please also attach an MP3 version of your piece.

    If you want to bypass the friend thing above simply email me at sslines@btinternet.com

    All the best,

    Stephen

    Saul Dzorelashvili said:

    Stephen,

    This is a pleasure to the ear. What sound fonts did you use, program?

    I really like the sound even though its not real performance as David had said, its very convincing.

    I was wondering if you will be interested in arranging one of my orchestral works into this setting for a fee.

    You can email me at sauldmusic@gmail.com the piece is about 10 minutes long and its for a full orchestra. So far it has what Finale has to offer, and it doesn't sound so convincing.

    Regards,

    Saul

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
  • Michael,

    I have struggled with the notation/DAW conundrum over the past few years and have decided I have neither the time, skill nor interest to take the DAW route - I'm technically virtually illiterate, so that fact shows just how comparatively straightforward the Sibelius programme must be. NotePerformer is simplicity in itself and very inexpensive - although there are a few on this Forum who don't like it at all (I've never been able to understand why). Anyway, I guess my horn concerto sounds OK now that I have mastered the intricacies of Sibs' mixer, although I have no doubt someone skilful with a DAW could improve on it without too much difficulty. I have invested in East West Quantum Leap's Composers' Cloud software - they have fantastic samples - but the lack of cohesion between them and Sibelius (even with Jonathan Loving's Sibelius Sound Sets) are too much for me to handle at this time.

    Food for thought eh!

    Stephen

    michael diemer said:

    To David's point:  As always, much comes down to how well one uses the software, whether DAW or notation. The same can be said for sound libraries. Honest to God, I have heard midi mockups with only Garritan Personal Orchestra, that were far better than anything I can do with my various libraries (which admittedly are not that much better). Now this would require extraordinary skill, no doubt, but the point remains. And some of us just don't have the kind of training and/or natural ability to get the most out of our software. For those folks, notation is probably the best choice. Fortunately, it is getting better at producing convincing performances. DAWS are much more complex of course, but do not by any means guarantee great results. In fact, because they are so hard to use, they will disappoint unless you become quite fluent in them (which I unfortunately have not, resulting in productions no better, and frequently worse, than those made with notation). As I've said before, I'm going to reconsider my choice of DAWS over notation. A new thread may have been born...

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
  • Hi 

    I enjoyed listening to this. All the  tech stuff - mixing & panning etc was excellent given the context you were working in.

    It sounded quite baroque to my ears and in that context I thought the strings were a bit heavy at times - I had a look through the score and I think I'm correct in saying that when once voice played all five voices tended to play together. I thought the other instruments worked very well in their interplay and the overall effect was impressive.

    Thanks for posting, Colin

  • Thanks Colin,

    Yes, it's a viewpoint - maybe the strings are a bit on the heavy side at times (certainly in the context of the piece being Baroque in style - although that was absolutely not my intention, not after the intro anyway) - I certainly do like the strings to play as a section to obtain that nice (to my ears) full sound.

    Many thanks for listening and taking the time to comment.

    Stephen

  • I listened to the promo on the Note Performer 3 web site.  Their sales pitch:   My Finale Aria player merely plays notes.  Note performer actually performs music by mimicking the techniques of live musicians.  So we have pianos without real hammers hitting real vibrating strings and orchestras without performers drawing real bows across real strings or blowing air through real horns.  We're back to the old question:  Do we need live musicians anymore?
     
    Saul Dzorelashvili said:

    Stephen,

    This is a pleasure to the ear. What sound fonts did you use, program?

    I really like the sound even though its not real performance as David had said, its very convincing.

    I was wondering if you will be interested in arranging one of my orchestral works into this setting for a fee.

    You can email me at sauldmusic@gmail.com the piece is about 10 minutes long and its for a full orchestra. So far it has what Finale has to offer, and it doesn't sound so convincing.

    Regards,

    Saul

    Horn Concerto in Ab Major
    This is my first (of two) horn concertos composed in 2011. I have recently modified it in places and have remixed it as best I can using the mixer in…
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