Horn trio PDF for critique

I am somewhat new at composing for live instruments. I've attached a very short piece I submitted for a competition. I'd like feedback about the orchestration and any technical flaws. I also had a question about dynamic markings. When one or two instruments are much louder than the other(s) should dynamic markings be adjusted accordingly. For example, the french horn is louder than the violin, so if the french horn is playing mezzo forte should the violin be playing forte. Thanks in advance for your patience and assistance. I'm still learning. Also, any other constructive comments on the piece are welcome.

REVISION: I replaced the C score with the transposed score.


TimeUnfoldsFullScoretransposed (1) - Full Score.pdf

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  • Just to clarify, this is a C score, right?  It looks to me like it probably is, based on the harmony and the key signature, but I just wanted to double check to make sure I'm not misreading it.  

  • Yes. Which reminds me, I have to send the french horn transposition.

  • Ok, great.  Well, there's some really nice lines in there and I imagine the presto will be a very effective contrast to the first section.  I'm curious- are you planning to make this longer or is this how long it will be?

    As for the balance issues, I think what you'd want to mark different instruments as depends on what you want to bring out of the texture- do you want either the french horn or the violin dominating, or do you want them to be roughly equal?  From what you have in the score, it seems like there are sections where one is acting as a soloist and the other is accompanying... and yes, I would mark the parts up or down in volume accordingly.  In places where they are the same dynamic I might mark the french horn down by a little.  

  • Thanks Lara. I wrote the piece as a mini trio for a competition that requires less than 2 minutes of music, but I had/have a plan that includes 32 more measures. So it would probably be about twice as long.The group is looking for collaborators for future projects. So if they select me maybe I'll have a reason to revisit it.

  • Thanks, Bob. Your comments are very helpful. I knew that French horn note was pretty high, but I didn't know much about the player or whether he specializes in high or low horn. I thought that as a chamber player he probably does both (fingers crossed).

  • Unless you are writing a specific effect, the dynamics should all be marked the same.  The players/conductor will deal with the balance issues. 

    A  player is considered a "low horn" specialist primarily by virtue of his part.  They are still able to play "high horn" parts.  The reverse is also true.

    In measure 8, I'm assuming you want a 1/2 step trill in the horn, not a tremolo.  It should be marked as such.

    measure 12-13, the horn goes from stopped to open at the end of a decrescendo?  It's possible, but you might want to consider keeping stopped through mm 16.

    m 17, the arco designation goes above the score.

    hope this helps, and good luck with your entry.

  • Thank you so much, Tim. I made it a trill at first in measure 8, but then I read a french horn player online (he does movie scores) say he prefers this notation (although the notation he showed looked like 8th note tremolo). He did say this was non-standard notation. So I guess I'll stick with standard notation in the future.

    Thanks again and thanks for you well wishes.

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