Per recommendation of some forum members, I'm posting this work-in-progress.

Currently, the first section (up to m.94) is relatively satisfactory to me (though of course things can always be improved), but the second section, from rehearsal E onwards, just doesn't feel right. It's more than 60+ bars with tutti chords at forte, and feels like it would be too tiring to listen to because of the constant tutti and dynamic level. There are also many open questions:

  • Does the sudden interruption at m.95 and the following transition work well, or does it sound awkward?
  • Do the horns really need to be ff to cut through the rest of the orchestra, or am I falling into the trap of scoring for the computer rather than for the real instruments?
  • The only reason I doubled the horns at 8ve above with 1st violins is because I wanted that trill in mm.106, 110 (and the corresponding repeats afterwards), which I don't think the horns can pull off without sounding muddy. I tried dropping out the melody notes shortly after the trill, but it sounded weird so I ended up having to double the entire phrase in the 1st violins. Is there any other way of getting that trill in there without such ugly resorts?
  • I'm not confident I have the spacing/distribution of the tutti chords worked out properly. Can you see if there are any obvious newbie errors in there?
  • I'm not sure the timpani part is playable on the standard orchestral set of 4 timpani. There are too many different notes as I try to follow the various modulations... Any suggestions of how this could be made more playable?
  • The crescendo from H to m.159 seems a bit lackluster... what am I doing wrong? Could part of it be that I've been at tutti for far too many bars already before that point?
  • The instrumentation of mm.160-167 is atrocious. Did I push the 1st violins too high, or do you think it's OK as-is? Should the winds play chords instead? Etc.
  • Bars 168-179 are currently unfinished. Those brass chords are just a temporary stop-gap. I'm unsure how to effectively score this passage yet.

Any feedback on the above issues, or anything else you notice, even in the first section, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for listening!

Am6_8.2.mp3

Am6_8.2.pdf

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Replies

  • I dont think it is tiring to listen to at all. The violins aren't too high, Holst also pushed up to B6 in his St. Paul's Suite, and our high school orchestra is playing that, so that shouldn't be a problem at all.

    Personally I think it still sounds great.

  • Thanks for your kind words, Ishan!

    I know that the violins can play that high; it's more a question of whether they would be more effective an octave below for this particular passage, so that the sound isn't so "open". Alternatively, if some of the winds filled in the notes in between, maybe it could work. Or perhaps I'm just overly thinking this? :-P

  • I really liked this from the first listen, and listened to it a bunch.  I don’t feel that anything you’ve done isn’t representative of the period, and I feel you’ve got a very nice piece here.

    The measure’s out at m.95 work beautifully, and an apt way to modulate. I do however wish the first group of 1/8 note’s were tutti and ff.  Maybe if you believed it was legit then you’d have given it more authority.  I say it’s legit, so go for it.  It’s dramatic in an early romantic kind of way, and it is a climactic point, and, that you have the next group marked mp, and sliding into a new key, really begs to have the first group played with authority to my ears.  It’s an important transition.  Might as well play it up.  What do you think?

    You didn’t ask, but the fughetta section is very effective and nicely done. During my first listens, it seemed a bit early in the piece to introduce such drama, but the more I listened, the less of an issue it became.  Now, it seems apt and effective in really launching things forward.  Nice job with that.

    The tutti figure (E) could possibly be thinned out a bit here and there to enable differing dynamics and textures - if that’s something you’re interested in.  The upper ranges that you’ve chosen for your voicing’s (strings and winds, esp) seem generally pretty modest, for such a grand event, so you could check that out.  It will give the figures more clarity, and I suppose it could be sounding somewhat bottom heavy to me, so that’s why I’m saying that.  And, when I said thinned out a bit here and there, I was specifically talking about lessening the presence of the lower register instruments.  The melodic parts may be trying to compete with them just a bit, but if you left it be it would still be effective and not as tiresome as you might think.  But I don’t think you think so, so maybe you ought to try something different so that you’re happy.  Better yet, go listen to some Hayden for a couple hours, and you’ll see how a tutti figure can really be monotonous.  It’s funny – but not really, my parents listened to a lot of Hayden, and I remember often saying “geez, enough with the tutti figure already!”

    To my ears the high violin part (160 – 167) that you’re concerned about isn’t an issue.  However, if horn doubled that it would warm and brighten it all up and give a more heroic feel to the end of your piece, and that might be nice.

    I’m not so aware of the crescendo happening until the 4 bars before f.  It seems like a long way to (dramatically) go to get from mp to f, and maybe your mp sounds more like mf to me, so that could be it, too.

    I think that’s all I have to offer. I hope it helps.  This is a very nice piece, and fun to get to know.

    ~D

     

  • For what my opinion is worth, I think the theme (first 20 seconds) is FUN and CAPTIVATING, the orchestration is GREAT giving a really appealing atmosphere, but, after presenting the theme you basically repeat it instead of develop it.  In my opinion, the high promise of the first 20 seconds deflated at second 21 when I realized the theme wasn't going to develop.   I lost interest right then.   If this was my piece I would start anew from second 20 onwards where the theme's inner logic really begs to evolve into something else rather than repeat itself in a different key.  Maybe this is one of those moments where you can think "who are you to say that?" and I am not able to answer back on that one!

  • Thanks for your comments, Mariza!

    I agree that there is a lot of repetition in this piece... it's part of the joke, actually. The imagery is that of clumsy, string-controlled puppets doing a faux march to a victorious battle ... in the living room. It's supposed to be whimsical and somewhat awkward. The repetition is like the awkward but periodic motion of the puppets.

    But in any case, I'm curious as to how you would have developed the theme after the first 20 seconds. Do you have a melodic fragment to illustrate what you mean?

  • This is coming along nicely .

    An orchestra this size would have two pairs of horns BTW.

    The only thing I picked up was at E where you might double the horns in unison with violas or 'cellos instead of violins octave up.

    And now the recap?
  • Hi, Teoh.

    I do understand that the repetition is part of the 'joke', but in my opinion some themes work for repetition and others need development, and I felt yours was in the latter category.  And I really liked the theme.  In the first category (works with repetition) you have for example The Hall of the Mountain King.

    If I can find a bit of time, I can try to develop your theme a bit (as you ask), however all I have is a keyboard.  I would like to try to do this, however, like I said, I'm not sure I can find the time.

    Thank you Teoh for taking my opinion so gracefully!!

    Mariza

    H. S. Teoh said:

    Thanks for your comments, Mariza!

    I agree that there is a lot of repetition in this piece... it's part of the joke, actually. The imagery is that of clumsy, string-controlled puppets doing a faux march to a victorious battle ... in the living room. It's supposed to be whimsical and somewhat awkward. The repetition is like the awkward but periodic motion of the puppets.

    But in any case, I'm curious as to how you would have developed the theme after the first 20 seconds. Do you have a melodic fragment to illustrate what you mean?

    March of the Puppet Army (draft #2)
    Per recommendation of some forum members, I'm posting this work-in-progress. Currently, the first section (up to m.94) is relatively satisfactory to…
  • You're right, I should probably pair the horns with violas/cellos instead. However, that might ruin the contrast I wanted with this combination comes up after the modulation to D. Do you think it would work if I pair the horns with bassoons, or will that sound weird?

    As for having another pair of horns... I did think about that, actually. There are some parts where having more horns would be useful, such as in the chords at the climactic passage at the end of the current score.

    According to the original plan, everything so far is just the exposition; what comes after is a development section. I'm no longer so sure that form works very well anymore, though. So once I finish this section I'll have to think really hard about how to proceed.

    Michael Lofting said:

    This is coming along nicely .

    An orchestra this size would have two pairs of horns BTW.

    The only thing I picked up was at E where you might double the horns in unison with violas or 'cellos instead of violins octave up.

    And now the recap?
    March of the Puppet Army (draft #2)
    Per recommendation of some forum members, I'm posting this work-in-progress. Currently, the first section (up to m.94) is relatively satisfactory to…
  • The original material this piece is based on was composed many years ago, when I was less experienced; it was actually even more repetitious back then. The original passage where the current fugato passage is, used to be only a slight variant of the initial theme, which would make things very repetitious indeed. While orchestrating the piece, however, I decided to throw out that old passage and replace it with the fugato passage, which in fact is a development of the first theme (or the main motif thereof). I think this has been far more effective, even if it's still not quite there yet!

    I'm quite curious about how you would develop it, actually, since I've been thinking about different ways to do that over many years, but have been stuck with my original conception of it. The fugato passage was a major breakthrough for me, actually, as it represented the first time I managed to write a development of the initial motif that works well.  I think it's an issue of being overly familiar with the material, and therefore being set into a particular mold that's hard to break out of.  It would be a great help to have another person's fresh perspective on things, to break up that mold a little. Perhaps I've been shoehorning the music into a mold it doesn't really fit into.

    Mariza Costa-Cabral said:

    Hi, Teoh.

    I do understand that the repetition is part of the 'joke', but in my opinion some themes work for repetition and others need development, and I felt yours was in the latter category.  And I really liked the theme.  In the first category (works with repetition) you have for example The Hall of the Mountain King.

    If I can find a bit of time, I can try to develop your theme a bit (as you ask), however all I have is a keyboard.  I would like to try to do this, however, like I said, I'm not sure I can find the time.

    Thank you Teoh for taking my opinion so gracefully!!

    Mariza

    H. S. Teoh said:

    Thanks for your comments, Mariza!

    I agree that there is a lot of repetition in this piece... it's part of the joke, actually. The imagery is that of clumsy, string-controlled puppets doing a faux march to a victorious battle ... in the living room. It's supposed to be whimsical and somewhat awkward. The repetition is like the awkward but periodic motion of the puppets.

    But in any case, I'm curious as to how you would have developed the theme after the first 20 seconds. Do you have a melodic fragment to illustrate what you mean?

    March of the Puppet Army (draft #2)
    Per recommendation of some forum members, I'm posting this work-in-progress. Currently, the first section (up to m.94) is relatively satisfactory to…
  • H.S. Teoh,

    I think starting second 21 it needs a "variation on the theme" rather than a "development".  Sorry that I used the term "develop the theme".  I do feel it needs to move onto something else, but that something else is more of a variation.  It doesn't sound right to me when the theme just practically repeats (though not exactly) though in a different key.

    It's just my opinion, though. 

    Best,

    Mariza

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