Hello Colleagues,

I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get started and got some great tips, thanks again to those who shared in that conversation. I'm now working on something and I have a sample I'd like to run by everyone for input. It is a rough example of the beginning of the piece. Before I go past this opening, I'd be happy to hear from you. Feel free to make any comments you feel would be helpful, and I am in particular looking for a feedback on two questions: 1) the key? Is there a better choice? 2) the timpani - it gets kind of lonely on those drums because I couldn't think of a way to fit them in after using them a couple of times in the opening. Any other feedback also invited. You can see the score best in full-screen view - 

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  • Hi Michael, 

    Excuse my lack of understanding here, but I still don't grasp quite how you personally interpret the terms horizontal and vertical in music. Clearly I understand the definitions in ordinary terms but it's not something I've come across before in the sense that you appear to mean. I have scratched what's left of my brain on each occasion you've mentioned it (here and in earlier posts) but still can't quite get there....help please.

    Stephen

    michael diemer said:

    Gavin, this is a very good start. It has Copland-esque rhythms and voice-leading. Reminds me somewhat of El Salon Mexico in that regard. I like the general harmonic feel to it, and the textural change about 3/4 of the way through, where it becomes more horizontal than vertical, so to speak. It's interesting how we gravitate to one or the other. I like horizontal music better, and I'm sure it shows in my own music, which takes some time to get, as it unfolds over relatively long periods of time. Where you and many others here favor the vertical approach more, where the interest is more immediate. I enjoy listening to both kinds of music, but definitely my own pieces come out horizontally. Each type has its strengths as well as challenges. Horizontal music can become boring to some, especially in this age of shortened attention spans, while vertical music can sometimes seem not to be going anywhere. both take attention to counter these inherent weaknesses.

    Hopefully what I've just said makes some sense. This is about the 10th piece I've commented on, and the well may be running dry. so just let me say again, great start, by all means forge ahead! Every time you try your hand at a new style, the results are very encouraging. And you have great feedback available to you here.

    Orchestra Sample, Feedback Sought
    Hello Colleagues, I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get sta…
  • Correct, but I meant the resonance between a fingered note and the rest of the instrument. Some notes resonate very strongly (a G in any octave, for example), others not so much. A key with many accidentals will force the player to stick to notes that sort of hang in the air, which makes it harder to get a rich, full sound. Not something a professional can't overcome, of course, but it's a thing that exists.

    Bob Porter said:

    String players avoid open strings. both because the tone quality is different from a fingered note, and they have to fake vibrato.

    Orchestra Sample, Feedback Sought
    Hello Colleagues, I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get sta…
  • Interesting, Greg.

    But I apprenticed in a violin shop. I rebuilt them. Learned the proper way to set them up. Each part of working on one is an art form in itself. Each instrument is an individual. Not cookie cutter like a trumpet. No two sound alike, or respond the same way to the same player. Tap the sound post the slightest fraction to the base side and "G in any octave" resonating loudly(if it did) goes away. Thickness of the fingerboard, how properly the bridge is carved, gauge and type and brand of strings, density of the players fingers, proper glue, quality of bow and hair, size of room, temperature, how the strings are wound on the pegs, are but a few of the things that color the sound of string instruments.

    In my experience, professionals know little about their instruments. They work closely with a good shop so that their instrument fits them. They don't "overcome" anything. It's not about struggle, It's about a harmonious collaboration. 

  • No matter how you build your violin, you aren't going to delete the laws of physics. Sound from a fingered note propagates, and open strings vibrate in reaction to outside sound that matches their spectrum at least to some extent - the better the match, the stronger the feedback loop. Did you know that this is actually how players adjust their pitch? Even if they don't realise and don't do it consciously. You tweak a note a few cents this way or that to make it feel better, and guess what. It feels better when the rest of the instrument responds more strongly.

  • I'd be interested to know if anyone has any recommendations for adding percussion instruments so I can create a "percussion kit" which would function somewhat like the drum kit does in the link Islam shared earlier in the thread - 

    Islam Y.Omari said:

    Hey Gav, 

    Check out this guy on the video link below, I find it very creative in terms of using the classical orchestral percussion, and I hope it will find its way to inspire you yet open an exploration path. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWki-Jac8H0

    Regards

    Orchestra Sample, Feedback Sought
    Hello Colleagues, I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get sta…
  • Thanks Michael - my understanding of this has cleared somewhat after your clear and detailed description. I can see the use of these definitions for an academic analysis of what has been written but can't envisage how it might affect my personal approach to composition - although I think by default I reach a fair balance between horizontal and vertical in most of what I write. No less interesting for that though.

    Stephen

    michael diemer said:

    Hi Stephen, what I mean by the difference between the two is this: in what I call vertical music, the interest resides primarily in the contrasts among the various ideas, occurring in the same or across a few or so measures. Dane's "Tropical" piece is a good example. There are lots of short ideas coming and coming. Polyphonic in a sense, but not in the longer Baroque fashion, where this is combined with strong horizontal motion. Bach's music is IMO perfectly balanced between the two.

    Vertical music can also be pointillistic, with Copland being a great example. And Gav's current orchestral piece strikes me this way, which is why I said reminded me of Copland.

    Horizontal music is by contrast characterized by longer phrases and melodies, unfolding over longer periods of time. The ultimate example of this is probably Bruckner. Another way of saying this is, homophonic vs. polyphonic. I just conceive of it more in terms of the space-time axes of the vertical and horizontal. Look at this way: A Composer can have lots of things going on in just one measure, so that the interest is contained in the vertical axis. This may change slowly over several bars, but the interest remains in the vertical plane. Or, you could have a long meandering theme playing out over many bars, where you have to listen for awhile to "get" it. More time goes by, thus creating a more horizontal effect.

    Music can thus be analyzed as being predominantly vertical, predominantly horizontal, or a perfect blend of the two. At the same time, all music is simultaneously both, since you always have pitches (vertical) playing out over time (horizontal).

    I'm going to post one of my pieces to illustrate this. Most of the piece I would characterize as horizontal, but in the third section there are 4 or 5 bars where it is more vertical. I was thinking of posting it anyway, because the third section occurs after a brief pause, and people listening to it on my home page might have thought the piece was over.

    Incidentally, I think the genesis of these ideas in my brain was created by reading an orchestration book by George Frederick McKay, "Creative Orchestration (Allen and Bacon Inc, Boston 1963). Or it could have been another book, but the basic idea was that there is motion through time (horizontal) and motion in space (vertical). Music is of course the combining of these two axes in an artistic way.

    Orchestra Sample, Feedback Sought
    Hello Colleagues, I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get sta…
  • Hi Gav,

    I'm not quite sure what you're looking for here. As a user of Sibelius I have a huge array of percussion instruments available to me and when composing simply find what I want and use it accordingly. What software do you use and how many such instruments are available to you within it?

    Stephen

    Gav Brown said:

    I'd be interested to know if anyone has any recommendations for adding percussion instruments so I can create a "percussion kit" which would function somewhat like the drum kit does in the link Islam shared earlier in the thread - 

    Islam Y.Omari said:

    Hey Gav, 

    Check out this guy on the video link below, I find it very creative in terms of using the classical orchestral percussion, and I hope it will find its way to inspire you yet open an exploration path. 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWki-Jac8H0

    Regards

    Orchestra Sample, Feedback Sought
    Hello Colleagues, I've never written any orchestral music so I thought I'd give it a try. I recently asked on this forum for input for how to get sta…
  • Gav, that drummer is playing a standard trap set with extra toms and cymbals. 

  • Thanks Steve and Bob, what I am looking for is a recommendation of a basic kit, kind of like Bob pointed out, but for classical percussion. I don’t want to use a Rock kit.
  • Gav, it will depend on what you mean by functioning "somewhat like" that drum kit. What I hear in that link is mostly the drowning out of half the orchestra. Not usually the desirable outcome in my book. Drumkits have a lot of punch and presence.

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