This is a piece I wrote about 2 years ago and am thinking about substantially revising because I think it has a lot of unrealized potential. All suggestions and feedback are welcome and much appreciated.
Some Analytic notes I wrote: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9HY2GoDR54ATWhPclRqUkxGVTA
Looks interesting, couldn't get it to play for some reason.
Do you have Music Player for Google Drive?
Ingo Lee said:
I see the player, and I believe I have played music on this format before. If I see the player it should work I think. I'm on Win 7 with IE 11.
Just had a listen to the 1st 5 mvts.
Some wonderful inventive writing, but.....the scherzo might be impossible to play at your bpm. I know your wife is a string player, I'd be curious to know what she thinks about that tempo and especially keeping ensemble, I wouldn't have even guessed it was in 7/8 if it wasn't for the score and I had no chance of counting it, not even in uneven 2's, but perhaps I'm getting old! I wish you would get some proper sounds as this would seriously enhance your music. Have a quick listen here,
Listen to some of the Theme and Variations, this was done on samples and should give you an idea of what's possible.
Apart from that, I also enjoyed the Glass homage, even though I don't particularly like Glass. I enjoyed the harmonic movement and the part writing.
I noticed that you had written your quadruple stops as 4 sustained notes in places like b105 of the Rhapsody (vc part). Strings can't sustain 4 notes like that, you'd be better off not tying the grace note to match the length of the sustained notes.
I think you have great skill in writing for strings and I'll make sure I listen to the rest later this week as it is a lot to take in on a first hearing.....
Yes, my wife has expressed concern about ensemble being a problem mostly in mvts I and III, and suggested that it may be necessary to have a conductor present to perform this piece, which would be fine with me (as long as I'm not the conductor), even though that would result in 8 people being on stage instead of 7. Is your concern about the playability of the scherzo the fast septuple meter that alternates freely between 2+2+3 and 2+3+2, or are there technical/physical difficulties in the parts that you think need to be worked in terms of fingering/bowing? If your playability concern is primarily based on the rhythmic complexity and fast tempo, do you think that the presence of a good conductor would adequately address that problem, or do you think that movement would have to be basically rewritten to be made playable at tempo? (Also, I think I would probably be happy if the players gave a clean and crisp performance of this movement at 80% tempo but my inclination is to leave the current marking as an "aspirational" tempo; what're your thoughts on this).
Re: quadruple stops--yes, I agree that the notation would reflect reality better if they were not shown as being sustained in all 4 voices.
Thank you for your compliments on my string writing; I try to be careful in my writing but I'm always blown away and made to feel miniscule whenever I follow the Shostakovich or Barber quartets with the score (key inspirations for me).
Mike Hewer said:
The only problem is the tempo.
The parts are playable, but not at that tempo. You would have to slow quite a bit to make it work. I would suggest you try it at around crotchet bpm of 170-180. At this tempo the players would still be able to articulate as written. As it stands, it is probably impossible to get clean phrasing. Even at bpm 170-180, it's a tricky one to count and play and would need plenty of rehearsal, but at your current tempo the 'seven-ness' sounds almost like a fast 6/8 to me, which defeats the object.
Players probably wont give a toss about aspirational tempos - probably an indication of "as fast as possible" would be better. They will only be concerned about keeping it together and will scoff at the current tempo.
I will say again though, look into some proper samples for your playback. I am used to ignoring the awful sounds when following a score, but most people can't. There are so many ways you can bring the music to life, dynamics, hairpins, articulation, room placement and good hall reverbs and so on - all possible with good samples. The writing is great, but your presentation of it aurally is terrible and detrimental to your music, which would shine a lot brighter if presented well.
Don't know the Barber 4tets, but love the Shostakovich, all of them.
Thanks so much, Mike. What are some good, reasonably-priced sample libraries that you would recommend? I have actually downloaded something called "Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra" which I've read good things about, but I can't make it play on the midi-mp3 conversion software I have because it isn't in "sf2" or "sfz" format, and I haven't been able to convert the wav files of the Sonatina Syphonic Orchestra into a single sfz file that would be usable on my current software. I've played around with various sound fonts I've found for free online, but none of them sound good to me. I've heard the Vienna VST library, and it sounds awesome, but I don't think my wife would be happy if I spent several thousand dollars on that. What are the best options out there that you're aware of?
First off, some questions....
Do you have a DAW and music sequencing programme? Or are you just using the notation software and if so, what software? Are you Mac or Windows? Are you familiar with sequencing music and mixing in general?
There is no getting around the fact that it is expensive getting a good sounding playback. I believe there are VSL sets for Sibelius, but i don't use Sibelius in that way. You'll be able to find out more on that at the VSL website.
I am on a Mac with LogicProX sequencing software. I have the complete VSL and Vienna Pro amongst others. VSL is a very heavy learning curve even if you are familiar with sequencing software, but if you can persuade the Mrs, it is a good thing to get as it covers so many articulations. They have a product called MIR pro too, which is a selection of sampled hall reverbs and it allows you to place (seat) your instruments anywhere you like in the stereo field.
Of course you would also need a powerful computer, with at least 32GB ram (but more is preferable) and some external SSD's for low latency playback. You will also need decent monitoring too.
I believe there is a composer cloud for EastWest where you can rent instruments for a small fee, check it out, it may be a good way to go. I don't have EastWest sounds and so can't comment on their playability and articulation sets, but maybe someone here can chime in on that. Again you'd need to be working on a DAW.
There are free instruments here, but you need to be using a DAW for them too....
Some names to check out would be Spitfire Audio (absolutely brilliant sounding stuff) Orchestral Tools (also excellent)
CineSamples, EastWest, Chris Hein, Sample Modelling, Fluffy Audio, Embertone, LA Scoring strings,
Just reading back over this, I realise it may be off-putting and it is definitely expensive. Another option may be to find a programmer who has the best samples and pay him to do a recording of your work. He may even be able to accommodate a musician or 3 in his/her studio to add live playing if the budget allows.That way you get your work 'performed' and recorded with high fidelity so that any potential performer(s) will then have a an audio file that will help them make a better critical judgement about the work.
I'm using East West Composer Cloud with a $30/month subscription and it has some good sounds. It wants a lot of memory and has a learning curve for sure. I hope to post a sample of my efforts soon. You can turn the subscription on and off so there's not a huge commitment.
I don't use it but Musescore is free and provides scoring and the Musescore orchestra in one package. I don't know what the quality is but for free you can't go wrong I guess.
For a DAW I use Reaper which is very good and costs $60.