I was going to let this piece go, but H. S. Teoh's objection that the ending C major sounded like the dominant of F has haunted me, and eventually prompted a major revision of the penultimate section before the Coda. I am still considering this version "experimental", but I very much like the result - the last fugal section is now made to cadence in C minor and the Coda begins in that key. Although this was done basically by transposition, there are several changes of register in the various parts and the counterpoint now becomes quite florid at its highest point, with the lines crossing and re-crossing. Also, the score now features the various "choirs" (string quartet, chamber strings, full string orchestra) written out explicitly, which allowed me to separate them spatially in the rendering (Sibelius + NotePerformer), making it easier for the listener to tell them apart.

Audio file and draft score offered for your enjoyment, though any feedback would be welcome.

Audio file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z_nroAa34SWEuUBFZKM4nNud4e8Rsrw3/view?usp=sharing

Score: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BfBbTc6JLKXRsawVzoSspQVzaY6UmVz3/view?usp=sharing

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  • Don't have the time to listen right now, but just wanted to drop a note that I will get around to it.  Especially since I was the cause of this latest round of revisions, for which I'm ashamed. ;-)  Based on your description it sounds like it would be awesome; looking forward to sitting down and listening to it carefully from start to finish. Probably not this weekend, unfortunately, but hopefully sometime next week.

    • Thanks H. S., i look forward to your comments when you have had time to listen to it. No rush! Everything in good time.

      I wouldn't say you were the *cause* of the latest revisions, exactly, but your words were the irritating grain of sand in my oyster. Now whether they've given rise to a pearl or not, you will be the judge. In any case, I agreed with you about the ending, insofar as I was trying to put F minor back in its place as the subdominant at the very end, something like what Beethoven did at the end of Op. 131. But I think I had made F minor TOO strong by establishing it as the tonic at the end of the fugue and reinforcing that status at the start of the coda. Hopefully this version will address that problem for you as it does for me.

  • Hi Liz,

    This sounds wonderful. I like the progress of the counterpoint in this piece. I have just listened to around 4:50. Looking at the score, and listening to the audio, I found a rather "disturbing" part on bar 155, when the D natural on violin 1 clashes with the D flat on violin 2. I would probrably put D flat as well on violin 1, and then moves up to D natural on bar 156. I liked the progression aftewards, though. It's just on that part I found rather unpleasant in my ear. Great composition, nevertheless!


    • Hi Sam, and thanks for listening and for your feedback.

      The clash you mention is quite intentional! There was an identical clash a few bars before that as well, though this one is more conspicuous because of the register, and there's another one a little later on that's also very naked and exposed. But the piece is full of suspensions like that, they're part of the sound world and of the basic material I'm working with. It's funny how different people's reactions are to things like this... a composer on a different forum singled out that specific spot as one he especially liked. De gustibus, and all...



  • Listened to it 5-6 times today. Unfortunately, not with score because I was busy. Will have to do that at some point. So the below comments are purely based on listening, I may change my mind after following through with the score later. ;-)

    Since I know this piece from the past, I feel like I've already acquired some bias of familiarity... nonetheless, I quite enjoyed it. But more pertinently, the ending: I was surprised to find out that the difference from the original version, at least aurally, is actually rather subtle. It "feels" much the same as before, but with more stability at the end. Surprisingly enough, that subdominant feeling is still there in the last bars, I think because of the chord progression used; but it vaguely sounds more stable than before. There is more a sense of homecoming -- my guess (having not seen this version of the score yet) is that starting the coda in C minor strengthened the home key, so that when the final chord returns there's a sense of return, in spite of the somewhat ambiguous chord progression preceding.  Nonetheless, the instability is still present, quite to my own surprise.  I had expected the effect to be much stronger, based on your description, but it turned out to be a subtler difference than I had expected.

    • Wow, if you could listen to this 5-6 times in a day and still enjoy it, that's amazing... thank you so much!

      Yes, what you say about the ending is exactly what I was hoping for - there is still the leaning toward the subdominant in the final pages, but the C major at the end sounds more stable, precisely (I think) because C minor had been established at the beginning of the coda instead of F minor. There should still be a sense of pull toward the subdominant - part of the idea is that C major is won and held by force of will, so to speak - but it should not feel like ending on the dominant. I guess it was just hubris on my part to think that I could set up F minor as the tonic and then turn it magically into the subdominant with a clever progression at the end.

      Thanks again for listening and for your comments. If you aren't totally burned out on the piece by now, I am working on a fully orchestral version and should have it done in a couple of weeks, or sooner. I have gotten interested in writing a small scale (time-wise) piece for chamber orchestra or sinfonietta, and wanted a warm-up exercise to teach myself how to write for a larger ensemble in Sibelius/NP. At first I was skeptical that this piece could be turned into a full-fledged work for symphony orchestra, but I'm liking the result so far - mostly.


      • I love orchestral works. Looking forward to hearing the results!


  • My memory is not good enough to remember exactly how the piece progressed towards the coda previously but I do find it generally convincing now. As a more general comment on the work, I still think that it is too long to sustain the DSCH theme with relatively little rhythmical and emotional; variation but it may simply be that I am not fully following the technical argument. Formal analysis rarely interests me (even when I try to do some clever technical transformation myself, I sometimes forget what I intended later which can be annoying...) I'm only saying this because I still think it's one of the best works I've heard on this forum and I'll certainly be back for the orchestral version.

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for listening again and for your feedback! Yes, the piece is rather long and requires a certain frame of mind, I think. One of the reasons I'm keen to prepare an orchestral version is that pure massed string sound does tend to get tiring on the ears, and even with the three "choirs" as in this version, given as you say the lack of rhythmic variety it is probably hard for most listeners to sustain interest. It shouldn't be necessary to follow the *technical* aspects of the development, it's an emotional piece and is intended to be responded to that way. What was Simpson's comment to the effect that it shouldn't matter if the listener can't tell a fifth from a rissole? I feel similarly about this. Anyway, I'm making swift progress on the orchestration and should be finished with it in a few days.

      Thanks again,



      • yes, Robert Simpson had a lot of wise words to say about composition and his string quartets at any rate are perhaps unrivalled by an English composer. As you say, full orchestration should help to vary the texture at the very least and I look forward greatly to the result.


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