How can I improve, expand upon and neaten this, as I may submit it to competitions or an undergrad program?  Are the double stops on the bass playable?  Thanks.

StaffPad Solemnity for Double Bass Violoncello Viola and Fre.pdf

solemnity quartet.mp3

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  • The db lowest note is E. It is all sounded an octave lower than written. You have a D outside of its range in mm. 6. The double stop in mm 5 is impractical if not impossible. The chords from 6-9 are all awkward except the ones with an open string being used, such as beat 3 of 6, 7, and 9. The double stops from 10 onwards are barely possible but very awkward and very unlikely to sound good at all. They will likely be extremely raspy and quiet. The writing for the instrument goes quite high for the rest of it too. Of the string instruments, the bass is the least used for double stops and is not suited for it. In a concerto you could potentially use some if you are knowledgeable about it. I would recommend violin / viola / cello if you are determined to use awkward double stops.
  • I looked at the score first of all and was very unimpressed with the orchestration - totally impractical writing for the strings and for the horn - clearly you don't know the correct registers for these instruments let alone understanding the practicalities and difficulties of performing double stops.

    Then I listened to the MP3 - there are bits that would work as special effects but the whole thing would sound better if written for more appropriate instruments where the notes sit more closely to the middle register. Do you know that a horn sounds a 5th lower than concert pitch and therefore has to be written up a 5th to compensate? This would result in the horn player wanting to strangle you for writing for him a D above top C (m34) followed by a downward leap of an octave followed by another downward leap of a 9th to an E# (why not F?)....also, what do you expect the player to do exactly with the sustained D marked 'Grave' (m35)? 

    I think you're boxing above your weight here and should definitely undertake a few years serious study of both harmony and orchestration. 

  • Hi Hunter,

    I appreciate that you have posted in the SW forum where you are getting as I can see from the above postings some serious and good postings about instrumentation and orchestration, I hope those comments are helpful to you. Anyone who posts on this forum takes a chance of receiving criticism and that can be hard to take - I have been in the same position more than once. As a mostly piano composer, with no knowledge of orchestration, I cannot add to what others have said in that area. But I can comment as a composer in general. What I have to offer you is in the way of a criticism, but I hope you will take it as not something merely intended to be negative, but as a hopeful message from a peer which may help you - a fellow composer. Your music I think in general lacks personality. I don't hear anything in it which speaks towards a distinct style. It seems to me to be a very general approach to composition based on things you have heard before and ideas which you are repeating. I don't hear distinctive melodies or really, anything in your music which would make me want to take a second listen. Here's why I said I want you to consider this a hopeful message - you have a lot of energy and are one of the most frequent posters on this site lately - this obviously indicates that you have a love for composition, and that counts for a lot. For any of us to achieve something, persistence in spite of opposition is important, and I think you have that. Do listen to your colleagues here on the site who have already offered you some good advice, and here's my single piece of advice, FWIW: find an original voice.

  • Hi Hunter

    Polytonal work requires a fair bit of thought and work to build aural textures. Because polytonal pieces don't have the clues provided by harmonic sequences I think that you should work on providing rhythmic elements that lead the listening ear. Your current structure is very rigid.

    Keep at it because only polishing and revisions will get you to where you want to go.

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