Hi there everyone.

First, let me introduce myself. I am Erwin, a Dutchman, and shortly I have desided to start writing out the tunes stuck in my head. It has gone a little bit further then that, and I do have a few questions about duration and some tricks. Don't know if I am in the right area for that...

I am a newbie here, and I am a rookie in writing. Although I have asked some people in my direct surroundings to listen, they cannot help me out there were I got stuck, so here are my few questions. If it is placed wrongly, please move it to the right area, feel free... :)

Gonna ask anyway...

The first question may sound strange, but here it is. I am currently writing a concerto for Choir SATB, flute, oboe, horn (g), violins 1+2, violoncellos and contrabasses and the duration of the whole 15-piece concerto will be around a full hour. How's that, too short?

Question number two is in the same cathegory. I also am working on a piece (andante, allego, allegretto, adagio) for an alto clarinet (with strings). Since my fantasy for that piece is not over yet... :P ... how long may such a concerto take, I suppose 15 minutes for four pieces is a little short, right?

Last question: how do I (preferably with strings) imitate rain?

Well, hope you can help me out. Will post more later... ;)

Thanks in advance for helping me.

Kind regards,


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  • Col legno battuto is pretty good for imitating rain. Performers usually aren't particularly excited about using that technique, though (at least those with expensive bows).

    If you want to employ a piano, muting the strings you want to use with something that completely dampens any kind of natural string reverbation might work. Depending on the material / item used, you can get a dull, muffled sound, or more metallic, or something else altogether. Experiment.

    edit: I suspect Fredrick is merely confused because there are no brackets clearly separating instrument groups :) The order seems fine. You may want to split 1st and 2nd violins into separate staves for practical reasons, and only merge them on a page-by-page basis later, if it really looks like the optimal thing to do.

  • Well, whether you use a piano or not is up to you, since you're the composer. :-)

    But piano writing in an ensemble is quite different from piano solo writing (unless you're writing a concerto featuring soloistic style piano passages). Many uses of piano in an ensemble setting employs it as a percussion instrument rather than a melodic instrument (though both uses are fine).  In the context of rain, I was thinking of using the piano to play descending arpeggios in the high register to evoke rain. Perhaps a harp might also be usable for the same purpose, as well.

  • Thanks again guys... :)

    I think the lack of separation brackets is down to the use of the software I choose... MuseScore i.e. because it is freeware.

    For about the rain, I guess I am going to take the advice to listen to Beethoven (that is no punishment anyway...) and see what he did.

    What kind of software are you using, if I may ask? And how to change this documents into something I can post here, so that you can listen to it?

  • John Cage used sheet metal to make rain AND thunder. He hung it on a rack and used soft timpani mallets...It's written in percussion format (rolls and crashes) and the sound is identical to rain....Also one composer (can't remember who) used the audience to snap their fingers resulting in a soft rain-like sound....I would use both.

    As far as the length and time of a piece of music? In my 6 years of college level composition training I have never once heard anything about what the length of a piece should be except that most people can only listen to a piece of music for about 3 1/2 minutes, (not that yours would be that short) but that's why pop music aims for that time. Any longer takes dedication from the listener.

    An awesome example of a well-written piece is Mussorgski's Pictures at an Exhibition. The piece is technically about 40 minutes long but it is broken up into short 3-5 minute movements that are easily digestible for the listener.

    Wagner wrote some hellishly long operas (some at 5 hours) that only a music composer could rejoice in, but you will never hear those operas performed unless you go to New York or Vienna.

    You are the composer......You can write anything that you want but one thing that we learned in college that you might consider is: Who is going to perform it and who is going to listen to it? Without willing performers or listeners, the music that you write is almost pointless.

    Hope this helps......happy composing!

  • I am highly skeptical that MuseScore doesn't support proper bracketing. Did you consult the manual? MuseScore is quite widely used in certain music communities, especially in some educational institutions; I would be very surprised if it did not support something so fundamental as proper bracketing for orchestral scores!

    Erwin van Delft said:

    [...] I think the lack of separation brackets is down to the use of the software I choose... MuseScore i.e. because it is freeware.

    Some questions from a rookie and newbie
    Hi there everyone. First, let me introduce myself. I am Erwin, a Dutchman, and shortly I have desided to start writing out the tunes stuck in my head…
  • Very true!!! While the idea of writing a grand, all-encompassing opera requiring the combined forces of 7 full-sized symphony orchestras, 10 choirs, and lasting all eternity may seem very appealing, especially to composers in their grandiosomanic phase (which I went through as well), such a work is unlikely to ever be performed, and nobody would have the endurance to sit through it.

    I suppose the same thing applies to the grandiosomaniac in me who wants to write a grand symphony that asks for 3 giant tubas, probably an entire section of the world's largest violin, a string section that fills half a soccer field, with the other half filled with wind/brass/percussion players. I love to dream about it, but it's unlikely to ever materialize. :-P

  • "In college composition we have to make one serious consideration when writing a piece: Who is going to WANT to perform it and who is going to WANT to listen to it"

    ----I used to argue with my professors that these were ridiculous concepts but after trying to get musicians to perform my pieces with no real success....I have to eat some crow and admit that they are right.

    There is a reason that Mussorgski's "Pictures" get performed at almost every college in the world every single day.....because it's FUN to play and fun to listen to. I cannot say the same for Shoenberg.

    Either way there are NO rules to composing music, that is why it's called "music theory" and not "music law". It's an art that is magically elusive and hard as nails. I love composing for these very reasons.

  • I didn't come here to argue about petty word definitions. This is a composer forum and I was trying to help a composer.

    .....You are being a douche.

    Fredrick zinos said:

    Please  look at the dictionary definition of the term Theory. Theory can be conjecture and hypothesis as you suggest, or equally it can be the operating principals of something. For example we have gravitational theory but the fact that you always fall down and not up means this is not hypothesis. Gravitational theory explains why it is a one way trip.  If you are going to become a master electrician you must pass a written test on electrical theory.

  • To come back to my topic... I almost finished part 13 and 14 and with that the (first concept) of the concert called "The creation of all". All in all I am not unhappy about it and as I play it it sounds not too bad (when doing something else to not look at the score). Have been singing (bass) for 20 years plus,  and like the choral score.

    Of course - and I realize that - it is my very first score to write and finish, and I have it looked after by my first conductor, who is not too picky about it. And he can be if he doesn't like what he hears / sees, so I value his opinion (because he has actually seen the whole score so far).

    That leads me to another question: how can I upload the music (not the score itself, but the actual music) without recording it with my camera and posting it as a movie..? Is there a way to record a Musescore document or to change it into an MP3 or so?

  • Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:



    Darius Milhaud

    Chamber symphony No.1, Op.43 (1917)




    It's only three and a half minutes long.  

    Also have a listen to this minute waltz - I felt I didn't want to write more as it felt totally complete to me (despite having set out to write a large ternary form piece).



    Just a Minute! Waltz.mp3

    Some questions from a rookie and newbie
    Hi there everyone. First, let me introduce myself. I am Erwin, a Dutchman, and shortly I have desided to start writing out the tunes stuck in my head…
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