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Hi, all!

New here! Feel free to check out my introduction should you want to know more about me. :)

I've embedded a SoundCloud link below to a song cycle I recently finished, called "Aldor." (Aldor is an Old English word that means "life, vitality.") This was through-composed, although each movement begins with the same theme (or a variation thereof). The harmonies for each movement are based on a different symmetrical scale—Messiaen's modes of limited transposition, to be precise—so, even though they're not atonal per se, the lack of asymmetrical scales makes it difficult to determine a tonal center.

For fear of biasing your own interpretive powers, I won't divulge the inspiration for this work. :) I will say that the movements are related, and the final movement contains themes from the previous four.

I've attached the score for your perusal. I would love to know your thoughts, feelings and impressions here—what worked for you, what didn't work for you, how it made you feel, which movement was your favorite/least favorite, etc. It's so hard to be objective with one's own works... (And, since it's over 20 minutes altogether, I won't be offended if you only have time to critique one movement.)

Thanks in advance for your feedback! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

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Why, thank you, Ingo! I really enjoyed using these scales and will certainly reinstate them for future compositions.

The cello was from Spitfire Audio's Solo Strings collection. The piano was a live MIDI keyboard recording using Ivory Synthogy II's Studio 7 ft. piano.

And I'm glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for taking the time to listen!

Ingo Lee said:

HI Jorfi -  Very accomplished and enjoyable. I haven't looked closely at your theory or score here, it seems beyond impressionism with a modern sound that works well for my ear. Excellent sound too, I thought, what are your libraries if you don't mind my asking?  I hadn't intended to listen to more that one movement but I ended up listening to all of it which certainly says something!  Good work!

The cello sound is great, of course the writing makes all the difference, but Spitfire has a pretty good reputation, right up there with VSL I guess. Can you combine the solo instruments for say, a string quartet or chamber piece?  And the piano sound is great too.  When I play a midi instrument I end up having to do a lot of quantizing or piano-roll editing but I guess if your technique is up to it you can get a clean take, good work!

Hi Jörfi,

thank you very much for the explanation. Is there a reason you mix accidentals in this part? Would it not be more consequent to use only sharps or flats?

KR Jan

I tried to follow enharmonics but I'm no expert. I agree that being consistent with sharp/flat signs would be better. I'll revisit that in the future.

Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hi Jörfi,

thank you very much for the explanation. Is there a reason you mix accidentals in this part? Would it not be more consequent to use only sharps or flats?

KR Jan

Oh, please... there was plenty of quantizing and piano-roll editing here. I use a really good DAW (Reaper) so it sounds like I did it in one sitting. I never would have dreamed how difficult it can be to accompany oneself on a recording...

Ingo Lee said:

The cello sound is great, of course the writing makes all the difference, but Spitfire has a pretty good reputation, right up there with VSL I guess. Can you combine the solo instruments for say, a string quartet or chamber piece?  And the piano sound is great too.  When I play a midi instrument I end up having to do a lot of quantizing or piano-roll editing but I guess if your technique is up to it you can get a clean take, good work!

"I tried to follow enharmonics but I'm no expert. I agree that being consistent with sharp/flat signs would be better. I'll revisit that in the future."

Thank you for the info, Jörfi. No harm done! After listening again to the first movement it seems to me that the nature of the scales you use (no leading tones) supports the very peaceful atmosphere of the movement.

KR Jan

Hi Jorfi,

It's certainly an ambitious work in terms of harmony and structure. However, by denying us your inspiration, we are left to ponder it in an isolated fashion in a strictly critical way.

I think the real question is what your artistic goals for this piece were? Did you simply want to evoke some mood? Were you trying to explore Messiaen's technique? Did you just want to create something interesting? To know if our art is successful, we must have a goal.

Outside of the thematic material, I'm wondering what holds it all together. I hear impressionism, primitivism, and post-modernism. I guess my issue is that I'm not sure how you want us to evaluate it. The music made me feel disconnected with reality... somewhat surreal in nature. It also contains quite a lot of anger and violence. It seems to alternate between moments of fractured introspection and vignettes of macabre mockery.

All in all, I liked it and I believe that's what everyone comes here to hear.

Oh, I liked your description of the work very much! "Impressionism, primitivism, post-modernism..."

The goal of this piece was to explore symmetrical scales and through-composing. My inspiration was the rise and fall of empires, and the cycle of life in general. My overarching agenda as a modern 21st century composer is to hybridize tonality and atonality, to marry modernism to postmodernism.

The modern English titles of each movement may help elucidate the immediate inspiration. Waccan means "awakening, stirring to wakefulness." Astígnes means "a rising up, ascension." Hréð means "triumph, victory." Sweðrung means "decline, corruption." And Ellorsíþ means "departure, a journey beyond."

I apologize for not being more specific in my original request. You did, however, provide very good feedback concerning how this piece made you feel and what your thoughts were about it. Perhaps now that you have more insight, your criticism can be more pointed.

I'm very grateful for your taking the time to hear this!

Jörfi

Jeff Brien said:

Hi Jorfi,

It's certainly an ambitious work in terms of harmony and structure. However, by denying us your inspiration, we are left to ponder it in an isolated fashion in a strictly critical way.

I think the real question is what your artistic goals for this piece were? Did you simply want to evoke some mood? Were you trying to explore Messiaen's technique? Did you just want to create something interesting? To know if our art is successful, we must have a goal.

Outside of the thematic material, I'm wondering what holds it all together. I hear impressionism, primitivism, and post-modernism. I guess my issue is that I'm not sure how you want us to evaluate it. The music made me feel disconnected with reality... somewhat surreal in nature. It also contains quite a lot of anger and violence. It seems to alternate between moments of fractured introspection and vignettes of macabre mockery.

All in all, I liked it and I believe that's what everyone comes here to hear.

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