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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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Interesting compositions here. I think maybe more counter parts in the bass regions would help slightly.

Lol, "help slightly," as in this composition is beyond help?

Timothy Smith said:

Interesting compositions here. I think maybe more counter parts in the bass regions would help slightly.

Please forgive me, I am terrible at critiquing other people's work. I was listening on inexpensive ear buds and maybe the bass just wasn't coming out of those very well. I think this is excellent impressionist work. Not a type I generally gravitate toward though I have made some of it myself. 

My comments on the bass were just that I could maybe hear some bass strings in this to give it a deeper more rounded overall feel. Think "warmer" feel. This is my opinion of course and could have been partially due to my listening set up.

For the record, I'm just like you. I'm not a professional composer and my views do not come from deep music theory training, though I am musically trained.I am a pianist/vocalist and music leader mainly who composes on the side for the fun of it...so you may take my opinions with a grain of salt here.

I see what you mean now. Concerning a bass 'boost,' I think I agree with you. The issue is that the cello, as you know, is a bass instrument so I used the piano to provide filler sounds where I could, while trying to keep both instruments' passages as idiomatic as possible. I might have sacrificed a more rounded bass sound for ease of playing.

I'm also a music leader with no music theory training—and in any case, I consider your opinions quite valid. Thanks for taking the time to review this!

Timothy Smith said:

Please forgive me, I am terrible at critiquing other people's work. I was listening on inexpensive ear buds and maybe the bass just wasn't coming out of those very well. I think this is excellent impressionist work. Not a type I generally gravitate toward though I have made some of it myself. 

My comments on the bass were just that I could maybe hear some bass strings in this to give it a deeper more rounded overall feel. Think "warmer" feel. This is my opinion of course and could have been partially due to my listening set up.

For the record, I'm just like you. I'm not a professional composer and my views do not come from deep music theory training, though I am musically trained.I am a pianist/vocalist and music leader mainly who composes on the side for the fun of it...so you may take my opinions with a grain of salt here.

Hello Jörfi,

it sounds really good, and

I would like to ask which scales you use for the movements?

KR Jan

Thanks for the feedback, Jan!

The 1st movement used Messiaen's 1st and 2nd modes.

The 2nd movement used the 2nd and 3rd modes.

The 3rd movement used the 4th mode.

The 4th movement used his 5th mode.

The 5th movement used his 6th mode.

I had to fudge a little bit for some movements, since the opening theme is in the 2nd mode (octatonics). However, the bulk of the harmonies are built on the respective modes.

Thanks for asking!

Jordan

Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hello Jörfi,

it sounds really good, and

I would like to ask which scales you use for the movements?

KR Jan

I've listened to the first 3. 

They sound pretty accomplished, the cello writing lyrical and cantando almost throughout. There's nothing I can comment on the score and I wasn't aware of balance issues listening on my Beyer-Dynamic headphones which are pretty neutral.

The piano did have hints of Messiaen, just hints, reminiscent of some parts of Harawi more because of the chordal structure and progression. I'm ok with much theory but know nothing about that composer's degrees of limited transposition or whatever.

Very well done, then. A most pleasant listen.

Thank you for the kind remarks, Dane!

I'm not familiar with Messiaen's Harawi, but I've found that being likened to any great composer is a huge compliment! To be honest, I find Messiaen's music to be too harsh in its atonality. But each to his own. I try to strike a balance between boring tonalities and exciting harmonies. We'll see if I can get better over time.

Thanks again!

Dane Aubrun said:

I've listened to the first 3. 

They sound pretty accomplished, the cello writing lyrical and cantando almost throughout. There's nothing I can comment on the score and I wasn't aware of balance issues listening on my Beyer-Dynamic headphones which are pretty neutral.

The piano did have hints of Messiaen, just hints, reminiscent of some parts of Harawi more because of the chordal structure and progression. I'm ok with much theory but know nothing about that composer's degrees of limited transposition or whatever.

Very well done, then. A most pleasant listen.

I have absolutely no problem with the bit I "bolded". I think we're on the same wavelength here. Messiaen gives me problems too and his only works I feel comfortable with are the Quartet for the End of Time and Harawi.

I'll listen to the other two this afternoon.

Jörfi Terríson said:

Thank you for the kind remarks, Dane!

I'm not familiar with Messiaen's Harawi, but I've found that being likened to any great composer is a huge compliment! To be honest, I find Messiaen's music to be too harsh in its atonality. But each to his own. I try to strike a balance between boring tonalities and exciting harmonies. We'll see if I can get better over time.

Thanks again!

Hello Jörfi,

thanks for the info! I just had a closer look at the first movement, and it seems you use the second mode, first transposition, for the cello line.

But, excuse my stupidity - what is happening at the end of measure 8 in the cello? how is the f sharp to be explained?

It is not part of either of the second mode transpositions, only the first mode, first transposition ... but the following g is not found there.

KR Jan

You're right, Jan—nice analysis! I do use mode 2, transposition 1 up through measure 10. This contains the notes C, C#, D#, E, F#, G, A, A#. At measure 11 (the F natural), it changes to the 2nd transposition of the 2nd mode: C#, D, E, F, G, G#, A#. The rest of the harmonies in the piece move around between the 1st and 2nd modes.

I hope that answers your question.

Jan-Frederik Carl said:

Hello Jörfi,

thanks for the info! I just had a closer look at the first movement, and it seems you use the second mode, first transposition, for the cello line.

But, excuse my stupidity - what is happening at the end of measure 8 in the cello? how is the f sharp to be explained?

It is not part of either of the second mode transpositions, only the first mode, first transposition ... but the following g is not found there.

KR Jan

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!

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