Spies! for Orchestra

Hello Colleagues,

I recently posted a piece here for solo piano called Spies!, along the idea of a mythical spy movie theme song. Fellow Composers' Forum member Stephen Lines liked it well enough to arrange it for orchestra and I think it worked out pretty well. Here's Stephen's arrangement. Comments as always invited >

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  • Great job Gav and Stephen!  I enjoyed this.  As mentioned the drums might benefit from the typical contemporary approach of implying a downbeat backbeat structure but that's individual preference. 

    Contemporary productions also tend to emphasize the lower frequencies more, I can't really hear the bass guitar, but again that's a choice.

  • Thanks kindly Ingo!

  • Kevin riley said:

    I agree that all keys are there. I am not sure that getting your alto saxes to play in 5 sharps will make the piece sound any different to playing in C for them. Why create a problem for your players when you don't need to?

    Just out of devilment (and to fit in with your philosophy)I have written to the publishers of the following and asked them to re-publish them in F major:

    Chopin Prelude N0 13 in F# Major Op.28 for wind quintet

    Beethoven Violin Concerto in F# Major

    Beethoven Piano Sonata No 24 in F# Major

    The list goes on and on of course. My point being that different keys have different effects on my ear and those of many other discerning composers and listeners - taking any of the above down a semitone would destroy the point of composing them in F# major in the first place.


    Spies! for Orchestra
    Hello Colleagues, I recently posted a piece here for solo piano called Spies!, along the idea of a mythical spy movie theme song. Fellow Composers' F…
  • There's only ONE reason to ever transpose a piece of music to a so-called 'easier' key and that is if you're writing for beginners or young students. Who, by the way, would find Spies way too difficult to perform in any key....

    I was commissioned a few years ago by a bass player to write a big band arrangement of one his pieces. Like most bass players' (and guitarists') pieces it was in E major (thus F# for all Bb instruments and C# for Eb instruments). It was a very fusiony piece with lot's of difficult intricate lines, particularly on the bass, so I could not change the key and ask him to relearn his own piece to accommodate mediocre musicians. To my fortune and surprise, even though the band was mainly made up of amateurs, nobody complained about the key... I suppose they were distracted with the intricate lines... Ha!

  • Well, it was already in an easy key for the bassist, so you didn't need to move it for him. But couldn't you? You could've said that each key has a different effect on your ear and that you want it in Db, because. And if he complains, grumble something about accomodating mediocre musicians. ;)

    As for Spies, I agree that for the performers of the piece, those key-related difficulties are the least of their concerns. Come to think of it, the textures are usually so fat that you don't even need to worry too much about fine adjustments in tuning to make them work. Agility hurdles are going to trip up the sound, not the excess sharps.

  • Hmmm. As a guitarist, I get this " It's not in 'E', can you play it?" all the time. Really? Sure, I'm only an old folk guitarist, but still. My feeling on keys is that it really depends on what instruments are being used. On a piano different keys might have different moods, but that same key won't work as well in a group of woodwinds.

  • It's particularly important on instruments that have lot's of open strings. In the case of the piece I mentioned it was written by the bass player as a feature for himself. It had extensive use of open strings pedalling whilst he played these ferociously fast intricate lines. It simply could not be transposed under any circumstances and it would be ludicrous to ask the soloist to relearn his part in order to accommodate, again, a mediocre band. Now if it was a vocal piece and the singer didn't lose much by moving a piece a semitone higher or lower of course I would consider it and request it. But I have very strong feelings about people not managing all keys equally...

  • This is really nice, very interactive melodies, leaving suspense and wander as if you feel that during watching a spy movie or more of a mission impossible kinda of a thing. It's a sure bet that this piece is developed enough to build a concert team for it, I see a window for improvements in terms of mixing and mastering, however, that did not affect the essence of the piece, I also think that the instruments selection could have been wider, but all in all, it is a great job. Well done

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