String Quartet by Barnaby Hollington

Guys,

I thought of sharing with you some works. I will admit that I publish these scores, but I'm very much interested in your opinions about the music, rather than selling a couple of scores ultimately (not that I'd complain but anyhow). I'm not frequenting (yet) these forums so I'm not sure if this is spam or not. It is sharing a youtube video, but it just so happens that I would gain if there was a sale to be made... Anyhow if I've broken any rules I do apologize in advance...

So,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FlkUvZcfG8

This is by my friend Barney Hollington. When we launched our publishing house and I immediately thought of Barney (whom I met years ago through SPNM (UK)). I had heard a couple of his works, but not his bagatelle! When I heard it I decided that I really wanted to share this with the rest of the world... And here we are...

for any questions and comments I'm here! :)

Nikolas Sideris

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Replies

  • One day I hope to be able to understand this type of music Nikolas.

  • King to be: Perhaps I could be of assistance? I haven't composed that, myself, but I have composed other works 'similar' to this one, and I *think* that I understand it.

    Or maybe I could drag here Barney himself to give a little talk (though I'm saying this with the improbability of that happening, since I know that he's extremely busy right now...)

    That is, if you're interested in understanding this type of music of course... 

  • I also think that with some music of this genre, where there is nothing for the ear to immediately latch on to; melody, sense of harmonic progression etc, there is a duty for the composer to offer some help for the listener.

    What is it I'm listening out for?

    what patterns can my ear and mind follow?

    What is it that makes this music effective - eg. is there a new technique that is innovative or unusual?

    I tend to write and listen to very tonal music, so I'm having trouble with this piece too.

  • Adrian,

    I think that we disagree to some things that you mention here, although I do see that you're making a more general comment, rather than a specific one for this particular piece!

    Let me clarify: the duty that you mention, might be there, but if you think about it, it's impossible for the composer to take care of ALL members of the audience. For example, in this case, this work is EXTREMELY accessible! It's almost tonal in nature (the theme starting at 0:57 for example), it's got a very straight rhythm (that goes into jazz: same place as before and at around 03:45), has some excellent moments (01:43 (B) is a stunning moment for me, with these questions and answers all over the place... and the 5ths on the cello), etc... And of course I feel the stability in the harmony, and the slow progression that's going on (I will agree that there isn't a stunning amount of harmonic progression going on in there I think).

    It's certainly not the type of music that there's nothing to latch on: I can remember and whistle some 'tunes' in there (I did use the "... It's not what we traditionally call a whistling tune). The rhythm is as straight as it can and it's an exciting work!

    At least for me!

    And that's where the problem lies: That's me! All me and my own ears. I can listen to all the above, all the rhythms, and everything. You can't (<- not like you won't ever be able, but because you mentioned you have trouble with this piece).

    In all honesty, even if I'm publishing the score, when I first heard this work, I was walking up and down for the first 50 secs and then I went "WOW! This is brilliant!". Perhaps some of you may enjoy this after all...

  • Maybe in a college/ university you are more exposed to this style of writing so have a greater insight.

    I admire how clever the score is and the knowledge of techniques from somebody who obviously plays strings. But I suppose that ultimately I can't make any emotional connection - which is why I listen to music in the first place. There is nothing in this piece that could be called expressive - and I don't just mean in a cloying romantic sense (because I find expression in Bach too). At no point is there any scope for expressive playing from any member of the quartet.

    But as you say, there's an element of personal opinion/ subjectivity in all music - so I'd be interested to see what other forum members think.

  • I know what you mean, Adrian.

    Thing is that I was listening to such music before becoming 'serious' about composition or actually deciding to study music. I just felt that I had listened to the 'normal' stuff too much, and was always very interested to something 'new'. Maybe this is why I became a composer and this is what's pushing me to be a publisher as well... :-/

    Personally, I feel that there is an emotional scope in this work, but in a different sense. There's things going on that I feel have an impact on me.

    I'm also looking forward to what others think (and I will be posting more works little by little...)



  • Nikolas said:

    King to be: Perhaps I could be of assistance? I haven't composed that, myself, but I have composed other works 'similar' to this one, and I *think* that I understand it.

    Or maybe I could drag here Barney himself to give a little talk (though I'm saying this with the improbability of that happening, since I know that he's extremely busy right now...)

    That is, if you're interested in understanding this type of music of course... 


    I would be and I think that such a discussion could only benefit others as well.
    String Quartet by Barnaby Hollington
    Guys, I thought of sharing with you some works. I will admit that I publish these scores, but I'm very much interested in your opinions about the mu…
  • fredrick: I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks highly of this quartet! (It was also the finalist in an international competition a few years back btw!)

    king 2b: I'll see if I can get Barney here... Otherwise I'll get his permission to speak about this work myself! :) I'm a fan of his music anyhow and hope that I can do justice! :)

  • I enjoyed the piece and would be very interested to hear more about the processes at work either from the composer or Nikolas.

  • Hi Nikolas,

    I think the piece works a lot better idiomatically than it does architecturally or contrapuntally. All of the writing for strings works because the composer obviously has facility/familiarity with idiomatic string writing - the arpeggios across the strings, etc., etc. The sections of dotted tutti playing obviously recall Beethoven and employ a formula that is known to sound well. The sections where there is a definite purist attempt to write textured polyphony to me are way too homophonic in their actual voice movement. Bach or Shostakovich would definitely search for actual linear progression in the underlaying harmonic footing, which is here very static. And there would be a constant interplay between dissonant suspensions between the voices and real or implied resolutions.

    There is certainly enough that is pleasant interesting in the work to take it seriously. But I think a serious composer of polyphonic music should search more beyond idiomatic effects and take example from great contrapuntalists - not just create a texture, which is really fine here, but meaningful progression of the individual lines - which is, in my opinion, lacking here. Architecture - really hard, but I feel that it is rather synthetic and therefor unconvincing here. There is the choice between harmonic or pure polyphonic architecture (with a harmonic sub-script) and the addition of motivic/rhythmic architecture. This piece seems to present quite well in the rhythmic/motivic schema of things, but the harmonic/polyphonic schema doesn't really exist. 

    Amongst contemporary discourse this piece stands up well, this composer is no slouch. At the bottom line, though, it may be a lack of genuine and profound expressive drive that causes a composer, or any form of practitioner, to kind of idle conceitedly in the second or third division. I think this composer could definitely rise a division, so to speak, and he has most of the technical ingredients already there. Something to say? I don't know. But he should study Bach, Shostakovich, Bartok, and Ligeti a lot, lot more - and, whilst retaining and developing his own expression, style, seriously raise his level.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Nicol. 

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