This is the slow movement to a five part symphony (so far).  It begins with a fanfare I'm calling fanfare for the common cowboy.  The dissonant harmony,  (Is that an oxymoron?)  comes from the sound of fourths as opposed to thirds and sixths.  It is soft and peaceful in contrast to the first and third movements.  Hope you like it.  All comments are welcome.

Lawrence

Sundown.pdf

Sundown 1.mp3

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  • There is a lot to like here. It goes without saying, that this resembles some of the gentler passages from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo and Billy the Kid Ballets, which I have always enjoyed. (Since "it goes without saying," let's just pretend I didn’t say it.)

    Composing a “slow movement” that works is very difficult, and this one is evocative, even contemplative, without being too slow or boring. The orchestration in the center of the movement, with little bits for solo woodwinds, was very pleasing to my ears, in the way that Copland can be, and that added color and variety. There is a lot of clarity here. I didn’t care for the use of arpeggios, though, or perhaps it was just the way that they were played. Maybe those could be altered, to make them more interesting musically, or replaced by some other motif or device.

    I did enjoy it. Thank you for posting it here.

    On the issue of harmony, I have heard (and sometimes noticed) that music evocative of the "Old American West" has "pentatonic "features," like Chinese music, particularly in melody formation. I didn't analyze it, but I wonder if this piece also relies (consciously or unconsciously) on a pentatonic or nearly pentatonic base, to give it that "Western feel." Is the melody an original melody, individually composed, or is it an older folk melody, such as Copland would often use.

  • Very nice, Lawrence. Can almost hear the tin coffee pot clinking as someone sets it down on a rock, and the coyotes starting up their evening serenade. Pondering on Ondib's comment about the harmony of the olde west, I wonder if it did not derive from the ubiquitous use of the fiddle? Everytime I hear a string section getting ready to tune up, I get that same feeling, like a hoedown is about to break out.

  • Ondib,

         You are right, the fanfares and other harmonies are based on a circle of fifths, I said fourths in my into, oops.  All the melodies are original.  Copland uses some interesting devices, of course a lot of syncopation usually by the brass.  He will also play melodies usually solo or octaves but not thirds and sixths.  When there is a duet he has parts move in opposite directions most of the time.  Then he uses what I call the lazy orchestra effect.  He will play a melody on the beat and have the accompaniment follow a half beat or whole beat behind giving a laid back feel.  He uses a lot of brass, percussion, and piano.  I used harp which is probably not a western instrument.  I tried to use the same combination of instruments which is part of the western sound.  The percussion in my program is very limited.

         Thanks for the expert input.  I like when you talk music (not politics).

    Lawrence

  • Michael,

         That's because the strings on a violin, cello, etc. are a fifth apart, the sound of a pentatonic scale.  I don' know why I said fourths.  Undoubtedly the cowboy sound comes from the fiddle.  Excellent observation.

    Lawrence.  
     
    michael diemer said:

    Very nice, Lawrence. Can almost hear the tin coffee pot clinking as someone sets it down on a rock, and the coyotes starting up their evening serenade. Pondering on Ondib's comment about the harmony of the olde west, I wonder if it did not derive from the ubiquitous use of the fiddle? Everytime I hear a string section getting ready to tune up, I get that same feeling, like a hoedown is about to break out.

    "Sundown" movement II of Western Horizons
         This is the slow movement to a five part symphony (so far).  It begins with a fanfare I'm calling fanfare for the common cowboy.  The dissonant…
  • Here is something I just ran across on the web, the first few sentences:

    Analysis of Copland’s Hoe-Down

    In Hoe-Down, Copland creates the effect of a barn dance. He captures the sounds of the American west in his melody, harmony, rhythm, and instrumentation:

    I. Melody

    A. The melody uses a major pentatonic scale in measures 5-13 because the seventh scale degree is lowered.

    1. This gives the melody a folk sound. Country and Western music use the major
    pentatonic scale.

    -----end of quote-------

    http://www.mitchellmusicguitar.com/Articles/Hoe-Down%202.pdf

    http://www.mitchellmusicguitar.com/Articles/Hoe-Down%202.pdf


  • Bob Porter said:

    And I'd have to look it up, but can a piccolo really play the low note before bar 89? 


    Theoretically yes by adding a B foot extension, but it is not going to be heard over the strings and horns that are playing forte.
    "Sundown" movement II of Western Horizons
         This is the slow movement to a five part symphony (so far).  It begins with a fanfare I'm calling fanfare for the common cowboy.  The dissonant…
  • Bob,

         I spent a long time analyzing Copland scores for the first movement, because I wanted to sound western.  Then I put it away for several months and wrote the next four movements recently.  So if the second movement doesn't sound very western, wait until you hear movement four or five.  Those low B's at measure 89 just appeared out of nowhere.  It must be the work of the evil piccolo pixie.  Thanks for you opinion.

    Lawrence
     
    Bob Porter said:

    Lawrence,

    Maybe I have missed the boat, but except for the opening statement, I don't hear much Copland at all. Fine by me.

    The stately main body seems to drift in and out of styles ranging from Baroque to Modern film. Also, fine by me. This movement doesn't sound overly Western to me, though it does sound American. Again, fine by me. Not that I don't like Copland, it's that it seems that unless one writes like him, it can't possibly be western sounding. I don't think it should be that way. Although don't ask me what I mean by American sounding. I'm not sure that I could pin it down right now.




  • The whole thing screams Copland to me. But that's just me.




    Unless, maybe . . . you think it sounds like Elmer Bernstein.



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