Well, since some of you showed real interest in the War Symphony, and since I will be off for a week, I thought it might do to post Uneasy Peace, the first movement of the War Symphony.

Just for you to know:

2nd movement = War

3rd movement = The Last Raid

4th movement = The Inevitable

It is a movement in G-minor and is meant to give an uneasy feeling in the end. I hope I managed to do just that.

So, up to the first movement.

Oh, how and what for why I wrote this? You can ask me by PM, for I prefer not to tell this publicly.

PS about the notation of the timpani-rolls... I did it that way for the sound. I will leave it that way until I am satisfied (and you are) with the first movement. Then I will turn them into a 'proper' note...

See you in just over a week!


01 - Uneasy peace.pdf

01 - Uneasy peace.mp3

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  • Wow.  This is good stuff... Though the execution could be improved in some places, the idea behind it comes through very well. It's clear that you have something to "say" here. The low notes in the opening are suitably ominous and forlorn, and the gradual buildup is nicely done. The 6/8 - 3/4 cross-rhythms add a lot of tension throughout.  The parallel 5ths make the themes sound hollow and raw, heightening the sense of foreboding (though I think they may have been used a tad too much, but that's just IMO).  Some of the "warped" harmonies, deliberate discords, and accidentals give the motifs a rather Shostakovich-like sound in many places. The persistent "ticking" of the woodblocks is very effective at conveying the thought that time is running out, and something really bad is about to happen.

    I think you're going in the right direction, compositionally speaking.  I didn't feel a sense of too much repetition or too many similar motifs here, that I felt in some of your earlier pieces.  Instead, there's a clear direction of buildup, with many points of interest along the way that grips my attention. Good job, keep it up!

    Some minor midi-related notes:

    - The timpani rolls sound a bit too "machine-gun"-y.  One thing that might help in the midi rendering is to use tuplets to make the duration of each note slightly longer, so that it renders better. For example, instead of 64 64th notes, you can have 48 32nd notes in a 48-tuplet. I don't know how easy/hard it is to make these unconventional tuplets of this kind in your notation software, but if you could, you might be able to get better results by experimenting with changing the number of notes in each roll (and using the tuplet to make it fit within the right amount of time).

    - The woodblocks sound a bit loud compared to the other instruments: in a real orchestra, it's unlikely that they would be heard that clearly when you have brass instruments playing f or ff. You might want to dial the volume down a bit to get a (slightly) more realistic sound.

  • I am going to re-make an orchestra in MuseScore and do the soundsettings that way that everything sounds as loud as the rest...

    Bob, thank you. I am not under the impression that the tuba sounds too low in MS, it says not anyway... But I will check. Hebby you liked it. The second, third and fourth movement are in the making...

    HS, thanks for the compliment. Happy to hear you think I am progressing. Yeah, it was a lot of work, and hard work, too, but fun to do. Although my mood was not too good... But I guess you already knew that. Is it really all that you think I have too many bare fifth?

    About the timpanirolls, I have been experimenting, but this is the best I could do, unfortunately... I am going to adjust the woodblocks...

    I am happy you liked it.

  • There are a lot of good things in this piece. The harmonic language makes more sense in this piece than some of the other works you posted. The themes were nice, though they seem to meander a lot and I didnt get a sense of where they were going. You play with some very harsh dissonances, but not consistent enough. Often times they sound like mistakes among all the diatonic harmonies. I also wished you used the orchestra more and focused less on just individual lines. There is no full orchestra sections in the piece, just collections of chamber ensembles. And you indicate a rather large orchestra, so my mind is already set to hear full orchestra. My last point of criticism would come from the lack of articulation. You have a few dynamics and a few crescendos and so on, but no slurs, accents, or even anything to indicate how the lines should be played. Without them, there is no uneasy peace, its just a slew of notes that will come off robotic even with live performers. 

    Other than a few places that need polish, the piece is good. good job. 

  • Erwin,

    I listened with interest. Somehow, it captured my interest throughout. Yet, it was a puzzling piece to me. Maybe Teoh is correct in his interpretation of the relentless ticking as an impending threat (like a time bomb). But even more puzzling were the instances (three or four) where the orchestra went suddenly quiet and all that was left was the ticking.

    And yet, like I said, there wasn't a boring moment, and I was somehow into it the whole time.

    You do interesting things, I think. My impression is that you are very genuine in what you do. You do what makes sense to yourself, and that makes it work.

  • Thanks, Mariza, I think that is a huge compliment you just gave me...
    A time bomb, never looked at it that way, but yes, I guess you're right... I was 'just' using it as a clock, but I like your idea better! Great!
    To be honest, the moments you only have the clock ticking, without the orchestra, was intentional. I thought it added to the threatened feeling in the whole movement.
    What I have to learn yet, referring to Tyler, is indeed use the whole orchestra. Just looking now where to do that. Or may be I do that in the second movement... That one is loud enough...
    Any way, thanks again and I am still working on it...

  • Well, I have made some minor changes. I have tried not to hurt what I wrote, but to add a few (small) things to make it better. I hope I succeeded in that...

    01 - Uneasy peace.mp3

    01 - Uneasy peace.pdf

  • The instrument volume balance is a lot better now (though this is mostly a production issue, not a compositional one). However, it did expose a possible weakness in the ticking effect of the woodblocks... perhaps you might consider stengthening it with pizzicato in some places?

    The euphonium harmony with the tuba in mm.19-22 sounds a bit muddy because of the low register -- probably best to put them farther apart from each other to avoid this effect.

  • Well done overall- Just a few things- the brass is going to be pretty loud in real life, and you might want to keep that in mind.    I agree with H. S. about doubling- that might help bringing out some lines.  Pizz. might be one way of doing it, but there are many others too.  Also, it's good to indicate how many players you want playing the wind and brass parts.  

    I also noticed some unison doublings here and there- you might want to consider octave doublings for some of them, as they are easier to tune.  

    Also, articulations and performance techniques would be nice!

  • Hello Erwin.

    In this piece there are a lot of good ideas, so that's good.

    For me the begining feels too metronomic. I think it is more interesting to play with the idea of a rhythmic feel that is not necessarily present, or not present all the time.

    I think you could consider a little more what kind of unity you want the piece to have, meaning the musical materials you choose to use, so you can distribuite better the moments of density or disonance in the piece.

    The piece is nice, i like it, i just think it needs a little more organization.

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