On "Skating"

Revised as of 1/28/15, Skating is my most finished piece to date. It's from a three-movement work called Three Winter Scenes.  It's an impressionistic piece, intended to depict skaters on a frozen pond or river, and attempts to capture the exhilaration of being outside on a cold but beautiful winter day, as well as the elements of snow, sun, clouds, etc. Sounds are Garritan, Vienna, Cinematic Strings2 and EWSO Gold, as well as some sounds from Sonar. While I strive for transparency, I realize that there may not be enough expression for some listeners. My style might be called Baroque Impressionism. The variation arises between sections, more than within individual instruments. Much Baroque music is like this. Also, while not being contrapuntal in a strict sense, there is a good deal of part writing. My intention is that, out of the various parts, a form arises, in which the voices create a multi-layered whole, which presents the listener with a subtly changing palette of colors. For this version I added a saxophone.

Here is a link for the Wave version:


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  • I just finished listening to SKATING, reading the comments posted as I did so. Here's a quick, random list of thoughts.

    • Though it may be the one thing that we detest hearing, if not followed by specifics, I also have to say that "I liked it." Onward ...
    • A comment was made about a melody here and there, but no continuity. I agree and disagree. Yes, there are scattered snatches of melody, but that in itself is not bad IF there is a main theme that guides the work. And yes, I could hear a wonderful theme, for the most part, throughout the work. Except for the flute solo. This interlude seems to hang by itself in the middle of the work, neither truly conecting to what came before, or after, nor expressing the main theme, or an alternative theme that subsequently continues. Theme is more than melody, and perhaps difficult at times to define, but without the flute solo, your work as a solid main theme from start to finish.
    • Lastly, when composing, remember that "less is more". That is, in order to continually engaging the listener, you need to vary the number and type of instruments playing at any given point. For example, why not slip into a woodwind quartet, or a string quartet using the first seats in each section? Just a thought.
  • You're right Bob, I need to do something about that, and I will. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • I noticed that this discussion was listing 'upwards'

    instead of the usual. Did the format change or do you

    live in the southern hemisphere? lol

    (no need to reply, I was killing time waiting for the world to end)

  • Interesting, Roger. There are a lot of pauses, I'll admit. But that is just part of my style. to be honest, I don't think it does that great a job of conjuring up skaters, either. Actually, I spent more time just trying to paint the general scene, the wind, snow, clouds, etc. Maybe I'll think about renaming it.

    Bob: I just don't have a very good flute, so I have to use a Garritan, and it is very hard to get it sound it natural. I'll see what I can do about it. Maybe I can get someone to actually play just the solo, although I don't know any flutists.

  • Micky D, I heard some interesting melody lines here and there

    but it lacked, for me, the continuity to vizualize your title- Skating.

    It came across more as a grouping of slides (a slideshow),

     or snippets, one after the other.   RS

  • Thanks Fred. I do see the flute solo as somewhat problematic.  But it's supposed to represent a child attempting some tricky maneuvers, and the whole-tones seem to fit that. I mark it Rubato (yes, there is a a score, it's just not postable), so I think the actual sound would be better with a good soloist.

    Thanks also Michael. Yes, my orchestration gets muddy at times. I just love thick string textures. My hope, again, is that an actual performance might sound better. but you may be right, more pizz bass might be good.

  • Hi Michael.
    Good growth and development.
    Majestic ending.
    I did feel the sound was a bit heavy at times, perhaps more use of bass pizz would give it more lightness.
  • Thanks for listening and commenting, Bob. As for it sounding Baroque, I mean this only in a very general sense, in that it is very polyphonic, but not in the way Baroque music actually is. Also, there is less dynamic variation than in Romantic music. I seem to be challenged in that regard. I tend to rely on adding and subtracting instruments to do this, rather than large swings in the dynamic level. This is similar to some Baroque music, where there may be very little dynamic variation.

    The flute solo is marked Rubato, so I expect the soloist to do whatever they want with it. It's supposed to represent a child, or not very coordinated adult, attempting some tricky maneuvers on the ice, so Rubato would work well there.

    I'm not sure which arpeggios you're referring to. On the brass, or the sax? It's a tenor sax, by the way.

    reverb is one of the most difficult things to get right. I never really know whether it is, and different people seem to have different ideas about what is right. It will be interesting to see how others see this.

    Anyway, thanks again for commenting! (The reason I don't post in Analysis, aside from not having up to date scores, is because I'm in the process of bringing all my completed works up to speed, and posting them on my page. As they are all full orchestra works, all but one multi-movement, this is very time consuming. someday I hope to continue work on new pieces, but these are all essentially finished so the musical problems are mostly solved, it's a question of getting them to sound decent).

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