Author Topic: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings  (Read 442 times)

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whitebark

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Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« on: June 08, 2017, 10:01:26 PM »
Since I have already introduced the second movement of my Sinfonia for Strings (see earlier topic in the Junior Completed Works section), I figured I might as well present the last movement.  This movement begins with a chorale-like introduction in a modal style. Eventually the introduction leads to the lively main section of the work, a fast variation of the introductory motive.  Next, there is a lyrical, melodic interlude.  The lively main theme returns, reaching a vigorous climax, which leads to the return of the chorale, slower and more ornamented this time around.

updated 7/10/2017 - Improved, more elaborate counterpoint in the initial chorale section, and the final section. Extended ending.

sound:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/9ztkctc2w1qlzes/Sinfonia%20mvt4%20v9.mp3?dl=0

score:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ows9lq06kg1g568/Sinfonia%20for%20Strings%20mvt4%20v9.pdf?dl=0

Any comments welcome.

-Jay
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 04:51:59 PM by whitebark »

sandalwood

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2017, 05:46:46 PM »
I humbly think this is a well-crafted, quite substantial mvt with remarkably enjoyable counterpoint which occasionally gets rather dense and deliciously so. It reminds me of the nice and gripping mvts of good old-school strings serenades :)

Of the recording, as I hear, while it is generally good, the changes in dynamics are not duly accompanied by timbre changes, which does not do justice to the music.

whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2017, 08:57:55 PM »
Thanks for the kind comments, Reha. The recording was made with the popular NotePerformer add-on to Sibelius.  With this software, you just hit the play button and hope for the best - I don't think I can fine-tune the string timbres. But I think Noteperformer did a good job with my score (except for the annoying little stutters in a few places).

Now on to finishing movements 1 and 3!

Regards,
Jay

Michel.R.E

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2017, 09:21:31 PM »
the overall sound/style is good if a little dated.
However, a few spots spotlight some shortcomings in your learning of counterpoint.

for example, mm 65-66, examine what happens in your soprano (violin 1) and bass (celli + CB).

notation-wise, there are some errors, like the motif that recurs starting at measure 12 the dynamic in violin 1 goes... IN measure 12, not measure 13. I think with one exception, this error recurs throughout.

don't forget to mark div/unis where applicable. I notice some spots that are not really playable comfortably for orchestral players where you haven't specified whether they are to be done div. or not.

at fast tempos, avoid asking for doublestops in continuous fluid phrases of music. they can be effective accents when given the time to prepare. remember that this isn't a string quartet.

to give you an example of a very awkward passage: mm 218-219, 1st violin, the 16th note F-E will have top be played on the A string or risk a VERY choppy transition from measure 218 into 219, when that doublestop hits. That's a very sudden and relatively wide hand shift to go play that double stop on the two lower strings.

there also seem to be some missing articulations/indications, as well as slurs (on some of the rapid 16th note runs in the fast section).

again, notation: what have we repeated over and over regarding slurs and tied notes? the slur goes to the LAST note of a tied pair, not the 1st note. This is regardless of the fact that it was done in older editions, it is considered an error now.

to my ear, the chromaticism at measure 265 does not work. It's confused and non-directional. I appreciate that the music is definitely outside of common practice harmony, but some of the more chromatic sections are a little too muddled and lack a real sense of direction. Remember that chromatic passages have a strong sense of wanting to resolve. If you extend the wait for the resolution, then it has to still lead along a path, toward that final resolution.

I think your coda would work better with a different note as the bass pedal. The reason I say this is that what happens above is quite dramatic and hasn't yet settled down to being "the last word". Yet the tonic pedal says otherwise. This is the main reason most classic works finishing with a pedal tone would use the dominant. Considering how chromatic you let the music get, it's a bit of a let-down to have the ending be so.. ordinary. Let the piece go out in a blaze! Give it something that crunches at the end.

Despite my criticism - I may seem harsh on you - I think that there's really GOOD stuff here, and there's more inside of you. but don't let yourself get pulled into taking the easy way (for example, there are, for the musical material presented here, a few too many harmonic marches).
Also, I think some of the musical texture could be lightened a bit. It suffers a bit from a continuous "sameness" in texture. A few more pizz. notes, cutting some of the extraneous voices that just double at the octave, etc...

one thing that might help you is to think of the work as for a VERY small chamber group of strings.
think 1 contrabass, 2-3 celli, 3-4 violas, 4-5 2nd violins, and maybe 5-6 1st violins.
Let that constraint guide how you develop the texture.

"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 09:30:11 AM »
Thanks for the detailed comments, Michel.  That parallel octave between the bass and soprano in measure 65...I wonder how that happened!   I don't have time now, but I will study the rest of your comments soon.

Jay
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 10:13:47 AM by whitebark »

whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2017, 07:34:07 PM »
Hi Michel,
I took a closer look at your comments, and added some of my own. The version 7 of the 4th movement contains some changes in response to Michel's comments.

mm 65-66, examine what happens in your soprano (violin 1) and bass (celli + CB).


Yes, parallel fifths and octaves aren't great anywhere if you composing in a traditional style, but they are especially undesirable between the outermost voices. I made a little change to my score to fix this.  When I get the time, I'll check the counterpoint in the neo-renaissance  sections of this piece to look for similar issues.

notation-wise, there are some errors, like the motif that recurs starting at measure 12 the dynamic in violin 1 goes... IN measure 12, not measure 13. I think with one exception, this error recurs throughout.

Good point - I went through the score to place the dynamics correctly. When I created the score, I was in a hurry laying down dynamic markings like there would be no tomorrow, thus the original funky placement.  This is not much chance this score will be performed any time soon, but if the score is not good-looking and accurate, there will be no chance at all.  It is possible that I could get the string orchestra that I am involved with to play it, although it would be difficult for them. 

at fast tempos, avoid asking for doublestops in continuous fluid phrases of music. they can be effective accents when given the time to prepare. remember that this isn't a string quartet.

to give you an example of a very awkward passage: mm 218-219, 1st violin, the 16th note F-E will have top be played on the A string or risk a VERY choppy transition from measure 218 into 219, when that doublestop hits. That's a very sudden and relatively wide hand shift to go play that double stop on the two lower strings.


Give me  a break - I'm a bass player, which barely qualifies as a string instrument ;) We don't do double stops.  At any rate, I'll continue to work on the score looking for playability issues with the double stops.

again, notation: what have we repeated over and over regarding slurs and tied notes? the slur goes to the LAST note of a tied pair, not the 1st note. This is regardless of the fact that it was done in older editions, it is considered an error now.

Mostly fixed by now, I hope. This is an older score, created before I became aware of the "tie next to slur" issue.

to my ear, the chromaticism at measure 265 does not work. It's confused and non-directional. I appreciate that the music is definitely outside of common practice harmony, but some of the more chromatic sections are a little too muddled and lack a real sense of direction. Remember that chromatic passages have a strong sense of wanting to resolve. If you extend the wait for the resolution, then it has to still lead along a path, toward that final resolution.

I was a little concerned about this passage too.  The cello and viola create a bit of an atonal "note salad" here, which the weak chord progression overlaid by the violins did little in the way of providing direction.  In version 6, I've greatly changed the passage. It is still chromatic, but the notes fit into triads and the passage resolves strongly.

I think your coda would work better with a different note as the bass pedal. The reason I say this is that what happens above is quite dramatic and hasn't yet settled down to being "the last word". Yet the tonic pedal says otherwise. This is the main reason most classic works finishing with a pedal tone would use the dominant. Considering how chromatic you let the music get, it's a bit of a let-down to have the ending be so.. ordinary. Let the piece go out in a blaze! Give it something that crunches at the end.


Changing the pedal note to the dominant works great! This does add some flair to the ending, for sure. I made the change. If I become suitably inspired, I may expand the coda further. This is the finale for the whole four movement piece, so as you suggested, some pizzazz is in order.

Despite my criticism - I may seem harsh on you - I think that there's really GOOD stuff here, and there's more inside of you. but don't let yourself get pulled into taking the easy way (for example, there are, for the musical material presented here, a few too many harmonic marches).
Also, I think some of the musical texture could be lightened a bit. It suffers a bit from a continuous "sameness" in texture. A few more pizz. notes, cutting some of the extraneous voices that just double at the octave, etc...


Food for thought!  Again, thanks for taking the time to examine the score!

Jay


« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 11:17:19 AM by whitebark »

Michel.R.E

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2017, 10:03:50 PM »
for the potentially troublesome double stops I think clever use of divisi would work, maybe an added note before the divisi (ex-doublestop) to give a bit of directionality to the now separate 2nd voice.

By the way, some of the most fascinating triple-stop work I've ever heard was performed on a doublebass.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2017, 05:31:44 PM »
There are some incredibly skilled bass virtuosi out there - I'm sure they can do all kinds of amazing double and triple stops, like you mentioned.  For ordinary orchestral bass parts, double stops are unusual and when the do occur, it is normal to have one note using an open string.  Otherwise, they can sound muddy and they are hard to play in tune.

I'll check out your idea for the double stops in the Sinfonia..

Jay

paulr

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2017, 08:42:35 AM »
@whitebark:

I have to start by saying this is more of a friendly response from a listener than a detailed commentary by an expert.  I have listened quite a few times now.

Firstly it's very well structured which is something I sometimes have trouble with so well done on that. 

There are a couple of points where the tempo changes were a bit abrupt [for me]  226-228 and more so 276-284.  I realise this may be down to midi rendering rather than the composition itself.   Also, and I'm sure you know this, there are some parts where it's very clearly a synth/sampled string sound.

This is partly down to taste but I think there are points where the modulations feel somewhat arbitrary?  I'm particularly thinking of 80 to about 87

I really liked the section from 230 where the bass alternates between pedal and pizzicato.  Not just for that but for the rest of the writing too. 

I hope this is helpful to you.

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whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2017, 11:09:12 AM »
Thanks for the comments,  and welcome to the forum, Paul.  The change from the simple model style to a more chromatic, modern style is meant to be a bit of a surprise in measure 80, and provides a transition into the more modern (somewhat) main section of the piece. Harmonically, you can get away with a lot when you have a strong, simple bass line directing the movement of the chords.

 Regarding "synth/sampled" strings sounds: synthesizing a good string sound is hard!  I use Noteperformer and Sibelius to render the sound. I think it is hard to improve on the combination with resorting to expensive sound libraries and a lot of work with digital audio editors.  I must say, the viola sound in your viola/ clarinet piece is lovely. What software did you use?

Regards,
Jay
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 08:40:33 PM by whitebark »

whitebark

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2017, 08:41:35 PM »
Improved version of the fourth movement available - see links at the start of this discussion.

paulr

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Re: Movement 4 from my Sinfonia for Strings
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2017, 04:31:12 PM »
Thanks for the comments,  and welcome to the forum, Paul.  The change from the simple model style to a more chromatic, modern style is meant to be a bit of a surprise in measure 80, and provides a transition into the more modern (somewhat) main section of the piece. Harmonically, you can get away with a lot when you have a strong, simple bass line directing the movement of the chords.

 Regarding "synth/sampled" strings sounds: synthesizing a good string sound is hard!  I use Noteperformer and Sibelius to render the sound. I think it is hard to improve on the combination with resorting to expensive sound libraries and a lot of work with digital audio editors.  I must say, the viola sound in your viola/ clarinet piece is lovely. What software did you use?

Regards,
Jay

Hi Jay.  Sorry for taking this long to respond.

The viola is the Key Swtich Solo viola patch from EWQL Gold; the clarinet is from the same library.  The currently uploaded version was exported from Finale as midi then recorded to audio in Sonar. I used East West's own Chamber 2 reverb. No EQ.  The topping and tailing was done in Audacity and then it was exported to MP3 from Audacity.

I think because I don't really expect my stuff to be performed I feel obliged to pay £/$.  Even so EWQL is dated and does not have all techniques.  I keep looking at Spitfire Audio's top end orchestral stuff (and other company's libraries) ... and then backing away.
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