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Music By Members => Works in Progress: Senior => Topic started by: Patrick O'Keefe on August 17, 2018, 02:55:22 PM

Title: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on August 17, 2018, 02:55:22 PM
In early 2017 I was working on a piece for 2 flutes, two horns, and string tentatively called "Night Scene".  Then Joseph Ford - creator of the Delian Society - died and the Octava Chamber Orchestra put out a call to members of the society for tribute pieces.  Night Scene had nothing to do with Joe and was not a tribute to anybody or anything, but it felt somewhat appropriate.  I changed the orchestration to match the limited resources of Octava's summer incarnation (single winds, trumpets and horns and a small string section) and renamed it "Night Moods - Thoughts of Loss and Solace".

The result was not very successful but I liked parts of it so I new I would eventually rewrite it.  "Eventually" is now.  I'm rewriting it for "full" chamber orchestra, adding and deleting bits here and there. I've generally changed the feeling of the piece - it no longer claims to be a tribute.  I'm still calling it "Night Moods" but I've dropped the subtitle.  If I had to included a subtitle, it would now be something like "Feelings of loss, hope, and joy" ... but I don't have to so I won't. 

Usually I write in (what starts as) fairly traditional forms: ABA, sonata form, rondo, etc.  This is just about the only free-form thing I've written - just a bunch of sections strung together.

The first 2/3 of the piece is just atmospherics with little thematic content: quiet night sounds, a growing sense of unease, an unsettled climax, quiet despair.  Then there's a soft lyric section that is very thematic and downright tonal (although the tonal center tends to roam around a bit).  This eventually grows to climax that quickly subsides into calm.  The whole thing is a bit over 7 minutes long.

The piece is clearly programmatic but I haven't read the program so I don't know what it is about. 

score: https://app.box.com/s/hrkmw7irojzlu0pgxmaqyqqqfc4cokqz
audio: https://app.box.com/s/lq7e0dmgy62yayseri22syr69szmywpa
(Latest update: Sept 15, 2018 - hopefully the final update)
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: RJB54 on August 17, 2018, 05:59:50 PM
Very nice piece. Even though it may be 'free form' it doesn't feel like it's just wandering around. There is an effective emotive thrust through the whole. Well done.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: whitebark on August 18, 2018, 01:43:14 PM
Patrick -what a lovely piece!  Your harmonies and flowing counterpoint effectively create a "night mood".  The piece may be free-form, but melodic and harmonic motives tie things together nicely.

Your computer rendition of the piece is quite good, but I would certainly enjoy hearing a live performance.

Jay
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on August 18, 2018, 01:54:55 PM
Thank you for the kind words.

When I said it was "free form" I didn't mean to imply it was formless, just that it doesn't use any "traditional" form.  Most of the 8 or so sections either build on ideas from the previous section or hearken back to an earlier section.  In fact,
only the lyric section at rehearsal mark E introduces really unrelated new material, and along with the new material is a complete change of character - from gestural figures to melodic lines, from harmony based on 2nds, 4ths, and 5ths to classic triadic harmonies, etc.   

The transitions to this section really did not work in earlier incarnations of this work.  I've now settled on building to a climax highlighting the new tonal character and then rapidly dying back so that the new melodic character can be presented quietly and calmly.   

I've already made a few small changes.  With any luck the links above still work.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: sandalwood on August 18, 2018, 02:24:41 PM
I enjoyed listening to this. Transitions seamlessly to the "thematic section" where beautiful strings writing with the "flowing counterpoint" deserve extra praise, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Jerry Engelbach on August 18, 2018, 03:42:54 PM
Quote
The piece is clearly programmatic but I haven't read the program so I don't know what it is about.

Patrick,

Ha.

Well, humor aside, it's quite elegiac, so it feels like a tribute.

I understand that the Delian Society takes its name from Delos, but as another association of the name your piece brings to mind Delius.

Very delicious in many ways. Congratulations.

May I ask what was not successful about the earlier version?

Cheers,
Jer
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: RJB54 on August 18, 2018, 04:14:02 PM
When I said it was "free form" I didn't mean to imply it was formless, just that it doesn't use any "traditional" form.  Most of the 8 or so sections either build on ideas from the previous section or hearken back to an earlier section.

That's a perfectly fine approach.

In fact, for myself, this has been the 'structure' of a number of pieces/movements I have been writing of late. I have started to let the material go in whatever direction it wishes rather than forcing the material to conform to a pre-existent structure (such as Sonata Form) if it doesn't want to.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on August 18, 2018, 05:12:29 PM
In fact, for myself, this has been the 'structure' of a number of pieces/movements I have been writing of late. I have started to let the material go in whatever direction it wishes rather than forcing the material to conform to a pre-existent structure (such as Sonata Form) if it doesn't want to.

I often use a pre-existant structure - especially sonata form - as sort of scaffold for the composition.  When the music wants to go in another direction, I let it.  Those old scaffolds are strong enough to support some pretty radical extensions.  :)

In this case the music needed a different kind of scaffold - a much simpler scaffold. 

But even in this piece, as in almost everything I write, I feel a need to return to the opening material.  I haven't figured that out yet.  There is need to return to the opening quiet (which I've done) but the mood has changed and the open chords are no longer appropriate.  I'll probably find a way to include some of the opening figures but in a way that feels "resolved".  Hmm.  I think I've just figured that out.  Yet another version is on the way.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on August 19, 2018, 02:44:43 PM
I enjoyed listening to this. Transitions seamlessly to the "thematic section" where beautiful strings writing with the "flowing counterpoint" deserve extra praise, in my opinion.
Thank you.  That "flowing counterpoint" brings up an interesting point.  (Interesting to me, that is.)  One of the lines derives from an idea I had in college - about 48 years ago (way before I knew anything about composing).  Even back then it was a contrapuntal mix of two lines.  I've change the original "main" line so much that I no longer recognize it but the counter line is pretty much the same.

I understand that the Delian Society takes its name from Delos, but as another association of the name your piece brings to mind Delius.
Hmm.  I've never associated my music with Delius.   Although I like a number of his works I can't really say I'm very familiar with much of his music.   

May I ask what was not successful about the earlier version?
Oh, my.  Where to begin?  In the original score I had a change in meter every few bars up until the lyric section.  Hard to count.  Probably hard to conduct.  And I had many mid-measure entrances.  Combined with the difficulties in counting, that made for many missed entrances.

Most of the bits that are now muted strings were originally harmonics.  The strings had no problem with the natural harmonics or (usually) the static artificial harmonics but the moving lines did not work at all - more missed notes than correct ones.  This was possibly just not enough practice but the music doesn't really require the sound of harmonics so why chance it?  My first though was to use sul ponticello instead of harmonics but I was afraid it might come out too brittle or harsh.  (I just want it sort of thin.)

The little florid figure that appears in many instruments following rehearsal mark C (such as flute 1 m 48) was originally twice as fast.  Nobody but the clarinet got it right.  There is really no necessary musical content to the figure, but I wanted it to be recognizable when it appeared in each instrument.  So I removed every other note and doubled then length of each remaining note.  Same over all figure, but slower and half as many notes.  Hopefully more playable.

There were also performance problems that had nothing to do with the score.  Cellists being blinded by sunlight so they could see neither score nor conductor.  String players with conflicting concepts of intonation.  Lack of rehearsal time.   There's nothing I can do about things like that, but I've tried to reduce the number of cliffs the performers could fall off.

By the way, I've updated the score and audio files again.  Cleaned up some rough harmonies.  Re-roughened some harmonies I had cleaned up too much.  Etc.


 
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Jerry Engelbach on August 19, 2018, 02:52:14 PM
Oh, my.  Where to begin?  In the original score I had a change in meter every few bars up until the lyric section.  Hard to count.  Probably hard to conduct.  And I had many mid-measure entrances.  Combined with the difficulties in counting, that made for many missed entrances.

Most of the bits that are now muted strings were originally harmonics.  The strings had no problem with the natural harmonics or (usually) the static artificial harmonics but the moving lines did not work at all - more missed notes than correct ones.  This was possibly just not enough practice but the music doesn't really require the sound of harmonics so why chance it?  My first though was to use sul ponticello instead of harmonics but I was afraid it might come out too brittle or harsh.  (I just want it sort of thin.)

The little florid figure that appears in many instruments following rehearsal mark C (such as flute 1 m 48) was originally twice as fast.  Nobody but the clarinet got it right.  There is really no necessary musical content to the figure, but I wanted it to be recognizable when it appeared in each instrument.  So I removed every other note and doubled then length of each remaining note.  Same over all figure, but slower and half as many notes.  Hopefully more playable.

There were also performance problems that had nothing to do with the score.  Cellists being blinded by sunlight so they could see neither score nor conductor.  String players with conflicting concepts of intonation.  Lack of rehearsal time.   There's nothing I can do about things like that, but I've tried to reduce the number of cliffs the performers could fall off.

By the way, I've updated the score and audio files again.  Cleaned up some rough harmonies.  Re-roughened some harmonies I had cleaned up too much.  Etc.

Yikes.

The evil gods were against you.
 
Great job defeating them.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: LA Dierker on September 14, 2018, 08:58:18 AM
A lovely piece Patrick and I also was reminded of Delius. In my listening, I think it falls in with the Impressionists.
       Having some experience with conducting small ensembles in a variety of conditions I had to chuckle as you described your performance issues.
     Good description, "limiting cliffs for performers to fall off"   
                  Good luck with this composition as you progress onward.  best, LA
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: perpetuo studens on September 20, 2018, 02:56:42 PM
Lovely Patrick, enjoyed this very much. I too am attracted to experimenting with looser forms, but haven't approached the success you've had here. I also particularly liked the harmonic language and the orchestration. Well done.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on September 20, 2018, 04:40:12 PM
Thank you for your kind comments.  Now if I can only find a small orchestra that feels as positive about it as the people on this form. :)
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: mjf1947 on September 20, 2018, 07:41:43 PM
What a lovely scene you paint with your notes................  :)

Impressionistic .... a touch of Delius yes.

Mark
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: mjw58 on September 21, 2018, 01:29:29 PM

Patrick, I really liked this. It deserves a live performance.  :)

Morten
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Michel.R.E on September 26, 2018, 12:28:17 PM
I only just got a chance to sit and listen to this.
It's quite beautiful (I am VERY partial to those "loud" chords at B... so crunchy, so lovely).
There area  few little notation things here and there that would be easy to correct.

The only issue I see is with some of the strong bowing. It would be worth sitting with a violinist to go over that.

I guess maybe I don't know Delius all that well (I don't), but to me this has a very American sound to it, with subtle hints of Copland here and there.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on September 26, 2018, 02:38:44 PM
Thank you for looking at this. Michel.  I'll try to find a violinist willing to take some time with the work.  And I'll look for the notational problems.  (I often see what I expect to see and miss what's on the page.)

I'm familiar with only a handful of Delius works.  While I like them, I don't see a strong connection in this work with any of them.  I didn't purposely use any composer as a model but I can see how some of the open chords in the beginning could be reminiscent of Copland.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on October 02, 2018, 11:05:42 AM
I looked at the bowing and discovered I'd fallen back into my very strong tendency to use slurs as phrase markings rather than an indication of bowing.  Of course I slur an anacrusis onto the downbeat of the next measure; that's where the phrase is going.  <sigh>  Next I'd better see if any wind or brass players are going to collapse of asphyxiation because of my phrase markings.  :(

Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: mjf1947 on October 02, 2018, 01:11:36 PM
I only just got a chance to sit and listen to this.
It's quite beautiful (I am VERY partial to those "loud" chords at B... so crunchy, so lovely).
There area  few little notation things here and there that would be easy to correct.

The only issue I see is with some of the strong bowing. It would be worth sitting with a violinist to go over that.

I guess maybe I don't know Delius all that well (I don't), but to me this has a very American sound to it, with subtle hints of Copland here and there.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrv1C4sRBFg    Delius!

Enjoy ...

Mark
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: LA Dierker on October 02, 2018, 01:49:45 PM
YES, such beautiful music, and the title of this composition shows America's influence on Delius. This piece was composed in 1903 when Aaron Copeland was 3 years old, so perhaps Copeland was influenced by Delius?
     I did not know of this particular piece, so thanks so much Mark for the link.  LA
     
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on October 02, 2018, 03:17:53 PM
Delius lived in Florida for a number of years.  I was not familiar with Appalachia but discovered his Florida suite (1887) when I was in high school - 55 years ago or more - and loved it.  Delius certainly was influenced by the music he heard in the American South - using slave songs in some works.   

I've never studied the music of either Delius or Copland, but I think Copland's relation to American music was quite different from that of Delius.  While Copland obviously picked up influences of the American music he heard, but he also created a sound that became American music.

I wasn't consciously aware of the influence of either of these composers while I created Night Moods, but I think the opening may have some of that "American sound" I associate with some of Copland.



Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 08, 2019, 03:01:11 PM
This piece is going to be performed by the Octava Chamber Orchestra (a community orchestra in the Seattle area) on January 27.  I guess that means it is no longer "in progress".  :)
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: mjf1947 on January 08, 2019, 03:22:30 PM
WONDERFUL!!!!!!
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: sandalwood on January 08, 2019, 03:48:03 PM
Congratulations Pat! Excellent news!
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Michel.R.E on January 08, 2019, 04:49:10 PM
I'm happy to hear this.
I'm looking forward to hearing it, and hearing Johan's feedback on how it went.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Ron on January 08, 2019, 08:04:03 PM
Good stuff, Pat. For some reason I missed this--I have been out  of touch with forum postings for several months--else I would have been happy to go over the string parts. However, Matt, Octava's concert master, is very experienced. I'm sure they will handle this work very well.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 08, 2019, 08:57:02 PM
Thanks for the kind words. 

The original version of this - part of the tribute to Joe Ford a couple summers ago - didn't work out too well but I think I've removed the stumbling blocks (or Matt and Johan would not have accepted it).    I get to sit in on two rehearsals, but they are just a couple days before the performance.  No time to make changes to bits that don't work.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Michel.R.E on January 08, 2019, 09:50:29 PM
a word of warning for the rehearsal... don't speak unless spoken to.
some conductors don't mind, others do. I believe Johan falls into the latter category.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Jerry Engelbach on January 09, 2019, 07:06:57 AM
This piece is going to be performed by the Octava Chamber Orchestra (a community orchestra in the Seattle area) on January 27.  I guess that means it is no longer "in progress".  :)
ˇFANTASTICO!
 
All best wishes for its triumphant debut.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: whitebark on January 09, 2019, 10:14:40 AM
Congratulations on getting the performance, Pat!  And a round of applause for  Octava, for daring to perform new compositions.

Jay
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 09, 2019, 07:38:45 PM
a word of warning for the rehearsal... don't speak unless spoken to.
some conductors don't mind, others do. I believe Johan falls into the latter category.
I will definitely keep quiet.  If the orchestra makes egregious errors I'll try to whimper quietly.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: whitebark on January 24, 2019, 05:33:34 PM
Looks like the concert is coming up soon - Sunday at 6 pm. I hope the rehearsals have been going well!

Jay
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 24, 2019, 05:37:18 PM
The first rehearsal I'm allowed to attend is tomorrow evening.  I hope to be pleased.  We shall see.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: RJB54 on January 27, 2019, 08:26:23 AM
Good luck.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 27, 2019, 11:55:49 AM
They went through the piece twice on Friday.  The first time was pretty rocky; the 2nd time through was much better.  The Saturday rehearsal was pretty good ... except for some still quite sketchy places.  And those sketchy places did not seem to be the same ones giving problems on Friday.  They may have been just one-off goofs.  I have hope that it will be even better during the performance but I'll take what I get.

The performance also has Dello Joio's New York Profiles and Beethoven's 3rd symphony.  I wasn't familiar with the Dello Joio.  They seem to be doing a pretty good job with it.   
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Michel.R.E on January 27, 2019, 11:03:24 PM
Well Patrick, it seems you have a success on your hands!
The audience appears to have appreciated it immensely, and I was told that the musicians enjoyed it very much as well.
The conductor feels it's the kind of work that would probably gain from being better understood with more rehearsal and maybe more performances. The eternal problem with new music is that it doesn't ever get that "lived in" feel because it doesn't get the chance to be "old hat" to musicians and conductors.
Congratulations, a rousing success.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 28, 2019, 09:27:31 AM
Thank you, Michel.  I must admit I was surprised by the number of people - audience and musicians - that expressed appreciation.  (While I appreciate the audiences reaction, the musician's reactions are much more meaningful to me!)  I still think of myself as a retired techie rather than a composer so I'm still a bit stunned.

I was not overly hopeful after the two rehearsals I attended, but I think the orchestra did a good job.  It would have been better if taken a bit faster, but Johan wisely took it at the tempo the orchestra needed.   I believe the orchestra had only 4 rehearsals - Fridays and Saturdays of two adjacent weeks.  And some of the musicians missed the first two rehearsals because they fell on a US holiday weekend.  And many of the musicians have non-musical day jobs.   All in all, it's a very impressive little orchestra.   I could hardly have hoped for a better performance.   (They did a very good job on the Dello Joio piece, too.)
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Michel.R.E on January 28, 2019, 11:37:53 AM
Johan was telling me how much he enjoyed the Dello Joio. I was telling him to find a recording of Dello Joio's "Fantasy and variations for piano and orchestra". Such a wonderful work, and never, ever performed.
He was also very happy with his Beethoven.
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: sandalwood on January 28, 2019, 12:16:17 PM
Congratulations Pat!

(I'm sure I had already posted a congratulatory message but it has somehow disappeared)
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: whitebark on January 28, 2019, 12:26:47 PM
Yes, Congratulations on the successful performance!

Jay
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Jerry Engelbach on January 29, 2019, 04:45:58 AM
Kudos, Patrick!
 
Was the concert recorded?
 
Cheers,
Jer
Title: Re: Night Moods
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 29, 2019, 09:09:20 AM
The concert was recorded.  The organizer (and concertmaster) said the recording should be available this weekend.  If the regular concerts are handled like their summer program, I will be given a recording of my piece.  I'll post mine.  You may have to contact Dello Joio and Beethoven if you recordings of their pieces.

Update:
Link to an MP3 file of the performance
https://app.box.com/s/t15o5vsgtot8runnupfxpg7png04g6ox

There are a few unfortunate wrong notes but that just proves it's a live performance.  All in all, they did a  pretty good job.