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Music By Members => Works in Progress: Senior => Topic started by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 03, 2019, 04:10:52 PM

Title: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 03, 2019, 04:10:52 PM
Here's a piece I've been working on, off and on (but lately pretty much "on") for a few months  I guess it's safe to call it "in progress" now.  It's currently for flute, oboe, bassoon, and string quartet, and will probably stay that way. I don't yet know if it is a stand-alone piece or the first movement of something - probably the latter.

Mvmt I audio - https://app.box.com/s/jt3is056v29q1ces76yth3yh1hxcfmyz
Mvmt I score - https://app.box.com/s/b5djlx1tr5750ytxvzbhi38rbffxu6aj

Mvmt II audio - https://app.box.com/s/rr8p1h14lhqyf591l0nq2ikkjhmunfqf
Mvmt II score - https://app.box.com/s/qjraogkducx4bxue1ng4dtubavb4tavz

Mvmt III audio - https://app.box.com/s/sxyehizamwwxdm0qgewn3fbyaobuemv4
Mvmt III score - https://app.box.com/s/u0t5ohldz7yq00pdl3qdzfmqqfe1lolq

(Last update - Jan 6, 2020)

Tonally, it started out as mostly quartal, but I've tweaked it enough that that's no longer an accurate description.

Structurally, it has ended up vaguely like sonata form, but it has some aspects of rondo and even ritornello in it (but without the tonal relationships implied by any of those forms).  It could sort of be mapped out into-ABCBA-coda.  The "C" section consists of a contrapuntal bits distantly related to "A", interrupted by fragments of "A" at cadential points.  Longer fragments of "A" (and/ or fragments of the introduction) serve as transitions between the contrapuntal sections.  In the middle of "C" there is a short fugato consisting of just a 4-voice "first entry".  What should be the first episode turns into another (non-fugal) section, but with the fugue's subject making multiple brief appearances.    (It was fun to write, but I don't know if it works very well.)

The "B" section, in both appearances, has nothing to do with the "A" theme and makes no thematic contribution to the rest of the movement.  However, added together they make up about a third of the piece so they have some importance all on their own.  Should I shorten them? 

Any comments are welcome.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: mjf1947 on April 04, 2019, 06:28:46 AM
Patrick,

I very much loved your intricate play on the thematic material .... overall it's a wonderful composition.

I have one observation though, I think the work could be more "tight".  The themes are very expansive - some judicial editing I think would enhance the overall performance.

Mark
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 04, 2019, 08:58:55 AM
... I think the work could be more "tight".  The themes are very expansive - some judicial editing I think would enhance the overall performance.

If you are referring to the "B" section - the slow part - I absolutely agree!  I caught myself trying to write a slow movement.  I need to make some cuts there.  And the section starting at rehearsal mark H or a few bars earlier (at about 4' 35") needs to be shortened. 

Any other specific places?
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Jerry Engelbach on April 04, 2019, 11:43:12 AM
It's a wonderful piece, Patrick.
 
I agree that the expensiveness of the last part feels just a little mushy. I don't know that it needs cutting I love the material. Perhaps just more of an arc, a crescendo that then comes down and speeds to a conclusion.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 04, 2019, 12:06:36 PM
Thank you for your comment, Jerry.  I was busily deleting bits when I read your post and decided I'd cancel out of my changes.  I think it needs a little pruning, but I agree I need to do a better job with the material that's there.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 04, 2019, 03:57:41 PM
I've made  a few changes - addressing some of the comments and changing some harmony.  More pruning will follow soon (I hope).
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: whitebark on April 04, 2019, 09:47:20 PM
I enjoyed listening to your Septet, Patrick. Your counterpoint and harmonic techniques are impeccable, and create a lively, smooth-flowing piece of music.  Nice use of the instruments, everything sounds well-balanced. The score looks good, although I was surprised to see that you used parentheses around the courtesy accidentals. Is that done any more?

Looking forward to your next revision...

Jay
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: gogreen on April 05, 2019, 05:59:35 AM
Very nice composition, Patrick. I liked the interplay among the instruments and, in spots, the rhythmic treatment of the melodic lines. Your legato lines are nicely crafted, too. I admit, though, the piece plodded a bit for me up to about measure 62. I thought you might be moving to a contrasting staccato and louder section there, but after about measure 62 you took the piece elsewhere (which still was pleasant). I might also make the flute part a bit louder on the playback.

Nice work! A live performance would be great to hear!

Art
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 05, 2019, 09:08:05 AM
I was surprised to see that you used parentheses around the courtesy accidentals. Is that done any more?
Ah yes, courtesy accidentals.  I've found this a a no-win situation, regardless of the current rules, because some players have strong opinions.  I have been castigated for not having them in parentheses because that looked like a mandatory accidental implying a missed key change.  I've also been castigated for including any courtesy accidentals at all because that was an insult to the player's knowledge of the rules.  Since I don't know the attitudes of the unknown future performers I've settled on putting them in parentheses so they are obviously "courtesy".  It wastes a bit of real estate but I'm not aware of another downside (other than irritating some of the performers).

Anything related to courtesy accidentals is, of course, a problem only during sight reading, but the first reading is not a good time to irritate a performer.  :) 

I'll check what Gould has to say on the matter.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 05, 2019, 09:22:54 AM
I admit, though, the piece plodded a bit for me up to about measure 62.
Hmm.  I'm guessing you meant measure 72 since 62 is midway through the short transition from the slow part to a return of the initial theme.  That slow section was supposed to be sort of lyrical and floating.  I certainly didn't intend it to be plodding.  Maybe I can improve it.  I can see how the "A" section could feel plodding.  I struggle making homophonic music move; I seem to be better at contrapuntal music (although I tend to make contrapuntal hash according to traditional rules of counterpoint).  Maybe I'll remove the repeat.  It will at least get past that part more quickly.

Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Michel.R.E on April 05, 2019, 11:39:57 AM
let me give you an example for courtesy accidentals, drawn from recent experience.

In the 1st movement of my Concerto Grosso, at one point, there is a B natural in the bass part. But the implied harmony above SEEMS to require a Bb. The bass players came to me with questions about the note. In this specific example, while there is no Bb previous to that measure, and thus no actual need for a courtesy accidental at all, I still placed a B natural in parentheses to indicate "yes, this note really is a B natural".

otherwise, I always follow the rule that a courtesy accidental is required if that note was altered within the distance of one full measure, sometimes even the full duration of two measures (for example, the 1st beat of one measure is altered, and the last beat of the subsequent measure is not, I'd insert a courtesy accidental.)

I never use parentheses on courtesy accidentals unless they are very very specific cases (like that in the aforementioned bass part).
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Michel.R.E on April 05, 2019, 04:52:19 PM
two minor critical comments:

1) I'd have liked to hear the woodwinds dominate every once in a while. it's very "string heavy". don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful textures in the string parts... but it would be nice to give a few of those moments to the woodwinds too.

2) The end COULD have been lengthened a bit to prepare the final measure. I'm talking just a few measures, something that off-sets the end from the rest.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 06, 2019, 10:08:37 AM
Thank you for your comments Michel.

1) I'd have liked to hear the woodwinds dominate every once in a while. it's very "string heavy". don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful textures in the string parts... but it would be nice to give a few of those moments to the woodwinds too.
Oops.  I went in the other direction.  At about 8 measures after H I swapped wind lines into the strings.  (Actually, it needed a timbral change there, but it added to the imbalance you noticed.)  I'll see what I can do.  At the very least, I'm thinking of making this the 1st movement of a multi-movement piece and was already planning on having the 2nd movement start with an extended part for winds.  But that doesn't address your point.

2) The end COULD have been lengthened a bit to prepare the final measure. I'm talking just a few measures, something that off-sets the end from the rest.

Good idea.  I'll give it a try.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 08, 2019, 11:51:14 AM
I've removed the repeat of the "A" section.  The pseudo-exposition is now an ABA for rather than AABA.  I'm not sure this is a good idea since the B section is so much longer than the A section.  I may undo this change.

I've tried giving the winds a bit more prominence in several places:
 
I have not yet changed the courtesy accidentals.

Update:
I made some minor changes to the fugato and very minor tweaks the coda. 

Update #2.
I meant to mention that the tweak to the coda was a disaster, but I probably won't have time to try again for a couple days.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: RJB54 on April 20, 2019, 07:27:05 AM
I finally had time to listen to this. I like the basic material, the motives are interesting, the orchestration of the second version (I didn't have a chance to listen to the first version) works well with the string/wind contrasts.

However, in toto, it feels a bit 'samey' to me. You have the eighth-sixteenth-sixteenth motive all over the place. You could get some development going and increase the variety by changing that motive around a little here and there. Change it to an eighth note triplet in spots, for example, or have it be sixteenth-sixteen-eighth, or change the melodic dyad into a three note arpeggio, and so on. This would liven up the motive and help keep it from getting repetitive.

All in all, though, a good, enjoyable, piece.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 22, 2019, 11:38:19 AM
However, in toto, it feels a bit 'samey' to me. You have the eighth-sixteenth-sixteenth motive all over the place. You could get some development going and increase the variety by changing that motive around a little here and there. Change it to an eighth note triplet in spots, for example, or have it be sixteenth-sixteen-eighth, or change the melodic dyad into a three note arpeggio, and so on. This would liven up the motive and help keep it from getting repetitive.
I've been buried in non-music for the past few weeks.  I've made lots of changes but haven't put together a clean version to post.  And now I'm afraid the changes I've made have probably made it even more "samey".  Maybe I'll try some of your suggestions before posting a new copy.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on April 23, 2019, 08:42:00 PM
The link at the beginning of this thread now point to an updated version.  I probably won't be able to attend to any comments for a few days.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on June 04, 2019, 09:11:19 PM
I had forgotten this thread.  The piece is now definitely a multi-movement work  The 1st movement is essentially (except that I tweak it every week or so). The 2nd movement is complete until I decide it's not.  The 2nd movement is undergoing changes to be posted soon.   At least the form is pretty much set.  It's ABA form with the A section slow, The slow, quiet section returns, and is obviously modeled on the initial A section, but the motifs have changed a bit and are in a different order.

I have not started thinking about the 3rd movement, but it will probably be the last movement.   
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 08, 2019, 03:59:02 PM
Judging from my last update of this thread, I'd say I've been away from the forum for about 6 months.  (A knee replacement, a hip replacement, and a smattering of oral surgery has been occupying my time.)

I've updated the links in the first posting of the thread.  They've been messed up for 6 months, I guess.  And I've added links to the 3rd movement.  The first two movements are essentially done.  I find things to tweak every time I look at them, of course, and I'll still consider suggested changes, but they are pretty much finished.  The 3rd movement wants to be done, but I keep changing it daily.

Comments and suggestions are welcome. 

BTW, I see that I have title, composer, and copyright information on page 5 as if it were the 1st page.  I've obviously done something weird in my notation software (Sibelius).  I will fix it soon.  Fixed.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 16, 2019, 11:22:32 AM
I decided the 3rd movement was too slow so I've upped the tempo.  With that change I thought I'd better remove some 16th note pizz.  I think I didn't lose much by that. 

I'm now worried a bit about all the rapid staccato.  Is this going to be too tiring for the winds?  And should I make some the the string's staccato one of the various bouncing bow techniques?  Is this something I leave for the discretion of the player?  I want short, sharp, well separated notes.  I'm not sure I care how it is achieved, but maybe I just know too little about the sound produced by the different techniques. 
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: mjf1947 on December 16, 2019, 11:36:26 AM
Firstly ..... it is a lovely/lively movement with lots of heart.

As per your question .... As an orchestra woodwind player (Oboe) I do not see any problem with the tempo and articulation within the work.  There are places to breathe ......

Mark

Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 16, 2019, 12:19:13 PM
Mark, thanks for your comments.  I'll worry less about the winds now.

I forgot to mention in my last post that I re-notated parts of the movement - mostly in the strings - to emphasize the 6-against-4 rhythm that appears in several places.  I know that the standard beaming for 12/8 is to beam 3 8th notes together, but I decided to beam pairs of 8th notes for instruments playing the 6-beat figure.  I don't know if that is standard practice, but I think it helps clarify the rhythm.  If it is confusing, I'll change it back.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: sandalwood on December 16, 2019, 02:47:21 PM
Patrick, I enjoyed this 3rd mvt a lot. I believe it is folk material inspiration put to excellent use and I think it works very well. It makes the beautiful and exciting rhythm sing, as I hear it. Many fine passages... for instance one from m.27. I particularly like the growing intensity with thickening of the texture in the finale (I feel it could get even more berserk).  And it sounds well-finished to me; nothing sagging or disturbing.  Listening to the piece it occured to me that a mostly p dynamics,  contrapuntal and perhaps a notch or two faster pizz. passage in the second half for contrast might make the piece even more colorful. Many such ideas of mine just don't work, so please take it with a grain ...  :)
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 16, 2019, 03:57:12 PM
Listening to the piece it occured to me that a mostly p dynamics,  contrapuntal and perhaps a notch or two faster pizz. passage in the second half for contrast might make the piece even more colorful.
I'll see what I can do with that idea.  I've already got a contrapuntal section the starts p - the fugato at G.  No pizz. in it, And I need it to crescendo to H.  But I can make it speed up and have the last section faster.  I'll give it a try.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: sandalwood on December 16, 2019, 04:25:10 PM
What I mean is a pizz. strings only passage (like in Bartok quartet 4) or perhaps with some minimal arco interspersed like in some passages of Ravel (quartet). I'm saying these just to explain myself, not because I'm confident about my idea.  :)
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 16, 2019, 05:03:54 PM
Hmm.  I'll see if I can fit that in.  I could, of course, insert a pizz.-only transitional measure, but I'll see if an existing section could become pizz.-only.  (No promises.)
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: sandalwood on December 18, 2019, 07:32:06 AM
Hmm.  I'll see if I can fit that in.  I could, of course, insert a pizz.-only transitional measure, but I'll see if an existing section could become pizz.-only.  (No promises.)

Please don't let my bright(!) ideas "create no [any] trouble in thy breast" :)
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: whitebark on December 18, 2019, 02:09:51 PM
Hi Patrick,
Your new third movement is wonderful.  It sounds polished and I have no suggestions for improvement.  The gigue-like flavor of the piece certainly provides a lively and satisfying finish to the Septet. Thanks for sharing it!

Jay
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 18, 2019, 06:45:38 PM
Thanks for the kind words.  I'm still tweaking it a bit.  A pizz.-only section came into existence and then shrank almost out of existence.  It may continue shrinking because I'm not sure it added anything useful.  I made a few other changes here and there, too.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 19, 2019, 05:35:36 PM
Well, the pizz.-only section is gone.  I decided I just didn't like it as well as what I had had before.  I made other tweaks (and will continue to make them), but think I'm mostly done.  I suspect my next major task will be score prep.  (Ugh!)
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on December 23, 2019, 03:48:30 PM
I think it's time I call this work "completed" ... even though I change the coda of the 3rd movement several times a day.  I'll start a new thread in the "Completed" sub-forum in case anybody has more comments to make.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 04, 2020, 04:58:41 PM
I've moved the discussion back here because I'm reworking the 1st movement.  I've hopefully made the middle section more concise and less rambling.   The links in the start of the thread now point to the most recent version.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: mjf1947 on January 05, 2020, 07:32:00 AM
Patrick ....

I know you have worked really long and hard on the 1st movement. 

So it is with great trepidation I offer my review.

First - the mid-section at letter D is very engaging and clever.  It strongly held my interest.

However, I kept wanting the initial material and contrasting section at B to develop further.

For me - the music theme needed to move  on/build (harmonically/thematically) - to a high point/climax.

There is a "circular" feel to those sections.

Please note = My observations in no way subtracts from a very ambitious and well crafted work.  The 2nd and 3rd movements won me over big time.

Mark

 





Title: Re: Septet
Post by: whitebark on January 05, 2020, 12:07:05 PM
Patrick, your revised first movement sounds quite different in the development section, although I haven't done a strict comparison with the older version. From my quick listen, the development section does sound more organized than before.  The "soft" transition from the development section to the recap is unusual but effective. I'll give the piece another listen soon.

Jay
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 06, 2020, 12:37:49 PM
... I kept wanting the initial material and contrasting section at B to develop further.
This prompted me to make a fairly significant change ... but not necessarily in the direction you suggested.

Some background:
Even though this movement is very loosely sonata form (with the order in the recapitulation reversed), the material in the "development section" doesn't use material from the exposition.  Instead, everything in the moment is based on motifs from the introduction - mostly from the 1st 3 measures.  The development was originally a contrapuntal treatment of some themes built on those motifs.  Originally it was 3 fugatos, but that had changed by the time I had posted anything here. (The material at D is still a fugal exposition presented twice with some material from the introduction between them as punctuation.  The subject is derived from the 1st measure of the introduction.)  While the development does not directly use the material from the A section, it treats the motific material in a similar fashion.  I didn't think the material from the B section lent itself to this kind of treatment so it appeared in just the exposition and recapitulation. 

You suggestion of using material from the B section prompted me to rethink all this.  While I don't directly use the material, I've now got some material (at rehearsal mark E) that is (initially) in a similar mood.  But that material wouldn't let go of me and kept growing.  It eventually morphs into something more in the mood of the last movement, alternates with material from the old last fugato section until G where it is back to old material.  (I could probably eliminate the material at G altogether and skip to H, but I'm pretty attached to that material.)

Anyway, the middle section of the movement has now feels quite different.  More work is needed, but I like the direction it's going now.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 06, 2020, 03:42:23 PM
On the "completed" forum, Jay said

Are you still working on the coda to the third movement of the Septet?  The ending is a tad abrupt, so adding a slight extension to the ending might make things more satisfying. You could just repeat material in the existing final measure for a one or two more measures (with increasing intensity) before ending with the final strong chord that you have now. The listener will know that things are coming to and end.
I am still working on the coda ('though I haven't touched it for a few days).  At the very least I need to lengthen it by half a measure so it ends on beat 1.  I'll see what else I might do to it.

In the second movement, I've already noted the long arch-like increase and decrease in intensity that provides structure to the piece.    Marking the climax point with some sort of musical event might tighten things up.
No promises but I'll see if I think it needs anything.  At the very least it needs some work on the score.  I really need to change where I indicate the tempo change.  I may ask for guidance on the Notation forum.
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 07, 2020, 04:36:56 PM
I've created an alternative a new version of the 1st movement.  (I'm not sure I want to replace the "real" version with this yet.) I've deleted the section that had been at rehearsal mark D.  I really like that material, but I think the movement is better without it.
Comments?

Alternate Mvmt I score: https://app.box.com/s/n6n03htwbx6lyhgh6q215vzourjvzsd1
Alternate Mvmt I audio: https://app.box.com/s/ag8vrombsyfl2bs00gt9qz4k4d7ve4ln


I have replaced the original 1st movement with what had been "alternate".
Title: Re: Septet
Post by: Patrick O'Keefe on January 22, 2020, 04:11:53 PM
Back to the "Completed" forum.  I think the piece is as done as it's going to get ... except for score cleanup, of course.