Author Topic: Variations for Strings in A Minor  (Read 423 times)

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whitebark

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Variations for Strings in A Minor
« on: March 18, 2019, 09:29:25 PM »
Oops!  I didn't mean to post this in the senior section!

This set of variations began its life way back in the '90's, when capable score writing programs became available for commonly available personal computers. I had a burst of creativity at that time, and this piece was one of the results.  Oddly, it was originally written for woodwind quintet, but later it somehow evolved into a string orchestra piece as I made continual improvements to the original crude score.

I added a fugue and an extended coda to the latest version, and I have continued the battle against violations of the Prime Directive of Counterpoint:  There Shall Be No Direct Motion Into Perfect Consonances.

I'll probably continue to tinker with the piece, but it is reasonably complete.

Well here it is (corrected version 12)

Recording (NotePerformer 3.2)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ltbucpyp5el93uk/Variations%20v12.mp3?dl=0


Score:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/d6m7tv8hzdcl8gm/Variations12.pdf?dl=0

Having a first and second cello part is a bit unusual, but I was thinking of my own orchestra, which has a ton of cellos and not many violas.

-Jay

« Last Edit: March 27, 2019, 02:53:24 PM by whitebark »

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 01:08:24 PM »
Well, you gone done it again, Jay.
 
What an exciting, engaging piece of music. Wonderful originality in the theme, and the orchestration is, as always, marvelously intricate. I was thrilled by the build towards the end and its resolution.
 
I have one reservation. It's not clear to me from the sound when the variations start. I feel the first few are either not different enough from the main theme or don't refer back to it clearly enough to realize that they are variations rather than just extensions of the music. Perhaps the transitions could be more defined.
 
One technical point, of which I'm sure you're aware: your syncopations are not breaking the bar in the middle, which would make them easier to read.
 
As always, I know I can expect something special from you, and you don't disappoint.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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mjf1947

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 01:24:16 PM »
Jay a very intriguing work .... which makes me want to know more about YOU!

If you feel comfortable ... I would very much like to know about your Musial journey and present endeavors.

Mark

RJB54

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2019, 04:21:48 PM »
Interesting work. A lot of interesting motives go by.

While each variation had interesting moments and interplay, I do feel that it is a bit too laid back (at least for me). I didn't feel any real drive and excitement in any of the variations. But that's probably just me. I like me some drama and Sturm Und Drang.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
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whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2019, 07:10:12 PM »
Well, you gone done it again, Jay.

Now my ears are burning, Jer - glad you liked the piece  :).

I'm a little uneasy about the start of the piece, too. There's too much in A minor, creating a bit of a "blah" feeling.  I may expand the Theme section at the beginning and change or delete the 2nd variation.

Good point about notation of syncopated passages.  I will have to review the rules and make changes.

Thanks for listening!

Jay

whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2019, 08:51:13 PM »
Jay a very intriguing work .... which makes me want to know more about YOU!

Mark

Hi Mark,
My musical history actually goes way back. My bass teacher must have seen some potential way back in the mid '70s and gave me some lessons in music theory. I wrote a string piece for my high school orchestra and had it performed in '77, with hand-written parts and score (no computers back then). In a way, this was the most successful live performance of one of my works that I have ever enjoyed.

Feel free to send a private message to me if you have any more questions.
J
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 09:15:41 PM by whitebark »

Michel.R.E

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 06:01:17 AM »
Sorry it's taken me a bit to get to this.
It has some very strong parts to it. I admit to being particularly fond of the fugue.
I'd have preferred to see the fuga at the very end, particularly with that lovely pedal point underneath it all. It would have to be extended a bit, maybe with 2 or 3 episodes, and another couple of expositions before the pedal and ending.

Also, the occasional popping up of nice major triads at a few cadential points is a nice touch.

I also feel that the first few variations sort of blend into one continuous part. It almost felt for that section that this was simply the normal development of a theme within the confines of, for example, a sonata allegro.

On very short section toward the end of a variation has the 1st violins playing arpeggiated triplets. It's lovely.. except it sort of pops out of nowhere and feels a bit "tacked on". It needs a bit more development, possibly a variation all its own.

Notationally, there is the constant cardinal sin of notating values across the measure mid-line. In your main theme, beat 2 and 3 should not be a single note, but rather an 8th tied to an 8th.
You should go back and in every single measure where a longer value crosses that mid-line, replace it with tied notes. The one exception would be where you have, for example, a quarter on beat 1, then a half starting on beat 2.
Those double-dotted half notes later on are an absolute no-no. Not beczuse they are double-dotted notes (though the use of those has fallen out of favour for the clearer notation of tied notes) but because first there is a short note, and then this double-dotted long note that... you guessed it: crosses the measure mid-line. those should be notated as 8th note, then dotted quarter tied to half.
"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: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2019, 10:43:06 AM »
like me some drama and Sturm Und Drang.

Thanks for listening, Robert.  One reason I added the fugue was to provide a bit more excitement.  I'll rework the first variation to make it more interesting.

-Jay

whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2019, 11:11:05 AM »
Michel, thanks for the detailed response.

 I'll definitely go through the piece and fix the notation of syncopations.

Yes, the fugue could use another episode and exposition section to make it feel complete. Composing the current version gave me a headache at times - wrestling with the counterpoint was hard work! I'm not sure I'm ready to add onto the fugue yet. Soon perhaps....

Agreed, variation V with the violin triplets is disjointed and needs work.

I'll rework the Theme and first two variations to make things work better.  I'll rewrite Variation I to make it more interesting and distinctive.

-Jay




whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2019, 09:02:41 PM »
Here is the latest version of my Variations. I extended the introduction of the Theme, and completely replaced Variation I  - it is now a cute little march. 
Variation 5 with the flowing triplet line has been completely reworked, also. 

Recording (NotePerformer 3.2)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ltbucpyp5el93uk/Variations%20v12.mp3?dl=0


Score:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/d6m7tv8hzdcl8gm/Variations12.pdf?dl=0


Jay



« Last Edit: March 27, 2019, 02:52:30 PM by whitebark »

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2019, 11:02:39 AM »
Jay,
 
A fantastic revision. The variations are much clearer now. And such great variety.
 
I love the march. It's witty and somewhat Prokofian (is that a word?).
 
The lead into and onset of the fugue are wonderful, and the fugue itself is really exciting.
 
The chorale is emotionally moving. The Chaconne is a blast! And the tranquil section before the finale anticipates the ending effectively.
 
The ending, too, works very well. However, I wonder if the repetition of the main theme might work with a key change in there somewhere. It gets just a little anti-climactic.
 
Throughout, your harmonies are sophisticated and set the mood well.
 
Congratulations on an absolutely marvelous piece.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 09:43:45 PM »
Thanks for the enthusiastic review, Jer!
Yes, the A minor arrives a bit early at the end - I'll consider a change.

J

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2019, 04:05:19 PM »
What an absolutely terrific piece!  Thank you for finally posting in the Senior subforum.  Every time you posted in the Beginners section I wondered why I had the audacity to post in the Senior section.  (Now I just wonder why I have the audacity to post at all.)

This is a very well crafted piece.  I hope you can get it performed somewhere.

whitebark

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2019, 08:33:33 PM »
Glad you liked my Variations, Patrick!  I'm pretty happy with the piece now and do not plan any more major revisions (other than an expansion of the fugue if I get up the nerve).  The string orchestra that I play in would be an obvious choice for doing a performance, but alas, the conductor seems uninterested in my compositions at this point. But I should try again with this piece.

Yes, perhaps it's time for me to graduate to the Senior section  :)

Jay

RJB54

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Re: Variations for Strings in A Minor
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2019, 01:49:39 PM »
I think the most recent version of this piece has much more forward thrust than I remember from the first version. This makes it a more enjoyable piece (at least to me). The characters of the different variations seem to flow better and have a more interesting contrast.

A good work.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.
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