Author Topic: The Sandalwood Nocturnes  (Read 8031 times)

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perpetuo studens

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The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« on: July 17, 2015, 05:17:32 PM »
Edit: added info and a score for Sandalwood Nocturne No 2. See below... (old)
Edit: added info and a score for Sandalwood Nocturne No 3. See below...

A member of our forum, Reha (Sandalwood), has been for me a nearly endless source of support and encouragement these last two years or so, as well as providing me with much stimulating correspondence, conversation and friendship. He's expressed particular interest in my nocturnes (https://soundcloud.com/james-a-pettit/sets/three-nocturnes-for-piano) so to thank him for his support I've decided to write a set of three nocturnes and dedicate them to him.

I'm calling the set The Sandalwood Nocturnes. I've completed the first of the three - the other two will be written over the next year or so as I have other projects in mind. I will update this post as I finish the other pieces.

1. Nocturne No. 4 in D Minor
This one is a fairly straightforward nocturne in ABA form with a couple of small twists. It has a short agitato section after the B material (not uncommon) followed by a small development section (less so). The basis of the harmonic language is pretty V-I centred, but I continue to experiment with altered and extended harmonies, and with movements between key areas not typically found in the common practice era (at least to my limited understanding).

2. Nocturne No. 5 in A Minor
The form of this piece is more or less identical to No 4 (Sandalwood Nocturne No 1) with an agitato section and a bit of development. It's also (like pretty much all my music) a bit of an experiment, where I've tried have simple and sparse harmonization in much of the right nd and using <n> to 1 counterpoint on the left to fill in the missing harmonic context.

3. Nocturne No. 6 in Bb Major Again playing with form (a favourite pastime of mine :)) this one is not really a nocturne by conventional standards: A-B-C-B-A, a form I like (and have used elsewhere like the funeral march in my string quartet) because of its symmetry. It's perhaps a little cheerier than the other two in the set because I wanted to end this tribute on a happy note (awful awful pun unfortunately intended :)).

Comments welcome.

Thank you Reha!

Jamie

Link
The Sandalwood Nocturnes: https://soundcloud.com/james-a-pettit/sets/the-sandalwood-nocturnes

[old attachments deleted by admin]
The scores for the first two have been auto-deleted, so if anyone wants to see them you can PM me...
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 05:40:58 PM by perpetuo studens »
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

sandalwood

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2015, 07:35:13 PM »
I'm very much moved and honored Jamie! I think that's too grand a prize for being a loyal listener and a great admirer of the nocturnes, the Marche Funebre and others. This admiration is certainly related to a deep resonance with some pieces, as I have once told you, that at some moments I feel as if I have written them (I wish I could). While I'm at expressing my admiration, let me re-iterate my respect and appreciation for your being a laborious student of the fundamentals of the craft from harmony to form, despite having a strong base as a seasoned musician. I should also say the support and encouragement is mutual, to say the least, as with many other members of this wonderful forum.

Thank you very much Jamie!

Reha

ps. soundcloud is banned again it seems, and I can't listen to the nocturne!!!

sandalwood

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2015, 02:28:10 PM »
Jamie, that's beautiful! Congratulations! The melodia lunga, to my taste, is gorgeous and the harmony makes it beautifully stand out in haut-relief. And  it is simply heart-breaking when it returns around 3:20 and 4:00. I believe the piece bears a marked personal stamp,

Thanks for posting the mp3, now I will take my time trying to understand the intricacies of harmony and form.

I feel sort of proud my forum persona is associated with such beautiful music. Thank you.

Reha

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2015, 08:42:22 PM »
Reha,

Thank you so much for your kind words and generous appraisal. Your comment about the piece perhaps bearing a personal stamp is particularly encouraging since I've set out from the beginning to write music that is mine - although I admire and envy a great many composers (some on this forum!) I don't want to sound like any of them; I want to sound like me (whatever that turns out to be) and hope for the best. :)

Thank you again for your friendship and support. This small tribute has been well-earned.

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

mjf1947

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2015, 08:18:09 AM »
There are some very interesting and intriguing rhythms and harmonies in the work which are very pleasant to the ear.

I am not an accomplished pianist so I cannot comment on it's playability ... it sure looks difficult though.

I also experience the music as being a bit "un-anchored" the harmonies/motifs float around a bit .... I feel it needs to be woven a bit tighter.... to lead the listener to its final destination.

Mark

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2015, 02:02:55 PM »
Hi Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to listen and comment.

There are some very interesting and intriguing rhythms and harmonies in the work which are very pleasant to the ear.

Thanks for this. I do strive for interest (and have a deep fear of being cliché :)), but I'm sometimes concerned that I may skirt the outer edge of musicality in an attempt to avoid being predictable. OTOH, I spent the morning listening to some Satie solo piano pieces and he succeeds with amazing amounts of angularity, although I don't quite understand how. It's a journey... :)

I am not an accomplished pianist so I cannot comment on it's playability ... it sure looks difficult though.

Oh, I'm no pianist either, but there are probably parts that are what some concert pianist called "finger-breakers" (I read this in an interview...I forget who it was). I do of course try to write things that are playable, but I admit that I'm not that concerned as to just how many people in the world might be able to play them. :) It's one of the advantages of not being able to imagine anyone wanting to play my music given how much clearly superior material spanning 1000 years is available.

In fact it's probably true that I take advantage of the opportunity to write material that I could never have played as a left-handed person playing the guitar right-handed - my right hand was always my greatest weakness and I envied the Di Meolas and McLaughlin's of the world. OK, so I could never play those blazing passages, but now I can write them. :)

I also experience the music as being a bit "un-anchored" the harmonies/motifs float around a bit .... I feel it needs to be woven a bit tighter.... to lead the listener to its final destination.

This comment intrigues me. I have a sense that there's a great lesson in it for me, but I can't quite wrap my head around it, or perhaps I'm failing to map it to specific bits of the piece or its form or...? Could I impose on you to elaborate a bit?

At any rate, thanks very much for your comments. Your input is always appreciated and seriously considered.

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

mjf1947

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2015, 03:03:56 PM »
Hi ...  by the way I love Satie too.

I think your motif(s) which are many need to be woven together to create a sense of wholeness/connectivity. 

I guess one might refer to it as "development".  Although, I am no expert here.

When I write something ... I try to picture how each of the parts fit with each other ... whether rhythmically, thematically, or as a program piece.  I have a picture in my head of the overall impression I wish to create and each block within .... I guess my music is always programmable .... there is always an inner story.  Music for me is never abstract .... there always an accompying visual internal image.  Buts that's me .... I am sure others compose with different motivations, drives, flights of fanasy etc.

Mark

sandalwood

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2015, 03:31:46 PM »
I'm trying to look into the piece (hard stuff for me). I have a growing feeling, from looking at the score but more from listening, that ambiguity and lack of stability, harmonic and else, are deliberately sought as an instrument to regulate the mood and create "impressions". Satie may be a clue here, together with the composer's background in jazz.

Just ideas, I hope not totally nonsense.

Reha

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2015, 04:32:05 PM »
Hi Mark,

I think your motif(s) which are many need to be woven together to create a sense of wholeness/connectivity.

Ah, I see now. Thanks for the clarification. And I think this is an astute observation. Although I have moved on to more modern and more complex music (largely thanks to this forum), I have long admired:
1. Beethoven for his ability to wrest every possibility from a small motif through development such that the listener always has a sense of unification, and yet the music is never predictable or boring, and
2. Mozart for his ability to string together seemingly unconnected phrases or sentences, yet have them make sense as a musical whole.

So I aspire to be able to do both (nothing like a good challenge :)), believing in the abstract that the basic material can be severely twisted and stretched and still remain recognizable, and that it is possible to link together pretty much any sentences that make sense in and of themselves, as long as they follow naturally from one moment to the next.

My fear as I try to do this is that my pieces can lack cohesion and unity, a serious concern for me because like you, I am partial to music that tells a story - I've never been terribly fond of the abstract stream-of-consciousness approach in music or in prose (Dylan lyrics excepted perhaps :)). So I take your comment quite seriously, and appreciate the feedback.

When I write something ... I try to picture how each of the parts fit with each other ... whether rhythmically, thematically, or as a program piece.  I have a picture in my head of the overall impression I wish to create and each block within .... I guess my music is always programmable .... there is always an inner story.  Music for me is never abstract .... there always an accompanying visual internal image.  Buts that's me .... I am sure others compose with different motivations, drives, flights of fantasy etc.

At this point in my development I am deliberately avoiding programme music, not because I have any quarrel with it as a concept, but because I want to learn to make the best of my musical ideas without extra-musical influence - I want the sounds themselves to suggest to me what should come next, and develop my craft such that I can mold that which is suggested into a unified whole.

But I think the depth of your comment goes beyond any need for an extra-musical influence. Coherence is a real thing, even in the absence of any non-musical concept that gave rise to a piece. and I think it is often the case that the qualities that make a piece, especially a long or multi-movement work, a unified whole are ineffable, or nearly so. So I believe your comment applies to pieces that may not have had their inspiration in some non-musical idea, and find great value in it. I shall be watching more closely for this as I move forwards.

Oh, and I do have a few ideas for some programmatic works; they're just on the backburner for the time being.

...  by the way I love Satie too.

Yes, I know, and in fact I was thinking of you when I picked out that morning's listening selection. Further spurred on by this conversation I pulled out a CD (I know...I'm old now :)) of Satie's orchestral works, including Debussy's orchestrations of two of les Gymnopedies. Wonderful wonderful inspiring music. I have no idea how most of it works, so I guess I have to get some scores...

Anyway, thanks so much for your input...much appreciated and taken to heart!

Jamie

The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 05:57:17 PM »
Hi Reha,

I'm trying to look into the piece (hard stuff for me). I have a growing feeling, from looking at the score but more from listening, that ambiguity and lack of stability, harmonic and else, are deliberately sought as an instrument to regulate the mood and create "impressions".

Just ideas, I hope not totally nonsense.

Not nonsense at all - this is actually spot on. I like ambiguity, especially when it ultimately resolves in a way that is not expected, but seems to be just the right thing once you've heard it, a quality I find in pretty much all great music, and again, often on this forum. I don't claim to be achieving this, but it is a (long term) goal. To me ambiguity stirs the imagination as the listener attempts to predict (unconsciously for most I think) what will happen next, and so creates interest.
So I did in this piece seek to avoid stability except occasionally to avoid the-endless-run-on-sentence-that-never-seems-to-say-anything-and-thus-makes-no-point-just-going-on-and-on-and-on... :)

Satie may be a clue here, together with the composer's background in jazz.

I may be drawing from the influence of Satie and others in terms of inspiration, but I have little understanding of how his music works at the technical level, so there's probably not much of his influence in the actual musical materials. regrettably.

I do draw more and more on my jazz training though now that I'm beginning to feel somewhat comfortable with my voice leading skills apart from the 6-string restrictions that governed my musical life for so long. 7ths and 9ths are so colourful to me, and I love to use altered dominants to increase the pull towards a resolution, although I think I need to learn how to maintain that suspense better and longer by not moving so quickly to resolution.

But...who is "the composer" that you speak of? :)

I know that much of what I say about my music and that of others may sound pretentious, as if I'm trying to pass myself off as having some great artistic ability or insight, but I can assure you all that this is not the case. The more I learn the less I know, and I am quite comfortable with the idea that I will forever be a student of composition always hoping to achieve that next step to composer-hood, but not expecting to reach it.

Anyway, thanks so much for your comments. They give me opportunities to see my pieces from a different point of view, which is always quite enlightening. And of course it's immensely flattering to think that others would take the time to study and think about what I've written and share their thoughts with me.

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2016, 05:26:33 PM »
Added info and a link to Sandalwood Nocturne No. 2 (Nocturne No. 5). See top of this thread...

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

Michel.R.E

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2016, 05:52:31 PM »
I listened to no.2

really lovely, definitely jazzy.

I don't know if it's a limitation of your software, but if not, don't indicate every single pedal marking... just write "con ped." at the beginning beneath the staff.

And there are missing cautionary accidentals, go through this with a fine tooth comb.

there's also a stray quarter note rest in a measure.
"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"

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2016, 06:29:38 PM »
I listened to no.2

really lovely, definitely jazzy.

I don't know if it's a limitation of your software, but if not, don't indicate every single pedal marking... just write "con ped." at the beginning beneath the staff.

And there are missing cautionary accidentals, go through this with a fine tooth comb.

there's also a stray quarter note rest in a measure.

Thanks Michel. Glad you liked it (the understatement of the week :)).

Pedal markings: I wondered about this because they make the score look so cluttered. They were really there just to get the sound I wanted in playback, and I had no sooner hit the "post" button than it occurred to me that I should have hidden most of them since the majority of the pedalling would be obvious to any pianist (there are a handful of bars where I wanted the pedal down for the whole bar even though it could be argued that the harmony does change during the bar). Thanks for the tip.

Cautionary accidentals: you know, in all this time I've never learned how to get Finale to insert these. This is of course just sloth. :) Thanks for the reminder.

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual

gogreen

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2016, 06:32:07 PM »
I listened to no. 4. Wow, Jamie, this is lovely. The triplets motif beginning at measure 46 is really nice--keeps the piece moving and fresh, and I love the jazz feel with the harmonies here and there. I think this piece could stand a bit more dynamic variation. For instance, measures 84-86 could be louder, as could the introduction of the triplets motif at 46. Some quiet spots could be just whispered--make 'em listen! The playback could use a bit more reverb, too (to my ears, at least). The single use of the octave phrase in 123-124 is refreshing. Overall, wow, this piece is wonderful.

perpetuo studens

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Re: The Sandalwood Nocturnes
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2016, 06:56:20 PM »
I listened to no. 4. Wow, Jamie, this is lovely. The triplets motif beginning at measure 46 is really nice--keeps the piece moving and fresh, and I love the jazz feel with the harmonies here and there. I think this piece could stand a bit more dynamic variation. For instance, measures 84-86 could be louder, as could the introduction of the triplets motif at 46. Some quiet spots could be just whispered--make 'em listen! The playback could use a bit more reverb, too (to my ears, at least). The single use of the octave phrase in 123-124 is refreshing. Overall, wow, this piece is wonderful.

Thanks Art...high praise from someone of your skills and experience (your work is always do polished...there are never any little warts...everything just works). I haven't even listened to this piece in quite some time so I'll open it up tomorrow and play with your dynamic and reverb suggestions. Coming from a pop music background I'm often at a loss as to how to handle dynamic variation, since most pop music has none. :)

Anyway, really pleased that you liked this,!

Jamie
The perceived object...is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analyzed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element's existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

That means that you can look at a piece of a puzzle for three whole days, you can believe that you know all there is to know about its colouring and its shape, and be no further ahead than when you started. The only thing that counts is the ability to link this piece to other pieces...

Georges Perec - Life: A User's Manual