Author Topic: Night Moods  (Read 240 times)

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Patrick O'Keefe

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Night Moods
« 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)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2018, 05:09:09 PM by Patrick O'Keefe »

RJB54

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #1 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.
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: Night Moods
« Reply #2 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

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #3 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.

sandalwood

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #4 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.

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #5 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
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RJB54

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #6 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.
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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Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #7 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.

Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #8 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.


 

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #9 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
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LA Dierker

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #10 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

perpetuo studens

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #11 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.
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...

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Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #12 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. :)

mjf1947

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2018, 07:41:43 PM »
What a lovely scene you paint with your notes................  :)

Impressionistic .... a touch of Delius yes.

Mark

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Re: Night Moods
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 01:29:29 PM »

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

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