Author Topic: An attempt at a establishing a theme and returning to it (string quartet)  (Read 305 times)

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UrbanK

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I'm still trying to get away from a type of composing where it's just a bunch of ideas one after the other. What is the difference between development of an idea and variations on a theme? Is it a gradient?

score: https://www.docdroid.net/E7nQSq4/quartet-for-publish-full-score.pdf
audio: https://vocaroo.com/i/s13PhIY9vg2F

Jerry Engelbach

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I like your themes. They're basic and strong, and the piece is very pretty in places.

I wonder if the double stops actually add anything that couldn't be just as effective assigning the top note of each to the next higher instrument.

Throughout the piece most of the voices move in the same direction. So much parallel movement relegates all but the top instrument to just chording. Each instrument deserves more time as the prominent voice of the moment, with more contrasting movement.

I'm not sure it's worth worrying about development and variations as much as finding the most interesting way to present the main ideas. The opening is a case in point.

The doubling of the cello's first note on the viola in each of the first five measures is unnecessary. Contrasting rather than parallel movement of viola and cello would better set off the violin melody. And why not fill out the harmony with the second violin?

Cheers,
Jer
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mjf1947

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As Jer stated the composition can be enhanced by contrary motion - counterpoint.   Maybe a contrasting theme in the viola or cello?

Maybe a bit less unison in the rhythm?

Mark

UrbanK

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Great feedback, thank you!
I'll post a revision soon.

Ron

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Great feedback, thank you!
I'll post a revision soon.

While you are revising it, a few notational issues you can address:

1) m.1 You have no dynamic in the viola part. m.4 no dynamic in 2nd violin. m5. unnecessary repetition of dynamics in 1st violin and cello. Throughout the work you repeat the same dynamics in several places where there is not need--only use them when there is a change or after a long rest.


2) m.5, you have slurs on rests. That doesn't make sense.

3) m.14 why Cx instead of a Dn? Keep accidentals simple and straight forward.

4) m.17 why the "arco" calls for 1st violin and viola? I had to read back through the score to see if I had missed a pizz. expression earlier. Again in m. 21 you repeat the "arco" instruction for 1st violin. That sort of thing can really mess up a rehearsal as players stop and search back through the score to see what they have missed.

5) m. 38 1st violin, again you have E - Cx - C#, Why are you avoiding a simple Dn?

6) m 37 cello: what's wrong with Bb instead of A#? -- and again you have a very awkward Cx - C#.

7) m. 50 A slur should embrace the entire tied note, not stop on the first one (the way you wrote it is an old-fashioned 19th century convention). The final 1/16th note should proceed the dotted 1/4 note.

When I was a teenager I knew an artist who eventually won the order of Canada. Each of his preliminary sketches before he started a work were as near perfection as he could make them. When I asked why he spent so much time on a simple sketch he said, "The better the drafts, the better the final product."







Ron
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UrbanK

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Thank you Ron!
I will clean up the score as you recommend - must admit that I did not pay enough attention to that. The weird accidentals are just an artifact of the tool.

As I attempted to abide by the advice I found my knowledge of counterpoint lacking. I will go through Alan Belkin's counterpoint course and take many notes before returning for a revision.

UrbanK

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Ok, so this is my first revision. I redistributed some of the double stops to other instruments, and changed the beginning to have less doubling.
There's also an ending, which I think still needs some smoothing over.

I also fixed the notation issues Ron pointed out. The only one I'm not sure about is why a B flat is preferable to an A sharp here.

I'm continuing to tinker with it, but any thoughts are welcome.

smartysocks

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Hi UrbanK,

I like how you incorporated some of the suggestions given to you on the forum. To me, the opening of the piece sounds way less cluttered. Removing the double stops, and adding contrary motion, and placing whole notes in the cello and violin makes the melody in the violin I stand out.

I enjoyed listening to the piece, and seeing the process of the forum in action ....Bravo !

Mark
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Jerry Engelbach

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Ok, so this is my first revision. I redistributed some of the double stops to other instruments, and changed the beginning to have less doubling.
There's also an ending, which I think still needs some smoothing over.

I also fixed the notation issues Ron pointed out. The only one I'm not sure about is why a B flat is preferable to an A sharp here.

I'm continuing to tinker with it, but any thoughts are welcome.
It's definitely an improvement.
 
Perhaps you might want to take a closer look at some of your melodies. Your main theme works well enough, but after that some of your melodic ideas have weak resolutions.
 
I would have used Bb also instead of A#. Your harmony there seems to be an A7 chord, and you're resolving down to it chromatically. Using an accidental on the root of the chord is awkward and misleading.
 
Cheers,
Jer

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UrbanK

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Quote
It's definitely an improvement.
 
Perhaps you might want to take a closer look at some of your melodies. Your main theme works well enough, but after that some of your melodic ideas have weak resolutions.
 
I would have used Bb also instead of A#. Your harmony there seems to be an A7 chord, and you're resolving down to it chromatically. Using an accidental on the root of the chord is awkward and misleading.
 
Cheers,
Jer

Ah, that clarifies the Bb vs A# issue.
By weak resolutions do you mean that they end on a note that has too much of a tendancy towards another? Or something different?

Quote
Hi UrbanK,

I like how you incorporated some of the suggestions given to you on the forum. To me, the opening of the piece sounds way less cluttered. Removing the double stops, and adding contrary motion, and placing whole notes in the cello and violin makes the melody in the violin I stand out.

I enjoyed listening to the piece, and seeing the process of the forum in action ....Bravo !

Mark


Thank you Mark! This forum is better in terms of feedback than any other that I've seen.

Jerry Engelbach

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By weak resolutions do you mean that they end on a note that has too much of a tendancy towards another? Or something different?
Quote

It's a feeling based on what one expects from what has gone before.
 
For example, in bar 12 you end the phrase with a repeat of E - D, E - D. All the phrases before end with contrary motion, such as bar 10, G - F#, G - A.
 
Perhaps bar 12 could be E - D, C# - D. Not only is the contrary motion more consistent, but C# is the leading tone to the tonic D and makes a stronger resolution.
 
Or perhaps you could keep E - D, E - D, and put contrary motion in the harmony, so there is a dominant A7 chord before the tonic D. You're ending the whole first section on that D, and it feels like it needs to be more definitive.
 
In bar 20, those repeated Ds also seem unresolved, and the repeats in bars 23 and 24 of A - A# as well.
 
In a tonal piece like this, I think it's important to be more aware of the dominant-tonic relationships.
 
Just my two quavers.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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