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Topic: Brass Experiment

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Brass Experiment

    I got to thinking about the interesting option of crossing melodic lines. So I spent about 35 minutes a moment or so ago to try an experiment. Based on a falling major third and specifically trying for a quasi-modal effect (including an unrestrained trade of major and minor triads), the second trumpet and French horn frequently trade locations in the staff order.

    This is not even close to being a piece of music, just an experiment. Let me know what your first impression is on this technique.

    https://app.box.com/s/g6mbz8h0e3wlrbn05jdlwcji6b6zr3q1

    After reading the fine comments offered, I have done a re-write as a choral piece with altered harmonies and a faster tempo. Again, an experiment with little treatment other than the afore mentioned changes.

    https://app.box.com/s/8lwhft38f4wilbti2ja0c6fgk79etett

    Tom.

  2. #2
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    It sounds good to me Tom. I liked the harmonics.




    Phil

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    Thank you, Phil. I like the tonality too, but there is something just not right with the voice leadings. While I have no problem throwing in a parallel fourth or fifth from time to time, this sort of harmony leads to a lot of them. The solution seems to be the separation of voices by at least a major 6th or freely crossing voices. The latter draws the ire of most conductors and musicians. I guess it is a matter of convention; do I please the theorists or please the listeners.

    Quote Originally Posted by fastlane View Post
    It sounds good to me Tom. I liked the harmonics.




    Phil

  4. #4

    Re: Brass Experiment

    Very nice! You must finish this Mister Tom. I have spoken.

    I would prefer it with less reverb. Some of your phrases have "smeared" notes. That is just my opinion as to how I like to listen to music.

    Best,

    Larry Alexander

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    Thank you, Larry. Your point about the reverb is dead on, and it was the result of my love of the sound of brass in large cathedrals and the marbled halls of old concert venues. It does muddy the audio waters and yet allows released tones to intermingle with new ones. However, in this case it is way over done.

    If I do continue it, I will begin the piece near the center of this sample and very well may expand it to a full orchestra setting. Probably an overture or fantasia.

    As always, thank you for the valuable comment.


    Quote Originally Posted by larryalex1 View Post
    Very nice! You must finish this Mister Tom. I have spoken.

    I would prefer it with less reverb. Some of your phrases have "smeared" notes. That is just my opinion as to how I like to listen to music.

    Best,

    Larry Alexander

  6. #6

    Re: Brass Experiment

    Hi Tom,

    This is a nice experiment, though it sounds more like a harmonic brass choir in a cathedral. To make it more thrilling, you could insert one or more distinct leading voices through every instrument (not just one solo like a trumpet) and weave some light counterpoint around it. There's nothing wrong with SATB-like music, quite at the contrary, but it makes the piece more to a hymn with an unusual harmony (which could provoke criticism by purists). I have no problem with 'free' harmony and parallel fifths, octaves... since Mozart used them regularly to obtain certain effects, so they can be very functional if used in a proper way.
    But your experiment bears a lot of potential for further orchestration and playing with different solo lines and timbres. Putting the whole brass choir into one homophonic melting pot (with a lot of reverb) is only one option...

    Please continu, it's absolutely worth it!
    Jos
    Jos Wylin

    http://www.joswyl.be compositions and sampling practices

  7. #7
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Hi Tom,

    This is a nice experiment, though it sounds more like a harmonic brass choir in a cathedral. To make it more thrilling, you could insert one or more distinct leading voices through every instrument (not just one solo like a trumpet) and weave some light counterpoint around it. There's nothing wrong with SATB-like music, quite at the contrary, but it makes the piece more to a hymn with an unusual harmony (which could provoke criticism by purists). I have no problem with 'free' harmony and parallel fifths, octaves... since Mozart used them regularly to obtain certain effects, so they can be very functional if used in a proper way.
    But your experiment bears a lot of potential for further orchestration and playing with different solo lines and timbres. Putting the whole brass choir into one homophonic melting pot (with a lot of reverb) is only one option...

    Please continu, it's absolutely worth it!
    Jos
    Thanks for the input, Jos.

    The initial purpose of the small brass pieces came as a the request of a church where the human choir had been severally decimated by illness and they were facing Lent with just a rather badly out-of-tune piano for music. They did, however have 4 teenage students that could play quite well together. After the first piece I did for them, they requested additional pieces to fill in should similar difficulties arise in the future. Realizing that the music was to take the place of a choir, I stayed well within vocal constricts. That led to this unrelated experiment.

    Now, obviously, I am taking off in a totally different direction. Actually I am playing with an antiphonal brass choir for this at the moment - in fact a polytonal approach. I have long felt that even the most dissonant music can be acceptable in a traditional setting if the harmonic elements are carefully prepared. Even in this piece there are tonal clusters that the ear accepts because of their preparations and resolutions, making them appear more harmonious than they are.

    Listening to the piece this morning I find myself questioning its direction. I think it may be weighed down with too many intentions and applications. I must think on this.

  8. #8

    Re: Brass Experiment

    Quite a transformation between the two pieces.. I like them both, really like the 2nd. More onaments.

    When you create music like this, do you start with a melodic theme first, and later decide what counter melodies, and harmonies, and thus chords are going to be employed.

    I think I get stuck in starting with chord structures first, and then get boxed in melodically because of my already determined chords.. I don't quite know how to break free of that.

    Very nice, much respect.

  9. #9
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    Tom,

    I think the choral version maybe worked better than the brass with better separation, partly by using the more distinctive sounds of the human voice.

    Maybe a balanced choral and brass arrangement would be interesting. As an old horn player I still like the first version. So keep the horn! Ha,ha.





    Phil

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Brass Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by angelonyc View Post
    Quite a transformation between the two pieces.. I like them both, really like the 2nd. More onaments.

    When you create music like this, do you start with a melodic theme first, and later decide what counter melodies, and harmonies, and thus chords are going to be employed.

    I think I get stuck in starting with chord structures first, and then get boxed in melodically because of my already determined chords.. I don't quite know how to break free of that.

    Very nice, much respect.
    That is a difficult question to answer. I usually write down maybe 4 to 8 measures of a melodic OR harmonic pattern that pleases my ear. I have always loved counterpoint so as I am writing down the original melody I also start tinkering with a counter theme - it's just happens automatically. Often each melody will influence what comes next in the other. That usually tells me if it is going to be strict counterpoint, perhaps fugal in nature. As that process winds its way I usually know within a few measures what tonality the piece wants to be in. I like writing this way because there are often wonderful little surprises that I would have never thought of on my own; they come from the music itself.

    Once in a great while a melody or a harmonic progression may be so strong in my mind that I do in fact write it start to finish and then go back to make all the other elements fit in.

    Then there pieces like the one you just listened to where I begin with a general concept, descending minor thirds, maybe a specific mode or something as generic as a "mood." -In other words something I just want to experiment with. That rarely gets me to a finished product, but it is still fun and I never know what little tidbit I may learn on the way. Of course, sometimes those tidbits become the beginning element for a nice piece of music.

    But the really easiest way to compose is for a client to say he wants a film score for an 80 minute adventure piece, or for a love story or perhaps a sci-fi movie. I watch the trailer he sends, sit back and close my eyes and listen to the music form in my head. The tighter the time restriction the faster, and usually the better, I write.

    Did any of that make any sense?

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