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Topic: Riverwalk--suggestions? comments? concerns? :D

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  1. #1

    Question Riverwalk--suggestions? comments? concerns? :D

    I notice that people on this forum sometimes post music examples they've done in hopes of responses from their musically-aware fellow forum-lovers. I'm something of a "lurker"--I read threads, but rarely post, myself--but I finally decided I might try. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on some of my music, if you would be kind enough to give it a listen! I don't really know how to link to songs like you people do, but here's my best shot:

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandID=440200

    That's actually a link to a page with several of my songs, although the one I would most enjoy critique on is Riverwalk. I'm not sure how to link directly to it, though...anyway, I wrote Riverwalk last summer. It was intended to be part of a set of "faery tales" told instrumentally...but Riverwalk and the original Faery Tale whose themes show up in Riverwalk are the only ones I've completed

    Thanks in advance for any comments!

  2. #2

    Re: Riverwalk--suggestions? comments? concerns? :D

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosie
    I notice that people on this forum sometimes post music examples they've done in hopes of responses from their musically-aware fellow forum-lovers. I'm something of a "lurker"--I read threads, but rarely post, myself--but I finally decided I might try. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on some of my music, if you would be kind enough to give it a listen! I don't really know how to link to songs like you people do, but here's my best shot:

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandID=440200

    That's actually a link to a page with several of my songs, although the one I would most enjoy critique on is Riverwalk. I'm not sure how to link directly to it, though...anyway, I wrote Riverwalk last summer. It was intended to be part of a set of "faery tales" told instrumentally...but Riverwalk and the original Faery Tale whose themes show up in Riverwalk are the only ones I've completed

    Thanks in advance for any comments!
    Marie, I Guess i'm first then!

    As i'm no sound engineer, i'll stick to observations about the music itself.

    The theme, once past the intro, was a delightful melody, and you didn't over orchestrate it, always a good idea.
    I'm not sure what sort of samples you're using, but i think you're getting a 'false' impression of what is good orchestration, and what you feel you have to do to get a 'decent' sound. (Please note, i'm not so critical of the samples, as the influence they may have on your orchestrative endeavours)
    I'll be honest with you, the transitions between phrases needs a little work.

    The intro didn't really do your delightful melody justice, and it sort of went clunk. There were one or two other places this occured. Cani respectfully suggest you listen to Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet? Like you, he included fast and slow passages in the one movement, and the transistions are all important to fit one theme or rhythmic pattern to another. (I found this piece particularly useful when i started studying orchestration, and still go back to it from time to time to refresh the memory).

    Around 4.05 i think it is, you use medium high strings in discord. I admire the idea to develop the darker passage coming up, but can i suggest you try other instrument combinations, e.g. Trombones and Bassoons, or Clarinets and Troms. Reason for this is the brass can 'handle' dissonance quite well, and in the context of your piece, they may well give you a better run in to the next phrase.

    I think it's around 3.30 or so you have a repetitive bass phrase. This is ok to 'introduce' the lick, but i wonder if you go one or two bars too far in repeating this phrase with the instruments you use. This isn't Wagner, but a charming, lighter piece, after all. Perhaps give it to the Bassoon, or Clarinet with detache violas, for just one example. It's worth remembering the general rule is, at a medium dynamic, one W/W instrument equals a section of strings in tone and penetration. The line i speak of would be more than covered by the bassoon alone, leaving you to decide which sound colour you would like. If however, you were searching for a more grand, fuller orchestral sound, then ADDING the bassoon to the line, with a possible split in the cellos would help give this more oomph, with perhaps an answering rhythmic phrase in the horns and clarinets.

    In summary a charming work that has lots of potential in it. (Hence the detailed reply i've written)

    Regards,

    Alex.

  3. #3

    Re: Riverwalk--suggestions? comments? concerns? :D

    Thanks for the comments!

    I'm not sure I know what you mean by a "false impression" of what I need for a good sound. Admittedly, I've never heard a real orchestra play it, so maybe I would think otherwise if I did. Actually, listening to it again in Sibelius when I show it to prospective students (my voice teacher REALLY likes that one...), I can't figure out how I ever managed to get passed the blatty sounds to write it!

    I know the transitions need work--my dad thought it sounded more like an overture than a complete piece! I get started on one idea and then can't figure out how to stop it or how to overlap into the next idea...

    Some of the orchestration may have been from my idea in telling the story, which was to have the woodwinds be the girl wandering along the river, the low strings presenting the enemy theme, and the brass (trumpet especially) being the hero who comes to rescue her. Thus the keeping certain themes within certain instruments/families...but obviously I didn't keep strictly to that anyway, what with using the low strings as my bass part everywhere else, so I guess it wouldn't *really* hurt to extend other lines into other instruments, as well, huh?

    I'll think about it and see if I want to rework it...when I have time to work on music, I like to work on all of those other half-finished ideas lurking in the "Scores" folder on my computer . But my mom wants me to arrange it for high school band (just to see if I can do it), so I can try to apply some of your suggestions to that!

    Thanks again!

    Marie

  4. #4

    Re: Riverwalk--suggestions? comments? concerns? :D

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosie
    Thanks for the comments!

    I'm not sure I know what you mean by a "false impression" of what I need for a good sound. Admittedly, I've never heard a real orchestra play it, so maybe I would think otherwise if I did. Actually, listening to it again in Sibelius when I show it to prospective students (my voice teacher REALLY likes that one...), I can't figure out how I ever managed to get passed the blatty sounds to write it!

    I know the transitions need work--my dad thought it sounded more like an overture than a complete piece! I get started on one idea and then can't figure out how to stop it or how to overlap into the next idea...

    Some of the orchestration may have been from my idea in telling the story, which was to have the woodwinds be the girl wandering along the river, the low strings presenting the enemy theme, and the brass (trumpet especially) being the hero who comes to rescue her. Thus the keeping certain themes within certain instruments/families...but obviously I didn't keep strictly to that anyway, what with using the low strings as my bass part everywhere else, so I guess it wouldn't *really* hurt to extend other lines into other instruments, as well, huh?

    I'll think about it and see if I want to rework it...when I have time to work on music, I like to work on all of those other half-finished ideas lurking in the "Scores" folder on my computer . But my mom wants me to arrange it for high school band (just to see if I can do it), so I can try to apply some of your suggestions to that!

    Thanks again!

    Marie
    Marie,
    The lost and dark art of transitions!
    It's a difficult one to master, because it relies so heavily on instinct. When is enough, enough?

    Take for example two themes, and as you've written, the difficulty of getting from one to the other. Let's say one is in Cm (as the overall phrasal key), and the other is in E. How to get from Cm to E? One suggestion is the 'Russian method.' let's say your chord progression in the first phrase is something like Cm-Gm-Ddim-Cm. Ok. Where are the common notes? And importantly, (in relation to a pivot chord) which note in melody, and /or melodic harmony provides itself as a possible 'leading' note for the new phrase, now in E? We have G as a strong dominant in the first phrase, but the Cm final chord has just that. In normal writing for example, the last tonic, at the moment, is Cm. Change that to C major, or the russian writing 'literal' major.
    Now you have two notes that assist your transistion. The E, the upcoming tonic, and the G as a leading note into the major third of the new tonic. Add to that the additional help you get in the bass line, going from C to the fifth of the new chord (E) to the dominant, B. I hope this makes sense.




    This a very simple and somewhat crude example of a short transition, and although it could be approched in a more complex way successfully, hopefully this will give you an idea from which to develop your own.

    Your instrument per theme idea has validity, confirmed by many gifted composers from the past. If you were to stick with instrument per theme, then a variety in the harmony would serve you well. But the melodic identity of a theme can be carried from one instrument to another within reason too, and this could be useful to reflect emotion. If the girl in your story is a happy go lucky type, then the contrabasson may not fit , but if that same girl is represented by the flute, and she becomes frightened when the bad guy turns up, then not only a more frenetic flute line, but the introduction of another instrument, melodically speaking, could increase the tension of the situation. (Is she a screamer when frightened? ) An example could be the clarinet with the flute. Certainly dynamically stronger, but in the upper register of the clarinet there is much potential to create tension. and the blend of clarinet and flute in a more strident dynamic, certainly conjures an image of fear from a child, particularly a girl. (Boys are oboes in a lower register, something to do with macho intent, and the constant obsession by boys with bodily functions )

    Can i respectfully suggest you listen to some works that demonstrate this more clearly. Tchaikovsky's 'The Tempest' is a good example of variation of theme, and great transitions. Another is of course 'Romeo and Juliet.'
    A clever use of transition can also be found in the work of that master musical story teller Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov. Sheherazade, and the procession from Mlada to name but two. As you've written of no orchestral experience, listening to much work is a good idea, and you'll learn many things from fine tuning your listening to specific instruments or melodic/harmonic lines.

    And finally, the sounds. It's important to remember, as i wrote before, that at a medium dynamic, mf for example, one w/w equals a section of strings in tone and penetration. So if your playback device doesn't reflect this, it is definitely worth adjusting the mix before you begin, so you don't have a false aural picture of the instrument blend. This is particularly important for w/w as they carry more of the melody with the strings than the brass do.

    I suggest a simple exercise, (and you have sibelius) which is recording long tied notes for 4 bars in combination. Record the bassoon with cellos first, then erase the cellos, and record the violas. does the blend work? Adjust the volume (Live playback parameter?) to extremes, and gradually change the balance until you hit the 'sweet' spot. Practise combining different instruments, listening to orchestral recordings as you go, to 'check' the result. This will also help build a instinctive sense of what sounds realistic and what doesn't. (If that is your goal)

    Like any tool of use, samples and their playback require skill, and this simple practise is one of many exercises that can be useful in getting a credible aural result, that you can live with, and importantly, be a lot closer to a scored reality.

    Good luck with the school band orchestration, and i wish you success.

    Alex.

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