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Bold as Brass

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Craig Dukerschein, Mar 29, 2019.

  1. It's been ages since I've posted music. This brass piece consists of four sections (see rehearsal marks) played by lots of trumpets, horns, trombones, and tubas. Warning: This piece gets very loud so upper string and woodwind players might want to take cover o_O Comments appreciated.

    A: A somber but hopeful chorale
    B: A slow dignified march
    C: A great loudness, climaxing at the golden mean
    D: A happy recapitulation, building to an end

  2. GAS, GRASS, or BRASS no one gets Doug Gibson's comments for free.

    Hello Sir !

    Well, time is often best spent arguing wether or not the Earth is really flat to people on VI-C.

    Shall we hop into it ? Yes !

    Bob Ross 1.gif

    Off of one listen I would say the biggest thing to do is now that the piece is in place, put on the editors hat, and just review it critically. ( Also have imagination too, but as I'll say, more micro level imagination)

    The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that the notation is "in-between" being a full orchestration, and a reduction score.

    I think we have spoken about how someone, even if they have no idea what they are doing, could get a job teaching composition just by repeating the word "horizontal" (ding......hello I fit that description.)

    Once you go thru it left to right - print it up and not on the computer - then I think a number of these things will just pop out to your eyes.

    So looking at the opening 3 measures

    The horns open with a 3 voice harmony. At measure 3 it drops down to 2 horns.

    It's also unclear if this is solo trombone, or unis.

    Balance wise 3 trombones on a single line will run the risk of overpowering the horns.

    Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 6.45.55 PM.png
    Basically what happens in the opening, also continues throughout. Measure 8 the trombones move to two notes, then back to one
    and the horns begin crossing over each other. (horn 2 goes above one, only to flip back two measures later.)

    These things continue with the trumpets having 4 voices at 24.

    I would advise treating this as draft 1, and now make firm decisions about the exact instrumentation for the piece. If there are 4 trumpets, then you can
    write with that in mind. Put all the stave on the score. Move onto having a Full Conductor Score.

    The thing I would consider if this was just a Brass band, is the inclusion of both the Bass Trombone and the Euphonium.

    Bass trombone and tuba doubling is very powerful, and the Euphonium acts like a baritone and can fill in the wide gap from your lower bass notes and the
    tenor range of your trombones and horns.

    You can then take a passage an experiment with the many different voicing possibilities, and how you can align them according to the form of your piece.

    For example a revoicing of your opening can easily give a "grand" or more "Hollywood" sound. Quick example below.

    Be well !!


  3. #3 Craig Dukerschein, Mar 30, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
    >>> Well, time is often best spent arguing weather or not the Earth is really flat to people on VI-C.

    Just so you know, NASA, the UN and the Illuminati contract me stop the talk about flat earth. Nip it in the bud! People are starting to get wise to the spherical earth con. I’m also responsible for squashing claims of a fake moon landing. Have you ever noticed Neil Armstrong’s “One small step …” audio sounds like Slim Pickens? Yup. Charlton Heston, our original choice, kept screwing with "one giant leap for those dirty apes!" The best part of the job though is that they give me exclusive use of a black UN helicopter. I’m also responsible for coordinating high altitude jet chemtrails for global mind control. We first verified this method, back in the 80's, by making Hip-Hop popular. For that we apologize.

    Per your GIF of Bob Ross, it took me 10 min to read his lips. He's saying "Your music sounds like my paintings." Sheesh!

    I am digesting your comments and will get back with you when I have a solid response (please do not try to visualize this sentence). Back at you soon and thanks Doug.
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  4. upload_2019-4-1_15-14-56.png
    There are numerous options. So the opening, if for four horns, could all be horns and Tuba. This would be the most homogenous blend.
    (I am using concert pitch, and the old school interlocking horn voicing here)

    A thicker version would be doubling the upper tree horns with Trombones, and the Euphonium can cover the lower G

    Bass Trombone and Tuba doubling is a classic Hollywood "Best of both worlds" technique.


    And so on. There are many possible permeations.

    For example: do you recall that handout I gave you about things that have NOTHING to do with notes that often will make compositions better ?

    one of the topics was all voices entering at the same time on beat 1 of the bar.

    Now, I can grab the horn, and put all 4 on the G, and let the other brass fill in the harmony. I gave the G chord a bit of push.

    Example with just horns on G is below

  5. Doug,

    I looked but could not find the handout you referred to. BTW, let's do a private lesson on this piece, probably in a few weeks. I'll send you an e-mail. I'm in the process of retiring (probably) and have some work to finish up.

    Yes, I understand what you are saying. I do need to settle on instrumentation and count. And I see many permutations from your examples I could play with just in the first several measures. So, that's what I will work on. Thanks.

    BTW, the instrumentation I had in my head for this piece was a Drum Corp (formally known as Drum and Bugle Corp). SATB. The piece uses several DC techniques. I expected, on second pass to change that. I've spent many an hour standing in front of DC brass groups like this. A sound like no other.

    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  6. Hi Craig,

    I have been retired since January 2018, and I am loving it. Of course, it would be nice to be retired with a 28-year-old body, but with my 65-year-old finances! But aside from getting old, retirement is WONDERFUL!

    I played cello and trombone. I played trombone most often in Salvation Army brass bands, and as you point out, nothing compares (for me) to the excitement of a large brass group.

    Doug, who has helped me on many occasions with my own compositions, has offered a lot of very helpful thoughts about notation, and making sure your intentions are well understood. Regarding the composition itself, I found myself wanting more contrast. The sections were more similar than I guessed they would be based on your description. And in my view contrast is good.

    Good luck with retirement!
  7. I feel great for 60 (yesterday's 40) -- in the world of our youth, men typically died at 70. Yes, compounded interest over a working lifetime is a wonderful thing. I was going to retire at 55 but I got an offer I couldn't refuse. "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." (MC) Now I'm putting my foot down!

    Isn't it a wonderful world we live in that we have such fantastic instruments, let alone 600 years of great composers?

    Doug is a national treasure in exile. Per the music, had I not included the description would you have wanted more contrast? Thanks for the comments.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  8. "Per the music, had I not included the description would you have wanted more contrast?"

    That is a great question! Hmmmmm, and let me reiterate that, hmmmmmmm. :)

    Actually, probably I would not have felt more contrast was needed. Expectations are powerful. Of course I can not go back in time and be sure of my initial reaction without the expectations your comments created, but my best guess is that I would not have been looking for more contrast.

    I'm looking forward to listening to your next piece!

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