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Euphonium Quartet!

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Brian Bunker, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. Hey, all:

    So - I wrote a Euphonium Quartet for a Call for Scores over the last few days. Any comments/critiques appreciated. With one thing in mind, just as a kind of preparatory warning: I scouted the group's other new works that they've selected, and they have a particular "flavor" that isn't really exactly to my taste, and I was trying to...well, I think "adapt my language to what they look for" sounds better than "whore myself out to try to win a competition." Anybody who's done the academicky call for scores circuit: I'm kind of newish to this particular game, so any advice would go a long way...thanks in advance!

    I could also use any Euphonium tips that...say, a true virtuoso of the instrument who frequents this joint might be willing to share? Cough...cough...Bradley Boone?!?! :)

    Thanks, guys...

    Here's the link for a PDF and MP3:
  2. Oh yes...... I have spent years doing that thing. Won a lot and lost more. It's a whole topic unto itself.

    It does. I used to say "whore myself out to try to win a competition." Then about two years later that got shortened to
    "whore myself out", and then finally "Whore". :p

    Just "send it and forget it ". With competitions cast your net wide ....... from a seasoned whore....remember...."any bed will do."

    Ok..... I'll stop with those analogies, but having been both a judge once, and have a number of friends whose ensembles have run these I can tell you a few things. (as I said...... it would be a large post to cover everything)

    All serious competitions go thru at least 2 rounds. Most common is 3-4. Round 1: No one is looking for things they like about your piece....only what you did wrong. For example, a friend of mine had his string quintet offer a composer competition.(https://www.sybarite5.org) They received over 200 scores. This means people are looking for things that can make round 2 quickly easier to digest. (Aka tossing out scores that are sloppy, did not follow directions and so on)

    Therefore..... job #1 is to get to round two. That is where they will actually listen your piece and give it consideration.

    It looks like your a Finale guy..... is that right ? I would highly advise you to clean up the score before sending in.

    Let me offer a few examples;

    Bar numbers are small globally
    Bar 9 move the p to under the note for 1,2,3
    Bar 9 - break the beam over the rest. Not needed. Don't make the mistake of trying to make shit look hard that is simple.
    Bar 76-77 make the rit. @ a tempo markings readable. These are important......why so small ?
    Bar 13-14: Align the hairpins with the dynamics
    bar 26-27: The dynamic here earn you a "c'mon man". Shot at dawn my friend.


    Things not on the score that could be, and would make a difference.

    Tempo indication, or general comments on interpreting the work. Don't go overboard, but a "poco piu mosso" or something would
    both make your intention clearer and show that you didn't just forget about it.

    Double bar lines, or rehearsal marks for new sections

    Articulations seem a little unclear: For example up until 35 you have been pretty adamant that the 8ths are staccato, but then no indication at 38 (euph.1) and onwards. To my eye it looks over done up to 35 and under-done after. Write out a few measures exactly as you wish, and then use sim.

    for new figures like 49 write out what you want. It's vague if those are short or not.
    (measures 51 and 54, flip the D to avoid the "comb over" slur. It's fine to flip since it is on the middle line)

    The later half of the score looks neglected. I would add in more details. Remember this is a competition.
    I would also make sure to add in a instrumentation page, and a performance/composer notes page.
    Additionally a Title page and a cover.


    As you can tell we are here, and I have yet to say a word about the actual music.

    You've already done the homework and tailored to them. This is wise.

    Just my 2 cents..... (I know nothing of writing for the Euphonium) on the music.

    I would have had more contrast in texture in your middle section. In general notation programs deceive me in two ways all the time: The tempos in real life tend to be about 5-10 bpm slower, and solo instruments sound more expressive and interesting.

    I found myself want to hear more contrast. It seems like the piece is continuous variations of A. But not in the way Stravinsky talked about.

    For me, this diluted your coda. If you never stray far from home, return is simply not that significant.

    Don't want to be "Debbie Downer" "Negative Nancy" or "Pessimist Patty" on you. But hey if you are looking to play the competition game below is the best metaphor I can think of

    Good luck !

    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  3. Nice! Thanks for looking it over and giving some thoughts.

    My biggest takeaway would be a lot of "well, duh!" things that are sort of Finale and its quirks related: that lame-a** stemming at 7, etc. is apparently how Finale defaults in engraving that figure, for some reason, because I didn't tell it to do that, and didn't notice it somehow. Duh. Same with the small type on measure numbers and tempo alterations: that post-layout, post-staff resize proofreading needs to have the game upped a bit there, eh?

    I like the tip on the 'mid-piece indications/tempi'. That and the articulations of course - I definitely had some gruffy "do I really need to put in more of the same indication" moments that multiplied as the piece went on. Basically - I got a little lazy. The tempo markings is a good one to remember for later pieces: it gives an opportunity to put some words on the page. I need to embrace the redundancy a bit, too: those sections where the focus is all on the ensemble rhythmic passages or interplay can get a tempo marking about that - almost like the thing of repeating a little bit of what the other person said to let them know that you understood them.

    I do need to find a way to get a bit more consistency on the fast turnarounds - there's too many of those "missed in the proof" moments. In full disclosure - I got a bit of work on this last night, finished and (half-assedly, obviously) proofed it this morning, and I already sent it out - because the due date is in the morning. If I'm honest, I have no pretensions that I'll get anywhere with this particular piece for this group, but going into it with a 48-hour window to write something and send it out, I wasn't expecting much. Just to get into the swing of churning and burning pieces.

    Just to talk about the musical materials a bit: Well, yeah. You're probably right on the money. None of the pieces they've premiered have had anything remotely like functional movement between key centers, or identifiable themes, or anything with even a whiff of sonata-like development. So - I tried to skirt all the usual formal and structural ideas I've ever had and instead went with really 'modular' ideas, and tried to vary and develop with changing intervallic 'intensities' instead of functionality, and with rhythmic permutation. It's by no means a deathless masterwork - but I'm chalking up "holding together" as a raging musical victory on this one.

    Gotta run now - thanks for the help!...
  4. Well...... fingers crossed for you. You never know. I have been rejected for things I thought was a sure thing, and
    won things I never expected.

    Just FYI here is a link to a score of mine. This placed 2nd (out of 250 entries) for the international harp writing competition.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/e2rkimq1x4aa2i8/The Pearl Divers .pdf?dl=0

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