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An Orchestral Theme for Cersei

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Brian Ellis, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Hey guys, I'm new to Redbanned and would like your opinion on this orchestral piece I composed for Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones. I would like to know if the theme captures the emotions and the essence of her character. I'm interested to hear any emotions you feel while listening or problems/areas that can be fixed. The piece was composed through Sibelius, and performed through NotePerformer. I have attached the PDF of the score, if you guys want to read and follow along or look at a specific point in the music.

    Attached Files:

    Paul T McGraw and Dillon DeRosa like this.
  2. Hi Brian

    Nice to hear your music.

    I've actually never seen a single episode so I can't say.

    What I can offer an opinion on is that this work seems to have both feet in the concert music world.
    (perhaps it's intended that way, and is an "inspired by" stand alone work, rather than "music for" the show)

    I recall, back in the day, putting together films for a lecture class I was teaching. Watching 5 minutes of the original Robin Hood with Korngold's score,
    and then contrast with 5 minutes of Black Hawk Down. There is so much foli/ sound design these days that feel would cover up sections of your piece,
    if you were actually composing this to be for the show.

    Well, I have good news and less than good news for you.

    Good News: As your piece is steeped in the Neo-Romantic sound world, it shows a high level of craft. You can develop an idea very well, and it's easy as a listener to follow your ideas. The pacing is nicely done. It's clear you have done your compositional homework, and shows you are a solid composer.

    Bad News: The notated score is not nearly as polished as the playback sounds. On one hand......yes, this is merely cosmetic.
    However it also is about "mind-set". To the extent it is about "mind-set" it also shows in the music itself.

    Some points

    Harp and Piano: Why are they even on the score ? They never play a note.
    Percussion: They barely ever play.

    The combination of the above makes for a big middle chunk of your score where nothing happens.

    Why 3 trumpets ?: The 3rd trumpet only plays once, and it's in a shitty register for what you want. The very low side of the trumpet register can be difficult for intonation in my experience.

    Optimize your score:
    Since the piece feels so much like a concert piece (and you are not the one scoring Game of thrones) hide the staves on pages which they are entirely blank. Also, you do not need a seperate stave for each of your brass. Either change clefs, or use transposing scores. It gets too low for treble clef. This is particularly true for Bass Clarinet and the Horns. You can save so much space, and make it much clearer.

    Don't use double sharps: This was@ 150. Don't do that. We'll all hear it as Ab minor to Eb. Change to flats.

    Thickness vs Volume for strings: I would suggest printing up your score and without using the computer play back, read over and imagine in your head the sound. Personally, I can't understand why you would begin with vln 2 doing double stop pizz while vln 1 is just sitting there. Divide it out. Give the upper note to Vln1. In general your string writing looks "thin". A separate issue from volume. At 20 I think you are intending to be a little more chamber like, but from here until about 68, I can't understand why you have vln2 doing nothing, and then swap so vln 1 is doing nothing.

    Must leave it here.

    Nice to hear your music.
    Paul T McGraw and Brian Ellis like this.
  3. Thanks Doug, idealistically I would like to compose like this for TV shows/movies but with real performers. Perhaps that world is gone however.

    My mistake for not removing the piano and harp, I like to have as many instruments in a standard orchestra as possible available to me while composing, in this case I didn't use the piano and harp and need to remove them. Percussion wise I don't feel like heavy drums or an insistent Timpani would suite the vibe of the piece very well, perhaps that is what makes the impression of this work more concert music-esque.

    I think I would have the 3rd trumpet join the other two in unison on that phrase at m.114 to one, give it something to do and two, fill out the intonation.

    Thanks so much for your detailed input Doug, I love the suggestion of reading the score without music. As for the string writing I was worried about the strings being to prominent and overbearing towards the rest of the ensemble, but perhaps that is an irrational fear.
  4. Nice to hear
    Brian Ellis likes this.
  5. It's not just that you hear a lot of "heavy drums or an insistent Timpani" in our media music today. If you check out Bruckner's Symphonies he only ever uses a Timp. So it really recalls a Neo-romantic vibe for me. In the 20th century percussion, more than any other family, was greatly expanded upon. It's not just bang and crash, but offers a whole world of color. For example, the opening pizz ...... is really pitched percussion. Just with the strings. Anything that decays after it's attack is a percussive instrument. So Harp, vibes, marimba, xylophone etc.... can play a similar role

    Let me rephrase my comment. So let's say each musician cost $250 for the session. (Some places are more expensive, some less. Let's use this as a middle) You are paying someone to sit thru the entire piece and only play for 2-3 measures, and the part is sub-optimal. Why do you need 3 trumpets ?
    use em or loose em I say.

    Then these things matter.

    All the best to you.
  6. Thanks for your input Doug!
  7. I did not study the score, but I trust @Doug Gibson has given good advice. My general impression of the piece is favorable. You held my attention all the way through it.

    My critique regards the character. I have only seen a few episodes of Game of Thrones (too many uncomfortable scenes for me) but my impression of Cersei was darker, more sinister, and twisted. Not a completely bad person but definitely twisted and sinister. I did not feel that coming through in your music.
    Brian Ellis likes this.
  8. Thanks for the critique, Paul. I can definitely look to add more darker themes in the future

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