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Main Title Feedback / Advice for recording with European Orchestras

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Felix Watson, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Hi Guys!

    Well here I am seeking any feedback or advice you might have for this piece which is the main title theme for a project I am working on. I've attached the score and playout from NP.

    I'm hoping to have this recorded by a real orchestra so any advice you have in that regard would be very much appreciated!

    I would also love some feedback on the B section: it feels to me like this plain of 4/4 for at least the first half but seems kind of random and confusing to change when I'll just be back in 6 a few bars later. Conversely though, what is quite straightforward in 4 starts to look really confusing in 6 - I'm talking here about the string and winds accompaniment. Am I crazy? Should the whole piece be in 12/8?

    Thanks for any advice and any words of encouragement, commiseration or devastation. I appreciate them all!



    Attached Files:

  2. Great piece! Fun to listen to. Just keep it in 6/8. I would however make the rests in bar 28 for example consistent as dotted eight notes.

    Okay, the usual me rambling on notation:
    - I would get rid of the small time signatures
    - bracket picc and flutes and trombones and bass trombone (hooray for not bracketing timpani!! :D )
    - Don't use ties on tremolos. It's simply two things that really can't be reconciled.
    - indicate whether the winds are 1. or a2. I wouldn't have first trombone come in until bar 5 for example.
    - Fine to use 'cresc.' when it stretches many bars but use the hairpin for the runs (in bar 8 for example). Simply open the properties panel at the bottom to change the behaviour.
    - Harp glisses should have the notes written. The simple clear thing that I use 100% of the time is – in addition to how you wrote it – is to have the pedal diagram. Also the top staff should only have a dotted quarter rest and nothing else. Remember dynamic and slur.
    - I would revoice viola/cello in bar 8. Have violas play the c.
    - bar 12 cellos: write it as two voices so the bottom voice has a dotted half note.
    - bar 13 hav cellos take the bottom viola voice. Have them support the bass from bar 17.
    - bar 20: woodwinds need dynamic.
    - page 10: hairpins need and ending dynamic (or middle if the hairpin goes down to the starting point again) or have a 'poco' or 'molto' underneath the first hairpin.
    - bar 32: tpt need dynamic and generally more dynamic indications if instruments haven't played in a while.

    To comment on the writing I would use two different notes more in the bassoons and clarinets so you can fill out chords in the bottom woodwinds. And have Fl, Picc, Ob, Cl octaves distributed instead. One example could be to have oboes bar 43 be in octaves. Or bar 45 have oboes start with A and F# and have clarinets D and A.

    Hope it makes sense :)
  3. #3 Claude Ruelle, Aug 20, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
    Shit man, that's a freaking good theme! I wish I wrote that.

    I think you can easily divide the length of the intro by two - especially for such a short piece. Just set the mood and get right into it.

    Also, at around 0:24, I think you should resolve the progression on the second beat.
  4. @Thomas Bryla Thank-you! I will work through those suggestions and implement them. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. I love this place. Can you just extrapolate a bit on your woodwind voicing ideas? More octaves like in the bassoon?

    Also! The harp and piano as well as percussion are likely to be pre records by me so the score is a bit sparse in that regard as well as the fact that I haven't figured out how to do Harp pedal diagrams in Dorico yet.

    @Claude Ruelle Hah! Thanks, you write a lot better than that with your ears covered! Thats a good idea for the intro. I worry it would lose the suspense build-up and then lesson impact when the theme unleashes.

    I tried your idea of the resolution! I like it, but do you mean have a break and then slam into the second beat, or hold through suspended. I tried the break and it felt odd like a bit of a momentum loss. I want to know exactly what you mean because I think I want to do it - i agree theres something lame about resolving on beat 1 there.

    Can anyone advise me on whether this would be playable in one of those 30 minute split European sessions like those offered at Budapest Scoring? That is my idea here. I'm a trumpet player so my best guess is based off the trumpet part which says 'Yes! that's pretty straightforward' but I don't have any prior experience so wonder what the brains trust here think. Anywhere else I could improve here or is it like polishing a turd. I'm not sure I like the opening bars of A in the low strings - kind of doubling the bones. Seems like it could a bit woofy or something.

    Thanks guys as always!

  5. Octaves, fifths, sixths, tenths. Whatever fits the harmony and arrangement.

    Dorico has no way of doing harp glisses properly.

    This can certainly be done in a 30-minute session. If you are sure about everything it's easy. If you're gonna do to takes and say 'I'm not sure about the opening bars – can cellos try with the instrument upside down and lets do another take' it's gonna take a lot of time. Not even silly or complicated requests but certainly have players play other notes than you wrote can take a toll on the musicians. You can always ask for a different dynamic in a section. However each time you do it eats session time.
  6. Yes !! Tons.

    I'll reply a little later when I have more time. You gotta clean a number of things up.
  7. #7 Felix Watson, Aug 22, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
    Hah! Thanks Doug. I knew you'd come a long sooner or later with some sobering words... I'm all ears.

    PS. Here is a revision.


    Attached Files:

  8. Hmmm....... the 1st one might actually be stronger. I can't go thru everything but let me get you started.

    * All the bar rest are missing in the new version. (I am sure that's an easy fix)

    Divisi/unis MUST be indicated. Ideally use beams up/down, or two staves if needed.

    Watch out for awkward leaps that make no sense: See below. You have the Cello and Viola parts criss-cross (for some reason ?). There is no advantage to this, only disadvantage. Also are your Cello's divisi ? It's a mute question as they need to be. I would space out the C-Bb-F amongst the violins and Violas and leave the Cello on C. (this is measure 8-10)

    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.19.14 AM.png
    For the CONDUCTOR SCORE: Put the horns into bass clef when they drop really low. On the parts you need to have them transposed and in treble, but for the Conductor score no one likes to read C that low in treble clef. You are missing an 8th note rest in measure 14 on horn 2. (the Eb) They will ask a question, and that takes up time.
    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.27.18 AM.png

    Where did the Cellos go at 13 ?

    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.30.26 AM.png

    Are there 2 flutes with one person doubling on picc, or do intend to have 3 people ?

    If 2, then hide the stave when not in use, or rename. Also this spot will be a problem. They are not switching that quick.
    This is where it's near impossible to tell what you mean.

    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.39.08 AM.png

    You have three notes for two horns,and one note for two horns

    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.43.05 AM.png

    My apologies: I don't have time at the moment to go thru everything. You can never proof read too much. There is no such thing as a "Small" mistake.....only mistakes. Think of it like an architect. You have the concept, but you also have to make sure all the nuts and bolts work properly.

    Print up the score on large paper (11x17 or A3) and review it off the computer screen. Tape them to your wall so you stare at them everyday.
    Thomas Bryla likes this.
  9. #9 Felix Watson, Aug 23, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
    Gee! Thanks Doug. Hawk eyes. Some of this is operator error and some was attempting to implement some changes. Will post back an amendment today. I really like your idea of looking at the printed score because I find this feeling of overwhelmed creeps in after I have been working on a score on the computer too long. Never while I'm working but as I near 'the end' it all looks okay as I brush past, but it's obvious I've made silly errors.

    The bars rest being hidden thing - I read or watched this on Tim Davies site. Is this like a kind of rogue thing that he does for himself but isn't at all a normal thing to do? I've never seen a concert score with this, but a lot of the film score manuscripts I have are written this way - although they are handwritten and maybe it's just a shorthand thing. It does look clean though don't you think?

    Also another notation question: because I'm in 6/8 I am finding myself writing a lot of these stops and a lot of the bass notes and 'hits' as crotchets when I don't want them played long. My logic is that it seems a bit wierd to notate this as a dotted crotchet with staccato even though it looks cleaner.

    On the topic of 'leaps' - are the leaps in the bass line problematic? I'm kinding of using it so that it doesn't feel overly heavy and it is exciting and fills out when I jump down to the low registers. Dodgy work?

    Attached revision with some changes implemented. Going to the printshop and see if that helps. Apologies if not all excellent suggestions implemented yet.



    Attached Files:

  10. I know Tim personally. We went to the same University (he was about 3-4 years ahead of me. Aka: older), and each had the same composition teacher.
    That said, I don't read his blog.

    I would NOT do it.

    Here is why: Tim - this is becoming less and less the case as now he is taking on more of a composer role - was known as both orchestrator and "conductor" (He's not a real conductor. He is a drummer and has good time.....that's about it.)

    The blank bars would be for handling corrections, additions in the session that either the composer or director wanted.

    That is not you. Don't approach your session like that. A typical feature film has about 12 hours of studio time (Two 3 hour calls over two days)

    You are looking at 30 minutes. Each correction is going to eat into your precious time. It's not the right mind set to have.
    Film composers often have ridiculous deadlines, and thus things are compromised sometimes. You have plenty of time to get it right, so do so.

    Plus Tim worked a lot with Brian Tyler, whom I detest, and I am sure things would have to be changed.

    crotchets ? What are those. I'm kidding. I live in Australia, and sadly the British system is used here. It's inferior. (I can explain why at a later time)

    Well why don't you stop doing that then ?o_O It's confusing as hell.

    There are things known as "quavers" you know. Give them a try.

    Look, if you have professional "Studio Orchestra" then they are already going to know a lot of what is "inferred". They get shit scores all the time, and they know when it is a waste of time to even ask a question. But I stress....... this is not the proper mind-set for learning your craft.

    For example look at the last page of your score. Most likely the conductor would just make a note and tell the players what is up, and over look your mistakes.

    Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 12.57.08 PM.png

    WAIT !!! HOLD UP.

    I just listened to your piece. You are NOT in 6/8.

    YES !! This is much more like the actual recording.

    I think you were on the right track. 12/8, then 4/4 for the B section. Use an indication of Dotted Quarter = Quarter


    Then reverse it when you go back to 12/8. Get rid of all that

    upload_2019-8-23_13-21-5.png '

    Stuff. It looks way more difficult than it sounds.

    First.....anyone doing a conducting pattern is going to fall into a "4" grouping. That's your piece. Where did you get 6/8 ??
    Second, think about the practical aspect of moving to 12/8. The Conductor is going to have page turns reduced by 50%.

    Do the math. Right now each page get @ 5 seconds of music. Do you want the sound of pages turning ? This would double the time, and also let people see a larger chunk of music with a single glance. See if you can manage to get four measures of 12/8 per page. This is again why you need to print it up, and on large paper. Most likely you have too much horizontal space.

    Thomas Bryla likes this.
  11. Awesome, Thanks Doug.

    Slightly devastating as I'm not aware of a quick way to change the B section to 4 without extensive surgery. Would you advise keeping the whole way through B in 4 and changing back at C? OR only changing for the first half?

    PS. You live in Australia? Me too! Or did I misinterpret your words here...


  12. Yes, Melbourne. Tim Davies, and myself went thru the University of Melbourne. I also did my undergrad at a
    school called VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) about ......oh....... too long ago to say. I used to be on faculty at AFTRS.
  13. You are kidding! Me too. I studied jazz at VCA graduating in 2014. Here I was thinking you lived in NYC. I'm sure I've seen some of your videos and you have an American accent. Surely I haven't got it all wrong...

    Well thanks indeed for all the precious advice. I will work my way through the B section and change it all to 4/4. I will come back with an update.

  14. #14 Alexander Schiborr, Aug 23, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019

    Nice track. I like it, it has a nice adventurous vibe. You got already a good amount of feedback here. I just feel that ending doesn´t really fit into the theme. It feels like you ran out of steam and needed some kind of quick device to get that ending done. I would advice simply to recapitulate elements of your theme in order to let an ending make more sense. Remember your superman beginning? Of course you do.If you would use that parts of your intro and built the ending accordingly with elements of your theme? Think about to connect the dots and to have a chance of completing the circle. Other than that, cool stuff! Go on.
  15. That's all correct. I am from the states, and moved to NYC after my Masters in Composition. I lived there from start of 2008 until about Nov. 2016 ( I am sure you can piece together the reason for my return.) I ran my teaching studio on 54th and 7th ave, which is probably one or two of the videos you saw.

    Since you are a trumpeter you might know http://nadjenoordhuis.com/. She's awesome. This is her on trumpet playing on one of my gigs.

    I love .....love ......love Melbourne. shhh....... don't tell the other yanks however. I live in Brunswick East.
    (Luke Howard - whom you might know- has his studio right across the street from me)

    No where else I would rather live. (Maybe Berlin ?) Sure, people here have a weird affection for facial hair. And I, as a person who hates
    "cafes", stick out. No grown person should make cartoons, or leaf figures out of foam. I eat no-doze and modifinal like candy, so I have in my 2 +
    years being back yet to buy any version of the many silly coffees. Plus it takes all these people so much time to make.

    I can live with that though. Just don't "Ta" me.

    One final OCD rant on life as a yank in Melbourne.

    I still prefer "go fuck yourself" to the standard "get fucked"

    The reason is geography. See "get fucked" is basically - "I want something bad to happen to you. I don't care where you are, just have something bad happen to you.

    "go fuck yourself" acknowledges that you are in my space and that too is a negative.
    Implicit is " You.....go somewhere...... away from me, and then have something bad happen to you"
  16. Hi @Alexander Schiborr - Thanks. You mean the lydian kind of tag on the end. Yes it's true that idea has no skin in the game so to speak. It's a great idea to bring it back to the opening thing - I can really see that working. I'm going to try it out.

    @Doug Gibson Wow, it's a small world. I know Nadje only from a far but like her playing very much and I am a big fan of Luke's (incidentally a big fan of the album they made together in Berlin). I know Luke a bit better - I'm having coffee with him next week. I can't believe you are over the road. There are a few other composers I know all in that small vicinity. Amazing.

  17. Hi guys.

    Just posting back with what I hope might be close to the finished score. I hope I've caught all the divisi and a2 markings on the score. Please let me know if you see anything else, but I don't expect you to do my proofreading for me. I will print this out which really does seem to let me see mistakes more easily. My next point is to just fix up the woodwind parts which still look a little shonky to me.

    @Alexander Schiborr I took your advice about the ending - I wonder what you think about this? I felt kind of funny because I almost feel like the gm11 wants to slam straight into the ending and maybe I lose energy doing what I am doing. I hope it works this way too though.

    I also have the sense that maybe the whole chart could work well down 1 tone? In the interests of smooth playing at least that would make the trumpet and horn parts a lot easier. Any thoughts on this are much appreciated.

    Attached is noteperformer and a score.

    All the best,


    Attached Files:

  18. Remember to have dynamics at the start and end of a hairpin.
    Also for recording: use bar numbers as rehearsal marks and make sure not to hide any bar numbers.
  19. I personally find the new ending much much better as it follows your theme more. Maybe waht you can try out is having some shimmer or pedal tone maintaining in the very higher registers so that you don´t lose the upper air and brilliance excitement. Or you can simply go and feature your intro but more intensified, maybe with some snares, or some timps supporting the rhythm.

    Just try out a couple of things. But cool theme and head on.
  20. Thanks a lot Alex, that means a lot. I agree it needs something to keep the excitement going. I was originally going to put high trems in the violins but I started thinking about some runs or something there too. Some little kind of motor to keep it going. Got any different ideas / tricks for this? A good high register motor element. I've got the high strings and woods free.

    PS What are you working on at the moment? I've been following along your latest mock-up but would love to hear another of your original works.

    I'm also wondering about putting the hairpins in the low brass and the high woods when I am using them in the background as a colour. Like through the B section. Is it necessary to put the hairpins or is it overnotating? I feel like it looks weird to have the hairpins without dynamics as Thomas points out but I know what I'd naturally do as a player and I don't think I'd be confused without the intervening dynamics. Like I would simply be listening and following the natural swell of the band. Love to hear some opinions on this.



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