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Voyage to the Depths

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by George Streicher, Feb 18, 2020.

  1. #1 George Streicher, Feb 18, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2020
    Hello again, everyone!

    I'm working on a short 1 minute piece to record with a small ensemble this coming month. Trying something a little darker and in the vein of a kind of "mysterious, Jules Verne" adventure score.

    I'd love to hear any critiques / suggestions for the piece and the attached .PDF score! As usual, I will save all my versions and keep them posted here as the piece progresses.

    My past experiences of posting on here has been tremendously encouraging and educational and I look forward to hearing all your advice!


    Score PDFs
  2. Hey, nice piece!

    The first thing that stuck out to me upon listening were the harp glisses throughout. At m9 you are landing on a Bbm chord, but the harp is playing a Cb major scale. The Cb and Fb are really going to rub here. You probably want some kind of Bb minor scale or chord in the harp. Since you are going for a mysterious vibe, you could try a Bb minor chord with an added 9 and b6, which would need to be spelled Bb C Db E# F Gb A# in order to be playable (notice the root and fifth are doubled). You probably want to do the same thing in m18, or a Bb aeolian minor scale to match the strings/WWs run.

    Similarly at m14 and m16 the harmony is an Ab major chord, but the harp is still playing a Cb major scale. The best choice here is probably an Ab major triad with an added 6 and 9, which would be spelled Ab Bb C D# Eb F G# (notice again the doubled root and fifth). The function of the harp in those measures is to support the harmonic change, so you want to be careful to only include notes that support the harmony and don't make it more ambiguous.

    I also feel like the melody could either be stronger or better supported. The harmony throughout uses very simple triads, but the melody uses some color tones, often with big leaps in and out of them. For example the Gb Bb F Bb in m2 which leaps from the 5th to the major 7, down to the #11 and then to the root of the next chord, most of which is not really supported in the harmony. So maybe the melody needs to be tweaked to make it stronger, or the harmony could be tweaked to better support it. Since you are going for a mysterious vibe, you could try altering the arpeggios in the strings/WWs/harp to include some of those color notes. Adding in the b6 (Gb) to the Bb minor arpeggio patterns and adding F and Bb to the Cb/Eb arpeggios, for example, would give it more of that mysterious vibe (because of the half steps introduced) and support the notes in the melody.

    I would also take that opportunity to clean up the harp part. Maybe this was intentional, but the harp is playing in the same range as the strings and WWs, but it is playing opposite patterns. You already have the trombones playing pads to glue the harmony together, so it might work better to either have the harp doubling clarinet and viola through m8 or put it in a different range so it's not obscuring the arpeggio patterns.

    Regarding the PDF score:
    The harp will have a lot less pedal changes if you use Cb and Fb throughout instead of B natural and E natural. I would also use Cb and Fb in the orchestra parts when it makes sense. For example, it's better for viola to have either Gb Eb Cb or F# D# B in m2 since it's just a simple triad arpeggio. It is more clear for the conductor and players when the accidentals are spelled out with their harmonic function (so I would go with flats throughout).

    There are also a bunch of rests to clean up, two quarter note rests that should be half rests, for ex. And I would notate all the sextuplet eighths as triplet eighths instead (I'm guessing you imported midi into Sibelius, one of my pet peeves in Sibelius is how it handles tuplets...)

    Just my thoughts and opinions, feel free to take anything with a grain of salt. I look forward to hearing the final version recorded with live players!
    George Streicher likes this.
  3. Hey George,

    Hope you are doing well and thanks for sharing your piece.


    - I like the idea and mood you establish which serves here well.
    - The orchestration is nice too for my taste.
    - The slight counterpoint elements are giving more layers which I find cool too.

    Cons, no suggestions:

    - The only thing which I might suggest is that you go and explore the Arc of melody and extend it further at some point. You could at least thinking about to extrapolate it. Also probably think about shifting it more around in the ranges. (high vs. low registers) and utilitizing more "different sections of the orchestra" to add to that simple motif a bit more interest. I would call it the footballing technique.
    - The motif is rather simple (nothing bad about that) though there is the point, you repeat that short chunk twice in the beginning, then at 20 seconds around you start more reharmonisation as this definitely ok to do, though it might be an idea to create a little counter motif at that point as a contrast to your first motif? -> quasi b-Sektion, which would add ihmo a bit more interest to your theme? Or if want to keep it like that: Think about how to vary the rhythm a bit more. Instead: Dah Dah Dih Dah, Doh Dah Dih Dah, you could : Dadada Dah, Dih Dahhhh --> Dododo Dah Dihhh Dah..you know? So in a nutshell: Crunching the rhythm also or simply adding more "flair"

  4. George Streicher likes this.
  5. Thanks for taking the time to go through the piece, Doug! Some really great ideas and suggestions in there. Always inspired by your critiques

    I've actually already started re-orchestrating the piece. I took it back to the piano to kind of re-work my voicings and bass lines and now I'm starting from scratch. Trying to really play up the textures and I'm even playing with note values in the melody to keep it more interesting.

    Will post my revised score / mp3 soon!
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  6. Took another shot at this on piano...


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