Mentoring Program

Rain Dance

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It begins with clouds and a rainstorm. There are two melodies in the violin and cello which get reused in the beginning and at the end. In the middle, there is a pizzicato section like the fall of rain drops.
Grade Level: 7
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello
Key: D minor, C major
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 110
Status: Completed Work
Noteflight URL: Website Title
Located in: Opus 32 grades 6-8


#13 Matthew LaRocca 2017-04-09 14:02
I think it look great now, Nancy. We can call it done! Nice work.

#12 Nancy McNichols 2017-04-04 18:52
Thanks Matt,
I've fixed most of the spots.
I think I'd like a "poco ritardando" instead of a one that slows down too much.
So if you could check over my music that would be great.
#11 Matthew LaRocca 2017-04-04 10:49
Hi Nancy,

Congratulations on being selected for Opus 32!!! I’m so excited for you.

We’ve got to clean some things up on your score, but in general everything is in great shape. The numbers below correspond to measure numbers, and let me know if you have any questions at all.

5. Add the mf marking to the cello on the last quarter note in this bar so the pickup is the right dynamic.

11. is MF the right marking here? It sounds like it should be a forte for most instruments. Maybe the violin has a forte piano to get out of the way.

16. Viola should be forte to continue the line from the cello

20. Mark dynamics here for all instruments. What’s the feel too? Is it still lively? Just double-checking .

25. Crescendo should end before the half note, and give a dynamic to the half note so they know where they’re crescendoing to.

26. Dynamics for the upper strings.

In this section, with all the little crescendos, add a dynamic at the beginning, middle and end. It makes them very explicit and easy for the musicians to read.

47. Move the dynamic to the pickup for the two violins. Also, I think everyone here should be forte. do you think that the slurs in the viola should be taken out to make it more powerful? A little bigger change of character would be the result.

52. Remark dynamics for all.

56. mark where they crescendo to.

Do you want a ritardando at the end? It could fit very well.

Really nice work Nancy. Can’t wait to hear it performed live! Let me know when you fix these spots.

#10 Nancy McNichols 2017-03-20 19:15
Hi Matt,
Thanks for your comments.
I tried out the C sharp in the cello part in m. 18, but I liked the C natural better so I'm keeping it natural.
For the transition into the B section, I decided to just end the A section with a build, a fermata on a D chord, then a rest to reset before the B section. A simple way to lay things down.
Tell me if you have more suggestions.

#9 Matthew LaRocca 2017-03-17 07:45
Hi Nancy,

So for the A major harmony…when I listen to your piece I hear that m. 18 is all an A major chord because of the overall sound of it. In which case the first cello note should be a C# not a C natural. Try it out and see if you like it better, or you prefer the C natural. But in D minor, the V chord (an A chord) is often a major chord. It can be minor too sometimes…that’ s one of the fun things about minor keys. Chords have some cool flexibility.

With the transition into the B section…what if it was more abrupt? Rather than trying to modulate, go right into it. D minor and C major are pretty closely related - so you could modulate to C or you could potentially not.

One thing I would suggest is creating a build into the B section, and using the initial pizzicato as a way to release all of the built up tension. You’ve got this great climbing violin line in measure 24. Instead of giving the line one time, you can build up excitement with repetitions of the line. It could happen 3 times - First in the viola (two octaves down) then when the viola reaches the highest D, the second starts that line an octave down. Then when the second violin reaches the D, the first starts the line as it’s originally written. End on a big D minor chord for a dotted half note. Give a beat of rest to let the cello set itself for the new melody and the violins and viola to switch to pizzicato.

Sometimes abrupt changes can work. This could be a good fix for the transition…or you could hate it. Try it out and let me know. And if it was hard to explain over text also let me know. I’ll send you a picture of what I mean.

#8 Nancy McNichols 2017-03-14 09:54
Hi Matt,
The cello part is supposed to accompany the pizzicato, which I guess is not being lead by either the violins or the viola but is more something woven between them. The whole B section is supposed to contrast with the rest of the song.
I did take your suggestion to start all the violins and viola off playing pizzicato, and to give the first violin a high E pickup note back into the A section. I also decided to end the whole piece with a mesh of the two familiar lines in the violin and cello.
But I'm still struggling with the transition into the B part without making it too abrupt. And I don't understand what you mean in your first suggestion in your last comment about the A major chord harmony.

#7 Matthew LaRocca 2017-03-08 09:42
Hi Nancy,

Wow! Things are looking very nice right now! You’ve done some great work.

Here are a few things to think about…

- I think you need a C# in the cello part in m. 18 to match your A major chord harmony.

- Nice work on the key change. You’re using a single note to pivot which works well. I would suggest having the viola play two whole notes tied together. That way the chord builds and we are left with the pivot note just hanging there. By rearticulating it, you lose some of the drama. Measure 24 is perfect for a huge crescendo as well.

- In the B section, I think it tends to wander a little too much. Is the cello the melody there? Or is it accompanying the pizzicato? I couldn’t quite tell. I think you could make it a lot more effective by having the viola and violins all start pizzicato at m. 27, establish the feel for a few measures, and then add in a lyrical cello solo underneath (if that’s what you’re going for!). The way it is now, I don’t feel any specific direction, and it seems to last a little too long. This is a spot you can definitely tighten up.

-Going back into the A section, give both violins a pickup note - it will be a little more dramatic and pressing that way. The first could even start on an E an octave above the second’s E.

Now just keep pressing to the end! I think you’ve really done a fantastic job so far.

#6 Emily McNichols 2017-03-07 15:26
I'm having trouble writing a transition between the A part and the B part, so if you have any suggestions, that would be much appreciated.

#5 Nancy McNichols 2017-03-05 09:57
I decided to raise the melody an octave the second time after the B part, and I've added some stuff to the B part. I'm going to work on harmonies and give the piece a close.
#4 Matthew LaRocca 2017-02-06 09:54
Hi Nancy,

Just letting you know that we're going to do a little switch. I'll be your primary mentor moving forward with Erik chiming in every once in a while, which will be great. Multiple points of view are always nice.

You're off to a great start, with lots to think about, so I'm not going to say anything until you post again. Keep up the great work!


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