Mentoring Program

Piano Quintett in A minor

The piano quintet will eventually be four movements long. The first movement is fast and melodic, the second with darker melodies, the third movement slower, and the fourth movement very upbeat with major key melodies. At the moment, the first movement is complete, and the second and third movements are still in segments. The fourth movement is not yet on the document.
Grade Level: 10
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Sibelius
Instrumentation: First Violin, Second Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano
Key: A minor, E minor, D minor
Meter Signature: 5/4, 4/4, 3/4, 6/8
Tempo: Allegro, Andante
Status: Work in Progress
File 1: application/octet-streamDownload

Comments   

#46 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-18 11:11
Dear Katya,
Okay, here's my second comment. I had to shorten some of your questions to fit the first comment in under our 5,000 character limit. Anyway, what follows is mainly about Opus 33.

4. "As for Opus 33, am I allowed to know the instrument group I am writing for before hand, or do I simply submit an idea to be clarified later? I do plan to enter a composition. I have a bit more time before the deadline to pick something I can really work well with."
As I tried to explain at the showcase, we have set instrumentation and you choose what you write for. The announcement ought to go up soon, but as you can see on the site, the folders for Opus 33 are there already so you can submit any time. The initial deadline is Friday February 2. Here is the instrumentation : brass quintet (2 Bb trumpets, French horn, trombone, tuba); piano; percussion (2 players): drum set (including instruments used separately, such as snare, cymbal, triangle, etc.), glock, xylophone; SATB (one singer per part). Any combination within these possibilities is fine, but the piece is limited to three minutes so we can make rehearsal easier and have as many pieces as possible.

Okay, Katya, I think that's it for now. Please read over what I've written and let me know if you have questions, especially about Opus 33. Keep up the good work. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#45 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-18 11:10
Dear Katya,
Thanks for reposting. I had NO PROBLEMS opening both files with Sibelius 6! Yay! It was a pleasure meeting you, your advisor and your parents (and others) last week. It also helped me get a better idea about the general context in which you work.
Wow, lots of questions and issues. Let me see whether I can help. This will come in two separate comments.
1."On the matter of movements two and three of the Piano Quintet, I've been trying out the idea of making the third movement a sort of trio section within the second movement. The transition into the trio is going decently, but I'm lost as to how to get back to the original movement two material. For a true movement of this style, wouldn't I need a format with many repeats?. . .I'm not really liking the joining of them into one movement. I would rather reform them to be more different from one another than to remodel them to fit together. . .I'm more attached to the second movement and would rather keep that than the third movement if it came to taking one out of the piece. I especially like the end of the second movement that I have written.
I think the movement could be just a giant build up to a climax, followed by a short, calmer ending."
Whew, that's a lot to answer, but I'll try. First, let me reiterate that this is YOUR piece and the final decisions are yours, so whatever you decide is the way to go. I don't have veto power over this and wouldn't use it if I had. That said, my job is to take my experience and work with you to try to make your piece as strong as possible. I've listened to both versions you sent. I'm a little confused by the first because you incorporated III into II, but then had III again. Did it just stay there because you didn't remove it?
In any case, if you prefer II to III, keep it and ditch III. My problem is that I find III more exciting and dynamic than II. I feel it says most of the same things in less time. Would you consider (assuming you'd only keep one movement), speeding up the new II to make it more exciting? Remember that the first movement is marked Moderato and the fourth Largo, so having a fast, scherzo-like second movement makes more sense to me than an Andante for the second movement. Otherwise, there are three moderate-to-slo w movements in a row. I also don't think that adding III to II with each keeping the present length and with a return to the II material at the end of the movement is a good idea, simply because it will make it too long. It was a suggestion for somehow keeping what you have now but structuring it slightly differently while acknowledging that the two movements are close enough to be considered a single one. So below are options that I want to summarize with:
1. Keep the piece as is. My issues with this idea are well-known already.
2. Combine III with a shortened II. This can work if you end with the III material and forget about classical form. This is the 21st century and there aren't any such formal rules anymore (we don't wear powdered wigs anymore either).
3. Get rid of III and just use II. Consider speeding up II so it takes less time and also is more exciting. I'd also say it could use less repetition of material.
4. Revise II and III to make them more different than they are now. I'm not sure how feasible this is since they are both so firmly ingrained in your ear now.
There may be other options I haven't mentioned, but this is certainly enough to think about.

2. "You also mentioned once that I consider making this a string quartet only. . . I could see the movement being played by only string instruments at this point. The problem with that being that it's only one movement, the final movement of the piece, so where would that leave the rest of the quintet? . . . Can I have a tacet in chamber music? Would any other movements work as the last movement if I were to take the fifth movement out? Or do you think the piano part is integrated enough into the music of that movement, or could be further integrated?"
The quick answer is that the suggestion about making this a quartet came quite early on. There's enough piano in the fifth movement so I'd leave it. I don't feel that a tacet for the final movement is a good idea. It makes the sound anticlimactic. This is not a question of what's allowed (this is your piece, after all), just what works best. The only other possibility I can think of if you're unsatisfied with the fifth movement is to replace it with III, but I think what you have now for a finale is better than what you'd get if you switched out V and substituted III. I hope that's clear.

3. "Those are all big structural problems I'm having with the piece; essentially what I'm trying to come up with is all the options I have." I hope I've given you some idea of your options now. More in my next comment.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#44 Katharina Mueller 2018-01-17 22:03
Hi Erik,
Thank you so much for coming all the way out to my exhibition night. It was lovely meeting you in person.
On the matter of movements two and three of the Piano Quintet, I've been trying out the idea of making the third movement a sort of trio section within the second movement. I've posted a version of it, as Piano Quintet Jan 17 v1, in the shared folder. The transition into the trio is going decently, but I'm lost as to how to get back to the original movement two material. For a true movement of this style, wouldn't I need a format with many repeats? I think what you were recommending was a format of AABBCCDDAB, the Cs and Ds being material from the third movement.
I know that you've mentioned repeatedly that movements two and three have a lot in common, but I'm not really liking the joining of them into one movement. I would rather reform them to be more different from one another than to remodel them to fit together.
You've also said that the third movement works well with the piano, and speaks its message clearly, but somehow I'm more attached to the second movement and would rather keep that than the third movement if it came to taking one out of the piece. I especially like the end of the second movement that I have written.
I've put a second version of the piece in the folder, named Piano Quintet Jan 17 v2, that has a shorter version of movement two, that hopefully keeps it a bit more interesting. I think the movement could be just a giant build up to a climax, followed by a short, calmer ending.
You also mentioned once that I consider making this a string quartet only. In the many edits of the fifth movement, the material that had been the main feature of the piano part was taken out. I could see the movement being played by only string instruments at this point. The problem with that being that it's only one movement, the final movement of the piece, so where would that leave the rest of the quintet? Basically what I'm asking is, is that allowed in music? Can I have a tacet in chamber music? Would any other movements work as the last movement if I were to take the fifth movement out? Or do you think the piano part is integrated enough into the music of that movement, or could be further integrated?
Those are all big structural problems I'm having with the piece; essentially what I'm trying to come up with is all the options I have.
As for Opus 33, am I allowed to know the instrument group I am writing for before hand, or do I simply submit an idea to be clarified later? I can't find any mention of instrumentation on the website. I do plan to enter a composition. I have a bit more time before the deadline to pick something I can really work well with.
Thanks for all the help on this piece,
Katya
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#43 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-04 11:53
Dear Katya,
Thanks for the update. I had just reached out to your adviser and found out about the cancellation when you wrote. The extra time will be good, so don't hesitate to re-post if and when you want more feedback. I'll plan to come next Tuesday.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#42 Katharina Mueller 2018-01-04 11:28
Hi Erik,
I do have school today, but unfortunately, all after school activities, including the Exhibition Night, have been cancelled. The snow is just piling onto the roads here. The Exhibition Night has been rescheduled for Tuesday, the 9th of January, and I assume all the same times still apply.
With that, I suppose I have time to add more to my piece. I won't start taking it apart again just yet, but I do have time to put the third movement into 12/8. Also, I had a few movements played live yesterday at my music school. The performers said my parts were clearer, but I need to add more bowing and finger markings, so I'll also work on that.
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#41 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-03 16:08
Dear Katya,
Thanks for the update. I hate formatting too, so I'm glad what I did was helpful. Now I have a better idea about the time frame for tomorrow. I'll keep my fingers crossed for decent weather. And I think your theory about not opening the file prior to sending it makes a lot of sense. I hope to see you tomorrow.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#40 Katharina Mueller 2018-01-03 11:33
Thanks so much! I have very little experience in formatting music, so all the written-in comments are extremely helpful.
I'm not sure what causes the Sibelius files to not successfully export as a previous version. As far as I know, I have consistently done File-Export-Exp ort as Previous Version-Sibeliu s 6. One theory I have is that I can't open the exported file on my computer, I have to just send it, otherwise it somehow reverts back to a Sib 8 file.
There isn't much talk of a snow day here tomorrow, but if school is cancelled then the Exhibition Night is cancelled as well, and will be scheduled for a later date, yet to be determined.
Assuming Exhibition Night is not cancelled, I set up at 5:30, while a group called Broadway Performance presents their acts in the auditorium. I present from 6:00 to 7:00, in the science-fair set-up in the gymnasium.
See you there,
Katya
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#39 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-03 11:06
Dear Katya,
Yay, success! I want to watch you sometime to see what you do differently whenever you make it so I'm able to open the file. It puzzles me (you too, in all likelihood) that sometimes it works and sometimes not.. In any case, I'm glad I could look through the entire work.
You asked for feedback on the first movement. In some ways I feel it's the strongest and most successful in the piece. The piano part works very well, both on its own and with the strings and the energy, range and dynamics all are effective.
I've made a few comments, almost all about score preparation, in the uploaded score I've shared on Drive. I know you want to make the piece look as good as possible, thus the comments about rests, where dynamics are placed, etc. I've also taken the liberty of correcting rests and octave signs in the other movements to save time and have them follow standard practice.

A few comments about the rest of the piece. I still think that movements II and III ought to be considered one movement. Although they end in different keys they both begin in E minor and have the same running triplet feel. In fact, I think putting III in 4/4 rather than 12/8 is a mistake. Do I think you ought to change all this by tomorrow? No, no, no. However, if you do plan on working toward a performance of this piece (and I sincerely hope you are), you ought to consider combining the two movements and changing what's now Movement III to 12/8. That will take some work, but it will be worth it.

However, for tomorrow, what I think you ought to do as much as possible is correct those things I've mentioned for Movement I and also try to spread the lines in the score wherever they're so crowded that things like crescendi and dynamics show up in red (Sibelius does this whenever something is too crowded). One thing that will help this is to get rid of dynamics and other markings below the piano left hand whenever they are duplicated in the right hand. That will save some space.

One final question. I plan on attending tomorrow at 5:30, but if there's no school because of snow or if school is closed early, will the project fair still take place? I don't want to drive through the snow just to find out it's been cancelled, so if you could have your advisor let me know one way or the other I'd appreciate it.

Katya, you've written a very strong piece, especially considering how large it is. I hope you'll decide to fine-tune it for performance as well as begin work on something new soon. I look forward to meeting you in person as well as working more with you.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#38 Katharina Mueller 2018-01-02 20:40
I've posted a PDF, and tried again with the sib file.
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#37 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-02 16:59
Dear Katya,
Sorry, this one doesn't work either. Given the short time frame, can you just post a .pdf of the file so I can give you some quick feedback before Thursday? I wish I knew what the problem was, but at least this way I can see the score. Thanks.

Best wishes,
Erik
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