Mentoring Program

Knights of the Castle

Composer Name: Jonah Sayler
A dark piece that is bold and majestic. I chose D minor because I wanted it to sound dark and strong.
Grade Level: 7
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: 2 trumpets, a French horn, a trombone, and percussion.
Key: D minor
Meter Signature: 3/4
Tempo: 120
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title
Located in: Opus 33 Grades 6-8

Comments   

#7 Erik Nielsen 2018-02-23 10:45
Dear Jonah,
First, congratulations again on a successful premiere last evening. I hope you enjoyed it as much as the audience did! And I hope you gained something by listening to the other student works. That exposure to your peers and what they're doing with the same instrumentation is a wonderful potential learning experience.
Thanks for posting the latest version of your piece for brass and percussion. I'm glad you fixed that one rhythmic figure. It now looks and sounds much more straightforward and makes more sense musically.
I like that the trumpets are starting a new idea. My advice is to think about where the tonal center is here. That is, there's a lot of C# and E at first and that leads me to believe that A is the center (A-C#-E creates an A major chord, so having the C# and E implies that we'll hear an A in trombone soon). That makes sense in D minor. But then there's a lot of C# and Bb (misspelled as A#), and then finally in bar 29-30 a Bb minor chord in trumpet 1 (again misspelled with all sharps). So first, do yourself a favor and respell the A# as Bb (you won't need to put in the flat itself as the flat is already in the key signature; just move the note up one and it will sound the same but will be spelled properly) and the E# as an F (same process as with the A#). That will then make the music clearer to see. Then you can figure out where this is headed. Also, please do keep thinking about having some more motion and more rhythmic drive, as I mentioned in my last comment.
Jonah, this is coming along. You have one month left and if you keep working steadily, the piece ought to continue to make progress. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#6 Jonah Sayler 2018-02-21 16:38
Dear Erik,
I have started the new part for the piece. Let me know if you have any suggestions for it. I am still working on the suggestions you sent me.

Thanks,
Jonah Sayler
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#5 Erik Nielsen 2018-02-19 09:59
Dear Jonah,
Thanks for making your second posting. The horn part works MUCH better now and I like the horn/trombone harmony in 13-14 and the trumpets' harmony in bars 16-18. That's a real improvement.
I have a few more suggestions.
1. If you have an idea for moving forward with the trumpets taking over, you might also think about setting up a rhythmic carpet (that is, a repeated pattern) in percussion and possibly also trombone to help give the next section some added intensity. What you have so far works well, but it is rather fanfare-like and that means the phrases start and then stop. Once we've heard that set of interruptions a few times, it might be good to get more forward momentum.
2. The trumpets work well, but I wouldn't push the upper register any more. That is, stay on the staff for the rest of the piece, not above it, unless you have a climactic run up to the A (once, no more than that). The trumpeters' muscles will be very tired by the concert from rehearsing all afternoon and the first thing to go is high notes.
3. I think the way you've written one rhythmic figure is problematic. I'm talking about the part that occurs first in horn from beat 3 of bar 5 through the end of 7. I think what ought to happen to align better with the sense of pulse is to move the 16th notes over to the final eighth of 5 so they act as pickups to bar 6. Then I'd make the first A (the one that's presently tied over from 5 to 6) into a half note, followed by the second A as a quarter note. I'd then make the G into a dotted quarter to begin bar 7, followed by the F eighth and E quarter. That will eliminate the D at the end of bar 7, but it will mean we will hear that D as the landing point on the downbeat of bar 8. I really think this is what you meant, but the notation needs a little tweaking to make it sound right. I know this is hard to explain in writing, so let me know if you have questions. Naturally, once you've changed it the first time, you can just paste the new version in everyplace else it happens.
Jonah, that's enough for today. As I wrote above, I think the piece is now more on its way with the changes you've made. Please think about my suggestions and let me know if anything I've written is unclear. I look forward to your next posting (AND to seeing you and hearing your piece in performance on Thursday!).

Best wishes,
Erik
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#4 Jonah Sayler 2018-02-15 14:24
Dear Erik,
Sorry I am getting back to you late. I think I have covered the suggestions that you sent me. For the next part of the piece, I was thinking of having trumpet 1 playing the melody, while trumpet 2 would be playing a harmony. Thank you for the suggestions. Let me know if there is anything I should change.

Thanks,
Jonah Sayler
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#3 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-31 09:54
Dear Jonah,
Thanks for sharing the piece. Now I have been able to see and listen to it. Your work is off to a fine start. The music itself matches the description you've given it, bold and majestic. It's very characteristic of brass instruments.
There are some adjustments that need to be made, however, so brass can actually play what you have. Brass instruments aren't like strings, able to play double stops. Since we only have one player per part, that means we can only have one note at a time per instrument. So those fourths you have in trumpet 1 in bar 9, trumpet 2 in bars 17-18 and the double notes in trombone will need to be changed to single notes. I'd suggest just eliminating the A from first trumpet in bar 9 and giving the second trumpet the A in 17-18, as the first trumpet is already playing the D. Also, why not give the second trumpet harmony with the first trumpet in 16-18 rather than unison for variety? We already have everyone together in 9-12. The same thing is true for trombone, that is, give it the lower notes from the end of bar 13 to the first note of 15. I'd give it the F (the upper note) at the beginning of 13 for harmony (especially since the lower note, C, clashes with the horn D). I'd also give it a D for the long note at the end of 15 through 18 so the harmony isn't inverted (D is the root of the chord, after all).
As to the horn, it's wonderful, but WAY too high. However, simply dropping the entire part an octave will take care of the problem. Keep in mind that the horn is an alto-tenor instrument with some overlap with trumpet (up to C in the middle of the treble staff) and also with trombone, down to the C below middle C (but still written in treble clef).
The percussion works well, but you could easily combine all this into a single part on drum set, since that has cymbals and bass drum, as well as snare and tom-toms. Think about that.
Finally, what you have sounds like a fanfare functioning as an introduction, so my question to you is, what comes next? Bars 1-23 could certainly be your main theme and first section, but now things need to develop and can do so in a number of ways. So give this some thought as well.
Jonah, your work is off to a very good beginning. Even though I've written quite a bit, making the adjustments I've indicated ought not to take you that long. Please let me know if you have questions. Also, please make sure I hear from you and your family about coming to Wake Robin on February 22 to hear your summer piece performed. You worked hard on it and I'm sure you'd like to hear it played by real musicians! I look forward to hearing from you about that and about your new piece soon.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#2 Jonah Sayler 2018-01-30 14:09
I just shared the piece, so you should be able to access it now. If there are any problems, just email me.

Jonah Sayler
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#1 Erik Nielsen 2018-01-29 09:04
Dear Jonah,
We'd love to get started mentoring you, but keep getting an error notice from MusicFirst when we try to open the link. Please check with your teacher to get this fixed so we can start work together. Thanks.

Best wishes,
Erik Nielsen
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