Mentoring Program

America, What Have You Done?

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"America, What Have You Done?" is a piece reflecting my views on the government that the (almost) majority of people of the United States has elected to run this country. The composition begins with a dramatic chord progression.
Grade Level: 8
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Piano
Key: Eb Minor
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 97
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title
Located in: Opus 32 grades 6-8

Comments   

#13 Matthew LaRocca 2017-04-16 19:57
Great. Thanks Alex!

-Matt
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#12 Alex Wick 2017-04-15 18:42
Hi Matt,

Thanks so much for mentoring me during this process! It has been great. I liked all of your cleanup suggestions. I think the piece is ready for performance.

Thanks!

-Alex
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#11 Matthew LaRocca 2017-04-04 09:46
Hi Alex,

I’m so happy to tell you that you’ve been selected for Opus 32. Congratulations ! This is going to be a very fun and powerful piece.

We need to do some cleanup, but not too much. The numbers below will correspond to measure numbers. Let me know if any are confusing.

1. Change metronome marking to 96 (standard on most metronomes)

9. Add a grand pause marking (G.P.) in the empty bar so everyone knows there’s an empty bar.

10. Add rehearsal mark

18. No need for the mf marking in the piano - it should be forte like the violins.

22. Remove forte in piano

26. Add rehearsal mark and dynamics for all instruments.

34. Add rehearsal mark.

36. Make all dynamics a “subito piano” (both violin and piano).

40. Move the forte dynamic in the violins to here. Add rehearsal mark.

50. Add a rehearsal mark.

Post a message when you get a chance to tackle all of these, and let me know if you have any questions. Congratulations again!

-Matt
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#10 Alex Wick 2017-03-30 20:53
Hi Matt,

Thanks for the feedback. I liked your idea about slightly expanding those two measures, so I added two more measures. I think I have added the dynamics and articulation I need. I think this piece is ready for the selection progress.

Thanks!

-Alex W.
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#9 Matthew LaRocca 2017-03-28 13:38
Hi Alex,

Those little changes made a big difference. Nice!

Honestly, I think you’re in great shape now. Add in articulations and dynamics, and you’ll be good to go.

The only spot that I paused at was measure 36 and 37. I felt like I wanted those to be just a little bit longer - another bar or two bars. Also, maybe more than just a D too. Perhaps some double stops in the violins, or even more dissonant chords (D + a C or E or something like that…I imagine something clustery with close tougher notes here for some reason). But that way you can push towards the fast sixteenth part, which is the crux of the piece. Give it a bigger setup and a bigger build.

But again, that’s the only spot. I think the rest is in really great shape. Good work!

-Matt
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#8 Alex Wick 2017-03-27 19:19
Hi Matt,

Thanks for the feedback.

I liked your suggestions. I changed the triplets to sixteenth notes in the 2/4 bar and it greatly improved it. I added the chords in the right hand of the piano in the section starting at m. 18, and it definitely gave a fuller sound. I also lengthened m. 46, which I found worked better, and added the breath marks.

Though it was a good idea, I think I prefer m. 45 to be without piano; I think it adds to the tension of the last section.

I also added a few more dynamic changes and some articulation.

Any more feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks!

-Alex W.
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#7 Matthew LaRocca 2017-03-24 08:52
Hi Alex,

Nice! The added length makes a HUGE difference. I think the length is perfect now.

With the 2/4 bar, I would actually keep the violin in sixteenth notes, not the triplets, for two reasons. Oddly, by moving the violin a little faster in that bar, some of the added tension of a 2/4 measure is lost. It needs a consistent tempo to really make it work. Also, that’s really pushing the violin there to make it sound clean and be played well. It’s just a little too fast for them.

I wonder if at m. 18 the right hand of the piano should have chords instead of a single note. It would make it a little fuller there - and build down from the note you have already. So what’s there now would be the highest note in the chord. This gives the violins some room to be more exposed in the middle range and won’t cover them up. It sounds a little empty though and I think it could benefit from a more full sound.

I love the middle part now with the dotted rhythms. I think it works really, really well.

The last change at the end is a little too abrupt. Try taking measure 46 and spreading it out over two measures. So the half note become a whole note, and then the two quarter notes become half notes. But if you imagine the performers coming to the end of this, they really are going to want to dig in and have some time on those notes. Probably crescendo through them too…And last, add a little breath mark after that measure. This will let the piano chords begin more subtly and give the music a chance to breathe.

Take care of those spots, add some dynamics, and I think you’ll be in really good shape!

-Matt

PS - actually, one more random thought. You have the piano drop out in m. 45, right before the final cadence. It may make more sense to have the piano crescendo into that measure as well. It could go either way, but that’s a spot that made me pause for a second.
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#6 Alex Wick 2017-03-22 21:50
Hi Matt,

Thank you for the feedback. After listening to the piece again, I definitely agree that it is (was) too short. I have now added on another minute to the piece. It is now 55 measures (2:16).

I liked your feedback about doubling the four bars before the dotted note section; it adds more tension.

I extended the dotted eighth note section and the sixteenth note section. I did include a measure of 2/4, but I put it in the 16th note section instead.

At the end, I repeated a slightly edited version of the slow piano section at the start, and finished it off with one big chord.

I still need to add more articulation and, in some places, dynamics.

Any more feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks!

-Alex W.
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#5 Matthew LaRocca 2017-03-13 22:24
Hi Alex,

Looking good so far. I agree that you need to add the dynamics and articulation in, which will help. But the big thing, is it’s just too short! You get these fantastic ideas going, but they never really actually get to go anywhere because you cut them off too early. Let’s break the piece down and look at where you can expand things.

-The intro (m. 1-8) is the perfect length. I wouldn’t touch it.

-The next part (m. 9-17) also works as is.

-Here’s where I think you need to blow things out more. The next four bars could be doubled to create more tension as you move into the dotted rhythms. Or even better yet, try making a 9 bar or a 7 bar phrase, which when you break out of the 4 bar phrase mold it really pushes the listener in a good way. It could sound cool.

-M. 22 and 23 could easily become measure 22-50!! This part is so great, but you literally only give two bars of it! We need much, much more.

-I think that if you expand 22 and 23, then 24 and 25 will be OK as is. Or it could likewise be a great spot to add a single measure of 2/4 in. This is like what I was talking about earlier, by breaking from multiples of 2 bar phrases, you can create so much more push. It happens in a lot of rock songs even.

-And last, the sixteenth note part could also then be expanded. It’s very fiery and explosive, so really make them rock out.

You’ve got all the right ideas, they just need to be longer! Expand on them a little bit, and I think you can really make this piece a lot of fun.

-Matt
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#4 Alex Wick 2017-03-12 20:38
Hi Matt,

Thanks for the feedback, and for the info on the Lament baseline!

I think I am finished adding onto the piece. This piece is fairly short, (about 1:15), but I think it contains all of the ABC parts I need. Now, I just need to edit it.

I added dynamics to the piece. I still need to add articulation. I liked what you said about varying the rhythm of the violins when they come in. The rhythm of the violins starts out simple, but it gets faster and a bit more complex as the piece progresses.

Any more feedback and/ or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

-Alex W.
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