Mentoring Program

#1 Composition

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Revision of #1 Comp
Grade Level: 12
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Sibelius
Instrumentation: Piano
Key: G minor
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 100
Status: Work in Progress
File 1: application/octet-streamDownload


#7 Erik Nielsen 2016-11-30 15:50
Dear Esther,
Thanks for posting the latest revision of your piece. You've certainly worked hard on your B section and it's definitely coming along. I think it was a good idea that you trimmed several bars off near the end of the A section. I also think the transition back to A' from B shows a lot of promise.
I'm putting an annotated version of the score on Google Drive. The main issues now are as follows. In B there's too much chromaticism at the beginning, interfering with establishing B flat as the new tonality. If you want it to be chromatic, you'll need to do more with that, not just the first bar of the theme. Also, there's still too much D major, even though it now doesn't lead to G minor as much. (In a way, that makes it more confusing.) I think you're still hearing a lot of this B section as being in G minor. One way to really change this if you can't get away from the idea of relative minor is to transition from G minor to G major rather than B flat. Then the chords that were D major chords will need to switch over to B major and then you can add E minor following. Those will be completely fresh sounding. That's a fairly radical idea and will take some readjustment of chords. If you don't want that, it's fine, but I think many of those D major chords ought to be reharmonized as something else without the F#. Also, the new melodic notation with a note here or a note there in voice 2 is really confusing to read.

Still on B, I like the transitional bars 46-48 with their upper register sound, and would love more music up there. It's lovely. However, the enormous ritard during all those bars just gets the piece stuck in the mud.

The transition back to A works well, but the A itself is much less interesting than the original. As I wrote on the score, it's functioning much more like a coda, but without a more closely-related A' with the exciting 16th note runs the final section is a real let-down. We already had a change of pace with a slower tempo for B, and having a final section that doesn't pack the punch of the original is an anticlimax. So please consider inserting more of the opening A before going to a coda.
Esther, you're clearly working hard on this piece and are making progress. If you can take what I've written into account and consider some changes I think you'll be close to finishing, though the work will still need dynamics and any articulation and pedaling markings you might want to make. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
#6 Yuhyun Kim 2016-11-28 19:57
Thank you for your response! I have revised the A and B according to your suggestions.
As of now, I am trying to finalize my piece but I am struggling with measures 45-47. How could I make it flow better? What do you think of my second A section? Does the new style match the overall piece?

Thank you!
#5 Erik Nielsen 2016-11-11 19:15
Dear Esther,
Thanks for posting the latest version of your piece. I like the added 16th notes in your A section in left hand. They make the music flow much more smoothly. And I'm glad to see you've worked on a B section. I'll cover that in a minute.
I have a couple of little points to bring out in the A section. You modified the right hand in the first half of bar 6, bringing the dotted quarter down a third from the previous version. I'm going to assume you did this so it would harmonize with the left hand better, but in fact neither version works well with the A half diminished 7th chord you've outlined in left hand. Not only that, but having C in both hands for the second half of beat two thins the texture to a single part there. I'd suggest you change the dotted half note in right hand to an A with an F a sixth above. That will make the overall chord an F9. I'd also then move the eighth on the second half of beat 2 up to an E flat. This will also make the line smoother moving down to the D on beat 3. Also, the final right hand eighth note in bar 24 is a G and that clashes with the D chord in left hand. I'd suggest changing the G to an A.
Now to the B section. Bars 31-33 act as a transition, but with two problems, one of substance and one of technicality. The technical issue is that a fermata needs to go over both hands, so the half note in left hand in 33 needs a fermata as well as the right hand. This is also true in bar 41. The substantive issue is that all three bars, 31-33 are on the same chord, F7. As a result, the music just sits there for three bars. You could just as easily make a single bar transition with a rit. and a fermata and it would do the same thing and be more effective.
I think the biggest issues in the B section are the ineffectiveness of the theme and the ambiguity of key. Regarding the key, if you really want a contrast by putting this section in the relative major, you will need to avoid D major chords going to G minor. This is far too reminiscent of the A section tonality to do anything other than make B flat seem like only a temporary diversion. Using F natural rather than F#, avoiding D chords (especially followed by G minor) and working to emphasize B flat will all make a big difference.
For me, the melody in B is too arpeggiated as well as too lacking in direction. I think you need to step back, pretend you're writing a melody for solo flute (i.e., no left hand) and create a melody in B flat that is as striking as your A melody, while still having its own character. I think you may be stuck because the theme isn't clear enough, so make that your first priority and if you do and can keep it in B flat, everything else will follow.
Esther, you and the piece have made progress. If you can take into account what I've written above, you ought to be able to keep moving forward. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
#4 Yuhyun Kim 2016-11-10 11:13

I submitted my composition (11/10) on Google Drive. I revised my A section again with your recommendations and also added a B section. I wanted to develop my B section but I got stuck. Can you look over this?

Thank you!
#3 Erik Nielsen 2016-10-31 20:43
Dear Esther,
Thanks for posting. Once again we have a technical problem, which is that you only seem to be able to post a revision with Sibelius if you treat it as a new file. That's no good, not that it's your fault at all. What I'm doing and I'd urge you to do is post from now on using this file (i.e.,#1 Composition) and put your Sibelius file on Google Drive (I'm writing to your teacher about it tomorrow).
Let me respond to your revision. This now has a very different feel with the 16th note accompaniment, very Chopin-esque, but generally quite effective. In fact, it answers one of my major concerns from last time, namely that there were too many octaves and identical rhythms between the two hands. Now they are quite distinct. The one thing I'd like to see is the 16ths continue throughout the A section (with perhaps only a couple of exceptions). As it is, the piece's motion really slows in spots like bars 9 and 18. I can live with places like bars 10-11 and 19-22 because there's enough else going on, but 9 and 18 really feel as if they stop the train, so to speak, so I'd urge you to consider changing the left hand half notes to 16ths in those two bars.
I like how the music slows rhythmically in bars 23-29 and then picks up again in bar 30 to finish off the section. The one spot that doesn't work for me is bar 28 because of the unison writing in the first half of the bar and then the block parallel chords in left hand for the second half. The latter are too heavy and the former reduces the texture to a single part (remember my comment from the original version). As for the chords, in a spot like this I usually find putting the chord tones in right hand below the melodic note and having bare octaves in left hand preferable to what you have.
As for you B outline, it seems to me you're on a good track so far. Don't be afraid to keep working on the melody to make it as smooth and effective as your A melody. Please take what I've written into account, Esther, and let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
#2 Erik Nielsen 2016-10-31 20:17
Dear Yuhyun Kim (or do you prefer Esther?),
Thanks for posting the first version of your piano piece. There is a lot to like in this. I particularly like the melancholy, wistful quality of your melody (at least that's how it strikes me), and the accompaniment generally works well harmonically.
There are some things I want to discuss, but first let me say that I understand your concerns about feeling unable to develop your ideas. That's a very common source of frustration among beginning composers (as well as for us veterans at times!). The most important way to begin developing your ideas is to first be very clear what they are and what they contain. For example, you mention your B section. Where does that begin? I have an idea that it might begin at bar 20, but after a few bars that new rhythmic feel disappears and we're back to the general sound of the first theme.
If you want a B section, I think there needs to be more that distinguishes it from A. That can be switching over from G minor to B flat major, it can just mean changing the rhythmic setup in the accompaniment, as you do in bar 20. Whatever it is, you need to stick with it and not let it slip back into sounding like A.
My next suggestion is that you look at your first 19 bars and note how often either 1. both hands have the same rhythm (especially a half note at the end of the bar) or 2. both hands move in the same direction (or both). At its most successful, your piece uses complementary rhythm (right hand holds, left hand moves or vice versa) and contrary motion. See bars 9-10 for a good example of this. When that doesn't happen, the piece is weaker because there's less distinguishing one hand from the other.
Finally, (and this is related to my previous comment), watch out how often the two hands play an octave. Most of the time in this piece each hand is only playing one note at a time. That makes for a very thin texture, and when the two parts are in octaves, that in effect thins the texture to one part at that moment. I'm not saying to eliminate octaves completely, just be careful how often you use them.
Esther, despite what I've written above, your piece is off to a strong start. If you can take my comments into account as you look at what you already have, you ought to be able to strengthen it and then move forward. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your first revision.

Best wishes,
Erik Nielsen
Senior Mentor
#1 Yuhyun Kim 2016-10-27 11:03

I revised my A section. Do you think that it is complete or that I need to add more elements to it? Also, starting from measure 35, I attempted to start a B section. As of now, I only have a rough outline of the melody. I am going for a ternary form.

Thank you!

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