Mentoring Program

Percussion Piece

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Theme and variation
Grade Level: 12
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Sibelius
Instrumentation: Marimba, vibraphone
Key: Gb Major
Meter Signature: 2/4
Tempo: Allegro
Status: Work in Progress
File 1: application/octet-streamDownload

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#17 Erik Nielsen 2017-04-05 09:38
Dear Ellen,
I've uploaded the score for this piece as well. I've answered your questions in the notes of the score. Basically, you're fine, just remove all the written comments. You'll notice that I fixed two bars of marimba tremolo that we missed that have only a single slash and made them like the others. Let me know whether you have questions. On to piece #3!

Best wishes,
Erik
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#16 Erik Nielsen 2017-03-16 14:53
Dear Ellen,
Okay, I've looked at your percussion piece and it's very close to complete. I've left a few notes on the uploaded score. If you want to change a few of the moving quarter notes to something else (note what I've done on page 5) for a bit more rhythmic variety, that would be helpful, but I know you're pressed for time. Even a few changes would help break up the constant quarter note sounds.
The biggest thing you need to add now are dynamics. I get the feeling you're waiting for me to explain about echoes. All I meant was that when the two instruments are imitating each other, whoever plays a particular melodic idea second can echo the first voice by playing the idea p rather than f, mf, etc. You can even mark it p(echo) if you want. There's no special symbol for echo.
That's it for this piece. I'll take care of your stride piece next. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#15 Hyoin Rhee 2017-03-15 11:39
Hello!

I've uploaded my piece with some changes. Now my question is, what are some of the dynamics techniques you've mentioned? I don't know how to notate echoes and such!

Thank you :)
Ellen
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#14 Erik Nielsen 2017-03-03 10:15
Dear Ellen,
Thanks for your detailed response. I think I've answered all your questions in the notes I've left in the score I'm uploading. The biggest things to work on are as follows:
1. Too many second inversions and too much B minor in bars 88-100.
2. Fixing the tremolos harmonically and also making them real tremolos in the 6/8 section. All you have now are eighth notes. They need three slashes in order to really sound like tremolos. I've done it in the first bar for you.
3. Some other little things that I've noted, including that I think that the ending can work, short though it is, if the music is higher. Try it and see. I think the piece can get away with a coda-like ending if it's a bit more exciting.
4. I've given you a fairly long note at the beginning on dynamics.
Okay, Ellen, that's it for today. Please check the score I'm uploading now and let me know if you have questions. The piece is getting much closer to finished, so I really look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#13 Hyoin Rhee 2017-03-01 17:44
Hello! I can't believe it's already March!

Thank you for fixing some things on my Sibelius file and again for your feedback! I worked on these things today:
1. I added tremolos, but I think I've used too many of the same chord in some of the measures that it sounds boring/redundan t. How should I fix this? Also, do my tremolos fit the harmony?
2. I am not sure how I should add dynamics. I've done it for the first few measures but I don't think it makes sense to put a forte after a decrescendo although I do want those first notes after the decrescendo to sound loud. Also, I don't want to make the dynamics boring by putting in the same thing after every 4 measures or so but then at the same time I don't want to make everything inconsistent by putting in too many different dynamics when the melody is the same.
3. Do you think the ending is okay as it is?
4. Should I make the one-measure transition from the 2/4 to 6/8 longer? Right now, it is just one chord so I feel like it is too abrupt and insufficient.

Thank you so much for your fast & helpful feedback! I feel like my piece is getting better and better every time!

Ellen
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#12 Erik Nielsen 2017-02-28 11:18
Dear Ellen,
Thanks for doing so much work so quickly. You really are in a good groove. Let's keep it going by my trying to answer your questions in a helpful way.
"1. I put in metronome tempo marking for that slow 6/8 section, but Sibelius is not playing it back at that tempo (It is playing that part at quarter note = 66). Did I do something wrong?" Yes, you aren't entering the tempo marking correctly. You put it in as a technique marking (apple + t or ctrl + t) rather than a tempo marking (I think it's apple + control + t on a Mac; I know it's ctrl + alt + t on a pc; or you can go to the create menu). It didn't matter at the beginning since your tempo was the same as the default Sibelius tempo, but it sure made a difference in the 6/8 section. In the score I'm uploading I've fixed it.
"2. I don't think I understand "tremolos" well. I put in tremolos in the first measure of the 6/8 section to see what they sound like, but I am not sure if I did it correctly. Could you please help me with this? Right now, Sibelius is simply playing the note I put in three times for each tremolo but is that how it's supposed to work?" If you take a look at bars 102-103 in the uploaded score I've shown you what I mean. I've altered a couple of the right hand marimba notes to match the chords better (now that you changed the piano harmony). You can just copy and paste them in other places, as long as you alter them as needed to match the harmony. For future reference, here's what you need to do to create tremolos. Simply put, you enter the bottom note of the tremolo first as HALF the value you want, then do the same with the top note. (With a dotted quarter tremolo I've made each note of the tremolo a dotted eighth.) Then highlight both notes as a unit, go to the third numeric keypad screen (the one you used to enter the slashes) and hit the figure with the three slashes and also the Enter pad (the big one at the lower right that shows the tremolo figure). That will give you what I did, an unmeasured tremolo, in other words, play as quickly as possible, not as 16ths or some other value. Let me know if you have questions on this. Oh, and look at the piano part for bars 102-107 and listen to the difference that the octaves make. If you like it, put in more in the rest of the section.
"3. Should I put in dynamics for the marimba part, too? For the piano part, I can just treat it like a regular piano piece and put in pedal notations and dynamics, right?" Yes and yes.
"4. For the transition at measure 134, should I add new melodies/chords just for this transition? I know I have to make it longer and right now, the transition is so abrupt but I am not sure how I can make the transition longer so that the previous section connects to the final section more smoothly." Look at what I've done. I've taken more time by adding three more bars and built it up gradually. The specific chords are a bit less important, though still important, than building the rhythmic momentum and giving the transition enough time. Again, I'd make the right hand in piano a bit higher for the final section and add more marimba (including more throughout the 6/8 variation).
Finally, I've left you a couple of notes, one for bar 34 and another for the low piano in bars 68-70, 73-74, etc. Putting it up an octave will make it much more interesting.
Okay, Ellen, that's it for now. Please let me know if you have questions. And don't take the solutions I've given for the final transition in particular as gospel, just as an example to make the transition more effective. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#11 Hyoin Rhee 2017-02-28 09:11
Oh, and also, I will add my name and title and all that! I forgot to do that. I will add the title once I think of one!
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#10 Hyoin Rhee 2017-02-28 09:04
Hello! Happy last day of February!

Thank you for your fast and detailed feedback! I worked on my piece yesterday and today based on your suggestions, and they were really helpful. Now I have some more questions.

1. I put in metronome tempo marking for that slow 6/8 section, but Sibelius is not playing it back at that tempo (It is playing that part at quarter note = 66). Did I do something wrong?
2. I don't think I understand "tremolos" well. I put in tremolos in the first measure of the 6/8 section to see what they sound like, but I am not sure if I did it correctly. Could you please help me with this? Right now, Sibelius is simply playing the note I put in three times for each tremolo but is that how it's supposed to work?
3. Should I put in dynamics for the marimba part, too? For the piano part, I can just treat it like a regular piano piece and put in pedal notations and dynamics, right?
4. For the transition at measure 134, should I add new melodies/chords just for this transition? I know I have to make it longer and right now, the transition is so abrupt but I am not sure how I can make the transition longer so that the previous section connects to the final section more smoothly.

Thank you so much! If you have any suggestions besides answers to my questions, I'd be glad to hear them!

Thank you so much!!!
Ellen
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#9 Erik Nielsen 2017-02-27 16:19
Dear Ellen,
Thanks for your latest posting. It's clear that you've worked very hard on this since last time and the piece has made great strides as a result. The opening is much stronger now, and your use of more high and low notes in both parts in later variations has certainly made the sound more interesting.
Let me get to your questions first.
1."I changed the first "variation" to follow your suggestion. What do you think? I think I still need to fix some second inversions so I will do that for next time, too." I like what you've done for the opening MUCH better now (yeah, I know I suggested it). The only two places that need a tiny bit of work are bars 28 (use harmony, not octaves between marimba and right hand) and 34 (you've got an octave between marimba and piano left hand for the pickup, then two fifths in a row between the same two parts in 34 beat one; I'd make the pickup a low A in marimba, then make the first two notes in marimba in 34 F#-A on the staff; I'd also make the second marimba chord in 34 have a D for the lowest note to avoid the tritone leap down to C to start the next variation).
2."I made some big changes in terms of time signature and accompaniment in the middle of the piece. Do you think it works?" Yes, I do, but more on this below.
3. "I also got rid of the running 16th notes variation in the end and made a temporary ending. It's temporary because obviously I think it's a bad idea to end this piece like that, but do you have any suggestions for me on how I should end this piece? I don't like my current ending because it's so abrupt and it comes out of nowhere but like you suggested, I think it's a better idea to end the piece in a Major key."
I think you're onto a good idea by going back to a simpler sound reminiscent of the opening. When the piece has ventured quite a ways from the opening to the ending, it's often a good idea to make the finale close to the original in sound. It doesn't have to be as long as the opening, but it ought to involve both instruments and stick fairly close to the original theme.
4. "What else should I fix to make this piece better?" Okay, I do have some suggestions. First, the piece needs a title, your name as composer, a metronome marking, dynamics, and any pedal (piano) and articulation markings you might want to give. All these can make the difference between a so-so sound and a truly exciting piece.
Second, I know you're in a hurry, but get rid of the octave signs in piano in bars 35-96 and write in the actual pitches. None of them is so low or high that the actual pitch will be hard to read. While you're at it, why not put ALL the right hand music in bars 71-96 up an octave, not just the little phrases that at the moment have octave signs? It will sound much more interesting. Also, in bars 59-60 that left hand third (C-E) is too low to sound anything but muddy. I'd make it a fifth (C-G). And while you're at it, I know I sound like a broken record, but bars 35-68 ought to have a key signature for C major. You have one for the A major section, why not for the C major section?
I think the transition in bar 101 will be smoother if you make the E minor chord into an E major chord on the downbeat. Then in the 6/8, I think it's too slow. That's the difficulty with using an Italian term rather than a metronome marking. It lets Sibelius choose, and it's chosen dotted quarter = 80. I tried it at dotted quarter = 100 (thus keeping the pulse the same, since quarter = 100 is the Sibelius default tempo) and it sounded much more lively. Also, the A to B minor chord progression in bar 102 sounds pretty crude. How about substituting an E major on the second half of the bar in left hand to really establish the new key? And while you're at it, how about making it more exciting, by doing something like adding an upper octave to the right hand notes? It sounds so much like the rest of the piece with all the notes on the staff. I'd also suggest giving the marimba 4-note tremolos (i.e., two per hand and following the piano harmony) in the bars where it's resting now in the 6/8. It will add some more heft to the sound and make it a bit different from the other sections.
Finally, there needs to be a better (and longer) transition to the finale, rather than just the two block chords in bar 134.
Okay, Ellen, that's it for today. This is really moving now. I've given you a pretty long to-do list, but you did ask for it, and some of these decisions need not take too long. Please let me know if you have questions. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik

Best wishes,
Erik
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#8 Hyoin Rhee 2017-02-27 14:31
Hello!

Thank you for your feedback again! I changed the first "variation" to follow your suggestion. What do you think? I think I still need to fix some second inversions so I will do that for next time, too. I made some big changes in terms of time signature and accompaniment in the middle of the piece. Do you think it works? I also got rid of the running 16th notes variation in the end and made a temporary ending. It's temporary because obviously I think it's a bad idea to end this piece like that, but do you have any suggestions for me on how I should end this piece? I don't like my current ending because it's so abrupt and it comes out of nowhere but like you suggested, I think it's a better idea to end the piece in a Major key. What else should I fix to make this piece better?

Thank you so much!!!
Ellen

p.s. I rea lly want to finish this piece as soon as possible so I am working hard on this! Thanks for such helpful feedback!
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