Mentoring Program

Second Composition

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String Quartet
Grade Level: 12
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Sibelius
Instrumentation: String Quartet
Key: G Major
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 100
Status: Work in Progress

Comments   

#12 Erik Nielsen 2017-03-13 15:59
Dear Esther,
Okay, here I am. This is a BIG improvement. It works much better now. I think the ending will work (though make sure to get rid of the two empty bars at the end).
I have only a few comments, embedded in the score I'm uploading. Most have to do with repeated notes being changed to longer notes.
One thing the piece needs (aside from a title and your name as composer) is more articulation marks and dynamics. How about some slurs, crescendi and decrescendi? Oh, and don't be too extreme in your dynamics between the lead voice and background parts. Remember that the highest voice (even the horn at the beginning) will stand out anyway, so don't make the dynamic difference between it and other parts too big.
Please take a look at my notes and let me know if you have questions. I'll get to your arrangement tomorrow.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#11 Erik Nielsen 2017-03-11 16:06
Dear Esther,
Thanks for re-posting. I will get to this either tomorrow (Sunday) morning or late Monday afternoon. Sorry I can't do it sooner.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#10 Yuhyun Kim 2017-03-10 10:49
Hello!

Thank you for your reply! I made the changes you advised me to. Please let me know if I missed any. In addition, I took your advice in pulling a variation of the A melody.

Thank you!
Esther Kim
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#9 Erik Nielsen 2017-03-08 10:22
Dear Esther,
First, I apologize for not responding to your questions about changing the instrumentation of your quartet. The same thing happened with Timothy's note to me around the same time. I think I must never have received the email notification. So I'm very sorry this happened. If there is a next time when I don't respond within 2-3 days, please ask your teacher to email me.
Generally, I'd say the changeover from string quartet to woodwind quartet has worked fairly well. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that, for some reason or other, Sibelius plays back clarinet at a lower volume than other instruments. The clarinet is the oboe's equal in these quartets, and sometimes it can be above the oboe without any problem and will give the quartet a different sound. The other thing is that the horn is an alto-tenor instrument rather than a soprano instrument. Some of the time, you've done well to lower it into its middle range (below the treble staff), but other times when it goes into its upper range (the middle of the treble staff) it becomes very prominent. In places like bars 21-22 it's going to really stand out with a not-very-import ant line, so moving it down an octave might be wise there.

The big issues here, as in my last comment, are harmonic choices (including inversions and doublings) and attention to individual lines. There needs to be more realization of what it's like to be the horn player and need to suddenly leap down an octave and a third for no good reason. I'm afraid you're going to find LOTS of notes about these issues in the score I've uploaded. Some of these are repeats of comments I made the last time. It really does make a big difference in the effect of the music when there's a weak second inversion chord rather than a root position or first inversion, and to go from one chord to another where everyone leaps down an enormous amount, as happens at the key change. I'd advise you to use the mixer and mute three lines and listen to one at a time at the spots I've outlined and I think you'll hear what I mean.
Finally, you said in your note you thought the piece was finished. Without any return to your opening material (which I find stronger than the music in B flat/G minor), the piece doesn't end as convincingly as I think it can. Please consider some sort of recapitulation, even a short one that acts as a coda.

Esther, I know I've written a lot (including the notes in the score), but I'm sure you want this piece to be as successful as possible, and my suggestions are intended to assist you in that. A lot of the things I'm pointing out needn't take long to correct. But in any case, please let me know if you have questions (and I hope I'll get your note!). I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#8 Yuhyun Kim 2017-03-07 10:22
Hello!

I finished my second composition. Could you look over it and tell me if I need to fix anything? I posted it on google drive.

Thank you so much!
Esther Kim
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#7 Yuhyun Kim 2017-02-14 17:19
Hello!

Would you recommend that I use a woodwind quartet instead of a string quartet for my composition? If yes, what instruments would you recommend? I was considering oboe, clarinet, french horn, and bassoon.

Thank you!
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#6 Erik Nielsen 2017-02-05 10:59
Dear Esther,
Thanks for posting the latest version of your piece for string quartet. This is coming along nicely. I really like a lot of what you've done. The B section is a good contrast to A and the transition can work well with a little adjusting.
The biggest issue in the transition (and the piece in general) is voice leading. Let's look at the two transition bars first (bars 32-33). There's a lot of parallel, or at least similar, motion going on, as if you gave all your attention to the cello and just put in some whole notes in the other parts without a lot of thought. I'd actually give the last part of the cello run, that is bar 33, to the other parts as follows: beats 1-2 to viola, beat 3 to second and beat 4 to first violin. However, what I'd do to smooth it is double cello and viola on beat 1 (then move cello down bit-by-bit for the other beats), then viola alone for beat 2, second for beat 3 and first for beat 4. That way the first will actually come to bar 34 from below and we won't have the awkward leap down that all parts do going into the B section, especially if the other parts move down gradually after their little solo run. Try this out and see what you think.
This is the sort of detailed work that I'm suggesting in the notes I've put in the score I've uploaded to Drive. Most of them have to do with voice-leading issues. I think if you put in the time to work on these you'll be well on your way toward the end, as it looks as if you're heading into a transition back to A and at the 2'40" mark where you've stopped.
Esther, despite the many notes, this piece is really coming along. Please let me know if you have questions. And also, please think about entering this piece for Opus 32. It has the correct instrumentation and technically is already in the running as you've posted before the first deadline (this coming Thursday, the 9th) and the piece is in the Opus 32 folder. Just let me know whether that interests you. In the meantime, I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#5 Yuhyun Kim 2017-02-02 16:02
Hello,

Thank you so much for your suggestions! I took your advice and worked to develop my B section. How can I improve my B section and the transition from the A section?

Thank you!
Esther Kim
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#4 Erik Nielsen 2017-01-24 09:51
Dear Esther,
Thanks for posting the first revision of your piece for string quartet. This is definitely an improvement over the original. The introduction shows more promise and the first entrance of the main theme is now quite a bit stronger. I especially like the syncopated viola/cello accompaniment in bars 14-15. It's quite elegant and Mozartean in its interplay with the melody.
I can understand how fitting all these independent lines together can be difficult, especially coming from a piano background. To give you an idea of some possibilities, I've taken the liberty of copying your first 17 bars into a new score and done a bit of rearranging.
It seems to me that the introduction is too long right now. Bars 5-8 don't seem as strong to me as bars 1-4. However, that's less important (since 5-8 can be rewritten and made stronger) than how the parts fit together. Let me enumerate what I've done.
1. I moved the second violin eighth note accompaniment right to the beginning (with a few changes to fit the harmony), then kept it going when the first violin enters (now at bar 5 rather than bar 9).
2. I've given the viola pizzicato in bars 5-8 to give a demonstration of the sort of textural richness that a string quartet can produce when each part has a somewhat different sound.
3. I've changed the last bar of the violin melody so the downbeat is A rather than F#. You've got a leap down to the leading tone already two bars earlier and the second time seems less effective, plus it's a leap of a tritone and that sounded awkward to me.
I've posted this version to the folder on Google so you can see it. Do you need to copy this into your piece? Of course not. I just wanted to show you some possibilities to get your imagination going.
As to what happens after bar 17, I wouldn't repeat the melody in first violin, I'd give it to another part, such as viola, perhaps with both violins playing pizz. and cello playing eighth notes (somewhat like the second violin earlier). The pizz. will keep the violins out of the way of our hearing the viola clearly and the eighth notes will keep the piece flowing.
After bar 25 my big question is, what's your intent? Do you mean this to be a variation on the main theme? I'm not sure that's desirable. Not only have we heard the theme twice, but now we've also heard the basic harmonization twice, so a third time, no matter how the melody is varied (and it isn't varied that much) will lessen the impact of the first two times. How about a different theme that centers around C, D or E minor? Then you can return to the main theme again to close out this section.
Esther, as I said at the beginning of my comment, you've made progress. Now if you can look at what I've posted and give some thought to the ensemble and what it can do as well as to your ideas and how to make the most of them, you and the piece ought to be able to make progress. I look forward to your next posting.

Best wishes,
Erik
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#3 Yuhyun Kim 2017-01-23 15:29
I took your suggestions and finished my A section with the melody. I was unsure of which instruments to include in certain parts. What can I do to make this better?

Thank you!
Esther Kim
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