Mentoring Program

Untitled for the Time Being

Composer Name: Greta Zeankowski-Giffin
This is a duet for two trumpets. One trumpet has the main melody, while the other harmonizes with it.
Grade Level: 8
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Trumpets
Key: C major
Meter Signature: 6/8
Tempo: 108
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title
Located in: Opus 33 Grades 6-8


#3 Michael Close 2018-02-13 12:01
Hi Greta,

Thank you for your specific question- it's always easier when students offer specific requests for help in their replies to our comments.

Indeed, the players will breathe where they think the breaths should go, and as needed. However, if you have an idea of where a break for a breath should go, by all means, write it in but don't worry if you're not sure. Adding dynamics- hair pin crescendos and other articulations- slurs, staccatos, legato marks etc. will help make your musical intentions clearer to the players and will guide them as to where to breathe.

I really like what you've done with the second trumpet part and how it echoes the first. Well done!

I like how you've experimented with my suggestions after the break mark starting at m. 17. It is very rhythmically interesting and you stray away from your hometone of C more than in the first section. However, I don't hear it as having a new tonal center- it feels like a continuation of the first section still with C as it's home tone. If you want this section to have a strong minor sound, you'll have to reinforce A as the hometone in the same way you did for C in your opening measures but landing on A (or one of the notes of the A minor chord -A,C,E) on the downbeats of measures and at the ends of phrases.

This section is rhythmically intersting, but it still feels like syncopations within 6/8 to me. Before you start really mixing it up with lots of different rhythmic feels all jumbled together, maybe you want to really switch to 3/4 for a period of time in this new section so we feel that as the new pulse- after that, you can start messing with it. So, measure 29 is one place that really feels like 3/4 to me- maybe keep on with that halfnote, quarter idea for several more measures before introducing measures made of all quarters and eighths which can sound like syncopation within 6/8. It would be nice to feel a real shift to 3/4 time along with a real shift to A minor.

Perhaps you could save the material you have from m. 17 to the end for later on and after the break try writing some new material in 3/4 time using halfnotes and quarters for several measures and reinforcing A as the hometone. After that, this material you have from m. 17-33 could work to bring us back to the opening idea. Anyway, it's a thought.

Keep up the good work!

Mike Close
#2 Greta Zeankowski-Giffin 2018-02-12 19:50
Hi Mike,

Thanks for your feedback! I will take your advice into consideration, although I am not very good at writing in minor keys. I do have a question, however, about breath marks. I know that woodwind parts often have breath marks in them, and I am assuming that brass parts have them too. However, I am a string player, so I don't really know how to use them effectively. I am wondering if I should add them into the piece, or (if my piece is chosen) the players will decide when to breath. I am not sure how often you have to breath (I know that is sort of a weird way to phrase it). I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how often I would need to put breath marks in, or if I even need to.

#1 Michael Close 2018-02-07 10:25
Hi Greta,

You are off to a great start! I love your use of sequence- repeating the same phrase but starting on different notes (this helps keep the music unified sounding). I also love how you play with 3/4 vs. 6/8 time and you have duples in measure 13. These rhythmic changes add excitement and rhythmic variety!

This is written very well for the trumpet and is in a comfortable playing range.

So, going forward you could experiment with a new keyarea or home-tone. Making a change to the relative minor would be a smooth transition that would add variety. Simply use A as the home-base note rather than C and your music will have a minor-key sound. You can also experiment with the different forms of the major scale- harmonic (raised 7th- G#), or melodic (raised 6th and 7th F#, G# when going up, all naturals going down- F-natural, G-natural). You could also think about switching into true 3/4 time maybe throwing some 6/8 measures in there as a reminder of what came before, and for variety.

Sometimes it is nice to change the keysignature too! You could go to the parallel minor (C-minor, three flats) and see how that sounds...

Keep up the good work and let me know if you have any questions.

Mike Close

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