Mentoring Program

A Touch of Golden Air

Composer Name: Erin Magill
"A Touch of Golden Air" is a song for brass quartet, in 3/4 with a relaxed feeling tempo. Mostly what I have right now is a melody.
Grade Level: 12
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Tuba
Key: A flat major
Meter Signature: 3/4
Tempo: 100
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title


#5 Matt LaRocca 2018-02-20 11:58
Hi Erin,

Nice! I think that harmony change fits very well, and I like what you’ve added. Sometimes with figuring out what the harmony is, a trial and error approach goes a long way. Try listening to just the harmony first, then adding in the melody. Pinpoint spots where things aren’t quite jiving, and then go from there. (Knowing the chords in each key and how them move (I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii dim) is always helpful too, but remember that you can experiment freely as well!

I think the addition is really nice. Each instrument has had their time in the spotlight now, so I would also look for ways to make them work together more now. You do it for a short spot in m. 33, but I feel like you could use more of that. It’s especially nice as well to see times when all the instruments are doing the same thing - either in unison, harmony, or feel. I actually wonder if this would make sense for the introduction and first seven bars. It feels like the music wants to be bigger there - what would it be like if everyone was playing and those quarter note bars were really big?

Also, I really enjoy the horn melody in 49, and how it plays off the trombone melody. In m. 53, it feels to me like the horn line wants to keep moving up. You have a rising line in 52, but it sort of dies out. What if you kept it going up to the G in m. 53? That way you’re using the momentum of the line to drive the music.

Awesome job, Erin. Keep up the good work!

#4 Erin Magill 2018-02-18 19:10
Hi Matt,
I wrote a little more onto the end of what I had. I think from there it should go back to the same tune as measures 25-38, but with more instruments.
I took your suggestion about the harmony, and I like it. I'm never totally confident about what the harmony should be.
#3 Matthew LaRocca 2018-02-14 11:06
Hi Erin,

That’s awesome. I love how you’ve got such a clear idea for the form of a piece in you heard already. It’s such a great thing to be able to do. Nicely done!

I also like the oom-pahs! They are indeed fun. And especially if the tempo picks up at one point in the piece, it can be even more fun. Oom-pahs in a fast 6/8 with brass can be killer. I think it would be OK to add the trumpet in to the pahs if you wanted, especially if it’s in the lower range (you could even move the horn down a third, and have the trumpet play what the horn is playing now - but it also works as is).

What do you think about slightly changing the bass line? I hear the harmony in the third bar of the melody (like m. 27, 31, etc.) actually needing an E-flat in the bass. It could almost be an E-flat major chord, or maybe it’s just an A-flat major chord like you have it but with the fifth of the chord (E-flat) in the bass. Our ears naturally gravitate towards the low end of things, and an A-flat chord with the fifth in the bottom sounds totally different. Try it out and see what you think!

#2 Erin Magill 2018-02-11 18:43
Hi Matt,
I've thought some about the form of this piece: I was imagining what I have as the beginning write now as the introduction, and then it goes into the melody. I like it as just a trombone at first, I think, then the other instruments join, mostly in the background, for the rest of what I have. Then I think I want to play more of something similar but not featuring the trombone so much, with the instruments together, before a B section (which could be in F minor) that is maybe in 6/8 time to change it up.

Having oom pa in the background seemed boring at first, but I actually think I like that feel, so I wrote it for the tuba and french horn. It sounds kind of fun. The trumpet doesn't do that because it seemed wrong to have the "pa pa" so above the melody on the trombone.
#1 Matthew LaRocca 2018-02-07 09:13
Hi Erin,

I’ll be working with you for this Opus, and I’m really excited about it. Nice start with the piece! The trombone melody is especially beautiful.

Moving forward, I think it will help to create an idea of the form of the piece first. What are going to be the different parts, where do you want it to go, and why? Is there an introduction, and how long should it be…all those sorts of things. You’ve got so much great material right now, so do a little top-down planning.

Other things I would like you to think about moving forward is how the harmony moves behind the melody. Is it in dotted half notes? Or is it a waltz feel with the tuba having the love note on beat 1 (oom), and then other instruments having the 2 and 3 “pah pah”? There are a lot of options, and you can move freely between all of them.

And you are moving freely between Ab and F minor, mostly sticking in Ab, so perhaps there’s a good possibility of a modulation to F minor somewhere in the piece, as a B section or otherwise?

And last, I think this is a good opportunity to develop the ability to work with melodic and rhythmic motifs. Think about Beethoven’s 5th symphony ( where it’s all based on that first motif. Looking at the trombone melody, there is the motif in m. 17-18 of the chord moving down that could easily be developed. Or the the rhythmic motif of the quarter, dotted quarter, eighth note that we see in m. 14 and 19. Using these as sources for developing accompaniments, melodies and more is a lot of fun. Try it out and see if you like what you come up with!

You’ve got a great start, Erin, and I’m looking forward to working with you. Happy writing!


Add comment

Security code