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"Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) #1397963
03/17/10 04:13 PM
03/17/10 04:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
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All,

This is an excerpt from the first movement of my "Violin Sonata In C#.

http://www.alexandermusic.com/resources/ViolinSonataInCSharp.mp3

Regards,



Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
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Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398174
03/17/10 10:08 PM
03/17/10 10:08 PM
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keystring Offline
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Larry, the piece sounds very nice. I wonder about your choice of C# as signature for violin.

Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398229
03/17/10 11:49 PM
03/17/10 11:49 PM
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Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
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Originally Posted by keystring
Larry, the piece sounds very nice. I wonder about your choice of C# as signature for violin.


What is your question concerning my choice of C#?



Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398372
03/18/10 06:48 AM
03/18/10 06:48 AM
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Well, I was wondering whether you had a particular reason for choosing that signature. One thing is that I'd like to compose when I get some more skills than I have right now so I look to the forum to see what people are up to and see whatever aspects of composing that I can glean. Your pieces sound good, and they are more than a melody supported by a bass line - you seem to know a thing or two about music and composition.

My attention is caught this time around the idea of how considerations of the instrument might influence a composition. I haven't studied this but I'm surmising. I know, for example, that winds instrument music is often written in flats signatures because of the way the nature of those instruments makes them function.

So I looked at this C# sig, and as a violin student hesitated about saying anything because you might have a purpose, and as a piece it sounds wonderful. My untutored thoughts were that there is not one open string in C# major. When I learned to play the Db major scale (same fingering) my teacher warned me that it is the hardest scale to play, because there is no point of reference to tell that you have gone flat or sharp. Also, that the notes of this scale sound very dull because there is no sympathetic resonance on any of the notes. You can't use open strings to bridge any arpeggios so you constantly have to keep all fingers down all the time. It seemed an unhandy key signature for violin and that made me wonder about your choice. If I wanted a particular effect maybe I would choose it, however. Which then made me wonder if you had done so.

Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398411
03/18/10 08:22 AM
03/18/10 08:22 AM
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Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
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In real life, your teacher's statements concerning the technical aspects of a particular key would apply, but not in the virtual instrument field (sampled instruments).

Within a limited range, I played back this composition in different keys to see what sounded best and then I chose C#.

Don't get too bogged down in technicalities...just write what you LIKE to write. grin

Thanks for your message.

Regards,


Last edited by Larry G. Alexander; 03/18/10 08:24 AM.

Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398418
03/18/10 08:41 AM
03/18/10 08:41 AM
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If I understand correctly, then, you are writing for virtual instruments and not for the possibility of your works ever being performed - is that right? In that case, the existence of virtual instruments extends the limits and opens new possibilities. It is an interesting thought which I've been slow to realize.

I do think that if written for performance, C# major would make the playing of the piece difficult. My teacher's advice was several years ago and I have long passed the playing of that scale. My own experience on the violin also tells me so. I suppose that composers who write music to be played would also have to study about the instruments.

It is a subject that fascinates me. Last Christmas I played a Handel sonata movement with a bassoonist, where I played the alto recorder. His part was originally written for cello. There was no place to breathe and this made the piece physically difficult for a bassoonist. It would be something to think of when writing for a wind instrument or a singer. A choir, on the other hand, can "stagger breathing". Etc.

Or what about the dull character of Db minor on violin. If you wanted to create a dull kind of mood where the sounds don't shine, maybe you could exploit this. Or, I understand that wind instruments have certain sweet notes, and others that don't ring as true. The idea of using characteristics of an instrument seems fascinating.

As such, "virtual instruments" in fact have their own properties, which essentially you are using in your compositions.

(Sorry, I tend to go off on weird tangents). wink

Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398514
03/18/10 11:08 AM
03/18/10 11:08 AM
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it's a difficult issue keystring.

On the one hand, indeed you have virtual instruments, which can do stuff, which otherwise might be very difficult or impossible. I've done such works and I enjoy the freedom provided.

On the other hand it's the matter of what to do with that freedom!

You are right to be asking this question, cause Larry's wonderful violin sonata sounds very much playable on every account. He's a 'mean lean writing machine' (he actually composes very fast, if I recall correctly) and he loves what he's doing. With the Garritan Instruments he found the opportunity to 'lock in his bassment a full orchestra' at his disposal. The joke (not for Larry, but for all) is that now we all get the members of an orchestra, a choir and developers know what else, locked in our bassment. They don't need food, they don't need tendering, they will never be late, and especially the soprano will never be spoilt! laugh In fact you can do whatever you want with them.

Only problem is that they are not humans and no matter how you try, you can't convince many that they are. So attempting to compose naturally as you would for live performers, yields unsettling results.

Which leaves the unexplored space of audio design and manipulation.

I do hope that Larry will excuse my derailing of the thread. smile

Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398516
03/18/10 11:09 AM
03/18/10 11:09 AM
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8ude Offline
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Originally Posted by Larry G. Alexander

Don't get too bogged down in technicalities...just write what you LIKE to write. grin


If your intent is just to write in the virtual field, then that's fine, but if you intend to ever have your works performed, then you absolutely have to consider technicalities. I am no expert in string writing, in fact I'm in the middle of composing a violin sonata of my own and learning a lot as I go, but C# does seem like an odd choice for a key. If there's a strong reason for it being in that key, then by all means keep it and the violin player will just need to deal with it. But if that key was just an arbitrary choice, the performer will thank you to put it in D. Another possible consideration with C# is that on the low end of the scale, you'll lose your low IV due to range issues (the violin can't hit that low F#). That may not be a factor in your piece, but something to think about.

Are you a pianist by nature? I only ask, because to me it seemed like many of the violin figurations seemed more pianistic in nature to me. Also, there were some sections that had double stops that sounded like they might be problematic to the performer (I could be wrong, tough to tell from one listen on a MIDI perf). Overall, I found it to be a bit lacking in melodic content. It was pleasant sounding, but for the most part just sounded like playing around with chords without a strong sense of melody. After listening to it once, a minute later I'd be hard pressed to even recall a single melodic cell from it.

Thanks for sharing.


What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: 8ude] #1398580
03/18/10 12:54 PM
03/18/10 12:54 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
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Larry G. Alexander  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
Originally Posted by 8ude
Originally Posted by Larry G. Alexander

Don't get too bogged down in technicalities...just write what you LIKE to write. grin


If your intent is just to write in the virtual field, then that's fine, but if you intend to ever have your works performed, then you absolutely have to consider technicalities. I am no expert in string writing, in fact I'm in the middle of composing a violin sonata of my own and learning a lot as I go, but C# does seem like an odd choice for a key. If there's a strong reason for it being in that key, then by all means keep it and the violin player will just need to deal with it. But if that key was just an arbitrary choice, the performer will thank you to put it in D. Another possible consideration with C# is that on the low end of the scale, you'll lose your low IV due to range issues (the violin can't hit that low F#). That may not be a factor in your piece, but something to think about.

Are you a pianist by nature? I only ask, because to me it seemed like many of the violin figurations seemed more pianistic in nature to me. Also, there were some sections that had double stops that sounded like they might be problematic to the performer (I could be wrong, tough to tell from one listen on a MIDI perf). Overall, I found it to be a bit lacking in melodic content. It was pleasant sounding, but for the most part just sounded like playing around with chords without a strong sense of melody. After listening to it once, a minute later I'd be hard pressed to even recall a single melodic cell from it.

Thanks for sharing.


My works have been performed...for over sixty years! grin I am seventy-six years old. crazy

When I do write for performance, I expect a professional musician to be able to play what I compose. I make sure that I am completely familiar with the instrument or instruments for which I write. I know what is possible and what is not. If the performer cannot play what is written then he or she is expected to practice until he or she CAN play it. shocked

Thank you for your message.






Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398587
03/18/10 01:00 PM
03/18/10 01:00 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
Full Member
Larry G. Alexander  Offline OP
Full Member
L
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
Originally Posted by keystring
If I understand correctly, then, you are writing for virtual instruments and not for the possibility of your works ever being performed - is that right? In that case, the existence of virtual instruments extends the limits and opens new possibilities. It is an interesting thought which I've been slow to realize.

I do think that if written for performance, C# major would make the playing of the piece difficult. My teacher's advice was several years ago and I have long passed the playing of that scale. My own experience on the violin also tells me so. I suppose that composers who write music to be played would also have to study about the instruments.

It is a subject that fascinates me. Last Christmas I played a Handel sonata movement with a bassoonist, where I played the alto recorder. His part was originally written for cello. There was no place to breathe and this made the piece physically difficult for a bassoonist. It would be something to think of when writing for a wind instrument or a singer. A choir, on the other hand, can "stagger breathing". Etc.

Or what about the dull character of Db minor on violin. If you wanted to create a dull kind of mood where the sounds don't shine, maybe you could exploit this. Or, I understand that wind instruments have certain sweet notes, and others that don't ring as true. The idea of using characteristics of an instrument seems fascinating.

As such, "virtual instruments" in fact have their own properties, which essentially you are using in your compositions.

(Sorry, I tend to go off on weird tangents). wink


If the playing of the piece is difficult then a performer should practice it until it is NOT difficult. Whatever happened to the work ethic? It applies to music performance too. frown smile

Regards,





Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Nikolas] #1398590
03/18/10 01:03 PM
03/18/10 01:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 352
Tyler, Texas - USA
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Larry G. Alexander Offline OP
Full Member
Larry G. Alexander  Offline OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
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Tyler, Texas - USA
Originally Posted by Nikolas
it's a difficult issue keystring.

On the one hand, indeed you have virtual instruments, which can do stuff, which otherwise might be very difficult or impossible. I've done such works and I enjoy the freedom provided.

On the other hand it's the matter of what to do with that freedom!

You are right to be asking this question, cause Larry's wonderful violin sonata sounds very much playable on every account. He's a 'mean lean writing machine' (he actually composes very fast, if I recall correctly) and he loves what he's doing. With the Garritan Instruments he found the opportunity to 'lock in his bassment a full orchestra' at his disposal. The joke (not for Larry, but for all) is that now we all get the members of an orchestra, a choir and developers know what else, locked in our bassment. They don't need food, they don't need tendering, they will never be late, and especially the soprano will never be spoilt! laugh In fact you can do whatever you want with them.

Only problem is that they are not humans and no matter how you try, you can't convince many that they are. So attempting to compose naturally as you would for live performers, yields unsettling results.

Which leaves the unexplored space of audio design and manipulation.

I do hope that Larry will excuse my derailing of the thread. smile


Nikolas,

Blimey! It's good to see you again, young chap!

In this case, the instruments are from the East West Quantum Leap Silver sample library, not Garritan.

Thanks for responding.

Take care.


Last edited by Larry G. Alexander; 03/18/10 01:06 PM.

Larry G. Alexander
http://www.alexandermusic.com
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398592
03/18/10 01:05 PM
03/18/10 01:05 PM
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keystring Offline
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Larry, it was obvious when listening to your pieces that they were not written by a novice learning to compose for the first time. That is why I asked the question in the first place in the manner that I did. I would imagine that if you were writing that piece for performance you would probably change keys, unless there were a good reason for having that key (like, for example, to avoid a brilliant sound for the sake of mood).

Quote
I make sure that I am completely familiar with the instrument or instruments for which I write.

That was part of the learning curve - realizing that this has to be a factor. The "instrument" you were writing for was a virtual violin. That alone answered my question.
Quote
Overall, I found it to be a bit lacking in melodic content.

I just listened to it again. Does solo music have to have melody? I found that it had a sense of direction and patterns. In general, I felt that it is something that I would enjoy performing though maybe not in that particular key. To my ear it was musical and cohesive. I'm sure that there are plenty of other violin works that are not melodic in nature. What I enjoyed in this piece were the varying textures, among other things.


Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398595
03/18/10 01:10 PM
03/18/10 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Does solo music have to have melody? I found that it had a sense of direction and patterns.


Not at all, and your point is valid. This is where the subjective element comes in. To my taste, it seemed like it could have used more melodic content, but that doesn't mean it's "bad". I agree, it did have a good sense of direction and patterns, as well as cohesiveness.


What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.
Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: 8ude] #1398605
03/18/10 01:23 PM
03/18/10 01:23 PM
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I think much depends on who you write for. It's very much like writing. If you write a short story for a magazine and want a lot of people to read and enjoy it, then you can't write like Umberto Eco. If you're not looking to write for the masses, then you can write any way you'd like, be it Gertrude Stein, Faulkner, or Joyce.

C# isn't necessarily a bad key for violins, but there are no diatonic open strings, which means everything is going to be in positions. If you're working with advanced players, it's not a problem, but very few amateur musicians are going to be comfortable in that key. (And some may feel that Db is easier to read. I know I prefer 5 flats to 7 sharps!)

I actually do both. The music I publish is for students, so the technique is extremely important. But I also write stuff for myself, and while pianistic, it's not all that accessible. (I have one piece that puts the entire RH part in 10ths, and I marked it "non arp." Obviously not everyone is going to be able to play it.)


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: Larry G. Alexander] #1398850
03/18/10 06:59 PM
03/18/10 06:59 PM
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Quote
When I do write for performance, I expect a professional musician to be able to play what I compose. I make sure that I am completely familiar with the instrument or instruments for which I write. I know what is possible and what is not. If the performer cannot play what is written then he or she is expected to practice until he or she CAN play it


What is important to me in this excerpt is that you have written two things: you make sure that you are completely familiar with the instrument(s), and your expectations of the performer come after that. That is reasonable and makes sense. By the same token, when I knew your piece was written for a virtual instrument I had all the answer I needed.

A small clarification about the sonata movement - this was at Christmas, with a family member as in "what if we" and as an unrehearsed, unpractised run it wasn't too bad. However, I learned something from it about composition, because the bassoon was playing the cello part, and cellists don't need to breathe with their arms. wink

I hope you share a lot more of your music. I've enjoyed every one so far.

May I ask you how one becomes familiar with instruments for composing? Is it a matter of reading up on them, or actually also becoming familiar with one or two from the various types (string, wind) by learning to play them? I know from your profile that you have indeed done so, but don't know if that is true for most composers.

Re: "Violin Sonata In C#" (Excerpt From Movement One) [Re: keystring] #1398897
03/18/10 08:06 PM
03/18/10 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
May I ask you how one becomes familiar with instruments for composing? Is it a matter of reading up on them, or actually also becoming familiar with one or two from the various types (string, wind) by learning to play them?
For most composers I know (including me), it's both [1] & [2]. And [3] studying scores. And [4] working with real players, who will pretty soon tell you if something you want is difficult, annoying or just plain impossible. You then have to decide how important it is to you. smile


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