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My first trio piece finished, would like some feedback #2832816
03/29/19 07:02 PM
03/29/19 07:02 PM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 262
Columbus, ohio, USA
C
caters Offline OP
Full Member
caters  Offline OP
Full Member
C

Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 262
Columbus, ohio, USA
This is the first piece that I have ever composed for a trio. Really, it is my first go at composing for a trio. I concentrated more on expression here than the form itself. The piece is supposed to represent the transition from Winter to Spring. That is why I went more freeform with this piece(though still using fugato and there is even a canonic passage in there between the violin and the cello)

Keys

First off, the chain of harmonies that I used. I decided to go from D minor(the key of the Winter Wind phrase) to D major. But I wanted it to sound like it was gradually going towards a more major sound to represent the warming up. So I decided on this progression:

D minor -> C major -> B minor -> G major -> A major -> D major

The modulation to C major is basically a modal modulation(if there even is such a term). So it goes from Aeolian to Dorian but instead of ending on D which it sounds like it is going to, it ends on C giving a further drive forward. Going to B minor is mostly a chromatic half step modulation(I say mostly because a truly chromatic half step modulation would have landed on B major. Still 3 steps away from D major, the target key but less closely related than B minor). B minor I also use as a pivot from flats to sharps. I still use Bb though and not A# because it makes more sense to me to use Bb, especially since I go back to the flats relatively soon after the B minor phrase twice. The modulation to G major is your typical pivot chord modulation. Then you have like the modulation equivalent of a cadence to D major.

This brings me to my next point. I have 2 incomplete harmonic cycles to represent how there are several bouts of spring weather(harmonic cycle) followed by cold snaps(sudden jolt back to D minor) before spring is here for sure. The fugato that I use in the first 2 minutes or so reinforces this uncertainty about whether the warming up is long term or not. I follow this with a complete harmonic cycle to express that spring is coming.

Tone Painting

You could say the entire piece is tone painting but there are 2 places that have more tone painting going on than anywhere else. First off, the Winter Wind phrase. There are multiple layers of tone painting here. First off, the key is minor and the phrase as a whole sounds melancholy. This coupled with the fast staccato of the piano gives a very wintry feel to the phrase. The staccato itself represents the snowfall. The pizzicato strings represent the strong wind. The longer notes represent the person experiencing this winter weather.

Second is the complete harmonic cycle. After the last entry of the Winter Wind, there is a similar phrase except, the piano does not play a role here or at least one that is significant. Because of the more major sound to it, that same combination of slow cello notes and fast violin notes represents sunny weather(which becomes more frequent during Spring in my area(I live in Ohio)). After the canonic passage, the overall feel of it is "Any day now, Spring is really close, I just know it". The G major phrase sounds more anticipatory with its loud dynamics followed by a diminuendo into the next phrase. That phrase starts off pianissimo and then gradually goes to forte.

A melodic motif starts the ending phrase. That BACB motif, it represents the song-like birdcall of the American Robin, a bird that I start hearing a few days after the spring equinox. Then there are 2 instruments playing and then all of a sudden, there is just 1 line again. In this case, it is representing the well known "Jeer" call of the Blue Jay by staying on 1 note. Then, again 2 instruments and then all of a sudden, all 3 instruments are playing birdcalls starting with the violin playing the Cardinal birdcall, then the cello joins in with the Robin birdcall, and then the piano joins in with the Blue Jay birdcall and then it leads to another short, non-birdcall melody. Then all 3 birdcalls at once, and then the final ending melody which has the ending whole notes with a fermata and at a fortissimo dynamic to conclude the piece.

So, here is the link to the piece on Musescore:

https://musescore.com/user/50070/scores/5504586

I would like some feedback on this. How well did I get across the feelings of Winter and Spring? How well did I incorporate those birdcall motifs? Which one do you think I incorporated better than the others if you had to chose? The Robin motif because it is used more and is what starts the Spring is Here phrase?

Last edited by caters; 03/29/19 07:04 PM.
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Re: My first trio piece finished, would like some feedback [Re: caters] #2833835
04/01/19 12:23 PM
04/01/19 12:23 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,470
Urbandale, Iowa
S
Steve Chandler Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Steve Chandler  Offline
3000 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,470
Urbandale, Iowa
Hi caters,

There are some nice moments in your piece, but Musescore's soulless rendition does you no favors. I've heard it said by other composers that no piece is ever finished, just abandoned. You've obviously put a lot of work into writing this and I'd like to reward your work with constructive comments.

Your winter wind section has some interesting ideas, but I question whether a violin could play the sixteenth note pizzicatos (spizzicato would work). Also, the piano part is two voices throughout almost all of your piece with chords only at cadences. One last comment, even in your winter wind section dotted rhythm once in a while would add drive to your overall effect.

Warming up starts off nicely, but at bars 31-36 the wheels fall off the wagon. I'm sure you had a programmatic reason for those few bars, but please rethink it. Maybe much lower dynamics, maybe dotted rhythm, something so it doesn't sound so square. Again the piano part is just two voices, pianists have ten fingers on two hands. Also, your cadences are simply solid chords, do you think the piece might work better if you add something to each cadence to help the piece continue moving?

Moving on to Cold Snap. I think a pianist would hate to play your figurations in the piano part staccato, remove the dots, let the music be heard. Also, you can do better than bar 62 as well as bars 66-67.

Next bars 68-73, I realize you're introducing a new subject in the cello, but once again the rhythm is square. If you dotted the quarter notes of beats 3 of bars 69-70 and then held the first beat of bar 71 until beat 3 and a half making the last three notes of the bar eighth notes then dotted the first quarter of bar 72 (making the second quarter note an eighth note) you'd find that theme had a lot more life and you could do a lot more with it than changing themes again at bar 87. You'd have a lot more to develop.

I'm going to stop now and make a general comment. When you have strong thematic materials you can do more with them and won't get bored as quickly. Young composers too often just change melodies because that seems easier than developing the ones you've already used. You're trying to depict the change from winter to spring, that's a great idea, but you're not on a road trip. The landscape doesn't change outside your home, instead the same lawn turns green and starts to grow, the bushes and trees green up sprouting leaves and flowers. The birds return and start to sing on the same lawn and in the same trees. The lamppost is still there, but the vines climbing up it have sprouted leaves and flowers. There are sunny days and rainy days, but the same hill is there and unless a tornado has come through so is the house. How does your piece represent these unchanging aspects and yet depict the obvious changes (warmer weather and the luxurious green of spring)?

Composition is not just assembling a puzzle, you make up the puzzle,... then assemble it. You planned this piece harmonically and overall I think that worked pretty well, but that's just the beginning. You have to listen to what your music is telling you, sometimes less is more. Do you have a composition instructor who's willing to be honest with you and tell you when you need to be more creative? What instrument do you play? If you're here I would assume piano, but your piano part is much easier than your string parts. I think the last time you posted I suggested you try your hand at smaller pieces, but making them as good as possible. Have you tried writing something as concise as Traumerei? That simple little piece is a gem. If you haven't played it I suggest you learn it. It's a wonderfully well written miniature of just 1 page.

Re: My first trio piece finished, would like some feedback [Re: caters] #2834259
04/02/19 11:19 AM
04/02/19 11:19 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,470
Urbandale, Iowa
S
Steve Chandler Offline
3000 Post Club Member
Steve Chandler  Offline
3000 Post Club Member
S

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,470
Urbandale, Iowa
Charles Hazlewood explored variations in surprising depth in a number of pieces in this program on the BBC.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p01zvfz4

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 04/02/19 11:23 AM.

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