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COMPOSER CHALLENGE
Last post Mon, Jan 15 2018 by agitato, 99 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Jan 07 2018 22:12
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

Hubert that sounds excellent.  It is for a theatrical production?  I listened to some of your other music and it is really fine.  

Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 07:53
by Hubert-E
Joined on Mon, Nov 05 2007, toulouse france, Posts 4

Thank you William,

Yes it was written for Theatre. This is where I believe people can write a "music" that can be something else than a "noise" behind the action and the sound of a movie, as many directors wants. Theatre is the most interresting music job for a melodist, I believe, - in france I don't know about american productions.

Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 17:02
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

That is a good point and something to think about as a possible venue for composition. I have done a couple that were interesting though the plays were not something I really liked.  If there was a play that one loved it could be as rewarding as any film scoring and as you noted, the music would have much more prominence.  I agree the trend in film scoring - making music just another sound effect - is deplorable.  

Posted on Mon, Jan 08 2018 17:35
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1008

I have done quite a bit of theatre and found it very artistically rewarding (if not as financially lucrative as film). Lest we forget, theatrical productions up and well into the 20th century commissioned full orchestral scores just like in films, except in theatre we have infinitely more eminent composers contributing (Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Debussy, Sibelius, etc.). I am not sure why and when exactly this great tradition became defunct and music these days in theatre can scarcely be called music, but when I wrote for it I employed as big forces as were appropriate to the play (sampled of course...). Directors were at first caught off guard, but fully enjoyed and endorsed it.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Tue, Jan 09 2018 17:08
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1311

Originally Posted by: Paul McGraw Go to Quoted Post

I think this was a good idea for a thread, it is focused on one (perhaps the most crucial) aspect of composing. It would be interesting to have an entire sequence of such challenges, best harmonic progression, best orchestration, and so forth.

Here is a link to the B theme, the Princess Anna theme, of my piece Saint Vladimir. The theme sort of gradually morphs through several iterations. When the trombone sings with the woodwinds, the trombone represents the voice of Vladimir. 

Princess Anna Theme

I think this is my best melody so far, but perhaps I will write a better melody tomorrow. 

That sounds nice Paul,

It has a real lyrical quality to it fitting for a fairy tale which I guess is the idea.


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Tue, Jan 09 2018 18:25
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1311

I'm slowly but surely getting to as many of these posts as I can.

 

I think for me my favorite "melody maker" has to be Dvorak with maybe Rossini coming in second.

I was just listening to Dvorak's Rondo in G minor for the umteen thousandth time and it still sounds as beautiful today as the firrst time I heard it.

Rondo in G


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Wed, Jan 10 2018 00:42
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1008

OK, if we are to actually/"suicidally" put ourselves in historical melodic perspective by now posting the best of what there ever was, following Jasen's lead again, I don't know how hearing the hereby proferred Rondo (which I didn't know), it immediately triggered my suggesting a movement from Borodin's 2nd quartet. The whole work is an unqualified masterpiece of course, and the world reknown melody (relating to this thread) is in the third movement, although I find the first superior. However, for me the Scherzo boasts some of the most silken, tender, inspired, beautiful quartet pages it has been my great fortune and privilege to have ever heard. Here it is with the authoritative ensemble performing the whole thing (time markers for the movements in the description):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YAzUC6LzNk

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Wed, Jan 10 2018 19:17
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 283

Originally Posted by: MMKA Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

My contribution is a piece for accordion, clarinet, and harp.  I wrote it for my wedding and Becky and I got the chance to perform it live with one of the top Canadian harpists, Erica Goodman.  This version though, features live accordion, clarinet, and midi harp (long before we knew how to really work with virtual instruments).

Passages for Accordion, Clarinet, and Harp

Sincerely,

Dave

Hi Dave,

I listened to your piece, and I liked it very much. The occasion I understand was of course very inspiring, and I can hear that in this music. Beautiful played also by you and Becky. 

Thank you, Xander, and MMKA for listening.  Glad you enjoyed the piece, and I'll be sure to tell Becky you enjoyed the performance :)

All the best,

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - Brand New Site Just Launched!
Posted on Thu, Jan 11 2018 21:38
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1311

Originally Posted by: Errikos Go to Quoted Post

OK, if we are to actually/"suicidally" put ourselves in historical melodic perspective by now posting the best of what there ever was, following Jasen's lead again, I don't know how hearing the hereby proferred Rondo (which I didn't know), it immediately triggered my suggesting a movement from Borodin's 2nd quartet. The whole work is an unqualified masterpiece of course, and the world reknown melody (relating to this thread) is in the third movement, although I find the first superior. However, for me the Scherzo boasts some of the most silken, tender, inspired, beautiful quartet pages it has been my great fortune and privilege to have ever heard. Here it is with the authoritative ensemble performing the whole thing (time markers for the movements in the description):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YAzUC6LzNk

My apologies Errikos I guess my previous post was misleading.  I didn't mean we should be comparing our work to those who have earned "legendary" status in our beloved artform.  

Earlier in the thread people were mentioning some of their favorite composers of melodies, I think Guy had mentioned Tchaikovsky for example, and I just happened to have heard Dvorak's Rondo in a TV show I was watching recently.  It reminded me of this thread so I posted it to share because when most people think of Dvorak they think of his 9th symphony and are not even aware of the other brilliant work he's done. 

Again, sorry for the confussion.  Maybe this thread should be broken into two seperate threads?

BTW Thank you for helping me rediscover Borodin!   I had completely forgoten that work but I have it in my collection somewhere so I'll have to dig it back out.


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Thu, Jan 11 2018 21:48
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

Speaking of great melodies, go listen to Beethoven's Fifth 1st movement and then chime in about Synchron Strings! I am still trying to figure them out and could use some feedback.  Though it's true it is more motifs than melody the motifs are as memorable as most longer melodies. Also in the 2nd movement and last the motifs expand into full blown melody.      

By the way that is so true about Borodin, he is one of the supreme melodists.  

Posted on Thu, Jan 11 2018 22:33
by Errikos
Joined on Tue, Jun 12 2007, Posts 1008

Jasen: Don't mention it, I wrote that post in good humour, and I actually believe we should compare our work with the legends, if only to strive to continually raise our standards and get better, provided we are not comparing apples to oranges, i.e. not compare a 'media' melody to a trio or quartet or a symphony melody. I certainly approach melodic composition according to genre.

Favourite melodists: Tchaikovsky, Mozart (in whatever order).

William: Yes of course, themes are "melodic" but are not melodies as such, and Beethoven was primarily a thematic composer, largely regarded as the father of 'orchestral melody' - motifs; they are very memorable, WIlliams is the prime exponent of them.

If you can't notate/MIDI it yourself, it's NOT your music!

In these modern days to be vulgar, illiterate, common and vicious, seems to give a man a marvelous infinity of rights that his honest fathers never dreamed of. - Oscar Wilde
Posted on Fri, Jan 12 2018 14:52
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

Though his greatest contradicts that assessment - the Ninth symphony's Ode to Joy.  Also the distinction is possibly specious.  For example Borodin's melodies.   They are flawless as thematic elements but exist so much as pure melody that they have been adapted into pop songs.

Now why won't anyone go listen to the Beethoven?  I  have lost perspective on it. Though I've had the flu so am now existing in a foggy tunnel...

Posted on Fri, Jan 12 2018 16:53
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 300

For me the challenging aspect of composition is not just melody or thematic material but how its put together, whether its symphonies, string quartets or even the smallest ensemble. Beethoven and Brahms are some of the greatest examples composers that can sustain large scale forms with the least thematic material. Beethovens melodies are pretty trivial but the form is gigantic and masterful.  A prime example is the Waldstein sonata, one of my favorites. There is barely a melody or two discernible in this piece, but with simple thematic material he creates a universe of sound within the piano timbre. The opening is probably the most audacious....there is no melody there! Just a low C major chord stomping...no composer before that dared to expose a sonata with such a trivial opening, and later extend it to 11 minutes of complex thematic and tonal modulations.  Its like a massive structure built out of nothing. 

I can get tired ot listening to  Tchaikovsky's sweet melodies (as great as he himself was with handling large scale forms), but somehow the lack of 'sweet' melodies in Beethoven allows me to enjoy his music for much longer time.

its like comparing Whiskey with Orange juice, although everyone has their own preference.

Of course, I dont want to get started on Bach...

Anand

Anand Kumar
Posted on Fri, Jan 12 2018 17:43
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

Well Bach created melody as did Beethoven but they are within the context of the composition.  I think I have a broader definition of melody than is usually allowed.  Maybe because I remember the "themes"  or even "motifs" that are developed in a melodic way as much as the "melodies" of various great works.  Also I defy anyone to create a hard and fast distintion between the two categories.  It cannot be done because there is no actual difference qualitatively. 

Posted on Fri, Jan 12 2018 19:10
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 300

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Well Bach created melody as did Beethoven but they are within the context of the composition.  I think I have a broader definition of melody than is usually allowed.  Maybe because I remember the "themes"  or even "motifs" that are developed in a melodic way as much as the "melodies" of various great works.  Also I defy anyone to create a hard and fast distintion between the two categories.  It cannot be done because there is no actual difference qualitatively. 

As a composer you can see that themes and motifs are the same as melody. But these motifs are too advanced for a common listener. So perhaps we could say that the uniqueness of Mozart or Tchaikovsky as opposed to Mahler or Bruckner is that they were able to create motifs or melodies that were so easily digestible or singable?

(Not that Bruckner didnt write singable melodies...I forget the name of band that copied his second theme from the 5th symphony)

this whole discussion is so fascinating to me...so much that I am writing on this post while in the middle of a scientific experiment. I better get back!

Anand Kumar
Posted on Sat, Jan 13 2018 00:47
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1311

Originally Posted by: agitato Go to Quoted Post

Beethovens melodies are pretty trivial but the form is gigantic and masterful. 

What do you mean by that Anand?

The 2nd movement of the the 9th Symphony, the sherzo, is really quite complex structure wise with all of its intricate counterpoint a lot of which you don't really hear.  Although I'm sure those lines were crystal clear in Beethoven's head as he was completely deaf by the time he composed the 9th.

The 3rd movement of his 5th piano concerto is another example.

Your last post is one of the reasons why I like Dvorak.  His 9th is just an endless stream of memorable melodies and motifs but if you listen to some of his chamber music or even to one of his operas it's easy to see that he was more than somebody who could write a catchy tune or two and there was a lot more going on inside his head. 

But you're right, I could go on for hours about this stuff but than there are the trials and tribulations of life that keep getting in the way.


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
- W.C. Fields
Posted on Sat, Jan 13 2018 06:28
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 300

Originally Posted by: jasensmith Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: agitato Go to Quoted Post

Beethovens melodies are pretty trivial but the form is gigantic and masterful. 

What do you mean by that Anand?

The 2nd movement of the the 9th Symphony, the sherzo, is really quite complex structure wise with all of its intricate counterpoint a lot of which you don't really hear.  Although I'm sure those lines were crystal clear in Beethoven's head as he was completely deaf by the time he composed the 9th.

The 3rd movement of his 5th piano concerto is another example.

Your last post is one of the reasons why I like Dvorak.  His 9th is just an endless stream of memorable melodies and motifs but if you listen to some of his chamber music or even to one of his operas it's easy to see that he was more than somebody who could write a catchy tune or two and there was a lot more going on inside his head. 

But you're right, I could go on for hours about this stuff but than there are the trials and tribulations of life that keep getting in the way.

I think Bernstein explains best what I meant about Beethoven's melodies:

https://youtu.be/OuYY1gV8jhU

Anand Kumar
Posted on Mon, Jan 15 2018 01:19
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5024

Anand

What is the experiment?   I really like your observations and think they are very valuable - you are too modest as you have great taste and knowledge.  It is very interesting to have a musical scientist (or a scientific musician?) commenting on things.  Borodin is the ultimate example of the scientist who was actually important and serious as a scientist, and loved science, but also was a fantastically good composer.  He didn't have time for much - understandably. That is the problem with working on two things you love equally - for me it is cinema and music.  

Posted on Mon, Jan 15 2018 05:49
by agitato
Joined on Mon, Jun 22 2015, Posts 300

Hi Bill

haha funny you ask about my expeiments. I dont want to bore you with details, but briefly I am trying to develop new technology to "look" inside human body using lasers and cameras. I am a physicist by training but moved over to applied science as it gives me greater satisfaction to do something that has more immediate benefits for humanity. Otherwise I would be doing cosmology, which I still think abotu in spare time;)

Yes Borodin and Saint Saens come to mind when talking about scientists and composers. They must be other-worldy geniuses as I have no clue how they were great composers while also being scientists. I can barely write one piece of music and struggle with counterpoint. But they are definitely a great inspiration. (Just recalled a Saint Saens quote...he said something like this after finishing a piece "‘Finally it is finished, this damned sonata! "   ... sounds like someone who does two things at the same time!) 

In your case, I guess being a composer and filmmaker can certainly go together better. You can make films and use your own scores ! Hope you do that someday. I dont believe there is anything more satisfying than that for an artist. Film is an amazing medium that combines all the art forms. 

Anand

Anand Kumar
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