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A Summer Symphony Mvt. II - Summer Nights
Last post Fri, Apr 19 2019 by William, 12 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Apr 14 2019 21:52
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 399

It has been a while since I posted any of my own music. I composed "A Summer Symphony" consisting of four movements, between August and December 2018. Since then I have been trying to improve my midi-performance skills, and also getting over some health issues, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I finally have the second movement ready. 

 OK, this is a "slow movement" in modified rondo (ABCAB) form with introduction and coda. The C section represents the fireflies and is my favorite part of this movement. The twinkling sound is a vibraphone, two flutes and a clarinet playing staccato, and the long notes which sound so dreamy are violas and second violins con sordino (muted).  Here is the program for the movement. 



 "A Summer Symphony" – Fond memories of summer days of youth and coming of age in the 1960's. 



 Mvt. II – Summer Nights  - Gradually my memories of summer nights of my youth come into focus.   The light fades, the sky turns dark blue and the day is over. The fireflies appear and are so beautiful as they twinkle in the dark. It is quiet and cool after the heat of the day.  

Here is link to the score.  https://www.dropbox.com/s/iz59n37pzer0dj9/Summer Mvt 2 Summer Nights Score - Full Score.pdf?dl=0  

And the track:

Summer Mvt. II - Summer Nights


Posted on Tue, Apr 16 2019 00:34
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5334

Paul, that is beautiful.  The programmatic aspects of your works really enrich them, and seem to translate immediately into pictures, feelings, very naturally - I hope you get this whole symphony out there!  

Posted on Tue, Apr 16 2019 19:15
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 399

Thank you William, for taking the time to listen and to comment. I really want to get copies of scores and parts ready and put them on IMSLP and other sites in the hopes that one day someone will perform these things. I have written two brass quintets and put them on IMSLP for free. A university group in Wales is practicing both and preparing performances. The pages on IMSLP that feature these quintets have had hundreds of hits. 

I hope that if I make the sheet music for the orchestral pieces likewise available for free, I might get some interest. 

I had an interesting comment sent by PM on another forum about the first two movements of this symphony. The PM was from a horn player, who was impressed with my writing for the horns (which I know is your instrument) as a section. However, he thought I was being too conservative on horn range. He felt the first horn should go up to high C or D (concert) and the 4th horn should go down to a low A (concert).

I try to limit my horn range to a high B concert for first horn and a low E concert. for fourth horn.  Am I being too conservative?

Posted on Wed, Apr 17 2019 03:53
by jasensmith
Joined on Tue, Jan 15 2008, Arizona, Posts 1481
Hey Paul,

Nicely done. This must be for you a profound exploration of emotions intertwined with some sweet memories.

I think the older we get the more we yearn for "the good 'ol days." For me, these nooks and crannies of nostalgia are both soothing and therapeutic. There's nothing like letting your thoughts drift back to a simpler time when it seemed the world was a better place.

May I ask where you grew up?

Something tells me that you grew up somewhere best described as pastoral?

Anyway, I enjoyed your piece. The recording is profesional and both the composition and the arrangement took me to "happy places" I forgot were there so thank you for sharing.

"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, Apr 17 2019 12:44
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 399

Originally Posted by: jasensmith Go to Quoted Post
Hey Paul,

Nicely done. This must be for you a profound exploration of emotions intertwined with some sweet memories.

I think the older we get the more we yearn for "the good 'ol days." For me, these nooks and crannies of nostalgia are both soothing and therapeutic. There's nothing like letting your thoughts drift back to a simpler time when it seemed the world was a better place.

May I ask where you grew up?

Something tells me that you grew up somewhere best described as pastoral?

Anyway, I enjoyed your piece. The recording is professional and both the composition and the arrangement took me to "happy places" I forgot were there so thank you for sharing.

Wow, your comments mean a lot to me. Thank you so much for listening and commenting! I agree that, yes, as we get older, we do yearn for the good old days. 

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. When I was little my family lived in a rented basement of a house near downtown Atlanta. Obviously, we were very poor. My Dad worked really hard and gradually earned promotions at his work. When I was in fourth grade we moved to a small house in the suburbs on the south side of Atlanta. Our house was on the very edge of the developed area, so endless woods and open areas were right outside of my back door. 

Every house in the neighborhood had a family with 3, 4, 5 or more kids. All the Dads worked, all the Moms stayed home, and everyone knew everyone else in both neighborhoods. It was easy to gather 18 kids together for a game of baseball. In fact, we usually had too many boys and ended up with 6 or more outfielders and 5 or 6 infielders. 

Posted on Thu, Apr 18 2019 22:17
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 35

Paul,

A beautiful, evocative piece, as always; I especially loved it when the fireflies came out. Thank you for sharing it.

I saw something in your reply to William that caught my eye:

Originally Posted by: Paul McGraw Go to Quoted Post

I had an interesting comment sent by PM on another forum about the first two movements of this symphony. The PM was from a horn player, who....thought I was being too conservative on horn range. He felt the first horn should go up to high C or D (concert) and the 4th horn should go down to a low A (concert).

I try to limit my horn range to a high B concert for first horn and a low E concert. for fourth horn.  Am I being too conservative?

I know you weren't asking me, but I was hoping to get some clarification on a couple of points and then, if I may, offer some thoughts. 

I'm wondering if we are all talking about apples here or if there may be a few references to oranges mixed in. When we in the horn biz use the term "high C," we are usually talking about the written C above the treble staff in our transposed F horn parts. This is actually F5 concert. So, if your correspondent is suggesting that you consider extending the upper range of your horn parts to a high C or D concert, he would have to mean the notes a fourth and a third lower than this. The C concert (F horn written G on the top of the staff) is a common note that any competent hornist can expect to see at any time. The D concert a step higher is getting a little more interesting but is still commonly seen.

The other end is not so obvious. Double horns have the strange ability to go chromatically right down to the pedal notes, but these get virtually unplayable below a certain point. Most books that assume you are playing a double horn expect you to get down to Bb1 concert, but I've seen G concert below that in some tunes.

I've known freaks that can extend the top end to F6 and the bottom into the true pedal range of the F horn, but this stuff is rarely called for (for good reason!). So, what really sounds good for horn? I think that our ears tell us "Yes! The voice of the horn!" when they hear melodies singing in concert pitches from about F below middle C to about an octave and a step above middle C. Venture higher than that for really plaintive solo stuff (Pavane for a Dead Princess) or go all-hands-on-deck for goose bumps at the end of something spectacular (the 2nd statement of the famous theme in Don Juan). The lower notes tend to have 2 uses: the bass voice in a horn quartet (this is something of a specialist position) or all four in unison for a gnarly, mysterious, growling melody (Shostakovich's 5th, Finale). The latter effect is best written for Wagner tubas, if available.

I hope this is of some value. Others may think I'm all wet on this; these are strictly my opinions from long years in the saddle. Again, I really enjoyed your walk in the woods.

Sincerely,

Tom

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 02:37
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5334

That is  expert advice from a major horn player.  I am a minor horn player, but I would add that you can score for any sound you want as long as it is in a practical range.   Some great pieces use a very limited range.  But horns are notoriously unreliable in the high range.  Trust me on that... 

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 02:52
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 399

Originally Posted by: tchampe Go to Quoted Post

Paul,

A beautiful, evocative piece, as always; I especially loved it when the fireflies came out. Thank you for sharing it.

I saw something in your reply to William that caught my eye:

Originally Posted by: Paul McGraw Go to Quoted Post

I had an interesting comment sent by PM on another forum about the first two movements of this symphony. The PM was from a horn player, who....thought I was being too conservative on horn range. He felt the first horn should go up to high C or D (concert) and the 4th horn should go down to a low A (concert).

I try to limit my horn range to a high B concert for first horn and a low E concert. for fourth horn.  Am I being too conservative?

I know you weren't asking me, but I was hoping to get some clarification on a couple of points and then, if I may, offer some thoughts. 

I'm wondering if we are all talking about apples here or if there may be a few references to oranges mixed in. When we in the horn biz use the term "high C," we are usually talking about the written C above the treble staff in our transposed F horn parts. This is actually F5 concert. So, if your correspondent is suggesting that you consider extending the upper range of your horn parts to a high C or D concert, he would have to mean the notes a fourth and a third lower than this. The C concert (F horn written G on the top of the staff) is a common note that any competent hornist can expect to see at any time. The D concert a step higher is getting a little more interesting but is still commonly seen.

The other end is not so obvious. Double horns have the strange ability to go chromatically right down to the pedal notes, but these get virtually unplayable below a certain point. Most books that assume you are playing a double horn expect you to get down to Bb1 concert, but I've seen G concert below that in some tunes.

I've known freaks that can extend the top end to F6 and the bottom into the true pedal range of the F horn, but this stuff is rarely called for (for good reason!). So, what really sounds good for horn? I think that our ears tell us "Yes! The voice of the horn!" when they hear melodies singing in concert pitches from about F below middle C to about an octave and a step above middle C. Venture higher than that for really plaintive solo stuff (Pavane for a Dead Princess) or go all-hands-on-deck for goose bumps at the end of something spectacular (the 2nd statement of the famous theme in Don Juan). The lower notes tend to have 2 uses: the bass voice in a horn quartet (this is something of a specialist position) or all four in unison for a gnarly, mysterious, growling melody (Shostakovich's 5th, Finale). The latter effect is best written for Wagner tubas, if available.

I hope this is of some value. Others may think I'm all wet on this; these are strictly my opinions from long years in the saddle. Again, I really enjoyed your walk in the woods.

Sincerely,

Tom

Thank you so much for the clarification. I believe you are exactly right about his point regarding the high register. In fact he worded his reasoning in a very similar way to your wording. So I suppose I can feel safe letting a first horn go up to a written G or A. That seems clear.

The lower notes are less clear. I played trombone all of my life, so I know that for tenor trombone, it is very possible to play the pedal tones. I always began my warmups playing them. But few players can play a full range of dynamics and have much musicianhip when playing pedal tones. A seasoned trombone player can handle the F below the bass clef with a full range of dynamics and musicianship. Even a moderately advanced player should be able to handle the G.

So where would the equivalent be on the horn? With a full range of dynamics and good musicianship for an average player?

Thanks! And thanks for the positive comments. It means a lot to me!

Paul

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 02:55
by Paul McGraw
Joined on Mon, Feb 29 2016, Georgia, USA, Posts 399

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

That is  expert advice from a major horn player.  I am a minor horn player, but I would add that you can score for any sound you want as long as it is in a practical range.   Some great pieces use a very limited range.  But horns are notoriously unreliable in the high range.  Trust me on that... 

Thanks William! I try to err on the side of caution. Do you agree that I will be safe with a written G or A in the high register?

As I wrote to Tom, I am still uncertain as to a safe limit on the lower range. Any thoughts?

Paul

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 15:00
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5334

One thing that can be used is the "normal" range.  That is sometimes listed as being no higher than a G (treble clef third space C concert pitch) and no lower than a middle C (F below middle C concert pitch) or G (C an octave below middle C concert pitch).  A piece for intermediate school orchestra or band would never exceed those limits.  

Though I am a complete hypocrite constantly writing lip-pulverizing parts that I would quiver in terror just looking at, let alone playing... 

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 17:09
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 35

Ditto what William said. The easy way to remember it is to think in terms of the transposed F horn parts. You have 2 octaves of notes below the treble staff you can use. The first one, down to about written F or Eb, you can use anytime you want. It won't carry very well, but is fine for the bottom notes of chords or melodies that drop down there. The second octave, down to the next written F, is a special use situation; the domain of 4th parts in horn quartets or section unisons trying to sound like Wagner tubas. Up top, as soon as you get into ledger lines on the written F horn part, things start to get squirrely. Don't avoid it outright, but use judiciously as a special, exciting effect (often as a section unison). Anything above the written high C is rarified air that almost no one would program.

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Though I am a complete hypocrite constantly writing lip-pulverizing parts that I would quiver in terror just looking at, let alone playing... 

As for you, William, I love the story of your college band performing your Concert March. You must have been thrilled...until you found yourself staring down the gun barrel of one of your own screaming horn parts. Instant karma! Of course, in those days you were young and foolish and probably said, "Yes! Bring it on!"

Posted on Fri, Apr 19 2019 21:21
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5334

That's just about what happened.

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