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Big Top Hijinks
Last post Tue, Aug 06 2019 by William, 25 replies.
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Posted on Thu, Jul 18 2019 12:56
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Hi all,

It's been a while since I've shared some new music, but now that I'm back in the groove writing, I'm hoping to share some new pieces.  

Here's a new one for string orchestra, done with VSL's new Special Edition Vol. 5, Synchronized Dimension Strings. Hope you'll enjoy!

Big Top Hijinks by David Carovillano

Cheers,

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Thu, Jul 18 2019 16:23
by MMKA
Joined on Tue, May 22 2012, Posts 315

Hi Dave,

there I am again. What a nice, lively, rich, beautiful piece is this. Congratulations! And again, what a beauty are the Dimension Strings. Realy unbelievable, that we can make such lively performance these days with a computer. I think the way VSL has gone through the last years is one, where obstacles had to be removed, legato needed to be improved, but the results are so amazing. 

Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 00:58
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5369

Dave that is an excellent composition and amazing performance.  The music is very fun and entertaining and yet the harmony is complex and interesting with some delicious dissonances.   The performance is supremely good with a lot of detail in the dynamics and articulations. I'm glad you are back to post some more of these fabulous pieces!  

Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 12:45
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to listen and comment, MMKA and WIlliam!  I enjoyed working on this piece and it's mighty impressive what VSL has here with a Special Edition library that's nimble, versatile, and capable.

William, I'm glad to be back and look forward to the discussions and music that you and others will share.

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 13:15
by crusoe
Joined on Sat, Dec 26 2009, Posts 108

Hi Dave,

I enjoyed this piece, it has clear and memorable main idea. Interesting harmonies, you use the same "hijink" several times, so by the end of the piece it becomes almost a norm. You also unpacked the leading harmony a few times, at 02:02 for example, so that it became very clear to me what's going harmonically (I couldn't do it at first).

Those staccato triplets were quite effective, I thought. Articulation also matches very well there, I don't think any staccato would fill the role this well, because it's so sharp and yet not thin.

Pizzicatos you introduce in the middle of the pice work very well, in my opinion.

Those runs at 02:12 sounded peculiar to me (not in a bad way) - it seemed as though some notes jumped in from another key :)

One small criticism I have is about violins - they suggest different ambience (room) compared to the rest of the string. This is clearly heard at 00:07 - 00:08 and in some other places where the violin tails are not masked. I came across this myself more than once and therefore don't think it's specifically related to SY-zed dimension string. Has to do with the way reverb algorithms work (differently for lows, mids and highs). 

All the best,

Crusoe.

Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 16:16
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Hi Crusoe,

Thanks for such a detailed critique.  Your aural acuity is top notch and you always hear the finest details.  Re. what you're hearing in terms of the violin at 7 seconds, and other places, is actually the use of the dimension strings with individual desks.  Because of the nature of the piece, I was able to, in a few places, switch from the full instrument section to individual desks.  

All the best,

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 16:20
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5369

I also noticed something with the violins, not in the performance which sounded completely real but in the timbre being too bright and "steely" though the rest of the ensemble seemed perfect.  This is something I obsess over on my own recordings so I wasn't sure it was just me.  I have been previously diagnosed with SHVP (Sampled High Violins Paranoia).

Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 16:34
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

I'm not fortunate enough to suffer from SHVP.  Most of the nit-picky sonic details come from Becky.  Me, I just compose :)

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Fri, Jul 19 2019 22:18
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 120

Dave,

Some timestamps and thoughts as I listen:

0:10 - I like that you set up a V-I cadence but whole-tone it to the b5 instead.  Parallel Lydian indeed :)

0:13 - Catchy A theme; a nice mix of smooth and jarring that gives the piece a vaguely sinister feel that I quite enjoy.

0:35 - I like the "slippery" feel of these portamentos.  Almost starts to sound dixieland-ish, but for strings.  As the theme develops, the playing seems to unravel and loosen slightly.  Have you played with further humanizing the players here (esp. delay setting)?  That might accentuate the effect, especially the portamentos.

0:38 - Either the meter changes to triple time for one measure or the 4th beat of this measure is rushed.  Either way, it throws the rhythm off kilter in a way I really like!  Was this intentional?

1:10 - These fast runs don't sound convincing to me.  Up 'til this point the piece could easily be a demo for SYN-zed dim. strings.  In lieu of a performance trill patch, maybe toning down the release a bit?  I'm hearing too much sample overlap and it's creating a phase-y effect.

1:16 - 2 against 3 really works here.  Again, not *too* dissonant, but doesn't let the listener rest easy.  Playfully sinister.  Is that poor, abused monkey planning to murder the circus owners in the distance? :)

1:40-2:10ish - B theme has a nice contrast to the manic nature of A theme, though short lived.  Very "welcome to pleasantville" vibe. The pizz. ostinatos sounds particularly nice.

2:40 - Runs are again sounding a little off.  Not as much as before.  The rest is really, *really* solid.  I wonder if VSL would consider this for their demo page...

2:52 - What an interesting way to segue back into the A theme.  It almost comes out of nowhere.  What's neat to the harmony geek in me is that the resolution back into the A theme is on the same chord (7b5 on ii, I think?) as the deceptive cadence in the first half of the A theme itself.  By this point, I'm familiar enough with that progression that the theme sneaks back in from the prior episode almost unnoticed...like a monkey planning to murder its captors.  The "true" modulation happens halfway through the re-introduction of the theme itself!  Lots going on under the surface here.  Love it!

3:35 - Nice, crisp ending.  /applause

This is great!  Only the fast runs stuck out to me as needing improvement.  Everything else was stellar.  I listened on laptop speakers on purpose (to test mix quality...and my ears :P ) and it sounded nice and crisp.  You clearly know what you're doing.  

I learned a great deal listening to this.  Thanks for sharing!

- Sam

EDIT: Ape, not monkey...

Posted on Sat, Jul 20 2019 12:56
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Hi Sam,

Well, what can I say?  I've never had a piece of music analyzed to such an extent.  Your detailed answer brought me back to my first year of school, and exuberant professors that derived great joy from breaking down theme groups, sketching out figured bass, and introducing us to our new best friend, Heinrich Schenker.  Of course, I've leaned towards Debussy's thought that there is no theory and you only have to listen.  I'd rather suggest that the theory is well-ingrained and instinctively channeled in to the music I write.  I certainly don't sketch out a plan prior to writing, and prefer the sponteneity of just "doing it" and letting it evolve in to what it will be.

To clarify, the piece is a demo for the VSL Special Edition 5: Synchronized Dimenson Strings library, and can be found on the library's demo page, alongside the peerless Guy Baco's demos, among others. 

As for the criticism re. those "firework-like" string runs...I'll admit to purposely choosing to use portamentos to blur the sound and essentially simulate rapid glisses.  The runs are just marginally too fast to be properly articulated and when doing so with just a basic legato keyswitch, sounded very midi-precise (I couldn't "ugly" up the sound and make the runs sound totally authentic with the limited number of articulations available).  A little trivia: the piece was originally written for my accordion/clarinet duo, but I stubbornly held to keeping them in the string version, even if a little unrealistic :)

Thank you for listening, and sharing your own talents in breaking down the work like this.  If you're not already working in a post-secondary environment, I'm sure many music theory departments would love to have you on board!

Cheers!

Dave

p.s.  the ape has 3 more years before he's eligible for parole :)

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Sat, Jul 20 2019 15:55
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 120

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

Of course, I've leaned towards Debussy's thought that there is no theory and you only have to listen.  I'd rather suggest that the theory is well-ingrained and instinctively channeled in to the music I write.  I certainly don't sketch out a plan prior to writing, and prefer the sponteneity of just "doing it" and letting it evolve in to what it will be.

That spontaneity comes across in the music, certainly.  I'm with you (and Debussy) on that point.  To me, theory is a tool to figure out, in detail, why and/or how something I like (such as the dissonant resolutions in your piece) works so I can promptly file it away in my subconscious and then forget about the theory behind it :) One day I'll reach the "unconsciously competent" level, but until then I rely on all these silly chord symbols to keep me from defaulting to my musical comfort zone.

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

To clarify, the piece is a demo for the VSL Special Edition 5: Synchronized Dimenson Strings library, and can be found on the library's demo page, alongside the peerless Guy Baco's demos, among others. 

Great!

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

As for the criticism re. those "firework-like" string runs...I'll admit to purposely choosing to use portamentos to blur the sound and essentially simulate rapid glisses.  The runs are just marginally too fast to be properly articulated and when doing so with just a basic legato keyswitch, sounded very midi-precise (I couldn't "ugly" up the sound and make the runs sound totally authentic with the limited number of articulations available).  A little trivia: the piece was originally written for my accordion/clarinet duo, but I stubbornly held to keeping them in the string version, even if a little unrealistic :)

Ah, that makes sense.  If they're to simulate a rapid gliss, I wonder if adjusting the sample start parameter in conjunction with legato blur would blend out the attack portion of the samples enough to create a smooth slide up?  Probably overkill.  No matter, the piece still works great as far as I'm concerned.

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

Thank you for listening, and sharing your own talents in breaking down the work like this.  If you're not already working in a post-secondary environment, I'm sure many music theory departments would love to have you on board!

And thank you for sharing your music.  Please keep doing so.

- Sam

Posted on Sun, Jul 21 2019 01:56
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5369

That is interesting about Debussy - I wouldn't like to try to analyze La Mer!

Posted on Mon, Jul 22 2019 21:31
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Thanks again, Sam and William.  

Analysis of music is just like analyzing biblical scripture.  You can find hidden codes and meaning in virtually everything.  Do you know when a plagal cadence is more than just a plagal cadence?  And what about that series of passing tones in bar 104?   Just what was he trying to tell us with those ridiculous 32nd notes?  But, you really should be scared by those composers that still insist on hand-writing their scores.  Just look at the way he drew that treble clef, I swear there's an eye in there...Illuminati perhaps? :) lol

Time to go read the Bach Code.

Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Mon, Jul 22 2019 21:33
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 47

Dave and Becky,

This Scherzo is one of my favourites from your Acclarion albums. I think I still prefer the accordion/clarinet incarnation but this string orchestra version is great, too; very right for the idiom. Your arrangement is spot on and Becky's MIDIstration is superb. And VSL is to be commended for offering so capable a library at such a modest cost. Speakling of VSL, it's great to see your work featured as one of their demos. Congratulations!

If I say that I prefer your original version to this new one it has nothing to do with the veracity of the MIDI work. While I am sure that the expert critique you have received has merit, any sonic or stylistic weaknesses in the performance are quite beyond my ability to detect; I found the piece to be completely convincing. Musical and wonderful.

Glad to see action again on this fascinating forum and you right in the thick of it, Dave. Keep up the good work!

Tom

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 13:37
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 120
Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post
Thanks again, Sam and William.
Analysis of music is just like analyzing biblical scripture. You can find hidden codes and meaning in virtually everything. Do you know when a plagal cadence is more than just a plagal cadence? And what about that series of passing tones in bar 104? Just what was he trying to tell us with those ridiculous 32nd notes? But, you really should be scared by those composers that still insist on hand-writing their scores. Just look at the way he drew that treble clef, I swear there's an eye in there...Illuminati perhaps? :) lol
Time to go read the Bach Code.
Dave


If my comments came across this way, I do apologize. Analysis can certainly go to ridiculous extremes, especially in academia. However, I think it can also be a tool for the listener to attempt to understand and appreciate the music with as much seriousness as the composer had in writing it. My intent was solely the latter.

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 15:13
by Acclarion
Joined on Sat, Aug 15 2015, Canada, Eh!, Posts 470

Tom:  Your continued support and kind words do so much to motivate and inspire.  Thank you!  As for returning to composition, I think all musicians suffer from the Godfather reality:  "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."  :)

Sam:  There's a complete misunderstanding re. my attempt at humour with the "analysis" post that followed William's mention of La Mer.  

To clarify, I was absolutely blown away at your detailed analysis and quite honoured that someone would even take the time to listen/analyze something I wrote to that extent!  I fully agree with your thoughts that analysis can provide greater insight and appreciation, and that those gifted enough (such as you) to have this ability should by all means exercise it.  Thanks again for your contributions to this thread and elsewhere on the forum.  It's becoming a lively meeting place again.

Cheers,
Dave

www.dearvillainmusic.com - music for live performance by David Carovillano

www.acclarion.ca - concert accordion & clarinet duo
Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 15:17
by Seventh Sam
Joined on Sat, Dec 29 2018, Posts 120
Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

Sam: There's a complete misunderstanding re. my attempt at humour with the "analysis" post that followed William's mention of La Mer.


Gotcha. My bad!

- Sam

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 15:57
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 47

Originally Posted by: Acclarion Go to Quoted Post

As for returning to composition, I think all musicians suffer from the Godfather reality:  "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."  :)

Truer words were never spoken. I think when my time comes, I won't keel over in a sunny terraza in Sicily. No, it'll be at the end of a community band concert, clutching a decrepit french horn in my gnarled talons, right after the final stinger of the Stars and Stripes Forever.

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 18:58
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5369

"...clutching a decrepit french horn in my gnarled talons..." - tchampe

Isn't that what you already do?

 

 

Sorry - I couldn't resist.  Your horn is NOT decrepit! 

Also, I should not be taunting a horn player.  It is well known in orchestral circles that horn players are, well... different.  And they can have a short fuse.  Of course I have no personal experience with this.   But why this is true is unclear, although it has been conjectured that it is a result of the very high and close partial series the instrument normally plays in.  Over time, this can have psychological effects. 

Posted on Tue, Jul 23 2019 19:50
by tchampe
Joined on Wed, Apr 25 2018, Posts 47

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

"...clutching a decrepit french horn in my gnarled talons..." - tchampe

Isn't that what you already do?

 

 Oh, absolutely! I just haven't keeled over in mid-afterbeat yet (quite).

Originally Posted by: William Go to Quoted Post

Also, I should not be taunting a horn player.  It is well known in orchestral circles that horn players are, well... different.  And they can have a short fuse.  Of course I have no personal experience with this.   But why this is true is unclear, although it has been conjectured that it is a result of the very high and close partial series the instrument normally plays in.  Over time, this can have psychological effects. 

In my case, it never made me particularly mean. It just totally removed whatever controls I may have had on my Midwestern smart mouth. At this point, I judge the quality of a conductor primarily on how well he/she can tolerate it. 

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