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Thread: Wrote a string quartet. Looking for constructive feedback... (with score)

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    Exclamation Wrote a string quartet. Looking for constructive feedback... (with score)


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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I think it's great, although I don't know how it fits as a String Quartet as a 4 movement work
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    I might in a day or two be able to list things that are problematic (big and small..notation and technique), but I have little time today. The only thing I can deal with now is (1) there's way too many unrelated material being throw out at the beginning making it seem like you are not capable of focusing (2) Are you a string player? If so can you tell me how you would execute the wide interval tremolos (for example, but not exclusively, the F to high Eb in the violin around the 3 minute mark)
    Last edited by Vasks; Sep-23-2018 at 17:24.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    You are certainly a much better composer at age 17 than I was when I was that age. You are already at a semi-pro to professional level. It is refreshing to hear someone so young on this site not be another statistic who composes classical era pastiche. You have your own unique voice using a modern vocabulary.

    Just taking a cursory glance at what you’ve got, I noticed two problems off the bat:
    1. I think sixteenth note figurations played pizzicato at Quarter=132 is really pushing it. It doesn’t even sound like the computer played it! Are you sure that’s what you want there at the beginning? It’s going to sound funny if it’s even playable.
    2. The major problem is with your bowings you have notated. All throughout the piece, there are numerous spots where you have too many notes under one bow. Even at this tempo, the string player is going to need to change directions more often. Please go through the score again and re-consider the bowings, especially where you have a lot of notes under one bow. You may want to consult a player for this.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    In spite of the technical problems mentioned, very impressive.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    First, let me deal with the tremolos I mentioned. What you wrote is called a fingered tremolo. Fingered meaning both notes will be played on the same string. It is possible to have a tremolo between two adjacent strings but it can not be fast (yours are fast).
    The Kent Kennan book (mine is an old 3rd Edition) on orchestration says the following about fingered tremolos on page 62: “The two fingered notes are usually a third apart although an interval of up to a diminished 5th are possible on the violin. On the viola, the limit had better be a perfect 4th and on the cello, a major 3rd”. So, please go back to that passage where you used them and do a re-write.

    Now I’ll point out some things you may wish to correct. It’s all up to you. I would also like to say that by your not having measure numbers, rehearsal markings or even page numbers with a scrolling score made studying your score really hard..LOL!! I will try to keep referring to measures within a page.

    Page 1:

    Your fast tempo is going to make the 16th notes short to begin with, that staccato markings over them is practically meaningless.

    Beaming is an issue that has had issues of dispute among engravers and composers for a long while. But what I am about to point out is generally accepted today: Viola (m.1, beat 1) - beam the entire beat which means a beam going over the 16th rest. Don’t beam beat 2 which starts with a dotted 16th rest (IOW - leave the 16th note at the end of beat two alone with its flags only)

    Finally, if you do eliminate all staccato dots over 16ths then rhythms, like m. 1 beat 1 of the Violin 2, can be two eighths with the second one with a staccato dot. And if you change that, then go though the score and look for 16th notes that are on the “and” of beats that are followed by a 16th rest and turn the 16th into an eighth note with a staccato.

    Page 2

    As Torkelburger has already pointed out, 16th note pizz. at your speed ain’t gonna work

    Page 3

    The marking “swiftly” is superfluous.

    Page 4 “Like clockwork” passage

    This is a tough passage to critique. Part of me says leave it alone, but I think it could better with a variety of changing meters, so hear me out. The passage clearly is about cross-accents, but a number of them are coordinated (2 or even 3 instruments doing the accents simultaneously) and my mind hears the following changing patterns starting with the first measure of this passage: 2/8, 3/8, 3/8, 2/8, 3/8, 2/8, etc (which by combining 2+3 or 3+2 could also be written as 5/8 measures). If you did this the passage would be easier for the players to immediately grasp and the accents would fall more naturally. However, the Violin 1 and sometimes another instrument do not coordinate with the accents which is why I’m a bit ambivalent to say you must change your 2/4 meter. I suggest you just listened to this passage a few times without looking at the score and ask yourself if you hear that pattern I hear.

    Page 5

    Up to this page you have consistently used key signatures (no matter how short a passage might be that uses primarily those accidentals. But now from this page through page 6 you do not, even though it’s clear that at the double bar “a tempo” you are F major/D minor and by later on page 5 and through page 6 you are F minor/Ab major. Being consistent with any aspect of notation is very important for your performers. Up to this point, you did not make them read a ton of accidentals, but now they must. (and of course in page 7, you go into A major so a key sig there would be in order too)

    Page 6

    The term “legato” is superfluous so long as you have slur markings.

    Starting just one ms. before the double bar (“legato” passage) the beginning of slur markings is incorrect, or at least by today’s standards (the way music was engraved 100-200 years ago is often not the way it’s done today). I’ll point out two, you can look for the rest. (1) The measure before the double bar in Vla & Vc have the slur start on the first beat. (2) Vln 2 on the 2nd ms. after the double bar have the slur begin at the first beat of the high B-flat.

    Page 7

    What I said about starting slur markings is also true about where to end them. So as just one example, Vla (4 measures before the double bar) extend the slur from its start (high A) through the half note C# four measures later. Again you can look for the rest of them.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Bravo. I thought it was excellent and that any good string quartet would find this a delight to play, as long as it's feasible and technically doable for each player. I do, however, feel that the 9 bar ending was the weakest part and the piece deserves a more satisfactory and effective ending that sounds less, forgive me, anticlimactic, or "bland". Overall, though, I felt this was well done and very much worth hearing... I felt that it had something of a tango flavor. Best wishes.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Sep-27-2018 at 12:07.
    ”Art is how we decorate space; Music is how we decorate time.”

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