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Topic: An Atonal Offering...

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  1. #1
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    An Atonal Offering...

    I’ve had writers block since I finished up my contest pieces a month and a half ago. I decided to start the New Year off right and break my writers block at the same time and write a new piece.

    This is a woodwind quartet comprised of flute, oboe, English horn and bassoon and was inspired by our recent discussion on atonal music.

    After the brief intro most of this is based on a 12 tone row or its I R or IR (RI?) though I wouldn’t call this serial - I just use the row as raw material and don't worry about the rules.

    No title yet.

    http://trentsworld.com/music/posting...t-1-2-2005.mp3

    What do you think? I may expand it a little – I think it might end a little too suddenly – and clean up a few rough edges.

    Any comments?

    Edit - I posted a new version of this on a different thread - Expanded and Improved (I hope)
    Last edited by trentpmcd; 01-05-2005 at 05:23 PM. Reason: New version of piece
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    I think you have a very nice piece here... I loved the fugal treatment before the end and I think if you end the piece some sort of tutti would help finalize it and make a more dramatic finish, since you're building up excitement with the figures at the end... Great work..

  3. #3
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd

    * * *
    What do you think? I may expand it a little – I think it might end a little too suddenly – and clean up a few rough edges.

    Any comments?
    Pretty neat work here, which needs to grow a bit. Good ideas, well presented, but not carried out to anything like their full possibilities.

    To me, it seems like it ought to be a woodwind quintet, which could mitigate some of the shrillness. The shrillness is not out of place, but it is a bit strident, needs something to blunt the edge a bit, which is why I think quintet instead of quartet, to give some midrange balance.

    It is a good idea not to follow any rules to strictly, especially in music, and serial/atonal works! Your comments on atonal but not strictly grabbed my attention and sent me to your mp3.

    Overall, in spite of it's shortness, I liked it quite a bit.

    Richard

  4. #4
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Thanks for responding.

    I am definitely going to expand this. Listening to it at work just now I think I see (hear) how it needs to go next. I say next, but I have to change the last little bit first. Can’t wait until I get home so I can work on it.

    I’m now not sure how it will finally end. A tuti is possible, though instead of in unison or octaves I might play the main pattern in fifths again, or maybe fourths. Or maybe I will do something else all together – it depends on how it develops.

    Changing it to a quintet is a possibility, though it would involve a lot of work. I think that for now I will finish it as a quartet and maybe do it again as a larger ensemble later. Something with percussion – there are a few places I want the wind instruments answered with drums. Maybe it’ll end up being 7 ww parts (adding a second oboe, a clarinet and a bass clarinet) and percussion.

    Thank you both for your comments and suggestions.
    Trent P. McDonald

  5. #5

    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    I really like what you did here...did you work off of a scale(s), and if so do you have a name for this/these scales?

    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    imagegod -Thanks for listening and for the comments.

    It wasn’t really a scale per se - I used a twelve tone row, that is a sequence of the 12 tones of the chromatic scale in a particular order. Actually, the tones aren't important – it is the interval between the tones. I came up with the row just playing around with the piano until something sounded right for the music I wanted to write. I also used the row's inverse, retrograde and inverted retrograde (or the retrograde of the inverse - the intervals should be the same).

    If you aren't familiar with serialism I’ll post a description. My description would actually be more of how I used elements of serialism than a description of serialism itself.

    Thanks again for the comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  7. #7

    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    imagegod -Thanks for listening and for the comments.
    Thanks for the reply...however, the above quote is all I understood. You know how Charlie Brown's school teacher sounds like a distant buzz? You get the idea.

    There's no need to kill yourself with an explanation...I thought it was just a basic scale you could describe/point me to via the internet.

    I'm not really interested in theory...I play by what I hear, and prefer not to let my intellect get involved.

    Perhaps you could let me know what the intervals are...and are they constant across the board?

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Quote Originally Posted by imagegod
    Perhaps you could let me know what the intervals are...and are they constant across the board?

    Thanks!
    Easier said than done…

    Here are the intervals I used for this (all are half/chromatic steps) – 3 steps up, 1 down, 1 down, 2 down, 5 up, 1 up, 5 up, 4 down, 2 up, 1 down and 2 up. What you get depends on the note you start on.

    I know, kind of useless unless you know what I’m doing with them, so I’ll try to explain.

    If I start on e the row would go e-g-f#-f-d#-g#-a-d-a#-c-b-c#. Once I start playing the row I play it through in order. I can repeat the g 20 times, but as soon as I play the f# I cannot go back to g. Any rhythm is fine as long as the tones stay in the correct order.

    Most of the time I don’t want to start on e. I then follow the intervals, not the notes. So if I start on d I would play d-f-e-d#-c#-… etc. and starting on f would be f-g#-g-f#-… etc.

    Besides this original row starting on all 12 tones, I also have variations. I can do it in reverse (retrograde) and get c#-b-c-a#-d-a-g#-d#-f-f#-g-e. Again, the intervals are the important part and it is played starting on all 12 tones

    There is also the inversion were the intervals are turned upside down (up = down and down = up). I would then play e-c#-d-d#-f-c-b-f#-a#-g#-a-g. This can also be played in retrograde as g-a-g#-a#-f#-b-c-f-d#-d-c#-e. Again, these can start on any of the 12 tones of the chromatic scale – in fact, the more variation the better.

    After the first 25 seconds perhaps 95% of this is based on the original row or one of the variations. You can hear all four variations - At about 45 seconds in the oboe plays the original row. When the English horn comes in with the original row, the oboe plays the reverse. When the bassoon enters, the oboe starts in on the inverse. When the flute enters the bassoon and English horn play the retrograde inverse.

    I know, a lot of work before any music is written. A large part of it is that it gives the ability to leave keys (and thus tonality) behind while keeping a consistent feel. There are other ways to achieve these goals, but this is a great crutch for me at this time.

    OK, I’m sure I went from Charlie Browns teacher to pure Greek (or maybe geek).
    Trent P. McDonald

  9. #9

    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Thanks so much for taking the time! I love music so much and when I hear something that's not only different, but also has musical integrity, my desire is to find a way to use it in service of my greater vision.

    I really love the sound of this work...it just strikes a chord with me.

    I also love the idea of mixing atonal work with romantic tonality. And I guess I will, someday.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    Re: An Atonal Offering...

    Trent,

    It's great to hear some serial music here on our GPO forum. It's along time since I wrote any tone-row music - I know from experience how time consuming it can be.

    If you do decide to add more instruments - a clarinet or french horn might add a touch of warmth (if that's what you want).

    Please post any updates.

    Mark
    As in music - so in life!

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