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Topic: The Four Elements - Complete!

  1. #1

    The Four Elements - Complete!

    Hey folks. I've finally finished my 4-movement work Four Elements which I've been showing snippets of here and there. The only movement I havn't already shown is the 2nd, Firepeak, but I'll post all four with recaps for those that didn't see/hear those ones.

    Movement I - Sandstorm

    The first movement encompasses the element of earth. The formal structure is based off an Indian raga called Ramkali. It is a raga for the sunrise, which was great for a beginning. Another image that came to mind after writing it was that of a caravan moving across the desert, strong walls of sand passively assaulting the passengers and animals. Of course, an actual raga would last at least 10x as long, but in the name of pacing I scaled things down. It is the thickest of the four movements instrument-wise, as things get more and more intimate as the piece progresses. The percussion is new to this version. I used the lovely Darbuk samples from G-Town and the egg shaker.

    Instruments: Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Bb Clarinet, Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Harp x2, Strings, Darbuk, Shaker

    Movement II - Firepeak (New!)

    We move our focus to the element of fire. This movement was created primarily as a percussion piece, with scattered tonal elements thrown in. Though not fire itself, the structure was actually based around wood: often the origins for the element to grow from. I took tree rings and measured the relative distance between each one to determine the length of each section as well as what notes to use at what time. It sounds more complex than it actually was. For images to go off of, I tried to evoke the licks of the flame as it sparks up into the air, embers as they fall down and sizzle on the ground, and the general haze that gets associated with something burning. More G-Town goodness used in this piece.

    Instruments: Sticks, Shaker, Metal Plate, Toms, Bass Drum, Gongs, Marimba, English Horn, Strings, Harp x2

    Movement III - Lightningfield

    The element of air, to me, likes to encompass not only the wind but the storms of lighting and thunder from the clouds. The images in this movement are two-fold: The first is the gentle stillness of the wind as it rustles through leaves, sand, perhaps a little bell at a temple. The second is the storm itself; first lingering on the horizon; then in full bloom at our present location, thunder shaking the sky while cracks of lightning strike. The storm dies down and we return to the calm from before, perhaps with a light rain. The main image I went off of were beautiful photos of an installation art piece in New Mexico called the Lightning Field (the source of this mvt's name). It's basically a 1km by 1mile stretch of land with metal poles scattered in even intervals, drawing lightning to strike in a very concentrated area.

    Instruments: Timpani x2, Bass Drum, Mark Tree, Crotales, Glass Harmonica, Hand Bells, Celesta, Metal Plate

    Movement IV - Waterfall

    The final movement could possibly be seen as a continuation from the third, as rain begins the movement into the last element of water. I visualize the piece as almost the journey of an individual drop of rain. It starts in the clouds above and falls down into the earth. It drips into a river and flows down through smooths and rapids. It then comes to a waterfall and dives off, falling through the air and landing again below. The river widens, and eventually reaches the grand ocean and whatever lies beyond. Instruments from all the prior movements come together in this section for a bit of calm closure: the marimba from Firepeak, the glockenspiel/crotales from Lightningfield, and the strings from Sandstorm.

    Instruments: Flute, Timpani, Crotales, Glockenspiel, Marimba, Vibraphone, Harp, Strings

    Enjoy Comments are appreciated.

  2. #2

    Re: The Four Elements - Complete!

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all four elements this morning. What a wonderful array of sounds and textures. This is evocative and captivating music throughout. Waterfall ties the movements together very nicely as well. Thanks for posting this.
    Can you tell me a little more about your sound sources? What is G-Town and where can I find out more?
    Mac Pro 2X2.8 Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xenon, 10Gb 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM, OS10.6.4, Finale 2011, Digital Performer 7.1, Altiverb 6, Yamaha S90, Built-in audio, GPO, JABB, Garritan Authorized Steinway (Pro), Reason 3, M-Audio Ozone, Giovani, Symphonic Choirs, Kontakt 2, Vienna Symphonic Library. Website:http://www.paulread.ca

  3. #3

    Re: The Four Elements - Complete!

    Quote Originally Posted by daerp@mac.com
    Can you tell me a little more about your sound sources? What is G-Town and where can I find out more?
    Thank you Paul G-Town Church Sampling Project is a free percussion/misc sample library I found at legaltorrents.com and comes in either .wav or .gig formats. Since I don't have either Gigastudio or an EXS24 (the wav format the library supports), I basically created my own patches inside Reason's advanced soft synth. I just loaded the samples I needed and mapped them out. For the toms, it was just two drums with 8 layers of velocity. I had to do a bit of midi tweaking though, as the wav file would stop playing as soon as the note ended. My solution was to grab all the notes on the piano roll, and extend them until their next event to get the full decay.

    Aside from that though, all the other sounds are GPO

  4. #4

    Re: The Four Elements - Complete!

    Leif, a grand slam of a job on this suite... unique, ingenious, inventive, innovative, and very well done!

    I've listened to all four movements with pleasure and admiration!

    This fully deserves an all-caps:



  5. #5

    Re: The Four Elements - Complete!

    My goodness - these are fantastic. Such unique and evocative textures. And also very good use of the stereo spread.

    There are a few niggly things to mention - but really they do not detract at all from the great effect: This kind of percussion seems to be all the rage now and it really dates the pieces in a sort of me-too way. Now having said this, I find the percussion here to be much more individual and unique sounding than the usual fare. There is restraint and a sprinking of nice nuances. There are also some performance issues that all of us face with GPO (the woodwinds, mainly in the staccatos, are not quite being quite forceful enough; and the strings are not flowing well at times (are they overlapped too much?)).


    GPO and Synful experiments; chaos-more chaos compositions

  6. #6

    Thumbs up Re: The Four Elements - Complete!

    The complete work is a very strong unitary composition. Nice transitions and variety/unity balance. The language is sophisticated but spontaneous and understandable.

    I think that this kind of music has the main ingredients for successfully fit various "real-world" situations: congratulations and good luck.

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