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Topic: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

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  1. #1

    Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Hello all,

    May I present to you part one of Vesuvius, my work in two parts for large orchestra. Part 2 is still in early composition stages. This realization was done in Sonar 5 PE, using only Garritan Personal Orchestra, Perfect Space convolution reverb, and some light compression and EQ.

    Vesuvius, pt 1 - 8.9MB

    This work is for a larger orchestra than I normally compose for, and the file really put my machine to the test. In it, I used 56 MIDI tracks, 14 instances of GPO, and 6 instances of Perfect Space, representing 6 different stage positions. I also did some ensemble-building for the first time, subtley mixing multiple solo string instruments in with the sections. I also used multiple instances of clarinets and bassoons with varying polyphony for some of the runs in the piece.

    Here is the orchestration:
    3 flutes (2nd w/picc; 3rd w/alto)
    2 oboes
    1 english horn
    2 clarinets
    1 bass clarinet
    3 bassoons (3rd w/c-bsn)
    4 horns
    3 trumpets
    3 trombones
    1 tuba
    Harp
    Timpani
    4-5 percussionists (snare, bass drum, gong, snare, cymbals, triangle, claves, glockenspiel, tubular bells)
    full strings

    Thanks for listening. I'd appreciate comments on either the composition or the realization.
    Last edited by Skysaw; 03-29-2007 at 10:11 AM. Reason: updated link
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Wow, Jamie!

    I think you really pushed the envelope on this one!

    This is a great example of climactic building!
    There's allot of great subtlety in the backdrop which layers perfectly with the foreground force.

    I also liked the softer abrupt ending... a nice contrasting twist.

    Terrific work!


    ~Jeff

  3. #3

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Hi Jamie

    Very impressive. Very accomplished orchestration and realisation.

    Couple of doubts: One, do you really need all those instruments? I got the impression that most of it could have been done with double woodwind rather than triple, and the strings had little to do also; Two, I couldn't detect a valid formal structure (use of themes, recap, etc.) and I could have done with a little more "pulse" music. I suppose this represents the volcano partly quiescent, partly active (I guess the real eruption comes in Part Two?)
    Overall this strikes me as film music rather than a concert piece. But you show a very skilful use of instruments.

    I look forward to hearing the rest of it.

    Terry

  4. #4

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    I'd love to hear this with a real orchestra. Very strong piece. I like the little near-eruptions -- you build up tension (and deny payoff) in a very effective way, which keeps me hooked for the second movement. I love the little calm moments after the tension brews for a while and then subsides suddenly--that's one of my favorite devices and you use it with a very good sense of timing.

    I'm not sure what your grand form is going to be like, but have you thought about making it a 3-movement piece? Sort of a Tremors-Eruption-Aftershocks form? (or whatever their volcanic equivalents are).

    I wrote an orchestra piece in grad school with a similar massive-geological sort of theme. I'll PM it to you, there are some very interesting parallels.

    chris.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Well, I would like you to know after hearing this excellent piece I tossed my in the trash! Thanks for the reminder how much I need to learn here to compete with such mastery! Kind of Debussy flavor there which is very much my taste!
    My highest compliments on your handling of percussion written with nice performance level in mind, very natural and real.
    Now, time to throw out my trash.
    Five stars and two thumbs up!
    Styxx

  6. #6

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Thanks for the comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by jsp2
    I also liked the softer abrupt ending... a nice contrasting twist.
    The irony of a bombastic piece named for a volcano just sort of petering out was too hard to resist for me. And yes, the volcano isn't done talking yet, as movement two will reveal. But still...

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman
    Couple of doubts: One, do you really need all those instruments? I got the impression that most of it could have been done with double woodwind rather than triple
    Yes, I really need the tripling! Actually, there is quite a lot of exposed writing for each trio, and re-orchestrating without that aspect would compromise the color a great deal. It's really more about getting the right color for me than worrying about someone having to sit some measures out (even string players).

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman
    Two, I couldn't detect a valid formal structure (use of themes, recap, etc.)
    No recaps here, but themes abound. They are not as obvious as those some may be used to, but they are there. If you mean a recognizable melody that appears in more than one place, then you're going to have to look very deeply.

    The more I write, the more I find myself redefining what a theme is in my works. Here I use as themes concepts such as a given texture, parallel altered ("loose pitch") melodies, and temporally distorted suspension resolution. They are not so easy for the ear to pick out as traditionally thematic, but I believe they lend an overall cohesion to a piece -- a sense that these notes belong together, even if you don't know why. As for overall structure of the movement, one must look mainly to dynamic level and tonal density to discern it.

    I apologize if this sounds pretentious or silly. I'm actually having great difficulty describing what some of my processes are. I do appreciate the comments.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  7. #7

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Quote Originally Posted by CallMeZoot
    I'm not sure what your grand form is going to be like, but have you thought about making it a 3-movement piece? Sort of a Tremors-Eruption-Aftershocks form? (or whatever their volcanic equivalents are).
    Two movements feels right to me here. I had actually considered almost exactly what you're proposing, but I realized that what I'm trying to capture here isn't so much a story of a volcano erupting and lava flowing, but more just the overal sense of power and beauty.

    By the way, the second movement is becoming less and less Vesuvius-like, and may turn into a different piece all together. Unless of course it's all overrun by lava in the next section I work on -- not sure what my brain may have in store for it quite yet.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  8. #8

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw

    No recaps here, but themes abound. They are not as obvious as those some may be used to, but they are there. If you mean a recognizable melody that appears in more than one place, then you're going to have to look very deeply.

    The more I write, the more I find myself redefining what a theme is in my works. Here I use as themes concepts such as a given texture, parallel altered ("loose pitch") melodies, and temporally distorted suspension resolution. They are not so easy for the ear to pick out as traditionally thematic, but I believe they lend an overall cohesion to a piece -- a sense that these notes belong together, even if you don't know why. As for overall structure of the movement, one must look mainly to dynamic level and tonal density to discern it.

    I apologize if this sounds pretentious or silly. I'm actually having great difficulty describing what some of my processes are. I do appreciate the comments.
    We share the same thoughts and techniques regarding thematic and structural elements, Jamie, so I certainly hope both of us aren't "pretentious or silly". It's part of the fascination of your work that it is not traditionally organized or constructed, yet... it makes perfect sense. If the ear is unaccustomed to the granularity of the integration; it nonetheless readily and fully recognizes it.

    I've listened through this several times, now, Jamie. As always, the second hearing gave me more, and the third more still.

    Unreservedly:

    BRAVO!

    With admiration,

    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    .

  9. #9
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    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    there is certainly a theme when the strings come in about half way through and a really beautiful one worked to an impressive climax

  10. #10

    Re: Massive orchestral score: Vesuvius

    Quote Originally Posted by Skysaw
    I'm actually having great difficulty describing what some of my processes are.
    That is a very familiar sensation.
    It is notoriouslt difficult, to talk about deep compositional processes. It becomes easier when descibing music's broad architecture, but sometimes the broad architecture isn't where the real action is.

    I loved the piece, sounded very cohesive and organic to me. I particularly liked the dense woodwind/brass sonorities. Positively menacing !!!
    I thought you resisted the temptation of relentless bombast really well. There are many moments of great delicacy and tenderness here.

    Superbly rendered Tymp rolls bye the way.

    regards Joe

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