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Topic: String Quartet 1st Movement

  1. #1

    String Quartet 1st Movement

    On the Cusp of Insanity
    1st movement

    I composed a 5 movement string quartet last spring and then began this one. After I wrote 2 of the movements for this one, I realized that the other quartet was really only 4 movements and that this movement here belonged with this quartet, not the other.

    I posted the 4th movement of this quartet earlier and am now presenting the first movement.

    On the Cusp of Insanity (1st Movement)


    What follows is just copied from the original post of the 4th movement, shown here just to recap the story.

    On Feb 29, 1992, I married an insane woman. She was 22 and too young to know any better and I was 34 and too horny to care.

    I use to play a crappy old POS guitar that was very difficult to get into tune and even harder to keep tuned. It would take me about 10 minutes to get it ready to play and by that time she had had enough and said put that thing away. So for the next 10 years I didn't play guitar.

    She was manic-depressive, knew it and wouldn't do anything about it other than use some illegal depressents. Real smart.

    As things got progressively worse thru the years, I yearned to play guitar again so I started playing out in the shed. A short time later, a friend of mine would join me with his 2 better guitars and my old one got put aside. A month later, when many other people would show up to hear us play, she came out to the shed and listened and said she was amazed that I knew how to play.

    This piece deals with me "On the Cusp of Insanity" for the 10 years I was with her ( I am now divorced). The first 3 movements, (which I will post in time), lead up to this one. Many themes in this one came from the first three and will make more sense when the entire piece is posted, but I think this one is the most powerful of the 4, so I decided to post it 1st.

    I composed this last winter in sib4 and now it is from sib5 thru KP2 with all GPO.

    Here is the 4th Movement


    All comments are appreciated and welcome.


    BTW This is my 3rd String Quartet

  2. #2

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    Ron - what am I going to do with you? You keep freaking me out with this stuff!

    I recall waxing eloquent at some length on a previous 'Insanity' post which added up to me saying I was at a bit of a loss, and that it was difficult for me to get into the piece.

    SO I won't do that again.

    And I don't mean to minimize the painful chapter in your life that these works are springing from.

    Maybe my theatre brain is hoping for some perspective to be coming through in the music - a comment, a working through, - while I feel I'm hearing music coming directly from the experience itself, unprocessed and not informing me about a larger picture--? I'm not sure.

    I can say that what you described, the process of moving this movement from another piece - From what I've heard, that seems like a good artistic decision.

    I always listen, and I wanted you to know I at least tried!

    Randy B.

  3. #3

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement


    I really think that the only way this piece makes sense is to listen to all 4 movements at once.

    You and I both know that few here would listen to anyone's 22 minutes of music straight thru without having paid to see it done live or have a well known name associated with it.

    In 200 years when I am famous, and this piece is considered to be an old classic (my dream, my rules), the people that listen to it will say, "I see exactly where he was coming from" and they will all be wrong. At that point I will tell Ludwig to pour me another one, as Sergey and I play another game of pool and Johann and Wolfie bitch about the World cup.

    I think that I will next post the entire piece and be done with it. The brave and adventurous can attempt the entire 22 minutes and see if I truly painted a picture of 10 years of insanity.

    I know that some will and some won't. That is the nature of music. The important thing to me is that you went the distance and listened to this, probably knowing beforehand that it would not be your cup of tea. For that I give you my deepest thanks!!!

    I have listened to the entire piece unknown countless times and yet I enjoy it each and every time. It just goes to show that there are some really weird people in this world.

    Thank you again


  4. #4

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    Ron - That is one beautiful reply.

    You gotta remember, when it comes to writing my own music, I'm just an old cornball who likes melody, rhythm, structure, crescendos--the whole corny ball of wax. OK, so I Do like to primarily use chromaticism, and Lots of key changes to the point that key Almost stops making sense - and I'm with Sondheim, I really don't Want people to go out of a theatre whistling my tunes.

    I guess I'm maybe somewhere half way between tin-pan-alley and outer space.

    BUt I listen democratically and never cease to have a great time hearing the HUGe expanse of music human beings are capable of creating. I rarely think in terms of "good" "bad" - everything Is what it Is. Some things touch me more than others, but I'm quick to ferret out maudlin sentimentality in music - that could be my one true anathema.

    You know, it's quite possible that my own dealings with insanity in my life are too close to home and that makes me unable to listen for long--BUT that would be another story!

    Thank you Ron for being here and sharing your Stuff--I mean that more than I can say.

    Randy B.

  5. #5

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement


    Yours was also a great reply. You need to run for office!! On another site is a young kid who has had some rough times and has no older male to help him thru. He primarily composes for video games and for being in his young teens, he is great at it. (Imagine where we would be now if we had what is available today back then, when we were that young!!!).

    Any way, not long I had to tell him for the first time that a piece of his was horrible. I searched around for the right words for 3 days before deciding to just tell him that what I was saying was one mans opinion and in the large scheme of things really doesn't mean much of anything. But I told him that it was just not my kind of music at all and that it was boring. I figured if I was going to be true to him and myself, I would have to tell the truth of what I thought.

    Can we ever ask for more?

    At another site today, someone dug up an older piece of mine and cut it down left and right. Saying there was no coherence to the piece and that I should seriously consider rewriting the whole thing. The piece is one that I am the most proud of!!

    Yet even after that, this is still better than sitting in some game room pretending to be someone I am not!!!

    And I feel welcome here!!

    Thank you


  6. #6

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    Hello again, Ronald - lol--Sorry, Ron

    Thanks for sharing those stories. The difference between what you finally told this kid about his music and my reaction to your "Insanity" series is that I don't think these works of yours are "horrible" and "boring"--the adjectives you ended up using to describe your reaction to his stuff.

    I'm just admitting that I usually don't know what to do with music that I can't find form to and which never seems to progress, but stays on a loop of seemingly randomly generated chaos.

    I think you're indicating in your new reply that you realize that people's personal opinions about Anything are as cheap as air and equally ephemeral. The statement that something we hear isn't our "cup of tea" is really of very little interest, and of equally little importance.

    When we bother to tell someone we weren't grabbed by what they've created, as you did with this kid - the question for ourselves is if we're telling them that in hopes of swaying them to change, or are we simply wanting them to know that they need to put a check mark in the "nay" column--but for them, at the same time, to take it with no more weight than that.

    In a general sense, we all have our expectations of what we want Art to be for us. Some people want to be constantly reassured that their tastes are good ones to hold on to, because they are constantly validated in mainstream run-of-the-mill work. Some people want to be completely passive, wanting every movie, play, book, piece of music to be HUge, visceral, and easily accessible to their (large) needs to be passively entertained. Some people want everything to be light and undemanding--others want things to be challenging and difficult - and so forth. No artist is every going to reach everyone in the way they'd like--the audience, the public, has tastes that are far too diverse.

    That's why in theatre, the audience is often referred to as "the enemy." It's a beautiful irony - the people for whom the event was constructed in the first place can end up seeming like the enemy - the hordes we need to conquer, and whom we know can be so easily diverted from even Noticing the actual work by simple mishaps and miscalculations.

    We all can only keep going where our spirits reach us, and we keep the faith that somewhere there Is an audience for what we do, be it whatever size audience it may be, large, small, teeny.

    The other side of that picture is that without Any validation ever coming our way in reaction to what we've created, we would probably drop away from our pursuits and finally stop. That's what most people do. What motivates people to keep doing something, more than most anything else, is that they've been made to feel they're good at it.

    Many are called, few are chosen. The Art majors of yesterday are the insurance salesmen of today. The ballerinas of 1997 are the housewives of 2007.

    The maverick who keeps plowing on with his vision despite the lack of validation is extremely rare. And it's very possible that his creative output will end up buried and forgotten along with him in his grave. He keeps producing Art even though he knows permanent oblivion is the most likely repository for his body of work. Such Artists are the saints of this existence, moreso than the officially sanctioned saints with their urban legend miracles which granted them their niche in history.

    and----so on.

    Ah--One more thought triggered by this discussion. There is a talent beyond the talent of artistic creation which separates most of the vocationally successful artists from the vast majority of his contemporaries who never see the same kind of success--That is the talent of Ambition. With my own eyes, over and over in this life, I have taken note that the people who rise to the top of their chosen field are those who for whatever reason have that burning desire of ambition - a talent many artists just don't have and can't muster.

    In every field you can name, there are the famous names, the leaders - and they usually have no more talent than the completely unknown schleps who are quietly working away on their own--But they Did manage to cultivate the crucial talent of Ambition. Maybe they were born with it, maybe they learned quicker than most people how that whole game works--but however they got it, they Have it. And they tend to guard their positions on the ladder with vicioius vigour. They can end up quick to stomp on the hands of those below them who are reaching rungs too high on the ladder they've fought for and often paid for dearly.

    I'm looking forward to more of your saga about the warriors going into battle.

    Randy B.

  7. #7

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement


    I copied my reply to his post and here it is

    I am truly sorry my friend, but I can not say I am overwhelmed with this one. It's good background music, but there isn't really anything in it that sticks out and grabs me. The piece sort of just goes along staticly without going anywhere. The piano sections are the only parts that are alive.

    With that said, there is always a need for this kind of music. Not everthing can be in your face music. So for a peaceful or serene setting, this plays well.

    Just not for me.

    As you can see I never called it horrible, I just thought that part. I know he is capable of so much more and I think he just rushed thru to get get something posted.

    There are some people whose opinions matter to me and others that I could care less what they think or say. This is true with my music and any other aspect of my life.
    My favorite comment was written by a guy that was listening to my music for the first time. Paraphrased, his comment was...the more I listened to it, the less I hated it.
    He now looks forward to my posts and usually has glowing comments about my works.

    Back to the kid... I said what I said not in hopes of changing him, but to inspire him to create up to his abilities. He writes game music. I could care less about video games. The last one I played was not long after Space Invaders came out.
    I like most of us seek validation for my efforts and I hate that I do it. I know that I am composing music for my own enjoyment and realize that nothing I ever compose will be played by anyone ever. I dream of course, but deep down I know I am daydreaming.
    When I get a minute or 2 into a piece and think I have something special, nothing will stop me until I am finished. I stay up late at night trying to fix that one more note before I go to bed. Next thing I know, it's 3 am and time has passed me by yet another night and I have to force myself to go to bed.

    When a work is finally ready for the "Public", I want to post and not look again and again and again to see what others have to say, but I guess I need that validation. Bummer!!!

    I like to think though that I would continue even if everyone else said my music sucks. Actually, I know I would because too many times in the past I have had people say just that and yet here I am still at it.

    You said
    I'm just admitting that I usually don't know what to do with music that I can't find form to and which never seems to progress, but stays on a loop of seemingly randomly generated chaos......
    I'm looking forward to more of your saga about the warriors going into battle.

    The last movement of The Road to Victory is called Order and Chaos.

    I have been trying to get it ready for a few weeks now and it is slow going. It was also composed in sib 4 and switching it over to sib5 and gpo means changing every articulation and all of the dynamics in order to get it to play correctly. I think that it concludes the piece well and am looking forward to posting it.

    I am also working on a piece for a video game..lol Like I know anything about them, but I am composing it for a competiton at yet another site. Garritan is sponsering it and will be giving the winner a number of libraries. It is also finished and I am trying to get it to sound right too. Takes forever to get all these programs to talk with each other the way they are supposed to each and everytime. I really do hate computers. I would rather just have my own symphony at my beck and call!!!

    There I go Rambling again...


  8. #8

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    knock knock--anybody else home?----?----

    Looks like we have the conversation to ourselves, at least for now, Ron.

    "... I said what I said not in hopes of changing him, but to inspire him to create up to his abilities..."

    hehe---not to change him but to inspire him to change. Ah that's OK then.

    But we really can't change anyone. Maybe you're right and can Inspire someone to change - But that's assuming an awful lot, that we have a right to assume we Should inspire someone to change.

    As a stage director I work with people towards a common goal, but I know there's no hope of imposing my will on them. I do hope to inspire them to collaborate with me so we can achieve a mutually agreed upon result - But theatre is a collaborative art. When I'm reacting to someone's Art which is a solo endeavor---I always feel completely humbled and not able to be any kind of arbiter of their process.

    Everyone makes their own choices, and often their choices are depending on the feedback he/she gets from others: "Gee, when I behave this way, everyone always gets pissed. I should decide if I'd rather have people Not be pissed at me, or if I like having them pissed." "OH, when I say This sort of thing, people react This way - If I want them to react differently, I'll try out a different behavior." And "hmmm, I seem to be writing music only for myself. Well, I can either try to reach a wider audience, or just not give a frick and do what I wanna do."

    I used to think that the high profile pop artists were all Hacks just be definition--they're too danged popular. But as I grew older, --and I have grown a LOt older--I realized that nestled in with the actual Hacks, there are clever Artists who have managed to cloak their output into formats which a wide audience enjoys, without subverting the purity of their intent. I think Stephen Spielberg may be in that latter category. Any successful rock band you admire could be in that group - Radio Head perhaps--Couldn't they have stuck with completely incomprehensible stuff that nobody but a small handful of devotees could appreciate, but instead they adapted to the Pop demands enough in order to be accepted? Maybe U2?

    I think the most subversive Artists can be those who manage to beat whatever establishment they're up against - Play the game without prostituting their core talent. And that takes Talent with a capital T.--not to mention Ambition--as I went on about earlier.

    And - So on!

    Randy B.

  9. #9

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    I love this!

    I haven't read through the conversation between you and Randy... though I've read fragments of it and it seems interesting... I'll have to go back and read it.

    Sorry you had to be "On the Cusp of Insanity" ... that's never quite a fun place to be.

    This normally isn't quite my cup of tea; I hear quite a lot of dissonance in here (is that meant to be the insanity?) but there are still some moments and melodies, especially in the first movement, that aren't dissonant at all and very pleasing and harmonious (perhaps the happiness before the insanity?). Overall, I think its those pleasing moments and the constant rhythms that make the more dissonant/chromatic parts interesting... well, more than "interesting", but I can't think of the right word... "worthy"? "Powerful"? Powerful, I think that works.

    Very nice work!


    Quote Originally Posted by rolifer
    I have listened to the entire piece unknown countless times and yet I enjoy it each and every time. It just goes to show that there are some really weird people in this world.
    As I said, this sort of music normally isn't quite my cup of tea, but I've tried composing music that's out-of-my-cup-of-tea (my "Green Tree" and "Through A Glass Darkly") and when I did I ended up listening to the pieces so much (both while and after I was composing them) that I love them just because of familiarity. (In fact, part of your first movement here reminds me of a part of "Green Tree" which might be why I like that part.) So I definitely think familiarity counts for a lot, and when you're the composer of something, it's hard not to be the one that is most familiar with the piece. (And, as you said, someone said "the more I listened to it, the less I hated it." Familiarity! Musical/stylistic expectation! )

    That said, I also once wrote a completely random piano piece that I still can't here as music...

    Another EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser-
    and I'm with Sondheim, I really don't Want people to go out of a theatre whistling my tunes.
    Did Sondheim really say that?! His melodies can be extremely memorable and whistleable.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  10. #10

    Re: String Quartet 1st Movement

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser-
    Ron - what am I going to do with you? You keep freaking me out with this stuff!

    C'mon, Ron, quit freaking Randy out!

    I, of course, just really find this one fascinating along with all of your other works. There's a lot of dance-like feel to this 1st mvt. amidst the angst -- I even pictured an evil, dagger-wielding marionette dancing around the room as I listened. Loved the pizz. stuff in this one!

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser-
    ...I'm just an old cornball who likes melody, rhythm, structure, crescendos--the whole corny ball of wax. OK, so I Do like to primarily use chromaticism, and Lots of key changes to the point that key Almost stops making sense
    I, too, for better or for worse, am firmly rooted in tonality (on the signature line of official papers I find myself writing "B-flat"), but I still feel strangely centered, then constantly nudged off center again in all of your pieces. I think that's your intent and it just works terrifically. As for Randy's constant change of key in his pieces -- just his impressive theater chops coming through... he makes that work, impressively and enviably so. I change key about every other Tuesday.

    Quote Originally Posted by rolifer
    I have listened to the entire piece unknown countless times and yet I enjoy it each and every time. It just goes to show that there are some really weird people in this world.
    I think it's really important to reach that place in your own mind where you can listen to your own stuff and say "hmmm, you know, that sounds alright". I think at least a little bit of patting oneself on the back along with a judicious bit of self-loathing helps keep the creative part os our minds fertile -- and you've got just the right amount of fertilizer happening up there, Ron!

    Loved this, looking forward to more!


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