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Topic: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

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  1. #1
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    Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    This is a bit of an experiment. I have some ideas about art song and song cycles that I am working towards and this is the next step. A few of you….

    …Wait…. First and most important, I am not much of a singer, but I think I have to have vocals on this because only by having the words and music together do you get the unified whole. Don’t let my warning scare you off, just be aware that I realize my voice leaves something to be desired. Now back to the discussion….

    A few of you may remember an “art song” I posted last year (Theme Song). This is the next step – a song, created around a poem written to be set to music, designed from the beginning to be orchestrated.

    There are a few differences between the two songs. Most obviously is that the first, Theme Song, was for piano and voice while this one, Black-eyed Susan, was written for orchestra and voice. (Orchestra: piccolo, 2 flutes, Eb Clarinet, 2 Bb Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 horns, Euphonium, 2 Trumpets, Timpani, Orchestral Bells, Glockenspiel, Strings).

    Another difference is I wrote the poem for this one:

    Black-eyed Susan
    Trent P. McDonald

    Everywhere I go
    You greet me
    Staring
    With your flame-rimmed eye
    A little sun
    Come to warm me
    All summer,
    Cares washed away

    I look for you
    This morning
    I look for you
    In ice-rimmed leaves
    I look for you
    In fields and houses
    I look for you
    In vain

    By the path
    A patch of brown
    Memories
    Of summer heat
    I see
    Your burnt-out core
    The fire’s gone
    From your eye

    Everywhere I’d go
    You’d greet me
    Staring
    With your flame-rimmed eye
    Your little sun
    No longer warms me
    Fall has come
    Winter, nigh

    This was written specifically to be turned into a song.

    Black-eyed Susan is also written more for tenor while Theme Song is for Baritone. BES is also easier to sing, at least for the most part – a couple of notes are slightly out of my range (well within tenor range) and the whole tone scale (while the background chords include notes not in the scale) was a little tough for me to sing (you’ll hear what I am talking about and smile at how out of tune I am there). Overall, though, it was much simpler.

    There are other differences. For instance, this is one of my few pieces (so far) to end in a far different key (b minor) than the one in which it began (F Major).

    Anyway here it is. Actually, here are two versions – I included one with a cello substituting for the voice in case the voice version is too painful (do give it a try, though). The one with the voice does have the cello in the background – occasionally it is clearly audible.

    Black-eyed Susan (Voice)
    Black-eyed Susan (cello solo)

    Any comments, good, bad or ugly are welcome.

    (A black-eyed Susan is a type of flower, daisy-like with yellow petals and a black center.)
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Trent

    The Black-Eyed Susan is Maryland's official flower.

    When the second leg of horse racings Triple Crown (The Preakness) is run in Baltimore, the winning horse gets draped in what is supposed to be Black-eyed Susans. Only they are not in bloom yet, so they take regular daisies and paint the centers black. (I know, who cares. Just worthless trivia).

    I have only listened to the instumental so far and like it. I will try to get back soon and listen to the vocals as well.

    Well done

    Ron

  3. #3
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    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Quote Originally Posted by rolifer View Post
    Trent

    The Black-Eyed Susan is Maryland's official flower.

    When the second leg of horse racings Triple Crown (The Preakness) is run in Baltimore, the winning horse gets draped in what is supposed to be Black-eyed Susans. Only they are not in bloom yet, so they take regular daisies and paint the centers black. (I know, who cares. Just worthless trivia).

    I have only listened to the instumental so far and like it. I will try to get back soon and listen to the vocals as well.

    Well done

    Ron
    Hi Ron. Glad you liked the instrumental version.

    Last year I saw more of these flowers than ever before – they were everywhere. I went away for a 4-day weekend in early October and when I got back, all of the black-eyed Susans were gone, like somebody flicked a switch and they all disappeared.

    Anyway, thanks for giving it a listen.
    Trent P. McDonald

  4. #4

    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Hi Trent,

    First of all, yes, I DID give the vocal version a try... and I have to say you certainly did a passable job. You definitely got the idea across virtually pain-free (not easy with that melodic content!).

    That being said, I think this would be just outstanding with a trained operatic tenor giving it a go. The harmonic adventure that this song goes on is very, very intriguing to the ear. Cleverly written and very well rendered also. I really enjoyed this, Trent! Thanks for posting...

    Danny

  5. #5
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    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Quote Originally Posted by DDW View Post
    Hi Trent,

    First of all, yes, I DID give the vocal version a try... and I have to say you certainly did a passable job. You definitely got the idea across virtually pain-free (not easy with that melodic content!).

    That being said, I think this would be just outstanding with a trained operatic tenor giving it a go. The harmonic adventure that this song goes on is very, very intriguing to the ear. Cleverly written and very well rendered also. I really enjoyed this, Trent! Thanks for posting...

    Danny
    Thanks, Danny, for braving the vocal version. Maybe before I go too much farther in my experiments with songs I will be able to get somebody who actually knows what they’re doing to sing for me.

    I wanted this to be pretty chromatic and have a bit of tonal ambiguity while staying well within the world of tonal music so I’m glad you liked the “harmonic adventure” (I like that phrase).

    Thanks again for listening and for the kind words.
    Trent P. McDonald

  6. #6

    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Trent, while I confess I'm not any authority on "art songs",
    I thought the writing in this -- the color, the punctuation,
    the control, the fit to the vocal part -- all superbly
    done. This would be a real standout in live performance,
    no question of it!

    A creditable job on the vocals, as well. In addition to the
    fact that the entire forum thanks you for not having me
    sing the part, one might consider that "art songs" in most
    times were more often done by amateur rather than by
    polished professional talent...

    I was quite impressed with the piece, Trent!

    My best,



    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

  7. #7
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    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux View Post
    Trent, while I confess I'm not any authority on "art songs",
    I thought the writing in this -- the color, the punctuation,
    the control, the fit to the vocal part -- all superbly
    done. This would be a real standout in live performance,
    no question of it!

    A creditable job on the vocals, as well. In addition to the
    fact that the entire forum thanks you for not having me
    sing the part, one might consider that "art songs" in most
    times were more often done by amateur rather than by
    polished professional talent...

    I was quite impressed with the piece, Trent!

    My best,



    David
    www.DavidSosnowski.com
    Thanks for listening David.

    Although I spent a lot of time playing with harmony – both large scale key areas and individual chords – those things you spoke of - the color, the punctuation, the control, the fit to the vocal part – are where I spent most of my time, so I’m happy to see somebody thinks I got them right. The idea was to paint a picture of the words, or the hidden meanings behind the words (I'm currently studying Wagner...), with the orchestra.

    Thanks again for listening and for your kind comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  8. #8

    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Hi Trent,

    This is an ambitous piece of work - but you have pulled it off superbly. The poem, orchestration and vocals too, are most effective. This is just the right treatment for this genre and deserves a live performance. I particularly enjoyed the orchestration which was colourful and supportive of the vocal line.

    The cello version made an interesting comparison - but for me, the vocals are a vital part of this.

    Congratulations and regards, Graham

  9. #9
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    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamKeitch View Post
    Hi Trent,

    This is an ambitous piece of work - but you have pulled it off superbly. The poem, orchestration and vocals too, are most effective. This is just the right treatment for this genre and deserves a live performance. I particularly enjoyed the orchestration which was colourful and supportive of the vocal line.

    The cello version made an interesting comparison - but for me, the vocals are a vital part of this.

    Congratulations and regards, Graham
    Hi Graham.

    Thanks for stopping by and listening.

    I agree that vocals are vital - even though my voice isn’t very good I put the vocal as the primary version because I know that the only way to really make sense of it all is to match the words to the music.

    I hope I can find a music directory (or a tenor) somewhere that agrees this deserves to be heard live.

    Thanks again for listen and for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  10. #10
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    Re: Orchestrated Song - Black-eyed Susan

    Trent,

    ....wait...your voice is quite nice. As an orchestral art song this is excellent work. Compositionally, it has a slight feel of Mahler's art songs. Nice orchestration and rendering, too. Bravo.

    Bill
    Never look at the trombones. It only encourages them. Richard Strauss

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