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Topic: House of Usher

  1. #1

    House of Usher

    This is my first post, but I've been a silent listener in this forum for almost a year. I generally write musical-type stuff that doesn't lend itself to using any garritan sounds. However, I'm working on a musical based on Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher" and one of my jobs was to have Usher himself write a piece in a slightly anachronistic 1830's romantic style that would still fit in a musical of sorts. This is a first draft.

    He plays the piece on piano and the rest will be piped in via speaker as he describes it. The vibrato strings at the end are stand-ins for what should be a "choir of 50,000" that I'm working on.... Usher's mental-state inspiration was "Scriabin," and that's where I got the title as well.

    I would appreciate any sort of feedback- both compositional and otherwise. I'm looking for some good explosion sounds for the cannonade in the middle, if anyone knows of any.


    Click on "mysterium"


  2. #2

    Re: House of Usher

    I had to clink because I have also been sketching - for far too many years - a suite or overture (a la Tchaikowsky) based on the "Fall of the House of Usher". Will it ever be finished? God only knows.

    While I enjoyed your piece it sounds a bit more advanced than 1830s style, but I'm sure that is to keep it fitting with the rest of the style of the musical?

    Question: Is this piece to depict a scene from the story or just a hypothetical creation of Mr. Usher? I don't recall a battle scene. I do know that Usher played a grotesque and amplified version of the Last Waltz of Carl Maria von Weber - did some research on that piece and tracked it down and found a person near Washington who regularly visits the Library of Congress to make a photocopy and mail me the guitar part - for free! Great guy. It was evidently a popular piece during Poe's lifetime, written by a nobody and now virtually lost to posterity. I thought it would be nice to throw in the actual piece - grotesquely amplified, of course.

  3. #3

    Re: House of Usher

    Hi Mike,

    Sorry, but I can't find a structure here.

    Best wishes,

  4. #4

    Re: House of Usher

    A warm welcome aboard, Mike!

    Quite a lot of power and enthusiasm in the writing (though
    in the rendering, you might watch your levels more

    This has certainly got the drama, drive, and grist for a
    musical production... a lot of grand source material in this.

    As for period, it depends how you're using the word,
    romantic. With an uppercase, Romantic, well, that period
    began around 1800-1825, depending who you ask; but
    much of the writing is more toward 1850-1900 or so,
    in my opinion, technically the Late Romantic.

    In a musical, though, such distinctions are hardly of
    great import; keeping the audience drooling is more to
    the mark... lol.

    Nice work on this, a lot of good material -- now you
    need to get in there and get to work on refining and

    Keep it coming...

    All my best,

    David Sosnowski

  5. #5

    Re: House of Usher

    Hello "Muppy" Mike

    I've rearranged my schedule enough so I can visit the Forum more often. Visiting the Listening Room has always been for me the heart and soul of what goes on here.

    So this morning, going to the back pages, I'm looking at subject lines to somewhat randomly catch at least some of the music I've missed.

    Being a Poe fan, I just Had to hear what you've come up with.

    Drama! That's certainly an element here, both explicit and as an implied potential.

    I can see why "Taylorchandler" was wishing for more structure. I would say what you have here is more an episodic series of phrases, not all that cohesively put together. There is a repeating motif, but it's a rather bare chord progression without a melodic (or non-melodic) line weaving the chords together. Those repeating chords do seem like the most promising element on which to build an actual theme.

    "Et Lux" very accurately suggested you need to watch your levels. Starting around 2:30, the percussion enters with distortion and stays that way until it subsides. The whole track is extremely hot, and ultimately in the red - which doesn't create a very pleasant sound to listen to.

    Remember that volume is all relative. When mixing your projects, start setting your levels by working on the loudest section first. Once you've kept those peaks out of the red, then the rest of the piece is lower in volume on a relative basis. When those loud sections enter, they'll be very dramatically different than the softer ones. Our ears adjust to the particular decibel range of the recording. What you're doing is starting out loud, maximum actually, and then trying to go even louder - you haven't left yourself any head room.

    Two things from your post I don't understand:

    --You said you write "musical type stuff that doesn't lend itself to using any Garritan sounds." I've written for the stage, and the Garritan Libraries, GPO especially, are exactly what's needed - Theatre music is generally orchestral. Why do you say you're writing for the stage--I think that's what you meant by "musical type stuff"--but don't think orchestral instruments are needed. - ? -

    --You said "...I'm looking for some good explosion sounds for the cannonade in the middle, if anyone knows of any..." I think you mean you're wanting sound effects? Why not compose this explosive section, as you've started to here with the drums? You're writing music - use the palette of instruments in GPO to actually compose the cannonade--brass, percussion, even woodwinds. Wouldn't that be more interesting than layering in literal explosive sound effects? Classical music is full of exciting examples where weather, battles, sound environments of various sorts have been interpreted through music by a composer. I think that's the lead to follow for something like this.

    I hope you come back. I see you didn't reply to the folks who took a listen before me. This is the place where musicians, composers, home recording enthusiasts of all sorts hang out. We hope you join back in.

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: House of Usher


    Some good ideas and thoughtfully produced.

    I would really take heed on the "levels" though. As
    already mentioned, a lot of good phrases structurally,
    but some development and "transitory" material needed.

    Like to hear this again when completed.

    Welcome to the listening room, Mike.

    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 25.5, DORICO 1.2.10, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.51, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Penfield (Rochester), NY

    Re: House of Usher


    Off to a really good start. I lot a lot of what you have put into this and the way it develops. Good use of the sound libraries as well.

    I do believe that you are clipping a bit at the high energy sections.



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