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Topic: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

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  1. #1
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Hi there;
    I have been working on "The Planets", the orchestral suite by Gustav Holst, English 1874 - 1934.
    Besides "Mars - Bringer of War", there is Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. The work is based on the Astrological, rather than the Astronomical, thus there is no "Earth" and Holst didn't write one for Pluto because it had yet to be discovered at the time he wrote the suite. He was still alive when Pluto was discovered but refused to reopen the file and write one for it. Since his passing, Pluto has been discounted as an entity qualifying for "Planet" status. Holst did not think "The Planets" was his best work, yet it is by these pieces he has become, arguably the best known of 20th Century English composers.
    I have learned Holst liked big, powerful orchestras and utilized every percussion instrument available. He also had a penchant for using any instrument which had a name prefixed with either "Double" or "Contra".
    There were 6 Timpani, 2 Harps, Bass Drum etc.
    Holst - Mars

    If you long for lighter fare, here is Nights in Paris
    The video on You Tube is near 9 mins long and pays homage to Daniel Frasnay, photographer. These photos selected from his collaboration with writer Jan Brusse in the 1957 book called "Nights in Paris" ( Nachten van Parijs ) published by A. W. Bruna & Zoon, Utrecht.

    My brother made the video using these black and white photos taken by Frasnay during the 1950's and depict night life out on the town in Paris, France. I helped out by providing my renders of jazz pieces, using my newly acquired JABB2.
    The pieces used are, "Twentieth Century Stomp" anon, "Gentle Rain" by Luiz Bonfa, (my fave), and to fill in the last minute and a half, I knocked out some blues, again using the JABB2.
    Caution: Adult Content - Viewer Discretion is advised.

    Best regards,
    sd cisco

  2. #2

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Nice job on the Holst piece. It's funny because I broke out my score last week and started looking at this sometimes forgotten gem. Thanks too for the background on the piece. I started doing some research as well and read that it's thought the instrumentation was influenced by Stravinsky in terms of the number of forces (quadruple winds).

    I also read that another composer wrote "Pluto" but don't recall who that was. This same composer changed the end of the last movement (name escapes me) to go right into Pluto.

    Nice job again. You eased into the tempo I typically hear it performed. This piece also represents what I think is one of the greatest challenges for computer based music/recordings. That is the number of instruments playing at any given time is sometimes too much to tame so to speak. It's hard to get the clarity that a "real" recording brings but you've done an admirable job here.

    One suggestion if I may. Some of the brass and wind attacks are a bit harsh so maybe bringing down velocity a bit would help with realism. That's pretty picky and it's tedious to do I know.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Steve Winkler

  3. #3

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Hi sd,

    Very good job!!

    I liked it very much!!!

    Fred.
    There is no spoon.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Hi Steve;
    Thanks for listening and your comments! Since I started working on these pieces from The Planets I have created multiple versions of each piece as I struggle to get it right. Good work (and ears) on your part for noticing the tempo was slower than often is the case in performances/recordings of Mars. I felt that when it was rushed, the deliberate intensity of the music was somewhat lost. This particular version is also more raucous than the others I attempted, not tamed so much and not worry so much about the bite of the brass, in the interest of trying to sync with what the composer was aiming for. There is a section near the beginning, where the orchestra builds in a sort of jerking, reluctant manner, and then bursts forth with a very determined militaristic-like march. It is as if he was trying to get across the reluctance the allies felt, before finally plunging into both World Wars, fairly frothing at the mouth!

    Best regards,
    sd cisco

  5. #5
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    HI Fred;
    Thank your for listening - I am glad you liked it! Of all the pieces that comprise The Planets, the one which is said to be Holst's favourite, is Saturn.
    And of all the pieces, Saturn is the most difficult for me to sort out and understand what its true "shape" is. I tried a couple of renders of Saturn, then compared them to recordings available. There was a a general miss-match and I realize I will need to really listen to it many times to try to become familiar enough with the piece that I can actually find my way through to a good production of it.
    I have completed a passable version of Jupiter and Uranus and feel that Mercury is within my grasp, while, variously, Saturn and Venus and Neptune all have some aspect or other which make it hard to complete them and feel good about it, so far at least.

    Best regards,
    sd cisco

  6. #6

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Hi sd cisco,

    very nice recording! I also like the not-too-fast tempo - keeps the tension up. In some cases you might do a bit of an acceleration, to create a bit of "getting-drawn-in.

    One further suggestion: the notes, notably the brass, are often plaid just straight, without any modulation through controller 1/11. I would add a bit of those, to achieve a realistic effect of emphasis. For example, at a long note, I would start full, then reduce the expression, then at the end go again full. Or the other way round, depends on the musical context.One thing is when the instruments are always played straight, there is no headroom left for increased volume. The full flat-out I would then only use at the climax, when the loudest parts are reached.

    But overall a wonderful and intense recording!

    Reinhold

  7. #7

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    I just finished listening I think it was very good, but I am primarily interested what you did for the strings playing col legno throughout. Did you just leave them out? Replace them with something else? I assume this was done with GPO and I can hear the tam tam beating in the background, just wondering if there was something else I was hearing.

    BTW, interesting interpretation on the meaning as it relates to war, for anyone who is interested the oxford handbook of the piece has a lot of background info, and indeed many audiences felt at the time that the first movement, Mars, was commentary on the mechanical destruction and death of the first world war(as it was written long before the Second war happened). Indeed it was a common feeling at the time that the first world war, being the first in which modern industrial technology was used was a real opener to the horrors of the whole process, which, is, of course, captured perfectly by the dissonant meter and chords.

    Job well done!

  8. #8

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Quite a project SD and a very successful outcome.

    Your orchestra sounded really good and I like the reverb
    you used. This particular selection from "The Planets" is
    very dramatic and your more than achieved that goal in
    your mock-up recording.

    Great job SD Cisco.

    Jack
    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 2014.5, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.5, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  9. #9

    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    BTW for all who are interested in was Collin Matthews who did Pluto, and Simon Riddle has a recording with that and 4 other songs related to other spatial bodies, however, I don't like the recording as much as the one I have by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra as I feel it is too slow.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Re: Holst - Mars + optional JABB with some adult content.

    Reinhold;
    Thanks for listening and for your remarks! I agree with them for the most part. I had aimed for a slightly less raucous result, but each time, when I tamed it, so to speak, then I found myself losing interest in the piece, and thus kept getting drawn back to this more intense version. So, like everything else I do, nothing gets away much as a "one-off", but more like generating a series of versions, each one representing an effort to make an improvement, but sometimes can also invoke other problems, (aka "Backfire!"). I think I'm just in it for the kicks!!

    Best regards,
    sd cisco

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