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Topic: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

  1. #1

    John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    Hi all,

    Here is my most recent composition. Being my first extended work featuring harp, it proved to be a challenging but rewarding experience. My aim with this work was to further develop the harmonic language in my String Quartet, which was quite a task considering the harp is often thought to be a rather harmonically limited instrument. However, despite my initial concern about these "limitations," I discovered that one can write harp music that is *very* chromatic and pushes tonal boundaries

    My harmonic language is based primarily on polytonality, which I used extensively in this work. The main "key" of the work is E, which is juxtaposed rather constantly with the key of Eb throughout the piece (particularly in the fourth movement).

    The first movement ("Rubato") begins by introducing the main theme of the work, which appears both directly and subtly in all of the movements. The movement continues to develop freely, moving the theme through an assortment of variations before reaching a climax. The intensity of the music quickly drops, leading to a transitional section where rhythmic and thematic motives from the second movement are introduced quietly. The movement ends unresolved and the second movement begins abruptly, a dance-like scherzo characterized by a motive based on alternating 5/8 and 6/8 meters. The third movement ("Adagio") features the harp extensively and places a greater emphasis on textural experimentation. Building up to a dramatically virtuosic section for the harp, the music fades to nothing and is followed by another transitional section which emphasizes the polychords that are featured prominently in the fourth movement (the aforementioned E-Eb, and also Eb-G). The fourth movement ("Presto") moves perpetually, eventually reaching a climax where the cello plays the main theme of the work adorned by polytonal harp flourishes. After falling back down to pianissimo, the beginning section of the "Presto" returns. The music builds once more and then ends quietly, with the cello resolving in E and the harp in Eb.

    Thanks in advance for any feedback!


    Please visit my website - www.johncareycomposer.com

  2. #2

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    Fixed the post because it was messy and the site wasn't letting me edit it last night. By the way, I should probably mention that both of the instruments are from Garritan Personal Orchestra.
    Please visit my website - www.johncareycomposer.com

  3. #3

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    Hi John.
    What an interesting composition!
    By the way, I should probably mention that the sound of the Garritan solo cello is not at the best.
    I hope that this kind of fine compositions like yours will push Garritan to release a set of solo strings to spread all the rendering quality they deserve.
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  4. #4

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    a very fine work.
    it is quite difficult to write idiomatically for harp when one is not a harpist. you seem to be doing a fine job of it!

    and your engraving is beautiful as well. one comment on the score: in a chamber work of this nature, don't put the abbreviated staff names. name the instruments in the first indented staff, then no staff name is needed until the next movement, where you indent the first staff and include the staff names once more.

  5. #5

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    I truly laud you "classical" guys. Your modern day approach to this genre is nothing short of amazing! I'm sure even Beethoven, Bach and Brahms would be awestruck at some of the work that is posted here. I often wondered how some of the Masters would take to the way music is composed in the 21st century. Would they love it or hate it? One can only guess.

    Most of my music is of the "Pop" genre, but I love classical music and always have. I can often hear similarities in style between the old guys and the new guys, but the new stuff is every bit a passionate as the music made in the days when you had to wait until you could get a full orchestra together to even hear what your creation sounds like.

    John. Your music is fresh and brilliant but at the same time retains a bit of the rustic beauty of the music made by the old school guys mentioned above. The minimal use of cello and harp never gets boring and I love how the emotion is conveyed through the use of the dynamics and key changes. Just as Beethoven and Chopin mastered their writing and arranging techniques, you have too. I've listened with intense curiosity to the first movement here and was held captive by every note. I plan to listen to all of it over a (short) period of time, but I had to comment now. This is nothing short of amazing.

    John B.

  6. #6

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    Thank you everyone for your kind remarks! Any ideas on how to improve the sound of the solo strings?
    Please visit my website - www.johncareycomposer.com

  7. #7

    Re: John Carey -- Sonata for Cello and Harp

    John, Thanks for sharing all your music with us. However, I think you will get a better response (or more people) listening to your music if you submit one piece at a time as it takes a while to listen to all of it at once. Some of us just don't have the time and there are many contributors, although I did manage to listen to the first two pieces!

    All that aside, I would highly encourage you to keep at this as you do have a talent for this. There is a spark and intensity to your music which i really like. Finding a cello to do your compositions justice is "very" important. If you can find a copy of the now discontinued Gofriller Cello put out by Garritan, grab it, the results will be like night and day. When you learn how to use it properly, it is head and shoulders above anything else out there, imho.

    Music happens to be an art form that transcends language. - Herbie Hancock


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