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Topic: GPO4 solo strings in ten canon.

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  1. #1

    GPO4 solo strings in ten canon.

    I wrote ten short canon as exercises in two and three part counterpoint and thought they canons came out OK so I decided to begin trying my hand at some of the GPO4 instruments. I chose these these 3 solo strings:

    Violin 1 Plr 1
    Viola 1 Plr 2
    Cello 3 Plr 2

    I used Sonar X1 Producer to send MIDI versions of these canons to GPO4 after manually adding and/or 'playing in' some of the various controllers available for these instruments, as well as velocity data. The canons do not necessarily use the same controllers and not all controllers provided by GPO4 were used.

    Audio is here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpLtYdCXuW0

    Let me know what you think and thanks for your time!

  2. #2

    Re: GPO4 solo strings in ten canon.

    Hi, Mabry

    You've done something I've never even tried, canon--! But then, there are a lot of things I haven't tried.

    Here's some feedback, on the music, and then on some technical considerations:

    --As these evolved, I could hear the melody, such as there is in a canon, sounding very pleasant on the violin. Then, as the sections developed, there were some surprising dissonances in the other two lines, almost creating an eerie kind of "off kilter" atmosphere. I couldn't determine if that was the intention or not, but the clashing of notes, a lot of 2nds, kept making this into something with an intriguing kind of macabre feel to it.

    So, I was interested, and it made me wonder what some of your feelings and intentions were as you composed these.

    --The tempo seems very steadily the same throughout. The effect was lulling, and I did find myself wishing for some more variety - but then the sedate (but eerie!) atmosphere may have been disrupted. Whatever the case, I was hoping for some tempo changes.

    --Technically:

    You chose three "player" instruments from GPO. I assume you chose them because you like their sound. But I want to point out that those Player instruments weren't really intended to be soloists. They have a more dull, simple, less natural sound than the instruments designated as solos, because they were designed to be used for filling out ensembles. I think it would be a worthy experiment if you tried playing your files through a violin solo, viola solo, and cello solo - and see if you don't find it more realistic and pleasing to your ears. Just be ware that the viola is much louder in comparison to the other solos - it has to be brought down in a mix to get a good balance.

    I wonder if the panning of these instruments is the default?-- I don't think it is - but whether or not it is, it seems rather strange. The violin is to the extreme left, viola to the extreme right, and cello is in the center. There's nothing wrong with those placements, it's just that they're so wide. Another experiment - try the instruments to the left and right at approximately 40% rather than 100% - I think you'll find the resulting sound more cohesive.

    It could just be my very spotty attendance here, but it seems you're a rare contributor to the Listening Room. I hope you keep experimenting and post more.

    Randy

  3. #3

    Re: GPO4 solo strings in ten canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Here's some feedback, on the music, and then on some technical considerations
    Thanks very much for taking time to listen, think, type and post. I really appreciate it! And thanks for commenting on the actual notes of the canons as well as their GPO-realizations. I was actually looking for more of the latter so the former is a real bonus for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    ...there were some surprising dissonances in the other two lines, almost creating an eerie kind of "off kilter" atmosphere. I couldn't determine if that was the intention or not...So, I was interested, and it made me wonder what some of your feelings and intentions were as you composed these.
    My only intention in these pieces was to continue my study of counterpoint by writing, as exercises, a set of 2 & 3 voice canons; I wasn't really trying to compose a piece of real music. In order to make the exercise a bit more difficult than it might otherwise be, I decided to make most of the canons strict such that each succeeding voice would exactly duplicate the original one's intervals and rhythm (at intervals, for the most part, other than the unison or octave) and also perpetual. The intervals at which the succeeding voices enter were chosen so that any modulation produced due their strict nature would be no more than one key away from the original in either direction on the circle of fifths. For the canons that are perpetual, any such modulation away from the original key would need to followed by a second modulation back to the original, otherwise their endings would not match up properly with their beginnings. Given these constraints (and the amount of time I allowed myself to complete these exercises) I was not able to keep these pieces totally within the bounds that would likely be demanded by most composition teachers. But since I am my own teacher, I gave myself a pass!

    The only real composing that I did was in the selection of the canon themes in that I tried to make them a bit more interesting than those you are likely to see in beginning counterpoint books. Perhaps I should have started with some a bit simpler.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    The tempo seems very steadily the same throughout. The effect was lulling, and I did find myself wishing for some more variety - but then the sedate (but eerie!) atmosphere may have been disrupted. Whatever the case, I was hoping for some tempo changes.
    I didn't really write these exercises as a suite, but after completing them, I did order them on the recording in what seemed like would be the best order for such a suite. I agree that there is a certain sameness in them; three of them use the same subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    But I want to point out that those Player instruments weren't really intended to be soloists...I think it would be a worthy experiment if you tried playing your files through a violin solo, viola solo, and cello solo - and see if you don't find it more realistic and pleasing to your ears.
    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    The violin is to the extreme left, viola to the extreme right, and cello is in the center. There's nothing wrong with those placements, it's just that they're so wide.
    Thanks for all of these tips! And I will contrast and compare these canons using other GPO instruments at different panning levels. I would have liked to put more time into choosing the instruments I used as well as their placement, panning, etc. but the amount of time I spent realizing these canons using GPO & Sonar was probably 3-4 times as much as I spent writing them. Since my main focus right now is the study of composition, I simply did not want to spend any more time on this project.

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    It could just be my very spotty attendance here, but it seems you're a rare contributor to the Listening Room. I hope you keep experimenting and post more.
    I will, as time allows, but probably more from a reviewer standpoint than as composer...or exercise writer!

  4. #4

    Re: GPO4 solo strings in ten canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabry View Post
    ... I wasn't really trying to compose a piece of real music. In order to make the exercise a bit more difficult than it might otherwise be, I decided to make most of the canons strict such that each succeeding voice would exactly duplicate the original one's intervals and rhythm...

    And I will contrast and compare these canons using other GPO instruments at different panning levels...
    That's great, Mabry, that you took the time to reply to me in conversational style to my post. That's the sort of give-and-take that I'd love to see more of on the Forums.

    Here's my take on what can happen when we're working with the sort of harmonics you're talking about while tackling a canon:

    --When voices are echoing what's already established by the first voice, adjustments can be used to massage the resulting layers into something we find musically appropriate and pleasing.

    In other words, if having the succeeding voices play the motif absolutely literally results in some dissonance which isn't fitting the mood we're intending for the piece, then we can feel free to adjust notes and also the rhythm to achieve something more pleasing. The result is that the voices following the first one are actually playing a development of the original motif.

    I don't ever attempt to write in any strictly constrained classical way, so the few "rules" I have are willy nilly, and of my own taste. But what I've tried to describe above is actually my own paraphrase of what I've understood from what classical training I've had.

    What I hear as unexpected dissonance in your canon is because, as you've explained, you were doing this as an exercise, and following some rules very literally. So what I would suggest is that in approaching this again, you could break free from those rules and adjust notes so whatever consonance established at first can be maintained - until you consciously and pointedly decide to make so-called dissonance the choice. As long as what the listener hears doesn't seem accidental, but purposeful, then I think all is well.

    And I'm glad you want to experiment with other GPO instruments. All you need to do really is choose the solo instruments for pieces like this, and narrow the stereo spread - All that takes mere seconds. It's easy to conceptualize the panning - just picture the group of musicians on stage, how they'd be gathered on the stage, but not clinging to the proscenium arches and avoiding each other.

    I really think it's great you carefully went through my earlier response and replied in kind. Everything I've said in this new reply is, as always, "just" my personal opinion. I can only talk about what makes sense to me.

    Thanks again!
    Randy

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