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Topic: Catacombs

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Catacombs

    I have completed the initial draft of “Catacombs” taken from three theatrical pieces written for a locally produced Gothic play. All reverb has been removed and the three selections balanced for volume.

    https://www.box.com/s/e7dc95b39ce4a33d752a

    Catacombs
    I A Lost Spirit
    II Arrival of Father Andrew
    III A Spirit Freed

    Instrumentation is for two flutes, oboe, two clarinets bassoon and base clarinet. The entire piece is written in quartal harmony.

  2. #2

    Re: Catacombs

    well I for one really like this.
    it's a unique and original sound. it's wonderful to hear a composer with such a personal voice.

    the volume on the 1st movement seems a tiny bit loud compared to the others...

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Catacombs

    Thank you QC, for taking the time to listen. I also noticed a slight volume difference with the first movement – yet the oscilloscope shows them to be equal. I checked all play back and post settings and they are the same. I’ll keep looking.

    The main thing, of course, is that you found it interesting. That more than compensates for the work that went into it.

  4. #4

    Re: Catacombs

    Tom! Congratulations on the completion of "Catacombs."

    I've played all three now, and am glad I set aside the time to close my eyes and focus on your sounds as they took me on an interesting, bumpy journey. I don't feel that I was moved from A to B, more that I was jostled around in one location - one with a tilting floor, so I guess I'd say it was a journey without movement.

    I experienced some of my usual fatigue when hearing something so unpredictable as to seem almost meaninglessly random, but could actually always feel the creative mind at work behind the clustered tones and twirling strings of notes, using some measure of control over the proceedings. And so - you've given me an experience I haven't had before, and I thank you for it.

    You said you removed all reverb-- but there's a nice touch still there, sounds like a small room giving just enough air around the instruments so they don't sound unnatural. Or are my ears playing tricks? -- But why would you want to strip recordings of their reverb anyway?-- Ambience is an important element at taking virtual instruments out of their unnatural anechoic non-reverberant raw state - well, except for samples that have room reverb recorded with the notes. Most recordings with absolutely no reverb sound awful, and the lack of natural ambience distracts from the music.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Question Re: Catacombs

    Humm, yes pretty Gothic!

    is it intended to be performed by monitors in a very wet room? Then recording it without any reverb is a must to have them sound right in the room.

    Otherwise I agree with randy of course, the lack of ambience makes the sound mechanic and unreal.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Catacombs

    As to reverb, I have found that the exact same amount of reverb on a piece gets a wide variety of responses from listeners. Recently, on one of the Catacomb pieces I had four people say that it sounded muddy due to the amount of reverb, and five say it needed more reverb. So, I simply removed the Garritan ambience and everyone seemed happy except for one person who had originally said I needed to back off on the reverb now wanted more. Arrrrgh… J

    There is no way to anticipate this. I have noticed that people more oriented to live concert performance seem to like the band-in-a-box sound, while those with a lean toward film and electronic music tend to want less reverb and more compression, which to me sounds very false.

    One publisher prefers a heavier reverb while another literally hates any reverb at all on sampled submissions.

    It also depends on what equipment the listener is using to reproduce the sound. Someone listening via laptop speakers can’t possibly like a heavy reverb.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Catacombs

    Hi Tom,

    I've been listening to the three pieces since the weekend and they are all interesting. Nice job!

    I like the 3rd one best, but they are all nicely written and rendered. I love reeds in just about any size and combination, and your ensemble (and writing) exploits their wide range of color and emotion.

    I'm curious, are these cues completely exposed in the Goth play, or are they used as underscoring (partially or wholly)?

    Interesting sub-thread on reverb. Yes, one's degree of it is VERY subjective! I'm more of a minimilist when it comes to reverb, but agree it has a lot to do with the playback speakers and room. Also, I find a tad more of it is helpful in trying to make virtual instruments sound real.

    I did backing tracks for a live performance musical comedy and I had to play with the reverb in relation to the size of the room so the music wasn't awash with excessive reverb (fortunately I had access to the hall!). I mention all this because recently I started remixing some of those tracks for CD, and I really needed to crank-up the reverb to achieve the ambiance I wanted. One thing's for sure: It will never be "just right" for everyone!

    I enjoyed your pieces ... Regards,

    Frank

  8. #8

    Re: Catacombs

    These are 3 interesting pieces. I also hear a little reverb and like the roomy intimacy of it. (Or maybe, my room and speakers are giving the impression of reverb.) Anyway, I like the quartal harmony employed in these pieces. I like the moodiness of the 1st movement and the playfulness of the 3rd. (I think I am remembering what the movements were. I just listened and was absorbed in their sound and now I am trying to recall what I heard.)

    You have presented 3 excellent examples of what I like about quartal harmony. It has an eerie effect or maybe it's from watching too many Twilight Zone shows as a child and hearing these harmonies in that series that makes the eerie effect always seem to be in quartal music.

    Nice work on these Tom. I enjoyed them. Thanks
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  9. #9
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Catacombs

    Frank,

    Thank you so very much for listening to the pieces. They were each requested by the director to introduce each of the three acts. When I attended the performance I found that he also elected to use the music as background during the scenes to highlight specific pivotal moments. My thought was that the three pieces could now be combined as a show piece for advanced woodwind groups in concert. Catacombs is currently being considered by a European publisher.

    Tom

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Catacombs

    Rich,

    Thank you kindly. It is difficult to approach esoteric topics such as ghosts, religious sanctions and, simply stated, the unknown fields of human thinking. For that reason I decided to use quartal harmony to provide an unstable tonal center and hopefully allow the audience to experience some of the vague uneasiness being presented by the actors on stage. However, I also used curious, quirky rhythms to allow the brain to recognize fun and curiosity especially in the third piece.

    I didn’t actually think in terms of the music being eerie – more along the lines of, “What’s coming next.”

    Mainly, though, I am very pleased that so many have heard them and have found some pleasure at the experience.

    Tom

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