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rolifer
02-07-2010, 08:24 PM
Although I have composed many String Quartets, this is the first one that uses EWQL and is the first one that is Octatonal.

This is just the first 3 1/2 minuts of what may be expanded upon in time. Just not today.

http://composersforum.ning.com/profile/RonaldFerguson

Ron

j.vaughn127
02-08-2010, 12:05 AM
Ronald, I think you need to give your listeners something to hang on to! Maybe I'm out of place for saying this, but rather than octonal, it sounds microtonal. A litle rythym and / or melody would go a long way!

TheRaider
02-08-2010, 12:24 AM
I think that is his "style". If you listen to the other pieces he has written it similar in the lacking a strong common theme. I think it is something you hate or love. It is more a loose stylistic grouping.

Personally it isn't for me but I honestly think that is what he aims for in which case he achieves it.

j.vaughn127
02-08-2010, 12:43 AM
TheRaider, you are correct. It is a matter of style It is also a love it or hate it type style. Even so, with other improvasatonal peices, there is usually something, even if just a little, to grasp. That is, as a listener, what i am asking for. Truly, I am not trying to be disrespectfull and i am talking of this peice only, in this critique.
I know that writting music in this way is a real challenge and I will also be critiqued on these pages. I want to hear those thoughts honestly, good, bad or ugly! Of course with respect.

TheRaider
02-08-2010, 02:04 AM
I know what your saying and agree but I just thought it was intentional based upon listening to a number of songs i have heard by OP.

Wasn't attacking your opinion in any way :)

TGV
02-08-2010, 04:34 AM
Not to be disrespectful either, j.vaughn127, but I do get it. I'm pretty sure it's a matter of experience. I've listened to the whole gamut of string quartets, from Haydn to Scelsi, so to speak, and while this piece is not easy, it is constructed with themes and expositions like many other classical pieces. I think I even hear the A-B-A form.

Rolifer: this is a complex-ish piece. And as an experiment in octatonal music, it is quite a good one. I find the sound as a whole slightly subdued, but expressive enough, and the use of articulations crafty. It has that Second Viennese school sound: not romantic (like Mahler), but not unromantic (like Feldman) either, if you know what I mean. It has a certain personal charm and expression, that I associate with Late Romanticism. Well done.

tedreedy
02-08-2010, 05:23 AM
Rolifer... great! how long did this take you to complete? (be honest) there are lots of articulations and expressions in there.

I liked it! I could never write something like this, (mono) tonality just comes more naturally to me.
but as long as someone like you can do it, I will continue to listen!

my one comment is that sample-wise the bass sounds less dynamic (less articulations, expression) in comparison to the other instruments.

I have a question for everybody... does anyone connect emotionally with this type of music?
I certainly don't.... but it's more of an exercise in active listening and thought for my brain (which I appreciate).

grahamkeitch
02-08-2010, 05:30 AM
Hi Ron,

This works for me, especially the more introspective writing around the 2:10 mark. The transparency of a string quartet makes it a difficult genre to write for and render convincingly - and it's also a style of music a lot of people have difficulty relating to. I enjoyed hearing what you've done so far and look forward to seeing this progress to a complete piece.

Regards, Graham

Responding to tedreedy -- I find this style is something I can connect with emotionally if I understand something of it's background. I also find it easier if the composition as a whole provides changes of mood so that the 'less easy to listen to' passages are put into context. I hope that makes some sort of sense! G

TheRaider
02-08-2010, 06:04 AM
I have a question for everybody... does anyone connect emotionally with this type of music?
I certainly don't.... but it's more of an exercise in active listening and thought for my brain (which I appreciate).

Without a theme it is hard to connect emotionally, unless the emotion is chaotic! So no for me.

His pieces in lot of ways remind me of a freestyle jamming jazz band(or "the wall of noise" sonic youth are so famous for (i mean that respectfully as that is what they are famous for and sold a lot of records with their expermental styles) for an orchestra.

I think the issue with this style is much more appealing to muscians than general listeners IMO. Which is okay if your writing for yourself but restricts your wider auidences.

dcoscina
02-08-2010, 06:26 AM
Not all music has to be homophonic or overtly melodic. Listen to Xenakis' pieces or Ligeti or George Crumb, or Varese. This style is one that pervades in Ron's piece. I also think he was successful in conveying this and got EW to sound very good.

j.vaughn127
02-08-2010, 09:17 AM
I know what your saying and agree but I just thought it was intentional based upon listening to a number of songs i have heard by OP.

Wasn't attacking your opinion in any way :)

I didn't feel that you were attacking my opinion, but thank you for the clarification. I was just trying to clarify also!

[QUOTE=TGV] Not to be disrespectful either, j.vaughn127, but I do get it. I'm pretty sure it's a matter of experience. I've listened to the whole gamut of string quartets, from Haydn to Scelsi, so to speak, and while this piece is not easy, it is constructed with themes and expositions like many other classical pieces. I think I even hear the A-B-A form.[QUOTE]

You are also correct andI know that you are not being disrespectfull either.This is not the first time that my lack of exposure in some areas of music has been shown on these pages. I did state, " I hope I'm not out of place for saying this." Maybe I was, but I want to emphasize that I meant no disrespect and I am fully aware that my opinion is just that, my opinion. I have a lot to learn from everyone here, Ron included.

Ron, I have been to your web page and have listened to other peices that I really did enjoy. Maybe I should commented on those also. I applogize for not doing so, it would have given balence to this opinion!

rolifer
02-08-2010, 09:23 AM
I think one of the greatest things about music is that we can all hear it so differently. I once took my Father to hear an Orchestra play what in my opinion was a piece that was just slightly modern and was astounded when he asked me afterwards why the orchestra even took the time to get in tune before starting. The piece was basically tonal, but used some interesting harmonies that are not commonly used. I loved it while he couldn't wait for it to end.

Whenever I use an Octatonic scale, it is almost always the same one and the structure of the scale is very simple.

I start at C and then go up a half step and include Db. Skip a Half step (D).
Use E and Eb then skip a half step (F).
Use F# and G and skip a half step ((G#)
Use A and Bb and skip a half step (B) to get back to C.

So it is 2 halfsteps, skip a half step, 2 half steps, skip a half step, 2 halfsteps, Etc.

This piece is in an A B A format and is once again based on a Mathematical principle. I almost called it Orthogonal Projection but wanted everyone to know upfront that it was based on an Octatonic scale.

The A part has 8 different motifs that are passed around the players while the B part adds four more motifs and restates four of the motifs from the A part. So it is mostly 8 parts based on 8 notes which is where the projection itself takes place. The piece should probably be composed for 8 players as well but I got too lazy to do the extra work.

I used Elements for the 2 Violins and regualr KS patches for the viola and Cello but I hate having to add the KS note, so both of those instruments do not use as many articualtions as they should. I always end up working between KSs and hit play which goes past the next KS so when I go back, the instrument is not using the right KS so I end up adding tons of KS and it gets confusing. Elements are a lot easier but then I have to work in different tracks and have to do more work to make sure that the patches are all Panned correctly. I used Sonar's Channel Tools in each of the tracks to try to keep everything Panned correctly.

The theme in A and in B are quite obvious to me, but then I have listened to the piece too many times to count. But I rarely like to have themes that are easily recognizable. When I listen to a piece and always know what note comes next, I tend to get bored. I do realize though that most people like that aspect of music and for that reason I know that my music will never be generally accepted by the masses. But all of the techniques I use have been around for a long time and while I know that my music is not original, it is at least not common.

What I see in my mind as I do a piece like this is more easily explained through Math than anything else, but I will try to explain it in a different manner for those less mathematically inclined.

Imagine you are on the top of a mountain looking out and seeing the tops of all of the other mountains extending all the way to the horizon. Now put all of those mountains in motion with some going left to right and some going right to left. Some pass in front of each other and some behind. Some are moving upwards and some downwards. Or use Birds instead of Mountains to get the same picture.

Emotionally speaking, I think this piece brings forth indecision more than anything else. I want my current job to last a long time but I am not sure yet if it is for me. I am a High School Math teacher teaching in a Non-public school for special needs students. It is a very demanding type of teaching that I am not accustomed to and as much as I want this job to be the one, I am not yet convinced that I am the best teacher for these students. I think this piece brings out that emotion.

Since this piece uses a lot of copy and paste, it didn't take very long to do. I usually work at a pace of about 6-10 hours per minute of completed music, whereas this piece was completed in about 6 hours.

I hope this explains the piece a little better and I want to thank each of you for lending me your thoughts about it.

Ron

j.vaughn127
02-08-2010, 10:11 AM
Ron you just taught me a thing or two! Your service to your students, I'm sure you know, is not easily replaced. Thank you for explaining the mathematical concept of this style. As I said, I have a lot to learn. I now understand where the emotional feel was coming from and I see how it correlates with the conflict of this heavy decision! That does give me something to hang on to when listening to this piece. Thank you for your service to the community and your students!

chest
02-08-2010, 12:56 PM
I've only listened four times through, Ron, but, so far, I couldn't recognise what you summarised in your analogy of the moving mountains or birds. And I also failed to notice themes being passed around the instruments. Perhaps I'll perceive more of all that after listening a few more times. But, without that recognition achieved, I'd have believed you if you'd said a lot of the notes were decided by random numbers.

As a piece of music to simply listen to without trying to engage with what you've described, I very much liked the section starting at 2:05 and running to the end (3:25). I'm not sure why I preferred it to the first section - perhaps because it felt slower and had a sparser texture. Also, I particularly liked where the plucked bass part was playing.

I felt a little surprised at the end of each section, when there was a feeling of almost a conventional cadence - and having just played one ending after the other, I've now realised the two sections end rather similarly.

I'll listen a few more times and see if I get to like the first section more, and also see if I do come to perceive the structure that you've described in it.


I'd be interested to know how much you let your mathematical procedures dictate the outcome in a piece like this. For instance, do you ever spend a long time on the maths but later reject the music because you don't like the way it sounds? Do you start with thematic ideas that you invent without recourse to maths and then manipulate them mathematically, or do most aspects come from the mathematical procedures?

rolifer
02-09-2010, 10:09 AM
Chest

I try not to describe a piece too much up front just becuase it will alter the listeners perception of the work. Kind of like how Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle shows that just looking at a particle will alter the particle's velocity or position. Sorry, no more math references. :p

But I will state that each note was carefully chosen, not randomly generated. Most Math majors would be able to state that there really is no such thing as a randomly generated number anyway.

I always post on numerous sites and about half say they like the part you do, while the other half likes the other part. Which just emphasizes my point that we all listen to music differently.




I'd be interested to know how much you let your mathematical procedures dictate the outcome in a piece like this


There is not a huge difference between some types of Mathematics and music. In fact music can be describe in greater detail with Math than with musical notation. But we can't physically hear Math, at least I can't.

For instance, do you ever spend a long time on the maths but later reject the music because you don't like the way it sounds?

I have done this but more often than not, others rejected the music for the stated reason above. :) I have tried some very odd math just to see if it would work and have rejected it because it was just too far out there.

Do you start with thematic ideas that you invent without recourse to maths and then manipulate them mathematically, or do most aspects come from the mathematical procedures?

I do both. Sometimes when I am in the middle of a piece, I realize that it is based on some type of math and then try to let that dictate the rest of the piece. Other times I have started out with a mathematical idea and progressed from there. But usually I have some idea in my head that just wants to get out and I don't pay attention to it mathematically until the piece starts to take form.

I hope I have answered your queries and I thank you for listening and adding your thoughts.

Ron

chest
02-09-2010, 11:13 AM
Thanks, Ron, for that glimpse of your approach to composition - I'm glad you didn't think I was prying too much.

I was very interested to learn that there are roughly equal preferences for the two halves of the piece.

BTW, re "random numbers", I don't expect I could hear the difference between music generated via (hypothetical) unbiassed dice versus (even) Excel's random number function. :)