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Old 07-26-2012, 02:26 AM
Alex Kindel Alex Kindel is offline
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Default Octet Arrangements

I am interested in arranging-and perhaps later composing-for New Violin Family. How can I make my work available to ensembles who might be interested in performing it? I considered sending it directly to Octavivo, but I cannot seem to find their contact information.

I have made one arrangement already. I would appreciate the input of someone experienced with this ensemble on the effectiveness of the scoring. Here is the score of the original version. The movement I arranged begins on page 210. The bass part is designed for instruments tuned in fifths, and the contrabass, low fourths (B-E-A-D), but it would be a simple matter to adjust them for other tunings. I would also like to know if I have followed the conventions for details like abbreviations and clef usage.
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:32 PM
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rjspear rjspear is offline
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Greetings, Alex, and welcome to the forum!

First of all, are you using Sibelius? I'd love to have a .sib file (or .xml?) that I can load into my program. That would allow me to make a much better response.

You have put quite a bit of work into an arrangement that calls for a large orchestra. Right now, there are no groups of that size that meet regularly except the one in Ithaca, and that only forms for a few months each summer (most of the time )

What I would suggest to you, based on what I see as the critical needs for the foreseeable future, is to arrange pieces for smaller ensembles with one player on a part. Specifically, quintets and sextets. We need to build up a body of repertoire that would utilize the soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor, and baritone, with the smaller bass added for six-part writing. Most groups that might be forming will likely not have the very smallest or very largest instruments at first, and there is a great need for music arranged for these ensembles.

I am not sure this answers all your questions, but please continue the dialog.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:46 AM
Alex Kindel Alex Kindel is offline
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I am using Sibelius. Here is the .sib file. Note that the parts are formatted incorrectly-the way I notated the divisis can display properly in the score or the parts, but not both at the same time. Also note, for what it's worth, that I have not optimized the score for playback.

I started with that piece because it is impossible to arrange effectively for a standard string section. It is difficult to find music that has more to gain than it does to lose in arrangement for smaller forces. The problem with arranging chamber music is that the content tends to be closely tailored to the ensemble. In my experience, an arrangement will rarely be as idiomatic as the original. The problem with arranging larger ensemble music for chamber forces, of course, is that it must usually be watered down. As far as the repertoire for small ensembles is concerned, I think I would be better off composing original pieces.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:02 AM
Alex Kindel Alex Kindel is offline
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By the way, I had the group in Ithaca specifically in mind when I made the arrangement.
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Old 07-27-2012, 02:07 PM
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rjspear rjspear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Kindel View Post
I am using Sibelius. Here is the .sib file. Note that the parts are formatted incorrectly-the way I notated the divisis can display properly in the score or the parts, but not both at the same time. Also note, for what it's worth, that I have not optimized the score for playback.

I started with that piece because it is impossible to arrange effectively for a standard string section. It is difficult to find music that has more to gain than it does to lose in arrangement for smaller forces. The problem with arranging chamber music is that the content tends to be closely tailored to the ensemble. In my experience, an arrangement will rarely be as idiomatic as the original. The problem with arranging larger ensemble music for chamber forces, of course, is that it must usually be watered down. As far as the repertoire for small ensembles is concerned, I think I would be better off composing original pieces.
This is quite a massive effort, and few would know better than I just how much work something like this takes. Congratulations! I am also aware of Sibelius' little quirks between score and parts, in particular that you can write the piccolo (treble) violin in score and have it play back an octave higher, but it will appear written at pitch in the part. Of course, dropping the octave in the part, which you want for ease of reading, will cause Sibelius to drop it octave in the score, which you don't want! I'll have to speak with them about this.

Arranging for an ensemble like the New Family Orchestra is a moving target since we rarely know from year to year how many players we will have in total and how they will be divided among the sections. We had to cancel our summer concert this year because we did not have enough soprano and mezzo players. When I looked at the portion of your score where the sopranos are divided into four parts and saw that we'd probably need a minimum of eight sopranos, I realized that it might be a while before we attain a size needed to play such a piece.

For what it's worth, what I do in looking for music to arrange is first to see that the composition was written or first performed before 1924 and is in the public domain. Then I look to see if the composer has been straining for resources, which I can tell if I see a lot of divisi writing, particularly in the violas and cellos.

I have tended to stay away from large orchestral works because the writing for the woodwinds and brasses often exploits their timbre. For example, the second movement of Nielsen's Aladdin Suite works wonderfully in the New Family Orchestra for strings only. The Marketplace at Ispahan from the same suite, which has four separate ensembles playing against one another, gains a clarity and definition because of the wind sounds. When writing for a group like ours that has a very homogenous sound, it doesn't come off nearly as well.

When I arrange a piece of chamber music, I have a terrible fault in that I always hear everything as if it were being played by a larger ensemble. This not only works in my head, but also in practice. To me, the Bach Ricecare a6 sounds as wonderful with one on a part as it does with four on a part.

I always tell people that some good arrangements will show the group well, but that I think it would sound best playing music written expressly for it by a composer who has had some experience with the instruments. The results so far have been a mixed bag. It can be problematic whether an original composition would get played or not. To be frank, pieces for smaller ensembles have a way better chance at this point, as do pieces that explore the new family's strengths.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:34 PM
Alex Kindel Alex Kindel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjspear View Post
I am also aware of Sibelius' little quirks between score and parts, in particular that you can write the piccolo (treble) violin in score and have it play back an octave higher, but it will appear written at pitch in the part. Of course, dropping the octave in the part, which you want for ease of reading, will cause Sibelius to drop it octave in the score, which you don't want! I'll have to speak with them about this.
It is possible to create a treble violin instrument that displays in the correct octave in both the score and the parts through the Edit Instruments dialog under House Style.

One could also start with a different instrument that transposes the same way, like a soprano recorder, then rename it in the score, and, if so inclined, change the playback sound. The only possible concern with that method is that the highlighting of out-of-range notes is incorrect, which is, of course, irrelevant once the music is printed.

Last edited by Alex Kindel; 07-27-2012 at 07:50 PM.
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  #7  
Old 08-03-2012, 05:00 AM
Alex Kindel Alex Kindel is offline
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Here is some more Mahler, arranged for small ensembles:
"Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!"
"Ich atmet' einen linden Duft"
"Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"
"Liebst du um Schönheit"
"Um Mitternacht"

I'm not sure about my scoring in "Liebst du um Schönheit", but I think the rest would come off well. Most of Mahler's lieder would probably work for similar forces.

These arrangements require mutes. Do they exist for all New Violin Family instruments?

Last edited by Alex Kindel; 08-03-2012 at 08:42 PM.
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