Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Music: The Gathering pt. II

Part One - Torekon, Cont'd
Well, I got the judge score & comment sheet for my tune, "Per'anai". It was a different judge from the one who took care of "Glowing Zone" (Links to both tunes below), and he seemed stricter. The score was less than that for "Glowing Zone", which was disappointing, but it was still better than what I got for my submissions last year. The judge didn't pull any punches with his comments, but he made some very detailed suggestions, which I appreciated. What I really found interesting was his recommendation to study the works of Joseph-Maurice Ravel (composer of "Bolero") for ideas on how to make my harmonic progression more interesting. (For the record, I have used "Bolero" as the basis for a tune I arranged for the orchestra, so I guess I've done that to some degree. Still a very interesting suggestion, though!) On the other hand, I was baffled by the judge's remark that my "simulated sax sound" didn't really fit the mood of the piece. (For the record, I used a real saxophone!!!) He went on to say that the tone of the sax over a minor triad progression made the tune sound too much like Japanese enka music. I can see where he's coming from with that, but I guess it's all a matter of taste.

Still, between "Glowing Zone" and "Per'anai", my results this year were a bit better than last year. I also learned some things. Better luck next time!

Part Two - Getting My Phil
Well, it seems that the repertoire for the next Kashima Philharmonic concert has been decided, at least for the time being. It includes:
  • The first movement of Beethoven's 6th symphony, "Pastorale",
  • Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks",
  • The second movement from Haydn's 101st symphony, known as "The Clock",
  • Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
They're also doing a relatively modern brass fanfare I've never heard of and a strings-only piece I haven't yet identified.

"Pastorale" is musically challenging in the clarinet part, but I'm not too worried about it. "Music for the Royal Fireworks" is a Baroque-era tune (i.e. no clarinets), so it's not my problem. "The Clock" requires discipline, but it isn't difficult.

Then there's that Dukas monstrosity...

I've always loved "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", and I even conducted it when the Ye Olde Academy orchestra did it, but it's nasty on the performers. It requires a lot of playing power in terms of endurance, control, and technique. The clarinet part quickly goes from occasional, percussive pops to flying all over the place at breakneck speed. I realize we've really only just started working on it, but I'm seriously worried. Especially with the recurring nerve problems I have with my left hand plus stiffness in my fingers on both hands, I have no confidence that I'll be able to do this. My fingers just won't move that way at that speed, especially over and over again in quick succession. I probably need new hands and a cerebellum upgrade to pull this one off. I'm more than happy to have a challenge like this to try to tackle, but...will I be able to do this in the end? Right now I have serious misgivings.

Then again, I expressed similar misgivings with the joint-breaking clarinet parts in the 1812 Overture and later with Smetana's "Vltava" ("Moldau"), and I did manage to pull those tunes off. I guess we'll see.


  • Good luck - although I am sure you don't really need it!

    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 5:42 PM  

  • I am glad you got detailed feedback and it sounds like the criticism had some real substance.

    Regarding your next challenge, I guess all you can do is keep a close eye on it and do all you can to keep your hand working.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 8:20 AM  

  • Oh, I'm sorry to hear about the nerve problems in your hand. Have you tried any treatment for it?

    BTW, if my roomie needed some music written for a project, would you be willing?

    By OpenID nikkipolani, at 12:28 PM  

  • Rock Chef
    Thanks! I appreciate it!

    The comments were most definitely substantive, and I appreciated it even if they were just a few notches shy of Simon Cowell. I did, after all, circle "blunt" for the comment level. (Yes, there was such an option on the application form.)

    It's not really that serious. I don't have trouble with tingling keeping me awake at night, etc.. It's just that use of my left hand can become less reliable if I work it too much. A few years ago those fast runs in the 1812 Overture left it so weak and shaky that I wound up basically bricking the clarinet solo in the "Waltz of the Flowers" (which I'd played successfully before). On the other hand, the sprint-fest that is Holst's "Jupiter" was no trouble at all two years ago. "Vltava" last year had me extremely worried, but I got through it without a hitch. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", however, is already causing problems in rehearsals. A lot of the quick runs are right where my left hand has to do the most work. I've figured out a few things I can do to help, but all I can do is try my best.

    Music for a project? What sort of project? And what kind of music? :)

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:32 PM  

  • Well, I do hope you don't exacerbate the wrist/hand problem and that it improves :-)

    As for projects, sometimes she needs between 2 to 5 minutes of music for a video project. The music varies: sometimes something quiet and back-ground-ish and other times something upbeat and more assertive. Depends on the project. Just wondering if you'd be interested.

    By OpenID nikkipolani, at 10:26 PM  

  • Nikkipolani
    I'd definitely be curious to try! I once made the musical score for a couple of short films a friend made, and I really loved it! Even with the cheap equipment and shoddy recording techniques I had back then, one of my background music projects still apparently had a bit of a following back in the 90s!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:59 AM  

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