Author Topic: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions  (Read 1769 times)

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Offline classicalgeek

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Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« on: September 29, 2021, 02:12:04 PM »
I've been going back and forth on the prospect of sharing my own compositions online. Since there are several really talented composers on this forum, the prospect seemed intimidating! Music composition was actually my major in college, but I decided for personal reasons not to pursue any further study in music. It's a decision I now regret, because writing and listening to music were the things the brought me the most joy in life! I've actually been trying to compose again, but I've never gotten very far with anything new - usually no more than a few bars. But I'll keep trying, because there's a lot of music in my head - I just need to bring my skills up to where they were 20-something years ago. Life is too short not to do something that brings joy and fulfillment!

I'm going to share two pieces to start - I'm still working on entering my old (handwritten) music into Sibelius, so I don't have a lot to choose from. The first piece was written in about 1994, and was played at a composition recital I gave in 1996. I was friends with the five members of a wind quintet, but I had trouble fitting a horn into the piece, so I left it out. It's three really brief movements, about three minutes total; I have the live performance, but it's a little rough around the edges - the NotePerformer version is far from ideal, but it's good enough. I'm sure I can find a way to share the live performance if people are interested.

EDIT: I should add that the clarinet part is transposed (not "in C") in the score.

So here it is:
https://jmbrannigan.bandcamp.com/track/three-short-movements-for-woodwind-quartet

And here's the score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ehS5hxvLIU_ozmubT9EKVMnD3vOq7Xkb/view?usp=sharing

The score is attached. Please let me know your thoughts - good, not-so-good, or indifferent!
« Last Edit: September 29, 2021, 02:33:32 PM by classicalgeek »

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2021, 02:26:20 PM »
And here's the second piece - a quintet for trumpet and string quartet that I wrote in 1995. It's a little more substantial at 15ish minutes, in three movements (fast-slow-fast). It actually won the 1997 International Trumpet Guild composition contest - a fact of which I was exceedingly proud until I found out there were just two submissions! Still, they liked my piece better than the other composer's entry, so that's something. It was premiered at the same 1996 composition recital as my woodwind quartet piece, and it actually received another performance a couple of years later. Again, the performance is a little scruffy, and the trumpeter wasn't at his best - among other things, he took the high B-natural at the climax of the slow movement down an octave. The trumpeter in the second performance nailed it, but I don't have the audio. Again I've included the version with NotePerformer.

And yes, the end of the slow movement is a deliberate nod to the second Nachtmusik from Mahler 7!  ;D

https://jmbrannigan.bandcamp.com/track/quintet-for-trumpet-and-strings

And the score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/12bGm7AfZru-566Aea0d9DutWgvYGPzdz/view?usp=sharing
« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 07:33:11 AM by classicalgeek »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2021, 06:15:12 PM »
Let me ask you, do you play any musical instruments, classicalgeek?
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Offline krummholz

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2021, 07:17:37 PM »
Just listened to your Three Short Movements and liked it a lot! A charming trio of miniatures, very fresh and witty. The NP rendering sounds really good to my ears, very realistic and UNelectronic-sounding as far as the timbres go, and none of the timing issues ("bloopers") that plague my renderings involving solo strings. Maybe those issues are really limited to strings.

It's late so I'll listen to your other work tomorrow... and I'm looking forward to it!
« Last Edit: September 29, 2021, 07:25:24 PM by krummholz »

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2021, 08:30:28 PM »
Let me ask you, do you play any musical instruments, classicalgeek?

I've played piano since I was 9, and I actually played the euphonium in high school, so I'm familiar with the brass family. I've never played strings or woodwind, though!

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2021, 08:38:10 PM »
Just listened to your Three Short Movements and liked it a lot! A charming trio of miniatures, very fresh and witty. The NP rendering sounds really good to my ears, very realistic and UNelectronic-sounding as far as the timbres go, and none of the timing issues ("bloopers") that plague my renderings involving solo strings. Maybe those issues are really limited to strings.

It's late so I'll listen to your other work tomorrow... and I'm looking forward to it!

Thank you so much for listening! I'm kind of fond of those pieces. I find the NP woodwind sound to be realistic, relatively speaking. I do find their strings sound a bit computerized - if you listen to my trumpet quintet, you'll hear some solo strings. I can't say I've had the same issues you've had, but maybe my ears just don't pick up on it! Again, thank you - I really appreciate you taking the time to listen!

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2021, 04:40:01 AM »
I've played piano since I was 9, and I actually played the euphonium in high school, so I'm familiar with the brass family. I've never played strings or woodwind, though!

Quite tangentially, an old schoolmate of mine has a dream of playing the euphonium to cows.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2021, 04:43:11 AM by k a rl h e nn i ng »
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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2021, 05:44:23 AM »
I've played piano since I was 9, and I actually played the euphonium in high school, so I'm familiar with the brass family. I've never played strings or woodwind, though!

Very nice, indeed. The euphonium is an unusual choice. You don't hear many people that say they play this instrument.
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Offline Iota

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2021, 06:00:24 AM »
Just listened to your Three Short Movements and liked it a lot! A charming trio of miniatures, very fresh and witty.

As did I, and krummholz perfectly sums up my feelings too! Bravo, Classicalgeek!

Will listen to the other one another time.

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2021, 06:55:55 AM »
Quite tangentially, an old schoolmate of mine has a dream of playing the euphonium to cows.

Ha! I wonder how the cows would react?

Quote
Very nice, indeed. The euphonium is an unusual choice. You don't hear many people that say they play this instrument.

Well, I was interested in playing in concert band, and the band teacher suggested the euphonium since our band didn't have one. The school owned one, so he gave it to me over the summer along with a couple of method books, and I taught myself to play. Not too badly, I think - though my range stopped at about F4!

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2021, 06:56:38 AM »
As did I, and krummholz perfectly sums up my feelings too! Bravo, Classicalgeek!

Will listen to the other one another time.

Thank you so much for listening! I really appreciate it.

Offline krummholz

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2021, 05:26:06 PM »
And here's the second piece - a quintet for trumpet and string quartet that I wrote in 1995. It's a little more substantial at 15ish minutes, in three movements (fast-slow-fast). It actually won the 1997 International Trumpet Guild composition contest - a fact of which I was exceedingly proud until I found out there were just two submissions! Still, they like my piece better than the other composer's entry, so that's something. It was premiered at the same 1996 composition recital as my woodwind quartet piece, and it actually received another performance a couple of years later. Again, the performance is a little scruffy, and the trumpeter wasn't at his best - among other things, he took the high B-natural at the climax of the slow movement down an octave. The trumpeter in the second performance nailed it, but I don't have the audio. Again I've included the version with NotePerformer.

And yes, the end of the slow movement is a deliberate nod to the second Nachtmusik from Mahler 7!  ;D

https://jmbrannigan.bandcamp.com/track/quintet-for-trumpet-and-strings

And the score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/12bGm7AfZru-566Aea0d9DutWgvYGPzdz/view?usp=sharing

Just listened to this... wow, what an enjoyable piece!! This is really a concertante work for trumpet and strings I think, and very much in an early 20th century late Romantic style. Lots of influences, a bit of Shostakovich here maybe, a touch perhaps of Poulenc there...  but you have a very distinctive voice so it doesn't sound derivative. You also have a definite feel for both quirky rhythms and unusual sonorities. Quirky I said, but not in a negative way - it all makes sense and hangs together.

The reference to the Nachtmusik II at the end of your slow movement is pretty well disguised, though. In the Mahler there's a very long-held trill in the low register of a clarinet, against strummed chords in, what? I think the mandolin. In your piece the trill is nearly at the top of the violin's register, and the accompanying chords are arco, so I don't think anyone would get the nod unless it was pointed out. Well, I wouldn't have, anyway. ;)

Excellent work, classicalgeek, bravo!

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2021, 08:21:40 PM »
Just listened to this... wow, what an enjoyable piece!! This is really a concertante work for trumpet and strings I think, and very much in an early 20th century late Romantic style. Lots of influences, a bit of Shostakovich here maybe, a touch perhaps of Poulenc there...  but you have a very distinctive voice so it doesn't sound derivative. You also have a definite feel for both quirky rhythms and unusual sonorities. Quirky I said, but not in a negative way - it all makes sense and hangs together.

The reference to the Nachtmusik II at the end of your slow movement is pretty well disguised, though. In the Mahler there's a very long-held trill in the low register of a clarinet, against strummed chords in, what? I think the mandolin. In your piece the trill is nearly at the top of the violin's register, and the accompanying chords are arco, so I don't think anyone would get the nod unless it was pointed out. Well, I wouldn't have, anyway. ;)

Excellent work, classicalgeek, bravo!

Thank you again for listening! I really appreciate your time and thoughtfulness. It's funny how I never listened to a lot of Poulenc until I was older, but I do think my music sounds a lot like his... I think the woodwind quartet piece sounds a little Poulencian too! And of course Shostakovich is a composer I admire greatly. I have fun with my rhythms and dissonance, and I take quirky as a compliment!  ;D

And yes, you got the Mahler bit exactly. It's not a direct quote, but it's in the same key (F major)! I had a lot of fun writing this piece... I originally planned is a sonata for trumpet and piano, but a friend suggested a string quartet instead of a piano. And I think it worked!

Thank you again for listening, and for your insightful comments!

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2021, 03:02:24 AM »
And yes, you got the Mahler bit exactly. It's not a direct quote, but it's in the same key (F major)! I had a lot of fun writing this piece... I originally planned is a sonata for trumpet and piano, but a friend suggested a string quartet instead of a piano. And I think it worked!

Definitely worked! And I think it would probably work with a small, chamber string orchestra too, instead of a string quartet. The work is so very concertante that I think it could be arranged as a chamber concerto for trumpet, rather like Holmboe's Op. 52 but without the winds. It's up to you of course, just my opinion!

A question: was this rendering made with Sibelius and NotePerformer? Because I have maybe only once gotten a rendering of a string quartet piece or movement longer than 2 or 3 minutes without a "blooper", one or the other of the instruments playing a fraction of a beat out of sync with the others. Arne Wallander admitted to me that this is a design issue within NP, so it's not my imagination, and he even opined that there are additional problems that seem to be coming from Sibelius itself, most noticeably seemingly random fluctuations in tempo - this happens in larger ensembles too, and there is one cello entrance (now cellos + basses) in my Sinfonia Solenne that goes 8th-8th-quarter-quarter, where about 30% time the cellos rush the 8th notes and arrive at the first quarter note noticeably ahead of everyone else. But in your piece I didn't notice a single instance of any kind of timing issue. I find that astounding!

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2021, 04:12:11 AM »
Okay, I didn't read the fine print - yes it was made with Sibelius/NP. Surprisingly good realization, and that's saying a lot since I think the world of NP except for its bawbles.

Listened through again this morning - the ending of III kept reminding me of something and it just clicked... sounds like a nod to the ending of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1! Am I close?

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2021, 08:47:59 AM »
Definitely worked! And I think it would probably work with a small, chamber string orchestra too, instead of a string quartet. The work is so very concertante that I think it could be arranged as a chamber concerto for trumpet, rather like Holmboe's Op. 52 but without the winds. It's up to you of course, just my opinion!

A question: was this rendering made with Sibelius and NotePerformer? Because I have maybe only once gotten a rendering of a string quartet piece or movement longer than 2 or 3 minutes without a "blooper", one or the other of the instruments playing a fraction of a beat out of sync with the others. Arne Wallander admitted to me that this is a design issue within NP, so it's not my imagination, and he even opined that there are additional problems that seem to be coming from Sibelius itself, most noticeably seemingly random fluctuations in tempo - this happens in larger ensembles too, and there is one cello entrance (now cellos + basses) in my Sinfonia Solenne that goes 8th-8th-quarter-quarter, where about 30% time the cellos rush the 8th notes and arrive at the first quarter note noticeably ahead of everyone else. But in your piece I didn't notice a single instance of any kind of timing issue. I find that astounding!

Do you mean Holmboe's op. 44? I see that op. 52 is for trombone and chamber orchestra, while in op. 44 the trumpet is the solo instrument. You know, I've thought about orchestrating the string quartet part - like you say, for a chamber orchestra - and I really think I'd some woodwinds. Maybe 2(2nd doubling piccolo).1.1.1 2.0.0.0, one percussionist, and a small complement of strings? You've definitely got me thinking!

Quote
Okay, I didn't read the fine print - yes it was made with Sibelius/NP. Surprisingly good realization, and that's saying a lot since I think the world of NP except for its bawbles.

Listened through again this morning - the ending of III kept reminding me of something and it just clicked... sounds like a nod to the ending of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1! Am I close?
I don't know if this is the reason NP has worked especially well for me, but I include, in my Sibelius scores, a lot of hidden instructions meant for playback. It lets me get the results I want from NotePerformer while still keeping the score "clean". I've attached the beginning of my Trombone Sonata (I hope to be ready to share the score and recording soon) - notice all the hidden metronome markings and luftpauses, as well as the hidden dynamics. I think this allows the recording to sound more "human", though of course not entirely human!
 
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ne55VwqeNDANoyWSW0HXtLzKPyCqJAFB/view?usp=sharing

I don't know if trying something like this would work for you?

I guess you're right about the Schoenberg, though in that case the reference wasn't deliberate! I can definitely see the resemblance, though. I've always been fond of the 'Neapolitan' harmonic twist, the IIb - I chord progression, particularly at key moments. In a broader sense, you could say I'm fond of the Phrygian Mode. My woodwind quartet piece has the same device at the very end of the piece (mm. 47-48), the IV-IIIb-IIb-I progression harmonized in a similar way.

Thank you so much again! I'm really enjoying these conversations, both on this thread and your Sinfonia Solenne thread.

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2021, 04:44:13 PM »
Definitely worked! And I think it would probably work with a small, chamber string orchestra too, instead of a string quartet. The work is so very concertante that I think it could be arranged as a chamber concerto for trumpet, rather like Holmboe's Op. 52 but without the winds. It's up to you of course, just my opinion!

OK, I couldn't resist! Here are the first fourteen bars of the Trumpet Quintet, arranged for a chamber orchestra of 1+pic.2.2.2/2.0.0.0/1 perc./strings. It doesn't sound half bad - I don't know if I'll continue with it, but it sure was fun!

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S_j6xnOIbL6l99wXPS_S3aproC3OSYjE/view?usp=sharing

Audio (Sibelus/NP):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uR33V5go3xDysal6LOuT8L-7f-L_4rgB/view?usp=sharing

Let me know what you think!

Offline krummholz

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2021, 09:24:56 AM »
Do you mean Holmboe's op. 44? I see that op. 52 is for trombone and chamber orchestra, while in op. 44 the trumpet is the solo instrument. You know, I've thought about orchestrating the string quartet part - like you say, for a chamber orchestra - and I really think I'd some woodwinds. Maybe 2(2nd doubling piccolo).1.1.1 2.0.0.0, one percussionist, and a small complement of strings? You've definitely got me thinking!

Yes, of course I meant Op. 44! It's been a while since I've gone through that part of Holmboe's output (coming up in a week or two I think!) and I had the two opus numbers confused.

Quote
I don't know if this is the reason NP has worked especially well for me, but I include, in my Sibelius scores, a lot of hidden instructions meant for playback. It lets me get the results I want from NotePerformer while still keeping the score "clean". I've attached the beginning of my Trombone Sonata (I hope to be ready to share the score and recording soon) - notice all the hidden metronome markings and luftpauses, as well as the hidden dynamics. I think this allows the recording to sound more "human", though of course not entirely human!

Wow, I didn't know you could put hidden metronome markings and breath marks in a score in Sibelius! I do that sort of thing too - not as much fluctuation of tempo, but some - but they're all visible, which is why I need a separate score for "publication", using only the instructions that I need to give to human players. The only hidden instructions in my scores are "MIDI messages" to NotePerformer - things like the number of players in a section, the amount of vibrato, and such.

I don't think anything like what you do would work around the NP timing issues though. In fact I'm quite astounded that they don't seem to be a problem in your trumpet quintet. Or maybe they do happen, but you don't notice them, and I don't because I'm not the composer. Though I have to say, some of my playbacks are REALLY bad, including some playbacks of the soloistic opening of Sinfonia Solenne - where the 2nd violin and the viola are so out of sync, they sound like a couple of amateur players sight reading the score for the first time.

Another thing I notice is that the timbre of your solo strings is different from mine. I wonder, what version of NP do you use? I'm using NP 3 and I wonder if you might be using an earlier version that has a different sample library. Or maybe there's a way to have NP and Sibelius drive a different, 3rd party sample library?

All in all, I'm quite puzzled about why I have these issues and you don't.

Quote
Thank you so much again! I'm really enjoying these conversations, both on this thread and your Sinfonia Solenne thread.

You're welcome, and I am too! :)
« Last Edit: October 02, 2021, 09:36:52 AM by krummholz »

Offline krummholz

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2021, 09:34:29 AM »
OK, I couldn't resist! Here are the first fourteen bars of the Trumpet Quintet, arranged for a chamber orchestra of 1+pic.2.2.2/2.0.0.0/1 perc./strings. It doesn't sound half bad - I don't know if I'll continue with it, but it sure was fun!

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S_j6xnOIbL6l99wXPS_S3aproC3OSYjE/view?usp=sharing

Audio (Sibelus/NP):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uR33V5go3xDysal6LOuT8L-7f-L_4rgB/view?usp=sharing

Let me know what you think!

I really like it! A lot!! I love the way you've scored those 14 bars... the good-humoured duet in the clarinets, the staccato bassoon in mm. 10-13, the sparing touches of percussion... it all works! Keep on if you like it! I'd love to hear the whole thing when you're done...

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Re: Classicalgeek's (Brannigan's) compositions
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2021, 11:42:15 AM »
I've been going back and forth on the prospect of sharing my own compositions online. Since there are several really talented composers on this forum, the prospect seemed intimidating! Music composition was actually my major in college, but I decided for personal reasons not to pursue any further study in music. It's a decision I now regret, because writing and listening to music were the things the brought me the most joy in life! I've actually been trying to compose again, but I've never gotten very far with anything new - usually no more than a few bars. But I'll keep trying, because there's a lot of music in my head - I just need to bring my skills up to where they were 20-something years ago. Life is too short not to do something that brings joy and fulfillment!

I'm going to share two pieces to start - I'm still working on entering my old (handwritten) music into Sibelius, so I don't have a lot to choose from. The first piece was written in about 1994, and was played at a composition recital I gave in 1996. I was friends with the five members of a wind quintet, but I had trouble fitting a horn into the piece, so I left it out. It's three really brief movements, about three minutes total; I have the live performance, but it's a little rough around the edges - the NotePerformer version is far from ideal, but it's good enough. I'm sure I can find a way to share the live performance if people are interested.

EDIT: I should add that the clarinet part is transposed (not "in C") in the score.

So here it is:
https://jmbrannigan.bandcamp.com/track/three-short-movements-for-woodwind-quartet

And here's the score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ehS5hxvLIU_ozmubT9EKVMnD3vOq7Xkb/view?usp=sharing

The score is attached. Please let me know your thoughts - good, not-so-good, or indifferent!

Charming!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot