Author Topic: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost  (Read 286457 times)

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Offline Guido

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2007, 07:32:40 AM »
I have actually been thinking a lot about solo cello music, and I thought it would be really interesting to commission works that. like the Bach Suites, contain no articulation marks or dynamic markings, and no precise tempo indications, and seeing how composers deal with the challenge. I think to much of modern solo stuff relies on 'effects' and solo string scores are usually amongst the worst for copious amounts of detail. If Bach could get the astonishing range of subtleties that he does, using only the tonal system, then think what would be possible now. There is of course the 5th Sarabande, which astonishes me every time I hear it - those wide intervals and almost atonal harmony - Its just three lines long, and contains every semitone! I think that it approaches the level of achievement of the Chaconne for solo violin (though that's just my personal feeling and I'm sure blasphemous in Bachian circles).

I realise that this idea wouldn't be apt in all situations, but I think it might be interesting.

Oops. Sorry to use your thread as a musing tuffet! I must stop that.
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2007, 07:42:52 AM »
Clarinet piece starting to pick up pace a little now, thank goodness.

Splendid! You know I'll be most pleased to have a look whenever you're set with it!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2007, 07:43:28 AM »
I have actually been thinking a lot about solo cello music, and I thought it would be really interesting to commission works that. like the Bach Suites, contain no articulation marks or dynamic markings, and no precise tempo indications, and seeing how composers deal with the challenge. I think to much of modern solo stuff relies on 'effects' and solo string scores are usually amongst the worst for copious amounts of detail. If Bach could get the astonishing range of subtleties that he does, using only the tonal system, then think what would be possible now. There is of course the 5th Sarabande, which astonishes me every time I hear it - those wide intervals and almost atonal harmony - Its just three lines long, and contains every semitone! I think that it approaches the level of achievement of the Chaconne for solo violin (though that's just my personal feeling and I'm sure blasphemous in Bachian circles).

Don't see why it should be. It's only lesser in that it's shorter, has fewer notes and is less overpowering in archtectonic terms. But its relatively few notes, Webern-like, contain a huge amount. This was the piece I chose to play at my Grandfather's funeral, in fact. I think it's the one our Sean mentions frequently too, isn't it?

Anyway, I like your idea. At some point I might take you up on it!

Oops. Sorry to use your thread as a musing tuffet! I must stop that.

No, on the contrary. Muse away - it's a pleasure to host it ;)

karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2007, 07:43:57 AM »
Guido, I am sure Luke is too gracious a host to object.

And anyway, the world needs more musing tuffets!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2007, 07:45:29 AM »
Splendid! You know I'll be most pleased to have a look whenever you're set with it!

Thanks - that would be great. It has a piano part, by the way...

Still a long way to go with it, I hasten to add.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2007, 07:47:58 AM »
And anyway, the world needs more musing tuffets!

A phrase good enough to seem to call out for a thread of its own, somehow - something like Mahler Titan's Musing Tuffet... but on second thoughts, no - what is an Omphaloskeptic Outpost if not a synonym for a Musing Tuffet, I ask you? Keep your musing right here!

Offline Guido

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2007, 07:50:43 AM »
I have been playing the Bernstein Clarinet Sonata on the cello quite alot lately. Its all very high in the cello register of course (and I imagine a lot more effort than it would be on the clarinet) but I love it so much (and I think it sounds better on the cello! :P). Yo-Yo Ma recorded it (along with what is, I think, the finest recording of the Ives Piano Trio) and its sublime (apparently Berstein OKayed the idea before he died...). The clarinet is the cello of the wind family!

I'm quite pleased with musing tuffet myself! I will endeavour to use it more often.

And about the Bachian style solo cello piece - I don't know if it would work at all, it was just an idea..

Thinking about this a bit more - I just remembered that this is how Carter's amazing Cello Sonata was composed (sort of). When he handed it to Greenhouse (the cellist) it had very scant dynamic markings, and absolutely no slurs or articulation marks of any kind, though the tempos were already fixed. Carter asked Greenhouse to add them on his own as he saw fit, and he would review them later. I wonder if this means that the markings can be iterprted quite loosely, or whether Carter was completely happy with Greenhouse's ideas (presumably he was at least slightly, otherwise he wouldn;t have published it that way. Apparently no one wanted to publish it initially).

I think one of the main reasons that I find it interesting as an idea, is that it blurs the line between composer and performer/interpreter somewhat, a line that has been much sharpened and focussed in recent years, something which I think is a real loss to music.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2007, 09:15:49 AM by Guido »
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #27 on: April 26, 2007, 08:44:46 AM »
Clarinet music! We want it!  :)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #28 on: April 26, 2007, 09:18:07 AM »
Not to worry, Karl. Though I often seem to have stalled in the past few months, not in this case. I'm working on it as often as time allows, but being really careful, taking my time and being more ruthless than usual - happy to cross out pages of work for the greater good. I'm hoping this is going to be one of my better pieces.

karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2007, 09:20:11 AM »
I understand gradual work, around other things . . . I had not at all imagined that you had stalled, Luke!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2007, 02:26:55 AM »
Working on it every minute I can - which isn't as impressive as it sounds, as I don't have many minutes! However, the middle movement is now pretty much done, I think, and the first movement about half done, maybe slightly more. Third movement hardly begun yet....

karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2007, 02:45:30 AM »
Gradual progress, excellent!  That's the ticket!  :)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #32 on: May 06, 2007, 12:51:11 PM »
The middle movement has been playable all the way through for a few days now; and I've been working intensely on the last movement today, so that it's nearly complete, at least in first draft. The first movement is still missing a minute or two of music, but the whole thing is now taking proper shape at last.

Given the amount I'm working on it, it is odd that I'm not more pleased with it - from note to note I think it is OK (which makes it harder to tinker with, though I'm doing so more than I usually do), but I'm not sure about it as a whole yet, for all sorts of reasons. But then that's why I'm keeping working at it...

Offline Guido

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2007, 04:06:51 AM »
This is great news. So is it a sonata?
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2007, 04:18:46 AM »
Well, speaking as someone who has not yet seen the score  ;) . . .

Any work for single-line instrument plus piano, in three movements, can plausibly be called a sonata.

I think one could even 'get away' with that, if none of the movements makes any particular reference to sonata-allegro design.

Though the determining factor will perforce be, what Luke feels like calling the work  8)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2007, 10:19:10 AM »
Yes, it is indeed a Sonata (one with an added titular noun as in previous pieces, actually). Been writing a few of those recently, it seems, but this is the first multi-movement one. More work today - I'm still concerned, amongst other things, about the balance between intuition and design in the piece (given that I've been such an intuition-first kind of composer recently) and also, of course, about technical clarinet matters (can it play pattern x at speed y naturally and that sort of thing). In my head it's all fine, but I stand to be corrected - as a cellist of sorts I know exactly how it feels to have something written for one that looks cellistic to the composer but is pointlessly tricky in actuality. I will consult before putting the final seal on the piece, of course.



Offline Maciek

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2007, 10:39:54 AM »
Luke, not to criticise your work, which I admire without reservations, but for the sake of exchanging opinions - don't you think composers should sometimes expand the standard way an instrument is played? Wasn't for instance,Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto considered completely unplayable when it was first written? And look at it today - part of the standard piano repertoire! Actually, I must say I like your respectful approach (I remember you saying quite a lot about this on other threads) but sometimes I wonder... >:D ;D

Maciek

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2007, 11:20:26 AM »
Interesting question!

I agree with your general point, actually - but I also feel that to be 'healthy' a work should be well-balanced on all levels, of which performance difficulty is one. That is to say - a piece which is extraordinary and new in all other aspects is perfectly within its rights to ask the player to do extraordinary and new things (the most extraordinary and new pieces also therefore being the most difficult - Ferneyhough's Unity Capsule or cello Time and Motion Study, for instance), but something is out of kilter if a piece which is in other respects perfectly simple in design and effect can only be so by demanding outlandish contortions or mental gymnastics of its performer. (This is where Satie gets a deliberately perverse pleasure, sometimes, I think, which is supportive of my point rather than otherwise.) I remember talking to Rappy about this re. his trombone sonata - not that his piece was outlandishly difficult for the player necessarily; I'm not a trombonist so I don't know. In that case I was worried that if it did turn out to be very tricky then the piece's style and context would be out of step with the technique it required.

My new piece is pretty modest in proportions - approx. 6 minutes - 4 minutes - 6 minutes - and is structurally very straightforward (though with some more subtle interconnections between movements); the harmonic language is again based on the modal technique I used in my piano Sonata, though is obviously a little more involved - this means, naturally, that pitches recur with greater frequency than normal; rhythmically too the piece avoids extreme complication (there are some passages which look complex - the notation starts out simple but leads by logical steps up various tuplet-haunted alleys! - but which, when looked at carefully, also turn out to be fairly straightforward). In toto, the piece is a normal clarinet sonata with plenty of indivdual features but nothing drastically extraordinary about it; I'd like its performance difficulty to be of the same sort. The piano part, I know, is of this type - intricate, active, but never overly finger-twisting.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2007, 11:27:12 AM by lukeottevanger »

Offline Maciek

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2007, 12:05:10 PM »
Yes, Rappy's Trombone Sonata was the thread I had in mind (thanks for reminding me where it was ;D). Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I was hoping to start a heated discussion ending in a flame war so that I, as a newly fledged mod, would have something to do. ;) But your thoughts are so reasonable I cannot but agree... ;D What a perfectly balanced approach!

Maciek

lukeottevanger

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Re: Ottevanger's Omphaloskeptic Outpost
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2007, 01:15:52 PM »
I was hoping to start a heated discussion ending in a flame war so that I, as a newly fledged mod, would have something to do. ;)

Oooh - a flame war, on a thread of mine!? I can only dream of such activity! Keep on trying, please!