Author Topic: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor  (Read 7419 times)

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Larry Rinkel

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2007, 06:41:43 PM »
OK, Rappy. I've finally found a block of time to comment to your trombone sonata, and there are many very good things in it, as well as some things I consider problems. On the plus side, there is a lyric gift as well as a sense of humor that come through, and no end of imagination. It's a very ambitious piece, and shows good command of the trombone's capabilities and style. Let's however get to the nitty-gritty. What could make it better, or eliminate weaknesses?

a) I felt the first movement was very inventive and at times compelling, yet it also felt overly long. In fact, on one hearing I just stopped it after 4.5 minutes at the B major chord and it felt complete as is. (If you're trying for sonata form, an exposition would never end in the home key of the work.) The long middle section in particular loses interest for me at times; I feel you're losing your way here and this confirms my sense that your thinking is basically epigrammatic - full of interesting ideas in 4-bar units, but the larger whole, the overall narrative arch of the piece, isn't really there.

b) You do seem always to think in 4-bar phrases, which is fine up to a point, but it reinforces what I said above. Even Mozart did not tie himself down to 4-bar phrases exclusively. Consider the opening of the Figaro overture, where the phrases are built as : 7 bars (3+4), 4 (2+2), and 6. More variety in phrase lengths, mid-movement changes in meter, may help you here.

c) I believe there's some truth in saying the piano part needs thinning. Although you don't as a rule put the piano in the same register as the trombone - a good thing - the piano often dominates, and at times I think the writing extremely difficult. Can you really play the left hand of the scherzo, bar 4, up to tempo?

d) I think the second movement probably the best of the three, and the faster section especially. One thing to consider is keeping reminiscences of the active motion during parts of the slower movement (cf. Berlioz's Queen Mab Scherzo). This will make the movement seem more unified despite the change in tempo and character. You can also "hint" at the faster movement as you're finishing up the andante (cf. Chopin's 1st scherzo). One problem you definitely have is shifting gears between various sections; there isn't quite the sense of fluidity I get with Luke's clarinet sonata, for instance.

e) I like some of the trombone glissandos, though perhaps this is an effect that can be overused. I notice all the glissandos are descending. You also use fluttertonguing and pedal tones, as well as a wide variety of timbres and registers. You might consider also using various mutes to further vary the timbre.

f) The third movement raises the most questions for me. After a very dramatic recitative for the trombone, the piece settles into a kind of Mendelssohnian lyricism, but this is interrupted by several sections in different tempos. If a rondo is intended, it would provide greater unity and sense of direction if the episodes were in the same tempo. You've already written one movement with a major tempo change; too much of that disrupts the feeling of unity within a movement. Near the end, I appreciate that you intend to bring a lot of thematic material back. Yet for me listening casually, the reminisences were not so obvious. More important, the ending didn't work for me. Not that I mind a quiet ending per se, but because your second movement also had a quiet slow ending. I wanted one of these movements to really take off near the end and become thoroughly wild. After all, if this is a virtuoso piece, let's get some real virtuoso fireworks. A quiet ending can work for one of the movements; for both, I think it's too much.

Hope this provides some useful ideas.

Offline rappy

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #21 on: September 24, 2007, 01:12:31 PM »
Hi,

first of all, let me thank you for the time you spent listening to my composition and writen such a detailed comment. A appreciate your help very much and It will certainly take influence on my further compositions.
I'll try to comment on the weaknesses you mentioned.

a) Of course this is not a strict sonata form, elsewise the second theme would not be in A major first, either. Concerning my way of thinking, I think you've noticed that I usually don't define the structure at the beginning but rather think of themes and begin writing, thinking of what will come next while writing. This can be a weakness, I'd agree with you. Could you mention some specific parts in the development which made you lose your interest? The development always kept my attention because of its variety, but that's purely subjective. Maybe there are some weak parts I haven't noticed (or which don't sound weak to me because elsewise I wouldn't have written them ;) ) - I would be very thankful if you'd point them out.

b) I tried to improve myself concerning that point. You remember my piano sonata which was full of 4-bar phrases and you mentioned that problem which made me try to avoid it in further compositions. For example, the main theme at the beginning of the sonata lasts 4 + 6 measures. Then it comes again with the long F# in the trombone part. After 6 measures, a new phrase begins, and after 3 measures another. The next theme appears after 10 measures (m #30). It lasts 4 + 5 measures, the next phrase lasts 11 measures (till measure #49). As you see, I gave my best avoiding sequences of 4 or 8 -bar phrases only. In certain parts, there might be still too many in a row, but I hoped I improved myself concerning that problem.

c) I think, with some practice, it should be playable as you can play the 16ths from the E# on in the right hand and then have enough time to jump down to the F# octave with your left hand. I also don't think that the Presto must be played that fast as I made the PC play it. Trombone part and piano part in the Scherzo are out of balance, luke already told me, and I have to admit that this is very true... at least, the presto does not last very long.

d) Yes, the parts of the 2nd movement are separated strictly, I must admit. Although the transition from the last Presto to the Andante is quite fluid, isn't it? Concerning reminiscences, well, the problem I think is that all three themes are of a completly different character. It would have been difficult to include the Presto theme into on of the slow ones.

e) Very true, I totally forgot about muting (the trombone player for whom I wrote the sonata never mentioned that! :( ). Do you have any specific parts in mind where muting would make sense?

f) I understand what you mean. I'm not too satisfied with the transition from and to the 6/8, either. The first interruption I think works well, because the transition to the E minor sections sounds smooth at least to me and the following Bb minor is a reminiscense of the first movement (development). After the A' part of the rondo, the transition to the g# minor section is a little bit abrupt, I got used to that but it still could be better, I have to admit, and the return of the rondo theme (coming back to 4/4) didn't work that well. Concerning the ending, I thought exactly the opposite: because of the loud and wild ending of the first movement (and its exposition), I wanted to use a slow ending for the sake of variety now. The second movement as it is the only slow movement was intended to end slowly and quietly either, of course. I liked the idea of finishing the sonata with the tranquillo part of the developement of the first movement (which I like very much and which I had used only one time yet) because I thought it would unite the beginning and the end of the sonata. What do the others think? Maybe this is just a matter of personal taste, although I understand your complaint about two movements in a row, both ending in nearly the same way.

Well, I have to think over some of the things you mentioned. Your ideas are always very helpful (and useful). You and luke are the only people on the Internet I've ever seen giving in-depth help to composers (most other people just say "I liked it" or "I didn't like it"). Let me thank you again...

Larry Rinkel

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2007, 05:21:12 PM »
Ralph,

I think I've said as much as I want to say. I could go on, but I'd rather you think these points through for yourself and make your own decisions. I read somewhere recently of a composition teacher who taught by having his students play their compositions through, at which point he'd simply say, "Good." The idea, apparently, was that the student would find his/her own way to improving what was needed simply by really listening to what they had written. That may be extreme, but on the other hand it's awkward at best to try to teach composition over the Internet, and after all any advice you get from any of us here is just our opinion, with the offset that it's completely without charge.

If there's any one thing that I most recommend, it would be a truly rapid-tempo, bravura ending to either your second or third movement.

But to wrap up, two pieces of advice:
1) Take seriously any comments anyone makes to you about your music.
2) Don't take seriously any comments anyone makes to you about your music.

Larry Rinkel

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2007, 05:19:03 PM »
Hi,

first of all, let me thank you for the time you spent listening to my composition and writen such a detailed comment. A appreciate your help very much and It will certainly take influence on my further compositions.
I'll try to comment on the weaknesses you mentioned.

a) Of course this is not a strict sonata form, elsewise the second theme would not be in A major first, either. Concerning my way of thinking, I think you've noticed that I usually don't define the structure at the beginning but rather think of themes and begin writing, thinking of what will come next while writing. This can be a weakness, I'd agree with you. Could you mention some specific parts in the development which made you lose your interest? The development always kept my attention because of its variety, but that's purely subjective. Maybe there are some weak parts I haven't noticed (or which don't sound weak to me because elsewise I wouldn't have written them ;) ) - I would be very thankful if you'd point them out.

b) I tried to improve myself concerning that point. You remember my piano sonata which was full of 4-bar phrases and you mentioned that problem which made me try to avoid it in further compositions. For example, the main theme at the beginning of the sonata lasts 4 + 6 measures. Then it comes again with the long F# in the trombone part. After 6 measures, a new phrase begins, and after 3 measures another. The next theme appears after 10 measures (m #30). It lasts 4 + 5 measures, the next phrase lasts 11 measures (till measure #49). As you see, I gave my best avoiding sequences of 4 or 8 -bar phrases only. In certain parts, there might be still too many in a row, but I hoped I improved myself concerning that problem.

c) I think, with some practice, it should be playable as you can play the 16ths from the E# on in the right hand and then have enough time to jump down to the F# octave with your left hand. I also don't think that the Presto must be played that fast as I made the PC play it. Trombone part and piano part in the Scherzo are out of balance, luke already told me, and I have to admit that this is very true... at least, the presto does not last very long.

d) Yes, the parts of the 2nd movement are separated strictly, I must admit. Although the transition from the last Presto to the Andante is quite fluid, isn't it? Concerning reminiscences, well, the problem I think is that all three themes are of a completly different character. It would have been difficult to include the Presto theme into on of the slow ones.

e) Very true, I totally forgot about muting (the trombone player for whom I wrote the sonata never mentioned that! :( ). Do you have any specific parts in mind where muting would make sense?

f) I understand what you mean. I'm not too satisfied with the transition from and to the 6/8, either. The first interruption I think works well, because the transition to the E minor sections sounds smooth at least to me and the following Bb minor is a reminiscense of the first movement (development). After the A' part of the rondo, the transition to the g# minor section is a little bit abrupt, I got used to that but it still could be better, I have to admit, and the return of the rondo theme (coming back to 4/4) didn't work that well. Concerning the ending, I thought exactly the opposite: because of the loud and wild ending of the first movement (and its exposition), I wanted to use a slow ending for the sake of variety now. The second movement as it is the only slow movement was intended to end slowly and quietly either, of course. I liked the idea of finishing the sonata with the tranquillo part of the developement of the first movement (which I like very much and which I had used only one time yet) because I thought it would unite the beginning and the end of the sonata. What do the others think? Maybe this is just a matter of personal taste, although I understand your complaint about two movements in a row, both ending in nearly the same way.

Well, I have to think over some of the things you mentioned. Your ideas are always very helpful (and useful). You and luke are the only people on the Internet I've ever seen giving in-depth help to composers (most other people just say "I liked it" or "I didn't like it"). Let me thank you again...

I listened once more and want to amplify some comments. Actually, whatever else, I really like the piece the more I hear it - which doesn't mean I think it's completely finished right now. In reply to your points:

(a) I think it would help not to close the exposition in the home key, for one thing. Also, at about 6:30 and 8:30, you slow the motion down considerably. Perhaps one such instance of that would suffice.

(b) No doubt you're right. Still, keep this in mind. There's no reason why you have to keep rigidly to the same meter throughout a movement either.

(c) Not an issue.

(d) The last presto to the andante works better than the first andante back to the presto, which was the point I had in mind. With the last presto to the andante, you could even keep the triplets going under the andante at first, since I assume a dotted quarter in presto equals a quarter in andante.

(e) This would be better asked of your trombonist.

(f) In listening again to the third movement, it still sounds too much a hodgepodge of many disparate things. But the slow ending would work better, I think, if there was a bigger, wilder climax just before (at the point where you start these Rossinian piu mossos and the F# octaves in the piano). That would do it for me.

But I like the piece. Even though it's got all kinds of echoes of Schubert, Rossini, Mendelssohn, etc., it somehow still doesn't sound like anything I've heard before. Good job, Rappy.

EDITED:
(a) I think it would help not to close the exposition in the home key, for one thing. Also, at about 6:30 and 8:30, you slow the motion down considerably. Perhaps one such instance of that would suffice.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2007, 06:43:25 AM by Larry Rinkel »

Offline rappy

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2007, 06:38:34 AM »
Thanks, Larry.
Concerning (a), ending the exposition in on V or whatever, the following g sharp minor would not make sense and I'd have to do major changes to the beginning of the development. The idea of a climax at the end of the third movement before the slow bars finish it sounds good, I'll consider to rewrite that part. I'll still not sure how to fix the weak transition from andante to presto in the second movement.

Larry Rinkel

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Re: Sonata for Trombone and piano in B minor
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2007, 06:52:08 AM »
Thanks, Larry.
(1) Concerning (a), ending the exposition in on V or whatever, the following g sharp minor would not make sense and I'd have to do major changes to the beginning of the development.(2) I'll still not sure how to fix the weak transition from andante to presto in the second movement.

(1) Not necessarily. Just keep the ending of your exposition away from B minor (from about the point of the trombone arpeggios before the Molto agitato) and end it in D major. Finale can automatically transpose the whole section for you so you can check the result. G# minor right after a D major cadence is not an issue at all for me. I think the problem is that so much B minor at this stage creates a sense of finality to the movement that you want to avoid. But try to get other reactions, and, as always, in the end it's your decision.

(2) Listen to Chopin's B minor scherzo, for one possibility.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2007, 07:03:59 AM by Larry Rinkel »