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Applying classical forms to new music

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Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:04 pm

A few months ago I attempted to write a large scale piece for synthesizers using a classical form. It was fun and educational, frustrating and time consuming... all the things that keep you coming back if you have a certain type of personality disorder. :)

Well, I'm back at it again! The introduction of the Subharmonicon into my setup has really inspired me to have another look at this hybrid form of writing with constrained generative and other systems combining for a single long scale piece of music.

My ambitions are high on this one, not entirely sure I have the compositional chops to pull it off, but I am going to use this thread for sharing my ideas and processes, thinking out loud, and hopefully get educated and inspired by the good folks on this forum.

Stay tuned!
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby MOF » Wed Oct 21, 2020 3:59 pm

It should be possible as you can hear how it’s progressing. I’m always amazed at how most, if not all, of the great classical composers could just write out the parts, hearing them in their minds, or use just a piano to work out the orchestrations.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 4:10 pm

LOL yup, obsession can get you very far! :D

More musings to follow, had a very productive commute into work today, starting to lay all of this out.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:11 pm

Okay, my first approach is to define what is an orchestra?

A very small orchestra, the chamber orchestra, still has about 50 pieces in it! I do not have 50 synth voices, so that's right out. Plus, I'm not convinced that I would need 50 voices to achieve what I'm looking to do.

An orchestra is broken into more manageable chunks, however, which can be instructive for assigning voices certain roles and timbres.

Here is my understanding of the sections of an orchestra --

STRINGS
:: Divided into first and second violins
:: Can play in unison or divisi
:: Has four registers spread across the chord (often with the root note being doubled)

WOODWINDS
:: Plas a unique part
:: Has four distinct timbres
:: Can be used to double string parts or create chords
:: Stacked woodwind chords are generally used in the higher registers

BRASS
:: Can play a unison part to the woodwinds or a counter-melody
:: Has four distinct timbres
:: Less playing time than strings
:: Can be used to add punch and excitement

PERCUSSION
:: Plays a unique part

====================
An oversimplification, probably, but I am finding it very helpful in planning the minimum number of voices I will need.

If I go very simple, the string section equivalent would need 4 voices: two in a high register, one in a middle register, and one in a low register.

The woodwind section equivalent would need 2 voices: one to play the melody unique to the part and another for harmonization. (Possibly a single voice with 2 VCOs set to a set interval apart?)

The brass section equivalent would need 1 voice: probably a harmonically complex voice or a submix of a single voice with multiple waveforms.

The percussion section equivalent would need 3 voices: one in a high register, one in a middle register, one in a low register.

The final element will be the "soloist". That will need 1 voice.

That brings my minimum number of distinct voices to 11. That's a pretty big patch!! :D I would also require a way to sequence a minimum of 7 melody lines at once: 4 string melody lines, 2 woodwind melody lines, 1 brass melody line.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby MOF » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:00 pm

A very small orchestra, the chamber orchestra, still has about 50 pieces in it! I do not have 50 synth voices, so that's right out. Plus, I'm not convinced that I would need 50 voices to achieve what I'm looking to do.

I don’t see why you shouldn’t aim for more than fifty voices if you want to emulate a much larger orchestra.
Doubling up parts such as strings will give a fuller sound, it’s the slight differences in timing, pitch and vibrato that create that.
If your recording device (DAW?) isn’t powerful enough you could bounce down each section as you go.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:48 pm

Aaahhh, perhaps I should explain myself a bit more!

My goal is to primarily use my modular/analogue mono synths for this piece. I'm not trying to actually copy the sounds of a traditional orchestra, I am replicating their roles within the ensemble (if that makes any sense) using various stand-alone synth voices.

My DAW and computer are plenty powerful enough (and I have a subscription to EastWest Composer Cloud), the challenge I am setting for myself is to write a piece where at the very least each movement can be played live using a pile of equipment sync'd up! What ends up coming out of the 2-bus is what the performance is -- no overdubs, no editing afterwards.

Sorry if there was any confusion! Maybe posting my first attempt at this would be helpful, https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... n-complete
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby RichardT » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:11 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Aaahhh, perhaps I should explain myself a bit more!

My goal is to primarily use my modular/analogue mono synths for this piece. I'm not trying to actually copy the sounds of a traditional orchestra, I am replicating their roles within the ensemble (if that makes any sense) using various stand-alone synth voices.

My DAW and computer are plenty powerful enough (and I have a subscription to EastWest Composer Cloud), the challenge I am setting for myself is to write a piece where at the very least each movement can be played live using a pile of equipment sync'd up! What ends up coming out of the 2-bus is what the performance is -- no overdubs, no editing afterwards.

Sorry if there was any confusion! Maybe posting my first attempt at this would be helpful, https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... n-complete

If you like, you could also follow classical forms such as sonata form. I wrote a piece in sonata form for solo acoustic guitar and it was an education. It’s a very powerful structure

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonata_form
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:26 pm

Thanks, Richard!

I'm actually going to be using Concerto Sonata Form as my basis for this piece! :)
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby MOF » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:33 pm

I realised that you wanted synthesizer sounds to replace conventional instruments, however I don’t see why you would want to limit yourself to the number of voices available sequenced and live.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:38 pm

Wow - this is already a fascinating thread, and I'm currently listening to Ben's CONCERTO FOR A DYING SUN (FOR STRINGS AND WELL-TEMPERED SYNTHESIZER), so thanks for that link, which serves to make me even more optimistic about the outcome of this new epic adventure.

Keep up the good work Ben! :clap:


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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby RichardT » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:38 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Thanks, Richard!

I'm actually going to be using Concerto Sonata Form as my basis for this piece! :)

:)
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:40 pm

MOF wrote:I realised that you wanted synthesizer sounds to replace conventional instruments, however I don’t see why you would want to limit yourself to the number of voices available sequenced and live.
It's not a want, it's necessity. I only have X amount of available tracks and synths!
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:40 pm

Martin Walker wrote:Wow - this is already a fascinating thread, and I'm currently listening to Ben's CONCERTO FOR A DYING SUN (FOR STRINGS AND WELL-TEMPERED SYNTHESIZER), so thanks for that link, which serves to make me even more optimistic about the outcome of this new epic adventure.

Keep up the good work Ben! :clap:


Martin
Thanks Martin!
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby MOF » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:50 pm

It's not a want, it's necessity. I only have X amount of available tracks and synths!
That’s why I suggested bouncing down sections as you go. You did say that your computer is powerful enough.
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Re: Applying classical forms to new music

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:59 pm

MOF wrote:
It's not a want, it's necessity. I only have X amount of available tracks and synths!
That’s why I suggested bouncing down sections as you go. You did say that your computer is powerful enough.
That would require me to do two things I don't want to do:
a) use my DAW as the master clock
b) use backing tracks to replicate it live

The only appearances I want for my to DAW to make is for recording the finished results and editing the movements together if required.

Thanks for your continued input, though. It helps me reinforce my ideas.
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