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The Little Horseman

Discussion in 'Composing' started by pianoman342, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is a playful piece I wrote, loosely based off of Tchaikovsky's "little horseman" in his Album for the Young. Chris is the only one who has played it (moreover, the entire set!)

    It is also influenced by "the witch" and a number of pieces from Bartok's For Children

    comments are welcome.

    The Piano is a Strauss upright. Luckily I played this at a piano studio when no one was there, so there are no other piano sounds in the background :)

    The score is also attached.
     
  2. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    This is nice. I especially like the note "changes" between G-sharps and A-flats in bars 2, 6, and 18, although I'll just have to take your word for it that these spellings make harmonic sense. Perhaps Eddy will comment. Is there a misprint in bar 18? I suspect the middle one of the three A-flats should really be a G-sharp, as it is in bars 2 and 6.

    Is the player expected to improvise the tempo changes? The ones you make in the recording are lovely, and sound as though they "belong", but if they belong, they could do with being marked in the score.

    Another thing the score could do with, assuming the way you are placing the accents in the recording is the way you intend them to go, is instructions on how to do this, again instead of the player being expected to guess. The fashionable way to do so is by using an appropriate time signature. You have notated this piece in common time, i.e. 4/4, but there are only two bars (4 and 20) which actually are in 4/4. The rest of the piece is in compound 8/8, with three beats to each bar, usually as (3+2+3)/8, but sometimes (3+3+2)/8, and it would be advantageous to notate it in this way, and to beam the 8th notes in threes where appropriate, and not always in twos.
     
  3. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    It's cute! Definitely sounds like a little horseman. I think it would enhance the sound if you brought out the lower LH notes a little more.
     
  4. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Rainer,

    Thanks for the feedback. The enharmonic spellings in 2 don't really make sense, the top in the tenor should all be a flats, to simplify the reading process. Maybe Eddy will comment, or he has given up on trying to teach me! :wink: Well about measure 18, I played it back in my editor, and they sound exactly the same. Of course when there is one accidental the rule is to play it that way later throughout the bar, so though my program has the wackiest default spelling coding, those measures should sound actually the same.

    Yes, the player is expected to improvise tempo changes, but, it isn't clear how that should be done. Presto also would be a nice place to start for tempo. Listening back, I think I play this way too slow. Really, it should be twice as fast.

    Thanks for your compliment, I tried to imitate a little of what Chris did in his recording, but.. he doesn't slow down as much as I do :lol:

    This is how I phrase the piece in my recording

    1 - 4

    5 - 8

    9 - 12

    then each measure is it's own phrase 13, 14, 15, 16

    then

    17 - 20 (with no ritardando on the ending)


    Interesting you would set this as 8/8. IT's worth mentioning that the original Littlehorseman is in 3/8. So the 8th note should get the pulse, for a more driving jockeying effect (no pun intended :wink: ). So for a rewrite, i'd notate it 8/8 .

    Monica,


    Thanks for listening. I thought I played the left hand at an OK volume, but thanks for pointing this out. I wanted the double note melody to come out more (like in Tchaikovsky's Op. 72, no. 8, but with this type of music, it seems like the melody can't really get much attention, as it's almost just like an chordal piece, where the music marches along and not with traditional accompianment and melody like a Nocturne.
     
  5. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    It should not be a question of simplifying the reading process, but of using notes which make the harmony make sense. My thinking is that in bars 2, 6, and 18 they really should all be G sharps, not A flats. Here's why: Consider beats 4 and 5 of these bars (counting 8th note beats). Here you have E G# D which seems to make sense as an E major 7th chord with missing 5th. On beat 6 you have a nearly identical chord (although the bass changes from E to D, both D and E are still present) except that the G# changes its spelling to Ab, which doesn't seem to make obvious sense (what chord is it? what key is it in?). Beat 7 adds a C to the proceedings, but I suppose we should simply treat it as a passing note not intended to be at home in the harmony of whatever chord is in the background. This brings us to beat 8; if its Ab were instead a G#, then it would be a proper E7 chord (this time the fifth, B, is not missing), functioning as a dominant 7th resolving to A minor in the following bar.
    The accidental rule is not at issue here, there is no doubt that if you put a sharp-sign on one G, the next Gs are also understood to be sharps, and likewise once you put a flat-sign on one A, the next As are also flat. The point is that, just as the words "loan" and "lone" sound the same but are different words, the notes G-sharp and A-flat are not the same notes, even though (within the limitations of a 12 note per octave keyboard) they sound the same. The notes E G# B played together make an E major triad, the notes E Ab B played together don't make an E major triad, even though they sound like one.

    So basically I was puzzling over why you decided to use the alternative spellings, but you seem to be saying it wasn't your decision, but your editing program's. :roll: Presumably your input to the editor was by means of something like a MIDI keyboard, so that when you pressed the black key between G and A, the editor had to guess whether you meant G# or Ab. It would be interesting to know on what basis it made its guess, and in particular why it guessed differently for beat 7 in bar 18 from the way it did in bars 2 and 6.

    Would it have guessed differently if you had told it to use the key signature for G major?
    Your basic tempo is perfectly OK. It could stand going a little faster, but twice as fast would just be ridiculous.
     
  6. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks for your more detailed analysis Rainer.

    Yes, it would make more sense in spelling it, and that's a good point. but if you were playing a bunch of running As and then you had to switch to playing G#s wouldn't you rather just like to see a notehead on the A line with a flat to its left. an A flat to instruct you to hit a half step down than a notehead in the g space with a pound to its left?! But of course, that's what Eddy told me :p

    in C Major/A Minor, ever conceivable accidental (spelling of a particular note) has free reign in the editor. It will do the funkiest things..

    Yes, here is measure two in g major:



    You're right.. I played it back double time, it is way too fast. But, at about 140% the original, I like it. Here is the same piece sped up. Another take from the same recording session, this time barely any phrasing from 9 to 16, I like it more.
     
  7. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    No, I most certainly would not. :shock: I would rather know what note to play than what key to press, because it would help me understand what's going on harmonically.

    Even ignoring harmony, I would expect to see what you suggest (bar 1 in the example below) only if the context warranted it, for example if the voice were descending chromatically, i.e. if there had been B-flats before the A-naturals and/or if the A-flats were followed by G-naturals. Otherwise, from a purely optical point of view, I would prefer to see G-sharps (as in bar 2 below) because it makes it more obvious that I should be playing different notes. Two clues are better than one: in addition to the accidental, you would also see the note heads drop down half a space.

    There is an additional consideration: Suppose you play bar 1 and then bar 2. Notice that the first note in bar 2 is an A-natural. But it looks just like the A-flats at the end of bar 1. To avoid playing the wrong note, you need to be consciously aware of the rule which says that the bar line cancels the flat sign. It's easier on the old gray matter if you play bar 2 followed by bar 3. Here the first note of bar 3 (also A-natural) more obviously differs from the last notes of bar 2.

    Stretching the point a bit further, suppose that after a few repeated As, the notes then alternate down and up by half steps. I would say bar 4 looks less confusing, and more readily sight-readable, than bar 3:

    Aha, brilliant! :!: Since your piece seems in fact to be in G major, I suggest it might have been a good idea to have told your editing program. :wink:
     
  8. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    You must be a jazz player. All they need to do to play pieces in know the chord progressions :p

    Duly noted!

    Yes, or you could add a courtesy accidental in bar 2. Sight reading this, I would agree without reservations, but, if you learn this by memorizing it, I think the spellings are not as important, given that it should all be in are heads somewhere.

    :

    now that is a fine example! Imagine instead of a trill we just saw 32nd notes written like that! Uhh... :lol: bar 3 is definintely easier on the old grey matter :wink:

    Yes, just funny how the piece is in G Major, but in the second bar it's already cancelling the f sharps. the piece is a lying cheat.. :x

    btw, Happy Easter!
     
  9. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Good heavens, I've never been accused of that before! But don't worry, no offence taken. 8)
    Nice joke. They're also rather good improvisers, but I always need to read.
    I may be misreading the signs, but it sure looks like it begins and ends in G major, and in between there is a journey through various keys, inevitably adding and taking away occasional sharps and flats as it goes. That's not lying and cheating, it's modulating, and is what lends interest to the piece.
     
  10. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    I didn't mean to offend you, I thought being a jazz player is a compliment, all the same, since you say so, I am glad I didn't offend you :)

    I was just talking to David about different improvisers, some are addicted to improvising, some are only jazz read: piano lounge players and they don't play standard repertoire at all, and some are good at both. I always need to read to. Wish I could improvise things in real-time, but it's just beyond my capability now... and perhaps forever.. :|

    I'll take your word for it, G Major it is! :)
     
  11. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    An interesting piece harmonically. I don't like the ritardandi and meter changes in it though. Maybe it's a bit cliche but I imagine a little horseman to be fiercely rhythmical, not riding a horse that limps and slows down every couple of miles. It could perhaps do with a bit sharper staccato and accents.
     
  12. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Chris, thanks for listening. I think, like your recording of the tchaikovsky original, the limited rit and meter changes sound better. This piece in a way reminds me of "blindman's buff," in that it's got that, don't-stop-till-you-reach-the-end feel to it. Haha, yes the little horseman will probably drive the horse at quite a clip, but probably won't take any pitstops. There is also a piece in For Children that brought to mind this type of writing the study for left hand, thought it's missing the right hand changes that are in these.
     

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