Rodney

My “Serious Operetta”--hear the intro

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Years ago I wrote what I like to call a “serious operetta” titled THE WATCHER ON THE SHORE (WOTS). Recently, I revised its first scene in order to enter a competition held by Hartford Opera Theater. Though I did not win, I got an email stating, “[We] want you to know that we regard your work highly and that ‘The Watcher on the Shore’ was in the Top 10 selections that were finalists.” (I also entered it into three or four other competitions for which the results have not come out yet.)

The entire scene is about 13 minutes long (of continuous music), of which the first third is an instrumental introduction, which is the sound file here.

This short piece begins with a melody used later on in WOTS for a song titled “I’d Like to Welcome Everyone,” making it appropriate for this instrumental opening. Next there is a representative section of the title tune. The ending is a succession of waltzes (a dance form given significance in the story), some truncated and one of them more romantic in style.

The basic theme of WOTS is the tension between different approaches to life, represented by the characters in that first scene (soprano and tenor). My focus is not on Objectivism, but the influence is likely much apparent.

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I hear some likeness to Rachmaninoff. Well done Rodney!

Some might also be interested in some pop music. Lend an ear to Frank Ifield’s “I Remember You” from way back in 1962. It is close to being operatic to my tin ear. Peter

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That has always been a favorite of mine. Only later did I learn it was an old song. 

Here's a very operatic pop song from that same period, which was also a favorite--you probably know it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXfNGRcDYpM

 

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I agree. “Cara Mia” is operatic. And I also like Jay and the Americans, “Walkin’ in the Rain.” And Jay’s “Some Enchanted Evening” is a good pop version. I also like the falsetto voice of Lou Christie singing “Lightnin’ Strikes,” and other songs like “I'm Gonna Make You Mine.”  How crazy is that? I like the way other songs "pop up" when you go to You Tube.

I have mentioned this before but my Dad was the special services officer for a naval base and he would drive to Nashville with me and I would give him a list of 45’s I wouldn’t mind having. There was no quid pro quo, wink, wink. Since he supplied the base with juke box records the vendors were only too happy to give me my suggestions. We had a roofed over car port and I would have weekly record parties out there using an extension cord for the record player and lights. I felt like my Dad owned the Enlisted Men’s, the NCO’s, the Officer’s Club on base, the movie theatre, the swimming pools, and the bowling alley. Peter   

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Rodney,

I like it.

:)

Orchestrated, it probably sounds even more gay (in the 1890's sense, not in the modern one :) ).

Have you ever thought about learning to use computer technology for orchestrating demos?

I haven't seriously messed with music in a while, but I still have a couple of keyboards for MIDI that I intend to mess around with for just this purpose (orchestrating both songs and more classical pieces). I bought an Akai MPK Mini (old model) years ago, but I just couldn't overcome the technical barrier to getting sounds out of my computer with it (and I use Windows 10, which has a very good MIDI bank). I watched I don't know how many videos on YouTube and read documents, but I would get so irritated, I gave up. Also, I'm no fan of the small keys on a mini-keyboard. (However, professionals use this thing for songwriting.)

Kat got me a Nektar (IMPACT LX25+) last year for Christmas. Normal key size. I'm not too worried about the short keyboard extension because a button changes octaves, so I just have to stop and program the changes or switch octaves in the music editor software (DAW). And I can get sounds out of this one, especially since an Amazon reviewer made a tutorial video that explains it in a manner that makes sense--even to me (see here) and I even get an beginner's 8 track DAW for tech dummies (like me) with the accompanying software.

btw - I'm not selling anything here even though I used affiliate links (believe it or not, they are easier to insert than URL's if you don't want to include all the extra navigation and referral garbage Amazon puts in). I'm just giving you this info in case you want to muck around with it and haven't because it's complicated for old-school folks like me (and probably you). :) 

I haven't composed on it, yet, but I imagine it will be hell because of the small keyboard extension. I have another electronic keyboard with a normal extension Kat and I got for me to teach her music theory on. When I get back to composing, that's what I will use, then flesh out the composition for demo (orchestration, rhythm, etc.) on the smaller keyboard. If I get back into music, I'll get top gear. For what I need now, that's good enough. Incidentally, Kat took up ukulele a few years back and I paid for all my sins. :) But she's now beyond beginner level and can get a nice groove on. 

Anyway, getting back to your piece, I have a constructive technical criticism. I don't know if it's my playback program (I doubt it, though--I use VLC and it has never had this problem with other mp3 files). The accompaniment (left hand) is slightly louder than the melody (right hand). That's what made me think of you orchestrating it. Besides, some of the melodies cry out for melodic instruments, not just the piano.

Even with that distraction, I like your piece. Very pretty.

I hope you do more.

Michael

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I think it's because in the score the melody is set low. A human piano player, whom I hope the piece would have one day, could make sure the melody is more exposed. I could have simply changed the velocity on the melody notes for recording the playback, but I didn't think the issue was worth the trouble (also I had a submission deadline). 

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23 hours ago, Rodney said:

I could have simply changed the velocity on the melody notes for recording the playback...

Rodney,

In the 70's and early 80's, I was an orchestra conductor (and trombonist for even longer). My head was so far into the musician way of seeing and talking about things, computer techie jargon for music sounded totally stupid to me.

For example, when I first started messing around with MIDI, it took me about two years to realize that velocity in MIDI-speak was not tempo, but instead, volume. After that, I let the sound engineers deal with it when I produced a record.

:)

(For the reader, tempo means how fast or slow the music is and volume means how loud or soft it gets. From that perspective, velocity could only refer to the speed of the music. For techies, their focus is on messages in bits and bytes, so velocity means something or other for that, but results in soft and loud. :) )

Back then I would not accept the word velocity for volume, and it caused me cognitive dissonance every time I came across it, but not because I disagreed with it. The fact is, the thought never occurred to me. When I would read about MIDI and see the word velocity, nothing made sense, so I would skim over it--sort of like reading an article about wall paint and seeing the color blue referred to as how plump it was or something like that.

Anywho, I see you use MIDI for your piano. What DAW or recording program do you use? Or do you use a score software and program written notes to transform into sound?

Michael

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On 11/5/2019 at 3:52 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Have you ever thought about learning to use computer technology for orchestrating demos?

Yes, in fact when I started using a computer to make music, I arranged for other instruments than piano most of the time. When I first put out this one, I got 179,000 views:

https://youtu.be/ENVhSWGm_Ck

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... I would not accept the word velocity for volume, and it caused me cognitive dissonance every time I came across it, ... .

Me too, but I kept reminding myself that it referred to the speed of one's finger's descent to the ivory!

The thing is, I was not, and am not, much interested in becoming a good arranger, just a melodist and songwriter. But the only way I could see my way clear to achieving this--to get heard and noticed--was to approach local concert bands or to create computer arrangements not meant for human players. So I had to study orchestration and arranging to an extent. 

1 hour ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Or do you use a score software and program written notes to transform into sound?

I started with a notation program called Rhapsody, given to me gratis by a young flautist who was in one of those concert bands, after my first-ever premiere, a very ambitious piece called ANTHEM. (Afterwards I inputted the whole massive score into Finale but never used the result. The concert used my onerously handwritten score and parts.) Then I switched to Rhapsody's later version, Encore. Finally, I took up MuseScore, which I still use.

From MuseScore you can create both PDF scores and parts and sound files. I prefer MP3 because I can fix the exact sounds in the final product; with MIDI the end consumer can change the sounds and I don't like that. 

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I hope Rodney doesn't mind in I talk about what is SO goooood on his thread. Victory at Sea by Richard Rogers and Robert Russell Bennet.

Do Americans, Russians, and Ukrainians go well together? Da! Sometimes. So, let’s munch on what’s good today. Ham and cabbage fresh from the pressure cooker with a sprinkle of salt.  And of course Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff especially the 18th variation, if you haven’t heard it in years.  And Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto no.2 op.18 – played by the fetching Ukrainian, Anna Fedorova.   

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One more, if you haven’t heard it in a while? George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue - Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic (1976)

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