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Fugue for Orchestra

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I'm writing a piece for chorus and orchestra and thought a fugue would work well as an instrumental section. It's a nod to Bach. Essentially it's a traditional 4 voice fugue with two countersubjects. There's no free counterpoint between subjects but there is sort of a development that follows.

I made it sound as well as I could which is not great unfortunately but the point is made I suppose. I'll post the entire piece when it's done (not sure when that will be.) I bounced this section to send to some composer buddies and thought some might get a kick out of it here.

DC

 

josejherring

Senior Member
The writing is rather good. Trying to find something that I might find fault with but I really can't. So I won't bother to give "advice".

Wouldn't worry too much about the mockup. It's plain that this piece is intended for real instruments and as such the mock up would be good enough to interest a real ensemble as is. I find that people in the concert world aren't really judging the mockup quality.

I do like the string sound though. What library are you using for the strings and WW?

I hope you can get it performed.
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
The writing is rather good. Trying to find something that I might find fault with but I really can't. So I won't bother to give "advice".

Wouldn't worry too much about the mockup. It's plain that this piece is intended for real instruments and as such the mock up would be good enough to interest a real ensemble as is. I find that people in the concert world aren't really judging the mockup quality.

I do like the string sound though. What library are you using for the strings and WW?

I hope you can get it performed.
Thank you Jose' and very nice to see you here!

I'm grateful for your perspective with which I agree. I found the fugue proper nearly impossible mock up to any degree of satisfaction. As you say it's all about the writing in a strict, naked form like that.

The opening fugue section is Hollywood Strings and Spitfire Winds. I layered in a little bit of Spitfire Chamber Strings in the following sections. Since the music that precedes all of this is very large I went with the bigger HS library. The Chamber would have been just too small. I could have tried layering them in there and may experiment just to see how they might of worked but I had to layer HS with itself enough as it is.
 

dcoscina

Senior Member
Beautiful writing Dave. Did you mock this up straight to DAW or start in a notation program. I’d imagine writing a fugue using a daw would be an extra challenge. Not quite as hard in notation
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Beautiful writing Dave. Did you mock this up straight to DAW or start in a notation program. I’d imagine writing a fugue using a daw would be an extra challenge. Not quite as hard in notation
Thanks Dave. Of course you’re right that I wrote the parts with pencil and paper (i.e. not in my DAW.) Then I put it into Sibelius to examine, listen and make adjustments. Then into my DAW where I made further adjustments. After all four announcements I did the rest in the DAW.
 
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X-Bassist

Senior Member
I'm writing a piece for chorus and orchestra and thought a fugue would work well as an instrumental section. It's a nod to Bach. Essentially it's a traditional 4 voice fugue with two countersubjects. There's no free counterpoint between subjects but there is sort of a development that follows.

I made it sound as well as I could which is not great unfortunately but the point is made I suppose. I'll post the entire piece when it's done (not sure when that will be.) I bounced this section to send to some composer buddies and thought some might get a kick out of it here.

DC

Sounds great, but I would pull the basses back a bit in the mix until the end. They work well for the last couple of notes where they are alone, but in the rest they are much stronger than they would sound live. Also pulling them back saves the weight for when you really need it. Personally I would ride the volume of the basses for an entire pass and give it a little more expression, pull it back where it's more delicate. Great job :)
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Sounds great, but I would pull the basses back a bit in the mix until the end. They work well for the last couple of notes where they are alone, but in the rest they are much stronger than they would sound live. Also pulling them back saves the weight for when you really need it. Personally I would ride the volume of the basses for an entire pass and give it a little more expression, pull it back where it's more delicate. Great job :)
I went back and forth on the basses and did in fact pull them back (too much according to a friend who did a mastering pass and actually added bass.) The Hollywood Strings legato basses don’t quite have the expression their other strings have. They’re pretty hard to work with. I would love to find a very expressive bass patch to work with. Spitfire Chamber don’t quite carry the load and their Symphonic basses which I heard ages ago, I thought were pretty bad.
 
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X-Bassist

Senior Member
I went back and forth on the basses and did in fact pull them back (too much according to a friend who did a mastering pass and actually added bass.) The Hollywood Strings legato basses don’t quite have the expression their other strings have. They’re pretty hard to work with. I would love to find a very expressive bass patch to work with. Spitfire Chamber don’t quite carry the load and their Symphonic basses which I heard ages ago, I thought were pretty bad.
The latest version of Spitfire Chamber work well as an extra layer, but I agree by themselves the basses wouldn't be enough. I liked the sound of the old Adagio basses when I picked them up recently, but I haven't used them in context yet. I think what you have sounds great for the part (Hollywood Strings), I would just do a volume automation pass where I ride the volume (just slightly) to make them fall back where they should. Perhaps it's the bass he added, not bad, just a bit strong in places. But for most people it's probably a minor point.
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
I hear you. You should see my automation curves on the basses : ) Also I wasn’t necessarily going for realism in balance once the fugue ends. More like Bernard Herrmann basses at some points but in the final sweeter bit I tried to get the bases to breath and sound realistically. Hollywood just don’t do that well. Thanks for such thorough consideration.
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Not only props for writing a fugue, but what a sumptuous, up-to-date sounding orchestration. Very evocative.
Thank you very much. I wanted the fugue itself to hearken to the past but still be contemporary. I broke numerous rules to do that starting with the theme itself. In order to still maintain a traditional character I followed other rules very strictly. I kept the fugue’s orchestration simple by doubling each string group but the basses with a wind and orchestrated the rest free of any historic considerations.
 

miket

Team Dany
Thank you very much. I wanted the fugue itself to hearken to the past but still be contemporary. I broke numerous rules to do that starting with the theme itself. In order to still maintain a traditional character I followed other rules very strictly. I kept the fugue’s orchestration simple by doubling each string group but the basses with a wind and orchestrated the rest free of any historic considerations.
The result reminds me of Lou Harrison in a few spots. Great piece!
 

mikeh-375

old school
Great writing Dave. I'd have liked more of the rhythmic impetus before you went into more sustained music, but hey it's yours, not mine so who cares. As it is only meant to be a section of your work you should've called it a fugato...sorry I'm a proper anal stickler...:grin:
If I were leader of the world, all composers would have to learn fugal writing because it gives so much in learning for composition. Best book out there is free online these days.....
https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.166045/page/n5

As there is a chorus, what is the piece based on?
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Thanks for listening Mike. I appreciate your expertise and enthusiasm.

Great writing Dave. I'd have liked more of the rhythmic impetus before you went into more sustained music...
I would have liked to have made it of greater length for any number of reasons but it would unbalance the entire piece (there is a chorus and orchestra section prior.) So I understand you feeling similarly.
Mikey-375 said:
but hey it's yours, not mine so who cares. As it is only meant to be a section of your work you should've called it a fugato...sorry I'm a proper anal stickler...
It seems to me to be more of a fugue than a fugal passage. It actually has 4 subject/responses at the tonic and dominant and 2 countersubjects (as opposed to staggered imitative entrances in an essentially homophonic setting as Beethoven was so fond of.) In any case it was conceived and worked out as a strict fugue. How to describe it exactly is a judgement call and unimportant in our little world I’m sure : ) I just thought folks would get a kick out of a sort of Bach style fugue in today’s musical atmosphere.

As I said it’s a section of a larger piece. It follows a big climax in voices and orchestra. I have to write the final section which I will then post.
 

mikeh-375

old school
A fugue it is. Do you have plans to re-state it again perhaps modified? Such good material could be useful in augmentation for your final section or as an epilogue. I just want more of it, it's laden with possibilities as every good fugue subject should be.
Looking forward to hearing it finished.
 
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Dave Connor

Dave Connor

Senior Member
A fugue it is. Do you have plans to re-state it again perhaps modified? Such good material could be useful in augmentation for your final section or as an epilogue. I just want more of it, it's laden with possibilities as every good fugue subject should be.
Looking forward to hearing it finished.
Didn’t mean to quibble : ) There are equal number of reasons to label it either way.

The theme or subject is actually derived from a rhythmic figure that serves as a reoccurring 1 bar fill in the previous section. So the fugue is itself a development of previous material. That said, you just reminded me that I actually did work out a section in augmentation which I liked and thought had real potential. It was going to follow as another entrance but once again length was an issue.

If you don’t plan out a work ahead of time you are asking for problems of form. The original form of the entire piece was going to be a sort of trailer with big chorus but after I started writing with a new choir library I started enjoying myself too much and that form went away. A highly contrapuntal section was just the next thing I thought would be fun and indeed work structurally. If I wrote a fugue according to your traditional description (only a fugue) then it would have been tighter structurally and allowed for devices such as augmentation etc.

I think I captured the kinetic quality of a fugue but the writing is probably decent at best.
 
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