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Strings ultimate challenge: Mahler 5th Adagietto

jbuhler

Senior Member
It depends on how good the orchestra is. But with a top orchestra and conductor the first reading would be already very good, only very small details would need to be rehearsed. That's if the conductor spends the necessary hours before, building in his mind an extremely strong and detailed idea of the interpretation.
Yes, this is what I mean. Some of the work of those three days that you put into the mock up are time that you as a conductor would have to spend preparing, because you are having to make musical decisions in either case. It most likely wouldn't take you three days, but it's a considerable amount of time. And when you figure that in along with the amount of time for the rehearsal and recording I'm not sure c. 25 hours of labor cost for a mock up of this quality is unreasonable. Unless my math is way off (string orchestra of 60 plus conductor and studio for 30 minutes, which at your tempo would get you perhaps a rehearsal and two takes), it looks very much like a bargain.
 

NoamL

Winter <3
Another difficulty of writing music like this for film is that the music lives or dies by the tempo track.

Here is your tempo track for the piece, copying Abbado's performance:



In my Harry Potter mockup I posted last year I found a similar fluid tempo in the performance conducted by William Ross:



Here's another tempo track, of the cue at the finale of Potter 2:



Here's a tempo track of a mockup I made of the slow movement from Elgar's String Serenade, copying a performance I found on Youtube:



Music with a motor element has less variation. Here's "Flying" from E.T. conducted by Williams. There's still big changes in the finale of the piece of course:



None of this style of music would work with a steady click. It just kills the music.

In "Production" music for modern films the orchestra is just one element layered into a pre-made DAW session. So the style of writing tends to serve that.
 

NoamL

Winter <3
But as an example of compromise, here's the tempo track for the Henry Jackman mockup I posted this summer:



You can see that there was very likely an original DAW session with tempos of 170, 150 and 140. But when they recorded it live they let the orchestra breathe.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
I'd kill to have my more personally expressive (i.e. non-corporate) music played by an actual orchestra. For me it was more a matter of wanting to get these things expressed rather than save a ton for an orchestra. Despite the fact of my suckitude compositionally-speaking, I do my
But as an example of compromise, here's the tempo track for the Henry Jackman mockup I posted this summer:



You can see that there was very likely an original DAW session with tempos of 170, 150 and 140. But when they recorded it live they let the orchestra breathe.
I like a little Jackman, and could you tell me which score this is please?
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I don't know how everyone does it but I vary tempo all over when writing for picture. Is there any confusion thinking that "temp music" means "tempo?" It means "temporary"
 

desert

Just here so I don't get fined
Another difficulty of writing music like this for film is that the music lives or dies by the tempo track.

Here is your tempo track for the piece, copying Abbado's performance:



In my Harry Potter mockup I posted last year I found a similar fluid tempo in the performance conducted by William Ross:



Here's another tempo track, of the cue at the finale of Potter 2:



Here's a tempo track of a mockup I made of the slow movement from Elgar's String Serenade, copying a performance I found on Youtube:



Music with a motor element has less variation. Here's "Flying" from E.T. conducted by Williams. There's still big changes in the finale of the piece of course:



None of this style of music would work with a steady click. It just kills the music.

In "Production" music for modern films the orchestra is just one element layered into a pre-made DAW session. So the style of writing tends to serve that.
NoamL, please tell me you are not drawing those tempo values in logic. Are you using the mod wheel?
 
OP
Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Beat Mapping, I guess?
Probably. The way it works in Reaper I simply play the original track and then drop markers on every beat. Then I run an action to convert markers to tempo.

If I wasn’t doing a mockup of an existing piece then I would totally draw in the tempo changes. Except if it’s for a movie and I’m recording with orchestra. Then, because of the limited recording time, I would have a steady tempo and record to click. Other option is to conduct to punches and streamers, which is my favorite and what I would use when I was conducting live the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. But it’s not as precise when there are many hits.
 

Vik

Scandi Member
But for your information the subV (tritone substitution) kind of exists in traditional harmony. It's the bII and is called the neapolitan sixth (because it's most often in first inversion). The only difference is that it works as a subdominant rather than a dominant so it would still usually be followed by the normal dominant. But even Beethoven would love playing around the expectations of this chord and use it to modulate.
Sure, Mahler didn't invent tritonus substitutes!
:)

Regarding this:
I wouldn't try to analyze functionally this last beat, I see it as mostly non chord tones.
...I'm not sure I understand what you mean, but while I have always been interested in finding out why this particular piece is so beautiful, my comment was mainly meant to those who find the C# in bar 6 peculiar. It is strange, somehow, when looking at the score, but when listening to good recordings of this piece, it sounds totally natural too. Some of it has to do with ambiguity, and Mahlers ability - in this piece - to create music which is simple and beautiful, but which also sounds very original and different - not only from pretty much everything else he has done, but also from all other musical pieces I've heard.

The bars in the adagietto which stick out as even more brilliant than the others (btw, I don't think of this when I just listen to do the music) simply makes me want to understand what happens.

This already starts, btw, before the melody comes in ...check this, should you be interested:
 
OP
Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Sure, Mahler didn't invent tritonus substitutes!
:)

Regarding this:

...I'm not sure I understand what you mean, but while I have always been interested in finding out why this particular piece is so beautiful, my comment was mainly meant to those who find the C# in bar 6 peculiar. It is strange, somehow, when looking at the score, but when listening to good recordings of this piece, it sounds totally natural too.
What I meant is that both the C# and the Bb are clearly passing tones and are not part of the harmony. But I agree that the fact they are during one beat both so important creates a harmonic ambiguity. If you want a beautiful example of the use of non chord tones to create a seemingly almost atonal harmony with what is actually perfectly functional chords, you should check the beginning Mozart's quartet K.465, also known as the "Dissonance" quartet. The guy was a couple of centuries early...
 
OP
Bernard Duc

Bernard Duc

Member
Some people asked me on Facebook to make a video or an article on how to create realistic strings mockups and tips on how to use Reaper for orchestral music. But I have the feeling there are already a lot of videos, especially on how to create mockups, and I don't want to simply add more noise out there. Is there anything people would want to know more about? Or would a walkthrough of my process be of any use?
 

quantum7

I'm 50 now....it's all over!
Some people asked me on Facebook to make a video or an article on how to create realistic strings mockups and tips on how to use Reaper for orchestral music. But I have the feeling there are already a lot of videos, especially on how to create mockups, and I don't want to simply add more noise out there. Is there anything people would want to know more about? Or would a walkthrough of my process be of any use?
Great job on that piece. I wouldn’t mind seeing a walkthrough. No matter how long one has been writing, one can always gain something by watching others. :)
 

Vik

Scandi Member
What I meant is that both the C# and the Bb are clearly passing tones and are not part of the harmony. But I agree that the fact they are during one beat both so important creates a harmonic ambiguity.
I see.... yes, and they somehow have a stronger harmonic function when the tempo is as low as the slowest recorded versions of this piece - circa 14 minutes length - since the notes last longer then.
 

Dave Connor

Senior Member
Looking at bar 6, if you take the melody notes at that spot and consider them arpeggiated chord notes, it's like a C# 6/7 chord (or a C#13 chord), with an added b9 - except that the b7 actually isn't played. This is not an uncommon way to substitute a G dominant chord leading to a C chord; a so called tritonus substitute...
I would consider the melody notes just that and look at the underlying harmony which is quite simple really. Bar 6 is A7 -- Bar 7 is A dim -- Bar 8 is Faug/A -- Bar 9 C#7/G# to G7 (containing the persistent c#). Then comes the lovely abrupt modulation back to the tonic (not just to the ears but indicated in the key signature as well.)

Mahler is exploiting the available local harmonies with very little movement (the pedal A) while maintaining both intervallic tension (in the melody) and harmonic tension with his exotic chords. He's also being Beethovian in the justification/reuse of his basic material and the key relationships to the entire piece (all those C#’s not a surprise in a work in C#minor) and to this movement specifically. At a glance it appears that way anyway.

I'm sure there are some very thorough analyses out there. I thought the Jazz analysis was a bit tortured.
 
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NoamL

Winter <3
NoamL, please tell me you are not drawing those tempo values in logic. Are you using the mod wheel?
Of course I'm drawing them, how else would that happen? ;) It's not that much work honestly and makes the music sound better.
 

Alex Niedt

Active Member
Thank you. I don't really hear the hissiness here but I remember noticing it at some point with a different EQ setting. I think it has to do with the fact I am using the lowest dynamic layer, which is otherwise absolutely gorgeous. Probably something for Alex to look into for a future update? It should be easy to fix.

EDIT: Meanwhile I should probably have used a multiband compressor on the violins to control it.
You'd need a multiband denoiser like the Waves WNS, and you'd probably have to automate the threshold throughout the entire piece since the hiss is neither constant nor consistent in level. I'm just surprised those low dynamic layers are that noisy. Oh well!
 

Vik

Scandi Member
Bar 6 is A7 -- Bar 7 is A dim -- Bar 8 is Faug/A -- Bar 9 C#7/G# to G7 (containing the persistent c#).
Hi, I don't think we're even talking about the same bars here. :) Are you thinking of bar 6 in Bernards MIDI file/in the original score - or something else?

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 11.04.02.png

There are often several ways to analyse a piece like this, and one explanation why people come to different results is that they analyse it for different reasons. Some wrote earlier that it sounded like someone played the wrong note when the C# was played together with the D natural. I think Bernard's explanation is good, the C# in the viola is a passing note.

It would sound vulgar to play the jazz chord I mentioned in there. There's clearly a reason why Mahler did what he did. So my quick 'anti-jazz' analysis is was an attempt of finding out why the Adagietto sounds like it does - but also (as always, for me) give me some hints about ways to play this piece from memory and play it different every time. Jazz players do that as well, but I wouldn't want this to sound like jazz. However, if I play A7 to A dim to F+/A to C#7/G# it doesn't sound like the adagietto at all - so analysis certainly has different purposes! :) Simplifying the harmonies here would make it sound less like the piece it is to me.

In terms of creating a tempo map to adapt the tempo of an existing recording, and if anyone is interested: This...
...can be done with audio files as well. I also tried Logic's new File Tempo Editor on the adagietto, but it is fooled by the harp, and assumes the piece is in 6/8. For more mainstream music, it's apparently able to create a tempo map and click based on analysing the file (but I doubt it ever will be able to replace Beat Mapping fully).
 
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