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Northumberland Reunion (MJRF2010)

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Hmmmm........ I started out this piece as an experiment to see if I could cobble something together using "orchestral" instruments. Considering I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing, this turned out OK - to a point. I can feel HUGE holes in this - mainly my inability to leave a theme and develop new ones.

I started thinking about this when I visited Northumberland, the county of my father's birth, in 2002. It's not a re-issue of something I've posted before, but something I've been working on (very on and off) for maybe 4 years. Theme-wise it's about a lot of things, but was built about me being "reunited" with my dad's birthplace as well as connecting with a cousin of my dad's (he's around my own age) who still lives there. The first part of the idea was from a story my dad used to tell me about army recruiting marches during WW1 that his own father had told him.

Anyway, this is an experiment - suggestions are more than welcome as I've really enjoyed doing this. Thanks to Alf Solti for some advice on "How An Orchestra Works 101". There is a "second movement" in the works, but I'll see how this goes first :)

Oh yes, it's quite long.
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Uploaded: Feb 07, 2010 - 06:44:21 PM
Last Updated: Feb 07, 2010 - 06:56:20 PM Last Played: Apr 17, 2019 - 11:43:26 PM
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Vic Holman said 3446 days ago (February 7th, 2010)
bridge over the river kiwi
goodness Neil, this is quite the undertaking. i think it's great. great job on the build and attention to details. sure it follows a given melody but there is more than enough changes and variations to keep ones attention. a lot of tracks I'm guessing. quite the showpiece!
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Retro Plien said 3446 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Cheers Vic
Thanks for sitting through my little opus!
There are 24 tracks - 2 violin sections and a few solo violins, 1 viola section, i cello section, 2 double bass sections, a piccolo, a flute, an English horn, an ovoe, a bassoon, a trumpet section, 2 horn sections, a tuba, a bass drum, a tambourine, a kettle drum and a lonely glockenspiel :)
Providing sandwiches and cups of tea for all these people was a full-time job, let me tell you!
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Ren-Tin-10 said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Epic Battle Scene...
...armies marching. The conflict is about to begin!

Big, impressive, and kinda scary!

Thanks for sharing.

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Retro Plien said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Cheers Jim
I think the later movements will get scarier - and maybe even bigger - we'll see.
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ic42 said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
oh DUH!
The reference to Alf suddenly made me look at you in the mirror and... THERE you were! Not sure if I realized who you were before, and I usually catch those things. :-) I was waiting for Alf to teach that class again so I could sign up, but the price of airfare killed that idea.

I love how you torque the theme around 3:00. There's nothing wrong with re-playing a theme, chopping and re-inventing it, playing it upside down and with different instruments... sheesh, that's what Beethoven did! This has a definite military feel, and a 20th-century openness, without the jarring dissonances "just-because-we-can" that I abhor.

Nice work with the drums and brass especially. One thing I am usually guilty of and I hear here, is having a constant droning cello line going on for many measures at a time. That is about the only critique, is to give little breaks at points, passing to different timbre instruments (bassoon?) and back, or add more dynamics to build and release the volume here and there. For example, the last 8 bars of your coda might want to start with fewer instruments and add more instruments as you near the final chord (Rossini-style) to build.

But this is way-cool! And so is this entire MJRF-thing, I am enjoying myself immensely! Thanks!
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Retro Plien said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Thanks so much for listening to this. I'm afraid I have no knowledge whatsoever of classical music or composers, so apart from some really useful suggestions from Alf, I was really flying blind here. Any fancy-pantsy stuff going on that you might hear is purely accidental ;) I'll go back and fiddle (lol) with the cellos and stuff. I have started a second section that is based around a "Blaydon Races" theme (an old English folk tune) so far. It has to be a winter thing though - far too mind-winding for summer.

Glad you're enjoying the MJRF - I understand that the Festival Administration is also happy (even though numbers are down on last year).
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richard13 said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
This is monumental and an example of something we don't get much of here. Keep up the good work: I can't wait to hear the next movement.
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Retro Plien said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Thanks Richard
I can't wait either, but I think it will be a while before I tackle that - this orchestral stuff is hard work :)
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Ed Hannifin said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
Despite the orchestral setting....
It reminds me of Steeleye Span melodies... Almost like a somewhat faster variation on 'The Weaver and the Factory Maid'....

I think that classical things that have a melody you could hang your hat on, or sing a lyric to, have a leg up... I think that was one of the minor musical points in 'Amadeus'...

All this multitracking, though. You need a mellotron....
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ste said 3445 days ago (February 8th, 2010)
like the varying theme and counterpoint. very good job
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jiguma said 3444 days ago (February 9th, 2010)
How can I
not love this? :)
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sloparts said 3444 days ago (February 9th, 2010)
Sound very full
and to imagine this was your first ever doing this kind of orchestration. I'll be waiting to hear how you progress, should you decide to do so in this genre.

Sounds full and sounds wonderful


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Doug Somers said 3444 days ago (February 9th, 2010)
I feel like I'm marching off to somewhere...
There's an interesting tension here which is not overdone, but I sense it through the build. Lots of interplay, variation, and sweeping emotion. You use variety and handoff of melodic lines well. There is like a clarity that comes through after the 8:00 mark where the feel changes into a more open space. Nicely handled. This must have been a HUGE undertaking - I can image screen after screen of tracks.

Thanks for persevering and sharing with us this result!

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scaustrita said 3443 days ago (February 10th, 2010)
A Definite Military Feel
Or am I persuaded by the photo?
Nevertheless a very powerful piece.
Cinematography ready!

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Not much to say - electronic/ambient/dance tunes. Guitar free zone! In my other life I play guitar ;)... [see more]

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