IV.Lento-Allegro, molto agitato

I tried to work on a molto agitato sequence for IV. Lento-Allegro last night, but I wasn’t feeling well for some reason. I know what I want, for once, and I could even hear it in my head, but I couldn’t concentrate. It kept coming out wrong, and the orchestration was absolutely appalling, although I can’t tell whether it’s me or the software. I think I want cellos, but it’s not sounding right, not stressful enough.

Part of the problem is that in order to get the computer to sound like what I want the orchestra to sound like, I have to over-indicate in the score. Real players would look at the command molto agitato and immediately tackle the passage with shorter bowing and stronger attacks on the strings. The computer is not so savvy. (Of course, I didn’t actually mark it agitato, so maybe it’s smarter than I think.)

I often ran into this problem in William Blake. I would have to fill the score with markings that I think would only overwhelm actual players just to get it to sound like I wanted it to.

On the other hand, it never hurts to be specific.

However, nothing was working last night, not the melodic line, not the shape of the thing, and certainly not the orchestration. The trumpets were too loud, it was the wrong key for them to sound right, and the basses were muddy. So I left it in sketches and went to bed early.

4 thoughts on “IV.Lento-Allegro, molto agitato

  1. There’s actually a Lacanian distinction that may help here, between the Symbolic and the Imaginary. In analysis proper, the old saw among analysts is: neutralize the Imaginary and effect a cure in the Symbolic. The Imaginary in this instance is the way you want it to sound: getting hung up on the agitato. You have a final “image” in which the ultimate meanings will supposedly cohere and it involves embedding excessive markings and the like. To work in the Symbolic in this instance is to think of your work like the notes for a Bach sonata (I think that’s the form I want) on the page. No indications of execution or ornamentation or interpretation, no “image” of you standing alongside reminding us, “It’s going to go this way…” Just the basic symbolic markings that indicate tone, duration, etc.

  2. I understand the distinction and how it would be useful in sketching, but part of the sketching for me is to verify that what I have written on paper actually will sound like I think it sounds, and a Bach sonata is a very different piece of paper than a Dvorak/Mahler/Shostakovich/Lyles symphonic score. I can’t avoid markings. The question/problem for me is whether it’s not sounding “right” because a) I have failed to indicate to the computer, and to the players, how it’s to be played, or b) the computer just can’t interpret the markings. (It can actually interpret fairly accurately, which is what concerns me about my agitato section not sounding right.)

    At any rate, as I listen to iTunes playing through some Bruckner et al. today, I’m thinking that my main theme belongs higher up, in the violas or the lower stretches of the violins. That might be the problem. So you can see how the infinity of choices that one is faced with becomes a multitude of infinities when one is dealing with an orchestra instead of a keyboard.

    I can say this even more firmly since the agitato section is actually another theft from the Sonatina. Sounds great in the piano four hands; not so much transcribed for orchestra. Yet.

  3. Hands agitate one way. Brunette oboists in heels, another.

    JB must admit that was witty and brief.

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