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Minhun Kang

Professor’s Feedback on My Current Composition for Large Orchestral Arrangement

  1. Lack of Woodwind Instruments. The reason for having woodwinds in an orchestra is to balance the overall sound. Despite the strong marcato in strings, there is a lack of woodwinds and brass. Expand the French horns to four parts and add at least two trombones for balance.

  2. Even with a small ensemble, it’s essential to create a rich resonance. Kill when you must (keep the parts minimal) and revive when needed (expand the text to bring out a wide range of instruments across different ranges).

  3. Unnatural Sound. The horns are too prominent, and the depth of instruments is not well-perceived. Pay attention to instrument placement for a more dimensional sound. Listening to well-recorded orchestral sounds is key. :: Hans Zimmer - band background, uses the orchestra like rock VS James Horner, John Williams - film composers who excel in orchestral use. If you want to be like the former, that’s fine, but if you aim for the latter, take note (though the professor is a bit old-fashioned).

  4. To enrich the sound, mastering the basics is crucial. Understanding harmony, orchestration, and counterpoint is the answer. Analyze the scores of the masters. Even instruments that are barely audible make a significant difference when included. ===> This kind of study requires not only listening but also analyzing the music of the masters (Brahms, Wagner, Ravel, Poulenc) with their scores.

  5. The overall harmony of the piece is too reliant on triads, lacking in color variety. Use tensions like the 13th chords to enrich emotions. Techniques like pedal tones and intervallic relationships (inversion) between the bass and melody can effectively employ tensions.

Having a mentor who can provide such precise feedback on my compositions is invaluable. With this guidance, I feel my music can truly evolve.