Ross Tregenza's Notes:
There’s some nice work across all orchestra groups and the interplay between them is solid.
Overall, I think the biggest problem is a lack of vibrancy and narrative throughout. It feels at times a little plodding, almost as if it’s boring itself, which obviously isn’t great.
There are a lot of sections that lack dynamic development – they move along in a straight line without any clear indication of progression. The key elements in most sections are fine, but secondary and tertiary layers of movement would really have gone long way – it’s perhaps all just a little too simple. You could make the argument that the subject matter is simple, and the music reflects that, but this would be a little reductive and would discredit both the subject matter and the opportunity to score. Even if a brief is simple on the surface, it’s your job to dive deep into it and find your own challenges and rewards.
Let’s run through a few points:
Overall, there’s a little too much reverb across the board. It’s colouring the music quite heavily and pulling focus and sharpness. You’ll get a lot more definition and detail if you don’t allow the reverb to blur the music too much. If you want elements of that colour, just keep the wetness low to avoid over saturation – you’ll still get a clear sense of that reverb colour in the quiet moments.
The supernatural elements are a little underwhelming and could have benefitted from a little more fun and lateral thinking. You have an established instrument set throughout so it would have been great to hear you break your own rules and go for something a little crazy – some sheet metal, Theremins, waterphones – something fun and crazy. There’s no shame in being a little playful and silly at times.
There are some key moments (as with the supernatural stuff) that feel under represented – again, the biggest problem is a lack of surprise – there aren’t any real joyous moments of leftfield thinking that charm the listener with unexpected twists.
Percussion elements throughout are possibly a little minimal and repetitive – at times, the repetition becomes a little grating. Try obfuscating it a little with additional layers, momentary changes and fills etc.
In a more positive note, the bass is great – very much the kind of thing this brief needs – it’s lively and full of whimsy. If you review your work, I’d anchor to this and rebuild from that.
Narrative signposting is a little underwhelming at key moments. For example, when it turns out the pharaoh is a child, the build-up is great, but there’s no comedy pay off. Even if you’d gone for something as straightforward as a little pizzicato run, it would have been the payoff the listener expected.
So overall, while you’ve clearly got a great grasp of orchestral grouping and have plenty of skill working with the groups, I think you need to layer things up, tighten up your narrative cues, experiment a little further and listen with an impartial ear to your results – as a listener, is your work fun and lively?
Ross Tregenza's Summary:
The work is technically solid but lacks a sense of whimsy and joy, and at times feels heavy and slows the action down. Tighten up your cues, experiment a little more and try and introduce a little more fun.
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