P.M. Joyce’s work “Fairytale” is a well-polished work that would work well in a film score.

View the score here.

I would encourage that our readers keep an eye (and ear) out for the following devices that really help make this piece convincing:

1. The form begins simple and small, but develops into three main sections:

  1. m. 1-74 – opening section, exposition
  2. m. 75-89 – second theme
  3. m. 90-100 – development
  4. m. 101-122 – third theme and countermelody
  5. m. 123-end – recapitulation

2. Idiomatic writing

Clarinet

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Strings

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Bassoon

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3. Use of color/timbre in orchestration
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This piece works well as a story; the sense of a fairy tale is evident.  The piece looks polished, but there are some default notation software elements and minor notation flaws to beware:

  1. The slurs position themselves well, but they sometimes end at strange places, eg. at the beginnings of tied notes.
  2. Some text is below the staff when it should actually be above the staff (see letter E pizz.).
  3. Some rhythm durations are more clearly expressed with a staccato marking instead of shortening them (eg. flute, m. 64 and 66)

Regardless, this is a convincing piece.  The use of melody and countermelody, as well as tone color and harmony, indicate that the composer has spent a lot of time listening to music similar to this work, and also invested time in the counterpoint.  There are some examples of parallel fifths in this work, but that is fine if that is what the composer intends.  Minor voice leading fixes can resolve those fifths (eg. letter A in the violas and cellos).

I am being nit-picky with this work because there is little else to criticize–the use of doublings, formal structure, and polish are quite good.

Next steps for the composer would be:

  1. Getting together with friends or people who make films, to score parts of the film or at least provide stock music for them to use.
  2. Getting the piece performed by a local community orchestra.
  3. Taking conducting lessons, to see just how the music on the page is realized, which can inform future works and provide a way to see if that is something else that the composer wishes to study.
  4. Experimenting with dissonance and fludiity, for examples:
    1. Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47, Mvt. I
    2. John Adams, The Dharma at Big Sur, Part II: Sri Moonshine
    3. Gabriel Kahane and Brooklyn Rider, Come On All You Ghosts (off of the album “The Fiction Issue”)

Happy composing,

Dan