ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

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Cody
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ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Cody »

First, I would like to say that, overall, I thought this was one of the best iterations of Fall that I've seen. I was very pleased with the overall level of difficulty and the quality of clues. Most everyone involved with the set deserves praise here.

Second, I was very happy to see pretty packets, so another kudos there.

However, there were a lot of places where questions were obviously too hard, and far more than most this occurred in the music. There was a fundamental disconnect between the music editor and both "what is actually famous" and "what teams can be expected to know" at this level. For example:
Prokofiev’s C-major third work in this genre begins with an elegiac clarinet solo. Bartók’s first work in this genre begins with ominous repeated notes in the timpani. Shostakovich’s first one of these works uses an orchestra of only strings and trumpet. Gershwin’s only work in this genre also begins with a timpani solo and is in F Major. Rachmaninoff’s second work in this genre was his first piece after a period of writer’s block. Paul Wittgenstein commissioned Prokofiev’s fourth and Ravel’s D-minor works in this genre, both of which only use the soloist’s left hand. For 10 points, name these works for a keyboard instrument and orchestra.
ANSWER: piano concertos [accept any answer indicating concertos or concerti for pianoforte and orchestra; prompt for instrument on just “concerto” or word forms]
The last movement of one of this composer’s piano works begins with a measure of quickly repeated Es. That work by this composer includes a “Forlane” and a “Rigaudon” as well as that “Toccata.” The last movement of his Sonatine is also in the style of a toccata. This composer wrote some of the most difficult piano pieces in the repertoire, including “Alborada del gracioso” from his Miroirs and “Scarbo” from his Gaspard de la Nuit. In one of his orchestral works, a melody first played by the flute just repeats over a constant snare drum rhythm. For 10 points, name this French composer of Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane for a Dead Princess, La Valse, and Boléro.
ANSWER: Maurice Ravel [or Joseph-Maurice Ravel]
Schoenberg’s difficult D-Major concerto for this instrument is an arrangement of a harpsichord concerto by Georg Matthias Monn. In modern performances this is the most typical melody instrument in a continuo group. This instrument “replaced” the gamba. The last work in a set of six for this instrument is in D Major and was written for a five-stringed version of it. Beethoven’s five sonatas for it and piano were recorded by Daniel Barenboim and his wife Jacqueline du Pré. A set of six works for this instrument alone begins with a G-Major Prélude and was played by Mstislav Rostropovich and Pablo Casals. For 10 points, name this low string instrument for which Bach wrote six suites, which is played by Yo-Yo Ma.
ANSWER: cello [or violoncello]
This man wrote an F-minor string quintet with two cellos, revised it as a sonata for two pianos, and then finally turned it into his piano quintet. Late in his life, he wrote a trio in A minor, sonatas in F minor and E-flat major, and a quintet in B minor for clarinet. This composer of two string sextets loved the natural horn and wrote a trio in E-flat for that instrument, violin, and piano. His works for two pianos include Variations on a Theme of Haydn and variations on a theme by his teacher, Schumann. This composer’s stormy C-minor first symphony rips off “Ode to Joy,” which is part of the reason Bülow nicknamed it “Beethoven’s Tenth.” For 10 points, name this composer of the Hungarian Dances.
ANSWER: Johannes Brahms
One of this composer’s works begins with the strings slowly playing “D-E-F-sharp” before the violin soloist plays a very long pentatonic cadenza. He used folksongs as the basis for his three Norfolk Rhapsodies. He contributed the hymn “For All the Saints” or Sine Nomine to the 1906 Hymnal. Midway through another of this composer’s works, the solo viola introduces a theme that is then developed by the rest of a string quartet, which contrasts with a double string orchestra. This composer based a work for violin and orchestra on the George Meredith poem “The Lark Ascending.” For 10 points, identify this English composer who wrote fantasias on “Greensleeves” and on a theme of Thomas Tallis.
ANSWER: Ralph Vaughan Williams [first name pronounced “rafe”]
All of these tossups are bad in general and for Fall -- and should be very obviously so to anyone even basically competent in music -- and there's a couple more pretty bad ones I could easily pull to bump it close to or above 50% of the music tossups. This is not how anyone should be writing music for this level.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Cody wrote: All of these tossups are bad in general and for Fall -- and should be very obviously so to anyone even basically competent in music -- and there's a couple more pretty bad ones I could easily pull to bump it close to or above 50% of the music tossups. This is not how anyone should be writing music for this level.
I wouldn't mind an explanation of why these were bad "in general" (with the exception of the first clue of the Vaughan Williams tossup; sorry about that). And I might buy that the cello and piano concerto tossups are too hard near the end, but the Ravel tossup in particular strikes me as both difficulty-appropriate and extremely standard.

I would also like to think that John Lawrence and Rob Carson (who very correctly had me tone down the cello tossup) are competent in music at a basic level, so I'm not quite sure what you're insinuating there.

[EDIT: Could I request that a mod split the music discussion from the main thread again? I think that was productive when I eventually did it with the CO discussion]
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by Cody »

vinteuil wrote:I wouldn't mind an explanation of why these were bad "in general" (with the exception of the first clue of the Vaughan Williams tossup; sorry about that). And I might buy that the cello and piano concerto tossups are too hard near the end, but the Ravel tossup in particular strikes me as both difficulty-appropriate and extremely standard.
None of these tossups were difficulty appropriate. I will briefly sketch some major problems with each posted question below, but fundamentally the problem is that you clearly do not understand what the general populace knows about music.
vinteuil wrote:I would also like to think that John Lawrence and Rob Carson (who very correctly had me tone down the cello tossup) are competent in music at a basic level, so I'm not quite sure what you're insinuating there.
Let's not pass the buck here. There's only so much time and work a non-editor can put into other people's questions.
Prokofiev’s C-major third work in this genre begins with an elegiac clarinet solo. Bartók’s first work in this genre begins with ominous repeated notes in the timpani. Shostakovich’s first one of these works uses an orchestra of only strings and trumpet. Gershwin’s only work in this genre also begins with a timpani solo and is in F Major. Rachmaninoff’s second work in this genre was his first piece after a period of writer’s block. Paul Wittgenstein commissioned Prokofiev’s fourth and Ravel’s D-minor works in this genre, both of which only use the soloist’s left hand. For 10 points, name these works for a keyboard instrument and orchestra.
ANSWER: piano concertos [accept any answer indicating concertos or concerti for pianoforte and orchestra; prompt for instrument on just “concerto” or word forms]
Obviously way, way too hard. If I'm not misremembering, this is in small part due to the Beethoven question elsewhere in the set mentioning his PCs, I think, but you then do not attempt to keep this question anyway (though not your category, see also: the Argentina TU being far too hard because Borges was already used) -- at least not without using some Beethoven PC clues that are gettable and don't overlap. The clues before Rach's 2nd are questionable at best and lack any substantive information for the majority of teams. There is wonky ordering like the idea that clues about Rach's 2nd are less famous than PC for the left hand, which is not as figure-out-able as you presumably think it is.
The last movement of one of this composer’s piano works begins with a measure of quickly repeated Es. That work by this composer includes a “Forlane” and a “Rigaudon” as well as that “Toccata.” The last movement of his Sonatine is also in the style of a toccata. This composer wrote some of the most difficult piano pieces in the repertoire, including “Alborada del gracioso” from his Miroirs and “Scarbo” from his Gaspard de la Nuit. In one of his orchestral works, a melody first played by the flute just repeats over a constant snare drum rhythm. For 10 points, name this French composer of Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane for a Dead Princess, La Valse, and Boléro.
ANSWER: Maurice Ravel [or Joseph-Maurice Ravel]
2.5+ lines of pretty hard clues, then descends immediately to "hard piano works"/Gaspard de la Nuit. Half the titles in the giveaway had no clues mentioned in the tossup. All but Bolero should've been mentioned before even thinking of dropping clues about one of the most famous pieces in music, which should've had more than a measly sentence. All but Bolero are less famous than Gaspard de la Nuit. This would've been much better if titles were dropped earlier and better early clues were chosen.
Schoenberg’s difficult D-Major concerto for this instrument is an arrangement of a harpsichord concerto by Georg Matthias Monn. In modern performances this is the most typical melody instrument in a continuo group. This instrument “replaced” the gamba. The last work in a set of six for this instrument is in D Major and was written for a five-stringed version of it. Beethoven’s five sonatas for it and piano were recorded by Daniel Barenboim and his wife Jacqueline du Pré. A set of six works for this instrument alone begins with a G-Major Prélude and was played by Mstislav Rostropovich and Pablo Casals. For 10 points, name this low string instrument for which Bach wrote six suites, which is played by Yo-Yo Ma.
ANSWER: cello [or violoncello]
Obviously too hard. Semi-repeat w/ Elgar TU. For most players, literally consists of "have you heard of any of these 4 famous cello players" instead of using clues players might know at this level.
This man wrote an F-minor string quintet with two cellos, revised it as a sonata for two pianos, and then finally turned it into his piano quintet. Late in his life, he wrote a trio in A minor, sonatas in F minor and E-flat major, and a quintet in B minor for clarinet. This composer of two string sextets loved the natural horn and wrote a trio in E-flat for that instrument, violin, and piano. His works for two pianos include Variations on a Theme of Haydn and variations on a theme by his teacher, Schumann. This composer’s stormy C-minor first symphony rips off “Ode to Joy,” which is part of the reason Bülow nicknamed it “Beethoven’s Tenth.” For 10 points, name this composer of the Hungarian Dances.
ANSWER: Johannes Brahms
Obviously too hard. There's mentioning works then there is mentioning [genre] in [key] 15 times. The weird phrasing of the second sentence makes it nearly incomprehensible. This needed actual easy clues like German Requiem, Lullaby, or you know, really anything famous by him aside from his first symphony. Giveaway is laughably out of place.
One of this composer’s works begins with the strings slowly playing “D-E-F-sharp” before the violin soloist plays a very long pentatonic cadenza. He used folksongs as the basis for his three Norfolk Rhapsodies. He contributed the hymn “For All the Saints” or Sine Nomine to the 1906 Hymnal. Midway through another of this composer’s works, the solo viola introduces a theme that is then developed by the rest of a string quartet, which contrasts with a double string orchestra. This composer based a work for violin and orchestra on the George Meredith poem “The Lark Ascending.” For 10 points, identify this English composer who wrote fantasias on “Greensleeves” and on a theme of Thomas Tallis.
ANSWER: Ralph Vaughan Williams [first name pronounced “rafe”]
This has three sentences of useful clues (two of which are the last two) and the rest a whole lot of nothing. How a sentence like "Midway through another of this composer’s works, the solo viola introduces a theme that is then developed by the rest of a string quartet, which contrasts with a double string orchestra." is nestled so late in a question boggles my mind.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Cody wrote:
vinteuil wrote:I would also like to think that John Lawrence and Rob Carson (who very correctly had me tone down the cello tossup) are competent in music at a basic level, so I'm not quite sure what you're insinuating there.
Let's not pass the buck here. There's only so much time and work a non-editor can put into other people's questions.
This is completely fair; I was just questioning the "obvious"ness of how bad these questions purportedly were. I unfortunately don't have time tonight to respond in detail to the dissection below, but I'd be happy to do that sometime later this week.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by Cody »

People should keep in mind that distributional issues are going to probably be due to (1) mostly the order of packets you played which was determined by your schedule and (2) minorly, just being the way packet sub tends to be. I think our site had back-to-back Japan TUs, but they were separated or not even heard at other sites, so it's not an issue. Unless you've seen all the packets, you're going to have an incomplete picture of the set.
Gautam wrote:Anyway, I think the specific music TUs that were pointed out as too hard are not so bad - I had some folks at the Berkeley mirror buzz in on early-to-late middle clues on some of the tossups (the cello and Ravel come to mind). In general there were only a few music TUs which were completely unanswered.
The problems with the TUs lie solely with the clues -- not the answerlines, which were all just fine for Fall. These question are bad, there's really no way around it, and would be bad coming from any editor. However, they are particularly egregious when coming from a very good music player like Jacob (also someone who has edited an entire tournament's music before!), who should definitely understand both halves of the problem I laid out above -- double especially the "what is famous" half. To see such poor music questions at this level is not surprising given Jacob Reed's posts and IRC comments in the past couple of years, but it is incredibly disappointing.
Gautam wrote:I do agree on the fact that there were a few hard tossups in general. These were basically "the hardest questions in their category" that I deemed weren't too egregious for Fall. There shouldn't have been more than 4-5 TUs like this throughout the tournament. Letting the occasional harder question slip through is something I did for the few MUTs I worked on, and I've never had major negative feedback about it. If you think we did a poor job of controlling the presence of harder questions, we'd like to hear where we went wrong.
My major problem wasn't necessarily that they were harder questions, but the execution. For example, every single music question I posted had a good answerline, but a very poor choice of clues leading to a much harder question than necessary. This goes the same for Argentina and the other questions w/ easy answerlines that I thought were too hard: the clue choice made it hard because things were excluded that could've easily made the tossup much more appropriate. I think at Fall there's much more of a responsibility than normal to rein in some of the difficulty outliers, so I was surprised to see questions that should've been easy by their answerline, hard.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by vinteuil »

Cody wrote:"what is famous"
To preview the basic thrust of my next post (which will probably have to wait until around Thursday): I'm not sure you actually understand this as well as you think you do, at least outside of the realm of quizbowl (viz. your comments about the giveaways of the Brahms and Ravel questions).
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by Cody »

vinteuil wrote:To preview the basic thrust of my next post (which will probably have to wait until around Thursday): I'm not sure you actually understand this as well as you think you do, at least outside of the realm of quizbowl (viz. your comments about the giveaways of the Brahms and Ravel questions).
You're welcome to try this, but it will do little good when I am correct in my judgements. Importantly, you should keep in mind that the above is a basic sketch and not a full-fledged critique. There's no excuse for that Brahms question spending 2 full lines talking about 2 of his 4/5 most famous works and 4.5 on works that aren't (a half-line missing to allow for the Schumann mention that was good) instead of including more clues about the 2 mentioned + German Requiem + Lullaby. There's no excuse for not dropping his other 2 most famous works in the giveaway (German Requiem, Lullaby). If you'd cut sentences 2,3, moved sentence 4 up to sentence 2 or so (w/ some rephrasing / shifting), and included more clues about said 2 works, this question could've been acceptable, but instead you stacked lead-ins 3.75 lines deep.

I shouldn't need to plan a better construction of every question for you to understand why the posted questions are not good because you know this category better than almost everyone else in quizbowl and wrote much fewer questions with such obvious flaws in any of your other categories.
vinteuil wrote:I was wondering about the difficulty of that clue (and should have come back to this question), but I will note that this is the first complaint I've heard about it.
For the record, I've also complained about this. This would've been much better if the question had simply rearranged sentences 1,2,3,4 and gone 4,2,3,1 or maybe 2,4,3,1:
A red one of these structures in Scotland is shaped like three elongated hexagons because of its unusual cantilevered design and is named for the River Forth. The largest of one type of these structures is partially named for the Kaikyo rail line. One of these structures, which is made of stone, was moved to Arizona from London, and is confused with one which is named for the Tower of London. The first of these to be made of cast iron was built in 1781 and is located near Coalbrookdale in England. John Augustus Roebling designed one of these in New York City that crosses the East River and is named for Brooklyn. For 10 points, name these structures exemplified by San Francisco’s Golden Gate.
ANSWER: bridges
Last edited by Cody on Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

I'm kind of surprised by Cody's strong sense that the four music TUs he singled out are too hard for ACF Fall. All of those items have been answer lines at Delta Burke in the last four years (with the possible exception of "piano concertos"--I don't think that's been a TU, but rather a bonus part), though of course we all know that DB is more prone to weird outliers in answer space than most novice tournaments (myself being, I reckon, a weird outlier).

But I would argue that those questions start pretty hard and then move to answerable giveaways. I mean, is it beyond the pale to expect new players who care about music to know the definition of "concerto"? If they do, they will get that TU at the end. And the cello question names the usual "famous cello players" suspects, as one would get from reading packets on the archive. The only one of those I would agree is maybe too hard is Vaughn Williams, but I figure novice tournaments are primarily about learning, so having a couple TUs above the average level isn't necessarily terrible, as one hopes folks will scale the canon through them.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - General Discussion

Post by Cody »

ValenciaQBowl wrote:I'm kind of surprised by Cody's strong sense that the four music TUs he singled out are too hard for ACF Fall. All of those items have been answer lines at Delta Burke in the last four years (with the possible exception of "piano concertos"--I don't think that's been a TU, but rather a bonus part), though of course we all know that DB is more prone to weird outliers in answer space than most novice tournaments (myself being, I reckon, a weird outlier).
Perhaps this is not clear from my 1st two posts, but:
Cody wrote:The problems with the TUs lie solely with the clues -- not the answerlines, which were all just fine for Fall.
...
For example, every single music question I posted had a good answerline, but a very poor choice of clues leading to a much harder question than necessary.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Sorry, Cody! Skimming too much. But just so this isn't an information-free post, sometimes I find myself falling into some difficulty cliffs in writing DB questions, as I still want to have interesting and challenging lead-ins, but don't want as many middle clues since I want to keep questions short, and I know that the field at my site in Orlando will not need those middle clues as much as some of the mirror site fields will; thus, I end up going from some less common clues to a FTP that aims to be convertible by as many teams as possible.

Obviously the answer to this is to take more time fine-tuning the middle clues, but I've got a job, so oh well. DB players have been warned!
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Unicolored Jay »

Yeah, I thought these tossups skewed on the difficult side, as well. These were the trends I noticed:
-Some number of clues about pieces simply just described their type and key. That's usually not helpful for someone playing the question, as in most cases that isn't something that could help point someone with knowledge to arrive at the answer (I guess, not "evocative" enough?).
-Leadins in general were too difficult for ACF Fall.
-Middle clues were often more difficult than they needed to, and sometimes led to sudden cliffs when going from a relatively obscure piece to something much more recognizable by the general quizbowl populace. Examples - the rhapsody tossup, which went from clues describing Debussy's rhapsodies (!) right to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and the Schubert tossup, which would have been better if it contained more clues about the Trout Quintet and the Unfinished Symphony instead of just mentioning the latter at the very end.

Also, I don't know if this happened more than once, but the Rhapsody tossup's leadin had a clue that just said "[Brahm's] Opus 79 consists of two of these works." If the opus number is the best clue you can come up with for this piece, you're probably better off leaving it out of the tossup altogether (unless there's something very unusual about it, but this wasn't the case).
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo »

Eh, I'd say the Brahms rhapsodies probably pass the test (albeit not by leaps and bounds) for "opus numbers famous enough to be buzzable", especially since the rhapsodies don't have an alternate numbering system like his symphonies or chamber works. Jasper's general principle still holds, of course.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by vinteuil »

So, I looked through all of the music questions again. I'll definitely agree with Jasper, Cody et al. that, almost uniformly, these questions had one more "middle" clue (or "middle middle" as opposed to "easy middle" or whatever) than necessary, and thus were missing an easy clue. I'll also agree that some of these questions had over-hard leadins (in retrospect, the Schoenberg cello concerto was probably not a good leadin choice, and perhaps the Lark Ascending clue was a bit too unforgiving), and that the Vaughan Williams question in particular was a total disaster area. All I can say is that in the future I'll be looking over my questions again during the week before the tournament (something I thought I was going to be able to do before midterms hit) and rereading them from the bottom up.

As for Cody's criticisms, I don't think anyone, including Cody or myself, is particularly interested in reading through a 20-post argument over every minute detail of these questions. Generally, I'll agree (to reiterate the above) that sometimes the later middle clues were either just plain too hard or were written with "figure it out" in mind (i.e. the "5-stringed" wording from the cello tossup or the "left hand" clue from the piano concertos tossup); in the future, I'll be working on not overestimating people's ability to figure it out. The point about the giveaway of the Brahms point is well, and more generally taken: there's no reason not to give more easy information at that point, even if I am giving Brahms' most famous title already.

Nonetheless, I still haven't seen any justification for Cody's statement that these clues were, in and of themselves bad (with the exception, again, of the Vaughan Williams question, and the unfortunate wording of the clarinet clue in the Brahms question); I apologize if this was unclear, but I was trying to argue the "too hard" and "independently bad" points separately. I am perfectly willing to believe that these questions were too hard in the middle, and, again, I apologize if this affected gameplay. Still, I haven't seen ay evidence supporting, e.g. Cody's assertion that the pieces in my early-middle and (for the most part) leadin clues were not famous. I'll point out that, in the case of the piano concerto and Ravel tossups, I included those leadins precisely because I'd heard them in (correct me if I'm wrong, any NAQT members) HSNCT 2012 (2013?) and an IS-set in 2012, respectively. Obviously, this should not be anyone's only criterion for including a clue, but I do think that it works against your assertion that, e.g. the Proko 3 (his most famous piano concerto, and he's certainly quite well known as a composer of piano concertos) clue is "questionable at best."

The most productive thing to do here, for anyone who might be trying to learn something from this discussion, including myself (considering that that's basically the point of post-tournament discussions when the set is not being reused), might be to do a post-mortem on one of the more egregious questions (better, one that started out as particularly egregious), go over some reasoning that didn't work and corrections that only partially helped.

The "'cello" tossup was an editors' question (i.e. written before we had any packets). I believe my initial thought process was something like this:
"Lots of people learn the cello in high school, and all of those people learn at least some of at least one Bach cello suite. So, let's try to make this reflect that experience. Obviously, that's going to be too hard, and I need to keep in mind John Lawrence's advice to not be too wedded to the "theme" of the tossup; so let's make it more generally about baroque cello music." You can already see where this is going...
The result was this tossup:
Jacob Reed wrote:Schoenberg’s difficult D-Major concerto for this instrument is actually an arrangement of a harpsichord concerto by Georg Matthias Monn. This is the most typical melody instrument in a continuo group. The C-Minor fifth work in a set of six for this instrument alone includes a Prélude in the form of a French overture and uses scordatura throughout. The last work in that set for this instrument is in D Major and was probably written for a five-stringed version of it. That set of works for this instrument begins with a G Major Prélude that has been performed by Msistlav Rostropovich and Pablo Casals. For 10 points, name this low string instrument for which Bach wrote six suites, which Yo-Yo Ma plays.
ANSWER: violoncello
Breaking it down:
The first clue was basically aimed at cellists. Obviously this is not a good idea for ACF fall.
The second clue is one I'll stand by as a leadin at ACF Fall (i.e. if it were first, I would consider it completely reasonable), and it probably should have been.
The next two sentences are both about the Bach cello suites. Basically, I was hoping that
  • somebody would know the keys (G, d, C, E-flat, c, D) of the cello suites, and that there are six of them
  • somebody would know that suites often begin with Preludes, including all six of the cello suites
  • someone might actually know/have played the fifth cello suite, in which case they definitely know the third sentence
  • someone knows what scordatura means and can now figure it out based on "string instrument, six pieces for it alone, hmmm"
  • someone hears "five-stringed" version and does the same thing, or even knows about the sixth cello suite
So, I thought "wow, that's so many ways in which people could get this! Those clues are great/totally reasonable!" Obviously there's a problem with this.
I think the next two sentences are fine as they stand.

John and Rob, who are both not cellists (at least, I think!) saw this tossup and both immediately commented that having it basically entirely on the cello suites was a bad idea. I quickly realized that writing for "that portion of the field who are cellists" is indeed writing for a pretty small chunk of the field. The result is this tossup:
ACF Fall 2014 wrote:Schoenberg’s difficult D-Major concerto for this instrument is an arrangement of a harpsichord concerto by Georg Matthias Monn. This is the most typical melody instrument in a continuo group. This instrument “replaced” the gamba. The last work in a set of six for this instrument is in D Major and was written for a five-stringed version of it. Beethoven’s five sonatas for it and piano were recorded by Daniel Barenboim and his wife Jacqueline du Pré. A set of six works for this instrument alone begins with a G-Major Prélude and was played by Mstislav Rostropovich and Pablo Casals. For 10 points, name this low string instrument for which Bach wrote six suites, which is played by Yo-Yo Ma.
ANSWER: cello [or violoncello]
The problem with the leadin stands, and, in retrospect, I'm not sure that the gamba clue is easier enough than the fifth cello suite clue to warrant its inclusion. Similarly, the Beethoven sonatas clue, which I think is fine as a middle clue, is probably a little bit too late (at ACF fall, presumably the clue in that position should be the first easy clue more than the last middle clue). This question is better, but still not ideal. At any rate, swapping in Dvorak concerto for the Beethoven sonatas probably would have made it serviceable.

Obviously, the biggest lesson to be learned from this particular tossup (in case anyone needed to relearn it or be reminded) is just to be extra-careful writing about things you know especially well. I suspect that if I'd been able to take the extra care of giving these questions another glance before the tournament (or, much better, had planned on doing that sooner!), that this, and the other questions, would have had a smoother pyramid near the end, and some of the more egregious leadins would go away
JR
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Cody »

I would go further up the clue chain, Jacob: I would argue that a majority of the music questions had too many lead-ins and hard middle clues, rather than "middle middle" or "easy middle" clues. This functionally wipes out multiple lines in the question that should be more buzzable and results in some of the huge drop-offs in difficulty ("cliffs") present.

You're right that there aren't nearly as many outright bad clues as clues that are just too hard for where they are in the tossup. However, while there is a distinction between a clue that is "too hard" vs. a clue that is "bad", this breaks down at the question level. A question that's too hard due to its clues being too hard is a bad question, which is a particularly important point when the answerlines are chosen well and difficulty appropriate (as was the case here).

The reason the clues before Rach's 2nd are questionable at best in the PC tossup is a lot of them boil down to: "do you know the number and key of these 3 composer's PCs", for the majority of teams. This would be fine if it was just the Prok 3 clue, which is probably the best known PC clue pre-Rach 2 (mention of orchestra aside), but it doesn't work for the other clues as you go deeper into the tossup. I think a lot of your lead-ins were fine (not Ravel* or cello, though); the real problem is that they weren't followed by a proper gradation of clues.

Likewise the problem with the cello tossup, which contained some cool HIP clues, but never gave enough good, middle or easy clues until you get to performers. It would've been improved greatly by scratching the lead-in and the first Bach's cello suites clue and instead including famous pieces like the mentioned Dvorak CC.

What I want people to take away from this is that you should be writing for people who listen to, read about, and play music. Especially in ACF Fall you should be giving a lot more weight to the former 2 as that's the majority of your audience -- and anyone playing music is doing more of the former 2 than non-players in any case.

*That Ravel lead-in is very, very hard if that hasn't been made clear.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by vinteuil »

Cody wrote: What I want people to take away from this is that you should be writing for people who listen to, read about, and play music. Especially in ACF Fall you should be giving a lot more weight to the former 2 as that's the majority of your audience -- and anyone playing music is doing more of the former 2 than non-players in any case.
I mean, of course I agree with this, but I wouldn't mind an explanation of exactly what these two sentences are saying in relation to the rest of this discussion—I'm pretty sure you're not implying that I don't write for these people, and I'm also pretty sure that you haven't leveled the criticism that my hard clues were primarily oriented towards people who "play music."
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire »

I thought this tossup was also pretty hard.
The slow movement of Beethoven’s ninth includes a famously difficult solo for this instrument that begins with an ascending C-flat Major scale. Near the beginning of the scherzo of Beethoven’s fifth, this instrument plays a loud theme that has the same “short-short-short-long” rhythm as the beginning of the first movement. The trio of the scherzo of the Eroica symphony begins with three of them playing what sounds like hunting calls. Most Romantic orchestral works have parts for four of these instruments. Players of this instrument can play buzzy-sounding “stopped” notes since they play with their right hand inside the bell. For 10 points, name this coiled brass instrument.
The second clue about Beethoven's 5th is not perfectly true; eight measures after the horns do the thing, the entire woodwind section, violins, violas, and cellos also do it. It was hard to parse this clue in game speed and figure out that, and remember the horns play it first and that's probably what you want, especially after you mentioned "three of them" in the next clue. I'm surprised you didn't include the bridge in the first exposition of the first movement of the 5th symphony, or even Mozart's horn stuff.

I LOVED this tossup, but it's very much on the hard side.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Eddie »

The United States of America wrote:I'm surprised you didn't include the bridge in the first exposition of the first movement of the 5th symphony, or even Mozart's horn stuff.
I think that tossup didn't use Mozart because it was trying to go for a "horns in Beethoven's music" angle, like the Handel oboes and Schumann / Brahms horns tossups at Chicago Open.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by TSIAJ »

The United States of America wrote:I thought this tossup was also pretty hard.
The slow movement of Beethoven’s ninth includes a famously difficult solo for this instrument that begins with an ascending C-flat Major scale. Near the beginning of the scherzo of Beethoven’s fifth, this instrument plays a loud theme that has the same “short-short-short-long” rhythm as the beginning of the first movement. The trio of the scherzo of the Eroica symphony begins with three of them playing what sounds like hunting calls. Most Romantic orchestral works have parts for four of these instruments. Players of this instrument can play buzzy-sounding “stopped” notes since they play with their right hand inside the bell. For 10 points, name this coiled brass instrument.
The second clue about Beethoven's 5th is not perfectly true; eight measures after the horns do the thing, the entire woodwind section, violins, violas, and cellos also do it. It was hard to parse this clue in game speed and figure out that, and remember the horns play it first and that's probably what you want, especially after you mentioned "three of them" in the next clue. I'm surprised you didn't include the bridge in the first exposition of the first movement of the 5th symphony, or even Mozart's horn stuff.

I LOVED this tossup, but it's very much on the hard side.
Okay, I haven't played this set, nor have I read it, but reading through this tossup, I personally think the first clue could be replaced with something a bit harder. That excerpt is one of the most famous horn solos in the repertoire, and it's a bit of an urban legend in the horn community as to why Beethoven would write a fourth horn solo (which is extremely rare). Besides that, I really love this tossup and the Beethoven-centric clues.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by vinteuil »

TSIAJ wrote:
The United States of America wrote:I thought this tossup was also pretty hard.
The slow movement of Beethoven’s ninth includes a famously difficult solo for this instrument that begins with an ascending C-flat Major scale. Near the beginning of the scherzo of Beethoven’s fifth, this instrument plays a loud theme that has the same “short-short-short-long” rhythm as the beginning of the first movement. The trio of the scherzo of the Eroica symphony begins with three of them playing what sounds like hunting calls. Most Romantic orchestral works have parts for four of these instruments. Players of this instrument can play buzzy-sounding “stopped” notes since they play with their right hand inside the bell. For 10 points, name this coiled brass instrument.
The second clue about Beethoven's 5th is not perfectly true; eight measures after the horns do the thing, the entire woodwind section, violins, violas, and cellos also do it. It was hard to parse this clue in game speed and figure out that, and remember the horns play it first and that's probably what you want, especially after you mentioned "three of them" in the next clue. I'm surprised you didn't include the bridge in the first exposition of the first movement of the 5th symphony, or even Mozart's horn stuff.

I LOVED this tossup, but it's very much on the hard side.
Okay, I haven't played this set, nor have I read it, but reading through this tossup, I personally think the first clue could be replaced with something a bit harder. That excerpt is one of the most famous horn solos in the repertoire, and it's a bit of an urban legend in the horn community as to why Beethoven would write a fourth horn solo (which is extremely rare). Besides that, I really love this tossup and the Beethoven-centric clues.
Let me gently suggest that the set of people with "urban legend in the horn community" knowledge here is rather limited (but yeah, that's why I included the clue).
Also, the Beethoven's 5th clue was indeed just implying that the horns have it first—I thought that was the more memorable part anyways, but I apologize if that screwed anything up for anyone.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by Cody »

vinteuil wrote:
Cody wrote:What I want people to take away from this is that you should be writing for people who listen to, read about, and play music. Especially in ACF Fall you should be giving a lot more weight to the former 2 as that's the majority of your audience -- and anyone playing music is doing more of the former 2 than non-players in any case.
I mean, of course I agree with this, but I wouldn't mind an explanation of exactly what these two sentences are saying in relation to the rest of this discussion—I'm pretty sure you're not implying that I don't write for these people, and I'm also pretty sure that you haven't leveled the criticism that my hard clues were primarily oriented towards people who "play music."
I must admit, this thought was very incomplete when posted. First, I don't think you did well for people who listen to or read about music since the difficulty of your clues was too hard, as well as your piece selection. Your piece selection should've been easier if you were writing for that group of people (cf. Brahms).

However, this really only covers about half the question at Fall level. There's a wide swath of players who don't listen to, read about, or play music. And you also have to cater to that group in the last half / third / quarter of your questions (depending on the question), which is something that Fall did not do very well at all.
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Re: ACF Fall 2014 - Music Thunderdome

Post by vinteuil »

Cody wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
Cody wrote:What I want people to take away from this is that you should be writing for people who listen to, read about, and play music. Especially in ACF Fall you should be giving a lot more weight to the former 2 as that's the majority of your audience -- and anyone playing music is doing more of the former 2 than non-players in any case.
I mean, of course I agree with this, but I wouldn't mind an explanation of exactly what these two sentences are saying in relation to the rest of this discussion—I'm pretty sure you're not implying that I don't write for these people, and I'm also pretty sure that you haven't leveled the criticism that my hard clues were primarily oriented towards people who "play music."
I must admit, this thought was very incomplete when posted. First, I don't think you did well for people who listen to or read about music since the difficulty of your clues was too hard, as well as your piece selection. Your piece selection should've been easier if you were writing for that group of people (cf. Brahms).
I can't say that I can see the distinction between "pieces that people that listen to music and don't play it know" and just "more obscure pieces" in this argument; among people who listen to chamber music, the pieces in the Brahms question are among the most famous I could have chosen.
Cody wrote: However, this really only covers about half the question at Fall level. There's a wide swath of players who don't listen to, read about, or play music. And you also have to cater to that group in the last half / third / quarter of your questions (depending on the question), which is something that Fall did not do very well at all.
I completely agree with this, and I'll work on doing better with that.
JR
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