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Just now, I finished my work for flute and piano.

It is a contemporary classical, but I added a poetry to it.
Rather than experimental music, it is emotional music.
MP3 is played by the computer.
Piano part may have been a little too hard.
What do u think?

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Bob Porter said:

I have seen many scores like this. I don't know how piano players figure them out, but they do.

The point of writing a score isn't putting a lot of work into something that then requires even more work from the players to decipher it. I don't know the pianists you mention that figure these out, but since getting people to play new music is enough of a chore, I certainly wouldn't force them into playing pieces that are a pain to look at. Really, a good score makes working on a piece so much more pleasant, however complicated the music is.

Apple Logic is that I have been using.

It is not a dedicated software notation, and there is a lot that can not be expressed, and some can not be fixed.


Bob Porter said:

What software did you use to write this? I don't think you need different software. I'm not sure how much of the score needs to be "fixed" at all. I have seen many scores like this. I don't know how piano players figure them out, but they do.

I am a self-taught amateur who study, do not have a teacher.

My music and score are a strange and difficult, because of that will.
But I have hope that my works will be performed by the musician.

If it is necessary to, I must write the score improved.


Janet Spangenberg said:

 Perhaps there is a contemporary composition teacher you may be able to consult with where you live?

I've really hesitated to enter into this discussion, because the composer is already inundated with conflicting suggestions.   But Bob Porter's last post prompted me to agree with his final sentence.  All the fuss about constant meter changes is a bit reminiscent of the Conservatory folks in 19th century Russia  telling the self-taught Mussorgsky how "strange" his notation was.   Not only did he go down in history as the best of the group that was trying to correct him, but that was also a hundred and fifty years ago!  These time signature changes and fluid meters have been around since Civil War days, y'all!  Changing meters should be old news by now.

I love this flute piece and think the notation is excellent except for a very few places that need cleaning up.  I teach composition and my students invariably win state, national and international competitions and the judges never ever object to the type of changing meters you've used.  They would go berserk if your beaming had obliterated the beats, but the different time signatures are actually the norm.  

The judges would also go nuts if you reduced time signatures to a so-called "common denominator", as some folks suggested.  As we all know, 3/4 is totally different than 6/8, to use the most glaring example.  You can't just multiple top and bottom numbers and get the same feel.  Your piece starts in 3/4, not in any multiples of 3/4.  Think of Rite of Spring - Stravinsky goes back and forth between 3/8 and 3/4 every other measure and no other notation would work for that section.  In fact, Stravinsky updated the notation for the Rite 30 years after the premiere, in order to make the music more readable, but he kept all those time signature changes intact.

Time signatures and bar lines are very helpful, not so that we can count to 3 or 4 or 12, but so that we know where the strong beats should be and, for orchestral pieces, how to conduct it!  If you changed this piece to 4/4 as one person suggested, it would be a nightmare for the performers - you'd have to put accents on all the places that were automatically accented with your previous notation, and folks would have to shout out "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" instead of just remembering that a quarter note is held twice as long as an eighth, which is twice as long as a sixteenth, etc.. 

One of my students wrote a fabulous orchestral piece that used simpler time signatures, but after we premiered it, he spent six weeks changing it to the kind of time signatures you are using.  The piece was impossible to conduct - the downbeat never coincided with strong beats, so no one ever knew where we were.  They had to play it without a conductor, since the "simple" notation simply did not work.  The second performance, with the new and much more complex time signatures was infinitely easier and a real pleasure to conduct and perform!

I hope you keep the notation as is - any performers who sight read contemporary music would breeze through this.  My nine and ten year old composition students read and study pieces like this, and sometimes play them.   You do need one indicator at the beginning of the score, however, and that is "eighth = eighth throughout" - using a graphic eighth note instead of the word, of course.   The other notation error I see is that many of the triplets should be combined into sextuplets - m. 37-38 and m. 84 for example.  It's also easier to read if you just put the 3 or the 6 without the braces or curves.  You can even leave off the tuplet after two or three iterations - the beaming and the note divisions are enough to tell the performer to continue the tuplet.

One of my most exacting professors spent ALL the time in our lessons discussing notation - to him, it was the most important aspect.  As many folks have indicated, if performers can't read your music, you'll never get it performed.  But all the performers I work with would infinitely prefer the time signatures you have rather than any of the "simplifications" suggested.  

I've only discussed time signatures and meter changes; there are a few other changes that would simplify without ruining the feel of the piece - measure 82 piano for example - all those chords at that speed would be a challenge and kind of messy, to boot!   A single line or a line of two notes rather than three and four note chords should suffice to give the same feel.  I'd look for places like that instead of worrying about time signatures.  Also put more space between your staves so that different elements don't intersect, and use 8va in the piano (not in the flute) when the ledger lines start hitting outer space.- m. 69 - 73 for example.   It's much harder to read all those ledger lines than to figure out 6/16 time, plus they need more room than the standard spacing between the staves will allow.  Flutists have all told me they prefer ledger lines to 8va, but pianists vote for 8va instead of too many ledger lines.   There's a topic for psychology majors ....  ;-)

I don't know if this will help or not, but here's the checklist I developed with several other composition professors and through many years of noticing what works and what doesn't.   I always pull this out when a piece is supposedly "finished".   Notation Checklist

I hope you find some wonderful performers to play this flute piece - and hope you post the recording when it is performed!

Great work.

Thanks for posting this Julie. It takes a lot of effort (and knowledge/experience) to go into this kind of detail, including the specific suggestions you did. I'm glad for Nobuyoshi, so he'll be able to confidently share this piece with others, and I'm glad for myself, as I've learned from your post, also. One thing we all agreed on was the quality of this music. Notation exists only to serve the music, not the other way 'round!

Hi Janet-

I'm so relieved that you found my post helpful and not contradictory.  The whole issue of notation can be a nightmare for contemporary composers.  I used to use 8 as the pulse for all measures and then flit around in 7/8, 2/8, 6/8, 9/8, 1/8 etc, but one of my young students set me straight.  "This is 3/4", she said, in the innocence of childhood, tapping out a very clear triple meter, "not 6/8!!!!"  The stern look on her face that clearly said "you should know better!!!" as she tapped out the duple meter had us both collapsing into giggles.   Out of the mouths of babes ....    When she got older, she was thrilled to learn that Stravinsky agreed with her!   This is why I teach - so that I can learn!!!!

Hello Ronald-

I'm glad you found the checklist helpful.  I would have given anything to have had such a guide all these years ago!   I try to provide for my students what I most wish a teacher had given me.  I'll be delighted to start a new discussion ... but not right now.  I am premiering a new piece tonight (that has lots of meter changes) and I have to not only practice but get dressed and eat a bite!   I'm running a little late, so bye for now, but I'll do as you requested.

To Julie,

Thanks for the advice fine and polite.
Because there are no teachers to me, I can not have confidence in their own notation.
I'm taking into account your advice and try to revise the score.


Julie Harris said:

  I'd look for places like that instead of worrying about time signatures.  Also put more space between your staves so that different elements don't intersect, and use 8va in the piano (not in the flute) when the ledger lines start hitting outer space.- m. 69 - 73 for example.   It's much harder to read all those ledger lines than to figure out 6/16 time, plus they need more room than the standard spacing between the staves will allow.  Flutists have all told me they prefer ledger lines to 8va, but pianists vote for 8va instead of too many ledger lines.   There's a topic for psychology majors ....  ;-)

Shocking, savage, surreal, yet surprisingly soft in sections!

I applaud your compositional bravery. As for "fixing" your notation, you have been given some excellent suggestions and I think you can benefit from them. However, there is a line between correcting and compromising and I will repeat some words of caution Charles Ives gave to his copyist,

"Please don't try to make things nice! All the wrong notes are right. Just copy as I have -- I want it that way."

Buy Finale finally, I revised the score of a song that I wrote the other day.

It would be nice if there is no mistake.

This time, I did not hide the time signature after all. I might try it in the next piece.

Everyone, thank you.

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