Music Composers Unite!
Now that I have been properly educated as to the definition of music, I managed to finish a piece that I had been noodling on for a while. This is the opening section of what eventually will become a multi part suite for woodwind sextet. The primary thought behind this piece was simply to create a structure where various pairs and subgroupings of the sextet could play off of and against each other.
Thanks to advice provided to others in a variety of posts on the Forum, this piece represents my first attempt to wean myself off of Garritan Personal Orchestra. All of the instruments, with the exception of the Bass Clarinet and Horn are from the Vienna Instruments Special Edition Woodwinds package. Although I just scratched the surface in terms of playing with the various options, I am more or less pleased with the result - at least for a first effort. Bass Clarinet and Horn are Garritan. The piece was constructed using Sonar X3. The composition was done via note entry on the Sonar staff feature. I then converted the Sonar file into a MuseScore file in order to generate a bare bones score. I didn't add dynamics due to laziness and due to the fact that this piece was done solely for my own amusement.
Im not sure how I would describe the style of the piece, definitely "modernish" with a few brief flirtations with dissonance, but still well within the bounds of respectable tonality. Suggestions and comments are welcome.
Nicely done. The piece has a good flow to it as if following the wind, woodwinds following the wind. I can't remember playing a piece in 7/8 time, but if I did it was something with a Spanish flare. The beat went 1234,123. Tie up the phrases and put in the dynamics. It'll be worth the effort and give more structure and definition. There were places where the oboe was a little too piercing,,. easily fixed with dynamic markings. Thanks for posting this.
Thanks Lawrence - glad to see you back on the Forum! I agree with you about the oboe - guess Im going to have to dig out the manual for the VST and for the DAW to figure out how I can pull things back a bit. You are spot on about the "woodwinds following the wind" - that is pretty much what I was going for- something that quickly shifted into and out of various moods and tones. Thanks for the feedback!
The first thing that struck me about your piece is that it sounds fresh. The second thing that struck me about it is that it sounds like movie music (which I love). I think you have something nice here. It has a nice, flowing kind of feel, and overall, I liked it. If I could offer one critique, it would be that the melody did not stand out as strongly as I would like. Thanks for posting!
Thanks Gav! Others have commented that my pieces sound like move music. I don't think Im intentionally going after that but I certainly did grow up listening to the stuff so the influence must be there. Some of the earliest and most memorable music I can remember was written by Jerry Goldsmith; Patton soundtrack, theme to the Waltons, etc (yep - Im a child of the 70s). Melody has never been a particularly strong suit of mine. Even while writing this piece, I realized that I really need to do some practice pieces where I work on composing just an unaccompanied melody. Im much more interested in harmony, and my easiest defense for a lackluster melody is to cover it up with several other harmonically interesting parts. I appreciate your comment about the piece sounding fresh. I do also agree with the comments that you have made on several occasions that if you are not pushing boundaries, you are pushing daisies. One of the first pieces I ever started working on was an oboe concerto in the style of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. To my ears, it was beautiful - lush string accompaniment, proper scales and arpeggios and whatnot in the oboe part, etc. About a third of the way through the piece, stopped writing it and I asked myself "why are you doing this?" After realizing that this kind of thing had been done over and over again by people far better than I could ever hope to be, I started trying to composing pieces, for good or ill, in my own style. Thanks for listening and for the feedback!
Nice little piece of music. The first few notes were very familiar to me (sounds like my "Slow Middle Age Dance") but after that, I was quite surprised. Nice mix you have here of use of the instruments, in my opinion, as well as slower and faster notes. I like it a lot.
Little word of advice: if you want to use this for a suite, as you write, you might consider some dynamics to make it even better.
Thanks for the feedback Erwin! I guess that I will stop being so lazy and figure out how to add some realistic dynamic changes. I initially tried some minor dynamic tweaks using the track volume sliders on my DAW but didn't think the results sounded realistic. There are some expression controls on the VST instruments that I used. Im gonna have to read the manual to figure out how to use them properly :) Im glad you liked the piece. Thanks for listening and commenting!
You said you work with MuseScore? So do I. You can also implement the dynamics there...
For T.T., regarding sounding fresh: George Gershwin, who wrote some fine and fresh symphonic music, was a great admirer of Maurice Ravel and actually traveled to France and asked Ravel to tutor him. Ravel refused, saying "Why be a second-rate Ravel when you can be a first-rate Gershwin?" Words I live by :)
Good words indeed! I would hope however, that Maurice was thoughtful enough to spot George the steamship fare for the wasted trip :)
Thanks Fred! The improvised quality likely comes from the fact that it was composed at a rate of about two measures per sitting - with no real overarching plan in mind. Since there was no road map in mind, each composing session began with the panicked question - "OK, now what?" Thanks for listening!
TT - I tried listening to your piece, but it cuts out about a minute into it… (probably my browser).. Do you have a sound cloud link - or another place you post?
Thanks for listening and for the feedback Bob! Lots to consider there.
The instrument in the avatar is actually a tenor mandola, taken back in the days when I played with the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. A couple year ago, I quit the Orchestra after being a member for twenty-plus years because I wanted to free up my limited time to be able to work on creating my own music.
I have over the years, played or at least played with several of the instruments used in the piece, I occasionally play a bit of clarinet and have rented oboes and bassoons in the past just for giggles. Ive never played the French Horn however, and would love to get my mitts on an English Horn but given the price of those beasts, thats not gonna happen. I did wonder a bit about the range of the French horn part. I showed the score to a friend of mine who plays Horn but he did not comment about the range.
Based on the excellent feedback received,it seems that I should revisit the piece to address the phrasing and dynamic issues. That will take this project out of the composition phase and into the wrestling with the DAW & VST phase. The Vienna Instruments VST that I used does offer some very basic articulation options and likewise offers some options for controlling expression, attack, etc. The DAW that I used likewise offers the means to create automated envelopes to switch between articulations and also to alter the instrument attack and expression settings throughout the piece. The limited brain that I used for this piece, however, has not yet figured out how to use all of those options. Sounds like it would be time well spent to take a whack at it, however.
Regarding pushing of boundaries, the boundaries that I am most interested in pushing are definitely those regarding my own limitations and skill-set. That being said, I do see some value, at least for myself, in trying to come up with a style that is at least somewhat fresh or unique; primarily in terms of harmony, tonality and structure. Since I essentially write for an audience of me, I dont think anything I write will ever change the musical world but I do see some value in the process of trying to come up with something that is fresh. There's rarely anything that is completely new under the musical sun so the fun and the challenge for me is the ongoing process of picking and choosing from the existing building blocks and trying to arrange them in a manner which is hopefully unique or at least interesting. Since Im no good at building bird houses, and could never really get into sports, it at least gives me something to keep busy on :) Thanks for the thoughts and feedback!