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Hi all,

I'd like feedback on pretty much any element, except style, of my piece, "Nocturne for Piano Trio." Aesthetics, form, instrumentation, register, and anything else you can think of are fair game. Feel free to have a look at the attached score if you're so inclined. 

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Hi Chris,

Only had 2 listens which is not enough I know, but you seem to have a tight grip on your material and an economy of means that helps to unify the music, at least that's the impression it gives to me. I like the silences as much as the music as they seem fitting for a nocturne, one that feels a little unsettling but very evocative. The music kept me hooked with its story and I felt musically sated at the end. Your manipulation of the timeline ensured no real predictability which will put more people off than those who like it, but such is the price to pay for an unbounded imagination - one worth paying in my estimation. Nice performance too btw, was it you on piano?

I'm sure you are aware that there are errors in the score, notably sustaining 3 notes in the cello and not at least writing dots and a slur over the ricochet to give any future players clarity of intention. It would  be prudent to define a rhythmic value, (semis, demi-semis etc.) so they can gauge the speed of the bounce. Well as I am being pedantic, the first 2 lh piano chords would be better served written an octave higher in the treble clef with an 8va above, but I think you probably know that.

Still, all said and done I enjoyed it and will listen again. Who would you say was an influence on your writing?

Hello Chris,

On a first listening this piece gave me the idea of things being perceived as happening at night time (not all of them controllable, or maybe all of them uncontrollable), which would not dare somehow to happen in day time, or if they did they would go unnoticed. So, to that extend this is very much a nocturne. I liked the atmosphere it creates as I keep waiting for the next thing to happen. And that went on till the end. By looking quickly at the score I thought that all triple stops on the strings were terribly difficult, but it seems that the players have managed them quite well. Did they need any special instructions as to left hand positioning etc?

In your verbal introduction to the piece you say that you would not like discussion of the style of this piece while referring to style as an "element", just on an equal basis as other elements, i.e. form, instrumentation, register, etc, so I would like to ask, how can one discuss aesthetics (included as allowable) in general without referring to style (excluded in particular by prohibition) in a piece of music, while style is being primarily felt (then thought of) and aesthetics is the proper discipline to deal with it, recognize and appreciate it?

Or further, how can you avoid it if someone does refer to your style implicitly or explicitly?

Just general questions of this thread emerging from your writing, I think.

Otherwise, much enjoyable music here.

Thanks for sharing.

Great piece.  Really enjoyed the unpredictability, the interesting rhythms and color.   Would be interested to know more about how you went about composing this if you'd like to share. 

Hi Chris, I guess that I am just 'old school'.

To me, this piece is Freak-turne. It did not even come close to

what I would enjoy listening to as a "Nocturne'

There is nothing human or romantic about it. Fractured spurts of sound,

no matter how intellectually contrived and assembled, do not equate to

music to my ear. Is this modernist rebellion?

If that is 'your style', I'm sorry to seem harsh. The aesthetics and nature of

structure and the instrumentation are secondary to the aesthetics and nature

of the ambience and the idea of capturing a mood,

and the spirit of the piece.

But that's just simple minded me and my unsophisticated opinion.  Happy Harmonies  RS

Hi all, thanks for your comments and patience in waiting for my reply! I'll reply to everyone using this one comment.

Mike: I hadn't thought of defining the ricochet in the cello that precisely using exact rhythmic values; thanks for the suggestion. As to your suggestion about using dots and a slur over notes intended to be ricocheted, I will certainly do so in the future (and I did, in the piano part; I'm not sure why I didn't think to do so for the cello). I knew that sustaining three-note chords in the cello would be quite difficult or even impossible, but the cellist did manage to do it in the two places I wrote it. Having all the notes on open strings helped.

The piece was recorded in 2014 by the New York Piano Trio when they came to my school, so it was not me on the piano although I am a pianist. I was influenced mostly by Webern and Bartok: Webern's pointillism and general style as well as Bartok's “night music” style. I used an extensive pre-composition/planning phase including a large chart to decide on the structure and placement/density of sound events in the piece and all I really had to do was fill in notes after that was done.

Socrates: the players did not need any special instructions on hand position when playing this piece; in fact, they only read through it once before recording it. I think that I did give some clarification before they recorded, but since it's been almost 3 years I don't remember what they asked.

As far as my comment about excluding style from the discussion, I suppose I was hoping to deter those who simply don't like the idiom my Nocturne is written in from criticizing it on that basis. However, you are absolutely correct in that it would be hard to discuss all the other elements without any reference to style, especially aesthetics, which is bound up with style. Thanks for that well-thought-out comment.

Eboats: I'm glad you enjoyed it! See above for info on its composition.

Roger: I'm sorry to hear that you don't like my Nocturne. Perhaps if I put up several more pieces like it, and you listen to them, you'll start to enjoy them ;)

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