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Hey,

Since Mark asked for it, here's a larger work of mine (11 minutes). Just in case, I'm not familiar with this forum, so I'm not sure if it's right to post youtube videos, instead of uploading files here, but in this case, the file is definitely too big to fit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grGh-U26Db4

Mark, I found the pianist through the forum I mentioned earlier. so it's definitely worth a shot!

Other than that, this is a large scale work, with plenty of things going on inside. It's not in a minimal style, the aesthetic is a bit 'Russian' I'd say, and the dissonance is high up there, but not in a 'bad' way I hope. 

Looking forward to hearing from you guys! :)

Nikolas

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Hey Nikolas,

listened right through Perniciosus. There are a lot of sections I admired and/or enjoyed. To be honest, though, when you write what is really an atonal work - you are really pushing it uphill all the time as far as having the whole thing hang together - in any profound dramatic or lyrical sense. There is plenty of good contrapuntal craftsmanship evident in the first section, and some nice harmonic manoeuvres. There is almost a convincing 'syntax' of polyphonic/harmonic language, expression set up - for me, almost. I really think that the atonal or virtual atonal stricture is kind of killing your real potential here. 

The problem really presented itself in the toccata-like section, for we lost any sense of a definite linear 'tonal' or harmonic/polyphonic/voice-leading pointer. There is a sort of minimalist section where you focus on the clash of 2nds. that really works as an aesthetic 'antagonistic agency', and the coda section does seem to have linear momentum and ends with a convincing flash of colour.

My general feeling about Boulez is that he was a potentially great composer who tethered himself to the misconceived design of a 'synthetic dictum'. Scriabin found a very effective way to systematically distort purely logical triadic and compilation/3rd. harmonic structure - to render a very potent expression, highly esoteric as it may be. Messiaen kind of followed - (so amusing, that one thought he was God, whilst the other was eternally kneeling). 

I reckon you could turn out some works that will have real perpetuity, but I would urge you to incorporate some form of systematic, truly logical, and distinctive tonal language. Then you can create works that have a much greater footing of dramatic and lyrical logic, and impetus. The rest is dependent upon what you have to say, the 'mass' and kind thereof, whether emotively passionate, clinically abstract, or whatever. 

I feel there is quite a lot there, but you need to select for a technique that will really work - and, then, come out from behind the technique.

Thanks very much for posting your piece Nikolas, I will listen again and hope you post more.

Mark.

Mark,

Could it be that you're missing the harmonic, or musical language in this case? There are quite a few points in there that are tonal, and the obsessions in certain pitches could be evident of that. Yes, the chord structure is definitely not triadic, but it still shares some moments. The fast paced tocatta like movement (after the monophonic line) one could say that it's very close to a tonality like feeling, with the the repetition of the same pitches and the main theme.

The real potential doesn't need to be confined in the language one uses, atonal or other. Plus some works don't really offer themselves to being lyrical or dramatic in any sense, though I'd say that this work IS quite a drama queen, and full of passion. 

Looking forward for more.

Nikolas

Hi Nikolas,

No I definitely sensed tonality as being far more effective in the opening slow section - but that is not the point, anyway. I listened to a work, for the first time, last night by Brett Dean - his viola concerto and a very much lauded work. Absolutely loved some of the lyrical sections - but, rather the same thing, an atonal or ineffective tonal language - especially in supposed dramatic sections makes the supposed build ups sound histrionic, unsubstantiated. I think Messiaen was pretty poor at creating dramatic climaxes too - for the same reason. Yes, his is ostensibly a very tonal language - but it does not lend to the type of counterpoint that creates meaningful cadential motions or cadential-type linear progressions. So we don't have a truly prepared destination point presented, and, therefor, the dramatic push towards a climax is denuded of 'psycho-acoustic logic' - real logical harmonic progression. 

My posit is this - you can't emancipate the dissonance, otherwise the whole basis of dissonance/consonance relativity - the basis of melodic and harmonic and polyphonic drama breaks down. Moreover, only the very best ears can play at the tantalising limits of tonal thresholds. Saying that a piece works on paper means nothing. In fact, if it doesn't work for the attuned ear, and the analyst says that it works on paper - then the analysis is simply synthetic, not in accordance with natural acoustic logic, shoddy.

This said, I like a lot of things in your piece. The fundamental craftsmanship is very good. We could argue about tonality, but that is pointless. I will say that reiterating a particular note does not effectively forge tonality, but that intelligent voice leading does. Moreover, triadic harmony evolved as a natural consequence of the rational utilisation of prime partials to forge logical verticalisation in a musical language. The great challenge, for modern composers - it is still the same that faced Schoenberg. But his 'final solution' was frankly illogical, as beckoning as it was. And, like those other great Germanic exhorters of pseudo-scientific rhetoric - Marx and Freud, Schoenberg also birthed a whole legion of lemmings determined to 'grasp ultimate liberty'.

Still, Schoenberg was so good a composer that I can even listen to, and relish his atonal works - to a degree. It is the lesser composer who is wisest to stick to a manageable, readily coherent language. That is why I don't touch atonality at present, and perhaps never will. Sections of it, yes,  - I love the introduction to Mahler 10, it has been analysed as being tonal, but it doesn't present as such. Yet this was the perfect melody to express the extreme sense of dissolution Mahler was suffering at the time. But then comes the meaningful yearning - and some of the most dissonant but marvellous tonal polyphony ever written.

Best wishes Fredrick,

Mark. 

Mark,

Fredrick?!?!? I'm Nikolas! :D

Now... I'll gather a few words from your post to provide a point: "an atonal or [b]ineffective[/b] tonal language"... "supposed"... "unsubstantiated"... "poor"..."[does not]...meaningful", etc

All the above are based to extremely personal opinions and seem to forget the very idea that aesthetics can be taught and listeners and audience alike can be 'trained' somehow. I'm not talking about rubbish that the audience have to go through in order to 'understand' a piece. But you have to admit that the way we listen evolved the more we listen and the more we keep our ears open. So all the above words you used make sense for you alone at this very time and not much else.

Your point makes sense, again if you keep your radar at the relationship of dissonance/consonance relativity and not anywhere. There are so many things with which you can create drama, or passion, or love, or hate, or climaxes, the relationship of the pitches is one of them, but certainly not the only one. Moreoever, I'd say that while I see your point and I largely agree, I also understand that a piece that works on paper is the instructions to the performer, and these DO work (on paper). Of course if the instructions are made in a binary language (1110110101011101) then the performance will result to rubbish, but in the meantime, it's not utterly unheard of for a piece of music to exist in a piece of paper alone, even if in a philosophical sense.

I will repeat that you don't touch 'atonality' (which is an extremely broad term to begin with) simply because your aesthetics do not agree with it, which is all fine and dandy. But you can't dismiss it for anyone else really, can you? ;)

Nikolas

Hi Nikolas,

I think you're seeing the analysis as personal, when it's not. It's pointless for us to engage in a diatribe about this. If you think that these are subjective and purely personal comments I don't think you are going to the core of what is being said. I quite like your piece, but I didn't feel that it is very effective - either technically or aesthetically. We somehow have to disentangle our egos from what we put forth as artistic expressions, if we are to take objective criticism objectively. 

If you read what I said carefully, perhaps not so emotively, you'll find that I was in no way dismissing the atonal language - just pointing out its limitations and its extreme challenges. If you feel I have nothing to offer you I am happy to withdraw from commentary - because it would be pointless. But, I am essentially a very frank person, and if someone asks an opinion I am more interested in the honesty, penetration, and coherency of what I say - I'm kind of useless at ingratiation. 

Let's end this particular post, it's far better - if you want helpful analysis, evaluation, and criticism, for you to seek another/other perspectives. And I hope others may be able to help, where, perhaps, my effect has been to hinder.

Best wishes Nikolas, and thanks very much for the advice re the Piano sites - 20 hits in one night on Piano World.

Mark.



Mark Nicol said:

Hi Nikolas,

I think you're seeing the analysis as personal, when it's not. It's pointless for us to engage in a diatribe about this. If you think that these are subjective and purely personal comments I don't think you are going to the core of what is being said. I quite like your piece, but I didn't feel that it is very effective - either technically or aesthetically. We somehow have to disentangle our egos from what we put forth as artistic expressions, if we are to take objective criticism objectively. 

If you read what I said carefully, perhaps not so emotively, you'll find that I was in no way dismissing the atonal language - just pointing out its limitations and its extreme challenges. If you feel I have nothing to offer you I am happy to withdraw from commentary - because it would be pointless. But, I am essentially a very frank person, and if someone asks an opinion I am more interested in the honesty, penetration, and coherency of what I say - I'm kind of useless at ingratiation. 

Let's end this particular post, it's far better - if you want helpful analysis, evaluation, and criticism, for you to seek another/other perspectives. And I hope others may be able to help, where, perhaps, my end effect, though unintended, has been to hinder.

Best wishes Nikolas, and thanks very much for the advice re the Piano sites - 20 hits in one night on Piano World.

Mark.

Mark,

About Pianoworld, at first. The composer's lounge has few hits, compared to the 'piano corner'. Get over there and make a thread about your work, or introducing yourself! It will be much more visible this way.

I hope that the following will offer some further insights:

* If I was to offer my own feedback to this work I'd say that it's lacking a lot of rhythmic variation in the second and faster part, which is a real pity. And it is something that wasn't fully under my control, in which case it gets a read 'x' there.

* Other than that the musical language if this work is very satisfying to me and my ears. I find nothing wrong and feel that the final two pages serve as a wonderful climax of the whole tocatta like movement.

* Finally, I know that the composer (me) wouldn't be so blind to post the work here and in print without being aware that he's open to any comments whatsoever... ;)

Keep posting and keep offering your critisism! I appreciate it and I think that I've already mentioned so, but here goes again: Thank you for taking the time. I find our exchange most interesting!

Nikolas


Mark Nicol said:

Hi Nikolas,

I think you're seeing the analysis as personal, when it's not. It's pointless for us to engage in a diatribe about this. If you think that these are subjective and purely personal comments I don't think you are going to the core of what is being said. I quite like your piece, but I didn't feel that it is very effective - either technically or aesthetically. We somehow have to disentangle our egos from what we put forth as artistic expressions, if we are to take objective criticism objectively. 

If you read what I said carefully, perhaps not so emotively, you'll find that I was in no way dismissing the atonal language - just pointing out its limitations and its extreme challenges. If you feel I have nothing to offer you I am happy to withdraw from commentary - because it would be pointless. But, I am essentially a very frank person, and if someone asks an opinion I am more interested in the honesty, penetration, and coherency of what I say - I'm kind of useless at ingratiation. 

Let's end this particular post, it's far better - if you want helpful analysis, evaluation, and criticism, for you to seek another/other perspectives. And I hope others may be able to help, where, perhaps, my effect has been to hinder.

Best wishes Nikolas, and thanks very much for the advice re the Piano sites - 20 hits in one night on Piano World.

Mark.

Hi Nikolas,

yes, I thought the toccata > coda > conclusion worked really well. I also like a lot of the sinuous harmonies/loose polyphony in the opening section. I didn't think that any part of the composition rated as lowly as an x at all. In fact, one of the things I was trying to say is that I think you have real craftsmanship skills, and write some really good passages, (and show form as well), but the overall linear drive of the music falls apart because it is not underpinned by a working harmonic footing. The work could well be superficially atonal, if one wanted, that is atonal across the reading of short sections, but have a strong tonal super-structure.

Angular counterpoint, using the 'occasional jump, customary scalar progression' design that one finds as 'classic' in Palestrina and in Bach (much more the angular and counter thing in Bach) seems to work well for 'circling tonal centres or giving a real sense of tonal direction - (even in a section of music where a definite key center cannot be detected). Richard Strauss modulates so damn much, and so damned adroitly that its really hard to pin an exact tonality a lot of the time - but his voice leading is bloody impeccable, his ear fantastic, and he never really sounds lost. Still, I don't find any of the tone poems really lyrical. But, once he had gone through that catharsis of impetuous invention, and pared it back - he was able to compose the Last Four Songs. The sheer beauty, poetry, profundity of all the tonal/polyphonic sliding in those works I find breath-taking. I don't know - see what you think.

There are very few extant composers I would use as models of study - Liebemann in general, and one work by Lindberg, Penderecki in numerous but not all works. For atonal 'mastery' I would look way back - to Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern - one work of Boulez - Pli Selon Pli. But, note that Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern were all great practitioners of sophisticated tonal polyphony - out of the same school as Wagner, Mahler, Strauss, Korngold.

Thanks for putting up with my extreme tactlessness Nikolas. Fire in the belly will make you find the language that you need, and you certainly are way from being incoherent as is.

Tell us about the music you really love, and why.

Best wishes,

Mark. 

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