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Here is a (still unfinished) midi of my piano concerto, movement 1.  Please tell me what you think, whether it be positive or negative!  Don't spare my feelings :)

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Edit: As I disliked the sound quality of the midi version, I decided to upload an MP3 file, but that was over the 7 MB limit.  I did re-upload the midi, and added a pdf file.  Once I get an orchestra reading, I will hopefully be able to upload that.  If not, I will provide a link so you can hear it anyway.

Here is a link to the MP3: http://www.4shared.com/mp3/c0gYfMmn/Allegro.html?

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Hi Lara, thanks for providing the midi file so I could import it into Notion having a more realistic sound than with GM.

I think the only thing I would critizise is that it's not written in your language. As a work with its roots in late 19th century it's really wonderful and highly enjoyable to listen to. Congratulations with all my heart! But I'm not able to see/hear your personality in it. Who is Lara Poe? How does she see this world and listen into it. What I can hear in this work is how our ancestors felt their existence. I hope it is understandable, what I mean. 

No matter what the two comments above me say, i think this is really good. Occasionally, i write in the romantic style, and i love every minute of it. Nowadays, i experiment in modern styles, like impresionism and minimalism (the latter of which is more appealing to me), but i still write romantic music.

As for the form, yes, that could be better. But other than that, good job.

I will bitch about the instrumentation, because why not...

Do this: look at the first page of your score and, based on what you see there, tell me how many wind players are needed for the piece. Now, since you know the piece, compare that to what is actually required. Ouch.

I've got a feeling that you're in fact writing for a single piccolo, single flute, single clarinet etc etc unless there's that moment where you desperately need another player, so you call him onto the stage, he plays a few measures and can leave again. By the way, "divisi" doesn't apply to wind instruments, that's strings' term only. Anyway, let's assume you do use double winds all the time - in this case, every time there's but a single line present, it looks suspicious: who's supposed to play that? First flutist? Second? Both? If a score is to be read, everything must be clear - otherwise rehearsals take forever and are VERY frustrating.

Another thing that might confuse the performers is the slurring - I'm not sure about what exactly do you expect the wind players to sound like, but they generally won't. articulate. every. single. note. in. a. phrase. that looks and sounds legato; strings playing détaché sound pretty glued, this is different.

As for strings, there's quite a lot of instances where you have a few notes of the same pitch slurred together - this, of course, makes no sense. However, dots or dashes suddenly turn given measure into perfectly reasonable notation. :) Of course, seeing what you have now, they'll figure out that you want portato... eventually. Still, silly questions during the rehearsal, confusion, wasted time and all that. Whenever the player has to analyse what he's reading in order to play it, tons of time is wasted.

Tiny details... well, I'm not patient enough to browse through 90 pages of an orchestral score looking for mistakes (unless it's my own!), but two issues that I noticed:

- oboe playing p / mp in it's lowest register - middle G and below, that is; this sounds ugly - check it yourself. It's almost impossible to balance such a sound well and make it blend with the rest of the orchestra

- flute hitting C#7 - whoah. Certainly possible, but do you really want to annoy the performers? :P It's the pianist's show, after all, the orchestra needn't be taxed too much, that's what I say.

I would probably find a ton of other stuff worth commenting on, but it's 2 AM, so no.

Ok, Greg, Thanks for your comments.  After all, I am getting a reading done for exactly this reason... so I can figure out what is wrong.  I don't have too much experience with orchestration, so it may not be as good as it should be.  And like I said, it is not finished and there is certainly room to edit (which I certainly will need to do).  So I'll listen to the reading, after which I will go and make some edits!  

Thank you everyone, for your useful comments.  And yes, I do know it may sound 19th century-ish, though there's some whole-tone, octatonic and other stuff thrown in there.  

lara, I am having a problem listening to your concerto. When I click the Mp3 link I get a message saying that I have to download something and it says "no viruses detected" which immediately makes me nervous. When I click on your allegro parts.mid attached file. I get a "aw snap" unhappy face. When I click the option "allow this time" I get a "sorry cannot do" window. Ever thought of putting this over on YouTube? I see you have a page over there.  By the way, I have my own piano concerto over on YouTube which I'd love for you to hear. BTW, even though I couldn't hear it I read through most of the score and it looks to be a quality work. You certainly know your orchestration. How did you get so good for one so young? You must have an innate gift.

Can't you get a preview of the mp3 without downloading?  I thought that was possible, and I got one, but maybe that's just a mac thing?  As for the midi, I can try posting it again, and for those of you who have sibelius, I will post a .sib file on here.  The reason it is not on youtube is because I haven't finished it yet...  I am hoping to get a live performance someday, but I might upload an mp3 of the electronic once it is done... It is now closer to being complete, so I might as well re-upload things.  

Thank you Joe for your praise.  I've had practice with composing for a while :)

P.S. Tell me if something doesn't work!

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I'm not necessarily saying go overboard with dissonance but why write like Liszt or Brahms when they already did it so well themselves? 

Statements like this kind of bother me.  They are usually put forth by people who try to write like Milton Babbit and his ilk.  That's a style that has also been done, so why do that right?  What matters to me is not the harmonic language so much, but more how you handle your materials, and you have put forth a shapely piece of music that is very listenable.  Nice work!  Some of it does maybe seem a little cliched to me, but that's not a matter of style so much as one of coming up with fitting solutions instead of ones that merely happen to fit if you use a shoehorn.  No particular spot comes to mind, just a V chord here and there that doesn't quite cut it, but overall, very nicely done.  I am not one to comment on orchestration, not one of my strong suits.


And here's a link to an audio version: http://soundcloud.com/lara-poe/allegro

Lara, I listened to the midi version -- and tried to look past the poor sound quality inherent in the midi.

My observations:

There is no shortage of ideas in this piece. They don't always mesh well together, but the good news is that you have a lot of ideas. If you didn't have good ideas -- that would be bad news indeed! You just need to hone your technique for incorporating them.

You don't seem shy about composing. You put in a lot of notes, and keep momentum of the piece going. That's good news too!

The harmonic language isn't consistent. You use some interesting harmonies, but tend to resolve them in cliche ways. As a result the tension / release pattern seems repetitive and purposeless. You could create better harmonic contrasts by sticking to a harmonic style for a while (e.g. with the augmented triads & whole tone scales) the switching to a contrasting harmonic style and sticking with that for a while. In general I would prefer the contrasts to apply at a more macro level, e.g. between sections of the piece, rather than from bar to bar.

I think you are finding your voice -- you definitely have a voice! I suggest you experiment and branch out with your approaches. Try non-linear approaches, e.g. take a theme from the end of a piece, copy it to the beginning and change it somehow. 

Thank you Charles and Mike for your compliments!  Mike, yes, I am indeed still trying to find my voice.  I think I just need to practice writing some more...

Here's the latest midi file: 

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