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Ok I would very much like to have this piece ripped apart.

The reason why I say this is, I didn't study music and I cannot play a piano at this standard. This was done purely by what I learnt listening to classical music and my small knowledge of piano playing.

In 2005, I challenged myself to compose a piano concerto just on the assumption of 'why wouldn't I be able to write one' so this is that attempt.

As far as I can tell, all the parts are playable.

I would also just like to say that the vst's I used then where not that great and i'm afraid the piano is done on one velocity throughout the piece. When I started this piece, it just came out of me as though I was possessed honestly, it just kept flowing out of me which surprised me to be honest. Also you will probably hear some heavy influences but as far as I know I didn't rip anyone off (hopefully).

Here is the piece. It has two themes.

Piano Concerto 1st Movement

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Hi Theo,

I'm not one to "rip apart" the creative efforts of others, but as you are looking for feedback, I'm going to offer my thoughts:

First, the positive:  as someone that just decided to write a concerto, and with no training, your talent and instincts are admirable.  You have succeeded in writing music that is dramatic and virtuosic; to the vast majority of people, it would sound exactly like what they think a concerto is.  

Now, to address some areas for improvement:  It seems that you have imitated what you perceive to be a romantic era concerto without necessarily considering the over-arching form.  I'm not going to bore you with exposition-development-recapitulation, solo vs. tutti sections, etc.  Rather, simply focussing on the relationship between orchestra and soloist, it seems as if more could be done to add interest to the non-piano orchestral partner in this piece.  Think about writing more substantially meaningful lines for the orchestra during the tutti section. Also, the ending bears re-visiting.

As to the overall character, it sounds "algorithmic", almost as if a computer was given a set of chords from which to base a theme (motif?) and noodle around in grand fashion for many minutes.  This is in no way meant to sound offensive/dismissive, but I pictured the late, great, comedic pianist, Victor Borge playing this to parody the expectations of over-the-top 19th century bravura.  It's a lot of sizzle, but not a lot of steak.  Development of thematic material is much more than restating a motif over and over with slight variation.  A concerto must tell a story, and for the most part, it felt like I was walking through a forest of giant and imposing oak trees, without getting a chance to notice any of the other varieties/species of plants/vegetation.  To give another analogy (I love these, if you haven't noticed!) what separates a great action film from many of the straight to DVD offerings, is more than a lot of quick cuts, choregraphed fight scenes, etc.  It is the nuance of the character development.  A good action flick makes the action a necessary component/resolution to conflict, not an end in itself.  Just fighting or dazzling with special effects for 90 minutes would wear an audience out.  Similarly, the tension/release, motivic development, use of varying techniques, longer melodic lines that don't simply sound like diminished arpeggiated passages repeated ad infinitum...all these things contribute to a memorable and inspired piece of music.  

Please take this only as one person's opinion.  I'm not a good critic, as I prefer to compose and let music talk for me :)  I do see a lot of potential, and to be honest, very few people with little/no training could create such a work simply through the act of listening/imitating what they hear.  However, in order to develop this raw talent, you must go beyond simply extracting the obvious from virtuosic concerto writing and look at what makes a great piece of music stand above the dazzling technique (which should only be part of the equation).


Congrats on this!

Dave

Thanks David for your valuable comments. I did in fact bite off more than I can chew but the idea if 'giving it a go' was the inspiration for me to give it a go. 

I also understand that I barely know what i'm doing musically and I do honestly wish I had kept up my piano lessons when I was a kid but that is just it. I was a kid and I didn't really appreciate what I was learning at the time. Shame really but that was my mistake in life.

Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's and also thanks for the time you took to listen and give your opinion.

I do appreciate that very much and I do try to take in what was said :)

Bravo for giving it a go and getting it down.

It’s certainly pianistic!

Definitely the Romantic vein.

My honest view. This has potential and is worth revisiting to polish it up. The opening is commanding all right. But that motif comes across as repetitive but it has scope for elaboration and variation. It started to show around 0’19”, again at 1’43”. The second theme coming in around 2’20” (times are approximate) is pretty powerful and here it really seems to take off.

Another point was the orchestra didn’t play much of a part, a lot of time doubling the piano. In the earlier parts I was hoping the piano would break off to give the orchestra a chance, perhaps more sustained to contrast with the piano or even building on the piano outline. 

One curiosity was the ending. Without going into theory it seems to end on the dominant (the 5th degree up the scale from the key chord, if you’re not familiar with this. Forgive my mentioning it if you are). The ending was pretty big so it was noticeable. I don’t know if others will spot it – or if it could be a problem with my player. Or that it could be exactly that you want.

No matter. These are just my views. I'm still a bit of a beginner myself. The piece may be just as you want it. When inspiration strikes on this scale it’s worth taking note!

 

Well done! .........Is a second movement in the offing?

Around 4:30 it started to get interesting, with some instruments other than piano and strings finally getting a play. The rest of it sounded overly dramatic, almost like you were blending epic music with the concerto you're writing. I found that tiresome after awhile.

But, and this is important: what others have said is true: for a first attempt at writing a piano concerto, you did remarkably well, and I believe you could do much better if you desire to give it another go. I would listen to various concertos. not just Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky (although certainly those), but also Ravel, Gershwin, Grieg, Schumann. To get a feel for the many different approaches composers have used.

Finally, Dane is correct, you end on the dominant, which in a romantic concerto should be the next to last chord, leading inexorably to the tonic. It just leaves the listener hanging, like there must be more to come.

All in all, a most promising start!

Hi Dane, thanks for your views, I see the beginning does need some more orchestration and to be more varied ( not following the piano so much). The second movement... Maybe it is best if I rework the first movement. At least I have the basis to work with and since I wrote this, my writing ability has improved so it should be time now to try and improve the piece. All this feedback is giving me the positive incentive to work more on this piece.

Thanks for your honest opinion :)

Dane Aubrun said:

Bravo for giving it a go and getting it down.

It’s certainly pianistic!

Definitely the Romantic vein.

My honest view. This has potential and is worth revisiting to polish it up. The opening is commanding all right. But that motif comes across as repetitive but it has scope for elaboration and variation. It started to show around 0’19”, again at 1’43”. The second theme coming in around 2’20” (times are approximate) is pretty powerful and here it really seems to take off.

Another point was the orchestra didn’t play much of a part, a lot of time doubling the piano. In the earlier parts I was hoping the piano would break off to give the orchestra a chance, perhaps more sustained to contrast with the piano or even building on the piano outline. 

One curiosity was the ending. Without going into theory it seems to end on the dominant (the 5th degree up the scale from the key chord, if you’re not familiar with this. Forgive my mentioning it if you are). The ending was pretty big so it was noticeable. I don’t know if others will spot it – or if it could be a problem with my player. Or that it could be exactly that you want.

No matter. These are just my views. I'm still a bit of a beginner myself. The piece may be just as you want it. When inspiration strikes on this scale it’s worth taking note!

 

Well done! .........Is a second movement in the offing?

Hi Michael, I have definitely learnt some things here with yours and everyone else's comments. I have never really had this piece reviewed by people that know what they are talking about so I have never tried to improve the piece. This is exactly the kind of feedback I need and I appreciate every ones  input. I do tend to write more aggressively (not that i'm an aggressive person lol ) as I do like powerful music but I also do know that there should be subtle and beautiful moments also. I will listen to those composers you mentioned and see what I can learn from them.

I will also start to work on this piece and give it a better direction and also I can use the latest orchestral libraries I have now to give it a better fuller sound.

As for giving it a go in the first place, if we don't try these challenges, we don't learn so thanks for the feedback :)


michael diemer said:

Around 4:30 it started to get interesting, with some instruments other than piano and strings finally getting a play. The rest of it sounded overly dramatic, almost like you were blending epic music with the concerto you're writing. I found that tiresome after awhile.

But, and this is important: what others have said is true: for a first attempt at writing a piano concerto, you did remarkably well, and I believe you could do much better if you desire to give it another go. I would listen to various concertos. not just Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky (although certainly those), but also Ravel, Gershwin, Grieg, Schumann. To get a feel for the many different approaches composers have used.

Finally, Dane is correct, you end on the dominant, which in a romantic concerto should be the next to last chord, leading inexorably to the tonic. It just leaves the listener hanging, like there must be more to come.

All in all, a most promising start!

Hi, and thanks for your views. I don't hate you for saying what you feel because you are probably correct. In fact I will tell you that I wrote this piece in half a day lol.

That is one of my troubles, I tend to write very quickly so I think about what I am writing but not very hard. I tend to rush my pieces which I know is a bad thing.

Also another bad thing I do is if I am working on a piece that is taking a bit too long, I will start a new piece and even another then go between the 3 lol.

Also I will say this, when I compose my music, I am not composing for composers I am composing for people in general that just listen to music but don't analyse. 

I don't mean this in a bad way. Take for instance, when my cousin heard this, he flipped over it and he told me he kept playing it over and over in his car. To him he is not listening to see why I when from this chord to that chord or why did the melody go that way not this way, he just hears a piece of music and he either likes it or he doesn't.

We as composers and musicians don't do that, we always analyse music that we hear lol. It's not a bad thing it's just what we do and I do listen to what a composer tells me but I wouldn't listen to what a non composer/musician tells me cos they don't understand music as we do if you know what I mean. :)

J Paul Smith said:

I will say right away that I rather liked it. Lots of energy there, very percussive in the piano part, etc., but, and I hate to say it, it’s in the Romantic style through and through, which can only lead one to take it less seriously, at this point. 

Having said that, it seems very clear to me that if you’re capable of pulling this off, you ought to be able to generate something more in line with a modern approach. Not, of course, that this means it ought to be atonal, heaven forbid. 

The promise inherent in this piece, it seems to me, is that with a lot more work and patience, you could come up with something both old enough and new enough to captivate your listeners. Hate me, if you must, but my impression is that you were too satisfied with this piece to give it the necessary time to evolve into something more unique. 

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