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This is a neo-classical solo piano piece that roughly follows sonata form.  Please listen and give me some feedback on this piece.  All comments and criticisms are welcome.  I'm afraid that I've stolen the third (closing) theme from somewhere, it sounds familiar but I can't place it.  The score is still kind of rough but any comments on that are welcome too.  Thanks for your time!

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Hi Ingo,

I listened to this twice. It's a bit out of my wheelhouse, but I will try to offer helpful observations. Overall the impressions I had were of Bach and more specifically the Goldberg Variations. I sensed you were striving for that wonderful intimacy that Gould achieved in those famous recordings, which I felt you did achieve. At six minutes the piece for me bordered on the point where a mostly consistent tone from start to finish being acceptable begins to give way to a desire for more variety, but again, you were at that border and not sure you crossed it, so the mostly consistent tone in the piece may be just the right length. I think the big challenge for me is in relation to expectations. One of the great statements I have come across about art is when you come to a conclusion, that conclusion must simultaneously feel unpredictable and inevitable. In other words, we as listeners may not know where you are going, but when you finally arrive, we should feel that you came to the spot that you had to come to, even if we  couldn't see it until you got there. I didn't feel this with this piece. Your arrival points left me without understanding of how you got there. But perhaps this is where I am lost because of being out of my wheelhouse, so take it for what it's worth. One other note, there is an impossible point in your score - bar 75, where the performer is asked to play in each hand 3 note chords with the upper notes an octave and an 11th from the root. No person could play this straight. A really good performer might be able to roll it, but it would not sound anything like in the recording and would certainly break with that intimate sound that permeates the piece. Thanks for sharing!

Gav

Thank you Gav for taking the time and writing a helpful review.  I overlooked the impossible chords at measure 75, I will have to revoice those to try and keep the effect while making them playable. There are probably other parts that would need attention if this piece were to be played live.

Your other criticism is equally valid but harder to address.  "Your arrival points left me without understanding of how you got there."  Ideally I think a piece should have that continuity regardless of where your "wheelhouse" is. That's part of good thematic development which can be difficult to accomplish.  My preference is often to charge ahead into new territory without making good transitions and logical progressions.  I will work on that.  Thanks again!

Ingo. I'm going to be honest... as always. First, let me ask you, how do you define music?

No doubt, we all have a different 'ear' for music and what appeals to that 'sense'.

What sense of music are you appealing to here? My 1st impression was some kind of jazzy infusion

of a hint of classic with a plethora of rambling nonsense. Music is a language... and a form of communication

to me. So I ask myself, what is this attempting to communicate. Technically stringing notes and tones together,

much like letters on a page of paper, doesn't necessarily spell out or say anything. I even find some of Bach no more than boring techno-tones, regardless of it's 'ingenuity'.

Please don't take this as a harsh criticism, it is I/me that is seeking to comprehend your language, and your perspective of music.

Hi Roger, thanks for listening and commenting.  I agree that music is a language that we try and communicate with.  Since we are all different sometimes we say things that others don't understand and that doesn't really help anybody.  So I understand that if I talk about things that are personal to me that many people won't understand it or maybe just won't like it.  But I carefully wrote all of these notes (including the ones that Gav pointed out are impossible to play, oops!) and the language does make perfect sense to me, but I know that doesn't help you. :)

To be fair, there are three sections in this piece that are very straightforward. They use I, IV  and V chords and have lots of nonchromatic stepwise melodies.  This is standard language that serves as a contrast to the other parts which are rhythmically eccentric and mildly dissonant.

Interesting… interesting indeed and, traditional or not, it’s like nothing I’ve heard in that while it follows tradition it's thematic material is definitely in a ’modern' cast.  Baroque-styled in the hands of a modern composer unafraid  of modulating around and throwing in surprises. I listened to it twice . The first time I thought ‘this should be played on a harpsichord’ probably because of the lack of pedal and the many ornaments; the second time I got more into the intricacies of the thematic material which turned out to be interesting, jumping about a bit, laden with ornaments that actually turn out to be parts of the tune itself. Have you tried it with a VST harpsichord? 

 Altogether I quite liked it….

  1. a) for the unpredictability of the turns in tune and harmony. Nice to be surprised here and there!
  2. b) its uncluttered part-writing.
  3. c) the closing episode was pretty lyrical.
  4. d) also liked your many changes of dynamic that would allow a human performer quite a latitude of expression. (I suppose that would rule out a harpsichord.)

What I liked less was the feeling (only) of ‘bleak’ when the tune (that usually implies some of the harmony ) lacked the 3rd of the that underlying harmony or it took a long time coming.  But then, if that’s what you want that’s how it shall be. A pedal may make the difference but you may not want it.

Altogether an achievement, Ingo. Well done.

Cheers,

Hi Ingo,

Thank you for sharing your music.  I will likely struggle to articulate my thoughts (partly because I'm keeping an eye on my one year old while feverishly typing).  

First, I enjoyed the concept.  A fusion of Baroque/modernity makes for an interesting sound-scape.  When I listen to music, I try to put myself in the shoes of the composer, understanding that a piece reflects the composer's intentions and musical proclivities.  If the composer further establishes their satisfaction with the work, rather than suggesting the work was purely experimental, and/or requesting assistance because they know there are technical deficiencies and they are seeking solutions from other composers, I accept that the piece has meaning for the composer and try to find meaning in the work for myself, even if it is not immediately obvious.

The inherent subjectivity of music and the wide array of backgrounds we draw our experiences from, leads to radically different opinions about the quality/competence of a work.  To that end, I ask myself, "how can I judge a piece of music fairly?"  There is no right answer to this.  We might consider the following when critiquing a piece, understanding that some/all of these elements may or may not exist in the music and don't validate/invalidate it as a worthy contribution to the musical repertoire.  

Aesthetics are easy to determine for a listener...it's subjective, and one person's beauty is another's ugly.  If all one is looking for is a catchy tune, or some consistent rhythmic groove, a piece like yours would surely disappoint.  One must look beyond the obvious to find some meaning...

If the music is "art music", one expects a depth of writing that challenges the listener and showcases some of the myriad of compositional tools/techniques available, in an effective, coherent way.  Often, this is where things can get murky.  One can quickly point out technical challenges in a piece, such as writing notes out of range of an instrument, or voicing chords that would be impossible to play on a piano, as was the case in your piece.  As impressions can be everything, if you were to present this piece to a pianist, upon first glance, they would probably balk at the challenging rhythms (could the tempi/time signatures be adjusted, such that you avoid the 32nd note subdivision of the beats?...even for example using the "French overture-style dotted patterns where you have double dotted eighths followed by a 32nd note...not practically necessary when a single dot, 16th would be played the same way by most) and would ultimately be frustrated by the voicings at times which are more theoretically-motivated than performance-practical.  However, adjustments could be made by a performer to honour your intentions without too much difficulty.

Beyond technically obvious issues, the overall question becomes, "is this a well-conceived, well-written piece that is a credible and sound composition?"  If an architect submitted blueprints for a building that purposely defied existing engineering principles that would compromise the structure of an edifice in such a way as to have a group of engineers/architects say that the building will certainly collapse if we follow this plan, it wouldn't matter if the designing architect insisted that he/she was doing something revolutionary...that the building would "look awesome" when completed. All that would matter is that the building would not be safely erected.  With music, this is not an issue.  Nobody gets hurt because a composer writes musical phrases that are harmonically challenging, or that the counterpoint is "flawed", or that the aesthetics are missing/purposely distorted, etc.  

As one music professor once said to me about composition:  "we're not building bridges here."  The freedom to explore music in the way you wish, is one of the great rewards we have as composers.  If your goal is writing to please the masses, then obviously, a piece like this is easy to dismiss.  If your goal is to please yourself, then "goal accomplished."  If your goal is to impress fellow composers with experience writing modern concert music, let the debate begin.  For me personally, I understood your intention and appreciated many elements of your piece.  I also found it perhaps more innovative in the thought process than the execution.  What bothers many people about modern concert music is the absence of either tonality and/or predictable/definable rhythm.  Some dismiss this as "nonsense", while other avant-garde composers will swear up and down that what is being dismissed, is actually quite brilliant.  The debates will rage on as to what makes one modern piece brilliant, and another sheer nonsense.  

At the end of the day, you're writing what you want, and sharing it...kudos for this!  You will find your audience, and the more "out there/obscure" your voice, the more you will find yourself being challenged to prove your worth, so to speak.  This will be a futile effort, as those opposed to music like yours, will likely not come around to your way of thinking, just as you may never enjoy writing a three chord pop song.  Do your thing and seek to improve/challenge yourself every day, and your music will have its purpose.


Cheers!

Dave

Hi Ingo

There is much to like and admire in this piece. It sounds to me like a fusion of different styles/genres - impressive piano writing.

There were parts where I got a bit lost - notably where  slower single note short passages were being played. 

Enjoyed it though.

Thanks, Colin

Thank you all for listening and commenting with ideas that are very helpful and important to me.  I want to respond to each of you as well as I can but this may take me a while.  But please know that I am happy and honored that you have posted here and that we now have a great community here to share our works!

Thank you Dane for helping with this piece and your kind comments. I had never thought of a harpsichord for this, it might work pretty well for some of the passages anyway, I'll have to think of that for future use at least. It would probably be a good fit for some of my stuff.

Pedal is an issue, the EW Gold Steinway has it either full-on or full-off and I had trouble getting that to work. I should have it in the score more but that's kind of player thing anyway from what I've heard. The bleak parts are there to balance with the overcrowded parts, ha, yeah they are kind of unsettling I guess, maybe the pedal would help, good suggestion. Thanks again!

Dane Aubrun said:

Interesting… interesting indeed and, traditional or not, it’s like nothing I’ve heard in that while it follows tradition it's thematic material is definitely in a ’modern' cast.  Baroque-styled in the hands of a modern composer unafraid  of modulating around and throwing in surprises. I listened to it twice . The first time I thought ‘this should be played on a harpsichord’ probably because of the lack of pedal and the many ornaments; the second time I got more into the intricacies of the thematic material which turned out to be interesting, jumping about a bit, laden with ornaments that actually turn out to be parts of the tune itself. Have you tried it with a VST harpsichord? 

 Altogether I quite liked it….

  1. a) for the unpredictability of the turns in tune and harmony. Nice to be surprised here and there!
  2. b) its uncluttered part-writing.
  3. c) the closing episode was pretty lyrical.
  4. d) also liked your many changes of dynamic that would allow a human performer quite a latitude of expression. (I suppose that would rule out a harpsichord.)

What I liked less was the feeling (only) of ‘bleak’ when the tune (that usually implies some of the harmony ) lacked the 3rd of the that underlying harmony or it took a long time coming.  But then, if that’s what you want that’s how it shall be. A pedal may make the difference but you may not want it.

Altogether an achievement, Ingo. Well done.

Cheers,

Hi David, that is an amazing response, thank you! You have some great thoughts and information here. And it's truly OK not to like this piece. Honestly, I often learn more from non-likers than likers so it's all for the best.

 

Very good point about my time signature choice. I realized that far enough in to not want to go back and make any changes and then the remainder of the piece followed the same pattern. There are certainly other issues with the score aside from the composition itself, but since a live performance is unlikely I'm not motivated to make a lot of changes but rather learn for future efforts.

 

"Is this a well-conceived, well-written piece that is a credible and sound composition?" Well the short answer is no. It's more of an ADHD impromptu that is not going fit into a 'normal' comfort zone anytime soon. So I won't be building any bridges. But that is probably a question I should ask myself more; much of the music I love would easily pass the implied tests that question poses.

 

I do have a fugue posted on my Soundcloud page which is not a great example of fugal writing (got a little carried away with "free" counterpoint) but it is written in traditional classical style unlike this sonata and has gotten good reviews here; along with some rather basic corrections which members of this forum helped me with. I think this piece would fare better on the "conceived/credible" test than my sonata.

 

I agree that there are some irreconcilable viewpoints on music and taste but there is a lot of common ground too. And we all change and grow, and music continues to evolve daily. I hope to get better, thanks again!

David Carovillano said:

Hi Ingo,

Thank you for sharing your music.  I will likely struggle to articulate my thoughts (partly because I'm keeping an eye on my one year old while feverishly typing).  

First, I enjoyed the concept.  A fusion of Baroque/modernity makes for an interesting sound-scape.  When I listen to music, I try to put myself in the shoes of the composer, understanding that a piece reflects the composer's intentions and musical proclivities.  If the composer further establishes their satisfaction with the work, rather than suggesting the work was purely experimental, and/or requesting assistance because they know there are technical deficiencies and they are seeking solutions from other composers, I accept that the piece has meaning for the composer and try to find meaning in the work for myself, even if it is not immediately obvious.

The inherent subjectivity of music and the wide array of backgrounds we draw our experiences from, leads to radically different opinions about the quality/competence of a work.  To that end, I ask myself, "how can I judge a piece of music fairly?"  There is no right answer to this.  We might consider the following when critiquing a piece, understanding that some/all of these elements may or may not exist in the music and don't validate/invalidate it as a worthy contribution to the musical repertoire.  

Aesthetics are easy to determine for a listener...it's subjective, and one person's beauty is another's ugly.  If all one is looking for is a catchy tune, or some consistent rhythmic groove, a piece like yours would surely disappoint.  One must look beyond the obvious to find some meaning...

If the music is "art music", one expects a depth of writing that challenges the listener and showcases some of the myriad of compositional tools/techniques available, in an effective, coherent way.  Often, this is where things can get murky.  One can quickly point out technical challenges in a piece, such as writing notes out of range of an instrument, or voicing chords that would be impossible to play on a piano, as was the case in your piece.  As impressions can be everything, if you were to present this piece to a pianist, upon first glance, they would probably balk at the challenging rhythms (could the tempi/time signatures be adjusted, such that you avoid the 32nd note subdivision of the beats?...even for example using the "French overture-style dotted patterns where you have double dotted eighths followed by a 32nd note...not practically necessary when a single dot, 16th would be played the same way by most) and would ultimately be frustrated by the voicings at times which are more theoretically-motivated than performance-practical.  However, adjustments could be made by a performer to honour your intentions without too much difficulty.

Beyond technically obvious issues, the overall question becomes, "is this a well-conceived, well-written piece that is a credible and sound composition?"  If an architect submitted blueprints for a building that purposely defied existing engineering principles that would compromise the structure of an edifice in such a way as to have a group of engineers/architects say that the building will certainly collapse if we follow this plan, it wouldn't matter if the designing architect insisted that he/she was doing something revolutionary...that the building would "look awesome" when completed. All that would matter is that the building would not be safely erected.  With music, this is not an issue.  Nobody gets hurt because a composer writes musical phrases that are harmonically challenging, or that the counterpoint is "flawed", or that the aesthetics are missing/purposely distorted, etc.  

As one music professor once said to me about composition:  "we're not building bridges here."  The freedom to explore music in the way you wish, is one of the great rewards we have as composers.  If your goal is writing to please the masses, then obviously, a piece like this is easy to dismiss.  If your goal is to please yourself, then "goal accomplished."  If your goal is to impress fellow composers with experience writing modern concert music, let the debate begin.  For me personally, I understood your intention and appreciated many elements of your piece.  I also found it perhaps more innovative in the thought process than the execution.  What bothers many people about modern concert music is the absence of either tonality and/or predictable/definable rhythm.  Some dismiss this as "nonsense", while other avant-garde composers will swear up and down that what is being dismissed, is actually quite brilliant.  The debates will rage on as to what makes one modern piece brilliant, and another sheer nonsense.  

At the end of the day, you're writing what you want, and sharing it...kudos for this!  You will find your audience, and the more "out there/obscure" your voice, the more you will find yourself being challenged to prove your worth, so to speak.  This will be a futile effort, as those opposed to music like yours, will likely not come around to your way of thinking, just as you may never enjoy writing a three chord pop song.  Do your thing and seek to improve/challenge yourself every day, and your music will have its purpose.


Cheers!

Dave

Hi Colin, thank you for listening, commenting and being supportive.  Yes, others have noted the single note short phrases as being an issue that needs work so that's a good criticism on your part.  I will revisit this piece at some point and pay special attention to those parts.  If nothing else the next time I get the urge to write a passage like that I'll study it much more carefully.  Thanks again!

Colin Dougall said:

Hi Ingo

There is much to like and admire in this piece. It sounds to me like a fusion of different styles/genres - impressive piano writing.

There were parts where I got a bit lost - notably where  slower single note short passages were being played. 

Enjoyed it though.

Thanks, Colin

Re your fugue, Ingo:  Just listened and I agree that it is obviously going to be more palatable to most listeners.  You did a great job, and show quite a wonderful understanding of counterpoint, which I'll bet comes easy to you, rather than struggling to learn it (those that get it, just do it, those that don't, never try! lol)

Anyway, there will always be a "Placebo effect" with music.  You are not Bach.  As such, if an audience was presented your fugue to listen to, as having been written by Ingo Lee, they might compliment it, and offer criticism as well.  If presented as music by Bach, they likely would suggest the piece is perfect, just the way it is.  Or, there's the other element of the "herd mentality."  If the first person with a big, convincing voice says the piece is great, everyone will follow (except for Bob...wink wink, nudge, nudge!)  Similarly, if they say the piece is terrible, others will chime in the same way.  Of course, this relates mostly to people with little musical knowledge and/or experience.  Those that know what they like, will tell you what they like.

Anyway, I'm rambling.  Suffice it to say, it shows great promise.  Keep doing what you're doing and exploring the gamut of ideas churning in your head!


Cheers,

Dave

Ingo Lee said:

Hi David, that is an amazing response, thank you! You have some great thoughts and information here. And it's truly OK not to like this piece. Honestly, I often learn more from non-likers than likers so it's all for the best.

 

Very good point about my time signature choice. I realized that far enough in to not want to go back and make any changes and then the remainder of the piece followed the same pattern. There are certainly other issues with the score aside from the composition itself, but since a live performance is unlikely I'm not motivated to make a lot of changes but rather learn for future efforts.

 

"Is this a well-conceived, well-written piece that is a credible and sound composition?" Well the short answer is no. It's more of an ADHD impromptu that is not going fit into a 'normal' comfort zone anytime soon. So I won't be building any bridges. But that is probably a question I should ask myself more; much of the music I love would easily pass the implied tests that question poses.

 

I do have a fugue posted on my Soundcloud page which is not a great example of fugal writing (got a little carried away with "free" counterpoint) but it is written in traditional classical style unlike this sonata and has gotten good reviews here; along with some rather basic corrections which members of this forum helped me with. I think this piece would fare better on the "conceived/credible" test than my sonata.

 

I agree that there are some irreconcilable viewpoints on music and taste but there is a lot of common ground too. And we all change and grow, and music continues to evolve daily. I hope to get better, thanks again!

David Carovillano said:

Hi Ingo,

Thank you for sharing your music.  I will likely struggle to articulate my thoughts (partly because I'm keeping an eye on my one year old while feverishly typing).  

First, I enjoyed the concept.  A fusion of Baroque/modernity makes for an interesting sound-scape.  When I listen to music, I try to put myself in the shoes of the composer, understanding that a piece reflects the composer's intentions and musical proclivities.  If the composer further establishes their satisfaction with the work, rather than suggesting the work was purely experimental, and/or requesting assistance because they know there are technical deficiencies and they are seeking solutions from other composers, I accept that the piece has meaning for the composer and try to find meaning in the work for myself, even if it is not immediately obvious.

The inherent subjectivity of music and the wide array of backgrounds we draw our experiences from, leads to radically different opinions about the quality/competence of a work.  To that end, I ask myself, "how can I judge a piece of music fairly?"  There is no right answer to this.  We might consider the following when critiquing a piece, understanding that some/all of these elements may or may not exist in the music and don't validate/invalidate it as a worthy contribution to the musical repertoire.  

Aesthetics are easy to determine for a listener...it's subjective, and one person's beauty is another's ugly.  If all one is looking for is a catchy tune, or some consistent rhythmic groove, a piece like yours would surely disappoint.  One must look beyond the obvious to find some meaning...

If the music is "art music", one expects a depth of writing that challenges the listener and showcases some of the myriad of compositional tools/techniques available, in an effective, coherent way.  Often, this is where things can get murky.  One can quickly point out technical challenges in a piece, such as writing notes out of range of an instrument, or voicing chords that would be impossible to play on a piano, as was the case in your piece.  As impressions can be everything, if you were to present this piece to a pianist, upon first glance, they would probably balk at the challenging rhythms (could the tempi/time signatures be adjusted, such that you avoid the 32nd note subdivision of the beats?...even for example using the "French overture-style dotted patterns where you have double dotted eighths followed by a 32nd note...not practically necessary when a single dot, 16th would be played the same way by most) and would ultimately be frustrated by the voicings at times which are more theoretically-motivated than performance-practical.  However, adjustments could be made by a performer to honour your intentions without too much difficulty.

Beyond technically obvious issues, the overall question becomes, "is this a well-conceived, well-written piece that is a credible and sound composition?"  If an architect submitted blueprints for a building that purposely defied existing engineering principles that would compromise the structure of an edifice in such a way as to have a group of engineers/architects say that the building will certainly collapse if we follow this plan, it wouldn't matter if the designing architect insisted that he/she was doing something revolutionary...that the building would "look awesome" when completed. All that would matter is that the building would not be safely erected.  With music, this is not an issue.  Nobody gets hurt because a composer writes musical phrases that are harmonically challenging, or that the counterpoint is "flawed", or that the aesthetics are missing/purposely distorted, etc.  

As one music professor once said to me about composition:  "we're not building bridges here."  The freedom to explore music in the way you wish, is one of the great rewards we have as composers.  If your goal is writing to please the masses, then obviously, a piece like this is easy to dismiss.  If your goal is to please yourself, then "goal accomplished."  If your goal is to impress fellow composers with experience writing modern concert music, let the debate begin.  For me personally, I understood your intention and appreciated many elements of your piece.  I also found it perhaps more innovative in the thought process than the execution.  What bothers many people about modern concert music is the absence of either tonality and/or predictable/definable rhythm.  Some dismiss this as "nonsense", while other avant-garde composers will swear up and down that what is being dismissed, is actually quite brilliant.  The debates will rage on as to what makes one modern piece brilliant, and another sheer nonsense.  

At the end of the day, you're writing what you want, and sharing it...kudos for this!  You will find your audience, and the more "out there/obscure" your voice, the more you will find yourself being challenged to prove your worth, so to speak.  This will be a futile effort, as those opposed to music like yours, will likely not come around to your way of thinking, just as you may never enjoy writing a three chord pop song.  Do your thing and seek to improve/challenge yourself every day, and your music will have its purpose.


Cheers!

Dave

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