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My latest composition is (imho) my best yet. I incorporated Sonatina Symphonic soundfont, and started with a melody plunked out on my mini-keyboard. The A part harmony is driven by the melody, though the B section is more about the progression. I would appreciate any comments.

Night's Tale

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Hi Dave

Really need to post a PDF score to get good feedback.

Although I was pleased when we got to the middle section would like to see you break up the eight bar measures.

Thanks for your feedback. The score changed since I made the mp3. Also, I am not musically trained (since 7th grade), so I use concert pitch and continuous view - so I have no idea if this PDF is any good for you.

I am not sure what you mean by " break up the eight bar measures." 

But I really appreciate your feedback so far.

Attachments:
I will direct these comments to the score on the assumption that you would desire to get this played by real players one day.

Good that you annotate the harmony. A practice I need to get back to. Unnecessary for a published score but good for a work in progress.

Some recommendations.

1. Instruments are in the wrong place. The order should be wind, brass, percussion and strings. Also they would be bracketed that way not as you have flute, English horn, violin (1) and violin 2.
2 changing from English horn to trumpet. Unless you know a player who can perform that unusual feat need to write on separate staves.
3 the lower in pitch and the closer the notes bass parts will sound muddy. Bar 69 on with the cello pizz and the very last bar. It has to do with how harmonics work, close notes at the top, open notes at the bottom.
4 Horn parts too high e.g bars 105 on. Best not to go above written G5 imho.
5 Not sure why you have a piano part with no music in it.
6 Dynamics odd in places e.g. Bar 21 English horn ff violins p. That would be very fatiguing as well. (English horn should be transposed same as horns)

My earlier comment re eight bar measures. Think about inserting a couple of bars between measures as a bridge otherwise it is just the melody, with some ornamentation, repeated eight times. Introduce a second contrasting theme. Use a sequence .

Hope this is useful..

Mike L

Thanks again for taking the time to treat my little piece seriously.

1. Instruments are in the wrong place. The order should be wind, brass, percussion and strings. Also they would be bracketed that way not as you have flute, English horn, violin (1) and violin 2.

I will change my template. I guess I was trying "highest highest." 

2 changing from English horn to trumpet. Unless you know a player who can perform that unusual feat need to write on separate staves.

To be honest, I am not really thinking about players. The quick change seemed, well, quick. But really, a new staff makes more sense - especially when the range is completely different. I am just amazed the program lets me do it!

3 the lower in pitch and the closer the notes bass parts will sound muddy. Bar 69 on with the cello pizz and the very last bar. It has to do with how harmonics work, close notes at the top, open notes at the bottom.

I kind of knew that. With the C64, we had only three voices - one for bass, two for upper harmony. Probably should have used drums for the effect. Still learning. On the last bar, I wanted to nail the end with a sub-sonic. Doesn't really work, does it.

4 Horn parts too high e.g bars 105 on. Best not to go above written G5 imho.

I need to turn on the limiter - the notes above amateur and pro abilities are color coded. I guess it has to do with my ears - I have this thing for high, sharp sound. Maybe I need to rethink this.

5 Not sure why you have a piano part with no music in it.

Uh - I often use the piano as a test staff, then cut/paste to an instrument. It was just a remnant.

6 Dynamics odd in places e.g. Bar 21 English horn ff violins p. That would be very fatiguing as well. (English horn should be transposed same as horns)

This is only because of my ears. The English horn is "Cor Anglais Solo" on the soundfont - and is a bit quiet. Guess I would have someone blowing his/her ears off :) 

Think about inserting a couple of bars between measures as a bridge 

I take you to mean some sort of verse/chorus structure - perhaps each chorus with the same arrangement as a response to the verse. Good idea. I have noticed that I get all copy/paste and thus repetitive.

You comments are greatly appreciated. I live in a prairie town of 4000 people, so getting real musicians to play this is unlikely. Composing is my new hobby, where I can express my "right brain," and I find I do not have words to express what I am doing - or trying to do. The music processor is now my instrument of choice, and I can do so much more than my modest piano/keyboard skills. But I really want to move from silly little bits of flotsam to being able to really express an emotion or musical idea. I have been popping out songs every few days - which is more like practice than ability.

Your taking time to gently critique what I am doing is wonderful. This was what I was hoping to find on this forum. My next exercise will be to find a mood/melody and make the piece a unified whole. 

I like your melodic style. It will take a few years of studying music (theory) and experience, but it will get better and more interesting. Don't care much for the popular chord notation though. It doesn't give you a clear idea about the harmony.

If you want to know what the difference is between the popular chord notation and classical (traditional) harmony then you could read this free paper: http://composer.rowy.net/Classical-Harmony-and-Popular-Chords.html

In one of your replies you write this:

> I have been popping out songs every few days - which is more like practice than ability.

Being able to write melodies that fast is a gift. You're going to need that gift in your orchestral work. Just keep on going, but don't forget to study and write as much songs as you like.

I took part of a course called "Write Like Mozart," where the classical chord notation was (sort of) explained. I get I ii iii IV V vi and viio, more or less. But the inversions(?) numbers don't make much sense. Yet. So for now, I use what I know. On one piece, I put the inversions on another line (based on the bass). Need more study. Thanks for the link. I will read it soon.

And being able to write melodies fast is more like writing lots of mediocre melodies. I have to pay attention - because some just keep trying to pop up.

Thanks for your critique. This is what I need if I am ever going to get beyond duffer.

I wished some of my students could write mediocre melodies like that. Problem with schooled composers is often that they manage to write very interesting (complicated) music, but they suck at writing a melody that really gets to you. I hope that you keep writing as the composer you are, not as the composer you might think you must be after you've studied more music theory.

Dave Moorman said:

And being able to write melodies fast is more like writing lots of mediocre melodies. I have to pay attention - because some just keep trying to pop up.

Thanks for your critique. This is what I need if I am ever going to get beyond duffer.

I have some native talent at creative enterprises - writing, speaking, music. I call myself a "low-grade genius." So I can't be too harsh to some students or even well-trained composers. I would guess some students have skills I only dream about (my piano ability never got beyond Fur Elise - and then just the easy part). I tried to learn Maple Street Rag, and discovered I am woefully inadequate.

But I know I will be who I am as a composer. I expect more knowledge of music theory to inform my creations. But I am a 66 year old retired clergy and theologian. I know that the only path is toward's my own "bliss." So right now, I am having fun. Give me 10,000 hours, and I might get good at this thing.

Thanks for your supportive comments.

Here is my latest attempt (pdf attached):

Rowy van Hest said:

I wished some of my students could write mediocre melodies like that. Problem with schooled composers is often that they manage to write very interesting (complicated) music, but they suck at writing a melody that really gets to you. I hope that you keep writing as the composer you are, not as the composer you might think you must be after you've studied more music theory.

Attachments:


Thank you for suggesting your paper on harmony. I had to go to Wikipedia to figure out how the inversion numbers work in classical notation (it still is clumsy for me - like a language I can barely parse out). You are right - popular chord notation doesn't reveal the harmony. I am still a "plunk and thunk" guy. I have a tiny keyboard beside my computer where I test out progressions, then notate them. I am still learning (about 9,982 hours left), but I am sure I will know what it means some day.

In your paper, you included a modulation from C to Dmin, which I keyed in and extended both at both ends. Then I laid down a fingered bass track, melody, and harmonies. Thank you for a way to stretch my composition muscles. The song is attached


Rowy van Hest said:

I like your melodic style. It will take a few years of studying music (theory) and experience, but it will get better and more interesting. Don't care much for the popular chord notation though. It doesn't give you a clear idea about the harmony.

If you want to know what the difference is between the popular chord notation and classical (traditional) harmony then you could read this free paper: http://composer.rowy.net/Classical-Harmony-and-Popular-Chords.html

In one of your replies you write this:

> I have been popping out songs every few days - which is more like practice than ability.

Being able to write melodies that fast is a gift. You're going to need that gift in your orchestral work. Just keep on going, but don't forget to study and write as much songs as you like.

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