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Some of you will recall that I posted a discussion with the same title as this one a few weeks ago. I am re-posting due to several requests both here on CF and on YouTube to extend the piece. This I have done and now it has stretched from about 7 to 15 minutes in length. In it I have tried throughout to hold the listener's interest by utilising harmonic, melodic and developmental contrasts. All the thematic material has evolved from the initial few phrases to enable cohesion and logical progression. I have discovered a great deal from constructing this - certainly in terms of what instrumental groups work best together; just how forgiving atonal harmonies can be if the voicing is sufficiently diverse; how it is possible to be inventive when developing ideas from small beginnings; and the importance of part writing and counterpoint.

I was also asked to incorporate a greater melodic sense within the constructs of atonality and this I have done with what (to my ears at least) appears to be successful effect.

It is as a direct result of intelligent and thoughtful comments from CF members and elsewhere that I have suffered sleepless nights, this because I have found it nigh on impossible to drag myself away from working towards the finish of the piece....a process I admit to have found both exciting and rewarding.

Ideas and suggestions as to further development of the piece or where you think it might be 'tweaked' to good effect would be received with much gratitude.

Thank you for taking the time out to listen.


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I sometime get the feeling that "atonal" tends to mean dissonance for its own sake, and lack of tonal center just because.

Dissonance in your piece always has a purpose. It always points the listener in the direction you want them to go. There is nothing random or out of place. 

Hi Stephen,

The Road to Perdition is an excellent work.Very modern with its marked rhythm with drums and influential brass. I couldn't help it evoked Mahler´s symphonies at times, in particular no 5. The variation in both melody, contrasting rhythmic with cantabile lines, and orchestration, makes it all the way fresh and appealing. And it is certainly an achievement to be able to keep the attention of the listener for such a long time, as in my case.

I strongly believe you should keep it as one movement since it works as a story with a given objective. The continuity you achieve through the brilliant transitions is really impressive and would glue the movements together.

If the title is important I wonder if the ending is a proper choice. It is certainly beautiful but its calm and harmonic content represents to me some satisfaction and order in contrast to the title (I had to check the dictionary).

I want to thank you for giving me such a pleasant moment.



Greetings Kjell,

What a super critique, thank you so much for commenting in such detail - I’m very pleased that I managed to hold your interest throughout. You have noticed that I think long and hard about how I might transit from one element to the next and I think in the case of this composition I have managed it better than most of my pieces.

The story behind the Road to Perdition (in my mind as  I wrote it) is that the hero(!) is on a slippery slope to perdition but then, through positive thinking, he manages to overcome his doom-laden thoughts and turns back to a good life - hence the triumphalism at the end of the piece. Of course without knowing that in advance you were quite correct to think the title and the ending were mismatched.

It’s a typical tale of someone being in serious trouble but being rescued by the 5th cavalry at the last minute.

Anyhow, thank you so much for your kind comments and I’m delighted you enjoyed it.

All the best,


Hi Mr. Stephen, I thought the 1st 8 min. were dynamic and captivating. I enjoyed listening to the entire work though.

The use of instruments and orchestration along with the 'musical' expression kept me curious to hear more. The ending was somewhat triumphant and reminded me of Mussorgsky. I thought the overall concept and 'architecture' was excellent.

(ps- just 2 cents from a poor guy)   Happy Harmonies    RS 

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your comments, I'm delighted you enjoyed the piece. 2 cents worth! I value your thoughts far, far higher than that.

It's always good to hear from you.


Hi Everyone,

From numerous sources I have been asked to describe what was in my mind when I wrote this piece. Simply stated The Road to Perdition is a kind of symphonic poem which describes in music the journey through life that most of us, and specific others in literature such as Christ (in Hades), Faust and Dante (the inferno), experienced (or are experiencing), and to the wisdom gained through such a harrowing trek. I hope you find the music interesting and agree that it reflects the mentality, pain and joy of the experience of metaphorically treading the road to perdition.

Thanks for reading.


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