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Wrote a String Quartet. Would love some feedback and comments :)

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 Hi,

Too many things are going on. So many changes, not a single theme was developed adequately, instead the music is all over the place. It lacks the 'One Line' feeling and a certain unity precisely because of these discrepancies.

This is what happens, when you don't keep the music simple, and are generically trying to create unnecessary tension.

I would suggest developing each theme more thoroughly, then remove the extra added 'in between themes' and keep the main ideas only. Then try to create a situation where each theme complements the other and naturally harmonizes with the previous one. One theme should naturally grow out of the previous theme. Just like a story, if you add too many characters the main heroes of the story are lost.

As for the technical aspects. It is clear that you are a talented musician. You need to cultivate your gifts towards creating a work of art instead just writing music. Nearly every musician can compose something, it takes a certain dedication and desire to create a work of art. One should also take into account the notion of: 'has my piece changed anything in the world'? meaning, can the world do with our without my composition? The Greats composed music that we all love and admire, and today the world is enriched by the music that they created. The world with their music is not the same world without their music, they have added something to it. You should always aim high in order to at least achieve a certain level of musicianship and quality. The aim should be not to write a piece of music that people may be impressed with the technicality of it, but how would it touch them and inspire them? What benefit your music has brought to their lives?

I know this all sounds a little philosophical, but if you venture back into the time of the great composers, you will discover that the music itself was a means to an end. The music was a vehicle towards something that was greater them themselves and their music. It was primarily to enrich humanity and create joy and harmony. But many composers are concentrating on the aspect of the music itself without having any understanding of what is the purpose of music creation, and that reflects on their music. Many also compose in the style of supply and demand where it is like going into a restaurant and ordering a particular dish, the composer/chef then creates something that suits the demand, and music because like a commodity for business and money making. 

In his work Gradus ad Parnassum the Author and the Austrian composer Joseph Fux writes that a composer should forget about the notion of making money. If this is his aim then let him pick a different profession all together. It is proper to ask why should he make a statement like this? It appears that back then music composition had a certain value that was above the pettiness of business and money making. Fux understood that the quality of the music may vary drastically if a composer writes for the sake of enriching the world, or for the sake of making money. The music that would be created under each influence would be categorically different. That is why, the composers of those days cultivated the notion of writing music that had as little ulterior motives but instead was altruistic. If you take my advice I would suggest editing the work, and keeping it as simple as possible, with each theme developed properly and removing all the unnecessary changes that are scattered all around your piece.

Regards,

Saul      

Oscar, I didn't listen to the full five minutes but I enjoyed a great deal of what I heard even through the ominous poultice of Sibelius playback. It is not what I would listen to but that doesn't mean much. I have a few suggestions for clarity and live performance which are mainly clerical and not regarding your composition.

The triple and quadruple stops might need some attention given a true three or four-note chord isn't really possible on these instruments. By my understanding at least! I recommend rewriting into dovetailed double stops between the violins and viola for much the same effect. Your bowing looks inaccurate in places when you have a long phrase over several bars covered by one slur unless this is a stylistic choice to indicate the player to play flowingly, in which case there is clearer articulation you can use. At other points you have slurred phrases of staccato notes which doesn't make much sense. I would say you are including too much information which good players won't need and should simplify, and some usage is simply incorrect in my experience. I can go into more detail if you'd like and I'm aware that tradition is often a loose concept with the correct use of notation!

I'm surprised you didn't link to this recording which places you in a fairly exclusive group of young composers whose work has been played, although it sounds very different.
Is this the same piece or changed from the score you linked? If so what evolutions took place between your score and the performance?

My final suggestion is to remove the tiny pictures from the accompanying text under the video which make it painful for old eyes to read!

Bravo young man.

(What a horribly reductive and frankly hypocritical breakdown Saul. It's a little rich given your music unless you want to confront the question yourself, can the world do without your work? and not everyone wants to or should write music that is simple though I agree you should perhaps confine yourself to it.

Bach among many others is a fine example of an outstanding composer who worked for money and some of whose most well-regarded pieces were created to pay the bills. Many well-known and regularly played pieces were commissions. The notion that older composers were all altruists without concern for money is simply untrue romanticism. Craftsmanship and money can and do co-exist.

Oscar's intent was "My angle is focusing on the smallest musical ideas and transforming them continuously in different settings" so critiquing the work for having many changes suggests you simply don't understand the music.)

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. I chose not to present my live recording because no it is not different than the score shown above but rather the first reading and performance of the work which lacks a lot of the interpretation and speed that I envisioned for the piece. The quartet who graciously performed it had under a week to learn it and rehearse so I value the experience anyhow. I hope I can get get it recorded again with more time given to the string quartet to think everything over. Thanks again, and take care :) 

 
Charles Holt said:

Oscar, I didn't listen to the full five minutes but I enjoyed a great deal of what I heard even through the ominous poultice of Sibelius playback. It is not what I would listen to but that doesn't mean much. I have a few suggestions for clarity and live performance which are mainly clerical and not regarding your composition.

The triple and quadruple stops might need some attention given a true three or four-note chord isn't really possible on these instruments. By my understanding at least! I recommend rewriting into dovetailed double stops between the violins and viola for much the same effect. Your bowing looks inaccurate in places when you have a long phrase over several bars covered by one slur unless this is a stylistic choice to indicate the player to play flowingly, in which case there is clearer articulation you can use. At other points you have slurred phrases of staccato notes which doesn't make much sense. I would say you are including too much information which good players won't need and should simplify, and some usage is simply incorrect in my experience. I can go into more detail if you'd like and I'm aware that tradition is often a loose concept with the correct use of notation!

I'm surprised you didn't link to this recording which places you in a fairly exclusive group of young composers whose work has been played, although it sounds very different.
Is this the same piece or changed from the score you linked? If so what evolutions took place between your score and the performance?

My final suggestion is to remove the tiny pictures from the accompanying text under the video which make it painful for old eyes to read!

Bravo young man.

(What a horribly reductive and frankly hypocritical breakdown Saul. It's a little rich given your music unless you want to confront the question yourself, can the world do without your work? and not everyone wants to or should write music that is simple though I agree you should perhaps confine yourself to it.

Bach among many others is a fine example of an outstanding composer who worked for money and some of whose most well-regarded pieces were created to pay the bills. Many well-known and regularly played pieces were commissions. The notion that older composers were all altruists without concern for money is simply untrue romanticism. Craftsmanship and money can and do co-exist.

Oscar's intent was "My angle is focusing on the smallest musical ideas and transforming them continuously in different settings" so critiquing the work for having many changes suggests you simply don't understand the music.)

You always manage to turn almost every thread that I contribute against me. But who cares. I will ignore you from now on, mark my words.

As to your accusations: Well you missed the entire point. Can the world do without Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and everyone else? Well sure. The sky would be still blue and the sun would have shined in the morning from the east, no problem. The point that I was making which you totally misunderstood and yet again had used it as a tool to personally attack me was that a composer should have certain standards when they are composing music, and that boils down to how it sounds, the content from beginning to end, all the qualities that make up great music. Now its a given that a composer like that will not always succeed in achieving this, but aiming high at least will generate some kind of level that is well and above those who are limiting themselves by simply 'composing music'. There is an element of art that is associated with composition and unfortunately you have composers popping out left and right from every angle writing music that no one would care about ever. I believe that we all should be encouraged to strive for greater excellence.

The fact that you really believed that I meant to say that the world will not survive without my music or anyone else's music, is just indicative of your bellicose and irrational behavior towards me. I wasn't even speaking to you, yet you managed to turn the entire discussion against me. Too bad that you can't comprehend subtleties such as these.

As for music been performed. Big deal, I had My Romance In E minor for Solo Piano performed in a piano competition in Europe. The Pianist, an Albanian lady, had contacted me for the score and the permission to perform it. She later sent me a video of the performance. Didn't think it was that important to even mention it here until now, and I only did it to make a point.

Have this as an iron clad rule:

The fact that your music is performed is not indicative of the quality of your music.

Here's another fact:

The composer who makes lots of money with his music is not indicative of his music's superiority of other composer's music who happen not to make a penny. 

But in today's society we are all trained to measure a person's worth and talent based on the amount of money they make. Which I say is a big mistake.

As to my criticism of the piece, well I said what I honestly thought about it, and I gave him my advice and opinion, which he is free to take or ignore, either way is fine by me.



Charles Holt said:

Oscar, I didn't listen to the full five minutes but I enjoyed a great deal of what I heard even through the ominous poultice of Sibelius playback. It is not what I would listen to but that doesn't mean much. I have a few suggestions for clarity and live performance which are mainly clerical and not regarding your composition.

The triple and quadruple stops might need some attention given a true three or four-note chord isn't really possible on these instruments. By my understanding at least! I recommend rewriting into dovetailed double stops between the violins and viola for much the same effect. Your bowing looks inaccurate in places when you have a long phrase over several bars covered by one slur unless this is a stylistic choice to indicate the player to play flowingly, in which case there is clearer articulation you can use. At other points you have slurred phrases of staccato notes which doesn't make much sense. I would say you are including too much information which good players won't need and should simplify, and some usage is simply incorrect in my experience. I can go into more detail if you'd like and I'm aware that tradition is often a loose concept with the correct use of notation!

I'm surprised you didn't link to this recording which places you in a fairly exclusive group of young composers whose work has been played, although it sounds very different.
Is this the same piece or changed from the score you linked? If so what evolutions took place between your score and the performance?

My final suggestion is to remove the tiny pictures from the accompanying text under the video which make it painful for old eyes to read!

Bravo young man.

(What a horribly reductive and frankly hypocritical breakdown Saul. It's a little rich given your music unless you want to confront the question yourself, can the world do without your work? and not everyone wants to or should write music that is simple though I agree you should perhaps confine yourself to it.

Bach among many others is a fine example of an outstanding composer who worked for money and some of whose most well-regarded pieces were created to pay the bills. Many well-known and regularly played pieces were commissions. The notion that older composers were all altruists without concern for money is simply untrue romanticism. Craftsmanship and money can and do co-exist.

Oscar's intent was "My angle is focusing on the smallest musical ideas and transforming them continuously in different settings" so critiquing the work for having many changes suggests you simply don't understand the music.)

This is a lot of fun to listen to Oscar.  Lots of ideas, dynamics and contrast.  "Gritty, raw, ugly and unrestrained" you say, I love it!  Not a polished master work, not everyone's cup of tea to be sure but I'll listen again soon.

Yeah the live quartet couldn't quite put it across, I would have chosen the midi version myself also.  Bob Porter was saying in another thread that sometimes you just have to look past the production quality to appreciate the concept.

Thanks for posting!

And you make it so easy.

Saul Dzorelashvili said:

You always manage to turn almost every thread that I contribute against me.

There's a lot of cool stuff going on, but the fact that you have about 25 rit's means that you have trouble making longer phrases. It's all very episodic, and I'm not getting the large scale structure. 

That said, it's interesting music, it looks playable, and on the whole pleasant to listen to.

 I thought the music was fairly technically astute. I agree that it could be simplified in places. I can't say it spoke to me personally. I do tend more toward a themed approach which is the hook in classical for me.

I never want to takes sides here, however I am a fairly opinionated person and I can see the wisdom in what Saul said. I can't say either way if the creator of this music had a motive or what the motive was. I think it is always important to take a few steps back and look at why we do what it is we do. 

I am sometimes in circles with classically trained musicians and they sometimes think differently. Coming up in a certain environment will influence us because we are in it. I can say I have heard similar types of music played that cause me to step back and take note of a musicians proficiency. It doesn't necessarily captivate me. I will bring up Jordan Rudess because he was at one time a hero of sorts to me. The man has spider legs for fingers. He is so fast on the piano that his hands look like a blur. I aspired to play like him then. 

I have a much different outlook on this now. I aim foremost to connect through music in some way. I connect with it myself and then try to connect others. I am not always successful. Sometimes I am. Music with a strong direction and melody is what 99% of the GP will hear and connect with. If you were gifted to play music for the other 1% of the population, then that isn't reason to change direction. You must play what you want to play. The music that comes out of you no matter the outcome of it.

The general public mostly doesn't care how difficult or easy it was to play. They will remember how it made them feel. I think music is a means of conveyance, a language of emotion. This is why I agree with Saul that we should set out to convey something we feel. Nothing was conveyed to me here. The problem could be me. I did find it of value technically.

The general public mostly doesn't care how difficult or easy it was to play. They will remember how it made them feel. I think music is a means of conveyance, a language of emotion. This is why I agree with Saul that we should set out to convey something we feel. Nothing was conveyed to me here.

Tim,

I agree largely with what you say here but would add that my appreciation of music is as much intellectual as emotional - I admire the technical skill demonstrated by any composer of merit but agree that people generally enjoy music that stirs in them some pleasing emotion - either through the stirring of pleasant or meaningful memories, or due to the intrinsic quality of the music per se.

It's a shame about the sparring between Saul and Charles above - both are entitled to their opinions without being metaphorically shot at dawn for their views, and I find them both interesting. I think Charles was being a bit defensive on Oscar's behalf because of the rather strong views expressed by Saul which are, arguably, a little harshly expressed. My own preference is to encourage other composers of whatever standard they might be - there's absolutely no point in being discouraging towards anybody who's striving to produce their best. (I have fallen foul of this idea just once when I found a piece of music absolutely not to my taste and failed to express myself sufficiently clearly - which was by saying that I found the particular piece emotionally and intellectually uninspiring - not a criticism of the product, just an explanation of my reaction to it - still, there are much better ways of putting it and I should have been far more encouraging: it still wrankles that I was so inept in expressing myself and sincerely hope I didn't dent the composer's sense of self-worth due to my own limitations).

I guess it all boils down to the old adage that 'It's not what you say, but how you say it' that matters.

Incidentally, I think Oscar has done well with this composition and congratulate him on having it performed live. 

I see your point here @ Stephen Lines

I see music as the technical used to display something from inside, at least for myself, and this is how I view music externally. Not everyone is the same in this way. Music is much more important in my opinion than say, baking a cake. In this case I think the cake is baked ok, it just isn't my flavor. It seems in most other genre of music, aside from meditative and ethereal types, not having a guided theme or structure is called meandering. In classical music it seems we can meander at will so long as everything is in time and together it's ok. I see meandering as meandering. I can't differentiate it personally. It might be a more structured form of meandering. That's the only difference. I'm not going to lie, I have quite frequently found myself meandering in some things I do. It's usually a part of the creative process that eventually leads to  a structured form. Classical music doesn't seem to require we come back to any structure with some composers. Other classical music, mostly from the greats has some kind of structure even if the structure changes we can follow it and get something from it emotionally.. It seems a dichotomy to me that a genre so highly esteemed for structure and class is fine veering from structure at times. In my opinion much modern classical music has lost its way.

Some composers set out to "build" music purely from a technical perspective with this being the only motive. Maybe they have been playing with some ideas they want to try out that have no sort of feeling with it. I am not referring yay or nay to the above composition. I think it has a lot to do with our mindset when we set out to do it. If making music is only like a mason building a wall or a baker making a cake, I find this limiting. Yes, the builder's touch is there in some inescapable way, if only that they were technically literate and their particular style shines through it. We all seem to have different prisms we look at music through sometimes.  What notes haven't already been played? We can only rearrange them. If your music can only be appreciated by your peers, then you have made your choices and you have your audience.

From a players perspective would you prefer to play music that feels more like working a calculus problem or something you enjoy playing that's fun to play?I want to play the music I can become a part of and not participate in from the outside.

I am always appreciative of anyone who is attentive to the feelings of others. I also realize we are on a thread designed for listening and critique. I want to always be respectful of others. I want to encourage others to do better. I think we all have different tolerances for what we see as harsh. I didn't think Saul's comments were harsh. When it comes to my self image, nothing anyone here could say will ever change my view of myself. I realize this isn't always the case for everyone. To be honest, I sometimes don't know where some people's limits are. I'm sure I have stepped on toes without realizing I did it.

Gav has encouraged everyone to comment on others music. I think this is a good idea. When I see someone who is so immature they only return comments to positive feedback I don't see this as productive to them getting better as a composer. If we comment on a wide range of material we are doubtless going to hear things that don't speak to us. I see no harm in this honesty. If everyone seen it the same there would only be the need for one of us. The composer has the option to take or leave the comments. I have had some good help here from others. At the very least I think every comment deserves serious consideration.

Thanks a lot to everyone who has come forward and shared their opinion on my music. I appreciate this space and I didn't know that my composition would cause such a debate both addressing the technical and philosophical. Everyone who have graciously commented seem to me like great individual musicians in their own right––as it should be. I have thought about all your comments and feel as I've grown as a musician trying to wrestle with everyone's distinct beliefs. I did consider each comment with the utmost respect but feel as though there is no reason to argue and debate, and therefore have tried to keep myself out of the discussion. Now with the misinterpretation of my need for "praise" lacking regard and appreciation for critical viewpoints, I must step in and clarify myself. I read everyone's comments and I appreciate the support both for the music and for the art of composing itself. I really just wanted to share something that was very personal to me and that means the world to me: this music gives me great joy and I just wanted to share it with you guys. I could endlessly debate and quarrel with each of your comments but I honestly don't think I'm qualified enough with everyone's experience in the matter. I value your guys' opinions and I hope this is not taken in the wrong way. Many thanks to all who enjoyed it and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Many thanks to those who offered amazing criticism––I have a lot of things to consider. 

Oscar 

I remember reading a true story about the famous French Pianist and Teacher Nadia Boulanger who has taught many pianists in the Paris Conservatory where an established Piano virtuoso of many gifts had came to her for pointers. After witnessing his playing she made a remark: "You should forget about everything you have learned so far, and begin learning the piano from scratch". Guess what happened? 

That pianist forgot the way that he was previously taught and begun learning the piano from her like he has never played the piano before. Both people need to have a certain audacity to first give a criticism like this and also accept it, learn from it and categorically change the entire approach to music playing and making. 

My philosophy about music is that if it doesn't inspire, move, change and add something to the world and humanity that is within it, then it lacks value. Technical aspects are only important in the context of the actual musical content.

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, its very passionate and complex sections are only important because of that first initial idea the 4 opening notes. That has captivated the audience to such a degree that they want to hear what else he has to say/convey with his music. But empty complexities are just that complexities.

My personal approach to music is to create a theme that I can connect with, and then build on that theme, but the theme has to have something very personal a feeling and an idea that is worth sharing with everyone else. If that first initial theme is valuable to you and is very personal and you feel strongly about it, then the entire progress of composition begins from that initial idea. But finding that idea is the key, and we must not fool ourselves into falling for every idea that comes to us that it has to be a masterpiece. Cause most of the time it won't be a masterpiece. After carefully deciding that this is the theme that I want to continue developing then the aspect of art comes along. Just like a painter who first needs to have vision of what he wants to do, the colors are only there for the technical aspect. He can't create a painting without those colors. He also needs brushes, and other tools in order to work on his initial vision. But the entire thing first needs to start before he puts the first brush stroke. The element of art in all of these, is how to carefully and intelligently work with the colors that are available in front of him to create the painting that he wants. The musical notes are just like the colors on a palette. They have absolutely no intrinsic value.

Those same colors that exist on the palette can also be used to color your bedroom or the walls of your kitchen, no artistic value whatsoever. The musical notes can be arranged in such a way that instead of music you will be creating an intelligent set of gibberish quotations that mean absolutely nothing first to you, and much more so to others. Therefore how do you work with the notes to create something inspiring. The point is, that the notes have absolutely nothing to do with any of this. Everything first needs to begin with you as a composer. You need to use your imagination and focus on first what is your aim. Primarily, how would your piece sound. 

From there, the composers in his mind has many to choose from. He can create something that can sound very modern, reflective of his time, or he can venture back to the time where the greatest music was composed and get inspired from that. Now its a given that one can venture back and still create a pitiful work of nonart, and on the other hand he can try to attune his music to his age and create a masterwork of enormous proportions. So what is the secret to making great music? I think the answer doesn't even lay with music per say but with character traits.

Things like Honesty, integrity, truthfulness, humbleness.

The stronger these universal values are a part of who you are, the greater inspiration you will find to create the music that will first move you and then as a result and in a natural manner will be poured onto others to be inspired as well. Cause after all the underlines bottom line of music if you can incapsulate it in words, is goodness. If you're good internally as a human being, your music will be good too, given (and this is an important point) that you do have some basic skills in making music and music in general, cause all the good will in the world can't cause you to create something if you don't know anything about that something.

However if a composer doesn't draw his inspiration from these character traits, the music that he produces will reflect that. That is why, if you look all throughout history, it would be a rarity to find a composer who was by definition evil, expect from a few bad apples that we all know, we won't mention their names here, who peached their music at the expense of putting others down, and that is by definition an act of evilness.

So the entire idea of separating the art of composition from the man who produces that art and suggesting that as long as you are a good mathematician and can graduate the best music schools and actually learn how to compose, you will be a good composer is a bluff.

Composition has two aspects that are inextricably tied to one another. The technicality of how to do it, and the inspiration part of it, that is absolutely no musical in essence. It is rather a character trait. A personality type. When you work on bettering yourself as a human being, you are more receptive and sensitive to the good spirituality that exists in the world and it opens avenues for you to then explore and get inspired from and then translate it to the language of music, and thus your goodness as a human being translates into good music, cause what is the music that you produce if not a reflection of your own self?

Regards,

Saul

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