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

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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.)

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 

Well said Saul. I should give up now since I don't have a very good character ;) 

"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. "

I don't think it was necessarily your composition that caused the philosophical discussion. It probably facilitated it. Would be a good discussion on a more dedicated thread for the subject. That way, we could take it as far as it can go. I wouldn't want to interfere any more in this thread. I wish you the best in your work and thanks for sharing it.

Hah. I knew you'd be a pianist. I checked, just to be sure... bingo!

What gave it away is the slurs, which you use exactly like they're usually used in piano parts - big picture phrasing. Adler's Study Of Orchestration gives a great example of Liszt, I think, falling for this very same pitfall in his scores. You should probably get Adler's or an equivalent, anyway, but a 5 minute explanation:

String instrument parts generally don't have phrasing marks, and slurs are instead used to show bowing. Many of your slurs are either extremely impractical or just flat out impossible to play, so the players will just delete those and add their own bowing marks. While your current usage of slurs *is* in fact better than leaving everything completely unmarked (because you convey at least some of the intent now), you're missing out on a large field of creative possibilities where it comes to small-scale phrasing - a change in bowing direction is a small hiccup in a longer phrase, like a comma in a sentence. And the changes *have* to happen somewhere. May as well learn exactly how to place them well and let your music benefit greatly from it. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the bowing capabilities of strings and use the knowledge to your advantage.

Wow, Saul practically took the words out of my mouth. Though because there are so many "themes", I wanted to suggest that you develop the one at 1:14 more. I personally love it and it could go so much farther than the few seconds you gave it. Let that one really shine! It seems as though you're desperately trying to make the piece interesting, though it could be much more interesting with much less going on. This piece sounds like what's going on in my head all day! Make it sound like organized cacophony rather than plain cacophony. 

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