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Young composer. First time sharing collection. Feedback very much wanted.

Hello all.

I'm Carlo, 28, from London. This is my first time posting here. I'd like to share a small selection of my work with you all.

https://m.soundcloud.com/1xgetvbredqw

I work with absolutely zero classical training, nor knowledge of musical theory.

I compose my work using a two octave midi keyboard and a daw called Reason 3.

When you listen to my music, I want you to feel something beyond technical aptitude, of which I have none.

I work very slowly, sensing how notes feel to me. I tend to work sounds around an emotion or mental state.

Similarly, I have no knowledge of notes, chords, progressions, harmonies, scales, time signatures.
I know that things like that exist, but are unable to knowingly use them.

I am often times at a loss to translate my musical feelings into a piece because I lack this fundamental musical language.

On the other hand, I find the creativity that comes with stabbing into the dark to be highly rewarding.

Yet, as my tracks play, I hear so much more within them that I am unable to convey.

I would like to sit down with some "proper musical people" and allow them to help me further shape my work.

If anyone on here could give me advice, input or feedback for particular tracks I would be very grateful.

I would be very interested in you telling me what I am doing technically. For example, what key a peice is in, wether or not I'm using chords correctly, is my timing way off? Etc.

I've been told I have a natural ear for space and silence inbetween notes.

Thankyou all. Please listen and comment below :)

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> I would like to sit down with some "proper musical people" and allow them to help me further shape my work.

That is a very good idea. "Proper musical people" are also known as music teachers. Take lessons.

Thank you for your suggestion Bob. I'll make a separate thread for a recent piano/flute piece. Although, I don't suppose my compositional skills will be informing musical theory any time soon. Haha. Thanks for the nice welcome

>Just because someone has a music degree doesn't mean they can write music. It may interest you to know that theory came from composition, not ,necessarily, the other way around.

AGREED!

> I would like to sit down with some "proper musical people" and allow them to help me further shape my work.

That is a very good idea. "Proper musical people" are also known as music teachers. Take lessons.

I think the idea of taking lessons from just any music teacher isnt a very good idea. Best to really seek out someone who a bunch of others that you respect recommend, and who is working and fluent in a field or style of music youre interested in.

And for some, taking the route of totally teaching oneself--which is a very hard and lonely road--results in the best route to a achieve a truly original musical voice, in my opinion. But its definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

You have a good start - the creative ability to hear what sounds "right" and an urge to write. If you want to improve your ability, its time to go to university! It really is the best way if you want to get a lot of skills, learn how to write for real players and meet a lot of like-minded composers and performers. I would highly recommend.

If you really, really don't want to take some music papers at university, the next best thing would be sites like http://www.musictheory.net/lessons and youtube tutorials like the artofcounterpoint channel.

There are also some great books on the topic, like Schoenberg's "Fundamentals of Musical Composition"

Learning about music theory will give you the skills to improve your music 100-fold - its well worth spending some time on if you seriously want to improve.

Good luck!

There are a number of reasons why people seem to think that learning music theory will do bad things to their creativity. They're all bull excrement. Music theory is a beginners set of tools, that unlock traditional harmony. You may say you don't want to be traditional, that's fine, but your ear already knows traditional. It's the sound you're surrounded by every day. Learning music theory will allow you to give all the sounds you already know a name. From there you can explore twentieth century compositional practice, that's where things get crunchy (dissonance). The joke has long been, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer being, "Practice man, practice." Once you have the tools you need to practice using them and in doing so you will develop your own unique sound. Good luck.

Hear, hear! You said it all, but in some cases it will fall on deaf ears. I still don't understand why some talented young composers prefer to hang around fora, instead of doing the obvious. Perhaps they are afraid of the entrance examination, I don't know. But in that case they could always take private lessons. And the "I don't want to take lessons, because I want to develop my own personal voice" is a lame excuse.


Steve Chandler said:

There are a number of reasons why people seem to think that learning music theory will do bad things to their creativity. They're all bull excrement. Music theory is a beginners set of tools, that unlock traditional harmony. You may say you don't want to be traditional, that's fine, but your ear already knows traditional. It's the sound you're surrounded by every day. Learning music theory will allow you to give all the sounds you already know a name. From there you can explore twentieth century compositional practice, that's where things get crunchy (dissonance). The joke has long been, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer being, "Practice man, practice." Once you have the tools you need to practice using them and in doing so you will develop your own unique sound. Good luck.

I'm unsure as to wether anybody actually listened to any of my music, since I got no actual response, in that regard. Thank you all for the other advice. I'm sure that my work seems like messy child's play to most here. I'd still be interested in hearing actual opinions based on my current attempts, rather than the future of my education. If money and time permitted, I may well have wound up in university studying music. Unfortunately, I'm not from the sort of background in which one would be so privileged as to find that an option, at least not currently. I will try to further my education. Enjoying the creativity that comes from composing, without knowledge, is by no means an attempt to claim a "unique" sound. I would, however, like some fair critique on my present output. I made a separate topic with just one track: http://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/piano-flute-and-recorde...
If anybody would be kind enough to let me know that they have listened, and what they thought, I'd be grateful.
Hi Carlo,
I err on the side of Steve and Rowy here as I think you might benefit from some training in linearity particularly.
I think A Healthy Dose is terrific for the first minute, but after that the riff based approach tires my ears. Your harmony is brave and convincing even if you don't know what you are playing, but you need to also develop a sense of musical line and learn how to manipulate and express your musical emotions via tension and release in order to develop a piece that does not stagnate or get stuck in a sort of rut. Of course, if you are happy with repetition lke this and there is plenty of music being written like this, then all power to you. However there is no harm in trying to acquire a new way of doing something, right?
Achieving more linear thinking can be done in several ways - melodically through rising and falling shapes over time, with rhythmic Impetus and repose- and harmonically, by learning how to control dissonance and consonance over time to create drama in your work.
Endless Sorrow is another case in point, the music does not achieve any real expression because their is no sense of story. It feels like a few found chords padded together with melodic movement that gets trapped in its own limited logic. The thing is, it is music, but it could be so much more if you where less serendipitous and more calculating in your efforts. This calculation can be won with just a little technical knowhow - you do not need to master everything, just the basics, and from there on see how you are doing. You may then feel that you have enough to give stronger wings to your voice, or you may then want to know more.

The World my Love was more interesting as the harmonic sense, which is a strong point in you, shines through again. And yet after about 40" it all felt static and at the end, I felt it hadn't really said anything, it didn't take me anywhere. Just another set of pads.

This all sounds terribly negative Carlo but please don't be upset, I think you have a really cool ear for harmony and that alone is something a lot of people may find hard to achieve. So you are part way there, but to improve there is no easy way, it takes work and effort. The direction you take is up to you, you either go it alone or get a bit of guidance from learning as you go. I know which way I hope you'll go as you have a creative urge that is worth pursuing.
Hello Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to listen and provide me with your feedback. I don't think that any of what you said sounds negative! In fact, I smiled as I read it because I know it all to be true. It's nice to have a more technical description of my current flaws.

I do find it difficult to put expression into the musical phrases through progressive variations. I have a feeling that a note is just a note, and only by disovering the next note are you able to discern what the previous note was saying. And, that this principal translates itself through the piece, along every musical parameter we are capable of modifying.

All things seem to justify and reason with the previous musical phrase and take it to a new conversation.

I often find my skill lacking in this area and just don't know where to take a piece. It's as if all of my ideas are pretty decent, until they suffocate through a lacking for the next breath.

I like your advice to learn just a bit of the basics, see where that takes my work, and where I want to go from there. Seems pragmatic and achievable.

By the way, I just listened to your 3 preludes and fuges and your work in inspirational. I can certainly hear that you have no want for breath within your pieces. They flow and meander perfectly through those shapes you were talking about. Well done! :)

I'll try to work on what you have suggested.

Hi Carlo! I am by no means a professional but I have something that might help you. You see, your music isn't all that different from what I composed and produced ten years ago or so. Mike wrote about your harmonic sense being a strong point, I agree. Your songs have many good parts but I feel like they're currently not gaining enough momentum to move on. My suggestion is that you get a larger keyboard (or a guitar) and start learning to play other people's music. That's how I did it. I had no idea of the music theory (that part is still on the works) but eventually there were rhythms and patterns to recognize. You do not have to become a good player but being able to write down what you hear (I started with something as simple as Iron Maiden songs) supports your goal.

>There are a number of reasons why people seem to think that learning music theory will do bad things to their creativity. They're all bull excrement.

>And the "I don't want to take lessons, because I want to develop my own personal voice" is a lame excuse.

These kinds of statements really need to be addressed and discussed--but this is taking away from Carlo's thread, so for now please see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_autodidacts

taken from this search:

 https://www.google.com/search?q=notable+people+self+taught&ie=u...

Thank you

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Carlo wrote:

"I work with absolutely zero classical training, nor knowledge of musical theory.

When you listen to my music, I want you to feel something beyond technical aptitude, of which I have none."

It is beyond remarkable and so extraordinary what youve accomplished here Carlo--with ZERO training, no less, and no rules, formulas, or anything of the sort - only guided by your heart soul and inner being expressing itself to go by. There is more originality and substance in my opinion in your music than many if not most of the music Ive heard, and I cannot applaud you enough. Your voice, honest and original,  is singing and developing, and is really something to see.

I wouldnt for a second mess with how youre doing things..I might suggest for at least the immediate future, (and for my money, forever :)) to help your original voice continue growing,  to nurture it-NOT with rules and formulas, theory etc-but by listening online to those whose music speaks to you, and learn from them techniques you like and might try a version of in your music. No theory is needed for this--simply listen observe and then write down in a few words what the gesture is and does--the gist of it, very simply and try it in your music.

Of those Ive listened to a Healthy Dose (of paranoia) and The World,  my love really are EXCELLENT pieces of music--A healthy dose so very original and The world so beautifully expressive..all again, with NO theory or training to "guide" you.

Please keep allowing your original voice to grow, sing freely and develop and not let rules or theory possibly stifle it. Youve come further than most whose music I hear and all with NO training..unreal,  congratulations, and please keep going forward. Please DONT mess with success!!

I very much look forward  to hearing much more of your music in the future, Carlo. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Carlo,

I think Bob P makes a very salient point which you might want to consider. Lasse too has suggested another valid way forward.

As I was writing my first post to you, I could hear Bob Ms' response almost word for word in my head and I am glad he has chimed in with a different perspective. Bob M and I have different approaches to composition, but in your case, I can't help but agree with a lot of what he has said.

Take the autodidactic approach. Despite my formal musical education, I consider myself 90% self taught because music is so subjective. My approach was like a formal version of what Lasse has suggested, but  I assimilated any techniques of interest very quickly because of my training.

Bob M also talked about nurturing your raw voice, rather than focusing on technique. I suggest you take to learning theory a bit at a time (after perhaps learning how to read music) and cherry-picking what you deem useful and pertinent to your aesthetic sense. This way, perhaps you wont stymie your initial instincts, but rather enhance them. Having said that, you may well find Bob's way more suited and he and many other composers are living proof that it can be done.

Whatever you decide, I think it would be useful if you could learn to think and plan ahead in your pieces in order to achieve a more satisfying expression. You have some suggestions now as to how that can be done - by developing a sense of melodic and harmonic flow. You now need to study and I particularly like Bob's suggestion of listening to gesture and aping it as it will give you a sense of how musical rhetoric can be achieved by creating longer phrases and statements for emotional effect, as well as focusing your mind on that particular aspect of composing. I'd still cautiously advocate some basic theory training though as this would in my view facilitate the learning process.

Ultimately the way you decide to learn should all come down to what you want to achieve in your music. Is it going to be a career, a hobby, or a fulfilling of a profound creative urge? As it stands, your music has a uniqueness to it, but some folks may be bewildered by your harmony and tempering that might just turn you into another clone. There are no answers from strangers Carlo, only you can decide on your future music and for that you have to ask some serious internal questions. Listening to what you admire as Bob and Lasse have said is a good place to start in my view too, followed by aping and assimilation into your own way - this approach can be done via theory and/or instinct.

I'm sure I speak for all of us here in inviting you and others for that matter, to post examples of your progress as you go and if we can help by offering critique and pointing out anything you may have missed, we sure will.

BTW thank you for your kind comments on the P+Fs, I'm glad you liked them. More importantly I am glad you discerned the development of motifs and how they can be manipulated to create extended statements. 

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