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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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Welcome Carlo,

You've come to the right place.

Let me suggest that you post one piece that you have questions about. That way everyone is talking about the same thing. 

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.

Good luck. 

> 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.

Carlo,

" 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."

Here in may be what you are searching for. Because this is only part of the story. With this theory, you are always looking backward. So you aren't sure where you are going. However, once you have two notes, one after the other, they together should point the way forward. We already know where we've been,. We need a taste of what's ahead. We need to be going somewhere. Two notes should make us want to hear the third. And so on.
For my taste, this piece (Smoke...) has a bit too much dissonance. I'm too up tight, I guess. That doesn't make it bad by any means, Seems to me that when you use it, it should be at important points, and take us somewhere.

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.

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