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Music Composers Unite!

Hi all, I've said this before but I'm a novice composer who has had many piano lessons and some basic music theory classes and not too well versed in writing a legit score. I'm looking to hire (hopefully), a music teacher who can read and analyze my scores to help me improve doing them.

I'll be selfish here and ask if anyone can look and give me honest, brutal (I mean it) feedback about a piece I've dug out of a dusty room (or dusty hard drive). The majority of the writing was done in Digital Performer and imported into Sibelius First (still learning).

Before going any further on the song (I'm going to add a more mellow second part), I'd like to get my mind on the right track and get some tips on writing correctly.


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Comment by David Schatz on October 17, 2015 at 10:38pm

Thanks, Socrates for taking the time and going through this with me. This is really helps and definitely has answered quite a few of my questions. I'm really excited to get back to this now.

This sounds terrible but I chose the horns because they had the range (I didn't think about the existence of the instrument - whoops).

Thanks again and next time I will repost in the proper place.


Comment by Socrates Arvanitakis on October 17, 2015 at 10:16pm

I will not talk about it as a composition now, but here are a few first observations regarding score presentation:

  1. Re-arrange score to have the following layout of instruments from top to bottom.

Horn in A

Horn in A








Double Bass


  1. Get rid of the C clef in the cello line and write the music in the F clef (you don’t need a C clef here as the music is low. You don’t need to do anything difficult here, just pick an F clef from your clefs collection and throw it in the first bar of the cello line. Sibelius will re-write the notes automatically in the F clef).


  1. Timpani start ok in the F clef, but in bar 11 you change to a percussion clef. You don’t heed to do this. Timpani have a definite pitch and should be written in the F clef as you started. Reserve percussion clefs for percussion instruments of not definite pitch, which, btw, don’t need a key signature. If you still mean that you are in F clef after bar 11 take care at the actual notated pitch of the notes: They are not available on timpani after bar 11 as too low.


  1. Rationalize your dynamic markings throughout the piece and make them more similar. There are many problems here: You cannot have ff violins and mf cellos (bar 1) without good reason while the Double Basses have no dynamics at all and the tubas playing the same line are using f marking with the trombones at mf and 1st horns on f.

At bar 9 the mf violins are not really audible against the brass, especially the ff trombones.

In general don’t trust the music's dynamics as interpreted by Sibelius, try to imagine what forces are actually involved here with real groups of instruments. Sibelius can obey your commands up to a good extend but you have to do a lot of manual reading and manipulating.


  1. I know of horns in F or double horns in F/Bb, but I am not familiar with horns in A. Do they really exist/are in wide usage? And if they do, any particular reason for choosing them?


Well, I hope it has been of some help. Continue with your work, please don’t let my remarks affect your creativity cause they are not meant to even if I sounded a little harsh, and do post again, I look forward to it.

You are bound to get more comments/help if you post not as a blog but in the Analysis and Critique forum.

All the best

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