Thanks August for the feedback on Skating. I've been trying to "humanize" it. Much of the feedback I've gotten on this and other forums, is that it sounds too computerized. Being rather complex, this is proving to be quite a process. I'm torn between spending time doing that, and working on other things to post. I'm leaning toward the latter, as I can always go back later and try to perfect the earlier posts. So hopefully you will see something else relatively soon!
On June 16, you wrote, " I was just listening to your music. I especially enjoyed listening to Quantum Concatenations. It is unified and coherent, yet it occupies a musical territory of its own."
I wanted to reply to you earlier, but I was out of town for a while, and then very busy until recently.
Thank you very much for your generous assessment of Quantum Concatenations.
Given your musical sophistication and overall experience, I take it as a very high compliment.
I liked what you said to Bruce Baldwin in one of your replies to comments:
"Thanks for the comment, Bruch! Yeah, I was worried about one of the motives sounding too similar Bartok. I even asked my composition instructor if I was getting a little too close to Bartok, especially in the anguished descending motive; however, he generously framed it as an allusion. :)"
I am not sure anyone can get "too close to Bartok" today, in overall style. Some musicologists say that there is something almost "syntactically Hungarian," is his idiom, so unless you speak fluent Hungarian, and think in Hungarian, you are unlikely to fall into an imitation trap.
I was re-reading a section from McHard's book on the Philosophy of Modern Music, and he admonishes modern composers, citing Iannis Xenakis and Julio Estrada as exemplars; and tells us, we should always do something new, different and original in each work.
That will keep us from imitating Bartok or anyone else, if it is a special worry.
Here is a "spectral view" of Xenakis' "Metastasis," if you haven't heard it yet, or are looking for inspiration.
Thanks again, August - I've done a few videos but none I'm quite as proud of yet! I learned a lot making that one. I'll never forget the crazy looks I got from people while filming empty picture frames at the beach! We have plans to make at least a couple more videos to promote the Ascent CD.
Studying with Naudia Boulanger was, as you would expect, a very interesting experience. One interesting note that I remember is a time when she was putting together an organ concert for her financial contributors and I was helping with the list of pieces to be performed. I suggested Olivier Messiaen’s “Dieu parmi nous” from his Nativity Suite. It’s somewhat modern but not all that culturally challenging. Her reply was that her investors were far more conservative and would prefer to hear something written further back in time. What I find ironic is that here she is, the ambassador of modern music, even still, she had to do what all of us have to do for a living: please the people with the money. So the lesson I learned is that there really isn’t a thing called selling out. It’s all about survival through choosing one’s battles very carefully.
Don't change the Introit - my critiques could be points of departure from Renaissance polyphony for you to explore. I only referred to the counterpoint texts in case you wish to write something closer to the Renaissance vocal polyphonic style.
Don't allow my comments to feed self-doubt. Face head on the reason for the self -doubt (as you did in response to my comments) and see if it something you want to resolve or prefer NOT too - I am all for hybrids. And I think a hybrid style would work well IF you added more sections to this projected Mass. AS it stands alone it sounds like a true Introit suggesting many things. If you don't continue then it will remain somewhat unfinished.
So continue on ... and the fact you are conscious of my critiques means you much farther along than many aspiring composers.
Well I'll give you kudos for capturing the spirit of Renaissance vocal polyphony ... BUT around 29 - 30 second mark you introduced a chromatic descent that was good but was quitted rather abruptly . Not sure if that is what you wanted OR you wished to stay closer stylistically to the Renaissance 15th century style. Also, you treat your bass a bit too much as either a long organ pedal or figured bass. Get them out of their low range and slow notes.
Nevertheless, keep at it. You treatment of the upper voices has some find moments and you capture the still contemplative mood common of this style . I recommend highly reading Jeppesson's book on 16th century polyphony and then Kennan's for a quick review.
August thanks for your comments on my music. And I encourage you to rework the Rhapsodie - it is a good piece begging to become fantastic. Ican totally visualize this as music for a video with great choreography.
I'll consider describing in a blog the techniques I used in the Variations.
I will say that one really awesome sound is to have strings play ppp sul pont while the clarinet in its low registers fluttertongues and goes quickly in and out of p - f - p. Sounds almost like electronic music. You'll find that sound in my Sextet for clarinet and strings a little past the midpoint.
Well, I find you have good motivic ideas and some nice ideas about orchestration. I think your ability to write music lasting more than 3 minutes could be even stronger. For example Rhapsodie Espagnole is a good piece with some good orchestral writing - I forsee only a few tiny alterations in dynamics and articulation for a a live performance (maybe in a few spots where of the instruments get into their lower registers against the accompaniment). My concern is more the ending - it sounds you were trying to find a way to end it and decided just to go for the string pizz. It works OK but an increase in density and thicker orchestral timbres sounding for a little bit would have made your present ending sound a little more surprising and yet conclusive. But a strong piece of music and some of my criticisms is based on my own taste.
Your piano solo is quite enjoyable - baroque tinged with more modern elements.