Watching the Wind - Piano & Flute


I joined this forum because I'd like to find a place to get analysis and critique of my compositions. MuseScore Rendering

MuseScore Sheet Music

Couple notes:

  • I didn't notate the pedal for most of the song, so the rendering doesn't quite reflect that.
  • It was written for felt piano
  • Didn't notate the dynamics much, but try to imagine a bit more give and take between the two parts' melodic lines.

Since I don't have a formal background in composition, I'm in particular interested in how folks who are see/describe/classify/interpret my compositions. I'd like to use those terms/concepts to drive my further study in the space. Critique, analysis, and even suggestions on how I might've done things differently are all welcome.




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  • Hi Michael, welcome.

    Compositionally speaking, I think this is quite nice, especially considering you say you have no formal background in composition. I would classify this as minimalist or New Age music, stylistically speaking. Melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically, your piece focuses on simplicity, repetition, and gradual variation, which are defining traits of those styles. You employ simple and repetitive arpeggiations and progressions, often in a steady rhythm in the piano part. The melodic lines in the flute part complement the piano's melodic patterns, with subtle variations introduced throughout. These aren't criticisms, they are just elements that I pick up on that lead me to categorize the piece in those genres.

    In terms of the writing itself, I have no complaints. I believe that the flute player would naturally take breaths at moments that complement the phrasing. Regarding the harmonic progressions, they work nicely, but perhaps you could consider not always voicing the chords in root position. Incorporating a few shifts (even if to the same chords) but in different inversions might help the voicing flow even smoother or, at the very least, give it a bit more flair.

    Notationally, there are many things I would suggest if you had the intention of having a set of players actually perform this. As you recognize, there is a lot of detail missing that you would really want to include if you were seriously writing this for live performers.

    I could add a felt piano VST, a nice flute VST, and some wind effects and nature elements added behind this, and you'd practically have a professional quality minimalist piece on your hands- let me know if you want to do this.

    This piece reminds me very much of a Herman Beeftink piece titled "Nocturne," you should check it out, I'll link it here- I think you might get along with his musical language.

  • Thanks for this feedback! I'll try to play around with different voicings. I think in general paying attention to the bassline is something I don't yet have an ear for.

    As for notation, I don't write much notation, so there's alot of things I'm not sure how to express or whether there's such a thing as too much annotation? Is it excessive to add pedal markings through the whole song, accents and dynamics markings, slurs to indicate "phrases". On measure 77-78, the right hand lower notes are meant to be very lightly played compared to the higher notes. I've seen some scores draw notes "tiny" to indicate that but not sure what the formal name for that is. Or, do I use a lower dynamic baseline and add accents to the top notes? The arppegio symbols, I want to convey that they're more lazily/slowly played out and the last note lands at the same time as the left hand's. Do you have any guidance on what are the most important things to notate to live players?

    Thanks for the Herman Beeftink reference, checked out a bunch of his music and that drew my attention to some of the more faster flute runs that feel more idiomatic than my writing, something I'll explore, as well.

    Hopefully after a few revisions here, I'll actually lock it down and record the piano part myself and find someone to record the flute part. I'm not good enough at the shakuhachi to play something like this, but I'd love to hear this performed with the shakuhachi with improvised ornamentation

    • Hey Michael,

      No problem. To answer a few of your questions:

      Is there such a thing as too much annotation?

      • No, not really, but answers will vary. More information is typically better if intended for live performance- Though, some areas of music intentionally become complex due to excessive information on a score (just look at a Brian Ferneyhough score). However, generally, I believe more detail is better, but don't over-do it to the point where it becomes unclear, unless that is the intention (which it's not, in your case)

      Is it excessive to add pedal markings throughout the whole song, accents, and dynamic markings, as well as slurs to indicate "phrases"?

      • In the case of this piece, marking up pedal indications throughout might be excessive. I would recommend adding a "With pedal" indication at the beginning, or follow the example in the Beeftink score above: mark a few measures with the pedal showing to lift and re-pedal at the beginning of the next measure, then write a "sim" to indicate to the player this is the intention throughout. A proficient player will naturally pedal to avoid dissonances and understand where to pedal and not to pedal.

      On measures 77-78, the right-hand lower notes are meant to be played very lightly compared to the higher notes. I've seen some scores draw notes as "tiny."

      • The clearest way to convey this would be with slurs. The music somewhat already dictates what you're saying by the way it's written, with the intended melodic phrasing clear to the player. However, slurs would guide the player in proper phrasing, and they will naturally emphasize those notes more in the performance. An accent might imply too much force for this purpose. Another option is to incorporate multiple voices into the line to more clearly indicate the intended melody.



      Do you have any guidance on what are the most important things to notate for live players?

      • Notate anything that is not clearly expressed on the score but that you hear in your head. Typically, dynamics and phrasing are very important.They guide the performer's interpretation and expression of the piece. Otherwise you leave it to chance. 
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