Hello colleagues,

This is one of the first pieces I wrote that was of consequential length (13 minutes). I am now in a phase where I am visiting some of my older compositions to see if in the years since I have written them, I have learned anything which would help improve them. I did make various changes here and there, and I am finding as I have with some other pieces I am revising that the one area which seems to be most in need of revising is the ending. My earlier endings now seem to me to be fizzles in some cases, not enough energy as I now feel a proper ending should have.

This piece was originally written when I was heavy into progressive rock, and you will certainly hear the influence if you know the genre, but I tried to avoid imitating any particular rock composer, though you may hear a bit of Rick Wakeman (from Yes) in it. I had hoped to record this live on my new electronic piano, but so far I haven't been able to put the practice time into it to do it correctly, so the attached is a computer-generated file. 

One other note, if you do listen to the whole thing, you'll notice the playbar gets a little behind the music as it goes, something that I couldn't quite get perfect. Comments as always invited>

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  • Hi Gavin,

    I love this music from you.  Sounds, very modern, and yet I can hear the classical training in you.

    I love the playfulness of this composition.

    It seems like I am following a story, and I am being introduced to the different joyful scenes on this production.

    Great piano playing.

    I love this recording.


    • Hi Rene,

      Thanks for listening and for your kind words! I think you have picked up on exactly what I was aiming for, so I have been successful in one case so far. I do like to write music that in addition to sounding good is fun to play. I think that is an overlooked aspect of music composition.


  • First of all, I totally love the poly-chords in the beginning.

    Secondly, yes, certain pop influences can be discerned, if only the walking and grooving bass line

    But 13 minutes? It takes you 5 minutes to get away from an idiom that is completely in eighth notes. You then have some faster passages and less regular, but pretty soon you're back in exclusively eighths. I think it could use some more variety in that respect. In general the piece is too homogeneous in its soundscape and I'm not sure that the length is entirely justified.

    It's cool to listen to though.

    • Hi Victor,

      Thanks for giving it a listen. Some interesting comments which I will reflect on. 


  • Hi Gav,

    I enjoyed hearing this music of your earlier self. I also like to go back and revisit older pieces and sometimes revise them and sometimes completely rethink them.

    I do hear the progressive rock influence. (I was a fan of Emerson, Lake and Palmer myself.)  Have you considered arranging it for a small ensemble that included a few brass and/or saxophones? I felt like your piano piece wants to be this piece with more instrumental colors. 

    Wonderful music Gav!



    • Hi Marty and thanks for the words of encouragement! I do aim for a symphonic or ensemble outcome when writing longer works for piano and it's gratifying when someone picks up on it. I haven't thought about arranging this one, but now that you've raised the issue, hmmm... 

      One other note, I have been lately writing for ensembles and small orchestra. Some of those things are posted here. If you search the form on Orchid, you'll find one example-

      Thanks for listening and commenting!


  • rhythmically if perhaps not harmonically this sounds more jazz-like to me than anything but then I don't know what the definition of progressive rock is The central section starting 6'39" with one or two quite odd chords (can't decide if I like them) is a nice contrast to what came before with some-- perhaps it's rather too short though to balance the quite substantial work as a whole though there is probably just enough variety to ensure it doesn't outstay its welcome. Overall a fun piece and it does indeed end with a flourish!

    • Hi David,

      There's definitely some jazz in it, in the triad harmony in the beginning and in the middle section in particular. Even back then, I was experimenting with extended harmonies, 9ths and 11ths and such. It's not everyone's cup of tea, I get when that happens. An extended jazz harmony stretches into some dissonances, in some cases extreme dissonances. I find that having worked with them for so long, they no longer sound dissonant to me. There is also some ragtime (in the syncopation at the end for example). In regard to progressive rock, there isn't really a definition of it, it's more of a feeling or a reaction. But there are things you can look for which at least identify it as rock on the broadest scale, particularly rhythmically. To that end there's a lot of emphasis on the backbeats, 2 and 4, which is why there are accents on those beats throughout the piece. Hallmarks of progressive include unusual time signatures, lush or very rich harmonies, sometimes standard, sometimes unusual, and in general, more length and thematic development than 3-minute pop songs. Thanks so kindly for your comments!


      • Thanks for your further explanation of what you're about in this work. Dissonance is of course subjective unless you follow some sort of theoretical rulebook which I never do. My writing is quite often bi or even tritonal which will sound very chromatic to those used to a conventional classical approach. I would normally only criticise harmony in a composer who tries to ape a conventional style and doesn't quite have the ear to do it convincingly. Sometimes there are simply things which sound wrong in context but I would certainly not suggest that in your piece.


        • I have gathered from my travels that there is a certain amount of sentiment out there (don't ask me to quote anything) that chromaticisim is a more robust mechanism for extension of the literature than atonalism, a sentiment I have some empathy with. While I've never sat down and said "ok, time to compose a chromatic piece," I really don't see that much difference between it and extended harmonies. Both depart the key; both have at least the potential to return back to the key. And isn't departure and return a lovely way to do things?

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