Comments on my pieces

I have uploaded three pieces, and have a few remarks about each. They are all exported as MP3 files out of Finale, the platform for all of my composition. Thus the sound is synthesizer. That's giving a wooden result, but the notes are fundamentally as I wrote them. I've put in some expression, but I freely admit I have made no real effort to make these polished for listening per se. My work is for live performers. Unfortunately, getting a performer to play the pieces is not all that simple or easy, so this will be the means of presentation. I find that sometimes the notation does not come across exactly as written. Specifically, some notes seem to hold slightly too long, and as a result the very next note on the same pitch does not sound at all. I'm getting another PC, and hope that may help, but I'm also considering shifting over from Finale to Sibelius. I've heard a lot of good stuff about Sibelius, and virtually nothing to defend Finale. (In anticipation of some possibly hot debates, let me say that I'm not invested in either system; I just want a system that works, does what I want it to do, and does it all the time. If I have to get Sibelius to get a reliable platform, so be it.) "Jingly Belles" is a little fantasy for solo piano based on a familiar tune. I was experimenting with the 7/8 meter, and just was playing around with it. It's intended to be a quick whimsical piece. "Valkill Rag" is just a rag that kind of popped into my head one day, and I decided to write it down and develop it to keep it from becoming an ear worm. That helped me to explore piano technique. "Easter Hymn" is an arrangement of a set of variations I wrote on teh hymn "Awake thou Wintry Earth," for the recorder quartet in which I play. It was premiered last Easter. The organ arrangement was done to expand my grasp of writing for organ, and to hopefully give the piece a wider distribution. An organist has expressed an interest in playing it, so that's working out.

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  • I have Downloaded a few more pieces:

    "Adagio Grazioso" -- A brief piano piece.

    Theme and Variations -- for solo piano. This uses a tune I first wrote about forty years ago.

    I also include three movements from my Requiem (scored for choir and soloists, flute, violin, cello, piano and organ. These were performed in 2005. At that time, there was not sufficient time to mount the entire work, and parts of it were not completed. The Requiem is a personal response to the events of four years previous. the music is built on a theme which was somehow sung to me in a dream, and copied down by me upon awakening:
    Requiem Aeternam -- The traditional opening text of the requiem.

    Agnus Dei -- written in two rhythms at the same time. I went out for a walk and when I came back, I wrote out the movement from what had come to me during the walk.

    I AM the Resurrection and I AM Life -- The title makes an allusion to a translation of the Holy Name of God, found in the Hebrew Bible. The text is from the Rite II funeral liturgy of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.
  • I had a listen to your Requiem which I thought was excellent and really well performed. Lovely theme too.

    However before I proceed, it's worth noting that the norm here is to post one piece at a time and then I'm sure more people will comment. There's just far too much to take in with all of these on one thread.

    Could you also post a PDF of the sheet music you made for the Requiem, as it would be good to follow that music ?
  • Sorry. I had intended to post one or two pieces, but no sooner did I enroll then i got a couple of posts bawling me out for enrolling without putting up music. If there's one piece everyone wants to talk about (and since you're the only one who has responded thus far, perhaps you're "everyone" for our purposes), then we can just confine ourselves to that piece.

    I'm glad you like the theme.

    I am still on a learning curve, so I will try to get a PDF of my score up -- as soon as I figure out how to upload a PDF. Someone said something about a text box. The PDF of any single movement of the Requiem is going to be several pages long. Also, since I have revised it, based on what I heard in the premiere, the PDF will be close, but not a perfect match for the recording, unless I can find the performance version in my archives.

    Anybody else have any thoughts on this, I hope?

    Jim

    Adrian Allan said:
    I had a listen to your Requiem which I thought was excellent and really well performed. Lovely theme too.

    However before I proceed, it's worth noting that the norm here is to post one piece at a time and then I'm sure more people will comment. There's just far too much to take in with all of these on one thread.

    Could you also post a PDF of the sheet music you made for the Requiem, as it would be good to follow that music ?
    Comments on my pieces
    I have uploaded three pieces, and have a few remarks about each. They are all exported as MP3 files out of Finale, the platform for all of my composi…
  • Yes

    Download Cute PDF writer (it's free) and then when you go to Finale, choose print and it should automatically come up as a printer option. It's not really a printer of course, but a PDF writer. Make a note of where the file is saved and then post a reply here and use the "upload files" to upload the file. Several pages of PDF is very little memory by today's standards and will download in seconds.

    I'd really like to see the score, even if it's a bit different from the recording. Myself and a few others like a score and a recording when listening to new works.

    I hope that you gradually post more of your pieces as individual discussions as they deserve to be listened to.
  • I will open a separate discussion for one of my pieces and we'll see what transpires.

    It will be my "Theme and Variations" because It's a piece of some substance, but I also already have a PDF of it. Whenever I think of this, I think of PDQ Bach's Thema senza variazione (Prof. Schickele: "I dunno -- Apparently variations on some other theme... Perhaps we'll turn other work up someday.")


    Adrian Allan said:
    Yes

    Download Cute PDF writer (it's free) and then when you go to Finale, choose print and it should automatically come up as a printer option. It's not really a printer of course, but a PDF writer. Make a note of where the file is saved and then post a reply here and use the "upload files" to upload the file. Several pages of PDF is very little memory by today's standards and will download in seconds.

    I'd really like to see the score, even if it's a bit different from the recording. Myself and a few others like a score and a recording when listening to new works.

    I hope that you gradually post more of your pieces as individual discussions as they deserve to be listened to.
  • I had listened to the first three earlier. I did not comment, mostly because I have nothing intelligent to say. Composition wise, I am weak. My strength is in productions at this time, and you already addressed that in your post.

    I doubt that a new computer will solve the problems you describe (though depending on what you use as software, it might be necessary to upgrade). I have noticed that a few people who use Finale seem to have similar problems with a midi sounding mix, so replacing that software might be a good idea.

    Cheers
    Shad
  • I like to do a lot of arrangements of early music, so a platform that scans in music easily is important to me, and Finale's facility for this has consistently been unacceptable. I am going to try a trial version of Sibelius and see how things develop. This, of course, is just a technical thing, and won't affect my composition.

    I have on the other side of my office a Yamaha psr-300, connected via midi hardware to a 80386. It has an old DOS sequencer with a ton of files in it in a format I will have to switch, file by file, to midi to move to a newer platform. I plan to get a new PC in the next week or so, and then I hope to get a new keyboard and hardware of some kind so the PC and keyboard can interface. Even though I'm not really a keyboard person, I think it will greatly speed up my work. Having a reliable PC again will certainly help (The present PC is showing signs of imminent demise).

    Shad Young said:
    I had listened to the first three earlier. I did not comment, mostly because I have nothing intelligent to say. Composition wise, I am weak. My strength is in productions at this time, and you already addressed that in your post.

    I doubt that a new computer will solve the problems you describe (though depending on what you use as software, it might be necessary to upgrade). I have noticed that a few people who use Finale seem to have similar problems with a midi sounding mix, so replacing that software might be a good idea.

    Cheers
    Shad
    Comments on my pieces
    I have uploaded three pieces, and have a few remarks about each. They are all exported as MP3 files out of Finale, the platform for all of my composi…
  • Thank you very much for your kind words, and your very kind offer.

    I can't remember offhand if the piece is my variations on a theme or fantasy on Jingle Bells, so...

    Here are the fantasy on Jingle Bells and the variations on a theme both.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    Hi James.

    Listening to the pieces you uploaded in your Requiem (first in the list), and will go through the others. Find it extremely beautiful. Sounds like a piece that could have been written for any well-known oratorio in history, except it sounds more modern. All pieces sound "familiar" right away. (Notice that I am not saying it sounds like any composer I've heard ;) I just mean it is relaxing to listen to and is not hard to understand, works instantly like my instant coffee I have here.)
    There are lots of repetition of one or two phrases on the first or second, but that suits that piece really well.

    Regarding programs for writing music:

    I've tried both Sibelius and Finale but because of the drawbacks these have compared to a complete production environment (with piano roll), I am stuck drawing lines in Cubase.

    Btw, I've listened to your piano piece a few times, and can't help thinking I could make a better sounding version of it. If you want, send me the midi, and I will make a quick instrumentation/production of the piece! (For free.)
    /Per-Erik

    jingle bells.mid

    a melody with variations .mid

  • I wish they'd just stop making the darn things, but nobody listens to me. I even wrote the President just before we invaded Iraq and said it would be a major mistake, with roadside bombs blowing our troops up even as we "won" the war, but did they listen? Naah.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    Btw, how is it going with the hydrogen bomb? :)
    Comments on my pieces
    I have uploaded three pieces, and have a few remarks about each. They are all exported as MP3 files out of Finale, the platform for all of my composi…
  • The piano sound is a bit deeper and a bit more sonorous than the sound available from Finale. Even though Finale talks as though their sounds walk on water, it's hardly surprising.

    Unfortunately, the reproduction you made has some major problems with getting the music to sound together. I don't know what the problem is, but it sounds to me like one channel (the second voice in the right hand) gets out of sync by a measure. Also, and I have no idea why this is happening, but the ritard/ a tempo patterns happen in your version consistently one measure too early.

    Of course, there is absolutely no substitute for a human performer. It's just too hard to program all of the tempo slips and gradual shifts implicit in a performance.

    Back in the centuries around 1000CE, musical notation in general only defined the pitch, and did little or nothing to tell the tempo. We sometimes say that the notation of that time was a general guideline, and that the performers probably learned the pieces by heart and used the notation just as a general cue for what they were doing.

    The illusion is that things have changed today; they haven't. We have much more precise ways of describing tempo, expression, volume, etc., but the truth is that much of a musical piece lies between the lines, outside the scope of those little black dots on the page. The PC generated music gives an idea of what is going on, but so far as performance goes, it is inadequate.

    Finale has a little sub-routine that detects if a note has a tie attached to it, and if it does, it renders invisible any accidentals that are attached to that note. However, if you edit the notation, and you just happen to use one of those notes that had a tie, Finale doesn't have another subroutine to check, so that note's accidentals are always invisible unless I manually alter that state. And there's no way to know, except for some performer to point out that the note ought to have a sharp or flat or whatever. So, the computer program is just a machine, doing precisely what you ask it to do -- no more and no less.

    Useful if I know what to look for, and what to be suspicious of.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    Hi James

    Here it is:

    http://www.dragoncolour.com/melodywithvariations-P-Eproduction..mp3

    Tell me what you think :)
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