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 think if you listen to my midi and your version, it will be much more apparent as to the slip of the ritard one measure too soon, and the slide of the lower part of the right hand. I think there may be similar problems with the left hand, but I did not really ;feel a need to make a list of problems, just to point out that the notes -- however it happened I personally have no idea, of course, but happen they certainly did -- in some places are way out of sync.

    At first I thought they were just plain wrong notes, but then as I looked through the piece, I found that the notes sometimes were pushed forward by a full measure.

    Thank you for the sound sampling. It sounds a bit deeper than the sounds available to me.

    I generally do not give people sound files of my pieces unless they ask; I would rather have them discover the work from the printed page, and it's my experience that a lot of performers also prefer to work that way. I've actually run into some folks who get a bit touchy about listening to sound files -- they want to develop their own vision.

    I do not think anyone would question that a performance of any major work is as much the result of the performer as of the composer. Stokowsky simply dissed what he didn't agree with, and I have to admit I tend to that direction myself. Purists will say that they prefer certain recordings over others because of the equipment involved, and for them, I'm sure that's important. I tend to not care so much about that. I only get bothered if a recording sounds so much like it was recorded next to a campfire that you really can't make subtlties out.

    I have a 386 that still has Sequencer Plus loaded on it, and a bunch of files I can't play on a modern PC because Sequencer died a few decades ago. There was a platform where you could really tweak all the makings of the music.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    I did a few other things except changing piano. I saw you (or someone) had velocityadjusted it manually (?) Looks fine if it was a calculation ;), but it sounds more realistic (I did not change it now ) if you have "jumps" in velocity over time (maybe a random component?), I tend to use that rule for soloinstruments. Like piano.

    Interesting your thoughts about performers and computers. Yes, a computer just do what you want it to do. Thus a human perfomer is always better ;) Thats why small things can make a great impact on the result if you feed the computer with human errors.

    The question I find interesting here is if the intermediary (performer) matters, when performing, say, Beethoven's 5th symphony for an audience? In other words, is the 5th symphony a work of beethoven only, or does the performer add something? What about the record company? Mixing and mastering is necessary? (I know a guy, who works as a "sound technician" who said mixing/mastering is a creative process, just like composing. Myself, I do not know, but I think as it isn't a "science" how to mix or master a song/symphony/and so on, there must be a creative part.)
    I think we have a tendency to choose creative solution when there are too many components to be sure exactly how to do something. (Like in politics, stockmarkets, music)
    I would say (and probably you as well) that the pianist adds a great deal to the work. (Liszt wrote a piano-version of the 5th, the other symphonies as well, so...). There are bad rendition of this piece, and there are good recordings. (I play it worse than anyone else.)

    Another thing here is, if we (possibly in the future?) had plugs that everyone thought sounded like a real orchestra (out-of-the-box). (Noone can tell the difference.) Maybe you have put the computer analyzing 1000 of conductors, their behaviour. Like they do in computer chess! Then if the computer acts like Karajan? (Assuming the computer can't feel or have emotion, is anything added to the work in this case?)

    Just some thoughts, not very important...

    Okay, next problem. ;) The midi you sent had all the information in one channel. I doubt I ever had the opportunity to move things around. But it was a quick mix, I could fix those things. Send me a private email, with the problems :)

    Tempo, I know Galileo counted heartbeats when he did experiments in physics (they had no clocks, I don't even know when "clock" was invented) Only, moon and day/night mattered to people back then. A time span of 5 minutes, like a piece of music, was not very important ;)
  • J R Oppenheimer is not a relative. The surname simply designates anyone who was from the area around the German city of Oppenheim. At some point in the past, people were required to adopt family names. Some folks adopted their profession (Shumacher, Shoemaker, Mueller, Miller, etc. Some adopted some fanciful name such as a jewel (Bernstein is German for the precious stone Amber), and some adopted a form of the place they were from. Evidentlly Oppenheim was a great place to be from, since in Germany and in the New York region of the USA, the phone books are full of Oppenheim and Oppenheimer.

    When they detonated the first A-bomb, Oppenheimer was absolutely horrified by the implications. He had known that enormous energy would be released, but the implications did not touch him until he saw it.

    Knowing that the hydrogen bomb would be far more powerful, he resisted its development, and the government stripped him of all security clearances, and he was disgraced. It was only a short time before he died that he was presented with a medal to commemorate his accomplishments. I know of a couple plays, several books and at least one movie that have been produced around his very tragic life.

    In World War II, he was head of the Mannhattan Project, which was the secret cluster of various tasks required to produce the Atom Bomb. There was a similar project operating in Germany at the same time, and it was critical that we get a bomb before Hitler. As it turned out, the Germans had the mistaken notion that Heavy Water (an isotope of water) was required for the chain reaction, and we managed to keep knocking out their heavy water production plants.

    Had the Manhattan Project failed, I suspect that we would all be speaking German today, except that my family probably would not be here at all.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    I didn't know that they are making more.
    ARe you a relative to the Robert Oppenheimer?

    The swedish inventor Nobel thought wars would never happen again, because with dynamite (his invention) the armies could just blow up the other army.

    In the 1960s (I think) the guy (can't remember his name) who led the communist party in the Soviet union, back then, couldn't sleep for 4 days after they developed the hydrogen boomb. On the fourth day he came to the conclusion, that noone would ever dare to use it. (Maybe he then went to sleep.)

    I agree there is no need for it in today's world.

    James Oppenheimer said:
    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? :)
  • I was thinking, with regard to the type of performance, that if you listen to Bruno Walter's performance of a Beethoven sympnoy, it will be very different from, say Bernstein or Fuertwaengler or von Karajan. And while someone might like one more than the other, nobody would say that Walter is better, or Bernstein is better -- only that the result is different. I'm told that different pianists are different enough that a listener with a good ear will recognize a performer just by touch and style. The composer lets his work loose in the world, and then others bring their own personal style to the task of bringing it to fruition.

    I grew up in Pennsylvania, and there are less Oppenheimers there. I used to think it was a very unusual name until I came east to the New York area, where it is much more common.

    I once worked at a psychiatric hospital, and there was a social worker there, named Robert Oppenheim. We were the only ones on the staff with that name, but mailroom people kept getting us confused, so we solved the problem by having one mailbox for the two of us. To this day, when we meet again, he says to me, "And how are you, Mister Er?" Making a little joke on the difference of our names.

    I hope the name gives me an edge for getting people to look at my music. Most composers have unusual names. You don't often hear of a composer named James Smith or Bill Jones. But then, there's Joe Green. The Italian version of Joe Green would be Guiseppi Verdi.

    Per-Erik Rosqvist said:
    Regarding you last name, sorry I thought it was a very unusual name. Like Rosqvist ;)

    Yep, the marketing of those plug-ins is often exaggerated (using examples on their pages that need a thorough treatment and mastering to sound that way.) They also usually have slow pieces on the page (because slow music is easier to make sound realistic.)
    They do not lie, but very close sometimes..
    It could be wise to invest in a better piano, and piano+reverb is a great t combination if piano is the only instrument. (Reverb = room echo. I like a piano-reverb with size church or similar) Maybe even better than buying another sampled piano.

    Yes, listening now to the piece again. There is obviously something wrong yes. I think something is weird in the midi-file. The second voice in the right hand? Okay. I should be able to move the voice horizontally in place (one measure). Or you can export a new midi, if there was something wrong with the file. I will play the midi-file on a regular soundcard using Winamp this evening, and check the score in cubase, to see if the problem is before/after I loaded it into the sequencer.

    This is not a problem, I'm just interested in hearing this excellent piece for piano, with a better production. Reverb and better sound. One can't make it real, but maybe as close as one can get...

    True that the score needs to be interpreted by both the performer, and the audience. There are two layers of interpretation between Beethoven and the reciever (assuming every human is influenced by his emotions, memories and so on). But this doesn't make the score less objective. The score never changes.

    I do not agree (if that is what you mean) that putting the score in the hands of a human performer, contrary to letting a computer play, changes the artistic "verkshöjd" of the score. Verkshöjd is a german/swedish word for the value of an artwork, with no equivalent word in english. It means "The height of the work" :)

    But I do agree something is added in terms outside this work-height, IF the performer i skilled. And withdrawn if the performer is bad at it. It also depends on the audience. Playing beethoven for people who never heard anything like that is a waste of time. Playing Wagner for Chinese has the same result. They hate it. (This is not a racist remark, I am just saying Chinese neverl isten to Western opera, so they can't stand valkyries yelling "hoyotohooo", well, not many westerners either. Maybe Wagner was drunk when he wrote that part.)

    Well, this doesn't matter much but I felt like elaborating on it. I do understand that sharing the score with other composers/musicians, is a better way of communicating it, than an mp3.
    On the other hand I've heard composers that dont want it, that someone might steal "ideas". It seems to be very common.. But someone tell me why the mp3 (with some effort) can't be used to make an equivalent score?

    Thanks Opp. that I don't speak german.
    The strange thing about Germany, is that nowadays they are the kindest and nicest people in Europe, to deal with. (Well, the British are okay too.) But just 70 years ago they voted for a screaming idiot with quasiscientific theories about races, and nations.
    We would all be living in a new Dark age, as Churchill said.
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