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OK. I invite anyone interested to listen to this. It's a very short piece for small orchestra. And I say listen, that's just what I mean. And leave some meaningful comment. Oh, you can say that the piece sucks. But that doesn't help anyone. You can say that it's a nice piece. But that's not what I'm looking for.

See, I don't believe that music is what's on the printed page, or in this case, a sound file. I don't think that music is what you hear, either. I tend to think that music is more what goes on inside as you listen to it.

So, if this piece does nothing for you, that's fine. Thanks for taking the time. But while you're at it, leave a note about why. You might think it needs a modulation. I think it's too short for that. You might think it needs some tempo change. It is constant for a specific reason. But there are plenty of other negative things to say. When you say things you didn't like, it tells me that you really did listen. So be specific. It helps me and it helps you. You'll notice I'm not posting a score. I don't think you need it. When you hear a new classical piece or a pop song that you like, do you rush out and get a score for it to study? I hope not, that's just weird. You make several judgments about it as you listen. 

Maybe someone of you likes this. Great. Why? What about it? What part? I have a favorite 2 measures, myself.

Which brings me to the sound set. After I get a few comments, I'll share how I made it. If your first thought is that this would sound better if run through different software, or even if played by a live group, you are totally missing the point. Your not listening to the music. Even if I posted this using GM, you should still be able to listen regardless. Have I written good notes? Can't tell, listen again.

You don't have to, of course, but I think it's for your own benefit. 

But I get it. Personally, I don't care for piano music. I tend to not listen to it here. I have posted a different version of this elsewhere. And I'm really kind of posting this version for Stephen Lines.

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Well I listened and I do like parts of it. You have a very simple but moving melody and the harmony parts and orchestration arrangement work very well with it. I don't like how you've used the piano, it's ok for the intro but not after that. If it were a gong I might like it better.  At 2:06 the stop is too abrupt for me.  You continue with short orchestral phrases after that with piano in between which doesn't work very well to my ear either.  I think a simple repeating but melodic phrase for the piano would be better (a passacaglia?), but let some percussion keep the beat if necessary. The samples are incidental of course but they are more than adequate as you've used them here.

Bob, you have created a very distinct moment in time here.
Like you, I am more interested in the composition of the music rather than how it is recorded. When I write, I'll put notes on paper in the hope that a good conductor, competent musicians and an experienced sound engineer can create a recorded performance. Until then, I'm happy to let my software run on its own, with a little incompetent tweaking.
As for your piece, you're right. It doesnt need tempo changes or modulations to maintain interest. For me, the pulse is rightly labouring a point, carrying the theme throughout. Some of the pauses are musically abrupt, but they feel more conversational, based on a dialogue rather than a musical exposition.
I'm sure many others will share their musical and technical interpretation..

@Bob Porter,

My initial thoughts about this were that it has a very introspective feel. The constant piano helps to give it a plodding forward movement, though it is a bit sparse in places and might be helped by adding some other parts in the most sparse places.

I won't say much more since you mentioned this was posted mainly for one individual.

This is posted for everyone. I'm hoping Stephen will see it.

Thanks for the input so far. I'll explain everything in a bit. Interestingly, the piano part is intended to be the most important part. It was the original conception for the piece. 

Thanks so far. Let's keep going. 

Well Bob, thanks for directing me in this errm, direction. I have listened hard three times - there are some very introspective bits that I like (being an introspective individual myself). The tonic pedal in the piano throughout the piece is a perfectly legitimate method of holding - no, suspending, the piece in some ethereal vacuum - other worldly I guess would describe it.

The music stands up despite some of the rather odd sounds (the horn(?) melody in the first half of the piece rankles a bit - but there again, I am/was a horn player). And that's the point you have been making all along - listened to intelligently and thoroughly, the lack of authenticity in the sounds doesn't get in the way of the music per se. I possibly knew this all along but as you will remember from my original post, I was displaying more of a general sense of frustration because what I was hearing in my head and subsequently via headphones on my PC was not being replicated to the same quality on other peoples' systems - the end result being that my scores haven't been 'flying off the shelves' at the rate I think they ought to. Maybe there's far too much very fine competition out there in the ether - you know, folks like you ;-) .

Anyhow, there have been some very interesting and educational words written around this subject on various posts, so maybe just by expressing ourselves we have all gained from the experience.

Thanks for your interesting comments.

I got distracted yesterday, and didn't get to finish my thoughts.

This was made with Sibelius 7.5 using only Sibelius sounds. I spent some time adjusting various sounds where it can be done. 

As to the horn. I understand your concern. I was a trumpet player (though not a very good one) and have some problems with the trumpet sound in Sibelius. I don't use it very often. But the horn I use all the time. There isn't much to be done about brass. But there are many adjustments for the string sounds. The default strings are not good. I load "legato vibrato" and extend the legato and normal release beyond 39% to around 65%. This seems smooth to the over all ensemble sound, and the strings blend better. You can also control note lengths under slurs, as well as the length of the last note of a slur. And more.

There are a lot of hairpins in this piece. Default hairpins don't always do much. Remember, Sibelius is for producing scores, not playback. However, using the inspector, you can define what you want the hairpin to do. Normally you need a dynamic marking at the end of a hairpin. The inspector will allow you to define how much of a dynamic change you want, without a dynamic mark. So for a score you might want markings, but for playback, you might want more control. For example, the violin crescendo into the octave above the horn part is much smoother when I control the hair pin as opposed to the default setting. A small but fun thing.  The same can be done with tempo changes, but there aren't any in this piece.

As to the composition. The unyielding, constant, almost nagging piano part is a constant reminder of security. No matter where else the piece goes, it is always drawn back the that note. It is the beginning and the end. The little blurbs after the theme are all resolved to and by the one piano note. 

I wanted to post this to show some of the things Sibelius can do. Not a DAW, to be sure, but not bad either. If you just load default sounds, it's not very good. But if you spend some time (as you would have to in a DAW), things can be better. I know you and a lot of folks use NotePerformer because Sibelius sounds don't sound good to them. I have several problems with NP. That just illustrates my point about everyone having a different idea of what sounds good. And how we get so embroiled in the playback that we forget about the notes. I think that sometimes we think that if we just tweak the file enough we can make up for other problems. As in "fix it in the mix". That's fine, and sometimes necessary. Playback is important, but I still think that we forget how to listen. We let the playback do all the work for us. Yes, music is supposed to be a relaxing beautiful experience. How can we relax when the trumpet sound is so annoying? Or the violins sound like cats in an alley?  Those of us who grew up playing in various groups have heard all different kinds of instrument sounds. The horn player in one group I was in had a real fast vibrato. Two trumpet players in another group sounded completely different than I did and from each other. We all were "real" players playing real music. For me, there is nothing like being in a group playing live. Does it sound like a recording? Not in the least.

So when I am asked if I want my playback to sound as good as it can, I say say that of course I do. But what does that mean? Sound good to who? Some people have run some of my work through their software. I am privileged that they took the time to do that. Some parts of the result were "better", most were just different. And that's OK. That's what is supposed to happen. We listen to,and work with our music. 

I know, I know. If I would just shut up and learn to use a DAW (it's so easy, after all) all my problems would be over. But I am not a pro looking to sell my music. I'm just one guy writing for the fun of it. And it is a blast. I think it is a total miracle that I can sit at my computer and crank this stuff out. You kids today have no idea. Why, in my day....


First impressions. Whatever it is you're foretelling hasn't yet arrived (or if it has you aren't for telling us). The second para in your post is a tad metaphysical but what I'm hearing isn't quite deep enough to warrant such deep self-examination.

There's not enough variation or difference between the notes to pick out a "favourite" section or even favourite notes (whatever that might mean).. The sting work is interesting - if that counts for what you want to hear.

It's all the 'nice' things you don't want to hear. If listening to it is for my benefit then the benefit is utilitarian rather than deeply metaphysical, i.e., I can appreciate and learn something from your string work. Having said that it does prompt a degree of reflection & introspection.

Thanks for posting,



Thanks for your post. No, whatever it is has not arrived yet. Otherwise the piece would be called something else. And yes, perhaps it is way too short to garner much deep thought. Or maybe not. The art in poetry is to say much in few words. I believe it is possible to waste a lot of notes trying to say something. This piece is actually a tad long for its intended use. 

"Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are." You may have thought of that melody as you read the words. There is something strangely satisfying about that simple musical phrase. It is complete in itself. Easy to sing, easy to play. Probably one of the first tunes musicians learn to play. Yet it lives on, we can't forget it. No matter how we try. 

My string work is nothing to learn from. I did it so that the violins would get out of the way of of listening to the notes. If you were to take this piece and run it through your software, you could probably make it sound much better, in your view. And that's fine. Don't we do that in our heads when we listen to most anything?

When someone posts something that is GM, it's hard to ignore that it could sound better. And someone always points that out. And they should. Just not right off the bat. How many people screwed up enough courage to post something, only to be blasted in the first sentence that the listener couldn't tell if the music was any good because of the GM sounds.  And then never posted again. Yup, professional music is a cut-throat business. How many here make their sole living from composing?

I think it would be fun if folks would post a mid. or xml. file also so that we could play with the music.

Hi Colin and Bob

Maybe this piece is less foretelling than say foreboding or has that ‘by gum, what’s coming next’ feel about it to me and that’s what makes it enticing.

Bob’s correct about some of the emerging composers on this and other sites having the courage to post their efforts - some comments they receive are nonsense and clearly made by people who don’t have the wherewithal to ‘get it’.....but these ill considered responses, once in print, can take on a stronger perspective than they deserve and result in a lowering of the composer’s self-esteem: the best thing is to encourage them whilst perhaps making one or two positive pointers that might be considered improvements. I will make absolutely clear that I’m not making these comments as a direct criticism of any one individual...just making a very general observation. I consider myself comparatively a very experienced composer but still sometimes feel a bit of trepidation just prior to posting pieces for critique...positive comments are the only thing needed in my view. I hope people don’t think this simply means saying ‘that’s nice’ and passing on...a negative view is ‘I don’t like this’ (who cares?).....a positive criticism is along the lines of, for example: ‘have you considered adding a tierce de Picardy in the last bar before the repeat - that might help to lift the piece and better prepare it for the next section’ (this is a better alternative than saying ‘the last bar before the repeat leaves me feelin flat’.

Crikey, I do go on sometimes and apologise for my long-windedness. I would say however that I like what I have heard of both of your personal musical outputs and look forward to hearing more of them, both Gaelic and otherwise.

Colin Dougall said:


First impressions. Whatever it is you're foretelling hasn't yet arrived (or if it has you aren't for telling us). The second para in your post is a tad metaphysical but what I'm hearing isn't quite deep enough to warrant such deep self-examination.

There's not enough variation or difference between the notes to pick out a "favourite" section or even favourite notes (whatever that might mean).. The sting work is interesting - if that counts for what you want to hear.

It's all the 'nice' things you don't want to hear. If listening to it is for my benefit then the benefit is utilitarian rather than deeply metaphysical, i.e., I can appreciate and learn something from your string work. Having said that it does prompt a degree of reflection & introspection.

Thanks for posting,


At 2:21 maybe just soften the strings entrance. It seems a bit sudden compared with the rest of the piece. It is beautifully sad. I like the way you kept the piano "bell" going even through the louder parts. The orchestration seems well balanced to me. I could hear each instrument.


I liked the melodies and the percussion near the end.  It seems to be foretelling of a sad event, so maybe the title should be "Foreboding".  One thing I didn't like, the single note piano "bell"  in the middle of the piece.  Seems like some orchestration should have continued under the bell tone to keep it flowing.   I think beginning and ending with the repeated piano note would be more effective.  Nice work.


Stanley and Lawrence,

Thanks for listening and the thoughtful comments. I realize that there isn't much to say about such a short piece. This is built entirely around the repeating piano note. It is the heart beat. I was not after foreboding, but rather melancholy. Not sadness so much as thoughtfulness. I suppose that one string entrance might be too loud. Yet, it is one last reaching out before the end of the piece. 

Thanks again.

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