I'm debating whether to spend good money to put on my work "5 Ghostly Waltzes" for Female Choir, Piano & Orchestra. As I cannot hire a pianist and orchestra I thought of playing pre-recorded mp3 files on a sound system while a small female choir of 12-15 voices sing live against the pre-recorded accompaniment. Seems like it'd work in theory but I'd have to pay to videotape, edit, work the mixer, etc as well as pay the choir. But putting aside the cost is the work itself worth the investment? I'd love feedback on the worth of the work as a creation of art. If it's trash don't hold back, please. If it's good but not good enough to warrant an investment again please don't hold back. Or if it's a masterpiece  (blush) my battered ego could stand to hear that too. It's 16 minutes long. The first link includes a new waltz. The second is the scores to waltzes 1-4 and the third to my latest waltz, No 5. Thanks much for any and all feedback. 

5 Ghostly Waltzes

Score Ghostly Waltzes 1-4

Score Ghostly Waltz 5

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  • Hi J Joe,
    Yes, it’s worth it, though I would suggest picking 2 of the works, rather than all of them, to start. Your music has polish and is well put together, and that’s enough to justify the effort (I will get to what I think of it as a ‘work of art’ in a minute). Another reason it’s worth it is that it is extremely hard to get a good sense of vocals with swooshy computer sounds, you really need to hear a human sing it to know if it works. This a refrain I hear on every board I am on or have been on when a vocal work is posted.

    Artistically, my opinion only, this sounds like things I have heard before, that is to say, you are not extending the literature. If it is your goal to write decent-sounding waltzes in a familiar style, then you have achieved that goal. I could certainly see a commercial application for this, perhaps in a children’s Halloween show. In the end, whatever your goals ultimately are, I think you are far enough along to take it to the next step.

    Best to you and thanks for sharing your music with us!
    Gav
  • Hi Joe

    I've listened to the first three of the waltzes - I'm definetely a fan of waltzes and by extension what I've just heard from you. I have to say I'm not a fan of the voices and I tuned them out and concentrated on the rest instead. I didn't hear enough of the orchestra - I thought the piano hogged too much of the action to the detriment of the stings and winds etc. I had a look at the score but couldn't make out the instrumentation or much of the rest due the the poor resolution.

    Apropos Gav's comments, I'm guessing that by "extending the literature" he means coming up with a new take on scary waltzes (or waltzes in general) and taking them in a completely new direction. Whether or not yours extends the literature, it does at least add to it. (I've had a quick listen to Shostakovich's Waltz No. 2 - while this is a thumpingly good waltz, for all its brilliance I don't think it extends the literature either so I wouldn't beat myself up on that score).

    As to spending you hard earned on it, I'm not so sure the current sound quality of the work would come close to matching a good live female choir and might suffer greatly from the comparison. 

    Thanks fro posting, Colin

  • Hi Joe, I enjoyed what I heard here, I did only listen to one walz (time is short).  Your writing and orchestration are very good and the concept of piano concerto with choir doing cinematic music is new to me at least.  The music itself is not new but I did like it.

    You might want to consider some different approaches. You can do better soundwise with higher quality virtual samples I think although those are expensive also.  To have a live choir against weaker samples being rerecorded will not give a good result in my opinion.  Maybe assemble a small choir equipped with headphones and have them overdub to the accompaniment and then carefully mix the result.  In any event better samples should be considered here.

    I would say proceed with this since the music is good.  But you need to do more research on your available options as they are many and complex and the results will vary widely based on your choices.

  • Hi Gav, 

    Thanks much for your excellent advice. Actually, it would help tremendously if someone impartial could suggest which two they think are the strongest to program. Might I ask you to recommend what you feel are the two best? I think one of them will be the first but I am in a quandary about the other one.

    Yes, this work breaks no new ground. It is a peculiarity about "ghost music" that it, of necessity has to stay somewhat grounded in the more traditional style because of the audience it is trying to address. Getting too far afield (like Berg for example) would leave people scratching their heads, I think. It's a delicate balance--break some ground but don't dig a 10-foot hole for yourself. Problem is I may have fallen between what is commercially-good Halloween music and what is too artistic for the average listener. Of course I tried to strike a balance between the two but only time and exposure will tell if I succeeded. Oddly enough writing the music was the simple part compared with trying to stage a performance. Three female choir groups have thus far turned me down even for good pay citing they cannot manage the technical aspect of the files, the video cameras and the mixing as well as a venue outside a studio. Giving a premier presents its own set of difficulties (renting a hall, insurance, programs, publicity, rehearsals, etc.) It's a huge undertaking I am finding out and I wouldn't wish this kind of stress on my worst enemy. Some people have a knack for making things happen. I hope I'm one of them.

    If you have any other thoughts please fire them my way. I'm very good at listening to advice. Thanks much, again.

    J Joe Townley

    Gav Brown said:

    Hi J Joe,
    Yes, it’s worth it, though I would suggest picking 2 of the works, rather than all of them, to start. Your music has polish and is well put together, and that’s enough to justify the effort (I will get to what I think of it as a ‘work of art’ in a minute). Another reason it’s worth it is that it is extremely hard to get a good sense of vocals with swooshy computer sounds, you really need to hear a human sing it to know if it works. This a refrain I hear on every board I am on or have been on when a vocal work is posted.

    Artistically, my opinion only, this sounds like things I have heard before, that is to say, you are not extending the literature. If it is your goal to write decent-sounding waltzes in a familiar style, then you have achieved that goal. I could certainly see a commercial application for this, perhaps in a children’s Halloween show. In the end, whatever your goals ultimately are, I think you are far enough along to take it to the next step.

    Best to you and thanks for sharing your music with us!
    Gav
    Ghostly Waltzes Op 3 Would Appreciate Any And All Opinions, Critiques, etc.
    I'm debating whether to spend good money to put on my work 5 Ghostly Waltzes for Female Choir,
  • Sure J Joe, 

    Be in touch in a bit with recommendations -

    Gav

  • Hi Colin

    Thanks so much for taking the time to give me some extremely pertinent observations about the music and the scores. Re being able to read the score: if you go to the bottom right of the screen on the video and click on the "Settings" pinwheel it will give you the option to go to High-Def. Click on that. Then go to the "full screen" option on the same little toolbar and that should bring the notes into full focus. 

    Actually the first waltz started out as a slow movement for my Piano Concerto No 2 without the choir and then I realized the piece was too "programmatic' to fit the absolute style of the concerto so I yanked it and then began writing a few waltzes to make a separate work out of it, later getting the idea to add the choir to give it that more "spooky" feeling. Whether I succeeded or not we'll see, based on how the YouTube public takes to it. Interesting that there are a couple of commercial composers on YouTube who made a damn good living cranking out all kinds of "supernatural" style short compositions: ghost, faery, fantasy, epic hero, ethnic, etc. They are Derek and Brandon Fiechter and Peter Gundry and they have amassed a huge following--big enough that they can successfully commercialize their work and get paid by google for it. Of course this is a little off topic since I am not one of those style of composers and hence cannot possibly get the kind of following they have.

    I hear what you are saying about the quality of the audio. The Notion program is good for the price $199 but to achieve that really excellent sound one has to jump up to Vienna or EWQL and those run north of about 8K depending on the package of sounds. I've tried to DL Finale's test run but they do not include the Garritan library--that's too bad, that's what makes Finale I understand. Sibelius I don't care for at all. 

    I addressed my difficulties in trying to get this performed in my response to Gav above. Needless to say, it's a bear--much more difficult than the actual writing of the music. 

    Thanks much for your feedback, Colin. Great advice. 

    J Joe Townley



    Colin Dougall said:

    Hi Joe

    I've listened to the first three of the waltzes - I'm definetely a fan of waltzes and by extension what I've just heard from you. I have to say I'm not a fan of the voices and I tuned them out and concentrated on the rest instead. I didn't hear enough of the orchestra - I thought the piano hogged too much of the action to the detriment of the stings and winds etc. I had a look at the score but couldn't make out the instrumentation or much of the rest due the the poor resolution.

    Apropos Gav's comments, I'm guessing that by "extending the literature" he means coming up with a new take on scary waltzes (or waltzes in general) and taking them in a completely new direction. Whether or not yours extends the literature, it does at least add to it. (I've had a quick listen to Shostakovich's Waltz No. 2 - while this is a thumpingly good waltz, for all its brilliance I don't think it extends the literature either so I wouldn't beat myself up on that score).

    As to spending you hard earned on it, I'm not so sure the current sound quality of the work would come close to matching a good live female choir and might suffer greatly from the comparison. 

    Thanks fro posting, Colin

    Ghostly Waltzes Op 3 Would Appreciate Any And All Opinions, Critiques, etc.
    I'm debating whether to spend good money to put on my work 5 Ghostly Waltzes for Female Choir, Piano & Orchestra. As I cannot hire a pianist and or…
  • Hi J Joe,

    I would suggest #5 in addition to the first one. Saw something from you about a post being deleted - you can do this and I can do this. I am pretty careful, but it is possible I could have removed something accidentally, if so, sorry!

    Gav

  • Thanks for that recommendation, Gav. What happened was my response was there, then it wasn't, then it was back. May be i need glasses but it appears to be there now for good. 

    Gav Brown said:

    Hi J Joe,

    I would suggest #5 in addition to the first one. Saw something from you about a post being deleted - you can do this and I can do this. I am pretty careful, but it is possible I could have removed something accidentally, if so, sorry!

    Gav

    Ghostly Waltzes Op 3 Would Appreciate Any And All Opinions, Critiques, etc.
    I'm debating whether to spend good money to put on my work 5 Ghostly Waltzes for Female Choir, Piano & Orchestra. As I cannot hire a pianist and or…
  • Good news!
  • Hi  Ingo and thanks for your input. Yes, I must have gotten Colin's post confused with yours because I answered your questions in his post to me. Good software like Vienna is outrageously expensive 8-12K but Miroslav is very reasonably at $500 and Garritan is even better priced than Notion6 which I used and which was $199 but Garritan is 149. A few people have mentioned they use Finale which I assume has the Garritan library in it but Garritan seems to have split off on its own. At any rate I question whether any of these are any better than the Notion 6 for those prices.

    As to the concerto, the 1st waltz is not a part of the Concerto No 2 anymore. I removed it since the character of a "ghostly" waltz didn't fit the character of a serious piano concerto. That video score of the concerto is 2015 before I removed it but the other 3 movements remained essentially the same. 

    As to proceeding I am trying but there are roadblocks galore: contacting high school music departments is a waste of time; the choir directors never return my calls--they don't seem interested at all in doing a premiere. Ditto the same for university choirs. Private groups don't want to take on the responsibility of handling the technical side even for a good fee. Advertising for individual singers to form a group presents its own problems in that I have to find a good director and sound crew. It was easier writing the waltzes than it is getting them performed. I wonder if other members have run into the same problems trying to get their music played other than by close friends.  

    Ingo Lee said:

    Hi Joe, I enjoyed what I heard here, I did only listen to one walz (time is short).  Your writing and orchestration are very good and the concept of piano concerto with choir doing cinematic music is new to me at least.  The music itself is not new but I did like it.

    You might want to consider some different approaches. You can do better soundwise with higher quality virtual samples I think although those are expensive also.  To have a live choir against weaker samples being rerecorded will not give a good result in my opinion.  Maybe assemble a small choir equipped with headphones and have them overdub to the accompaniment and then carefully mix the result.  In any event better samples should be considered here.

    I would say proceed with this since the music is good.  But you need to do more research on your available options as they are many and complex and the results will vary widely based on your choices.

    Ghostly Waltzes Op 3 Would Appreciate Any And All Opinions, Critiques, etc.
    I'm debating whether to spend good money to put on my work 5 Ghostly Waltzes for Female Choir, Piano & Orchestra. As I cannot hire a pianist and or…
This reply was deleted.