Introduction

Hello to all!  I just joined the forum yesterday and wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Greg, I'm 47, and I've been composing since college.  Although I majored/minored in history and philosophy, I did take a number of advanced music courses in college with a beloved professor who took an interest in my passion for classical music.  Other than that, I'm largely self-taught.  I've spent a lot of time studying scores and listening to the masterworks.  I never mastered an instrument, though I can play a little piano. My main interest has always been composition.

Because life took me in certain directions, I never did anything formally with my musical interests, and I must admit I do have some regrets about that.  But I have to say I've been lucky to have a job doing meaningful work in the community that has also allowed me a lot of time and flexibility over the years to compose.  

I've written 3 symphonies, 2 piano concertos, a harpsichord concerto, variations and fugue for orchestra, and a lot of other miscellaneous single-movement pieces.  I love composing for the orchestra!  I know, I know -- that lowers the chance of my stuff ever getting performed.  But I can't help it, I just love it.  I've been a little slow to get these into score format, but do have my 2 piano concertos and 3rd symphony scored and audio files (Finale electronic "performances") of them that I can share.  It's hard to describe my style; I do try to write accessible music -- tonal, with transparent structures.  I'm not interested in originality for originality's sake, though I do strive not to "sound like" other composers.  The word of the day when I was in college in the 90s was "derivative" -- the last thing you wanted to be was derivative.  And they really drilled that into my head because it's always at the forefront of my thoughts when I'm composing.  Sometimes I fear I've lifted some melody from another composer subconsciously.  But I suppose almost all composers (and artists of any kind) struggle with that.  At the end of the day, I do this mainly for the joy of it.  I experience a unique "high" when I compose -- it's unlike any other fulfillment I've ever felt.  I don't know if my music is any good, or if it has any value beyond the pleasure I get out of writing it, but I keep doing it because I feel that I have no other choice.  It's an insatiable hunger.  I'm sure many of you have similar feelings.    

I mainly wanted to join the forum so that I could meet others who have a passion for musical composition.  Unfortunately, my small circle of friends in the real world does not include anyone who's involved with music to any great extent.   I've been content all these years working in isolation, but now I'm really wanting to make connections.  I think artists need to connect with their creative peers so they can share ideas, give feedback, and be supportive of one another.  I believe it inspires and nourishes the soul to do so.  I'm happy to do my part.

Anyhow, enough of my rambling.  I'm glad to be here and look forward to some interaction.

 

Greg           

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Replies

  • Hi Greg --- welcome and I look forward to hearing some of your work. If you have something to say or some strong feelings to express, your music is unlikely to be derivative even if it might seem to be broadly based on the classical tradition. Anyway, I know what you say about a high when composing. For my first 15 years or so, it was a matter of total indifference whether anyone else liked my music or not and it's only more recently when one or two composers I admire started to praise some of my stuff that I thought about seeing whether others outside my immediate circle might be interested. As the chances of an amateur getting an orchestral work performed (especially by a professional orchestra) are not high, the ever improving standards of virtual instruments is becoming a real boon and has greatly increased the pleasure I have of listening to both my own music and that of others with talent.

    • Thanks for the response, David!  The encouragement is greatly appreciated.  You're right about the quality of virtual instruments nowadays.  I remember when I used to use Cakewalk's standard MIDI sounds played through a digital piano.  It left a lot to be desired!  My setup now is not as sophisticated as others, but I get decent results using the Garritan Orchestra sounds with Finale software.  

      Regarding the issue of being derivative -- I do try not to think about it too much.  I just write what I write and I'll let others judge the merits of my work.  Though I do think there are some objective standards we can use to evaluate musical compositions, I believe it's a largely subjective enterprise, so I'm not one who gets offended when someone criticizes my work.  I enjoy all constructive criticism and substantive feedback.

      With that said, I look forward to hearing some of your work too.  Do have some links, or is there a spot on the website where members upload their stuff?

       

         

      • For me, Garritan, which was very popular 15-20 years, ago is now pretty dated but if you're still happy then fine -- there are still those who swear by it. Alternatives include NotePerformer which has the merit of being easy to use and giving a good clear orchestral sound picture, and starter libraries from VSL or the Spitfire BBC Core for instance (both companies currently have a sale). As far as I know, most people just link their compositions directly from one of the main forum sections like this "Music Analysis and Critique". The first work I posted can be found on the thread below if you're interested.

        https://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/latest-symphony-for-au...

        I'd suggest listening to it however, assuming you have quite a bit of time to spare, from my Reelcrafter link here https://play.reelcrafter.com/dko22/symphonies  The 14th symphony was the work in discussion (though you can listen to whatever you like).

        latest symphony for audition
        I have to start somewhere and decided my latest completed work is as good a place as any. This symphony unfortunately also happens to be my longest w…
        • I haven't had a chance to listen to your music yet, but it is on my to-do list.  Thank you for the recommendations and links.  I want to listen and comment on some other composers' work here before posting my own -- especially since I received the Noteperformer recommendation.  I tried it out and liked it so much that I bought it.  It's definitely superior to Garritan in my estimation (though I do like certain aspects of Garritan, such as the winds and the piano).  I need to rework some of my pieces as a result of gaining a different perspective on the orchestration of certain passages.      

  • Hi Greg, welcome to CF.  I look forward to hearing your music and I hope you are able to get some responses from members here.  We have a problem here with members who are happy to post and discuss their own works but are unwilling to comment on the work of others.  Management is reluctant to make commenting a requirement and I understand that and I support Gavin in everything he has done to keep CF going but it is a problem that we have.

    Finale is an excellent program and the renderings are certainly usable for demonstration purposes. You might consider trying the NotePerformer plugin which has a free trial offer. A number of us here like the results we get with NotePerformer.

    Ingo

    • Thanks, Ingo!  I want to give as much as I get here, so as time permits I will definitely listen to the works of others and try to provide some meaningful feedback.  

      I must be honest, I am a bit undereducated when it comes to the various music production tools that are out there.  I use Garritan Orchestra sounds with Finale and get pretty good results.  Eventually, I would like to upgrade to more sophisticated systems.  Thanks for the NotePerformer recommendation.  I am not familiar with that but will check it out.  

  • I'm not entirely sure what the point of the previous post was -- in general people won't comment on works which have no appeal or interest to them as it's unlikely they would have anything positive to contribute. If there are those who only post their own stuff and never comment on anything else -- well I guess every forum has one or two of those and I'm not aware this one is any better or worse. But perhaps I have only been a member a fairly short time and don't yet know how things are.

    • I tend to support Ingo, given the title of the forum section. We've had a few 'drive-through' posters many of whom don't even say thanks when receiving comment. I reveiwed several works before posting my first one. More recently I counted giving 10 reviews/comments/critiques while I received none or very few (I can't remember) on the one work I submitted. Ok, my music is difficult but I hoped for perhaps a little better than that! I now only review works from members who have reviewed mine, exceptionally I'll comment on something that astonishes me regardless!

  • Welcome from me, Gregory. No problem about being "self-taught". Some of the biggest name composers were self taught. Far from that league, so was I, ditching a college that seemed more like a creative prison but having private lessons with a couple of mentors. Music as self-expression seemed miles away from learning procedures and aiming to get marks for exams. University courses in composition are an outright swindle to me! 

    I'm certainly passionate about composing - still work initially on paper - the DAW is useful to experiment and afjust scoirng. So my process is - paper + piano or organ "try out" - transcribe to DAW  - and when things sound right, to notation software for engraving. (Only recently acquired notation software. Until then I wrote out my scores by hand).

    So here's looking forward to hearing some of your work.

    All the best.

     

    • Thanks, Dane, for the warm welcome!  I love your compositional process!  When I began composing I did everything by hand and had a very cheap keyboard where I would "try out" the sounds.  When I finally invested in a computer (late 90s) I used Cakewalk and the standard MIDI sounds it offered, and that was my process for two decades until I upgraded to Finale and the Garritan sounds.  Now, thanks to the recommendation from a couple of members here, I use the Noteperformer plug-in and am very happy with the results.

      I look forward to hearing some of your music as well.  I've decided based on some of the comments here that I'm going to listen and give feedback on others' work before posting my own music (plus I need to rework some of it now that I have Noteperformer!).  I want to give as much as I get from this forum.  I know how valuable it has been for me to receive feedback (positive or negative) from other composers and musicians in the past, so I want to provide that service to others.    

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