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I am posting this here for several reasons. One, no one has posted here yet, so somebody has to be first. Two, the length of the piece (16 minutes) means few will listen to it the whole way, and those that do should not feel an obligation to comment on it (or at least, to critique it). Three, although I know of only a handful of composers whose work could not be improved upon, and it's safe to say that none of them are on this forum, I am happy with the piece as is, while knowing it could of course be improved on. And I may even do so someday. But for now, I'm happy to share it.

Le Rocher Perce refers to a gigantic piece of Earth's crust which broke off from the Quebec Gaspe Peninsula millions of years ago. I visited there many years ago, and decided to write a kind of travelogue to the trip. It is highly impressionistic; in fact programmatic. I therefore have written an extensive program or guide, so the listener can refer to it as he or she listens. The link will take you to my website. The audio player and guide are both on the same page. 

If you make it to the end, you may think the piece has ended before it actually does. But it ain't over until the tuba sings, or toots, or whatever tuba players do. You will be back on the boat at that point, feeling the engines throb as you leave, and the tuba blast will signal your departure, as well as the end of the trip.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!

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I did listen to the entire piece; enjoyed it.

And I'll refrain from comment.....except to say the last few minutes definitely had something Debussy about them.

As stated in my introduction to the piece on my website, the Debussy references were intentional. there are several quotes or paraphrases from La Mer. I should have made that clear here as well. People could get the wrong idea.

also, although this sub-forum is not supposed to be about improvements, inevitably I see the need to make some alterations in the overall sound. I used too much compression, and although it sounds nice on my computer speakers, you can't hear some of the subtle percussion in places. so I guess I'll have to work on it a little more.

Thanks for listening.


Very nice extended work here Michael, it held my interest and I enjoyed it. You have good sounds and orchestration and an interesting style which seems to blend impressionism with some folk and romantic elements. It's very difficult to structure a longer piece and we your listeners don't always have time to appreciate the artistry here but listening is time well spent. Thank you for posting.

Thanks Ingo. The folk element was important in this piece. I used a Bandoneon (aka Tango Accordion) in a few spots, to signify the French Canadian element. They use that instrument in their folk music (although its primary association is with Argentina of course). I also used it for the section where seabirds (they were primarily Gannets) are soaring above the Rock. The nasal qualities of that instrument helped add to the effect; English Horn was not enough. Also, it's in the "side trip" to Quebec City. It adds a carnival-like effect to the music.

Glad you enjoyed it. I'm continuing to try to improve the sound. Last night I think I discovered that the right channel is weak, which may be why some of the percussion, like triangle and soft cymbals, are almost nonexistent. This is puzzling, since both faders are set equally. Makes me worry that my hearing loss is not confined only to high frequencies.

Well, I have just finished listening to your "Le Rocher Perce," all through, right to the last note. No way am i going to "critique" it here, as I know you do not wish that (and I actually don't really like doing that much anyway) but just want to say how much me, (and my husband who was listening in) have enjoyed it.

I hope you will accept my positive comments here, because I just want to say, as I would to any composer, how much i enjoyed their work. I would love to hear this in a concert hall, so please let us know if / when it might be performed one day.

I could really feel i was on the sea, or at the foot of that giant piece of rock. I  also really enjoyed all the programme notes, and loved the literary writing nearly as much as the music ! About to investigate your website further.

Thank you Suzanne for your very kind words. I'm so glad that you and your husband enjoyed the piece.

"About to investigate your website further."

Uh oh, I have to warn you, tread carefully. I recently discovered that most of my recent projects were done with incorrect sub-woofer settings. As a result, depending on what kind of speakers you listen with, they may sound OK, or they may sound terrible! I've been trying some quick fixes, but it's going to take time. most of the stuff there will need a downward volume adjustment. Three Winter Scenes, on the other hand, is an older mix, but it suffers from another defect, namely the strings are weak. I'm currently revising "Skating" and will post that on my site hopefully fairly soon. 

Creating the music itself is much easier than getting it to sound good. My talents, like probably most here, are more in the composing realm. Sound engineering is quite another thing!

We completely sympathise ! I use Sibelius, and the strings are ALWAYS  pretty bad.... although not as bad as the clarinets (flutes quite reasonable) I cannot even get a timp roll which does cause problems. No, I agree, it is definitely easier to compose than get a decent sound file. I just want an orchestra.... and a choir, as I write a lot of choral stuff. Composing at the piano: I get to hear a choir.... put on Sibelius, and i get "chipmunks" with no words....

As soon as i heard your piece, I could hear it in my head with a live orchestra, with all the natural "rounded ends to the phrases" and depth, so rest assured, we will "listen between the lines" as it were.... we do it all the time !

Good luck with all the mixing, I really hope that you can solve some of the issues, and it does not hog all your writing time... something else that annoys me....

What do you use as notation software? Is it Sibelius, or something else?

I use "Notion" for notation. It has at least par-for-the-course sounds. but I use them for proof-reading, to mix sensory modalities. A long time ago, late 90's as I recall, a guy in a music store sold me an old edition of Cakewalk home Studio. He asked me what was more important, notation or sound. I said both. I need some kind of staff view as I work with notes, but I also need decent sound, as like yourself I need my own orchestra but of course can't really have one. Cakewalk does have an excellent staff view, with the understanding that it is another tool to assist in the process of dealing with the sounds. It is definitely nowhere near to being true notation software, but it is the best DAW in terms of giving you that musical context to work in. I have tried other DAWS, but most don't even let you work with notes. Reaper has the next-best staff view for DAWS. People rave about Cubase's staff view, but it is much more cumbersome to work in, although the notation aspect of it is the best in DAW world.

Oh, thanks, always interesting to know what others use. I set out with Sibelius, as was told it could read 70% from a scan of pre- exiting well-handed-copied music. I simply wanted to get all my scores in a format that could be easily reproduced without marching to a photocopier. It did not pick up even 5% of my copied music, that many actually mistook for printing. Still, it came in handy for copying out newly written piano music and choral scores (composed at the piano) Now I do write directly to it for instrumental / orchestral, and for almost- finished choral scores. I need the detail of the staff notation, so put up with the rubbish aural sounds. At least I can record the piano music myself..... but still awaiting that orchestra and choir....

My husband uses "Garriton Personal Orchestra, (strings quite realists)"but has now, for some reason lost the ability to connect the GPO with playback from Sib. scores.... hey ho.....

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