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Hi everyone,

I'd like to share my second finished solo piano composition for your feedback. I'm not new to composing, in the sense that I've always composed/improvised themes at the piano ( or in my head), but would never bother to write it down. It's only in the last couple of years that I've undertaken more "serious" composing. 

I'm a self-taught composer, and so your feedback is very valuable to assess my current skills in composition.

So, here's the video of me playing my piece entitled "Mood River" alongside the score. You will find a short description in the YouTube description section.

Please have a listen and let me know what you think.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXmqjvlD_5c

You can also find the score at: 

https://musescore.com/user/25828516/scores/6605352

Thank you very much !

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Hi Sahir,

This piece came across to me as “noodling,” which is to say not so much a composition as a pianist showing their chops on the instrument. As you indicated you are new to composing and interested in our take on it, I offer you the following thoughts with only the intent to offer guidance, not as merely negative remarks. So I hope you will take these comments in the spirit I intend them, which is only to help -

1) the piece has no structure, which is to say no defined beginning, leading with forward motion and development towards an end. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means that in order to appreciate the piece, we have to listen to it in its own context. The only measure of whether the piece is successful in its own context is if we enjoy listening to it and can appreciate it for what it is. I felt this piece just introduced a lot of unrelated unconnected musical ideas and so there was nothing for me to grasp onto as it went along and I was not able to maintain interest.

2) you obviously are a good pianist and a lot of the sections of the piece show that skill - a good thing, but a piece needs more than a good performance of a difficult passage to be truly a composition rather than a display of technical skill

3) your chords I felt were the strongest parts of the piece, they are fresh and at times, lovely. The “runs” I felt were weaker, they didn’t in my estimation add much to the piece and are similar to things I have heard before.

If I were to condense all of the above into a single suggestion, I would say you might consider taking a different approach than you have taken here: keep the chords you have and try to write a simple melody line that fits over them all. Some composers don’t focus on melody, if that’s you, then I offer a different suggestion: take the runs and write a short piece which is only runs from beginning to end, put your chords in there somewhere, but never stop the runs. 

Best to you and thanks for posting!

Gav

Hi Gavin,

Firstly, Thanks for your very detailed feedback . And I assure you nothing you said will by taken negatively. I do think its highly unfortunate ( for me ! ) that all you could perceive here was " an intention to show off".  While the piece is undoubtedly hard ( and actually it was very very hard for me to learn it to a decent level, and I'm still not completely happy with the final level, but I had to move on at some point ! ),  but I have not written a single note of this with the intention of purely showing off. ( Which by the way even composers like Ravel and Prokofiev are known to do, so not necessarily a bad thing if one did that ! ) .   I say this as I have made sure there are broad, and what I would describe as very simple melodic lines all throughout the piece.  Infact another person ( on a different forum) told me they liked "the simplicity of my melodies".  So your remark is confusing to me in that respect. Perhaps the melodies got overshadowed by the almost constant figurations, and I will consider that in future pieces. 

Secondly, I was 100% sure of receiving the criticism in your first bullet point  regarding form and development. Unlike the first "official" piece that I wrote and posted here too,  I was aiming at a very different kind of piece here.  I wasn't going for any kind of traditional western form/development.  I wanted to take themes that may sound different and unconnected and create smooth transitions and create a sense of "one directional flow without looking back". Ofcourse, its possible I failed in that task.  I do understand though that if one is expecting anything like traditional form, themes, development, variations, recapitulations etc , this piece is not going to satisfy them.  And that's ok . I can't please everyone :)  .

Your second bullet point goes back to me trying to show off.  As mentioned, virtuosity for the sake of virtuosity is of very little interest to me. In the music I listen, and also the music I write/improvise.  Its interesting to note though  that there's stories regarding  ( just as an example ) when Ravel started off writing Gaspard de la Nuit,  he mentioned wanting to deliberately compose something harder than Islamey.  Yet, I don't think the virtuosity is there is for its own sake in his masterpiece. I am by no means comparing by humble attempt to anything composed by the great master ( and ofcourse his piece is just perfect in every possible way), but my point just being the "urge" to show off sometimes can be present in even the best :D.

I am glad you liked my chords though. It would be nice ofcourse if you gave it another hearing and tried to hear the broad and extremely simple ( sometimes childishly simple and easily hummable) melodies that accompany the complex figurations.  But ofcourse, if you didn't think its good enough for a second chance, that's totally ok :) .

While I am obviously refuting some of your critiques, I am by no means dismissing them. All feedback is valuable. It gives me something to work on.  And , while its unfortunate you didn't like this, I still thank you for the time you took to give me such detailed feedback.  

Thanks again ! 

Hi Sahir -  I do like this piece, I think you have all of the elements here for great music although there are things you can do to improve it IMHO.  Your playing is certainly top notch, nothing lacking there!  Harmonically, melodically and even formally I think you are doing very well. Rhythmically you have some excellent features but I think you are relying too much on fast arpeggios.  Those are wonderful at times and you do some nice variations but still there is a sameness here, especially from mm 70-100 where there is a rougher more repetitive form featuring the bouncing left hand that goes on too long. Your music is good enough to work very well without the continual rapidity.  I think if you focus on that you can do even better.

Your waltz came on as I was writing this and it is excellent.  You have some dynamic extremes that might be a bit much for this short of a piece, again I will say that you are a good enough composer to not have to be a great pianist. How about doing some orchestral work?

Thank you Ingo, for your very pointed feedback. I will definitely give more thought to your points talking about a possible over reliance on arpeggios ( is that mostly in the first couple minutes you're talking about ? ), and the sameness you mention in mm 70-100.   And I'm also glad that you liked my waltz despite it being flawed  ( as is my current piece, I'm sure ).  Regarding orchestral work, I just started teaching myself orchestration last year using some of my favourite scores by the likes of Ravel, Stravinsky, Debussy, etc and Sam Adler's book.   The only thing I may have done in the past with more than just the piano is create pieces with superimposed layers on my digital piano.  Orchestration is a complex craft, and I certainly want to get to the point soon where I could write good orchestral music, but it might take a while !  

Ingo Lee said:

Hi Sahir -  I do like this piece, I think you have all of the elements here for great music although there are things you can do to improve it IMHO.  Your playing is certainly top notch, nothing lacking there!  Harmonically, melodically and even formally I think you are doing very well. Rhythmically you have some excellent features but I think you are relying too much on fast arpeggios.  Those are wonderful at times and you do some nice variations but still there is a sameness here, especially from mm 70-100 where there is a rougher more repetitive form featuring the bouncing left hand that goes on too long. Your music is good enough to work very well without the continual rapidity.  I think if you focus on that you can do even better.

Your waltz came on as I was writing this and it is excellent.  You have some dynamic extremes that might be a bit much for this short of a piece, again I will say that you are a good enough composer to not have to be a great pianist. How about doing some orchestral work?

Sahir -  I don't want to leave you with the impression that either of your works is "flawed" because I certainly don't see them that way.  They are well done and enjoyable and maybe I should just say "Wow that's great!" and leave it at that. But I assume you are coming here to get encouragement, but also to look for ways to improve. I'm not a professional composer or distinguished critic that can hand out golden nuggets of knowledge but I try to make constructive suggestions and I hope you will do the same for me when I post music. 

Ingo, please do not worry about that. You're right that I came here for encouragement but also ways to improve. And I think you gave me valuable feedback. I would think my pieces are flawed, regardless of what you had said.  It would be too arrogant to think they're perfect haha !   Ofcourse a "wow that's great" always fees good, but it leaves me with little information on what people are thinking about the merits ( or lack thereof) of the piece.  So, I'm glad you gave me more detailed feedback and rest assured, I would gladly do the same for you ( that is, if I could consider myself good enough to give any advice here).  

Hi Sahir,

Those trills in the opening seconds and I knew it was going to be yet another masterful display of dancing keys! Truly brilliant. I'm becoming a fan.

All the best

Thanks ! Glad you liked it :) 

Tarun Prajapat said:

Hi Sahir,

Those trills in the opening seconds and I knew it was going to be yet another masterful display of dancing keys! Truly brilliant. I'm becoming a fan.

All the best

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