Hello all,

I've just begun studying composition at university, and I'm trying to get a good footing. I've composed many small pieces and themes, but this is one of my first slightly longer, fleshed out pieces. It's written for 2 oboes, flute, harp, chimes, and strings. I was trying to evoke a mysterious, lydian feel, as if arriving on an alien planet for the first time.

What do you think? How can I improve as a composer based on this work? What do you think are the strong points of the composition, and what needs the most work? I'm very new to formal composition, any and all critique is welcome.

- Sam Powys -

Foreign World.m4a

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  • Sam, you may get better luck with an MP3, which is what we ask members to post anyway. Pretty much everybody can listen to an MP3. You can create an MP3 here: http://media.io

  • plays fine here. does convey the image you suggested. strong points are good sound overall, nice trade offs of theme between instruments, nice harmonic changes, holds together nicely overall. criticisms (and these are just my personal reactions) are 1) think the main theme needs to be more interesting (I kept getting the feeling that this was a fragment of a longer theme that would come out later in the composition), 2) might consider adding another layer of sound, maybe some quiet pizzicato strings to add another dimension and give more movement. nice beginning, hope you keep working on it

  • Hi Sam,
    I think you did very well for a rookie.
    "... I was trying to evoke a mysterious, lydian feel, as if arriving on an alien planet for the first time..."
    My one term of music theory formal education is not going to be able to give you any help in how to become a better composer.
    However, I will say that I enjoyed listening to the piece.
    From your description I was wanting to hear a bit more dissonance, i.e. arriving on an alien planet for the first time.  Hey, but maybe you've visited nicer ones than I have. ;)
    The only other thing I can add is that if you want to evoke emotion from the listener, you need to find a way to increase the over all volume of the piece so that the listener can hear all of the nuances that you are trying to create.
    Have fun here.
    ciao, Dan

  • Thank you to those who have replied, your responses are incredibly valuable to me and I'm looking at ways to apply them all in updating the piece to it's full potential.

    For those who are having trouble listening to it, I'm working on changing parts and adding parts, as well as properly doing some mixing/mastering, and when I finish I will make sure to upload it as an mp3 format instead of mp4.

    Thank you all!

  • Hi Sam, Congrats- I think you've accomplished exactly what you intended.

    Ever since ET(the movie), alien now doesn't have to equate fear and death

    to the masses. The 'mysterious' was subtle and the use of a small ensemble

    was very well done to my ear. I really enjoyed this, keep up the good work.  RS

  • It came across to me as a good tonal piece, but also as part of a longer movement.

    Have you consider continuing?

    In that case my advise would be that before you set yourself the task to write programmatic music "arriving in unknown planets" etc, you should study more some techniques of absolute music composition.

    Some previous commentator said something about introducing passing notes and making the strings more busy, I think, and I agree that the element of dissonance is very important to keep the interest going. Also some cleverly done elementary but permanent modulation to a different key would strengthen it in terms of structure.

    Without a pdf file having the actual dots you write I find it hard to follow it more closely. If you resubmit it, please provide one of those.

    Of course all this is only my opinion and your artistic aims may have been quite different in the first place which is fine, so don’t give it more weight than it has.

    Anyhow, I've enjoyed it quite well, Keep it up!

  • Hi, Sam...

    Congratulations on your piece.

    Very pleasant to listen to.  However I found myself waiting for a climactic moment... a point where there is an emotional shift in the song.  Otherwise, excellent effort.  I can imagine this piece being used as part of a film or episodic television soundtrack.  

    I look forward to hearing more.


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