It's my first post on these forums here, thanks for having me. :)
I joined to get myself back into the groove of composing (I have not touched it in over a year), and as means of being more responsible/accountable for it. I think I do an okay job sometimes, but without a medium or audience to share/discuss there's little to motivate someone to write (unless your Alkan).
This here is a work I started a few years ago; I remember sharing it with my composition teacher (who I no longer have) and he dismissed it as being too demanding, and pastiche. I guess to some extent he was correct in that it is pastiche, but I still want to finish it, and I want to gain more experience on how to approach problems like these in the future. I have a problem with never truly finishing a piece, although if something is pushing me to do so I somehow find a way (even if it's not a good way).
This was modeled after one of Chopin's Scherzos (structure wise), the name is a little tacky but I can't think of a title. There's a few spots in the score where I just can't figure out a simple and effective way to move from one section to another (I marked it in the score). The A section is Eb minor, the B section is E major, returning to A.
Is the work playable? Are there any issues in the notation that may cause a problem? Do you think there's too many ideas?
Thanks for having me, I look forward to absorbing more knowledge while I'm here ^^
I liked it. I am not an expert on Scherzos. To say the least. I thought that there was a small bit at about 6:00 that seemed to lose its way/drift. But from about 6:30 onwards things were right again.
I usually ignore comments about being pastiche, unless the work in question is an actual, literal cut-and-paste from one or more external sources.
As for the name, if you're unsure what to call it, "Fantasia" usually works. :-P
Now, as for the music itself: I actually quite liked it. It has its moments of melancholy, wild bursts of energy, lyricism, and lots of dynamic contrasts, just like a Chopin scherzo. I didn't see anything obviously unplayable, though the fast consecutive chords, e.g., mm.27-29, could pose a challenge to execute effectively. But they don't look like anything a concert pianist can't handle -- I've seen piano concertos far more demanding than this. (Or Liszt's Transcendental Etudes, for that matter. If you didn't write anything harder than those, then you're probably OK. :-P) You might need a virtuoso pianist to play it, but it can be done, AFAICT.
Now, as for the comments you put in the score:
- mm.52-57: I don't feel that the B major was "unprepared" at all. It's a new section, and sudden transitions aren't exactly unattested across section boundaries. True, there is a trend toward blurring section boundaries by having smooth transitional passages, but this isn't strictly necessary. See, for example, the Bruckner symphonies, where sections are juxtaposed next to each other with no transition at all. But it still works.
- m.88: I didn't hear anything obviously wrong with the E major. Given that the rest of the piece has sections with pretty modern harmonies, I don't think you need to be overly concerned with this particular chord. At any rate, it doesn't stick out to my ears at all, so it's probably OK.
- mm.97-99: I think the return you have right now works just fine. Ending on Bb is just the right thing to transition back to Eb minor. Again, if you listen to Bruckner symphonies, you'll find he often has no transition between sections at all. By contrast, here you actually have a transitional passage that's actually quite well-linked to the return of the main theme, so I think you have nothing to worry about.
Overall, I think it's a pretty decent composition. Good work, and thanks for posting it here!
Thanks everyone for the feedback, I really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your thoughts.
I guess I was overthinking too much, or had tunnel vision when hearing those small sections - it's a relief to hear the composition is not broken :P
I know what you mean with Bruckner's symphonies, perhaps I'm biased but whenever he switches to a new section (like in the 9th Symphony Scherzo) it feels very convincing, where as here it feels haphazard, although it could be that a concert pianist would know how to connect the passage to make it feel as one whole (so perhaps this is the lack of a musician playing thats the problem, and not the score). Appreciate the detailed feedback!
I may post more music, as I have a lot of other works that are kicking dust, but without spamming the forums
I enjoyed many moments in this. Stand out for me was the writing from bar 10 on. It has a wonderful natural Schubert-esque quality to it and is a memorable theme. I wont go on as HS did a good appraisal. However I think you should slow it a bit to make it a little less manic in places and more playable. Programme in some rubato too, you don't have to be a slave to the computer. Sorry to say though I did not like some of the more quirky transitions, simply because you have a lovely theme, pregnant with possibilities which are not exploited fully. Still I am a stick in the mud sometimes....
A very enjoyable romantic piece. Quite difficult but not unplayable.
Personally I enjoyed the Lento section the most. The melody is delightful, and the C# resolving to C natural, is a nice melodic line with the following four bars, down to the E. Nice harmonic progression.
Keep up the great work and thank you for posting.
Appreciate your honest thoughts on this (perhaps I wasn't crazy at all after all) - I think slowing it down maybe 5-7 beats may make things more manageable for a pianist to play this, but I'm not sure where I would program rubato in - are there particular places where you feel rubato would be good?
I agree that the theme was not explored fully, it came by accident when trying to create a short melodic phrase that had the motif built in, I never anticipated it would become so important. however if I choose to expand on it, the work would surely extend another 3-4 minutes (and it's already around 8 minutes in length) - I don't know if many pianists would be willing to put in the effort to learn a 12 minutes work.
Thanks for the feedback, nice to know the lento section was not boring ^^
Aaron Goold said:
No not yet - I networked with my boss (who used to be a composer) with some of his composer/musician friends to see if I can get some feedback on some of my scores. I'm not sure how accepting faculty at university would be for a guy who never went to university for music (I still have this impression/fear of elitism whenever I'm around a university) so I haven't bothered asking.
Re the rubato, it was a general suggestion to get away from the monotony of a computer beat. Your music is very expressive even as is and it would be enhanced emotionally with a players interpretation programmed in. I don't think 5-7 beats reduction in tempo is enough, in fact that will be hardly noticeable, try reducing BPM by around15 for the fast passages, maybe that'll work just enough to make it practicable and satisfy your musical needs too. Do you play? If so do you input into a DAW? I ask, because sometimes I will play something in to my DAW at a slower tempo (but fast enough to retain a sense of performance!) and not quantise the track. Then speed up to the desired tempo.
Whatever you do, it's still an impressive piece of writing and in my book, developing a good idea into a 12 minute piece is not a problem to listen to nor for a pro player to play, provided the music is good enough.