Qualia for Piano

Well, here's my first post on this forum - hope to hear some different critiques/comments on this piece. This was composed as a competition piece for a solo piano contest. In four movements, all in the same file:


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=681134&songID=6910187

c. 17'

i. The Synesthete - opens with 10 distinct motives, representing what a non-synesthete (me) imagines a synesthete might 'hear' when thinking about numerals. I should also note that, throughout, there is the unifying relationship between Ab and G - in ALL the motives, quite obviously in the first 'allegro', and, consequently, in all subsequent developments of each motive.

ii. The Epiphany - a somewhat spacier movement, representing that feeling of having (and subsequently losing) that epiphanic moment. In this movement, there is a 'chord', which gets shifted around and transposed throughout.

iii. The Enjoyment of Life - a movement which completely disregards MOST of the material before it and provides a contrast, merely for enjoyment.

iv. The Experience of Qualia - a short 'recapitulation' of several themes from the first two movements.


Hope you enjoy!

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Replies

  • Well, then all I can say is 'Thank God for the program note' lol.

    Zach Eaton said:
    There's an awful lot of ideas here, and I had a hard time hearing any real cohesion between them. I like the expressiveness, but musically, it does have that "calculated" feel of the numerals you seemed to be going after. So, I suppose you succeeded at what you wanted, but musically, if you hadn't said what was the motivation behind your piece, it would have left me completely stranded. The reason I say this is because while the music has some of that "left-brained" feel, there are also many passages of "right-brained" exploration (think "Bach") that makes for a mix that doesn't work for me. If you don't let your audience really know in the music that you intend this piece to be "numerical" in a blatant way, it can cause the audience to become nonchalant after a while. (And this is an awful lot of similarly themed music to take in at once...)

    I hope this criticism isn't coming across as too harsh -- there's a lot of really good ideas here, but the lack of a common ground for the listener, a recognizable motif, makes these pieces very hard for me to concentrate on and enjoy.

    I feel bad, because you've clearly put an awful lot of thought and detail into these pieces, and I can really respect and appreciate that. But I have to call them like I see them.

    So nonetheless, thank you for sharing, and I applaud you ^_^

    *claps*
  • Thank you. Honestly, I feel like it's an easy criticism to say 'too many ideas' (or in the case of a popular movie 'too many notes') - and I have a somewhat similar answer to what was given in the movie... also, note my comment (just added) about the relationship of Ab to G - if you give a second listen, you may hear the motives all start to sound similar in this way (the 8th motive actually reverses this relationship and resolves in a perfect cadence G (as part of the V of Ab) to Ab.

    Zach Eaton said:
    Jeff Cattie said:
    Well, then all I can say is 'Thank God for the program note' lol.

    Zach Eaton said:
    There's an awful lot of ideas here, and I had a hard time hearing any real cohesion between them. I like the expressiveness, but musically, it does have that "calculated" feel of the numerals you seemed to be going after. So, I suppose you succeeded at what you wanted, but musically, if you hadn't said what was the motivation behind your piece, it would have left me completely stranded. The reason I say this is because while the music has some of that "left-brained" feel, there are also many passages of "right-brained" exploration (think "Bach") that makes for a mix that doesn't work for me. If you don't let your audience really know in the music that you intend this piece to be "numerical" in a blatant way, it can cause the audience to become nonchalant after a while. (And this is an awful lot of similarly themed music to take in at once...)

    I hope this criticism isn't coming across as too harsh -- there's a lot of really good ideas here, but the lack of a common ground for the listener, a recognizable motif, makes these pieces very hard for me to concentrate on and enjoy.

    I feel bad, because you've clearly put an awful lot of thought and detail into these pieces, and I can really respect and appreciate that. But I have to call them like I see them.

    So nonetheless, thank you for sharing, and I applaud you ^_^

    *claps*

    But mayhap the judges of this competition will feel completely different than I do ^_^ I'm certainly not an authority on music, I just said what I thought personally.

    I wish you the best of luck in the competition =)
    Qualia for Piano
    Well, here's my first post on this forum - hope to hear some different critiques/comments on this piece. This was composed as a competition piece for…
  • I listened to this piece and admire the work that's gone into it.

    However as Zach says, it is incredibly dense in ideas in ideas; but then again no more so than much "modern" music. So I think that the criticism is levelled against much written in the modernist style, rather than just this work.

    Although these sorts of pieces often "challenge" the listener in some way or provoke new ideas (supposedly), the one question I'm left asking is "do you really expect people to enjoy listening to this" and if so, how ?

    ...because there's precious little for the ear to latch on to amidst this constant flurry of chords, notes and finger patterns.

    You'll probably get some "thumbs up" from those who enjoy this genre, and there are a few here.
  • Oh, I think there is so much to consider and take in within the broad term 'modernist' - this piece is far from atonal, of course, and I think it has a lot of what makes even traditional music enjoyable... there's a play between static and movement (as you might notice in passages with lots of repeated notes and rhythmic motives as opposed to those with melodic fragments and changing harmonies), there's also tension and release, and climactic moments (as in the first movement, moments before the retrograded, inverted 2nd motive at the end and before the last statement of the 10th motive). Now, if you need traditional harmony to enjoy something, I think you'd be putting yourself in a needlessly small box - although, sometimes I do that when I'm specifically going for the impression of antiquity or tradition...

    Adrian Allan said:
    I listened to this piece and admire the work that's gone into it.
    However as Zach says, it is incredibly dense in ideas in ideas; but then again no more so than much "modern" music. So I think that the criticism is levelled against much written in the modernist style, rather than just this work.Although these sorts of pieces often "challenge" the listener in some way or provoke new ideas (supposedly), the one question I'm left asking is "do you really expect people to enjoy listening to this" and if so, how ?

    ...because there's precious little for the ear to latch on to amidst this constant flurry of chords, notes and finger patterns.

    You'll probably get some "thumbs up" from those who enjoy this genre, and there are a few here.
    Qualia for Piano
    Well, here's my first post on this forum - hope to hear some different critiques/comments on this piece. This was composed as a competition piece for…
  • Not necessarily traditional harmony, but just something more for the ear to follow, be it rhythmic or even just some development of an unusual harmonic section.

    I'm not so conservative to want everything in diatonic chords, but I do need something to follow and make sense of.

    I will have a listen to your other pieces now, as I don't like being negative - maybe this style is just not for me.
  • Does a synesthete get to 'edit' their senses? I definitely wanted a density of material in this... and I find something incredibly wrong with interpreting the teaching of 'less is more' with an intolerance of a rich vocabulary and usage in music. I am by no means a minimalist... trust that the composer puts the most important things in the most important places, and I put the most important ideas in the beginning, in a quasi recitative part of the piece. Seems appropriate to me...

    Fredrick zinos said:
    Have mercy. Two, maybe three ideas are all I can handle. Edit. Be as creative at throwing things away as you are at creating them. The composer's best friend is not the computer or even the piano. Its the waste basket.

    You have some good ideas here but they get lost in the sonic smog.
    Qualia for Piano
    Well, here's my first post on this forum - hope to hear some different critiques/comments on this piece. This was composed as a competition piece for…
  • Adrian Allan said:
    You'll probably get some "thumbs up" from those who enjoy this genre, and there are a few here.

    I'm one of them. I'm not sure why others are having trouble hearing relations between the material in your piece. Quite often your piece is fairly conservative in terms of rhythmic and harmonic structure, in my opinion, as well--so there's a lot to be easily held onto.

    Nice work overall. I'd probably like it even more if I were to listen to it a number of times over a couple weeks.
    Qualia for Piano
    Well, here's my first post on this forum - hope to hear some different critiques/comments on this piece. This was composed as a competition piece for…
  • I really must applaud your piece and its intentions, Jeff--VERY NICE:)

    However in my opinion, overall it sadly doesnt work..its simply a case of the piece having no overall identity, hence no sense of direction.

    There are simply too many old, different stylistic idioms and gestures, some following each other TOO closely, that have no relation to what;s going on, or has gone on before, mixed into , and clashing with a somewhat atonal atmosphere at times.

    And for me between small sections theres sometimes not enough textural variety..-many of the sections that follow each other are same range, same kind of gestural thing, and piano register as before.
    Much of the piano writing is really nice, but the extreme ranges are neglected in my opinion.


    Ive always heard, and believed a composition--ANY composition,--must somehow be "cut from the same piece of cloth"..meaning that no matter HOW far out one might get, it all still simply, on a subconscious makes sense, and hangs together--and the piece moves forward.

    However, your piece to me is mostly more lake a bunch of uneven unmatching patches thrown together from different cloths--at times haphazardly. and that sometimes works well in spots.

    A sense of direction, of overall design. is lacking


    The piece tries to be somewhat atonal at times, and then tritely tonal at others, and this really doesnt work for me--
    I really do feel the more atonal parts work much better.

    There are also wrongly chromaticised notes throughout the piece,(usually a semitone up or down wrong) that need to be certain definite pitches so that they sound right to the ear, and make for continuity with your piece, as referring aurally to previously heard material, or auguring forthcoming new material.

    Lastly I didnt know there were movements until I read it. Those.longer silences function as awkward overlong rests, as the,material following them are more of what we've just heard.in this work..They only sound like the piece is over at those points, not that a new movement is starting.

    I would shorten these rests, and have it in one movement, four large sections., change the trite tonal stuff, and work on inserting some different textures between parts that are too similar..

    In conclusion, I honestly really do applaud your work, and effort in composing such a piece-its a far cry, from what is usually heard, and to me portends GREAT things

    And in a forum like this, when one receives the same criticism, from a great majority of the responses, to me its something to maybe look at and take a listen to..

    but in the end, its YOUR piece, and YOUR vision that should prevail.
    and the rest be damned.

    Really nice work, Jeff.:)

    Thanks Bob Morabito
  • "Lastly I didnt know there were movements until I read it. Those.longer silences function as awkward overlong rests"

    Absolutely not. You must be confusing some of the intra-movement silences with double barlines - think about the material itself, and the movements are blatantly apparent and all finish their ideas before moving on (with the exception of the last two movements, which move attacca one into the other). Understandably, I'm not concerned about the time in between movements, because all I have to say to the pianist is 'make it shorter' if it's too long - there's no notated '10 seconds'.


    Opinion appreciated - but with the staggering amount of changes you're suggesting, it's as if you're trying to make it your piece... and it doesn't try to be anything, or you'd have stated specifically what that thing was it was trying to be. I feel like you're addressing a lot, but then not complimenting all this criticism by being appropriately specific (give an example?). Allow me to at least address something you've said!
  • lol I completely don't care about any of those 'charts' features - it's just way easier to have midi samples of my music mostly in one place. Not at all after the number... in fact, the highest piece I have there is one I don't particularly care for now.

    Thanks for listening!

    Ray Kemp said:
    Jeff,

    I'm reading all that's been said here and wondering what my view would be but unfortunately, instead up uploading it here you've posted a link to soundclick. Nothing personal, but I'm not here to get music up the soundclick, myspace, reverbnation whatever chart.

    Ray

    EDIT: ah! it's on your members page, I'll listen now.
This reply was deleted.