Hello, I've been watching the Composers Forum for quite some time now, and after hearing a lot of great pieces, I finally had the guts to actually join the community and post an original piece for critique! I would love to hear what everybody's got to say with all their experience!
So, this is a new piece called Super Nova. It's sci fi themed, made with orchestral sample libraries and tries to resemble the Super Nova phenomenon; which is the "death" of a star. The star shines more than ever just before it explodes and vanishes completely, but it's light continue to irradiate for years after the explosion.
I used only two chords intentionally for the entire piece as I wanted the musical elements to really repeat themselves to exhaustion and then change little by little. That way I could build up the piece just by changing small aspects, like dynamics and variations of the ostinatos. Near the end, I tried to illustrate the successive explosions within the star by really pushing the dynamics alternating pp small passages and fff attacks.
I would really appreciate some advice and critique on orchestration, mixing and mastering, harmony (as it's poor, I know), and every little aspect that you can think of! I've been reading Adler's Study of Orchestration so I think I might improve with time, study and work! Don't be too harsh, though! I don't take rejection very well :(
Just kidding! I know you guys are nice!
Here's the video:
Hi Andre! I really like your composition. I can hear how it describes the star explosions, how the dynamic flows and everything. It's simplicity, but it is also somewhat impressive. In my opinion, perhaps you would give more bang effect at the end of the piece, just to get the tension feel more. Overall, it's really good! I wonder what libraries you used for this.
Hello! I'm very impressed. Especially with the beginning with its electronic textures. It captures the essence of the thematic background quite well. Yeah, it's simple and maybe even minimalistic but what I like is that it deals with suspense very confidently. Good work! :)
That's a really beautiful tune. I like it.
My immediate feeling about the piece is positive.
It starts out well with the various timbres: low bass rhythm, airy space electrical effect, static, high (but not too high-) pitched taps, before flutes come in. Nice use of strings to sustain and punctuate the rhythm around 1:00. Enjoyable sounds, like trumpets harmonizing with muted trumpets at about 1:18.
I like the low glissando at about 1:30.
Cymbal clash is introduced at the right time, to increase the sense of mounting tension. Although the four-note motif is repeated a great deal, harmonies vary considerably, and the orchestral coloring changes frequently enough to obviate dullness.
I have the distinct feeling, when all is said and done, that you still need what I would call “master theme” for this piece. There were several times, near the beginning, when I felt the crescendo(s) would culminate in some new and expansive theme. Not that the themes (or motives) that you have now are not good. They are. But something needs to take the piece as a whole to a greater height. I think that theme might be inherent, or lurking somewhere in the material that you have. I believe it is something bold and far-reaching and sweeping, not quite “neo-romantic,” but definitely a large melody that brings the whole piece to a different level (in about the center of the piece).
Also, I wonder about the “supernova.” This is not a mere nova, but a supernova. I think somewhere near the end, or at the end, the supernova itself, as something truly catastrophic and destructive on a grand scale, must be depicted or suggested. The cymbal clashes throughout the work only hint very dimly at the prospect of anything like a nova, much less a supernova.
I do like science fiction and science fiction film, and I hear this as if it were an actual score to a good film. I am not a fan of minimalism in music, generally, but I do like this; and I suppose I am suggesting a more expansive culminating theme, to counter the minimalistic progression of the piece as it now stands. As far as the harmony goes, I like the harmonies you have, but since a supernova is not exactly a pretty thing, some more severe dissonances, like the use of seconds or sevenths, or diminished sevenths, might be what you are looking for to broaden your palette without destroying the tonal center of the work. More departures in the form of pitch bending (as occurred with the glissando, in the beginning) may be in order.
Thanks for sharing this work.
(A friendly note, and you may want to take care of this quickly. In the guidelines, they ask you not to post your link to a youtube video, not as the main link in a music dissection post. They want you to upload an mp3 or similar sound file directly. They are very explicit about this, and threaten that they may take the piece down, if you don’t follow the procedure. They have some technical reasons, that I don’t understand. I don’t know how strict they really are about this, but I thought you might like to know. If you have the mp3 that you uploaded onto youtube, it is an easy matter to get it uploaded here. They don’t seem to mind if you use youtube videos in the subsidiary sections, where replies are.)
[P.S. I also like writing music that connects with science and science fiction. You can listen to one of mine, if you like, a piece called “Quantum Concatenations.” It wrestles with some of the problems having to do with harmony and timbre that you are dealing with, and may elucidate some of the suggestions I made above, with regard to pitch bending. See link that follows: ]
"Hi Andre! I really like your composition. I can hear how it describes the star explosions, how the dynamic flows and everything. It's simplicity, but it is also somewhat impressive. In my opinion, perhaps you would give more bang effect at the end of the piece, just to get the tension feel more. Overall, it's really good! I wonder what libraries you used for this."
Thanks for your opinions Umar! I feel the same as you about the final bangs. Maybe they weren't that strong because of the compression acting on the bass synth throughout the entire piece. I'll see if I can manage that in the future. I used LASS, Hollywoodwinds, Symphobia, Cinebrass and Elite Orchestral Percussion.
"Hello! I'm very impressed. Especially with the beginning with its electronic textures. It captures the essence of the thematic background quite well. Yeah, it's simple and maybe even minimalistic but what I like is that it deals with suspense very confidently. Good work! :)"
Thanks a lot Vladi! I really tried to push simplicity to the edge and just see what would happen. I've witnessed a very strong discussion about two chord compositions and wanted to give it a try and see for myself if they're really that poor. Turns out they can be a lot of fun!
"That's a really beautiful tune. I like it."
Thanks a lot Heiko!
Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:
Wow, that's what I call a dissection, Ondib! Thanks a lot! That is the main reason I joined the community; receiving critique and learning from it. Yeah I feel it lacks a big theme too. I tried to give that melody to the french horns at about 2:00, but I think it gets absorbed in the multitude of phrases going on; even when it goes up an octave. I remember wanting to double that hint of melody with violins I and II, but I got lazy and gave up on it, hehe. For the final bangs, those were the strongest I could get. But that's probably because of the compression, as I've made a very low bed of synths through the whole thing. I'll keep that in mind from now on. After I finished and posted it on youtube, I immediately came up with a modulation and developing of the piece; I could probably adress to your topics on it if I revisit this in the near future. Again, thanks a lot!
P.s.: I listened to your Quantum Concatenations and find it really pleasing to my ear, especially near the end when you introduce the pizzicato strings and from there on it's pure bliss. I also visited your channel and listened to your other pieces, really great work! I subscribed so I can get back and listen some more with time.
Raymond Kemp said:
I'm terribly sorry I created this situation. I got confused with the links and codes on the media window. Instead of posting the embed code from youtube, I pasted the link to the video. I'm sorry for that and have already edited the thread. Hope to have got it right.
Thank you, André, for the very kind words about "Quantum Concatenations."
I was very gratified when you said you liked the part "near the end when you introduce the pizzicato strings and from there on it's pure bliss."
Not simply gratified by the compliment, but by this: I felt after hearing your piece, and getting a partial sense of your "musical personality" (if you will permit me use of that term), that the passage you mentioned was precisely the part you would like, which was why I posted the link.
There was some kind of symmetry, or "fellow-feeling" in my mind, with what you are doing in your piece, and what I was doing there (in writing a piece connected with science and/or science fiction).
I have listened to your Super Nova piece several times now, and think perhaps my judgements about the end were misguided. There is a certain rightness about the way the conclusion works, especially in light of your efforts at "pushing the dynamics alternating pp small passages and fff attacks," as you put it. I heard and felt that more clearly after the first few listenings. Who wants to hear something so terrible as a real super nova anyway? Furthermore, if this were the score to an actual film, I would see this as the opening, or the "overture" to the film. The super nova itself, if depicted musically, would come later. I refer to the complete and final destruction of the star. You were talking about the explosions which preface the super giant's annihilation. Now if you do figure out a more shocking, grotesque or terrifying way to represent such a terminal cataclysm, you might write another "movement" or episode, in which that occurs, if you feel so inclined.
Thanks for "having the guts" to post the piece.
Raymond Kemp said:
Thanks for your comments Ray! Appreciate it very much. I'm not entirely satisfied with my mix on this either. Could you adress to that matter a tad more specifically? I think it lacks bass, but I couldn't fix it very well since there was a lot of low frequencies going on. And the reverb wasn't that much appealing for me. I used one reverb unit for all instruments, through an aux, dosing it according to their distances. But I don't know, it feels like I messed it up a bit. Let me say that your mixes are pure gold, my friend. Having said that, I would really like to hear your advice.
Again, thanks a lot!