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  • Help and Feedback of possible

    Hi, to any willing participants! I have uploaded 4 tracks to soundcloud link below:

    I am totally new to the world of this type of composition, orchestration and arrangement. I am not particularly sensitive as I can't afford to be. That being said, I would really appreciate some feedback - good and bad - which will help me improve. Each of the pieces are short so it shouldn't take too long.

    In particular, I am using a lot of new software in order to realise these compositions and I have struggled quite a lot to learn so much in a very short space of time. I am not writing for any particular purpose other than to produce credible music that can be enjoyed (or not as the case may be).

    To put things in context here, I have played a simple system wooden flute for 30 years, playing mostly traditional irish music. The articulations available for this type of instrument and music are totally different than anything in the classical world and from this starting point I am severely challenged. Traditional music is also part of an aural tradition and as such, I have never needed to read music. I only started learning about formal music theory about six months ago - after which my head has began to hurt. It is very frustrating to be able to play an instrument and yet not know how to read music. Most of these compositions have been created in order for me to learn about the music and theory in the classical world and I think this may well show in the compositions. I've listened to the works of many of the contributors to these forums and can easily hear a huge difference in how the music is able to sound compared to what I am able to produce given my limited experience, expertise and knowledge. It would be hugely helpful if I could get some feedback/critique on the following if anyone can spare the time:

    1. Balance of the mix (sounds ok/hurts my ears/can't listen - the mix is so bad)

    2. Composition (poorly structured/go back to school/not bad/bored already)

    3. Instrument articulations (not very credible/sound ok/please don't put me through any more of this)

    I would also like to personally thank Beat Kaufmann for the tutorial on setting up the VSL templates and presets as I have used these extensively in order to accelerate my learnings (or not!).

    Best Regards, Tom McElvogue

    ps: I have to say, please find another forum software package that doesn't require me to learn html on top of everything else in order to submit a readable post! Thank you.

  • Your compositions have some strengths and weaknesses.  I'm not a professional but I would like to give you some feedback based on how I hear them (and I may be wrong).   The following are some of the weaknesses.

    1.  The structure of your compostions is two symmetrical phrases (a period).  This same period is repeated through out the composition with variations.  Most of the variations also have a very similar character.

    2  Allways one chord for each measure.  

    3. All of your compositions stay in the same keys and in the same mode (either major or minor).

    4. Melodic phrases start and end on the same beat as the chord progression and the accompaniment.

    5..No decisive climax and the process of building up to the climax.

    6. Closed voicing in the low registers.

    However, I just want to let you know that your flute playing and the music on your debut CD of Irish folk music are absolutely beautiful.

  • Thank you EP for your feedback. It is very helpful to me to get this kind of structured and direct critique as I am very new to this style of music and in need of direction. Having listened to many of the examples and works in progress from other musicians/composers, I realise that I have so much to learn and I am unfortunately quite an impatient learner.

    I agree with all of your points and I need to now understand how to counteract each of these instincts which I think are symptomatic of my musical background - it's all very curious for me (but probably tiresome to listen to).

    Thank you again for the feedback and kind words regarding my CD. It is very much appreciated.

    Tom McElvogue

  • Tom

    First of all. Its a pleasure to converse with you. Obviously you've been in this for a while now... 

    What's already said is withstanding. And if I may add and further your process as you've asked of...

    Your intonation and use of instruments are very tasteful. You obviously have had extensive Bach exposer. And am a matured professional in this field. In which you're turning to composition now. As already mentioned you have improvised your structure in bars at a balanced symmetrical value. This is nothing different than in what Bach does everyday.1.  First you draw the structure in distinct chords. 2. Then you notate it in the clef. Only you have stopped here. If you notate your midi notes already played in bar by bar. Then you would have a written your composition on paper. 3. Next you would look at it in a formal reading app. At this point you can go in the staffs and apply point counter point anywhere in the composition ( when its written then its viable for rewriting ), reducing the original chords and braking up the symmetric monotony and applying the scales that fit those structured chords in which they are are now notes spread on the cleff and not chords anymore. The notation velocity value would still be the same from the original improvisation and with a feeling. This is classical architecture. There is no other way around this format. And once you have your composition then apply tempo humanism back again from the grid of the notation table in which you would now use for play back. 4. And from there you can improvise on top of the composition again in motives or episodes with your flute sounding different from one to the other. And again notating for others to play also. The score is complete at this point. Or wherever you get tired of it. You can develop it into a symphonia by connecting all your episodes in one composition.... Your style appears to be in this baroque field from the music you have already produced. Or your knowledge and love of the flute. Preludes etc...

     " The difficulty of reading music is a myth that was instigated and spurged from the denial, realization or comprehension of the building of composition "  " The build is the relief and key of knowledge to interpreted and written composition ". The freedom of the mind.

    Exaltation of the highest creative artistic achievement for the profound humane truth professing virtuously in prodigal construct.  

    Cheers ye lepercon

    Ther's gold in them there hills

  • Thank you Shock Absorber!

    I like the approach you have described. As it is probably apparent, most of these pieces were composed within a very short space of time - a couple of hours rather than days or weeks. All instruments were recorded via keyboard and then cleaned up in the sequencer.

    At this point in time, I am going back to the notation and working through the feedback presented so far and I have to say that I am finding it excellent. My impatience (and excitement with my new VSL libraries) has probably pushed me to jump ahead a number of steps which I can now see I need to go through before spending the time in the sequencer. I suppose I went with style over substance and need to go back to re-work these compositions while trying not to lose the original reason for creating them.

    Thanks for taking the time to listen and also for the excellent approach. It is much appreciated.

    Now, off to them hills to find the gold......



  • Hello Tom, I've heard some music on your web site still last week and yesterday again to show my family your beautiful flute playing. I've been very impressed (and inspired) of your recordings. It's music from the heart and living. We all enjoyed. Regarding your new approach with samples you've got still some advice now. So I only want to say, that you should keep a lot of your structures in your compositions. Some "lack" of scholastically artifices could be in truth an original and personal way. It is always to think about these things and it's not easy to find out a good balance between craft and originality. For working with samples I only want to say a weird sounding advice, but it's important: Use as much as possible different samples of the 1000 samples for every instrument you've got with the VSL lib. Means you should change for every instrument you use (in this order:) keys, dynamic (even with using vel xf, but not necessarily), articulations, humanizing. Do you work with a wind controller? Such a great flute player like you should do it. So the midi events comes in a natural way in your sequencer. For me it's the key for a (more) lively music coming from a computer. Hope I didn't carry coals to Newcastle :-) Thank you for your music! Frank

  • Hi Frank, thank you for your kind words and also your feedback and suggestions. I do have an Akai wind synth/controller but I haven't been able to feel comfortable using it yet and unfortunately still use a keyboard for most input. I have found all of the feedback so far to be so encouraging and I feel so very fortunate to have received such constructive criticism. It has given me lots to learn so that I can start to understand more the structure and theory behind the formality of the music.

    My hope is that by learning and understanding the formal structures and theory, I can be free to choose whether to follow or not a particular style/rule. I'm not sure I'll ever be a strict follower of the rules however I think it might be better if I understood this and listened more to some of the classics I could at least start to learn why such structures were used and also then decide if they will work for me. I hope this doesn't sound too pretentious or simple but when I am starting out from a baseline of nothing I need to at least have a rudimentary understanding of these things before I go too much further.

    Thanks again for the sound words and thank you also for your music!



  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on