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  • Reaction to a filmic composition competition.

    There was one such, recently completed with such a large number of entrants (5-digit number) that -without being privy to the competition's due process- I very much doubt the judging panel heard more than a few seconds of each, more likely they employed a great number of lackeys to filter through the entries and provide them with, say 30 finalists (like I said, I'm guessing here, but I can't imagine busy executives spending a month on 24-hour/day listening sessions...).

    At any rate, the main winner and a few consolation entrants were chosen, and very significant prizes awarded.

    The reason I am posting this here, is that I listened to about 6-7 entries and, except for the winning entry, the ones I heard could have all come from a single entrant! Not only was the style of composition EXACTLY the same (same language, same mannerisms, same "technique", same orchestration, same tempo, same hit-points treatment, etc.), but most were in the same tonality too, so almost mappable note-for-note! Or at least perfectly superimposable, creating no (additional) cacophony...

    Are there really so many film-muzak clones out there? And do they actually entertain notions of possessing a unique musical personality?


  • I have been very disturbed by rejections from film festivals - and yet the same sort of thing has to happen there as what you mentioned.  The ones who are most similar to what is "approved" win.  And  "lackeys" is the correct term - a local film festival advertised on Facebook for people to help select the "accepted" films.  In other words a doofus off the street is determining what is worth seeing.  The exact same principle has to apply to contests like what you mention.  It is total bullshit.  The normal state of affairs with art in a population of 7 billion.       

  • For this very reason I stopped contributing to "competitions" a long time ago.  They always tout the industry heavy weights they supposedly have on the judging panel as if it's like American Idol or something.  I'm sure those folks get a sizable cut of the total entry fees for the use of their name but the real judging is being done by the interns they picked up from Romper Room somewhere.  However, these Interns (Lackeys) seem more concerned with which entries are more "woke" than their originality or artistic value.


    On a related note: For the past few years, I've been trying to get air play for some of my compositions on the local Classical radio station and I tell you they have no respect for composers of virtual orchestra.  They call us "MIDI Tinklers." and they say that they only have time for serious composers who "hone their craft" with live players.  I have nothing against skilled live players but what about the quality of the composition and arrangement itself? 

  • "Hone their craft"?  Are they kidding? 

    The reality is you give music to players and "hope their craft" will play it right. 

    Creating a good MIDI performance is far more a matter of honing and perfecting than working with live performers which is mainly sitting and listening to what they do - for better or worse.

  • I have first-hand experience in this, as for some years I was a producer at our national classical radio. It is tough for me to have an -as much as possible- objective take on this, as the target audience is not really fellow practitioners, but conservative concert-goers. I know, for the calls I answered during the season of one of my broadcasts (the one with the largest audience - 2 hours daily prime time live programme), were over 90% from lay people. I wouldn't play anything by, say Cowell (let alone Stockhausen) during that programme.

    On the other hand, many local performers and composers flooded us producers with their CDs, hoping we would include them in our broadcasts. Some of the composers' CDs were digitally realised, and I never played any of them for two reasons: a) I thought the compositions did not merit airing, and b) The instrumental/chamber/orchestral simulations were frankly rank... Thinking back though, I think I played some of Guy Bacos' Christmas piano music some Decembers ago. Piano as a percussion instrument is not the hardest to simulate digitally, Guy does a great job of this, he writes professionally for that instrument (or any other), and I loved his variations. Ah! I just remembered, I played Andy Blainey's incredible rendition of Jeux des Vagues once, just to see whether anybody listening would actually realise it was not an orchestra they were hearing. Nobody called claiming so, or enquired about it. Come to think of it, I may have played one or two of Bill's songs - I can't be sure, too many years ago...

    So having said that, and speaking in my capacity as a radio producer, I would be open to including sampled performances in my broadcasts, so long as they were of a certain standard of realism and above. Perhaps you can use me as an example Jasen (after all I did work for the equivalent of BBC3 in Greece - not just some local station, we transmitted nationally), and renew your petition to be programmed and, why not, interviewed.

    Bill: You are right of course; I should not just target this film-muzak competition. As a 'serious'-music composer I am very familiar with the industrially cloned free-atonal works that are submitted by the thousands/year in 'serious' competitions. There is no more variation there than I claimed for that competition in the first post. Same complexity-without-a-cause, same extremity of ranges, same boring "extended" instrumental techniques (without a cause again). They too actually believe they are expressing themselves, when it is impossible to find one bar -not one- where that is evident. The "winners" of these get council grants, university appointments, and professional performances. And here I am complaining about some film-muzak mouse-riding, inspiration-patches layering amateurs...

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    @Errikos said:

    ...renew your petition to be programmed and, why not, interviewed.
    Actually I renew quite often. I figure someday they'll get sick of my constant emails and file transfers. My smaller chamber pieces have on occasion tickled their ears enough to get an email response but then come the inevitable probing questions like, "Could you please give us the names of the performers?" As is customary the station not only announces the name of the composer but also the names of arrangers and performers. My only adequate response is: On 1st violin: Jasen On 2nd violin: Me 1st Cello: Myself 2nd Cello: And I And their response is "No, seriously we need the names of the performers." I'm rather ashamed to admit this but on rare occasions of alcohol induced stupers I've been tempted to use the names of the performers VSL hired to perform the samples but then my scrupulous conscience reminds me of the pretty serious ethical implications of such a move. Not to mention it's just a local radio station and they'll probably play my music in the wee hours of a random Tuesday morning when only two or three people are listening with one being me. But I do submit and continue to submit. They never said they'll never play MIDI renditions they just tell me, "Not at this time." So perhaps one day when there is a change of administration at the Programming Department they might give me the coveted "wee hour in the morning on any random Tuesday" time slot. BTW Thank you Erikkos for insight on this.

  • The fact that you will be rejected inevitably if the people at that station know it is MIDI shows a mindless, knee-jerk prejudice that in itself demonstrates the feebleness of the classical music establishment.

    (edited after coffee consumption stopped)

    What I would do in your situation is make up names and even identities of performers for the VSL chamber music recordings, and then submit them. If they were accepted it would be WONDERFUL to have them played - and then tell the fools at that station it was all MIDI. 

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    @William said:

    What I would do in your situation is make up names and even identities of performers for the VSL chamber music recordings, and then submit them. If they were accepted it would be WONDERFUL to have them played - and then tell the fools at that station it was all MIDI. 

    I went to college to study acting.  The program was rigorous and entire semesters were devoted to the messy, painful business of auditioning and getting roles out in the "real world".  For school productions, workshops, final exams, etc. we had to have anywhere from five to ten different monologues memorized to showcase our expressive range (Despite the fact that almost all auditions in the "real world" are cold readings, but I digress...)  The faculty insisted that these monologues had to not only be from already published, reputable plays but that these plays had to be original, new works that no one had heard of lest they hear the same, tired, cliche monologues over and over again.  This led to myself and all the other students wasting countless hours in the dusty library combing anthologies and hoarding new play collections in order to find that "one elusive monologue".

    Naturally, I got reallllllyyyy sick of meeting these arbitrary demands, especially when auditions are about examining the actor, not the material.  When I asked my professors why we had to do this, they simply replied, "Casting agents and directors want to hear reputable material, not just any old thing."  I decided to put this to the test: the night before my next audition, I wrote my own damn monologue that perfectly fit what I was trying to showcase about myself, made up an author, publishing house, etc., and went into the audition and presented it as if it were "reputable", published material.  I got the part, had a wonderful time doing the show, and after closing night I informed the director (who had cast me based on that "published" monologue) that I had completely made it up.  I expected her to be furious, but instead she laughed and said, "Well, you got the part, and that's all that matters!"

    Long story short: I think William might be on to something...

    (On the other hand: My experience was in the closed setting of academia.  I have no idea if there would be any legal - or other - repercussions for doing something like this...)

  • Seventh Sam - I love it!  

  • Jasen: I would give them made up names but only if I was confident they couldn't discern the music was not recorded with samples. Otherwise, goodbye credibility - if you care for yours with them that is.

    Everybody: It's amazing! I've been vindicated! Even one of the organisers of the competition has made a video about the brain-quashing indistinguishability and interchangeability of the entries. Even he felt frustrated enough to do this. Of course he is very nice about it - because he is a nice guy, and he desperately tries in his best way to tell everybody that they are going nowhere by being absolute, unadulterated apes of already bad music (my words of course). He says it more like "Everybody's music was earth-shattering, of really breathtaking quality, however...", and he goes on from there...

    What he doesn't understand -he really doesn't understand it, he's not just pretending- is that all these people, all these countless tidal waves of would-bes actually are incapable of writing any other way. It is not by choice they "compose" thusly, it is impossible for them to do otherwise, as any other style requires two things they do not, and will never, possess: a) Talent, b) Proper musical chops. 

    If I'm wrong, arrogant, prejudiced, whatever, why don't you hold another contest but deny everyone the percussion section, pre-recorded patches, the arpeggiator, and the spiccato articulation. You do this and I will personally contribute towards the prizes!

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    @Errikos said:

    ...the arpeggiator...

    The arpeggiator?  For orchestral sample libraries?  Or was this all hybrid-synth kind of music?

  • EDIT: Accidental double post.

  • Hybrid entries were eligible, in fact the winning one was such a score.

  • UPDATE: And, of course, throngs of composters have labeled the organiser's exaggeratedly kind and magnanimous advice to the useless as a 'tirade' and a 'rant', and have congested his video with vituperative posts and accusations. 

    If only he had read his Bible - "Do not cast your pearls..."

    Serves him right for not having held the contest with my requirements.

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on