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Thread: A question to experienced pianists about composition

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    Default A question to experienced pianists about composition

    I'm writing a piece on the piano, the right hand personally i find is very interesting, rhythmically and melodically, however the left hand is just playing octaves for 12 bars, if you looked at the score would you say that it's amateur piano writing or whatever you would say?

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    no
    "That as s."

    - Mark Twain

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    If the question already exists in your mind as the composer (and it is certainly not 'how it looks' as much as 'how it sounds.') then you have probably already clearly noted a big weak spot in your comp.

    Of course you are asking composers who may write for the piano, not 'just' pianists :-)

    Octaves are one of the most effective things a piano can deliver. They are also very readily and too often cliche if not used with care.

    I'd suggest seeing what else you can do in that particular part of the piece, and revise or rewrite it.

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Jord, you might try to augment the bare octaves with simple, supporting melodic material in an inner voice.

    Octaves are effective "tonalization" tools insofar as they anchor the material in the upper lines and give the listener a clear sense of what is going on. Repetitious octaves can be good or bad depending on the character of the piece. In Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, the primary material of interest and expression is in the right hand, while the left hand quietly supports the harmonic progression.

    If you want the listener to listen mostly to the right hand material, then octaves are an excellent way to do so. You might try to break the octaves with diminution, it creates a more dynamic sound without compromising the material. In my own compositions, I prefer a very dense harmonic activity, so I don't often use bare octaves. However, if I intend for a more introspective episode, which is usually simpler and more ethereal, then I would not hesitate to use empty octaves. Even for a relatively extended period, I wouldn't hesitate.

    It's always a question of sound; if its sound pleases you, then there's no good argument against it. As a rule, there are no rules when you are the composer. Go with it, see how you like it; see if the bare octaves make sense in the whole of the piece as an episodic moment. But especially, don't worry about how your music will appear to others. Complicated harmonic activity does not betoken greater mastery, often the most basic harmonic devices are the most difficult to employ.

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    Senior Member Novelette's Avatar
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    Notice this piece is entirely chordal in nature, and the dense tonal clusters make anything but bass octaves too muddy for the ear to distinguish. There are few, I hope!, who would regard Robert Schumann as an amateur.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89mu1UdeLLY

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