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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    Can't really relate to what players enjoy in physically technical parts
    Well, if you are composing orchestral music and hope to get some of it played, I recommend you try to relate as to how they think.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasks View Post
    Well, if you are composing orchestral music and hope to get some of it played, I recommend you try to relate as to how they think.
    I think my music will be very hard for the conductor, they'll surely want to give it a try. It's not at all focused on the musicians but it should be enjoyable for them too, it's difficult, but doesn't have a focus on technique or virtuosity. If they enjoy interpreting music that has a meaning they will like it.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    Yeah I get it, he writes purely for the musicians rather than the artistry of the piece itself, but Brahms wrote for his violinist friend as well and his concerto is on a completely different stratosphere. It's simply not a valid excuse, but no doubt Yo-Yo Ma enjoyed playing it.
    No, you don't seem to get it at all. You are totally missing the point about the relation between composing and writing for players. I see you don't fully appreciate William's concerto and that's fine, it's all subjective anyway for the most part. At least you actively acquired your opinion this time although no-one can truly assess a work on one or two hearings and subsequent familiarity with this work might have made you re-assess the 'compositional advice' you have offered to Williams.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    I personally never enjoyed playing music all that much, the mindless technical practising was boring as hell, and improvisation came naturally, which quickly transitioned to composing. Can't really relate to what players enjoy in physically technical parts, even though I'm a very competent pianist in terms of interpretation, much like Leonard Bernstein
    Unfortunately this can work against your composing and in your quest to learn about ensemble music making. Performing music inculcates the very sense of musicianship you seem to lack empathy for, the very same musicianship that should infuse your composing work if you are to write for fellow musicians. Paradoxically you seem to say that you don't enjoy playing much and yet are a good interpreter, which makes no sense at all because you need all aspects of performance acuity to interpret in a personal and convincing way, a piece of music. It's through the learning, mastering of technical hurdles and assimilating that one understands the music to the extent that one can then interpret it. One has to be capable of and enjoy, playing well in order to interpret. I would advise a rethink if you want to get anywhere close to Bernstein's ability, who as you no doubt are fully aware, was a fine composer with excellent scoring skills as well as a great pianist and conductor. None of those creative/interpretive skills where honed by just instinct alone.

    However, keep studying if you want to achieve good creative compositional synergy informed by orchestral skill. The more you know about idiomatic technique, the more creative options you have and in the daring, imaginative moments in your work - the inspired fantasy perhaps - the more likely your best guess at balance and efficacy will work. The learning will last a lifetime if you have the wit and desire for it.

    The one thing me and Vasks are really saying here is that for orchestral music, winging it is not enough if one is to achieve a maximal expression in one's music. It invariably ends poorly for a composer who thinks they can achieve great things without the work required to master, or at least have a sensible grip on orchestration. I get the impression that you are not fully trained (yet?) as a composer, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but believe me, when it comes to orchestral music, no conductor will waste rehearsal time on a score shot through with incompetent work - which will be immediately apparent - and no musician will perform satisfactorily, music badly written for their instrument....there is too much reality at stake in the real world.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-21-2019 at 15:41.
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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    What’s evident in the Close Encounters clip is complex layering of various textures and advanced orchestral writing. No need for multiple melodies at the same time. I don’t see anything lazy about it. It’s in great contrast to the banal homophonic textures film composers overuse today. And I don’t think something as contrapuntal as what JW wrote here for a scene in Jaws would ever be attempted in today’s films:

    Whenever I hear JW’s orchestral scores, I notice activity on several layers that you don’t usually get from today’s composers. There’s almost always melodic material, ostinatos, chordal backgrounds, rapid scalar passages and trills, counter-lines, bass lines and pedal points, and much more, usually several all at once in a foreground/middleground/background setting that is rich and complex.
    Not everything JW writes is simple. Especially in the concert music such as the flute, violin, and bassoon concertos.

    The first movement of this concert piece


    (from 0:00 to 6:54) is about 95% contrapuntal throughout and is an example of some very well-written twentieth-century counterpoint in my opinion. There is clearly a sense of direction, defined by a long build-up to a climax at 4:20 and a clearly defined deeper musical structure/arch that ends with a satisfying denouement.

    The flute concerto has complex writing and textures, and in a single-movement, also has a long build-up to a climax which is characterized by intense, modern, contrapuntal writing (from 10:38 to 11:14) which gives the piece a sense of direction.



    The beginning of the violin concerto has some very nice modern counterpoint as well, continuing for over two and half minutes to a nice build up. Its like a little fugato or invention for solo violin and various members of the orchestra, stating subject and countersubject.


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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    @ Mikeh375, Vasks & Torkelburger: very satisfying to read your comments - people who know what they're talking about.
    Last edited by TalkingHead; Nov-21-2019 at 20:48.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Just listening to the Flute concerto that Torkelburger posted. It's one I've only heard once or twice (I know the others). It shows admirably what an imaginative approach to colour he has and also demonstrates nicely a modern approach to timbral invention with piano and percussion. His formidable technique, one that can speak easily and fluently in tonality and atonality is quite something.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-21-2019 at 21:08.
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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    Good points. The flute concerto is probably my favorite piece of his and I'd go so far as to say one of my favorite pieces in all of the late 20th century. I'd give anything to be able to write a piece like it. I've actually written a couple pieces with it in the back of my mind. I remember when I first heard it when I bought the CD almost 30 years ago now at Tower Records in Boston. I took it back to my room and used to play my favorite part (the climax outlined in my post) over and over and over again. I even tried to transcribe it once so I could analyze it and figure out what he was doing but gave up after a few bars and just decided to try and get the score (I have never been able to find it). I did, however, get a chance to get the bassoon concerto score a few years later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    Whenever I hear JW’s orchestral scores, I notice activity on several layers that you don’t usually get from today’s composers. There’s almost always melodic material, ostinatos, chordal backgrounds, rapid scalar passages and trills, counter-lines, bass lines and pedal points, and much more, usually several all at once in a foreground/middleground/background setting that is rich and complex.
    Not everything JW writes is simple. Especially in the concert music such as the flute, violin, and bassoon concertos.

    The first movement of this concert piece


    (from 0:00 to 6:54) is about 95% contrapuntal throughout and is an example of some very well-written twentieth-century counterpoint in my opinion. There is clearly a sense of direction, defined by a long build-up to a climax at 4:20 and a clearly defined deeper musical structure/arch that ends with a satisfying denouement.
    I mentioned him for a reason, he's arguably the best film composer alive, and my critique might sound harsh but I think it's more than fair.

    That is indeed good composing, the best I've heard from him, shame it only lasts ~6 min.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post



    Unfortunately this can work against your composing and in your quest to learn about ensemble music making. Performing music inculcates the very sense of musicianship you seem to lack empathy for, the very same musicianship that should infuse your composing work if you are to write for fellow musicians. Paradoxically you seem to say that you don't enjoy playing much and yet are a good interpreter, which makes no sense at all because you need all aspects of performance acuity to interpret in a personal and convincing way, a piece of music. It's through the learning, mastering of technical hurdles and assimilating that one understands the music to the extent that one can then interpret it. One has to be capable of and enjoy, playing well in order to interpret. I would advise a rethink if you want to get anywhere close to Bernstein's ability, who as you no doubt are fully aware, was a fine composer with excellent scoring skills as well as a great pianist and conductor. None of those creative/interpretive skills where honed by just instinct alone.
    That's simply not true, it depends on how quickly you understand music. If you understand it very fast the more you practise the technical parts the more you lose passion for the piece--the more you play a piece the more you hate it--especially if you're musically creative (repetition kills creativity), that's why I'm not a concert pianist. It's true that some keep finding ways to play the same thing in different ways, but they don't have true compositional talent, otherwise the urge to improvise something else would overwhelm them--the ideas of a composer come at any time and with fury. Many composers haven't enjoyed practising or even played at all in the case of Wagner.

    Back to playing, connecting with the thought of a composer is a very natural thing, you can't practise your way through it, you can either think like him or you can't. The emotional part, which is the most important part, is a gift from God.
    Last edited by 1996D; Nov-22-2019 at 01:38.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    No, you don't seem to get it at all. You are totally missing the point about the relation between composing and writing for players. I see you don't fully appreciate William's concerto and that's fine, it's all subjective anyway for the most part. At least you actively acquired your opinion this time although no-one can truly assess a work on one or two hearings and subsequent familiarity with this work might have made you re-assess the 'compositional advice' you have offered to Williams.

    However, keep studying if you want to achieve good creative compositional synergy informed by orchestral skill. The more you know about idiomatic technique, the more creative options you have and in the daring, imaginative moments in your work - the inspired fantasy perhaps - the more likely your best guess at balance and efficacy will work. The learning will last a lifetime if you have the wit and desire for it.

    The one thing me and Vasks are really saying here is that for orchestral music, winging it is not enough if one is to achieve a maximal expression in one's music. It invariably ends poorly for a composer who thinks they can achieve great things without the work required to master, or at least have a sensible grip on orchestration. I get the impression that you are not fully trained (yet?) as a composer, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but believe me, when it comes to orchestral music, no conductor will waste rehearsal time on a score shot through with incompetent work - which will be immediately apparent - and no musician will perform satisfactorily, music badly written for their instrument....there is too much reality at stake in the real world.
    Oh come on... It's simple enough to digest on one hearing alone.


    I'm still getting better, no doubt, but I'm confident enough in my music to critique Williams the way I did--I'm directly comparing his music to mine, I absolutely hate hypocrisy. Of course the student that doesn't surpass the master is a bad student, so I'm not in any way proud or satisfied of where I'm at. We as composers have as masters all the greats that came before us, and it's our duty to surpass them--when that's not achieved or even attempted--and instead money and fame are sought after, then comes the disdain.
    Last edited by 1996D; Nov-22-2019 at 01:25.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    That's simply not true, it depends on how quickly you understand music. If you understand it very fast the more you practise the technical parts the more you lose passion for the piece--the more you play a piece the more you hate it--especially if you're musically creative (repetition kills creativity), that's why I'm not a concert pianist. It's true that some keep finding ways to play the same thing in different ways, but they don't have true compositional talent, otherwise the urge to improvise something else would overwhelm them--the ideas of a composer come at any time and with fury. Many composers haven't enjoyed practising or even played at all in the case of Wagner.

    Back to playing, connecting with the thought of a composer is a very natural thing, you can't practise your way through it, you can either think like him or you can't. The emotional part, which is the most important part, is a gift from God.
    I'm sorry but that's mainly an amateur outlook, based on personal proclivities and opinion only.
    As for repetition, it is fundamental to acquiring skill in performance (and compositional technique). For performance and interpretation, it's not just about understanding the music on a theoretical level, but also about your felt response to it and in order to glean what that might be and how to play it, familiarity beyond technical mastery, is required and not waning or limited enthusiasm. That is, a freedom to be able to play in an emotionally unhindered way. BTW and on a more pertinent note, one can also improvise so much more liberally, creatively and effectively with well developed musicianship

    Composer/pianists with 'true compositional talent'......Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Britten, Liszt, Chopin, Prokofieff, Huw Watkins, Thomas Ades, Bartok, Bernstein, Mozart, Bach, Scriabin, John Williams, need I go on?
    Nothing regarding composition, performance and musicianship is mutually exclusive, quite the opposite.

    I grant you that composing is there within or not, but it needs technical underpinning to support the emotion and that needs practise. The most powerful and effective music is often founded upon 'under the hood' restrictions and technique and that is precisely why it is powerful. You have to find the balance between the objective and subjective that favours your voice. Used correctly, technique can be a search engine for new material and a springboard and foil for inspiration. The rigour can also unify the whole.

    God? Well whatever fits your view, others are available. Atheism can write good music too.


    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    .......
    Of course the student that doesn't surpass the master is a bad student, so I'm not in any way proud or satisfied of where I'm at. We as composers have as masters all the greats that came before us, and it's our duty to surpass them--when that's not achieved or even attempted--and instead money and fame are sought after, then comes the disdain.
    That's a fantasy outlook. The truthful likelihood is that you will not be good enough to reach the highest attainments of the great masters (the ones you cited earlier are stylistically irrelevant to todays concert composing anyway so presumably you want to surpass recent masters like Dutilleux, Boulez, Lutoslawski, Carter et al which will entail learning techniques and developing your ear way beyond CP). I'm also quite certain that your puzzling and disparaging attitude towards musicianship could well be a loss to your personal musical and compositional development.

    It seems as though we are off topic now and yet I'd try to persuade you further in this regard but you probably wont accept anything from me so I'll wish you luck instead. I'll join in again if the topic re-appears seeing that I know a little about that too.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-22-2019 at 15:58.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    That's a fantasy outlook. The truthful likelihood is that you will not be good enough to reach the highest attainments of the great masters (the ones you cited earlier are irrelevant to todays concert composing anyway) and your posts above disdaining musicianship could well be a loss to your personal musical and compositional development. I'd try to persuade you further in this regard but you probably wont accept anything from me so I'll wish you luck instead.
    If that were true I wouldn't be composing.

    Brahms and Mahler irrelevant, did I get that right?

    And I'm not disdaining musicianship...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    That's an amateur outlook, based on personal experience and ability only.
    As for repetition, it is fundamental to acquiring skill in performance (and compositional technique). For performance and interpretation, it's not just about understanding the music, but also about your response to it and that you only find with familiarity beyond technical mastery, not superficiality.

    Composer/pianists with talent....Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, Britten, Liszt, Chopin, Prokofieff, Hugh Wood, Thomas Ades, Bartok, John Williams, need I go on?
    Nothing regarding composition, performance and musicianship is mutually exclusive, quite the opposite.

    I grant you that composing is there within or not, but it needs technical underpinning to support the emotion. The most powerful music is often under such under the hood restrictions and that is why it is powerful.
    God? well whatever fits your view. Atheism can write good music too.
    There are as many composers or more that weren't fond of practising pieces, not everyone has the will to do that. If anything it is a minority of composers that are virtuosos. Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff. The rest played but not at world class level, they simply didn't have time to practise; composing as you know is very time consuming, or should be.
    Last edited by 1996D; Nov-22-2019 at 08:58.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Torkelburger View Post
    Good points. The flute concerto is probably my favorite piece of his and I'd go so far as to say one of my favorite pieces in all of the late 20th century. I'd give anything to be able to write a piece like it. I've actually written a couple pieces with it in the back of my mind. I remember when I first heard it when I bought the CD almost 30 years ago now at Tower Records in Boston. I took it back to my room and used to play my favorite part (the climax outlined in my post) over and over and over again. I even tried to transcribe it once so I could analyze it and figure out what he was doing but gave up after a few bars and just decided to try and get the score (I have never been able to find it). I did, however, get a chance to get the bassoon concerto score a few years later.
    I hunted for the cello concerto score to no avail. I was writing one of my own at the time and like you and the flute conc, I had this piece in the back of my mind as a model until I started writing, then all plans went out of the window sort of as the atonality fought against the pan tonality. Thanks for reminding me of the flute concerto, I really enjoyed it (again).
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1996D View Post
    If that were true I wouldn't be composing.

    Brahms and Mahler irrelevant, did I get that right?

    And I'm not disdaining musicianship...
    You'll learn. Composing is about you yourself, it's not a competition, its a journey of self musical discovery. Where you end up is not as important as the journey, which you should undertake with all you can offer.
    You missed my edit, I added that they are not stylistically relevant, (to our times) no prob.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-22-2019 at 09:52.
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