Classical Music Forum banner
1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I haven't been here in a few years, but recently I started posting again. Some of you may remember that I used to share my original compositions here, and some of you may even have enjoyed them for some reason. Well, here we go again with another batch of stuff.


The first piece that I am going to post is a 25 minute chamber work for an ensemble of piano, harpsichord, zheng, psaltery, viola, double bass, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, vibraphone, marimba, and two monophonic synthesisers of contrasting timbre. You might notice that there is a theme of pairing instruments of type, so we have two keyboards, two double reeds, two bowed strings, two plucked strings etc. Originally this ensemble had been built for a much more rigid, almost academic kind of structural composition based around these pairs, but the music you hear here is freely written.

I hope you enjoy it. If you don't, then-with apologies-I should warn you that I'll be posting more tomorrow!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,443 Posts
Hi Crudblud! Nice to have you back. I enjoyed listening to your piece. I can't offer any musically educated criticism or remarks as I am just a listener. But some of this reminds me a little of some of the music on Zappa's Civilization Phase III. I know you are a big fan of FZ. BTW, are you still working on your FZ book and is it going to be published?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Crudblud! Nice to have you back. I enjoyed listening to your piece. I can't offer any musically educated criticism or remarks as I am just a listener. But some of this reminds me a little of some of the music on Zappa's Civilization Phase III. I know you are a big fan of FZ. BTW, are you still working on your FZ book and is it going to be published?
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I don't expect any erudite critique or anything like that. It's nice and all, but hardly essential, if indeed any of this is essential.

As for Zappa, I tend not to hear that much of his influence in my work generally. I know a lot of people do, and I dare say here my avatar doesn't help... However, Civilization Phaze III is perhaps the single most important piece of music for me as a composer. It taught me, though I was rather a slow learner, how to approach the computer as a "performer". That is, simply put, it must be met on its own terms. But Zappa's Synclavier sound is distinct, not just because he created his own vast library of samples, but because he was so interested in non-instrumental sound, and the latter is such an integral part of his late Synclavier works.

The book has been shelved for some years, primarily because my preliminary research hit a major snag and I became quite disheartened about it. However, I have recently come across some essays that I wrote on Zappa which I don't think I ever published anywhere online because I was saving them for the book, and these are actually fairly well complete and even well written. There is not enough material for a book there, but it could be a starting point were I to resume later on. At the moment I can't take on such a demanding project as I find myself in unsettled circumstances following the death of my mother last month. I was caring for her for all of 2021, and this year there is much to be done in settling her "estate".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,443 Posts
Condolences on the loss of your mother. I'm glad to hear you could be there for her in her time of need. On the Zappa comparison there were just a few sounds or phrases that brought his Synclavier music to mind. Over all I appreciate your less busy style and compositional approach. As much as I love FZ I don't listen to Phase III all that much.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Crudblud

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,543 Posts
Thanks Crudblud for sharing. Always interesting to hear new works.

My comment would be about your use of 'hocketing' which is the changing of instrument in the middle of a melody line. You seem to rarely let an instrument play more than a few notes at a time. This gives a somewhat disjointed feel, as the music has no throughline on which to concentrate the attention.

I don't hear a lot of Zappa influence (aside from some voicings). Stylistically it reminds me more of the 12-tone composers like Berg, Webern or Schoenberg.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,255 Posts
I will listen before too long, rest assured. I'm glad to see you back as I always appreciated your contributions and insights to this site and I hope you won't be gone for so long next time! I also offer my sincere condolences for your loss.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Crudblud

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
My comment would be about your use of 'hocketing' which is the changing of instrument in the middle of a melody line. You seem to rarely let an instrument play more than a few notes at a time. This gives a somewhat disjointed feel, as the music has no throughline on which to concentrate the attention.
Thank you for this comment; I found it interesting. I don't think I ever really developed a feeling for melody as such. Instead my music tends to be about opposing or contrasting gestures, which may be partly melodic but which generally have harmony, timbre, and rhythm (or "horizontality") for their substance. There are some exceptions, but generally the continuity in my work is not melodic. In this case you could perhaps say I indulged in the large timbrel palette too much, but I do enjoy a bit of excess now and then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,297 Posts
Crudblud, I found it to be an intriguing, imaginative and inventive piece, like an expressionistic stream of conciousness. I didn't intend to listen to 25mins worth but there I was 24mins later still engaged with it. You say you have no real feeling for (extended?) melody but there is lyricism in some of your lines imv, even if it is fleeting.

Where there any organising principles regarding the harmony and/or linear progression, or was it literally just improvised and decided upon with instinct and no consideration for any traditional or modern unifying principles other than a timbral plan?

I couldn't detect a sense of liveness in the mix and am assuming the piece was done with samples and sequenced. If so it is well done and just out of curiosity, what samples and DAW did you use?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Crudblud, I found it to be an intriguing, imaginative and inventive piece, an expressionistic stream of conciousness. I didn't intend to listen to 25mins worth but there I was 24mins later still engaged with it. You say you have no feeling for melody but I there is some lyricism in your lines even if it is fleeting.
Was there any organising principle regarding the harmony and/or linear progression, or was it literally just improvised and decided upon with instinct and no consideration for the traditional unifying principles other than a timbral plan?
I couldn't detect a sense of liveness in the mix and am assuming the piece was done with samples and sequenced. If so it is well done and just out of curiosity, what samples and DAW did you use?
Thank you so much. I'm really pleased to hear it grabbed you and you were encouraged to hear it through to the end.

Originally, the work was going to be, as I said, quite academic. I had come up with all sorts of overlaying schemes, but it wasn't too long before I threw all of that out and just kept the ensemble itself, which didn't change at all but which was stripped of its original purpose. I almost think I had to go to those extremes before I could relax and simply take it as it was, free of all those structures/strictures. The music that I actually wrote quite naturally fell into being about the interrelation of pentatonic and whole tone scales, though of course in a highly chromatic environment. There is a tone row in there as well, but only in one "movement", and only in one specific section of it.

My music is largely instinctual, but "improvised" is the wrong word for it. I don't play the parts on a keyboard, instead I draw everything out on the screen in piano roll using a mouse. I go over everything quite methodically once it's laid out on the "page" and typically there's a lot of editing that goes on. All of my music is done this way, and these renders are the "final product" for me. Here I am using a mixture of mostly Soniccouture and Spitfire samples in Presonus Studio One. It isn't on display here all that much, but I have purposely drawn attention to my use of computers in some works by making prominent parts very obviously unplayable.

This post is already quite long, but if you want to read more about the piece I wrote an accompanying article that was included with the download version. You can find the article on its own here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,297 Posts
I know of a few composers who are happy to accept a computer's superhuman virtuosity as a legitimate means of music making and one friend in particular accepts orchestral samples as being equally valid to the real thing. The orchestral comparison is pushing it for me because when compared to a real band, samples like Spitfire, good as they are, rob the notes of much of their inherent music and expression even with detailed programming, quite apart from the limitations set by the articulation choices. However I do recognise and appreciate the artistry in music that's possible with computers that ignore limiting conventions and your piece made an impression.

Are you familiar with XSamples products? I don't have them (yet), but it strikes me that you might get lots of inspiration from their more avant garde aesthetic towards sampling with their concentration on esoteric instrumental techniques. IRCAM too have some amazing software that you may be familiar with. There is also IRCAM's solo instruments2 which has some interesting and useful patches. Oh and Sample Modelling Brass too, a wonderfully detailed tweakable set of instruments - in fact I wondered if your trumpet was from them whilst listening.

EDIT I'm pretty certain you're already aware of all of these sample co's but just in case you are not, I thought I'd just add in Arron Venture and his Infinite Winds and Brass series too, whose ease of use and amazing flexibility in just one patch is quite a refreshing change from any sort of key switching.

(I've requested access to your link above)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I know of a few composers who are happy to accept a computer's superhuman virtuosity as a legitimate means of music making and one friend in particular accepts orchestral samples as being equally valid to the real thing. The orchestral comparison is pushing it for me because when compared to a real band, samples like Spitfire, good as they are, rob the notes of much of their inherent music and expression even with detailed programming, quite apart from the limitations set by the articulation choices. However I do recognise and appreciate the artistry in music that's possible with computers that ignore limiting conventions and your piece made an impression.

Are you familiar with XSamples products? I don't have them (yet), but it strikes me that you might get lots of inspiration from their more avant garde aesthetic towards sampling with their concentration on esoteric instrumental techniques. IRCAM too have some amazing software that you may be familiar with. There is also IRCAM's solo instruments2 which has some interesting and useful patches. Oh and Sample Modelling Brass too, a wonderfully detailed tweakable set of instruments - in fact I wondered if your trumpet was from them whilst listening.

EDIT I'm pretty certain you're already aware of all of these sample co's but just in case you are not, I thought I'd just add in Arron Venture and his Infinite Winds and Brass series too, whose ease of use and amazing flexibility in just one patch is quite a refreshing change from any sort of key switching.

(I've requested access to your link above)
Oh, sorry, I had forgotten to set the link permissions. It should work fine now.

I don't consider it to be a case of accepting the computer, rather I grew up with it and learned music making through it. I can't speak to anyone else's approach, but for me at least it has always been quite a natural thing. As a child I was quite a loner for the most part, and I would always rather have been at home playing with music software than out playing five-a-side in the park. My taste and temperament formed an, as I say, natural inclination for working with computers. Although as I mentioned to starthrower above, it took a long time for me to really figure out how to work with them.

You're quite right to say that composers in my situation are somewhat at the mercy of the people designing the sample libraries. Again, as I said to starthrower, Zappa had the means to design his own, which is another layer of uniqueness of sound in his computer compositions. Unfortunately I'm not at all that well off, so I have to make do. However, one thing I have a tendency of doing is working out how exactly I can break patches to get unusual effects, ways of manipulating the backend through combinations of frontend instructions.

I don't aim for a physical presence of sound (or "realism") commensurate to live performance in my work, rather I see it as existing within a synthetic reality of its own such that it is "realistic" unto itself. When I say that the ensemble consists of piano, harpsichord, marimba and so on, what I really mean is that it consists of sounds derived from those instruments repackaged into something else, a virtual "instrument", which I am then breaking down in my own ways. Through that process I believe that my music is realised in a way that is natural to its unnaturalness. I understand what I've just said is pretty jargon-heavy, and it isn't perfectly what I want to say, but I've been grappling with these questions for some years now, and I haven't yet arrived at the depth I would like to as far as answering them goes. In any case I hope this goes at least some way towards clarifying my views.

Edit: I had not come across much of those libraries you're referring to. Xsamples seems very interesting, although I don't have the money to spend on stuff like that at the moment. In fact quite a few of my pricier libraries were hand-me-downs from friends who had upgraded to other stuff like VSL.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,297 Posts
Dan, as far apart as we are in our paradigms about how to create music, I find myself being drawn to your soundscapes when I listen. I just took in 'Offering' 3 times and enjoyed it very much. Your strength to my ears is in your timbral invention.
In my time in media, I knew some great sound designers in audio production who, because of them being digital masters, had a knack of creating alluring soundscapes and their emphasis on the tiniest details of production was a major contributing factor to the success of their work.
Your piece works for me in part, because of the attention given to the granular detail in the sound and its manipulation. It feels and sounds meticulous in the selection of all of its parts, their timbre, their notes and how they hover and are placed in musical space.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Dan, as far apart as we are in our paradigms about how to create music, I find myself being drawn to your soundscapes when I listen. I just took in 'Offering' 3 times and enjoyed it very much. Your strength to my ears is in your timbral invention.
In my time in media, I knew some great sound designers in audio production who, because of them being digital masters, had a knack of creating alluring soundscapes and their emphasis on the tiniest details of production was a major contributing factor to the success of their work.
Your piece works for me in part, because of the attention given to the granular detail in the sound and its manipulation. It feels and sounds meticulous in the selection of all of its parts, their timbre, their notes and how they hover and are placed in musical space.
Thank you Mike, I really appreciate the kind words. I am quite bad at taking compliments, so I won't dwell on the specifics too much, except to say that I'm glad the attention I pay to detail when composing comes through in the music.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Today's selection is...


Quite a fun piece for clarinet and piano. Since I wrote this for a friend who plays clarinet, I thought I had better at least try to make it somewhat playable, although I did include a few incredibly cheeky passages in the clarinet part. Nonetheless, this would require significant alteration to create a performing version. I enjoy the piece a lot, although listening back to it now the sound is quite muddy and quiet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,815 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I can't actually remember whether I have posted this before, but it has been probably five years since I was last here so I don't think I have.


This is a big one, and perhaps my favourite of anything I've done. It's a big ensemble piece where the structure is derived from splitting the ensemble into quartets, trios, duets, solos etc. The music is written in the manner of, as the title suggests, a revue, and moves through many diverse sections before ending in a sort of stifled recapitulation of the opening section.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
Now I've listened to the whole Starlite Revue - I really enjoyed listening! And I liked most of the parts.

Especially the throw-ins and the allusions like the Tango Argentino or the "Alle meine Entchen" (all my little ducklings) ;)

Sometimes I would have wished that the music stays longer at the current motif, especally rhythm-wise, but on the other hand that was probably your intention (to keep an obscure atmosphere).

Thanks for sharing!
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top