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#1152011 - 01/14/06 09:02 PM my first (relatively) decent composition
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Well, it's actually not that great. It's only 7 measures. But compared to the little that I've written before, at least its something!


So here are some midi files (piano version and string quartet version):

http://www.savefile.com/projects.php?pid=797196


and here's how I did it:

(you can see I'm very methodical)


1. Created a very basic frame using only the notes of a C major triad (and trying not to double any notes, or have the same note in two consecutive beats).




2. Added a fifth above each note on the top line, and added a fourth below each note on the bottom line. So now there are four voices.




3. That sounded a bit dissonant, so I changed the intervals between the bottom two voices from all fourths to all thirds.




4. That still sounded a bit dissonant, so I went to the top two lines and changed some of the intervals so that I would have C major triads on the 1st and 3rd beats of each measure.




5. Then I went back to the top lines and changed some of the intervals so that the 2nd and 4th beats would be inversions of triads (not necessarily C major triads).




6. (This is the final piano version) But I had forgotten about the bottom two lines, so I didn't really have triads on every beat (which is probably why it still sounded so dissonant). So I went to those bottom lines and changed some of the intervals to get C major triads on beats 1 & 3, and other triads on beats 2 & 4.




7. Just for fun, I added C and G pedals to the top and bottom. It's cool for the first few listens, but it gets annoying very quickly.




8. Then I arranged it for a string quartet: 2 violins, viola, cello. It's the same as the final piano version, just with each voice assigned to a different instrument.




So... what do you think? I don't consider it to be such a great composition, but what do you think of the way I went about composing it (and trying to get each beat to be a consonant triad)? Do you think that, in order for it to sound as pleasant as possible, it is reasonable to try and use only the notes of a major or minor triad on each beat? Does that really get rid of dissonance, or can adding a little dissonance even make it more appealing than always consonance?
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#1152012 - 01/14/06 09:14 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I haven't gotten a chance to listen to it yet, but just a quick tip: One of the very first "tricks" I ever learned or something everyone was madly corrected on at the beginning of my first composition class was to try to avoid parallel motion. I see lines moving nicely in varying directions some of the time so you might want to check that. Of course, I suppose it depends on if one purposely wants parallel motion for effect, for example, Kabalevsky's pieces have some of it.

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#1152013 - 01/14/06 09:16 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
P.S. Could you provide the directions on how to post a score in the way that you did? I would really like to be able to do that sometime.

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#1152014 - 01/14/06 09:22 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Thanks for the tip. Yes, now that I think about it, there is a lot of parallel motion in there.... \:D


There's a program on my Mac called "Grab" (it comes with OS X) that lets me take pictures of everything on my computer screen, or just a small selection of the computer screen. So with Finale NotePad open, I just took pictures of the score.
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Sam

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#1152015 - 01/14/06 09:29 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I'm not sure on "rules and regulations" of parallel motion either so maybe as I'm not an expert, I shouldn't be saying anything. All I knew is I was picked on about it quite a bit in classes at first. I was mainly just talking about it in general on any composing.

Perhaps a lot boils down to what sound you really want. If a certain sound is what you intended, then that's probably what counts the most.

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#1152016 - 01/14/06 11:52 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
pj,

I listened to both versions. You have a fine start on a melody. At the moment it's what I'd call a "snippet"---something to save and hum and noodle until something complimentary pops into your head.

The subconscious doesn't work in linear fashion, so don't be surprised if a week or two down the road, something suddenly does pop in when you're not even thinking about what you've already written.

Not to worry about the parallel motion. It's probably not a device that you'd want to use all the way thru, but as a change of pace it could be very nice.

It's too early to be concerned about consonance or dissonance. That decision will come into play when you have at least 16 bars.

Keep on noodling.

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#1152017 - 01/15/06 10:18 AM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
ecm Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 1276
Loc: Republic of Macedonia
Hey Sam,

did you use FINALE? and if u did, what version?
I (occasionaly) work on Finale 2001, when not with pen and paper \:D

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#1152018 - 01/15/06 06:10 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by ecm:
Hey Sam,

did you use FINALE? and if u did, what version?
I (occasionaly) work on Finale 2001, when not with pen and paper \:D [/b]
I use the free version, Finale NotePad 2005a.
_________________________
Sam

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#1152019 - 01/15/06 06:22 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
Of course there's no "right" or "wrong" in music, but if you're going to go the direction of writing a tonal, diatonic piece, then you should try to adhere more to the rules of voice leading. As was mentioned, there are some awkward passages with regards to parallel motion and voice leading. I didn't actually analyze it, but a quick glance was enough to spot a bunch of parallel fourths and fifths - not your best option in voice-leading. Also, when you hear it, you can just tell that there are some progressions that could be made stronger by using more standard voice leading techniques.

Two other suggestions would be to add a little dissonance. This is just a little too much in C-major for my taste (though it is only the first 7 measures - I have no idea where you're headed with it). Also, add a little rhythmic interest - it's just straight quarter notes, which will get tiresome after a while.
_________________________
What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#1152020 - 02/02/06 09:19 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
I wouldn't do to much analyzing Sam - just make it sound good.

It looks and sounds like a chorale. One idea would be to state the theme (as you did), then develop it using variations. Maybe a perpetual motion type of piece.

I took it back to the piano to demonstrate what I mean. I added another measure to yours; it seemed to cry for it.

Anyway, why don't you see how many variations you can come up with? It's actually fun. I think about 20 will make it complete.

Best, John

"Variations in Perpetual Motion"
http://www.artistcollaboration.com/~johnny-boy/Variations.wma
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1152021 - 02/03/06 10:40 AM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2727
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
The basic tools of composing are melody, harmony, rhythm, structure and instrumentation. Counterpoint is a concern that can fall under structure, but has implications to all of the above. I haven't listened, but just looking at it I see nothing but quarter notes. This gives me the impression you may be trying to bite off more than you can chew. Which is OK we've all done it, but learning to recognize it is an important lesson.

So allow me to make a suggestion or two (or more). Beethoven's notebooks are filled with melodies. Very often they start with crude simple melodies that over time are crafted into something sublime. I myself often start with that, write a simple melody then refine it. How does one refine a melody? An early version of the C major fugue from Bach's WTC book 1 gives an example. In this version the rising segment of the theme is in 8th notes and the turn at the top is 16ths. Later Bach revised it such that the 4th note of the rising segment was a dotted 8th followed by two 32nds. This gives the theme a more characteristic topology, i.e. it has more personality.

For me a typical next step is to listen for the implied bass and harmony (two separate issues). Every melody has an implied harmony and working with a melody will generally bring to mind a bass part that complements it. Once these basic parts are set one can go about refining them in terms of harmony and rhythm. This is also when I start thinking about what are important parts and what are accompanimental or contrapuntal parts. This is a crucial step because this is where the essential character of a piece gets decided.

Now let's look at a popular piece that you may be familiar with to get a sense of how a master can take a simple melody and make a wonderful little piece out of it. I hope you're familiar with Ravel's Pavanne. This piece has a simple melody with understated accompaniment (yet complex) that fits together beautifully. Unfortunately I don't believe it's available as free sheet music (still under copyright). So another piece with a simple melody that should be readily available as PD sheet music would be the Brahms Intermezzo in A from Op 118. Notice how the repetition of the first phrase is subtly changed yet they have a similar topology (a term I obviously like when describing the characteristics of a melody).

Sam, I appluad your efforts and encorage you to keep working at it. I would also suggest you do some analysis of pieces you enjoy to see how greater composers have done things. This is the type of work that puts tools in the toolbox and colors on the pallette. Good luck.

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#1152022 - 02/03/06 10:52 AM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5295
Loc: Philadelphia
Unfortunately I don't believe it's available as free sheet music (still under copyright). [/b]
Unless someone other than the artist renewed the copyright, everything of Ravel's would be in the public domain as of December 28th, 1987. (Date of death) ;\)

Now, Ravel is somewhat different, legally-speaking, than earlier composers. Before the 20th century, nobody really cared about copyright after the death of the composer. (Sure, they got "death + 50", but there were no institutions, like the Schirmer Library or Carl Fisher Publishing, which lost a lot of money when something went public domain.) Later Ravel (I think it's somewhere in the 1930's that it happened) may fall into the category where copyright is taken out in the institution's name, rather than the composer. In the inter-years, I think the institutions regained copyright by "updating an edition" or having someone "edit" the piece. Then that version receives a new copyright and it's up to marketing to make it the "only" version. Such a wonderful case-study for anyone who was interested. Sadly, I am not interested enough to look up the particulars. ;\)

I would also suggest you do some analysis of pieces you enjoy to see how greater composers have done things.[/b]
This is what I do. No masterpieces yet, but I'm...getting...closer....... :p ;\)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1152023 - 02/03/06 11:01 AM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Thanks everyone.

Actually, you can hear what I'm currently working on:

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~samzerin/misc/polymodality.aiff


As you can hear, it's not quite done yet, but I've tried to be a lot more creative with rhythm, harmony, melody, structure, etc.

I'm actually writing this for my musicology class. The assignment is to "compose an original work inspired by any 20th-century composer or genre," and then I have to write an essay also explaining the 20th century influences. (The class is about 20th Century American/European music)

I got this idea of polymodality, and specifically the lydian+phrygian combination, from a lecture about Bartok - evidently, he hated 12-tone music because it was atonal, but he realized the value of being able to use all 12 tones, so he often used this combination of lydian+phrygian to compose tonal 12-tone music. Well, at least I think that's pretty cool, so I'm doing the same sort of thing here.
_________________________
Sam

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#1152024 - 02/03/06 12:01 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
Sounds good Sam! I'd like to hear the whole piece when you've finished.

Best, John ;\)
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1152025 - 02/03/06 12:04 PM Re: my first (relatively) decent composition
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
That actually sounds really good and has some promise.
_________________________
What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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