Original Composition -- Obscure Moons

Posted by: RobCatterton

Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/18/09 12:44 AM

Hi -

I invite you all to view my latest posting to YouTube of an original composition entitled "Obscure Moons." It's kind of a majestic, haunting, classical theme with improvised solos and an interesting 6/8 bridge. I hope you enjoy it, and encourage you to view the other videos that I have posted.

Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJrWm0ITyG4

Your feedback is welcome! Best to you from here, Rob Catterton
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/18/09 06:01 PM

Quite nice. smile I primarily felt that it was too harmonically static. I was hoping to be transported to Middle Earth, but alas I didn't really go anywhere. Just my humble
Posted by: RobCatterton

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 12:39 AM

Hmmmm -- I think we have a music critic on our hands. My take? Better for you to listen for yourself, and see what you think. It's a quality piece of music, and I hope you enjoy it!
Posted by: Studio Joe

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 06:56 AM

I found it rather enjoyable and very well played.
Posted by: Secret

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 07:33 AM

That was a great piece, well done !!!
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 09:49 AM

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton
Hmmmm -- I think we have a music critic on our hands. My take? Better for you to listen for yourself, and see what you think. It's a quality piece of music, and I hope you enjoy it!

Hi Rob,

Is that how you respond when someone gives you their honest opinion with specific criticisms? It's far more gracious to thank them for listening and suggest that everyone's tastes vary. Instead you bite off the head that speaks their truth. I'm glad I chose not to respond with any criticisms of my own.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 10:49 AM

Agreed. If you don't want criticism (based upon my own honest personal opinion, I might add), Rob, don't ask for it. smokin
Posted by: Tonic

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 12:17 PM

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton
Hmmmm -- I think we have a music critic on our hands. My take? Better for you to listen for yourself, and see what you think. It's a quality piece of music, and I hope you enjoy it!


Rob, the harmonies do sound static, its anything but quality piece of music. Sorry
Posted by: RobCatterton

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 12:32 PM

Is that how you respond when someone gives you their honest opinion with specific criticisms? It's far more gracious to thank them for listening and suggest that everyone's tastes vary. Instead you bite off the head that speaks their truth. I'm glad I chose not to respond with any criticisms of my own.

Hi Steve -- I am listening to your harmonically sophisticated music from MySpace and enjoying it. I just didn't fine Howorwitzian's comment about "harmonically static" to be terribly specific -- and calling someone a music critic is not exactly biting off their head. His remark about "hoping to be transported to Middle Earth, but alas I didn't really go anywhere" struck me as uncalled for and pointlessly hurtful. Writing descriptions of one's music is difficult, and it's easy to poke fun. And in this format, unless one responds, other readers are left with whatever comments are made as the last word.

I am new here, and frankly was hoping for a warmer welcome -- and for the criticism to be more constructive and less personal. Yikes -- and now someone else has stated that my work is "anything but quality piece of music" -- wonderful.

Others? is this what PianoWorld is all about?
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 12:34 PM

Perhaps it wasn't the best choice of words, but that's how I felt about it, and I thought you would appreciate an honest opinion. frown

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton
Your feedback is welcome!


Apparently this means only positive feedback.

Sorry, but there's no accounting for taste.
Posted by: eweiss

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton
I am new here, and frankly was hoping for a warmer welcome

Good luck with that. One of the cool things about forums is that you can say what you want. If you post here, prepare for the worst along with the best.
Posted by: Tonic

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 01:14 PM

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton
Is that how you respond when someone gives you their honest opinion with specific criticisms? It's far more gracious to thank them for listening and suggest that everyone's tastes vary. Instead you bite off the head that speaks their truth. I'm glad I chose not to respond with any criticisms of my own.

Hi Steve -- I am listening to your harmonically sophisticated music from MySpace and enjoying it. I just didn't fine Howorwitzian's comment about "harmonically static" to be terribly specific -- and calling someone a music critic is not exactly biting off their head. His remark about "hoping to be transported to Middle Earth, but alas I didn't really go anywhere" struck me as uncalled for and pointlessly hurtful. Writing descriptions of one's music is difficult, and it's easy to poke fun. And in this format, unless one responds, other readers are left with whatever comments are made as the last word.

I am new here, and frankly was hoping for a warmer welcome -- and for the criticism to be more constructive and less personal. Yikes -- and now someone else has stated that my work is "anything but quality piece of music" -- wonderful.

Others? is this what PianoWorld is all about?

Hi Rob,
You are getting way too defensive. You see, you think your music is quality piece of music, it may very well be, but to me when you said that (there was a moment i thought you might have meant that sarcastically) you are already closed in you mind to receive any other perspective on your music. You also say you are expecting Constructive criticisms, what exactly is that? To me whether a criticism is Constructive or not also depends on how one takes it as opposed to to the criticism itself. I dont really think you mean it. Anyway its pointless, if you think your own work is quality piece of music, i dont think it matters any more. You may be right. Good for you.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 02:15 PM

Originally Posted By: RobCatterton

Hi Steve -- I am listening to your harmonically sophisticated music from MySpace and enjoying it. I just didn't fine Howorwitzian's comment about "harmonically static" to be terribly specific -- and calling someone a music critic is not exactly biting off their head. His remark about "hoping to be transported to Middle Earth, but alas I didn't really go anywhere" struck me as uncalled for and pointlessly hurtful. Writing descriptions of one's music is difficult, and it's easy to poke fun. And in this format, unless one responds, other readers are left with whatever comments are made as the last word.

I am new here, and frankly was hoping for a warmer welcome -- and for the criticism to be more constructive and less personal. Yikes -- and now someone else has stated that my work is "anything but quality piece of music" -- wonderful.

Hi Rob,

Nice save. I think it's fair to call for a reboot with regard to your presence here. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm willing to cut the newbie some slack and I'll try to be gentle with my criticisms. Please be open minded in receiving them.

I never refer to my own efforts as "quality music" because that's just inviting others to disagree. We've all seen enough hyperbole on the web to know that when we see it it's seldom in indication of reality, in fact usually it indicates the opposite. This forum's members cover a broad spectrum from complete neophytes to fairly experienced composers. We tend to be gentle with the neophytes since they usually announce themselves as such.

Now let me offer some observations about your piece. The beginning basically says this is a grand piece. The thematic, harmonic and textural language doesn't change until about 1:45. That's forever in compositional terms. Your second section is a bit more hyper and if anything even louder. You don't hit anything as soft as mezzopiano until about 2:30. In order to have a piece that comes off as grand it must also include parts that are not grand to serve as contrast. That's why the Eroica Symphony starts off with two quick chords and then the cellos playing the theme in a very basic form. Another thing better composers do is to disguise their intentions early in pieces and save their grandest statement of their themes for toward the end. This is getting your music the old fashioned way, you earn it.

So what can you do with your piece? If it was me I'd simplify the beginning and take it unexpected places. I wouldn't state your grand theme in full at the beginning (or maybe a full statement of a simplified version then start a grander one, but then switch in mid theme to something else). Anyway the idea is to end it in a way that let's us know you're really going someplace different (like modulating to the medient). Most importantly if you're going to start grand, bring it down to piano or even pianissimo soon. State your grand theme then make it go away long enough that we miss it. Then when you bring it back you can use some of the interim elements as accompaniment or transitioning themes.

One really good exercise is to listen to music you really enjoy and try to analyze its dramatic structure. Then use that as a template for a piece of your own. Good luck.
Posted by: Allazart

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 07:32 PM

I listened it all the way through.
Your idea is quite catching and I found myself entranced the way one would be if they were watching waves, or well, looking up at the stars.
Since this is probably the atmosphere you were trying to evoke the music probably accomplishes exactly what you wanted it to do and that is not a bad thing.
You draw reference to certain books in your youtube description and I think it would probably work well as a soundscape for certain settings in a movie or play.

However, one's frame of mind and listening habits can influence one's reaction to a piece of music.
Furthermore, people who listen to much classical/pure art music (and many people here are among that group) will tend to expect music with more internal drama.
So what seems like a long-subdued opening might create the expection of a 'breaking-out', a significant climax, a supernova (to go with the theme of the piece), and when that expectation is never fulfilled the listener might be left empty.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while one can write a few isolated pithy paragraphs and get away with it, if you string together several paragraphs to make an essay, readers will expect an overarching point to which everything builds.
It's similar wirh music; a short piece can get away with being a 'neat soundscape' but a longer piece will create the expectation of a logical progression of ideas leading to the point or climax!
If your piece had been 1:30 you would probably would not have gotten responses where people seemed underwhelmed but at 4:00 they were expecting more with each second and never got it.

Since music comes from a very personal place we can sometimes view criticism as being harsher than it really is.
We pour or heart into it, every note might have been a struggle and we want everyone to love it!
So I understand how apparent rejection might seem very personal but more often than not it is not personal for the listener.
Why, even some of my favourite composers have written individual pieces I don't like.


I try to remember that it's actually quite a courtesy for someone to take the time to listen AND then comment on a posted composition.
I find that's not too common and your thread has more responses than most here and on other forums like this.
Notice, too, that even the particular comments you didn't like were often prefaced with commendation.
So try to remain balanced and if anything anyone says makes sense and you can use it to grow artistically, go for it.
After all, even Beethoven removed the Andante Favori from the Waldstein, after a listener in his 'inner cirlce' claimed that the sonata was too long, and replaced it with the short but profound Introduzione.
Not before being furious about the criticism of course, and he did go on to write the hulking Hammerklavier.
So in the final analysis you're free to reject any suggestion since no one can take away the power a musician has over his own pen.

All the best and keep writing!
Posted by: eweiss

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/19/09 08:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Allazart
Furthermore, people who listen to much classical/pure art music (and many people here are among that group) will tend to expect music with more internal drama.

Bingo! Let go of expectations and just listen. Then you will really hear the music instead of waiting for something to "develop."
Posted by: RobCatterton

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/20/09 08:06 PM

First, thanks to all for your thoughtful comments and feedback -- I will ponder your remarks -- special thanks to Allazart and Steve Chandler for taking considerable time and effort in providing suggestions, and to eweiss for his perceptive remark.

I'm kind of from the Bud Powell school of pianists (infulential jazz pianist of the 1940s, 50, and early 60s) -- so my pattern tends to be to write or play a theme, or a "head" -- then play two choruses or so that are improvised, and return to the head, and out. This piece is structured similarly, with the addition of the break in the middle of the piece. Although oddly, Obscure Moons is not jazz by any measure -- but does fit the profile of a "riff tune," and I have always felt there was a classical feel to its main theme.

In starting to listen to the other original postings (as I said before, I am new here), and am enjoying being exposed to different styles and the generally high level of sophistication. A question -- is this area of PianoWorld geared primarily to original music in the classical or modern classical realm, or is it open to all types of music?

And finally, my intent was never to create a tempest in a teapot!

my best regards to all --

Rob Catterton
Posted by: eweiss

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/20/09 08:23 PM

Well Rob, I totally got torn a new a-hole over one of my posts. It was actually pretty funny. http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1189190/

Biggest complaint? The music didn't go anywhere. When I challenged the belief that music "should" go somewhere all hell broke loose.

Just kidding. I always advise my own students not to show their work until they themselves feel OK about it. Otherwise, normally well meaning comments can be very destructive to our fragile egos.
Posted by: Bogdan Zarkin

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/21/09 08:58 AM

Nice piece.

But some p-mp dynamics in the first 1:30 before you go into the I minor - IV Major section would really augment the exaltation.

And the last minute could use some more build up as well.


Yep, strong piece, but spirited chord colors need more expressivity and emphasis in certain sections to really propel them.

Posted by: RobCatterton

Re: Original Composition -- Obscure Moons - 05/22/09 03:22 AM

Thank you, Bogdan Zarkin -- I think both of your criticisms are spot on -- better dynamics, and more sophistication in the chordal structure to support the theme would help as well. Not sure how to achieve this -- yet -- but something for me to pursue.

And -- I thought the PianoWorld community as a whole would be interested to be aware of our global reach.

In the statistics area of YouTube ((Insight to song title to Popularity to Discovery to External Links)) I can see that viewers in the United States, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, and Romania have found my composition from the link posted on PianoWorld. Pretty cool world we are living in!