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Critique and Feedback!

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Sam Allen, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. Hi everyone,

    Could I please have a little feedback on this sketch?
    This week I've really challenged myself to sit at the piano and write with paper. It's not been easy, but I am beginning to notice the benefits.

    Lemme know your thoughts, I have reservations on a few aspects, would be interesting to see if they line up with the critique of the professionals!


    PS: whats THE best way to embed a file to this forum?
  2. Couple of things right off the bat. I am not a professional, just another hobbyist so take everything I say with a pinch of salt. There's not really a best way to embed audio files, soundcloud is fine really.

    I listened to this a while ago with the intention to comment on it. I remember that on the first listen I was getting lost more than on the 2nd listen, or in other words: the piece made more sense to me after I had listened a few times. Where you lose me is around 0:46, because it's a change that I don't feel is justified, warranted or "inevitable" based on what came before. Now, that doesn't mean you can't occasionally do something a little unexpected, but at 1:00, you change things up again! The cadence was going in a certain direction, it had sort of a heroic, going-forward vibe but then came the quasi random toms/drum hit and some brass and suddenly we're in scary/mysterious land. Around 1:12 it then becomes more dream like and at this point I am not really sure what the vibe you were going for was, and you're probably not entirely sure yourself either.

    What most likely happened is something that has happened to me a lot and still happens to me. You start writing in the DAW, you get some idea, you fully orchestrate out a couple of bars and you keep hearing the start of your piece over and over again. Maybe two hours have gone by now and you're fatigued from listening to your own idea, so you decide that what your piece needs is to switch things up! So you go ahead, write another few bars, and the same thing happens. If you keep going for long enough you eventually end up with little snippets of 10, 20, maybe 30 seconds that on their own make sense, but are not connected when played back to back. It was actually thanks to Mike's classes that I became aware I was doing this, and what helped me the most was indeed to go to the piano. I now force myself to not orchestrate a thing until I've got basically the whole piece figured out on piano, or at the very least the meat of the idea. It's still a tough process for me, but I can at least assure that it's worth it. Whereas I could previously only "hold" onto an idea for about 20-30 seconds, I can now do double that time.

    Back to your piece: I liked the opening 50 seconds or so the best. The melody in the winds is quite nice, it has a yearning/forlorn quality to it. My only real critique of that section is that the high strings are quite static and cut out quite abruptly at ~0:12. 'Ride the modwheel" is a bit of a meme in VI world now, but that's what I think you should do. It's more musical to do a little fade-in and fade-out and if you want to take it a step further: you could fake a little re-bow about halfway through the sustained note by dipping and then bumping CC1 (unless the string players in your orchestra have very long bows).

    Also, what is motivating the violins to go an octave lower at ~0:12? Functionally the strings are still doing the same thing: holding chords around your wind melody, but the jump down an octave alerts me, as the listener, that something has changed, and what it really does is shift my attention to the strings when it should be on the wind(s). Personally I would either keep the strings up high, or start them an octave lower (probably the latter, they're still up high enough that they won't get in the way of your melody).

    To wrap up, there are certainly things to like in here, most prominent of which is the wind melody that you open with. I think that's the real meat of this piece. Now, the question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to go back on this piece or if you want to move on to a new piece. While I think there's a piece in here that you could get out of it, my advice would actually be to move on to the next thing. This is purely based on my own experience: I find I make more progress by not looking back too much, but this may well be different for you.

    I hope some of this was helpful! Keep on writing! I am looking forward to hearing more of your works on here :)

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