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Development - am I doing it yet?

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Martin Hoffmann, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. This is the latest of several attempts at fixing an old piece of mine that sucks due to lack of development, by bringing it back to a piano reduction. My main questions are:

    - Is there development to be found yet? I'm not trolling, I just never know "am I doing it yet, or is this some other nonsense?"

    - Which parts feel "too random" or disorienting? My girlfriend said "Sounds nice but there's something about it that irritates me", but she wasn't able to pinpoint it and on repeated listens it was even harder to hear for her, as seems to be common. And do you have any suggestions how I could have found those myself without asking others?

    - Is there any part that works and that I should do more of?

    - Is there anything I'm overdoing and should do less of?

    - I didn't really care about dynamics, so there's barely any variation in them (all entered with the mouse in my daw). Is this a big no-go for piano reductions or is it a plus because that element of "vertical development" would distract from the "real" developments?

    The midi is attached as zipped archive, in case that's usefull to anyone. Tempo is 115 bpm.

    Thanks for listening!

    Attached Files:

    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  2. I don't think there's much development here. Here are some thoughts in a random order:

    1. In the first section, every measure has the same rhythm, and that gets tyring very soon. It feels too static. The simplest development type is rhythmical, by varying the patterns, adding more or less notes as the melody unfolds, etc.
    2. Your piece is 100% white piano keys, it's 100% diatonic. That leaves very, VERY small room for development, if you watch Mike's videos, you'll see him adding modulations is one of his basic tools to make the music move somewhere.
    3. The bass notes are a collection of pop music clichés. Pop music has almost no development, which is fine, but you say you were looking for development. Almost all the possible development types in pop music are reduced to a thickening of the texture and upping the dynamics. If you want to try something else, I'd add some modulations, and maybe even some cadences, perfect, deceptive, dominant prolongations, something to make the music go somewhere.
    4. Also, just listening to the first 3 measures, you have a double 8ve in the tonic, then a supertonic over a tonic pedal, but then you forget about the tonic pedal and the dissonance it has, and you jump to a double 8ve on the 3rd degree. That direct octave is super weak.
    5. The second section has many pauses which IMO are quite upsetting, if you intended to put some development here, the pauses are killing it.
    6. Then you return to the opening idea and then you add a section with scales, so the overall form seems ABAC. It's a some simple rondo form I guess.
    To summarize, I think you need to learn more music theory, which you can at places like http://openmusictheory.com/. Also, if you follow Mike's advice, learn them jazz chords.

    Also, composing in a DAW when you don't have an ultra-solid foundation in theory is IMO a bad idea, either compose at the piano, or compose with a score.
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  3. @Albert de la Fuente: Thanks a lot for the detailed and honest feedback, I really appreciate it! I'm glad you joined redbanned and share your knowledge with us.

    It'll take me some time to really dig into all the things you've mentioned, but I'll try it and report back here with a hopefully better developed version of the piece, to check if I learned something!

    Albert de la Fuente likes this.
  4. Hi Martin,

    I don't have much time to dive deep into your piece because I'm off to work, but I look forward to hearing your pieces and development. (Ha!, pun intended since you asked about development). So, I had to just give you a little feedback.

    Two things since this piece is very repetitive and doesn't change harmonically enough is...

    1. Develope it harmonically through modulation or just interesting harmony.

    2. Develop rhythmically. Your theme/motif is fine, but because of how simple it is and the chords that go along are relatively simple you need to start moving quicker in development or a contrasting B theme rather quickly or as your girlfriend put it, "something starts to irritate the listener".

    One thing to explore that will help you is chromaticism and chromatic voice-leading/harmony. That'll help spark some interesting places for you to visit.

    For me your actual development or perhaps you can call it a B theme of sorts, (to each their own) is at 1:23. That was the part that was like oh hey, that's interesting and new'ish.

    Keep writing and working on it. Looking forward to more!


    Development has to have a direction and perhaps a story/point to it. So if you think about your music in that sense (like a film score), what is your story/arc? Perhaps, that will help you lead to how you will develop your idea.

    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  5. @Dillon DeRosa: Thanks a lot for your feedback too! I have a lot of homework to do and I'll keep you guys updated when I'm making any progress.
    You raise a very good point of me not knowing where to go. That's certainly the case, and something that I've struggled with in other creative endeavours too. I'll try to be more deliberate about the story/arc in my next attempt. I'll probably do some from scratch new excercises before I take another shot at working with the melody of the piece that I posted here. But I'll get back to it eventually.
    Thanks a lot for the encouragement! I also haven't forgotten about that aleatoric thing we talked about a while back, but I didn't get around to going back to that yet.

    Dillon DeRosa likes this.

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