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Symphony Critique

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Cody Ortz, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Hi all,

    This will be a short post, long piece... I'm working on a Symphony and I really like the piano sketch I've written, but now as I'm orchestrating, I'm liking it less and less. I'll throw in links to the piano sketch (mp3s and PDFs) as well as the start of my orchestration works.

    Any feedback about what isn't working with this is greatly appreciated. I'm finding that I get "stuck" on themes--that is to say, I write a compelling idea, but then falter on the development and end up stuck in this repetitive loop.

    Here's the link to the materials: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1SyuKlTTR3oyVZTmUHueXsOab9zpz8vwk?usp=sharing

    Let the harshest criticism win!
  2. What is your goal for writing this?

    Well, Ok. You are reaching for something far beyond what you can currently do.

    This is common. It is like when you learn an instrument.
    Let's say you have a piano student who has been doing really well for a number of years, playing standard rep. at a very high level.
    Then they bring in Rach. 3. which is far beyond what they can do, but they have always wanted to.

    The good news is you have to learn how NOT to write a symphony in order to write a proper one.

    It's clear you are an ambitious composer, so that is great.

    I would say find a point to end that you can feel good about what you have achieved, and then move on.
    This can then serve as a experitmental sketch book for your future pieces.

    Additionally, this works better as a "computer orchestra" symphony. You are highly skilled in this area, so that is also a plus.

    I would advise composing some theme and variations for solo piano.

    Then for your next attempt .....scale it back a few notches. Restrict yourself to writing in fashion similar to Hydan, or Mozart.

    Then, take it up a notch from there.

    The other thing to do is copy out a lot of scores by hand. Just notate them out. You will learn a lot from this.

    To boil down my criticism: learn how to make your music sound "Inevitable". Create an arch. How do we create a sense of arrival? How about departure?

    Right now the piece just happens. Plus, it's a pastiche of your favourite works. Grabbing a little of this, with a little of that. We go from Copland to Shostakovich to Beethoven to Holst to Rite of spring and on and on.

    Keep going!

    I hope that was not too discouraging. But you asked for honest feedback....so .....
  3. I've always wanted to get into writing long-form symphonic music. I've done chamber music, piano solos, even some compositions for wind ensemble. But my passion is in orchestral music. So I guess the goal is live performance by a good orchestra.

    Lots of really good advice in here. I've gotten some feedback that I need to do more exploring and writing smaller pieces. One comment you make that really resonates with me:

    That's a fair point. And I've found that it's taking me a LONG time to get this out, which may also be indicative of that. Lots of good points though. Thanks!

    Not at all! This was really helpful and useful feedback. (Especially compared to the comment I got on a FB group, "Wow, yet another talent-less hack.")
  4. I had a listen to the 3rd movement string arrangement. I found it a little unfocused but I like your sense of harmony which I thought was quite consistant and reminded me a lot of Wagner.
    Cody Ortz likes this.
  5. I write little things - short, little things - all the time. Just little hooks or dittys; bite-sized, compact little pieces. Musical tapas. Being able to quickly and reliably plant solid anchors with small footprints makes building large structures on them infinitely easier. 95% of my work is compact and efficient, but it paves the way for long-form writing.
    Cody Ortz likes this.
  6. Definitely. I had just finished transcribing Webern's "Langsamer Satz" and really enjoyed the harmonies. (And I played through Schoenberg's Models for Composition--good stuff in there too.) I did have a hard time moving past it being just a harmonic blur though.

  7. Thanks, Mike! This is good advice. I'm not sure I'm ready for the long-form compositions quite yet. I'm finding more that I "stumble" across musical ideas/textures/themes that I like much more often than I specifically/intentionally craft them. Writing small things that have good structure would probably be much more beneficial for me --at the moment and probably long term as well.


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