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The Enchanted Forest

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Duncan Formosa, Jan 15, 2023.

  1. I've been working on this little piece for the past two weeks and thought I would share for some feedback.

    I'm curious what some of the potential comments might be because there are a few moments that bother me that doesn't seem to bother some of the other people I've let listen to. My dad in particular is normally very vocal if something isn't working but he thinks the composition is good.

    Curious if anyone mentions some of the stuff I have issues with, will hold back on what they are for now though.

    Tom Welsh likes this.
  2. I like the vibe of it.
    But I would say it is not your strongest melody. And I know you are a very good melody writer.
    I think the motif is fine, but how the Melody progresses after the first few bars is not hooking me, and I feel it could be stronger.

    At 0:37 I expected the pattern to go on. I think it would make this part stronger.

    For the orchestration I kinda miss more build up at 2:10, but that may be personal preference.
    At 2:40 the entrance of all instruments is kinda abruptly. I would maybe add short string and harp runs to lead into the next section.

    In total I expected the song to go big and soaring, but that doesn't seem to be the story you want to tell, since you deliberatly shy away from that kind of climax when it would be obvious to do it.

    I'm curious to hear what bothers you about it.
  3. I agree, it's not my best piece overall. My new years resoloution is to try and get at least 1 music project done every 2 weeks. Whether that be an original piece or transcribing or a re-imagining of another piece. Thought it would be a good excersise and encourages me to work a little harder. Hopefully with time I'll be able to make some stronger melodies faster but I guess you can't win them all!

    I'm not 100% sure what you mean here, could you try and explain a bit more?

    Is it a matter of the orchestration or the dynamics? I'm trying to force myself to do a number of pieces that have a small amount instruments. In this case piano, harp, celeste and strings.

    I agree, this was one of the problems I have with it that I was told I was overthinking, so I'm glad it's not just me. Not sure about a harp or string run though, not feeling it's appropriate for this piece, at least how I have it in mind. I was kind of going for this kind of vibe when everything drops out. I'm curious what the pad sound is. Not sure if it's a celeste with a large attack and some kind of effect that gives it the pulse? maybe it's just a volume automation. Whatever it is I think it helps keep it moving unlike the version I have. Just doesn't feel right.

    Yeah, I'm trying to force myself to do things a little different since I always do AABA with a huge climax at the end.

    I think the piece is fine for the most part, not anything special but fine for what it is. A large chunk of the problems I have are from 2:11 onwards. Structure wise I'm feeling it starts to fall apart. I enjoy listening to everything up until that point and then I think it gets a bit lost, like there's too much fat in it. But I'm struggling to find a nice, cut down, killer version of it. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm trying to go out of my comfort zone a little here in terms of the structure cause by that point I would have had the big finale with the A theme already and wrapped up.

    How did you feel at this point? I've been told I'm overthinking by two people already and nobody else seems to have mentioned it.
  4. at 0:37 you have a whole note for 1 or two bars and then another one. I think it would be stronger if you would fill that with the previous melodic pattern.

    I think its just orchestration. My instinct would be to do a cymbal swell (no hit at the end) or a harp run up. The harp would fit better into your restriction. Just so it builds a bit more, suggesting a climax, but then we go into the bridge section.

    Sounds like you want a vibraphone with motor on in that place? In the sherlock piece I guess its some synth patch? But to do it with real instruments I would think of a vibraphone, at least the way you describe it. And color wise it fits perfectly to the vibe I think.

    To be clear: Not doing the climax here is totally fine in my opinion. It fits to what you want to say.

    I don't think it falls apart structure wise. You can think of this section to be still part of B. And as I said earlier, as listeners we expect the return to A and the climax at 2:11, but its not frustating to get a breakdown instead. But after that we want that build up and climax even more (at least I was hoping for it). By deliberatly not doing it, it didn't match my expectation, but I went with it. As you know the listener believes you mean what you say, so it's like: Oh I thought the story goes to this, but then it doesn't. Interesting. Like when you watch a movie and the obvious thing does not happen. It's not bad and can be a lot of fun. By doing that the piece elft me with a specific feeling. Like that the enchanted forest and its story is more "sad" than I thought. It's like not giving a happy end. And that's fine.

    I don't think that you overthink. The harsh instrument entrane at 2:40 is a bit clunky and gets weirder and weirder when I hear it. Apparantly most people don't care about it, but that's true for almost everything. A good cooked meal does make a difference in taste, but the clunky meal is also tasty and makes you full. I think if you would have a better solution for this part, then people would prefer it against the current solution.
    For the structure you may be overthinking a bit. It really depends on what you are trying to say with this piece.
    Duncan Formosa likes this.
  5. I think I did originally have an extra note or something in here and then I took it out cause it wasn't working but now that you've brought it up I think I know how I would fix it!

    harp run could be a good shout, I think I can hear that working in my head. Even though it's building up to something a lot quieter I think that could be the glue to make the transition work.

    Trying to think of a way to get this same effect without adding an extra instrument. I wonder if the celeste holding some chords at a lower octave than what it's been playing before might do the trick. I'll experiment with that.

    I'll be honest, I'm not 100% sure what I was thinking for the end haha, but I've been trying to think "what would Mike say about this piece" and I couldn't help but think back to the note he gave me in the last unleashed piece I submitted where he said it was a little fat and I could trim it down to make it sexier and that's what's currently in my head just now for that section cause I like everything up until that point.
    Michael Lückgen likes this.
  6. #6 Duncan Formosa, Jan 18, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2023
    Done another draft here.

    I'm a bit happier with this version than the last one, although there were a couple of things that were discussed here that I tried that didn't end up working. The harp gliss before everything drops out for example didn't end up working I think because the overtones clashed with the next chord, so I left that out.
    Ivan Milinkovic likes this.
  7. #7 Stephen Limbaugh, Jan 19, 2023
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2023
    At 0:43 I'm not sure about the leading tone as the lowest note in the harp arpeggios (and I guess there's a piano on those bottom notes as well?). The melody and that both resolve by ascending to the tonic in the same direction and makes it sound.... well, there's probably a better option.

    Also consider some different textures with non chord tones, and dropping the 3rd from the harp arpeggios. Clarinets perhaps... and a countermelody. Work in some high note/low note contours in the harp... Maybe something *kinda* like this...

    **EDIT: Also I think I would change my Db notes in the violas/clarinets to Bb notes resolving up to C. But my main point with this is that textures, color notes, and sparseness can better paint the mystical mood. You’re 80% there simply cause of the harp and celeste. But digging in a little deeper into the details will elevate things.
  8. This is a really nice arrangement of it! I like a lot of the ideas there. Do you have any references to classical/film musci that have the same vibe? Would be interested in studying them if you did.

    I'm going to park the piece for now just because I've set a challenge for myself this year that I have 2 weeks to finish any kind of music project whether it be writing/transcribing/reimagining. Trying to force myself to write more and hopefully get faster at it and learn a lot more. Will also hopefully be a bit easier to go back and re-do after a break.

    There are so many pieces that I've posted here that I want to get back to like the battle, adventure city and hopefully expand upon the very first idea I sent Mike for unleashed.

    But yeah, REALLY nice arrangement of that first part. It sounds more like what I had intended it to be.
  9. hmm, not off the top of my head… when I hear celeste all I hear is Harry Potter or Nutcracker.

    The key, in my view, is that each part has to be interesting in its own right even if they don’t have the melody. The other key is instrument choice.

    In the original, you have piano and harp going. So a question to ask is “do they both need to be playing?” They function as kinda the same way in that when you strike a key or pluck a string, there’s the attack, and then it fades out. So if that attack/fade thing is one part, and then you layer with sustaining notes from strings, why double the harp with piano? Just let the harp take it… see what I’m saying?

    An exception could be if the piano notes in the original are up or down an octave. Or a 5th. Or 3rd. Then you bring a different texture and color to it. But a unison in this context muddies the intention… or… feels redundant. Or, maybe the piano is shifted off one beat! Sometimes a unison is necessary because you need more power/volume. But this is all sparse pianissimo stuff.

    On the point of making each part interesting, look at the harp part. See how I leave out the 3rds of the chords. Then, look at the lowest notes and the highest notes of the arpeggios in each measure. See how they form their own line? It’s like a musical line within a line. This is alllllllll over classical scores. It’s what you can learn studying counterpoint.

    Finally, not all instruments have to come in on the downbeat. Look at the final bar as an example. Or the clarinets entrance. If you look at your score or piano roll, if you see the midi notes all on the down beat, experiment moving the bass notes to beat two. Or middle notes,,. whatever.
    Duncan Formosa likes this.

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