Thank you to both judges for all the great feedback! I really appreciate how much time and energy you put into everybody's music. Thank you for making this process so meaningful. I look forward to the next competition!
First of all, the instrumentation is a little bit strange. I can't think of any orchestral scores that feature the alto sax, but no oboe or bassoon. I would definitely encourage you to include these instruments as you develop the piece further, as they can be really beautiful and useful. There's also no double bass part, but I assume you just intend for the basses to double the cello at the octaves. I also have a couple of questions related to the score, because transferring the midi to my notation program has left me a little confused.
My program labeled the clarinet part "Bass Clarinet, Bb Clarinet" and has interpreted it as a clarinet, but because of the range and lack of any other clarinet part, I am assuming that it's intended to be a regular Bb. Am I correct?
The last percussion part is labeled "Piano, Percussion". Is this supposed to be a piano or another chromatic percussion instrument?
The orchestration is not bad as far as I can tell, although it is somewhat difficult to make a judgement since very few dynamics carry over in the midi. Make sure you are aware of the balance between brass and woodwinds/strings since brass can become overpowering pretty quickly. I would generally advise against having so many long passages of all the brass playing at one time. It can become tiring pretty quickly, and having passages devoted to only a few members of the orchestra can help give more diverse colors to the piece, and give you a ground level of sound from which to build on. You did this in one particular passage (m. 5-12) by stripping it back to only the strings, but with the tuba doubling the bass line. I don't think I would use that doubling there as it is very easy for the tuba to overpower the lower strings, but that may be the effect you're going for. If you just wanted to strengthen the bass line without drowning out the string sound, a bassoon doubling would be a safer option.
One more little nitpick: I don't think the pickup note in measure 12 leading up to the tutti works as a staccato. It feels like it should be leaning into the next beat, but cutting it short sort of defeats its purpose. Anyways, this is generally pretty good, and I think as you keep working on it, you'll find it gets better and better. This reminds me a lot of my own earliest attempts at orchestral writing, so I hope that maybe sharing a little of what I've learned since then will help you out. Cheers!
Hey there Samurai, it's been a while since I've had time to listen to your works - I'm glad you posted several of them in once place. Easier for me to listen and review this way :)
1) Inception of the Ominous. Definitely a character piece, but could use a defining "hook" to carry the listener through. Whether that's a harmonic twist or melodic movement or whatever doesn't matter so much, just think like a story... what will draw the listener in and convince them to commit beyond the first chapter?
2) Narcissistic King... Really cool piano stuff! It's a nice element to what you have going here. I can't tell if it's the sound sample or the melody itself, but something about what the violin is doing is unsettling to my ear... Could be the interesting harmonic shifting, could be resolutions, it's hard for me to tell for certain. I can hear ideas waiting to shine, when in doubt, revise revise revise!
3) Insignia. Ah yes, I remember this one! As before, it's compelling, driving us forward at a good pace. It's lost its momentum by the end, though :( The electronic things are super interesting, would love to hear them with less clashing and with more prominence! Can you hear the places where the momentum slows?
4) Another insignia...! Sustained harmonic textures, often slow moving lower tones. Consistent pacing in the moving voices, I'm starting to notice trends now in your writing. It's good work - where do you turn for inspiration? Your profile says you're a parent, yes? I often turn to my students (I don't yet have children of my own) and try to saddle their imaginations to push me when I'm stuck in a stylistic rut. Let something push you to try something new, even if it's as simple as writing in 6-8 with a bombastic melody in the bass voices. I don't know, go big! Don't be afraid to strike out :)
5) Insignia Again........! The details are the hooking part for me, they're tasty little bits of goodness. Each thing is good in its time and place - the sustained things and the moving things. Find ways to clear the air for each to have its stage time, like making room on stage in a musical or an opera.
6) Holy insignias, Batman! Here is one that kept me listening intently even through the sustained beginning. Just enough of each thing to keep me going, not to give anything away. This one is well done on all accounts, perhaps work on a slight variation in the transitional sounds. Like in jazz, never play the same solo twice in one night - try not to repeat something as memorable as a transition in the cymbals twice without a small change, unless you have a reason for doing so.
7) Element Zero. I think I watched/listened to this one before as well. It's good theatrical music in terms of composition, it highlights what it needs to. One thing I notice about your sounds, especially your string synthesizers, they're a little "attack" heavy. Is there a setting you could tweak to connect them more? Check out live orchestra stuff and really great sound tracks and study just their sounds. I have no idea what you'd do to emulate that, but it's worth having the tool in your toolkit to be able to do both kinds of sound - it gives you more control and more options.
8) Devil's gate. This is one of my favorites from you, it shows a lot of thought and care going into the construction. Even the transitions transition with PURPOSE and with a destination. Very well done. :)
9) Song from the Ancients. A good work, less compelling than the other. What was different about your process for that one? Understanding the way you work will give you huge insight and make you uber-effective.
10) Delusional Dukes! Very cool, love the shredding string work in the middle. You write well when you go aggressively for something, whether that something is BIG or (small), when you really go for it and commit to that being the thing and to making it work, it really sparkles for you. Sparkles is a weird word to use, I hope you follow...?
Thanks for posting, a pleasure to listen and hope all is well!