What are you using for sound samples? What is your notion software? What are you editing (blending) the sounds together with? This has an incredible professionally recorded tinge to it. I do also really like the composition. If is a bit short and lacks some development of theme or motif, but it does have a nice arch in its musical story telling. It is a complete musical idea with a beginning middle and end. It is a bit like trailer music i.e. it captures all the tips of themes and events or characters in short for a flash across the screen. I wanna here more of your work. Do you have anything composed that focuses more on a singular theme or motif and is developed more in depth?
As the saying goes: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". I am of the opinion that the only way knowledge can work against you is if you do not understand what you are learning. The reason you study technique - which is very frustrating and sometimes even boring - is not to know how to consistently apply trite devices but rather to learn by experience the particular consequences of certain decisions. If you do this enough you get to the point where you can solve problems that don't seem to have a direct precedence because you develop a sensitivity which makes it possible for you to understand them on a deep level. Inspiration is a very great illusion - that is not to say that it is not possible to be inspired nor that it is undesirable (I would agree that music without inspiration is worthless). Emotion is something that occurs within your own body and which is only fully perceived by you. The expression of emotion, through verbal language and body language, is something which is learned and must be practiced to become natural. In fact, you could argue that the only true forms of external emotion are the primitive expressions of pain and joy, etc. That doesn't make more nuanced forms of expression less valid, just more abstract. Consider how this applies to an instrumentalist. It is sometimes said that the most important quality in an instrumentalist is emotional investment and spontaneity of expression. Perhaps - but one must not forget that all instruments, even the voice, are inherently counter-intuitive. In order to be "spontaneous", you have to make split second decisions between sets of very complicated interrelated procedures which cannot be performed unless they have been drilled into the muscle memory. Playing spiccato is not as simple as just wanting to play something spiccato. It is true that instrumentalists have to deal with real-time execution whereas composers theoretically have an infinite amount of time. But what of improvisers, who have to make split-second decisions of the nature found in composition? There are some improvisers who "play from the heart" and do not wish for their creativity to be dictated by formulas. Their creativity is in fact usually polluted by formulas of a less sophisticated kind which their brain has internalized to the point where they can use them without expending conscious thought. What they don't realize is that this is exactly what "formula" musicians do too, only they have a much wider bank available to them and thus have more nuance of expression. It should be obvious how this applies to our discussion of composition. You master the use of basic tools which makes it possible for you to craft complicated structures with ease. You still have the same brain as you did before you started studying the techniques; you will only lose touch with your creativity if you allow yourself to be dictated by the technique and not vice versa.
Hey, I am completely sympathetic and am sorry I wasn't more specific to begin with - I will gladly follow up on all of my points.
This is something I am studying at the moment because to be honest I have a very primitive understanding of rhythmic organization. So while I cannot offer specific technical advice which I swear by, I can at least tell you as a keen observer of rhythm that verbatim repetition is something that is best used with great caution. I suggest studying rhythmical transformations by the masters and working your way from there. In order to create coherency it is generally recommended to use a limited number of truly independent rhythmic structures and creating large structures solely by varying these directly.
I'll point out the things which I find could be better realized:
1) Look at the melodic outline of your phrases:
Phrase 1: (C) (D-flat C) (D-flat C) (D-flat C) (G F) (E-flat D-flat) (C B-flat) (G G) (F F).
Here you have a pattern of descending steps on the beat which is broken at the very end before the cadence. Not a bad idea, considering that you also reverse the melodic direction at this moment, but the effect is ruined by repeating it immediately in the resolution, therefore undermining the tension by releasing it only very weakly. It deserves mention that the entire phrase behaves like an 8-bar phrase but is actually 8.5 bars, which creates a minor rhythmic dissonance which could be expanded upon but as it stands only serves to confuse momentarily. There are many different ways to solve this problem. You should bear in mind that it is not interesting to have the melody and rhythm always doing the same thing. It is strong for the melody to come to a close on a strong beat, but that does not mean that this is how you should end all phrases. It makes the moment when the piece finally does end so much stronger if you take care to make the other ends weaker in comparison. There are all sorts of tricks to accomplishing this, some classics being varying between ending on the weak or strong beat, ending on a strong beat but beginning a new phrase in the same breath (which is structurally dissonant and therefore interesting), using chord inversions, ending on the dominant or a tonic substitute, postponing the ending with suspensions or appoggiaturas. Literally, you name it - and these are all things which have been studied and are now well understood.
Phrase 2: (E E) (F F) (C F) (F C) (A-flat G) (G F) (C F) (A-flat C) (B-flat F)
This phrase begins similarly to how the last one ended but then the pattern is completely abandoned and a general pattern of descent returns, until bar 15 where you reverse it for two bars. This phrase is also of very unusual length. Do you want to know what I find most obvious (which is not necessarily the best solution)? You should erase bar 4 because a resolution at that point is not interesting and makes the tension created by the chromaticism pointless. Instead, you should go directly to bar 5 and then erase the repeat mark and place it after bar 10 (now bar 9). Also, change the direction of the melody in bar 7 (now bar 6 - A flat G F G) to match the previous two bars, and rewrite bar 10 (now bar 9) so that it is only one quarter note F so that the phrase repeats naturally. What you have now is a relatively strong 9 bar phrase with three slightly different ideas, and a different final bar to mark the end (you could also alter it without significantly changing the material so that it fits into an 8 bar structure). It is balanced and has a logical structure, and is also somewhat exciting because the points of highest and lowest tension are located in structurally significant places. This is just an example to show you that your phrase structure is deeply flawed and goes contrary to the spirit of the music. My comments are not suppoed to be a prescription for "how to make the piece better" - I did not compose it and am therefore not invested in the piece, so my suggestions should not be confused with actual composition. I hope you forgive me but this is extremely tiring - you should go through the rest of the piece by yourself as an exercise.
Oh man, I could name hundreds of great examples had I nothing else to do - unfortunately life isn't so generous. Anyway, it basically has to do with projecting the formal elements onto material in order to create meanings and stir emotions. Here is one particularly subtle example (1:37):
This has a very simple but nuanced structure. It basically just consists of sequences of tonic-subdominant-dominant progressions. It looks something like this: (T)-(S-D-T)-(SD-D-T)-(SD-SD-D)-(T) - but only very roughly, don't take it too seriously. Anyway, a few times Bach uses major seventh chords in third inversion which he takes care to approach rather weakly (not via dominant seventh chords) to make it absolutely clear that they have a subdominant function. But, at the climactic moment (1:36), he does something different. Now instead of going from the tonic chord to a subdominant, he goes straight to a dominant chord on the same root (with a seventh), and resolves to a major seventh chord in root position by letting the leading tone live on in the highest voice. This signals to the listener that the chord does in fact have a tonic function even though it has a major seventh dissonance - a very unexpected and thrilling effect. The significance of this major seventh chord is much more than just being a nice chord - and Bach did not place it there just because he thought it sounded cool - its placement is calculated very precisely and the whole form is architectured to accommodate it. If you think very deeply about how music is organized with regard to tension, dissonance in a very large sense, you are in a better position to craft exciting music. I'll give you an example of dialog between instrument and form/material by addressing your next question.
It is a fair point. I would say that the specific case of the Brahms sonatas is best explained by the fact that it is written with both instruments in mind and therefore he is careful to exclude things which are too idiomatic for either instrument. You usually do not need to wallow in concerns of instrumentation and consider every note very carefully - instruments are designed in a way that usual things are comfortable - this includes most arpeggios and scales and basic leaps. However, consider also the vast dynamic capabilities of the clarinet, which are almost equalled by the viola as a string instrument. Had he written it for the clarinet or horn, for example, he would quickly run into problems with his dynamics being impossible to observe, so it is not as if these two instruments being considered "interchangeable" is proof that ideas are fully above instruments. I don't wish to be mean, but your last sentence is a little bit absurd. What you listed is not in any way "only", in fact if I'm not mistaken, it is a complete list of things an idea is capable of adapting to with regard to instruments.
You underestimate the psychological aspect of written music. The instrumentalist is not merely a vessel for the music, in some sense they are the music. It is in the composer's best interest to write music which is interesting to play and is not unnecessarily difficult. It is a source of great frustration for any musician to be asked to play something simple which is counter-intuitive and goes against the nature of the instrument. This is however something which can be stretched really thin if you have strong compositional reasons. Consider the Berio sequenzas - they are as difficult as virtuoso pieces come and yet nobody complains about them because they really allow the instrument to shine brilliantly. The same is true of the music of Brian Ferneyhough. He can be criticized for writing music which approaches impossibility, but the musicians who have the patience to learn a piece of his love it. He is a sensitive musician and is an expert on the playing technique of most instruments, and is aware that some of the things he writes are very unfriendly and only asks that the musician tries to approximate it as best they can (the effect is quite spectacular). This philosophical view of virtuosity as a metaphor if you will is something which is common in solo writing, especially the composers I mentioned and the Romantic virtuoso composers like Liszt and Paganini. Only fools believe that these masters wrote difficult pieces to show off their technical prowess. There are certainly shallow pieces by both composers, but there are also masterpieces like Liszt's B minor sonata and Paganini's set of caprices. You must understand however that when Paganini writes something like this:
… that he knows exactly what he is doing. This is extremely difficult, as is perfectly evidenced by hearing somebody (attempt) to play it. But it is not because the idea comes first and must not be polluted, nor that he is simply unaware that this is difficult violin writing (obviously not). He realized that this kind of music is in a completely different context when played by a violin vs. a piano - and part of the reason why it is so effective, besides being well composed, is that it is poetic. But, above all, he takes great care that the violinist is not battling with his own fingers more than he needs to. He could have written this in A-flat minor, for example (theoretically) - I would say that this is the most primitive way that the instrument is in dialog with the material, but it is certainly an important point. The reason why he can get so close to writing unplayable music is because he has a very good understanding of what is completely impossible or too impractical to be worth writing - this is not something that is guaranteed by believing in the sanctity of the idea above all practical concerns. By the way, had Brahms written his sonatas in a virtuoso style, the possibility of playing it on both instrument would quickly vanish.
Okay. I play a little viola so I can give you a few impressions of the notes from the perspective of how well the music is written for the instrument.
1) Flat signatures are really uncomfortable, but if you need to have flats the fewer the better (and you should also use fixed accidentals if it is almost completely diatonic like this - it is very weird to read music in a minor key and not see an alteration for the leading tone for example). The whole piece would be better off in G minor or even A minor because it does not really modulate. This is not hugely important, sometimes in classical music the key signature is considered to be more important than the practicality, but in this case there doesn't seem to be a strong reason for it to be in F minor. It's just a subtle point that makes the player a little happier - and it also makes some things a whole lot simpler in this particular piece.
2) The kind of two-voice writing found in bar 29 is uncomfortable at that speed because the hand position has to completely change for each double stop, which makes for a disjointed and probably poorly in tune result (but I mean, you can rehearse anything). By moving the upper voice down an octave it not only becomes comfortable but you also get a nice fifth on the open strings (instead of a stopped fourth - perhaps that is what you wanted but I doubt it). It isn't necessarily bad, I just get the feeling that it isn't 100% important that the notes be in exactly that relationship and therefore there is no reason not to have it simpler.
3) The fourths in bar 37 are very uncomfortable but I think they are defensible if you consider them essential. The augmented and perfect fourths in bar 40 are okay if a little awkward, but bar 41 is hideous. It requires some gymnastics to pull off and will be imperfect no matter who is playing and I do not see any clear reason for that to be necessary - It is just poorly written, period. It is important when writing double stops for strings to either have a strong intuitive understanding of the fingerings or to pay close attention not to write fast double stops which require you to suddenly change position or hand position unless you are aware of what you are doing. The player will know if you spent time considering these practical details and will judge you, trust me. It will also be clear whether you chose to write difficult and uncomfortable music because you did not want to compromise or whether you didn't know what you were doing.
I hope my response was coherent and provided some elaboration - I really do have respect for your passion and wish you only the best.
Here is a piece based upon earlier motifs I had written long ago. I composed the lyrics, as well as translated them into Italian as best as I know (I think they're pretty close, if not let me know). Instead of the terrible midi choir I have, I utilized the flute voice, as it not only sounds better, but it can actually sound some of the piece's notes (the choral patch cannot hit the higher notes for some reason). I wrote this piece for a friend of mine who is an operatic soprano (she is able to hit the higher notes written). Let me know what you think!