Gustav Johnson

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Gustav Johnson last won the day on August 25 2016

Gustav Johnson had the most liked content!

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About Gustav Johnson

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    Advanced Member

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  • Biography
    I teach 5-8 grade band in Paris, Illinois. I've been "composing" on and off since my first music theory class in college (Illinois State University!). I enjoy writing in many genres and for many ensemble types, and have even been recognized as the winner of the Urbana Pops Orchestra composition contest in 2010. I'm on this forum to help myself improve, as teaching takes the bulk of my time and I have little left to take lessons or courses in composition. Seeing the dangers of being self-taught with no outside influence, I've started sharing my work online, and finally found this community.
    Please visit my website to see all of my work, and feel free to message me!
  • Gender
  • Location
    Paris, IL
  • Occupation
    Band Teacher
  • Interests
    hiking, fishing, teaching, church band, drawing, reading, composing (obviously!)
  • Favorite Composers
    Most modern film composers, and anybody from the dawn of time to present day.
  • My Compositional Styles
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Sibelius 7
  • Instruments Played
    Bass Clarinet & Woodwind guru, although I'm well versed in all concert band & jazz band instruments for teaching purposes
  1. Wow, that's really cool. I'm moved by that insight, @luderart, thanks for sharing that. Gustav Johnson
  2. Definitely good comments from @Monarcheon about the development of your piece. I'm going to focus mostly on notation because I don't have anything to say that hasn't been said! - About the harp, notating it on two staves will help. The bottom staff should be left hand and the upper staff should be right hand, like a piano. You'll need to change the bottom staff to treble clef for most of it. - bar 1, why have a blank bar? Were you planning to use it? If not, cut it out. If you want a pause of silence before you begin, just notate that in with instructions rather than an empty bar. - bar 2 & 3, why write it in 8/4? 4/4 would accomplish the same thing and would probably be more effective for the conductor/composer. As a general idea, keep things consistent whenever you can, don't change without reason and make sure that reason is clear to the performers. - bar 13 & 14, the piano part is funky. Change the voice or stem direction so the notes and flags don't crash! Also make sure your "objects" aren't colliding in general, there are some dynamic markings and such that collide with each other and with the notes. - Measure 26, be aware of the inconsistent fermattas and the measure of rest in the cello. Check for consistency of writing. The details can be tedious, but keep plugging away at it each time you write and pretty soon these things will become natural good habits for you! Keep writing! Gustav Johnson
  3. I like the color, it's a good soundscape. I'd challenge you to find ways to develop this further in terms of harmony and counterpoint, to really mash things up. Go big! There are a few moments when things take me places and I enjoy it, and then there are moments when it falters. Even in the still moments need a sense of purpose and direction. Good writing! Gustav Johnson
  4. Has anyone responded to your post yet? Gustav Johnson
  5. Awesome! Thanks for the thoughts y'all. @Monarcheon I'm not used to writing aleatoric stuff and can't seem to figure out where to find the notational tools in Sibelius. I know how I would expect to see it as a performer, but finding the tools to write it that way is eluding me - I'll have to look through their reference books again to see if I can find what I need. About measure 32, there's a sustain that resolves in the 2/4 bar. I wanted 4 full counts of sustain before the resolution, that's why I did it the way I did. I'll check through the rest of the music again to make sure everything is consistent and clear! @NRKulus These are definitely things that I was hearing but couldn't quite put my finger on. Hearing them will give me a better chance to reflect and digest as I make revisions. The diatonic clusters were a new addition to the piece as of yesterday, along with several other sizable changes in the middle, so my ear hasn't had time to identify places where I could use that technique to the piece's benefit. Also, the "Let there be" section at 44 really lost a lot of momentum after I added the changes yesterday so I'll be brainstorming ways to boost and strengthen that section as well. Thanks for the feedback y'all, words can't express how much it helps! Gustav Johnson
  6. Great, thanks! My foreign language skills are pretty minimal, though, the curse of the instrumentalist. Thanks for the starting point, it helps a lot! Gustav Johnson
  7. Hi y'all! I'm writing this for a contest (not hosted by Young Composers). I'm a band guy by nature, but choral music has always struck a special chord (haha) with me. I've spent several months on this piece, and have made some massive progress in the last few weeks. It's at a point where I would feel comfortable submitting it, but the composer's ear is biased. What do you all think works and doesn't work? For example the aleatoric stuff...? (p.s. all I did was record myself whispering nonsense - hopefully it will sound better as a large ensemble doing it!) Thanks!
  8. Wow, there is clearly much for me to learn about composing choral music. This is awesome. Would love recommendations for resources - I know tons (relatively) about composing for wind ensembles and instrumental groups. Gustav Johnson
  9. Hey! This playback stuff is awesome, I'm super intrigued. About the composition, it definitely works for me. I'm not the best sight singer in the world, and some of the linear movement in the bass/tenor lines is a little bumpy for me. Better singers would likely struggle less. Not sure the reasoning behind moving bass/tenor at different rates of speech. I know it can be used as an effect, but part of me wonders if you've overused it for the sake of "independence" of line, and if it may be better served to allow them to move together more. You'll have to gauge that yourself when you hear it performed, though. The end reminds me of how Whitacre ended "sleep", with the faded motif. It's all well written, well executed harmonically. Cool work! Gustav Johnson
  10. 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...? *whew* Thanks for posting, a pleasure to listen and hope all is well! Gustav Johnson
  11. love it! would have loved to hear a more wild west in it though in terns of harmony, and instrumentation if possible. cool work :) Gustav
  12. Hey, Woot Woot for Bass Clarinet music! I play the bass clarinet, so I'm quite familiar with what's "kosher" and what's not. I listened to your Soliloquy No. 1 and No. 2 :) Perhaps I'll play and record these so you can have a recording...? As a performer, I see places where I will intuitively add dynamics, and where I may push and pull the tempo. Those decisions will be made by the performer unless you give some hints and directions in your notation. For example, ritardando or accelerando, crescendo or diminuendo, things like that. That being said, find ways to make your piece more EXPRESSIVE. Music is all about "saying" something, and right now this piece is kind of one level in terms of its development and phrase shape. If you choose to make the piece melodically, rhythmically, and expressively limited, the performer is more limited in what they can do. Aim to give them too much to work with, then scale it back into something more manageable. What I notice about your writing style: Lots of arpeggiating and scalar movement Lots of repetition of rhythmic motives A good sense of direction in the phrasing, with a few moments where I'm not sure about the direction an idea is going -- is it an extension? is it leading me to the next idea? is it a development? Overall cool things, and as long as you keep writing music with bass clarinet in the title you can count on my feedback!!!!!!!!! Gustav Johnson
  13. Cool! Eerie, spiritual, really fits the nature of the images while contrasting the subject matter of the images. Or perhaps I have that backwards... Either way, it simultaneously matches and contrasts what I'd hope to hear. You might try some leveling and effects with the percussive sounds to create different levels of sounds, some in the foreground, some in the midground, some in the background. That's my only constructive criticism - some of the sounds detract from others and are conflicting rather than cooperating. Nice work, keep it up! Gustav Johnson
  14. YES! Thank you for these comments, they have put into words the things which eluded me! I'll take a stab at these and may upload the changes after I have ae chance to give it a proper ending--arriving at the station, so to speak. Thanks, Gustav Johnson
  15. Hey All! Had this one for a month or two and I'm stuck. It depicts my first train experience recently, on the metra into Chicago, and on the El-Train in Chicago. Needless to say it was super cool and I can't wait to do it again! Some things I'm pleased with: the rhythmic piano and rhythmic string ideas, the themes and ideas themselves Things I'd love feedback about improving: transitioning between themes and styles more smoothly. Enjoy, and thanks for listening :) p.s. please ignore the "Snare Drum" sound at 0:23 or so... Yay Sibelius sounds!