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J Shu

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J Shu last won the day on January 27 2018

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  1. This is great stuff! As a huge fan of classic Hollywood scores, I'd love to hear this and other works of yours played by live ensembles.
  2. I love this theme from The Firebird! It's truly among the most beautiful of Stravinsky's compositions. However, while I understand you want to include Stravinsky's theme in its entirety, most sets of variations begin with a very simple statement of theme--after all, this is your composition now, and it is no longer The Firebird. I felt that in terms of length, harmonic complexity, and instrumentation, the initial statement of theme is much more complicated than your variations. If I were you, I'd try to start simply and elaborate more with each successive variation. I will say, however, that your final variation is quite charming! Listen to some classic examples of the "Theme and Variations" form for some inspiration. Rachmaninoff has some great ones.
  3. Couldn't help liking the video on YouTube. This is great! It reminds me of Bach, of course, but also vaguely of Shostakovich's Fugue No. 7 in A Major. Both pieces have pretty static rhythmic patterns but go through some beautiful chord changes (Shostakovich's fugue is 100 percent consonant, but he somehow keeps our attention).
  4. I agree with Luis on the piano part--it sounds really nice. I'd consider making the orchestra play pizzicato to sound slightly less tedious, and I'd switch up the rhythmic figure a bit. As of now, it seems like the orchestra is kind of an afterthought--I think many pianist-composers (like Liszt and Chopin) were much better writers for the piano than the orchestra. But you could make the orchestra seem more necessary by allowing it to introduce the themes and have its own tutti passages interspersed throughout the piece. Definitely listen to Bach's keyboard concertos for inspiration. Also, as for the general form of the piece, I feel like you should introduce some new ideas earlier on to keep it interesting. Sonata-allegro form is a tried and true method for opening movements of just about anything.
  5. @PDdLB Thanks so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed listening to my piece! And in terms of style, I do think the end kind of departs from the rest of the piece... I'll take another look. @bkho Thank you! I'll have to listen to some more Berlioz--I haven't heard much beyond Symphonie Fantastique and Harold in Italy.
  6. @Jared Steven Destro Thanks very much for your review! I'll keep your suggestions in mind!
  7. I confess that I'm not too familiar with the works of Amy Beach, but she's apparently among the first female American composers who wrote large-scale art music. I was struck by the lush, beautiful orchestration and harmony in the beginning of this movement (the rest of the movement is a pretty standard set of variations), and I wanted to share it. What do you think of it?
  8. @Luis Hernández I see your perspective, but unfortunately, my musical language isn't developed enough for me to confidently write more atonal or poly-tonal music. However, I do hope to spice my future pieces up a bit, so I will probably try to listen to some more modern composers to develop my skills. Thanks so much for listening! @Maarten Bauer Thank you so much! I admire your work, and I'm flattered by your kind remarks. Growing up, I've always loved Tchaikovsky's late symphonies, so they were absolutely an inspiration in terms of orchestration and melodic writing. As I said to Luis, I do hope to listen to more non-traditionally tonal composers to diversify my expression--but Romantic music will always hold a special place in my heart. By the way, the timpani sound font is good ol' Garritan. And I will be sure to test Garritan's saxophones out at some point...
  9. It's a lot of fun to listen to this piece--the organ is truly the king of instruments, as Mozart himself claimed! I really enjoyed the passage from m. 54 to m. 61. It was wonderful (albeit a bit familiar) harmonic progression that built a lot of tension before landing on that big G Major chord. However, the section from m. 62 to m. 69 kind of just reused that same progression and ended with the exact same cadence, and I feel like the repetition didn't really add much to the music. A big half cadence like that suggests to me that something impressive and new is coming up--a passage of brilliant virtuosity (maybe some fancy footwork) or of great contrast, like the softer section that comes next. As for where you go next, I suggest drawing inspiration from Beethoven's Grosse Fuge: Beethoven begins with a similar structure--an introduction, a polyphonic fugal passage, and then a softer B section. He transitions out of the B section by reintroducing an ominous theme from the introduction, completely out of context. I think you can do the same thing here, even if you have to fragment an earlier theme and just use part of it as a short motif while maintaining your more peaceful atmosphere. I would choose a theme from your fugue, as you've developed that the most and it'll probably sound familiar to the audience's ears. I hope this helped, and I look forward to hearing this piece in its completed form! J Shu
  10. Wow, I love this piece! When you get a live recording of it, please share it! Since I'm not a very experienced composer, I feel like I can't properly critique your work--but it's rare to hear a contemporary piece that moves me as much as your clarinet sonata does. To me, a great deal of contemporary music is so academic that it seems to abandon traditional aesthetic values (which is fine, just not my cup of tea). Meanwhile, you've created your own unique musical idiom, which seems to be inspired by Ravel and Debussy (and I hear a bit of Barber?). There are moments of sheer beauty throughout this piece, and the third movement is absolutely riveting. I aspire to write as well as you do! Good luck with your endeavors in the new year!
  11. What would you like to know about slurs and bow directions? As a cellist, I don't always perform the markings on the page, but bow markings and slurs can inform how I shape a phrase or build the atmosphere of a piece. So when you write articulation, first worry about phrasing--then, you can worry about the practicality of each marking. While there is no single correct way to articulate music for bowed instruments, some things are simply more convenient. For example, if you want a crescendo over the course of many notes, slur those notes and make it an up bow. Conversely, if you want a diminuendo, make it a down bow. If you want rapid staccato notes, you can write up-bow staccato (write a slur over a series of staccato notes and make it an up bow) or simply write separate notes. I think the last thing to keep in mind is this: the bow is to a string player as breath is to a singer. If you are wondering how many notes to put on one bow, try to sing it! If you find yourself out of breath, you may want to switch directions with the bow. But skilled players can express phrasing effectively even while having to change bows--Brahms certainly takes advantage of this when writing his string parts. In the attached picture, notice that the upbeats (normally played with up-bows in other pieces) are played with down-bows in this excerpt to accommodate the crescendo starting in the next measure. To truly learn about writing for bowed string instruments, you have to be able to think like a string player. Listen to recordings while following along scores and string parts, and you should be good to go!
  12. Thank you both for taking the time to listen to and review my piece! @Monarcheon--I believe form is my biggest weakness as a composer, and I hope to be more strategic about mapping my pieces in the future. Currently, I pretty much rely on instinct and experimentation, but it might be helpful to study some tried-and-true formulas, with which I can construct sustainable long-form pieces. Would you mind sharing how you began experimenting with musical form in composition? @Leander20null1--I definitely see your point of view. Personally, I like the effect of that augmented chord, as it echoes some harmonic patterns that appeared previously in the piece. I will keep it for now, but I might change my mind over time... Happy New Year! J Shu
  13. Hi everyone, Here's a short piece for piano trio I wrote over the summer. Let me know what you think and things I should keep in mind for future pieces. A clearer PDF score is attached below. Thanks! J Shu
  14. Hello, Please let me know what you think about the piece linked below! A separate PDF is also attached, in case resolution isn't good enough for careful review. Thanks, J Shu
  15. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback
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