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stewboy

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stewboy last won the day on April 29

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About stewboy

  • Rank
    Starving Musician
  • Birthday 06/27/1992

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Glasgow
  • Occupation
    Student
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Sibelius
  • Instruments Played
    Percussion, piano

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  1. Thank you! I've been listening to a lot of Holst lately and I think I see the comparison.
  2. I've never composed at an actual instrument, only ever while sitting at a computer. I have a pretty good auditory imagination though, and also it helps that I have perfect pitch. I would encourage you to compose anyway, just with what you have. You're not going to be too limited by not having a piano I reckon.
  3. I've been posting a few works lately to these forums. This'll be the last one I post for a while, since it's the last one in my final composition folio of 8 pieces that I hadn't posted yet. This piece is basically a re-imagining of the third movement of a previous marimba duet I'd written a few years ago (and posted here), 'Three Sketches for Two Marimbas'. I wouldn't describe this piece as one of the strongest in my folio, maybe because I've listened to it so many times that none of the harmonic movement surprises me any more. I'm still glad I wrote it, though. My original intention was to find someone I could perform this piece with (I would take marimba 2 and I'd give the other player marimba 1), but that's been harder than I thought - the percussionists at RCS have much less freedom to do their own projects here than they did back in Sydney, and I don't have any friends who own marimbas. Still, I'll keep this piece in the back of my mind, and I'll wait and see if I eventually get some opportunity even to just run it through.
  4. I think there's some potential in this piece. Overall there's too much repetition, and not enough harmonic movement, for it to really 'work' for me. Putting the tempo up a bit would help a lot with this. The slower chorale bit at L is very welcome, and it's good to have a build-up to a finale afterwards, but the piece doesn't feel like it's really earned it, because there hasn't really been any tension built up. An idea that occurred to me right away is to have each bar in the opening have some sort of dynamic movement - for example, the first three individual bars would each start at (say) mf and then go to p, and then the fourth bar would start at p and crescendo to mf. It's a small thing, but it would make those bars feel so much more alive. I think around bar 21 is when the constant key of f major first started to get a bit grating. The section at C would work a lot better if it was preceded by some sort of extended section in a different key which built up some slight bit of tension. One piece that came to mind as I was listening to this was Ross Edward's 'Dragonfly Dance' - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPOfCyWI2ok&feature=youtu.be&t=231 . It's similar to yours in that it's an upbeat dance-y piece which essentially holds on to one key/chord for a while - two whole minutes. In my opinion it's maybe a little too long, but there's enough rhythmic/dynamic/colour variety that it keeps the piece sounding alive.
  5. Thank you! Yes, that's what a conductor I showed it to said - it would be good for community bands. I've played a lot of music in that category and a fair amount of it (though not all) can sound very generic and unadventurous, and that's something I'd like to change. I don't have any specific plans for performance yet, but at some point I'll feel brave enough to send it to a couple conductors I know. I'm aware NotePerformer is not a bank breaker, but it's something I'll have to wait until I get an actual job before buying. Which shouldn't be too long - I'm about to graduate from my degree and I'll have to enter the real world!
  6. This is my first ever 'proper' piece for orchestra. It was going to be performed by a student orchestra back home, but the conductor has postponed on me twice already and I suspect it might not ever get played, which is a shame. It started off with the initial melody, which appeared in my head one day and stayed there for a few weeks until I finally got it down on the score. I always intended the piece to start off light and get darker as the piece progressed, although I never had any idea what the actual structure was going to be until I was almost at the end. In a way, the piece is kind of representative of aspects of my personality. This piece features a lot of the harmonic and colour-related ideas that I've been playing around with during this last year of my master's degree. It was also my first ever serious attempt at writing for a string section, which turned out to be harder than I thought - a lot of the feedback I got from my tutor as I was writing this piece was on how low I was writing the violins and violas, because I think I was subconsciously treating them like winds. I think I managed to fix a lot of those issues by the end though. Overall, writing for orchestra isn't something that appeals to me a lot right now, probably because I'm just not used to it, but that might change as my career (hopefully) progresses.
  7. I really like the solo timpani interjections - I'd have a great time playing that part! I was worried that once it got faster it would lose the same harmonic intensity that it had to begin with (I think the strings outlining the simple B minor chord were a bit unexpectedly simple) but as soon as other instruments come in with extra notes/material it sounded great. I was a little taken aback by how short the faster section was - I felt that one minute wasn't enough to fully integrate it into the otherwise slower and hymn-like piece, especially since the last minute of the piece is relatively calm and static. It sounds like a really good performance - what was the orchestra?
  8. Thank you! I'm using NotePerformer, which you can get a trial version of for 30 days. You can't directly export audio with the trial version, but you can set Audacity to record while Sibelius plays.
  9. This piece started out as the opening bars to movement II, which came to me while trying to sleep one night. The basic idea of movement III is one that I've had in my head for a couple years, ever since I wrote my first wind band piece in 2016/17. After that, movement I started with just me putting down notes to see what would happen. I've tried to experiment more with having instruments 'bleed' into each other (you can see this mostly in movement II), which is something I don't see much in most wind band writing. I haven't really pushed my harmonies that much (by my standards anyway) - I'm a bit reluctant to do that in a wind band context, because I don't think there's as much leeway as there is in the orchestral world, and I don't even feel a strong need to just yet. At the same time, though, I'm really proud of quite a lot of this piece, and I think it shows a few things that you can do with harmonies without necessarily pushing them to their absolute limits. I've tried to play around a bit with traditional wind band expectations, especially with regards to percussion, and I will continue to do so. I've always wanted to give a melodic solo to the temple blocks, for instance, and finally did so here in movement III. I also rebelled a little against using bass drum/cymbals in the traditional accompaniment oom-pah way, which is why I gave them a solo too. I worry a little that the movements are a little short, because I think each one could potentially go on for a full 5-6 minutes at least with their material. However, short individual movements is pretty common in wind band writing, and if the piece as a whole has a consistent feel and sound then I think it still works.
  10. I liked a lot of this! There were a few moments here and there where the chord progression or the melodic contour felt a little contrived and unnatural - for example, bar 70, or bars 121-122 (I liked the general idea behind it, but I felt it wasn't pulled off convincingly enough). Otherwise I mostly liked the harmonic unpredictability of the piece and I think you should continue with that sort of thing and see where it goes in future, but I couldn't get a feel for the piece's structure and I never really knew where it was going, even though I felt like I was supposed to know. I also could only really pick out one piece of musical material, which was the main melody. There might have been secondary ideas that recurred throughout the work, but if there were I didn't recognise them. I definitely think a piece of this length could afford to have more motifs, or to play around more with the existing one.
  11. This is something that crops up in every single artistic community. I'm part of the online community for the game 'Doom' (the one from the nineties) and it has a very active modding/mapping scene. There was a forum thread recently where someone expressed exactly the same thoughts as you, but referring to level creation instead. The community has been around for a long time, and by now there are a lot of really incredible mods out there that people have spent years on, and it's easy to look at those and think 'Why should I create anything at all?' I've tried my hand at that sort of thing myself so I know the feeling. The answer is to maybe try rethinking what your goals are. We can look back at the greats of any art form - music, painting, poetry, plays, etc - and think 'How will I compare to them?' But is that really your ultimate goal? Music is slightly different then the other forms, because depending on what your target market is, they might be extremely selective of playing new music (orchestras) or much more welcoming (wind bands, solo pieces, etc). So if you want to write for professional orchestras, maybe you do need to compare yourself a little to whoever else is already out there. But apart from that, there's plenty of room for new music in this world. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you set out to become the next Beethoven, a household name internationally, you'll certainly be disappointed. But if you just set out to create some interesting sounds that you like, and to maybe try and entertain some people around you with them, then you'll still feel fulfilled and you might even surprise yourself. That's certainly all I've ever wanted to do. Also, music created by someone alive, someone who you know, will always have its own appeal that music written in the past will just never have. Keep in mind, for every 'great' composer that we know about today, there would have been dozens more at the time all writing their own music, just as there are hundreds of composers out there today getting stuff performed every day. It's also a mistake (that I think people sometimes make) to think that just because we only remember certain names today, that they were the only 'good' composers at the time. There would almost certainly have been many more who were very decent, who just set out to do what they loved, who were known within their small community and were happy enough with that, but they didn't have the lucky breaks that the more famous names had. Also, if you're feeling depressed after comparing yourself to a few composers of the past, just wait until you study more over the years and find all the other hundreds of really good composers! Believe me, it just gets worse in some ways, but it also gets better - you eventually realise that it's far better to carve out your own little niche than to try and have the whole world.
  12. stewboy

    Jūra

    This is the first string quartet I've ever written. I generally don't enjoy string-only ensembles, maybe because I didn't really grow up around strings at all. So writing this piece was really like pulling teeth a bit. I only really started to be okay with this piece when I was about three quarters of the way through and I finally got kind of a sense of the overall structure - before that I was floundering and feeling lost the whole time. This piece was written for a collaboration with the University of Stirling Art Gallery, which is running a Refugee Week in June with artwork and the like about refugees and their stories. I couldn't think what to do, but eventually decided to take an old Latvian folksong ('Jūrā gāju naudu sēti') and see how I could transform it, since two of my grandparents were refugees from Latvia. This is also something I've never tried before - taking someone else's musical material and working with it.
  13. I think I felt a little bit constricted by the march style in that way. I do like experimenting harmonically but I didn't want to go to my usual extent in this piece - also because the band might have found a more harmonically varied piece a bit more difficult. The piece did end up winning the call for scores - there was only one other piece submitted to it as it happens and it just wasn't as interesting as mine, but the band members I spoke to did all say that they really liked my piece and I'm fairly confident it would have won even if more pieces had been submitted. I took a fairly low-quality recording with my phone at the performance last week. They took it a little fast to begin with, but the second half came off quite well I think. I ended up having to make a few adjustments to the piece on recommendations from the conductor after I went to a rehearsal. In particular, I had overscored for the cornets (especially the soprano) which made the piece sound fairly top-heavy and a little unbalanced. I took out an occasional bit from the cornets here and there in the final score. https://soundcloud.com/fotytoo/the-juggler-1/s-ssklN
  14. I haven't seen the original work, so I'm just looking at this as a concert band piece. I think the opening develops too slowly - I think it would sound better if four bars were cut out and the vibraphone came in at bar 5. I found the glock/oboe rhythm at 96 quite interesting. If you were intending this to be played by a real band, I would kind of recommend just having the glock play it - the reason being it's a very hard rhythm to play, and even I would probably find myself very slightly fudging it. Which would be fine if I was the only player with it, but two players fudging the same unison rhythm can end badly. Another thought I have is that it doesn't seem like it changes enough. You've got plenty of tempo/rhythmic variation, and you change up the chords, but you don't have any dynamic variation and you often use the same combinations of instruments. These things will come more naturally to you as you get more experience in writing - an idea will come with a specific sound/dynamic/colour in mind. You're also generally using the full range of registers available within the concert band - more ideas for variation would be using only the high register or the low register.
  15. My master's degree is starting to draw to a close, and I'm very aware that every piece I write now will be one of the last while I still have my tutor. For that reason, I've really tried to push myself beyond my current boundaries wherever possible. This piece, while not incredibly 'contemporary' sounding I suppose, in some ways represents the culmination of my efforts and explorations while at this institution. I've pushed my harmonies and chord progressions as far as I'm personally willing to right now, and also used some new string techniques that I'd not really explored before. Some of this piece, especially the second half, is definitely among my favourite music I've ever written. I've still kept to my usual style of working with very short bits of material and seeing where I can take them, but this piece is roughly divided into three or four smaller sections which have their own separate ideas as well. I've also become very interested lately in sounds that 'morph' over the course of a single note. Usually, that just means fading multiple instruments in and out on the same note. I feel that this is an area that isn't adequately explored in a lot of the more widely played contemporary repertoire, especially in more amateur-aimed music. This piece will be performed at the start of May by a professional ensemble (including a very skilled concert pianist, fortunately). It'll be conducted, which is why I put the piece in this section. I've put it on Soundcloud as well if that playback is working better than this site for whatever reason. There's a couple of really minor changes between the score and the recording, because once you start polishing the score in Sibelius you often kind of ruin the playback.
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