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You know how I have been composing for a long time without finishing a sonata? Well, that has changed. This sonata that I finished is fourth in order of composition but it is the only one I have finished so far. So that is why I have Piano Sonata no. 4 in the title.

I first posted this sonata on Musescore.com as soon as it was midnight and on Mozart's birthday, I got a huge spike in views and followers because of that 1 piece. They all said that it was great and that my style and Mozart's themes blend in really well in this sonata. You won't find it on my Musescore account anymore because I had to delete it(I can't afford the pro membership so to make up for that, I delete pieces that are either really good and have been uploaded to YouTube or that haven't gotten many views or that are incomplete).

Before the deletion of my sonata from my Musescore account, I uploaded it to YouTube. So it is one of my videos now. Now for the context under which I composed this sonata.

Context

It was a few days after Christmas and I noticed that Mozart's birthday was fast approaching. I figured that this would be as good of a time as any to compose a sonata. So I did and I dedicated the sonata to Mozart, the composer that inspired me to start composing at a young age. I called this, the Compose a Sonata within a Month challenge(pretty self explanatory there). Also, because I was borrowing from Mozart's style, I went with the flow, just like Mozart did when he composed.

Movement by Movement detail

The first theme and the transition of the first movement, both sound like they could be part of a Mozart sonata. In fact, the transition has similarities to the transition in the K545 sonata. To add some contrast and also to reinforce the birthday context of the sonata, I based my second theme off of Beethoven's Ode to Joy theme. I modified it slightly, especially the left hand to give it that Mozartian touch to it.

The development section is where I go a bit wild with it. I present the Ode to Joy theme followed by its inversion(both melodically and in terms of the hands switching roles). I then have short motifs from other parts of the movement such as the closing theme. And I use a long modulation chain to go from D minor(closely related to the F major of the closing theme) to Bb major. Here it is:

D minor -> D major -> G major -> C major -> F major -> Bb major

In the C major section, I do some 2 part counterpoint. The F major section, I leave unharmonized until the final 2 chords of the development section.

The recapitulation is basically the exposition ad verbatim, except it is all in Bb. Because of this, there is a change of register when the Ode to Joy theme comes back in Bb.

In the second movement, I focused more on melody. It ended up being in a compound ternary form where I have this structure:

AA'BB'CC'AA'

The AA', etc. are representing that those sections are repeated but slightly different. The B and C sections both make up the second section of the ternary form and thus the middle section is in binary form. But I focused more on melody than form with this second movement.

The third movement, I decided to have it be in sonata-rondo form to give a more dramatic ending. There is like 1 measure of C minor in the B section. This hints at my more serious use of minor keys in the development section of the rondo. You'll notice that I do use a famous Mozart motif in my rondo. That is the one from the first movement of Symphony no. 40 except I only preserve the note values. The rhythm in my sonata is quarter, eighth, eighth. In Symphony no. 40, it is eighth, eighth, quarter. In other words the rhythm in my sonata is retrograde(or you could also think of it as being the same but starting on weak beats instead of strong beats).

Feedback wanted

Here is my sonata, it is a 15 minute long composition.

What do you think of it? I had to make some invisible measures in Musescore to avoid a delay at the repeats.

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This piece focuses too much on music theory. I here a lot of scales, a lot of Alberti bass, and many other music theory based things, but I don't hear YOU. All I'm hearing is different things you pulled from music theory. I don't hear the piece going anywhere, and it feels lost in what it wants to be. What do you want from this piece, first of all? Find that out first and this sonata will be much better.

I don't see a theme, a consistent idea, or any direction. I think you need to focus on what you want from this piece. If you want to simply make a dedication to Mozart, he had Motives. Sonata K545 has a short motif that it begins with and then builds from. You start with Ode to Joy and then turn into scales. Build up your ideas more, and then you should be able to hear what you want from this piece. Right now, I'm not hearing YOU.

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Posted (edited)

It is a good attempt to honour Mozart on his birthday. The Alberti bass has a resemblance of Mozart's music. However, I feel that the piece is not very pianistic, if you know what I mean. It doesn't sound like it was supposed to be written for the piano. More careful use of texture and harmonic rhythm would have also ensured a better musical direction and experience overall.

A few things you can look at:

I have to talk about your choice of phrasing. The piece you are writing is clearly in the style of classical music and Mozart. However, in your opening, you have a seven bar phrase. That is very irregular and is more of a romantic characteristic. In Mozart's K.545 sonata, you can see an opening of four bars followed by scales (which I assume is the inspiration for the scale passage following that opening).

The dramatic change in position of the Alberti bass from b.1 to b.2 and in the second beat of b.3 to the third beat of b.4 is very queer sounding and awkward to play.

Also, the change in speed of the Alberti bass from b.2 and b.3 is quite abrupt, and does not serve its purpose.

B.18 and b.19, parallel chords are ineffective.

B.36, I see some experimentation with shifting music cells. However, I find that ineffective in this context, especially in a classical Mozart style piece.

Alberti bass in the right hand? Really subverting the genre there. However, that is good news if you want to be original and not write in the style of someone else.

In your second movement, overall the melody seems to be going nowhere and at times I feel no sense of emotional direction. I do admire your strict sense of form, though. Each section has its own unique texture, however, it is united as a movement through the same way of concluding.

In the third movement, I can see you used the K.550 motive after you mentioned it. However, you manipulated it until it was unrecognisable, which is great for originality. However, I don't think that was your intention.

It is very good. Just change these and you will have something Mozart would be proud of!

Just my humble opinion!

Edited by Sahil Sidhu

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11 hours ago, Sahil Sidhu said:

It is a good attempt to honour Mozart on his birthday. The Alberti bass has a resemblance of Mozart's music. However, I feel that the piece is not very pianistic, if you know what I mean. It doesn't sound like it was supposed to be written for the piano. More careful use of texture and harmonic rhythm would have also ensured a better musical direction and experience overall.

I have to talk about your choice of phrasing. The piece you are writing is clearly in the style of classical music and Mozart. However, in your opening, you have a seven bar phrase. That is very irregular and is more of a romantic characteristic. In Mozart's K.545 sonata, you can see an opening of four bars followed by scales (which I assume is the inspiration for the scale passage following that opening).

The dramatic change in position of the Alberti bass from b.1 to b.2 and in the second beat of b.3 to the third beat of b.4 is very queer sounding and awkward to play.

Yeah, I can see how that leap of a fourth in the Alberti bass from bar 1 to bar 2 could be awkward for an intermediate level pianist. As an advanced pianist, I come across leaps of a fourth in a busy texture quite a bit and I basically use my thumb as a lever to move my hand up by a fourth in a busy texture(such as the Alberti bass that you mentioned). Even more commonly, I come across places where I have to leap by an octave or more while for example playing octaves. I see this exact thing in the left hand of Hungarian Dance no. 5 by Brahms. In this case of an octave leap, I can't really use my thumb as a lever so my whole hand has to leap.  Anyway, back to the sonata.

That is kind of odd that you say that the change in position from beat 2 of bar 3 to beat 3 of bar 4 is awkward. I did try to smooth things out between those beats. And beat 3 of bar 4 isn't even Alberti bass, it is the start of an arpeggio. Here is how I tried to smooth things out:

Beat 2, Bar 3: Root position Bb major harmony in Alberti bass.

Beat 3, Bar 3: Leap by a fifth(which can be accomplished in a busy texture by using the thumb as a lever)

Beat 4, Bar 3: Every note moves down by step

Beats 1 and 2, Bar 4: Every note except the bass note moves down by step, bass leaps by a third

Beat 3, Bar 4: G is a step away from both the middle and upper voices of the Alberti bass, it is also a fifth away from the bass note of the Alberti bass

11 hours ago, Sahil Sidhu said:

B.18 and b.19, parallel chords are ineffective.

How are the repeated chords ineffective? I get across that what you are hearing is not just a half cadence(which would imply a consequent phrase with an authentic cadence), but an actual modulation to the dominant. Also, I think I heard that 4 eighth notes followed by half note occuring twice in a modulation to the dominant in a Haydn piano sonata(don't remember which of his 51 piano sonatas though). I know Haydn tends to repeat his chords at these modulations to the dominant key.

And Haydn and Mozart have a very similar style, though in their later years, as Beethoven starts composing, Haydn typically sticks with the classical tradition strictly whereas Mozart tends more and more towards what would become Beethoven's style(you can clearly hear characteristics of Romantic period music and particularly those of Beethoven in Symphony no. 40 K 550 which was composed around the same time as Beethoven's very famous Pathetique Sonata, such as repeated dissonances building up tension until it is finally released instead of resolving the dissonance right away(which is more typical of Haydn and early Mozart)). But Mozart's more Romantic style music still errs on the side of the Classical period, unlike say Beethoven's Eroica symphony. I also notice similarities between Mozart's Symphony no. 40 and Beethoven's 5th though that deserves a post of its own.

11 hours ago, Sahil Sidhu said:

B.36, I see some experimentation with shifting music cells. However, I find that ineffective in this context, especially in a classical Mozart style piece.

Really, because Mozart himself does this in his K 545 sonata, the shifting of musical cells and the exchange between hands in a sequence that comes before the closing material. Mozart shifts each cell by 2 beats, which happens to make every measure symmetrical. I shift each cell by 2.5 beats, which causes an asymmetry. And my note value pattern is similar to that of the shifted cells in K 545.

Mozart K 545: 1 sixteenth rest, 3 sixteenth notes, 1 quarter note

My sonata: 3 eighth notes, 1 quarter note

Is it the lack of an eighth rest at the beginning of the musical cell and the resulting asymmetry of the measures that makes this ineffective?

11 hours ago, Sahil Sidhu said:

In your second movement, overall the melody seems to be going nowhere and at times I feel no sense of emotional direction.

Is this because of the cadences at quite a few of the repeats in conjunction with the lack of a minor key and even a minor harmony being uncommon outside of sequences(like the C minor harmony in the sequence that is in the Bb major section)? Is it the parallel fourths that I have starting in bar 26 of the second movement that eventually leads to a plagal cadence? What is it that makes the melody seem to go nowhere in the second movement?

11 hours ago, Sahil Sidhu said:

In the third movement, I can see you used the K.550 motive after you mentioned it. However, you manipulated it until it was unrecognisable, which is great for originality. However, I don't think that was your intention.

Well, I didn't want to make it sound like I was directly borrowing the motive from Symphony no. 40. So what do I do? I turn the rhythm of the motive backwards or to put it technically, I make the rhythm of the motive in my sonata the retrograde of the rhythm of that same motive in Symphony no. 40. And to make it sound even less like I directly borrowed from Symphony no. 40, I used thirds instead of seconds as in the original motive and I have the 2 hands do the motive in contrary motion. So the right hand goes down while the left hand goes up. I continue this contrary motion all the way through the sixteenth note scale that follows the statement of the motive and I don't get similar motion until that C and Eb move down to Bb and D as the scale goes to a quarter note at the end of the bar.

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I see what you mean. Well, I guess you can argue your point by virtue of the subjective nature of music. Obviously, my comments were just what I heard or what I saw that jarred with my notion and understanding of a sonata by Mozart or Haydn, or even Beethoven. 

7 hours ago, caters said:

Yeah, I can see how that leap of a fourth in the Alberti bass from bar 1 to bar 2 could be awkward for an intermediate level pianist. As an advanced pianist, I come across leaps of a fourth in a busy texture quite a bit and I basically use my thumb as a lever to move my hand up by a fourth in a busy texture(such as the Alberti bass that you mentioned). Even more commonly, I come across places where I have to leap by an octave or more while for example playing octaves. I see this exact thing in the left hand of Hungarian Dance no. 5 by Brahms. In this case of an octave leap, I can't really use my thumb as a lever so my whole hand has to leap.  Anyway, back to the sonata.

I see what you mean, yes. I was just telling you because, from what I saw, it did not look like you intentionally did it. I am a pianist as well and I know there are many more difficult passages, *cough* Rachmaninoff concerto 3 3rd mvmt *cough*.

7 hours ago, caters said:

Is this because of the cadences at quite a few of the repeats in conjunction with the lack of a minor key and even a minor harmony being uncommon outside of sequences(like the C minor harmony in the sequence that is in the Bb major section)? Is it the parallel fourths that I have starting in bar 26 of the second movement that eventually leads to a plagal cadence? What is it that makes the melody seem to go nowhere in the second movement?

In the first ten bars of your second movement, is there really anything that the mind can hold on to? Your movement is quite short (excluding repeats), therefore I would expect a shorter motive that reappears in the piece. It you want a longer more expansive melody (more Romantic really, however, not uncommon in Classical), make a longer movement to properly develop thematic material. In Mozart's K.545 Andante, you can see that after 8 bars (even phrasing), the theme repeats with variation. Hence, we have something we can remember. Also in that he ends each two bar phrase with the same thing: the dotted quaver and a semiquaver.

7 hours ago, caters said:

Well, I didn't want to make it sound like I was directly borrowing the motive from Symphony no. 40. So what do I do? I turn the rhythm of the motive backwards or to put it technically, I make the rhythm of the motive in my sonata the retrograde of the rhythm of that same motive in Symphony no. 40. And to make it sound even less like I directly borrowed from Symphony no. 40, I used thirds instead of seconds as in the original motive and I have the 2 hands do the motive in contrary motion. So the right hand goes down while the left hand goes up. I continue this contrary motion all the way through the sixteenth note scale that follows the statement of the motive and I don't get similar motion until that C and Eb move down to Bb and D as the scale goes to a quarter note at the end of the bar.

All I'm saying is that, since you overtly borrowed the theme from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, I don't see why you manipulated it here (especially since this piece focuses on Mozart).

Anyways, thanks. Sounds like you really know your theory. You are just missing the human aspect of the piece.

Would you mind doing a review on my preludes? 

 

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