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Is there something missing from my thunderstorm music?

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I have tried several times to write music representing a thunderstorm, but the music doesn’t satisfy me. What do Beethoven and Vivaldi that I don’t? This is what I do:

  • Fast tempo, especially Molto Allegro and the slow end of Presto
  • Eighth note tremolo to add turbulence
  • Octaves in the Bass
  • Predictably unpredictable scales to represent wind
  • Dynamic bursts to represent thunder and lightning(Bass response - Thunder, Treble initiation - Lightning)
  • Staccato or Pizzicato to represent rain, Pizzicato at lower dynamics than Staccato
  • Very little rest - This I think is crucial, even in the lighter parts of the storm, it doesn't stop completely until it ends
  • String quintet ensemble with a double bass at the low end(So 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass
  • Overall swell to the music, so like it crescendos to a fortissimo climax and then diminuendos back to an intense piano dynamic
  • Tendency towards C minor as the key, definitely in minor no doubt about it

And yet my thunderstorm music doesn’t satisfy what I’m after. And yet I could be listening to Vivaldi or a Beethoven sonata and be like "Yeah, that’s stormy alright."

So, am I doing something wrong? Is there something missing that Beethoven and Vivaldi have that I don’t? Here are some Beethoven and Vivaldi pieces or movements that sound like they could easily be representing a storm, even a thunderstorm:

This particular recording sounds faster than the average recording of the same movement. Unfortunately, I don't know much Vivaldi beyond The Four Seasons, so I don't know of any other stormy pieces by Vivaldi. Here is some Beethoven that I think captures the same character:

Presto Agitato Moonlight Sonata

Allegro Pathetique Sonata First Movement

Tempest Sonata Third Movement - a kind of Molto Perpetuoso

Pastoral Symphony "Storm"

The Vivaldi example probably comes closest to my attempts in terms of Ensemble Size, after all, it is often played by a quintet of string players. But the Beethoven examples are probably closer in terms of Effect. Am I doing something wrong in my pieces that attempt to get across a thunderstorm? Is there something missing? Sorry that I can't provide any of my attempts, my dad still hasn't recovered them or any other compositions from my old hard drive.

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Because you need to stop being so formulaic, and just write angry, intense music.

3 hours ago, caters said:
  • Fast tempo, especially Molto Allegro and the slow end of Presto
  • Eighth note tremolo to add turbulence
  • Octaves in the Bass
  • Predictably unpredictable scales to represent wind
  • Dynamic bursts to represent thunder and lightning(Bass response - Thunder, Treble initiation - Lightning)
  • Staccato or Pizzicato to represent rain, Pizzicato at lower dynamics than Staccato
  • Very little rest - This I think is crucial, even in the lighter parts of the storm, it doesn't stop completely until it ends
  • String quintet ensemble with a double bass at the low end(So 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass
  • Overall swell to the music, so like it crescendos to a fortissimo climax and then diminuendos back to an intense piano dynamic
  • Tendency towards C minor as the key, definitely in minor no doubt about it

These are just some of the ways. You can't say that The Four Seasons actually sounds like thunder, because it doesn't. It's a representation. Use what you know about thunderstorms to get it across. A heavy texture could also help - I don't know what instrumentation you're using though.

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9 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Because you need to stop being so formulaic, and just write angry, intense music.

These are just some of the ways. You can't say that The Four Seasons actually sounds like thunder, because it doesn't. It's a representation. Use what you know about thunderstorms to get it across. A heavy texture could also help - I don't know what instrumentation you're using though.

 

I used Piano Solo in my very early attempts at writing storm music, but I realized that it would probably be:

  1. Taxing on the pianist, probably would require someone like Liszt or Rachmaninoff, which is rare to come by to even be decently playable
  2. Not enough texture since the piano is kind of homogeneous in it's sonority

So now I'm using a String Quintet, but instead of the typical 2 violins, 1 viola, 2 cellos arrangement, I'm having the double bass take the place of the second cello, so that I have more in the bass register for those thunderclap moments. And of course, I keep the double bass and cello at least an octave away in concert pitch to avoid muddiness since thirds are muddy and sixths can be very harsh sounding in the bass register.

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14 hours ago, caters said:
  • Taxing on the pianist, probably would require someone like Liszt or Rachmaninoff, which is rare to come by to even be decently playable
  • Not enough texture since the piano is kind of homogeneous in it's sonority

Do you mean Liszt/Rachmaninoff in terms of skill of the player, or Liszt/Rachmaninoff in terms of the composition. There's plenty of other great pianist-composers out there who wrote way more difficult music. Equally there as fantastic pianists who will play anything you throw at them.

14 hours ago, caters said:

So now I'm using a String Quintet, but instead of the typical 2 violins, 1 viola, 2 cellos arrangement, I'm having the double bass take the place of the second cello, so that I have more in the bass register for those thunderclap moments. And of course, I keep the double bass and cello at least an octave away in concert pitch to avoid muddiness since thirds are muddy and sixths can be very harsh sounding in the bass register.

Two things:

1. Remember what texture you're dealing with. The viola is great for emphasising dramatic passages and the complete opposite.

2. If you're always keeping cello and bass at least an octave away, then you can't use the very low register of the cello. Think on that one.

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On 4/26/2020 at 8:21 AM, aMusicComposer said:

Because you need to stop being so formulaic, and just write angry, intense music.

These are just some of the ways. You can't say that The Four Seasons actually sounds like thunder, because it doesn't. It's a representation. Use what you know about thunderstorms to get it across. A heavy texture could also help - I don't know what instrumentation you're using though.

 

Sums it up. Sit at the keyboard or on your sofa and let the atmosphere capture your mind. Record everything you play just in case....

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11 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Do you mean Liszt/Rachmaninoff in terms of skill of the player, or Liszt/Rachmaninoff in terms of the composition. There's plenty of other great pianist-composers out there who wrote way more difficult music. Equally there as fantastic pianists who will play anything you throw at them.

 

As for the pianists, I mean in terms of hand size and/or skill(i.e. reaching 12ths somehow, be it very quick arpeggiation or just the hand size alone).

11 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

Two things:

1. Remember what texture you're dealing with. The viola is great for emphasising dramatic passages and the complete opposite.

Yeah, higher register viola for calmer parts(but not like violin high, more like mid-register), more baritone register viola or high register viola for the dramatic moments depending on what the dramatic moment is.

11 hours ago, aMusicComposer said:

2. If you're always keeping cello and bass at least an octave away, then you can't use the very low register of the cello. Think on that one.

Wait, why? Aren't more and more double basses these days made with either a C string or a C extension precisely to match the cello range in terms of # of octaves and lowest note letter? And aren't more and more of those being used in chamber ensembles that include a double bass? Plus octaves are like the best interval to use in the depths of the bass clef. Fifths are okay, but I find they work better when combined with the octave than just by themselves. And these are how the rest of the intervals sound to me in the deep bass:

  • m2 and M2 - Can't really distinguish the notes, they are too close and too low, it just sounds like a sea of dissonance
  • m3 and M3 - Ehh, I can hear the third but it is muddy
  • P4 - Muddier than P5 but when needed in a pinch, not too bad
  • Tritone - All the more dissonant than in the treble clef, also muddy, the seventh would be better used in this register if I use a diminished seventh chord
  • m6 and M6, Not just muddy but harsh, the m6 especially sounds like an augmented fifth in this register, which is harsh, Prefer not to use sixths in the deep bass, those can be saved for treble clef where they actually sound like sixths
  • m7 and M7, Not all that much muddiness since this is approaching the octave, but definitely harsh, would only use this in dominant function harmonies.

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21 minutes ago, caters said:

Wait, why? Aren't more and more double basses these days made with either a C string or a C extension precisely to match the cello range in terms of # of octaves and lowest note letter?

Not all of them are. It's like writing low Bs for flute, a bit risky. Also, the very low notes on a double bass don't always sound as good as you would expect.

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3 minutes ago, aMusicComposer said:

Not all of them are. It's like writing low Bs for flute, a bit risky. Also, the very low notes on a double bass don't always sound as good as you would expect.

 

I never said all the double basses were extended to low C, just that it is becoming more common, both in orchestras and chamber ensembles. And what do you think of my interval assessment for the deep bass, like that the P5 is best when combined with the octave in such a low register or the whole list of intervals down at the bottom of the post and how they sound to me in the deep bass?

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22 minutes ago, aMusicComposer said:

Fifths plus an octave (12ths) are so far apart that the frequencies don't distort each other. It's not a close interval.

 

No, when I said fifths are better combined with octaves than by themselves, I did not mean 12ths! What I meant was this:

1541306126_OctaveFifth.thumb.png.708442c814cb2a8b1496c468ac50d041.png

This is a very typical layout for my bass chords, Root, Fifth above that, and then the note an octave above the Root. In fact, in my Funeral March piece(which I still haven't finished), this is my default bass chord layout(when there isn't that chord layout in my Funeral March piece, it means something is about to happen that hasn't happened before). I normally do better voice leading than this by switching between the fifth and fourth being the middle note and inverting chords, but you get what I'm saying. The octave by itself(so if you take out the middle note), it sounds fine and still has direction, still sounds like a chord despite the lack of both the third and fifth of the chord. The fifth by itself on the other hand(so if you take out that top note), it sounds directionless and less chord-like. That is of course, unless it is an augmented fifth or a diminished fifth, in which case it gets across it's corresponding chord without the need for the third. But the perfect fifth shows up in both major and minor chords. Now the key signature and the chords proceeding it can superimpose the corresponding sonority, but still, the fifth alone is not ideal.

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10 hours ago, caters said:

The octave by itself(so if you take out the middle note), it sounds fine and still has direction, still sounds like a chord despite the lack of both the third and fifth of the chord. The fifth by itself on the other hand(so if you take out that top note), it sounds directionless and less chord-like.

A lot of this is very subjective. I can understand what you mean, but it's not an absolute description. If you like the sounds of the octave + fifth, then you should use it. And yes, it does sound fine.

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I guess the fact that you're asking for help with your music, but not showing anything of what you actually composed but some schemes you made, sums up the situation. 

On 4/26/2020 at 4:21 AM, aMusicComposer said:

Because you need to stop being so formulaic, and just write angry, intense music.

This is very present in most of your pieces, you come up with some thorough explanations for every note you put on the page, but sometimes leave the "emotional" aspect of music composition to the side. Yes, you have an expressive goal with most your pieces, but you always seem to approach them as in a "let's see what reminds me of that in other people's music", followed by "I'll stirr all of that" fashion, if it makes any sense. 

It's not because you've identified those characteristics in other pieces that they will be of any use for you. As cliché as it might sound, try creating your own storm, without seeking into people's music for the tickboxes you have to fill.

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The human mind loves to try to categorize that which it cannot understand, with art and music being two things very frequently subjected to human analysis. Unfortunately, in terms of crafting the artwork, this analysis tends to help only retrospectively. Translating our senses and feelings into something tangible—like music, paint or words—isn't something we can plan out. We just have to stop inhibiting ourselves with thought and let our feelings flow. Do the bulk of organizing afterward. That's why it's called the creative process.

Many folks who've commented on this post have pointed out that your being so formulaic is problematic. I agree. I also take issue that not one time have you thanked anyone for spending time answering you here. In fact, in every response you merely defend yourself. If you want to become a better composer, my suggestion is to be open-minded towards the perceptions of others. When a number of people say the same thing, chances are it's true.

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5 hours ago, Tónskáld said:

The human mind loves to try to categorize that which it cannot understand, with art and music being two things very frequently subjected to human analysis. Unfortunately, in terms of crafting the artwork, this analysis tends to help only retrospectively. Translating our senses and feelings into something tangible—like music, paint or words—isn't something we can plan out. We just have to stop inhibiting ourselves with thought and let our feelings flow. Do the bulk of organizing afterward. That's why it's called the creative process.

Many folks who've commented on this post have pointed out that your being so formulaic is problematic. I agree. I also take issue that not one time have you thanked anyone for spending time answering you here. In fact, in every response you merely defend yourself. If you want to become a better composer, my suggestion is to be open-minded towards the perceptions of others. When a number of people say the same thing, chances are it's true.

 

I have received some very harsh criticism before. Not on this forum but other places. Whether it is my stories, or my music, the very harsh critics do the same thing, analyze my work in detail, and then tear it to shreds by telling me of every single mistake, EVERY SINGLE ONE! When that happens, I absolutely feel the need to justify myself by replying back:

Well, I had it this way because of X Y Z things. So what if it is technically a mistake? You could say Beethoven technically made a lot of mistakes in his symphonies and it would change nothing, absolutely nothing about how Beethoven is perceived. The critic on the other hand, it would be perceived as a Big Fat Liar.

For every mistake they analyzed, I had a justification for why it was the way it was. Then they would reply back tearing my own reply to shreds like they did the original work and then I was like:

NO Way am I going to reply back to them. They are being so harsh it's making me as angry as a cornered up cat. And I don't want to start an Internet War, no matter the anger. I'll just move on to something else. They don't deserve commenting on me if they are going to be so harsh about it. I mean, you are talking Lion vs Housecat here. it's totally unfair because I did the hard work of producing that work and what did I get? Nothing but anger right back at me.

So you can see why my comments back are mostly on the "mistakes" people find and not on thanking them for looking, even as I have encountered more and more construtive critics than the very harsh ones I encountered before. After having had those very harsh critic encounters, or metaphorically speaking, Lion vs Housecat(where I am the Housecat and the very harsh critic is the Lion), I'm sensitive to criticism.

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11 minutes ago, caters said:

I have received some very harsh criticism before. Not on this forum but other places. Whether it is my stories, or my music, the very harsh critics do the same thing, analyze my work in detail, and then tear it to shreds by telling me of every single mistake, EVERY SINGLE ONE! When that happens, I absolutely feel the need to justify myself by replying back:

Good, that's how it should be. You should always have some sort of backing for what you write, otherwise the conversation is meaningless; we then argue definitions as opposed to any formal material.
However, and despite me largely disagreeing with most of what people have said about planning pieces in this thread (even though I don't personally plan pieces), if you're using these theoretical, precompositional exercises out of fear (I use this term loosely; I don't think you're actually literally "afraid") or in preparation of theory-based criticism, you may be in the wrong headspace when it comes to using theoretical "justifications". 
Rather, they should be your sword, not your shield. Even if you happen upon an interesting motive in your writing unintentionally, you can understand why you processed and wrote it as such; that is to say, the theory is able to be used in moment-to-moment composition, as opposed to a restriction in any short-scale form. 

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11 hours ago, caters said:

So you can see why my comments back are mostly on the "mistakes" people find and not on thanking them for looking

There you go. People spend time creating these responses.

11 hours ago, caters said:

I have received some very harsh criticism before.

So have I. (On this forum, I might add...) It was the most useful feedback I received. As nice as it is to receive positive reviews, they don't provide the same opportunity for growing as a composer.

11 hours ago, caters said:

Not on this forum but other places.

Sorry, but exactly why does this matter to us then?

11 hours ago, caters said:

by telling me of every single mistake, EVERY SINGLE ONE!

Oh well then. Here's what I think you want us to do:

1. Don't point out every "mistake."

2. You don't learn about them.

3. You continue to write them into your pieces.

Great! Optimal solution!

...

That's why people point out these things. To help you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and act on some criticism of one of my previous works.

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On 4/26/2020 at 5:54 AM, caters said:

I have tried several times to write music representing a thunderstorm, but the music doesn’t satisfy me. What do Beethoven and Vivaldi that I don’t? This is what I do:

  • Fast tempo, especially Molto Allegro and the slow end of Presto
  • Eighth note tremolo to add turbulence
  • Octaves in the Bass
  • Predictably unpredictable scales to represent wind
  • Dynamic bursts to represent thunder and lightning(Bass response - Thunder, Treble initiation - Lightning)
  • Staccato or Pizzicato to represent rain, Pizzicato at lower dynamics than Staccato
  • Very little rest - This I think is crucial, even in the lighter parts of the storm, it doesn't stop completely until it ends
  • String quintet ensemble with a double bass at the low end(So 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass
  • Overall swell to the music, so like it crescendos to a fortissimo climax and then diminuendos back to an intense piano dynamic
  • Tendency towards C minor as the key, definitely in minor no doubt about it

And yet my thunderstorm music doesn’t satisfy what I’m after. And yet I could be listening to Vivaldi or a Beethoven sonata and be like "Yeah, that’s stormy alright."

So, am I doing something wrong? Is there something missing that Beethoven and Vivaldi have that I don’t? Here are some Beethoven and Vivaldi pieces or movements that sound like they could easily be representing a storm, even a thunderstorm:

This particular recording sounds faster than the average recording of the same movement. Unfortunately, I don't know much Vivaldi beyond The Four Seasons, so I don't know of any other stormy pieces by Vivaldi. Here is some Beethoven that I think captures the same character:

Presto Agitato Moonlight Sonata

Allegro Pathetique Sonata First Movement

Tempest Sonata Third Movement - a kind of Molto Perpetuoso

Pastoral Symphony "Storm"

The Vivaldi example probably comes closest to my attempts in terms of Ensemble Size, after all, it is often played by a quintet of string players. But the Beethoven examples are probably closer in terms of Effect. Am I doing something wrong in my pieces that attempt to get across a thunderstorm? Is there something missing? Sorry that I can't provide any of my attempts, my dad still hasn't recovered them or any other compositions from my old hard drive.

 

Not really helpful about your question, but I wanted to remark some mistake that you might have about keys.

In our modern day system (equal temperament) there's no different keys feelings, the only time when different keys could feel different were when other but the equal temperament were used (baroque and so on), where the keys did actually have different physical sound variation (Hz), and so they could make you perceive different feelings on each key.

Practically if you associate a key with a feeling, it's mostly some kind of synesthesia or a mental thing, that is nothing but very subjetive. I've saw you saying about how C minor is X or other keys a lot, and again here, so I just wanted to make that part clear, since is objetive information.

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38 minutes ago, J.Santos said:

Not really helpful about your question, but I wanted to remark some mistake that you might have about keys.

In our modern day system (equal temperament) there's no different keys feelings, the only time when different keys could feel different were when other but the equal temperament were used (baroque and so on), where the keys did actually have different physical sound variation (Hz), and so they could make you perceive different feelings on each key.

Practically if you associate a key with a feeling, it's mostly some kind of synesthesia or a mental thing, that is nothing but very subjetive. I've saw you saying about how C minor is X or other keys a lot, and again here, so I just wanted to make that part clear, since is objetive information.

 

I know that equal temperament means every key theoretically speaking is the same in every aspect, major or minor, that every minor key sounds the same as every major key when context is taken away. But just because theoretically, every single key is the same, doesn't mean that many if not most people will not have a different emotional state they associate with a single key, like how I say that F minor is "The Key of Death". Most people around the world are probably pianists to some extent. If you had asked me just 5 years ago what I thought about key characters, I would say that there are the "Emotional 5 Minors" and everything else was the same. Now I don't. And I grew up listening to Classical music, especially piano music and playing the piano. A guitarist or a flutist would probably say something completely different about how F minor feels to them. So main instrument also plays a role in defining key characters and for me, that's the piano.

Also, what about the fact that most if not all people can say "That's in a minor key" or "That's in a major key", even if they don't know the tonic note or what a tonic even is? What about the fact that so many pieces have been written by well known composers to, in part, show the character of a certain key, like how the C minor in the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth crushes every major key in it's path, whereas in the third movement of the same symphony, it is mysterious and becomes less and less powerful until it barely makes a ripple? Or Chopin's E minor Prelude being so melancholic, partly because it is in E minor? Or Mozart being down and outright scary in Don Juan partly because it is in D minor? And what about the fact that all those pieces are played in equal temperament now and have the same character?

Given all that, it's hard to not have key characters in your own works, assigned or not, regardless of tuning system.

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What is your opinion about music built on tritones, in terms of the emotion they convey? Or what about harmonies constructed around augmented fourths/diminished fifths? Or polytonality? None of that music can be said to be strictly tonal, so is it devoid of emotional association altogether?

When I listen to the rich and complex works of 20th century composers who didn't necessarily compose in any particular key, I certainly feel emotion. I guess I'm just genuinely curious what emotions you would assign to note clusters not centered around a conventional Western key. This quartet by Messiaen (who "suffered" from synesthesia) is a great example.

 

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4 hours ago, caters said:

I know that equal temperament means every key theoretically speaking is the same in every aspect, major or minor, that every minor key sounds the same as every major key when context is taken away. But just because theoretically, every single key is the same, doesn't mean that many if not most people will not have a different emotional state they associate with a single key, like how I say that F minor is "The Key of Death". Most people around the world are probably pianists to some extent. If you had asked me just 5 years ago what I thought about key characters, I would say that there are the "Emotional 5 Minors" and everything else was the same. Now I don't. And I grew up listening to Classical music, especially piano music and playing the piano. A guitarist or a flutist would probably say something completely different about how F minor feels to them. So main instrument also plays a role in defining key characters and for me, that's the piano.

Also, what about the fact that most if not all people can say "That's in a minor key" or "That's in a major key", even if they don't know the tonic note or what a tonic even is? What about the fact that so many pieces have been written by well known composers to, in part, show the character of a certain key, like how the C minor in the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth crushes every major key in it's path, whereas in the third movement of the same symphony, it is mysterious and becomes less and less powerful until it barely makes a ripple? Or Chopin's E minor Prelude being so melancholic, partly because it is in E minor? Or Mozart being down and outright scary in Don Juan partly because it is in D minor? And what about the fact that all those pieces are played in equal temperament now and have the same character?

Given all that, it's hard to not have key characters in your own works, assigned or not, regardless of tuning system.

 

Yeah, that's exactly what I said, that it's a highly subjetive matter. So there's no point on pointing it out as a reason to people as a matter of sounding like X.

Using older composition's doesn't specially help your idea but reinforce mine, since previous eras used a diferent standart pitch, so in baroque it was A = 415hz,  romantic 432 and now 440, so what was D minor for us now, might be Eb minor for Mozart, and for Chopin is was a not very tunned D minor. There's no discussion about the feelings it transmits, because it's the piece (melody, harmonic, instrumentation, artist) that work nowadays. In older eras, non tempered music actually sounded different, so different keys gave different feelings, so much that even at some point F# was discarded as unplayable, and with unplayable, i mean:
 


Again, objetively the key doesnt really matter to bring up emotions if you are using equal tempered instruments or system. The only time when it matters are: 1. It makes easier/possible to play your piece (like depending on one instrument like strings in open strings position, or getting the piece to A minor, because you want to use the most lower note that ends with the tonic key) 2. you're actually using non equal tempered system.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, caters said:

Also, what about the fact that most if not all people can say "That's in a minor key" or "That's in a major key"

Because tonality of a piece is objectively perceptible. Minor does not sound like major. Change the intervals of a piece in major to the minor and it no longer sounds like the same piece (because it isn't).

Go from C minor to D minor and it still very much the same piece, though.

7 hours ago, caters said:

A guitarist or a flutist would probably say something completely different about how F minor feels to them

It feels uncomfortable in standard tuning

7 hours ago, caters said:

Or Mozart being down and outright scary in Don Juan partly because it is in D minor? And what about the fact that all those pieces are played in equal temperament now and have the same character?

How do you explain that the entirety of the first Red Dead Redemption game's score was in A minor, yet was able to encompass a wide range of emotion regardless?

The fact that such a question can even exist casts doubt on the entirety of your idea.

 

Edited by AngelCityOutlaw

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I guess I'm a bit late to the discussion, but here it goes.

On 4/29/2020 at 1:33 AM, caters said:

Well, I had it this way because of X Y Z things. So what if it is technically a mistake? You could say Beethoven technically made a lot of mistakes in his symphonies and it would change nothing, absolutely nothing about how Beethoven is perceived. The critic on the other hand, it would be perceived as a Big Fat Liar.

This is a sort of argument that although it sounds nice and romantic, it's just so flawed that it's barely usable, especialy when it comes to "older" styles, that already have it's boundaries well-set. Using this sort of argument to deflect criticism just shows that you don't percieve the boundaries of your own works as much as you should. It's simply not as good as Beethoven, and if people are giving you advice, it's not because they don't percieve your genious, but because your works are still student-like. This fits my own current situation aswell, but I concious of it, and I know that I can learn a lot more from what people tell me about my works, than by holding dear to whatever justification you construct. If it is great justification, then hopefully people will recognize it, but if it's not good enough to justify the aural results of your music, then simply accept it, improve it the next time you compose!

 

10 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

How do you explain that the entirety of the first Red Dead Redemption game's score was in A minor, yet was able to encompass a wide range of emotion regardless?

This is a very strong point, if it's even necessary to prove that different keys do not haave different characteristics. I, for one, have written most of what I composed centered in C, major or minor, modal or tonal. It's just easier to think, unless using this key implies using uncomfortable registers/fingerings in whatever instrumentation. Almost literally every "feeling" I have written (which i hope have been a few) was produced by the same key. Whenever I use other keys, It's usually after modulating from C, because I want the sound of moving into a different direction, and not some sort of inherent, abstract sound that what I, with no strong argument in my favor, believe to represent something.

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5 hours ago, Jean Szulc said:

This is a sort of argument that although it sounds nice and romantic, it's just so flawed that it's barely usable, especialy when it comes to "older" styles, that already have it's boundaries well-set. Using this sort of argument to deflect criticism just shows that you don't percieve the boundaries of your own works as much as you should. It's simply not as good as Beethoven, and if people are giving you advice, it's not because they don't percieve your genious, but because your works are still student-like. This fits my own current situation aswell, but I concious of it, and I know that I can learn a lot more from what people tell me about my works, than by holding dear to whatever justification you construct. If it is great justification, then hopefully people will recognize it, but if it's not good enough to justify the aural results of your music, then simply accept it, improve it the next time you compose!

What you describe is why I'm not into the whole "art music" thing and start gettin' out the clown horns and eye-roll emojis when we start talking about things like "meaning, emotions, 'having something to say', etc." It's all about elevating the inane to the "enlightened"; you can justify any obvious flaw by dressing it up in romantic language. 

Everyone who knows me knows that I have great disdain for materialism, scientism, and the like, but the truth is — anyone serious about their craft and improving on it MUST take such a stance on it because it is both the best and only way to do so.

Some works really are just better than others and they require no justification or explanation: Everyone just "gets it". "Oh, it's not that the melody meanders and clashes too much with the bassline, it's just about blah blah" it's like, no dude — it's just not very good. 

All these "deep" and "artistic"  and "romantic" interpretations have never been a factor in quality craftsmanship — for anything.

 

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