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Hello again! I'm enjoying writing music more and more, and your feedback is always great! This is the first movement of a bassoon sonata I wrote in the hope, after the pandemic, to play it together with a bassoonist friend. I think it could be performed with a cello, also. Please, let me know your thoughts and... constructive criticism very welcome! Ciao

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Hi, I listened to it and I'm not good with positive criticism so sorry if I hurt your feelings. I don't mean to.

The main problem I see is that there's no clear sensation of movement, or of anything else. The texture changes sometimes, but harmonically as well as melodically, it's extremely complicated to understand what's going on. At times it seems like you're roaming about without really knowing where to go, and at times a nice idea pops up, or a lyrical moment, and you (meaning I) think "oh, there's something", but then you (still talking about me) get lost again in all the notes and chords and syncopation. It always feels to me, throughout the movement, like you want to tell me something, but can't quite say it properly, maybe because you're going too fast. It may be very clear to you, but it isn't to the listener - at least not to me.

I advise you to take a step back and listen to your music as if you had never heard it in your life. Of course that's impossible to do, but try to get as close as possible. I do it with all my compositions, and it helps me immensely to get rid of rambling, make crowded passages sound clearer, and take out a lot of stuff - NEVER cling too hard to an idea ; if it doesn't work, don't try to work around it for an hour, just forget about it or put it aside, and try something else. And remember Mozart: less is more, don't try to write in counterpoint and complex harmony for the sake of it, your music will be much more effective if it's natural. Then you can work your way up naturally from there.

That's all I had to say really. I don't want to sound patronizing - I'm by no means an expert composer - but I find that it helps a lot to get others' feedback, even when they're not necessarily better than us. I often ask my father for advice, and although he has no knowledge of theory and his only acquaintance with classical music comes from listening to it, he's always extremely useful in what he tells me.

Of course, your music might have been complicated on purpose, and then my whole paragraph will have been for nothing, but if that's not the case, I sincerely hope I helped you in some way.

Have a good day!

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Posted (edited)

Hi! Thank you so much for listening and taking the time to write! Of course I'm hurt 🙂 Just kidding, it's very good criticism. I think as a total amateur (it's the third thing I write) I have only a vague idea of the form (First theme in E flat, go to B flat somehow and change up the rhythm for the second theme, close, creative development - something contrapuntal, go back to first theme in E flat and stay there till the end). I *think* overall the form is OK, but the steps within... you are correct that I am not sure how to go where I want to go. Sometimes I can "hear" the harmonic progression that I then try to capture on paper, but often it's trial and error, which I think results in a meandering feeling for the listener. And also perhaps for fear of abusing of a kind listener's patience I "go to fast" making it actually difficult and messy to follow. 

As per the advice of "listening as you never heard it before", I find it as necessary as it is for me impossible to follow it!

I do have a second movement, which I post here and that I hope will be easier to follow! Thanks again for listening and especially for commenting!

 

Edited by Giacomo925
changed the mp3 file to version without repeats
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I like the 2nd movement!  It's quite effective as a slow movement and I don't usually like slow movements.  Everything, including the piano accompaniment stays pretty simple for the most part.  You attempt to introduce a more virtuosic variation of the material in the bassoon at meas. 54 which I feel could be brought out more and elaborated upon more.  If it were my piece I would probably have subjected the material to a theme and variations treatment but that's just me.  Your phrases are quite unusual in this and end up in unexpected places.  Also it seems like the melody line should be more lyrical and song-like somehow.  There certainly is plenty of tension and release in your phrases and dynamics that highlight that.  Overall, an enjoyable if brooding piece!  Thanks for sharing!

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Thank you so much @PeterthePapercomPoser for your kind words. I agree that meas. 54 ff could have been elaborated upon more. Hope I'm not abusing anyone's patience, but would love to get more feedback on the first two movements and on the third movement, attached here... Sonata per Fagotto 3. Allegro.mp3

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I am in love with 2:18 onward, 3:00 onward  is also beautiful, I like that repeated motif (forgive me if I used that word incorrectly) from earlier on (m. 1-4, 36-39) that you repeated in measure 100. That contrasting rhythm between the bassoon and piano in some places is also quite nice. I also really enjoyed that timing switch there from 4/4 to 3/4, it gives the piece some variety, very nice to the ears. I am the last person you'd want to ask for music advice, but I hope that helps. I think you are a wonderful composer, I'd love to hear more of your work, keep it up!

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Oh wow @GospelPiano12, thank you. That is so nice! I mean, I'm all for open, honest, constructive criticism, but to instead read such nice compliments about one's music... I'm not gonna lie, it feels really great 🙂 I think that the third movement is "simpler" than the first one, and that seems the way to go... Thanks again for listening and taking the time to write such a nice message!

 

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You're welcome, I mean I do agree with other some of the earlier comments. Like in the first movement, I was thinking the same thing as @Pierre dbss with the lack of structure and movement. I wanted to focus on the positive and let you know my compliments instead of criticisms. Overall, this piece in it's entirety is very nice, I could see this being played at a concert hall or something, especially the last two movements. We're all here here to encourage you, just keep composing.

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Hi again! Sorry about not replying sooner, I didn’t see your reply until this afternoon. I’m happy that my advice was useful. I like the second and especially third movements a lot! I find them more natural than the first one. You seem to have your own style, you writing seems quite personal and there are a lot of very interesting moments. I especially like the way you handled the middle section in the third movement! When it arrived, I thought “oh, his inspiration ran out at this point. I’ve had my share of pseudo-tango sections nowadays”. But the simple runs in the right hand of the piano kept it really interesting and contrasted. The whole movement feels well-constructed. Actually, it seems to me like you and I are opposites: I’m always finding interesting melodies, small 8-bar phrases that sound really well, but I have trouble organizing them into large works. I thought exactly the opposite hearing your first movement, in particular: it’s like you knew exactly where you were going, but didn’t really sort out the bar-to-bar detail too much. Anyway, congrats for your new movements, and completing such a long piece! It’s always an achievement.

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I actually thought it was fine and well formed. Interesting harmonic progressions and harmony. Seems you're fairly practiced in CPP. It has a late 18th century feel to it, at times reminding me of Cimarosa. (His Oboe Concerto is roughly the same length.) I don't know if it's a live performance - it could be but there are giveaways that it isn't, like the long phrases for the bassoon without a breathing space (in the opening bars). The dynamic range is pretty good anyway. My only crit is that the Bassoon could be just a tiny bit more to the front. It sounds as if the piano is nearest the mike (whether live or not).

I make the point about live performance because a short while ago a composer posted his piece here and I was sure it was musescore or some such with untreated samples. Turns out it was live, recorded on his phone as that was all he had for recording!!

Well done anyway,

Cheers

Q

 

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14 hours ago, Quinn said:

I actually thought it was fine and well formed. Interesting harmonic progressions and harmony. Seems you're fairly practiced in CPP.

Thank you very much!! But it's only my third attempt at writing a Sonata and I'm not sure what you are referring to with "CPP"?

14 hours ago, Quinn said:

It has a late 18th century feel to it, at times reminding me of Cimarosa. (His Oboe Concerto is roughly the same length.)

This is a great compliment, thanks a lot!

14 hours ago, Quinn said:

I don't know if it's a live performance - it could be but there are giveaways that it isn't, like the long phrases for the bassoon without a breathing space (in the opening bars). The dynamic range is pretty good anyway.

It's Noteperformer. I have written for bassoon because a friend's girlfriend plays the instrument, so I'm hoping at some point when the stars align we'll be able to play it (hence the fingering in the piano part of the first movement).

Thanks for the observation about the breathing. May I ask if you noticed more instances of phrases that are too long to play for the bassoon?

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17 hours ago, Pierre dbss said:

Actually, it seems to me like you and I are opposites: I’m always finding interesting melodies, small 8-bar phrases that sound really well, but I have trouble organizing them into large works. I thought exactly the opposite hearing your first movement, in particular: it’s like you knew exactly where you were going, but didn’t really sort out the bar-to-bar detail too much. Anyway, congrats for your new movements, and completing such a long piece! It’s always an achievement.

 

 

Thank you for listening and commenting and for the kind words!

Maybe since we are opposites we should try and collaborate 🙂

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22 hours ago, GospelPiano12 said:

We're all here here to encourage you, just keep composing.

 

You are so very nice, thanks so much! I have discovered that I enjoy composing during lockdown last spring, and I think I'm going to continue because it is extremely relaxing and rewarding. This forum has been GREAT for feedback, motivation and inspiration.

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1 hour ago, Giacomo925 said:

Thank you for listening and commenting and for the kind words!

Maybe since we are opposites we should try and collaborate 🙂

 

I would definitely love to hear that collab!

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Giacomo925 said:

Thank you very much!! But it's only my third attempt at writing a Sonata and I'm not sure what you are referring to with "CPP"?

CPP - Common Practice Period: traditional harmonic practices. You've done well, taking it into a slightly more modern setting and adding a few "accented passing notes" and allowable dissonances here and there.

Examples. The bassoon part in bars 3 & 4 moving from the G to the Bb. The Ab is an unaccented passing note so it's clash with the piano G is fine. The A natural in bar 4 effectively forms a modulation leading to the Bb chord, an imperfect cadence. It turns an F minor chord into F major.

Bar 13, 3rd beat. The bassoon F is an appoggiatura (as they call it, an accented passing note (not of itself part of the harmony)) falling to the Eb to fit the piano harmony. The piano in the same beat touches a high C, a 6th in the chord.

Another clever appoggiatura in bar 62, the bassoon A nat'l against the Bb piano chord, 'stealing' (as they say) from the Bb that follows.

You seem to have an ear for this sort of effect. Adds much interest. What tipped me you've had at least a brush with CPP was your use of these effects and the way you handle modulation, if you don't mind me saying so. 

Edit: I do hope you get a chance to hear it performed and possibly recorded for your portfolio. A little Tascam would do but even the phone is better than nothing!

Edited by Quinn
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11 hours ago, Quinn said:

CPP - Common Practice Period: traditional harmonic practices. You've done well, taking it into a slightly more modern setting and adding a few "accented passing notes" and allowable dissonances here and there.

 

Yes! And your examples are on point, (mostly) deliberate on my part. The story is that I was a music student (piano) many many years ago (I guess I am a *young* composer only at heart 🙂 ), and part of the curriculum was a "elementary harmony" exam whose topics correspond, by and large, to CPP (four-part harmony, modulation, some chromatism). About a year ago, in lockdown and a little bored I brushed up on the harmony textbook and started reading it, doing exercises etc. I figured I could write the exercises on the computer, and then realized I could have fun arranging them for the orchestra, and expanding them a bit. Then it struck me that I could try to write my own thing, so I did. And I've been having fun, albeit at a slow pace, doing it since then.

11 hours ago, Quinn said:

Examples. The bassoon part in bars 3 & 4 moving from the G to the Bb. The Ab is an unaccented passing note so it's clash with the piano G is fine. The A natural in bar 4 effectively forms a modulation leading to the Bb chord, an imperfect cadence. It turns an F minor chord into F major.

Bar 13, 3rd beat. The bassoon F is an appoggiatura (as they call it, an accented passing note (not of itself part of the harmony)) falling to the Eb to fit the piano harmony. The piano in the same beat touches a high C, a 6th in the chord.

Another clever appoggiatura in bar 62, the bassoon A nat'l against the Bb piano chord, 'stealing' (as they say) from the Bb that follows.

It's interesting that you pick these examples, because that is (bars 3-4 and 62) an element that I tried to make somewhat "structural" in the piece. The Ab-A-Bb chromatic passage in bar 4 comes back in bar 20 accompanying the ending of what will become the main 4-note theme in the development; in bar 32 (descending) embellishing the bridge passage when given to the piano, esp in bar 43 in the second theme, further stressed by the fermata; in bar 62 as appoggiatura; and esp in bar 94 to culminate the development with the augmented 4-note theme in the high register of the bassoon leading to the V of Eb to conclude development.

Thank you for looking at the score so carefully! I also hope to have a recording of this at some point.

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On 5/8/2021 at 5:34 AM, GospelPiano12 said:

I know this has nothing to do with the wonderful music of @Giacomo925, but I attempted to transcribe a vocal recording. I'm not sure about my rhythms, so if you can correct it and explain it that would be great. Thanks

 

where can we find it?

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