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How connected is your composing to performance?


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Do you perform your music?  If so, what instrument do you perform it on?  Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?  What about non-piano pieces?  Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?  Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?  Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

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1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?

If it's Solo, yes. If I had a finished piano concerto, I would probably perform that as well.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

Piano, because that's the only instrument I'm good enough at to perform on.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?

Of course.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

What about non-piano pieces?

Does improvising musical ideas for my compositions count? If so, yes.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?

Yes, that's a big part of my compositional process right there is improvising musical ideas. And, even if the initial improvisation isn't that good, I can still find motifs to develop into a theme that is good.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

I use Musescore's default soundfont in combination with my piano improvisations. I'm somewhat satisfied. Not fully of course, like col legno(or the lack of it, I should say) is one thing I'm unsatisfied with because sometimes, I come up with a musical idea that works best with col legno. The closest I can get in Musescore is accented pizz, which is not at all the same sound. They are both more percussive than staccato, yes, but other than that, they are totally different.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?

No, especially not for instruments that aren't Piano, Harp, Harpsichord, or any sort of pitched percussion(If I use percussion, I tend to use pitched rather than unpitched, that's why I said that). Woodwinds get like maybe the closest of the other instruments to true performance, but only because I wouldn't expect any sort of notation software or even a DAW to get the true sound of something like multiphonics or some other rarely used advanced woodwind technique across. Brass, a bit further away. Strings the furthest from true performance because of lack of string distinction(i.e. there is no Sul G, Sul C, etc.) and several string techniques that are notated all the time(sul tasto, sul ponticello, col legno just to name a few). I only have a few like Staccato(of which I only have a staccato setting for it, I don't have Spiccato or any of the several other bowing techniques that are also notated with staccato dots), pizzicato, harmonics, and of course accent marks, but that's getting more into dynamics.

Which brings me to another point, the dynamics don't follow the true dynamic curves. In other words, a flute note marked fortissimo and the same note with the same marking at the same tempo on a violin staff will sound identical in intensity, when in reality, they don't sound anywhere close to identical. The violin is intrinsically more intense than the flute and dynamics in a good quality notation software in my opinion should reflect that. And even for just the flute itself, if it's lower than C5, forte is relative and not absolute, because it can't reach an absolute forte in the low register. An absolute mezzo-forte is as loud as it gets, so forte would imply "Play the piano dynamic before it quieter than you otherwise would" for low register flute, I think.

1 hour ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

I've thought about it, but I don't even know where I'd start if I wanted to contact the musicians. Like, if I wanted an orchestral performance, since the Columbus Symphony Orchestra is the closest orchestra to my house, would I go to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra website and contact them via email or what? And what about chamber groups like string quartets and woodwind ensembles? What about a single soloist for like a Flute Sonata or whatever?

I do have a group of friends who I told about my compositions including my orchestral compositions. Not musician friends, just regular friends. We have these monthly in-person reunions and weekly video chats, me and my friends. And at one of the in-person reunions, one of the facilitators, who is also a friend of mine, said something about getting an orchestra at one of these reunions so that they can play my orchestral pieces. That would be so amazing if it ever happens, but until then, I'm basically in the maze that is trying to find musicians to contact on the internet and figuring out whether to email them or call them or whatever. Haven't found my way through it yet, so I don't have any performances, yet.

And as for piano performance by me, well, it's been years since I last performed publicly as a pianist. I had this jealousy thing happen with my piano teacher because I was progressing faster than probably any of her other students, which, although in my first year, was a positive thing, made me learn my favorite Mozart pieces sooner, by the time my second year came around and I felt ready for Chopin, it turned negative on me and that was the last year that I performed publicly. Ever since then, I've only ever done private performance for like family and close friends(Well, that's not entirely true, I did perform once several years ago at a hospital, but even then, it was for my grandparents that I performed, any public listening that weren't family members was just a bonus). And I have no idea how to get back into it, because the place I used to perform as a pianist went out of business, and I don't know of any other place except my college that has piano performance. And I have no idea if I have to like be in a certain class or if anybody who plays music can perform regardless of what class they are in, because I have never thought about doing like a piano recital at my college. Plus, I get really nervous performing around people I don't know, like "What if I make a mistake? Everyone will hear me do it, not just myself or my parents. I know I can play it mistake free, I know I'm capable, but I know stress can lead to mistakes and this sort of situation is stressful".

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11 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?

I try to not perform my own music. Instead, I just use the generic instruments on something like sibelius to get a general idea of what's going on, then I'll get people to actually perform the music, if I think it's good enough. Music that's not actually played live by a human (that isn't obviously electronic stuff, etc) isn't really "done" to me. I need to hear it in actual reality for me to have any closure with a piece.

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Now this is a good topic

16 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?

Yes

16 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

Electric guitar, acoustic, tin whistles, recorders, a piano I have from the '70s, and of course a MIDI controller and virtual instruments

16 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?

100% of the time. Everything I write was played on an instrument in meatspace first.

16 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

Bruh, I have literally thousands of dollars worth I've got over the last 15 to 20 years. Off the top of my head I have

Era II Medieval Legends + Vocal Codex, Symphonic Orchestra, Cinebrass, Cinewinds, Cinematic Strings 2, Nexus 2 + a lot of expansions, Orchestral Essentials, Amplesound Bass, Manda Audio Drumkit, Apocalypse Percussion, various free libraries, and a bunch of others I'm forgetting right now.

17 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

are you satisfied with the results

It really depends. Some instruments like percussion and bass are fine as virtual instruments and I find Era really does the Medieval instruments very well. Some instruments, particularly reed instruments and the orchestra (especially soloists) are very difficult to capture all the techniques and timbre and never really sound truly authentic.

However I will say, there is a difference between something sounding "good" and something sound "real". Sometimes, something doesn't sound real but it sounds great for the context. I love synth brass and a lot classic Romplers from the '90s, so although that flute isnt' going to fool anyone that it's "real", it still sounds awesome.

17 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?

BUT this is the flipside of the whole thing. I really do like recording real instruments. When you are going for "real", at least where the most stand-out elements of your piece are concerned, you're never going to beat the real thing. There's also this magic of when you send some sheet music or a midi performance to a musician and you get it back and you hear how the player imparted their own identity onto the line. They through in these little flourishes or had a particular way of accenting some note that only they could think of. 

It really creates this vibe of listening to your own music for the first time, even if you've listened to the mockup a million times.

17 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

Already have, and I just got a sax player with 40 years experience to record the tenor sax on my latest piece over in the pop/jazz/rock section of the forum.

I got my start playing in rock and metal bands, I've had other guitar players play on my tracks, etc. Next project I think I might hire a live string player and have them do several passages of the same line so it recreates the sound of a full string ensemble.

My final thoughts on this: I really do recommend getting live players on your tracks at least some of the time; if not because they can take your music to the next level, IMO every serious composer should aim to understand the instruments they are composing for even if they are virtual. I also really recommend every composer master at least one instrument themselves. It will be difficult to get musicians and clients (if you want to do it for hire) to take you seriously if you don't.

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20 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music? 

Yes, but only for demo video purposes.  I feel shy about performing my own work.  Unless that's the expectation for a class, or the organizing principle for a concert with multiple composer/performers, or you really are a fancy, fancy, big-name composer and an excellent performer, (I'm neither), it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.  (But would I love to have heard Bach perform some Bach.  Yes)!  Unless there is a particular reason for it, performing your own work feels like a big billboard that announces that no one else is waiting to perform your piece, so I'd rather not unless there is no other option.  That said, if that's an option you've got, go for it!  But it's not something I seek out.  

20 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

I sing, so I mainly write vocal music.  When something is for solo, or women's duet, or trio, I sometimes multitrack record a demo to give people a better idea of what it sounds like than what my composing software can produce.  

20 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?  Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?  

I always try to sing all the parts to be sure the musical lines feel satisfying and reasonably sight-readable, where to write in a rest or breath, etc.  I don't play piano at all, but for pieces with piano accompaniment I try to slowly play one hand and then the other to try to determine if it feels reasonably playable, even if I can't play it up to tempo or with both hands together.  I use Musescore and haven't bought any extra sound libraries.  

20 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

I'm always very nervous about how my compositions will sound until I hear them performed, and sometimes I make changes based on what I hear in performance.  I've been lucky enough to have quite a few pieces performed.  Sometimes I get to hear the performance, other times I just find a reference to a concert somewhere online after the fact.  Keep writing and making your scores available online and sooner or later one will happen to fit the theme of someone's concert program.  We are very fortunate to live in the times we do.  Composition software lets us make nice neat scores without the need to attract the attention of a publisher first for typesetting and the internet gives us a way to put them out into the world where other musicians may stumble across them by google searching "oboe flute duet" or "piano solo Christmas."  We still have to be lucky enough to get someone's attention, but there aren't gatekeepers standing in the way.  

For anyone on this thread who is trying to figure out how to hear a piece performed live, think of any friends or family you know who play an instrument and write something at their level of ability.  There's nothing wrong with writing a piece for beginning performance.  Just make sure the piece you write really is the correct difficulty level so this is a fun project for you both and not something that makes your friend feel embarrassed at their abilities or frustrated.  Consider trading performances with another composition student at your school:  they write something for you to play, you write something for them to play, everyone wins!  Enter composition contests that give the winners a performance. (These generally have an application fee attached, but there are some free ones out there). Use google to search for groups that specialize in performing new music.  Many welcome submissions from composers and have information about how to send them a score on their websites and what kind of music they are looking for.  You get to have a piece performed, they get to say they premiered a piece.  Or write a piece for solo instrument or a chamber group and pay to have it recorded by a professional group that specializes in paid recordings for composers, or a professional soloist.  (Very expensive, but a good way to get a nice recording for your music school application or to put at the top of your website to attract interest in your other scores.  The more players you hire, the more expensive it gets, so think trio, not full orchestra).  

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On 1/30/2022 at 10:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music? If so, what instrument do you perform it on? 

No, I've currently not good enough on any instrument to really perform publicly (I was a violin/viola player).

 

On 1/30/2022 at 10:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?  Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?  

I mostly use software (Finale) which has adequate sound fonts for most instruments (Garritan).  For voices, I use EWQL Symphonic Choirs which is awesome, though unwieldy, and VI Labs Piano sound libraries which I also think is great, which is probably why I now write more for piano than any other instrument even though I am not a pianist myself.

 

On 1/30/2022 at 10:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

 Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

Unfortunately, I do think my approach to writing music does disconnect me from the actual nuances/practicalities of performance.  Probably much of my piano music is non-idomatic and perhaps borderline unplayable and that may also apply to some of my choral music.  Obviously, having my music performed is always the dream and I've been fortunately to have had some of my music performed (though not publicly).  Even a mistake filled live performance is far better than a polished midi rendered one.

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On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?  If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

Yes, I'm a violinist and I compose for myself often.

Quote

Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?

My piano skills are basically nonexistent so it doesn't matter. I've taken just enough piano to have a grasp of piano technique and compose idiomatically for the instrument, but I can't actually play it well.

Quote

What about non-piano pieces?  Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?

Usually, no. Even when deliberately trying to write virtuoso works for the violin, I have a good enough grasp of what should work in my head that I rarely need to fix things later.

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 Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

The realizations I hear of most of my compositions initially come straight out of Finale's playback. Finale has always had very nice built-in playback so I am usually satisfied.

Quote

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

Usually, yes, it's acceptable as a mockup. But it is always great to hear my pieces played by real musicians, especially by more people than just myself and an accompanist. I've had the chance to have two pieces programmed by an actual orchestra in concerts, and a third read through in rehearsal, though not performed. I've also had a couple of arrangements commissioned and programmed as well, though the effect isn't quite the same.

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On 1/30/2022 at 7:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?  If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

I have never yet performed my pieces live for anybody except for a short fugue for flute, clarinet and bassoon that I wrote as a final assignment for a counterpoint class I took in college.  I played clarinet - I wish I could say I played the piece without mistakes!  But the other performers didn't seem to have any trouble performing their parts.  Also - I sometimes play some of my music during a Musical Playground/Music Appreciation group I facilitate weekly.

On 1/30/2022 at 7:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?  What about non-piano pieces?

I don't really.  I've played pretty challenging piano repertoire back in the day when I played and practiced piano consistently.  I feel like I know what is possible and impossible on piano which to me seems like a pretty sharp distinction.  I've also played my fair share of wind instruments and just recently started playing guitar, so I feel like I know the basics of writing for strings as well (although admittedly I don't yet know my extended techniques such as harmonics - but I think I can and will learn how those work through guitar harmonics).

On 1/30/2022 at 7:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?

Not usually.  The only thing that I have a hard time approximating is how long any given wind instrument can play for before they have to take a breath.  Otherwise I've pretty much learned how to use my musical imagination or whistle melodies/countermelodies or vertical sonorities.

On 1/30/2022 at 7:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

I don't use software to help me hear my composition while I'm composing them usually.  I try to make all my musical decisions based solely on my musical imagination.  Then, if I don't like something while I'm entering it into Musescore then I can change it at the last minute of course.  Somehow though, that doesn't happen very often.  I am not happy with the trumpet patches in the default Musescore soundfonts.  I am hoping that once I update to Musescore 4, Musescore might stop crashing on every update that I make (I've had to uninstall it and download the new version of every update I've tried to make) and then I'll be able to install better soundfonts and won't have to redo everything every couple of weeks.

On 1/30/2022 at 7:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

I feel like, with the help of my orchestration books, I'm well enough prepared to write for any standard orchestral instrument.  As for getting my music performed live, I mostly compose for my own enjoyment.  I know some people compose for any given ensemble only if they know that they will get a live performance of the work.  My philosophy is totally the opposite of that - I think that if I enjoy composing for myself, it might someday attract people to my music and get me live performances.  On the other hand, I might seek out live performances of my music if I ever go back to school for a masters in musical composition somewhere.

On 2/1/2022 at 5:17 AM, bkho said:

Unfortunately, I do think my approach to writing music does disconnect me from the actual nuances/practicalities of performance.  Probably much of my piano music is non-idomatic and perhaps borderline unplayable and that may also apply to some of my choral music.

Same here.  I think some of my piano works are borderline unplayable, at least not at the speed at which I imagined them.  My Etude in Ab and Diabolique for Piano are definitely harder than anything I've ever played on piano and I can only hope that there's a pianist out there somewhere who would be able to play them up to speed.

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On 1/30/2022 at 10:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?  If so, what instrument do you perform it on?  Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?  What about non-piano pieces?  Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?  Or do you just use software simulations for that?  If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?  Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?  Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

 

yeah.  Usually on harpsichord and i try it out on clavichord.  I haven't written any non-keyboard pieces in a while but i used to.  I actually clicked this thread thinking it was asking about, does this music you perform influence the music you play, to which my answer would be i try to deliberately pick what i play based on how i want to write

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  • 1 month later...
On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?

I try to. I do when I make pieces for accordion solo which isn't often (but hopefully that's gonna change).

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you try your piano pieces out on piano? 

Yes I do, at least what I can play. I rarely perform an entire piece on piano, I just cannot, but I often don't need to to get a grasp of how it sounds.

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

What about non-piano pieces?

What about them? Lol. Nah seriously I sometimes use the piano for them but it's not a necessary step in my non-piano compositions.

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing? 

Sometimes.

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Or do you just use software simulations for that? 

Often.

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

Free soundfonts I found on the internet during the last 8-9 years. Never satisfied enough I believe I made piano and violin sound good enough to me.

On 1/31/2022 at 4:14 AM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

I'm gonna publish my first book of nocturnes, not sure when but sure I'll try to search for an affordable professional pianist. I don't think anyone's gonna play it for fun or whatever but it could be. I'm not very concerned about that to be honest.

 

Kind regards ^^! 

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My stab at this well-posed question.

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you perform your music?  If so, what instrument do you perform it on?

The only instrument I play to any degree of public performability is the piano. I have had the good fortune of premiering many of the pieces I've written, though not in strictly formal settings, such as a recital or workshop/festival. Writing for piano is definitely what comes easiest to me (I think), and I can typically play what I write.

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you try your piano pieces out on piano?  What about non-piano pieces?

If written for piano, yes. I also keep a violin and viola close by when composing for strings so I can work out fingerings and bowings. Aside from that, I rarely use the piano as the rendering for my non-piano music.

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you play or try out your musical ideas on an instrument while composing?  Or do you just use software simulations for that?

Closely related to the above. For the piano, yes. But I don't like relying on the piano for musical ideas for other instruments. I'll use it maybe to set the "key" and grab some thematic elements. The violin/viola are my go-to for any string-related themes. All of the other instruments I have to rely on software simulations.

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

If so, what sound libraries do you use and are you satisfied with the results?

I've collected most of Spitfire's Symphonic Orchestra libraries over the years and have been largely satisifed with the results. I use NotePerformer for the "first pass," and have been very pleased with how it performs. If an orchestral work isn't likely to be performed, I'll "professionally" render it using SSO — but that often takes longer than composing the darn thing in the first place. (I hate rendering. I hate it so much.)

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Does that sufficiently connect you to the performance practices of actual musicians?

For the most part, yes. Although nothing can substitute the interpretations of an actual, live human performer.

On 1/30/2022 at 9:14 PM, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you plan on ever having your music performed live by actual musicians?

Everything I compose is written with this in mind. Not that I expect everything I write to make it into a performance hall, but it never hurts to be prepared!

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