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Feedback on structure, form and harmony: Pianosketch for orchestra

beyd770

Member
Just finished Mike Verta's "Structure"-masterclass, and learned a ton!

What do you think of this little sketch? What could I do to improve my form even more before starting writing out the individual pieces?

Piano is The Grandeur from NI, with Altiverb Todd AO-input at 40% and high/lowpass-filter. Nothing fancy.

 

DMDComposer

Member
Very nice. Excited to hear how you take your sketch now to orchestra. I'm also glad to hear Mike's classes are working well for you.

Remember, Mike is correct that modulation & repetition is a form of development. It is the simplest way to development, the "easiest" but it also the "weakest" form of development. Now by no means is anything wrong with your piece. I think the structure/form is fine and worked; as well if you decide to orchestrate the sketch, the orchestration will help keep forward momentum and the listener zoned in. But something you could improve on is development. You actually start to be more curious around your 2:40 min mark.

Now I'm going to probably be shunned for saying this and I'll preface with that I'm a huge John Williams fanboy and I love this piece alot, but "The Flight to Neverland" doesn't develop as much as you think but does follow the "repetition & modulation" development greatly. Just count how many times he modulates and plays the same theme(s) with little to no variation (not counting orchestration as variation, strictly just composition). Yes, this is a form of development but after 4 minutes it starts to get predictable and boring until he gives us a famous J.W. coda. John Williams beautiful orchestration helps us through with the forward momentum and interest. As well, we all know John Williams can develop and go on for another 40 minutes or more if he had too lol. Around the 1:30 min mark, & 3:26 mark J.W. actually starts to develop a bit but quickly returns to the melody.

Now, you could write a piece just like the Flight to Neverland and call it a day. Shit, I'd call that success for a year lol. But, if you want to improve you can focus on development because form, structure, and development all coincide with each other.

Just some stuff to think about for next time. Really enjoyed your piece, thank you for posting.

 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Very nice. Excited to hear how you take your sketch now to orchestra. I'm also glad to hear Mike's classes are working well for you.

Remember, Mike is correct that modulation & repetition is a form of development. It is the simplest way to development, the "easiest" but it also the "weakest" form of development. Now by no means is anything wrong with your piece. I think the structure/form is fine and worked; as well if you decide to orchestrate the sketch, the orchestration will help keep forward momentum and the listener zoned in. But something you could improve on is development. You actually start to be more curious around your 2:40 min mark.

Now I'm going to probably be shunned for saying this and I'll preface with that I'm a huge John Williams fanboy and I love this piece alot, but "The Flight to Neverland" doesn't develop as much as you think but does follow the "repetition & modulation" development greatly. Just count how many times he modulates and plays the same theme(s) with little to no variation (not counting orchestration as variation, strictly just composition). Yes, this is a form of development but after 4 minutes it starts to get predictable and boring until he gives us a famous J.W. coda. John Williams beautiful orchestration helps us through with the forward momentum and interest. As well, we all know John Williams can develop and go on for another 40 minutes or more if he had too lol. Around the 1:30 min mark, & 3:26 mark J.W. actually starts to develop a bit but quickly returns to the melody.

Now, you could write a piece just like the Flight to Neverland and call it a day. Shit, I'd call that success for a year lol. But, if you want to improve you can focus on development because form, structure, and development all coincide with each other.

Just some stuff to think about for next time. Really enjoyed your piece, thank you for posting.

First of all, thank you for taking your time on this answer, I really appreciate it. I see all your points, and I'm glad you pointed them out! I'm a real beginner in all of this, and until recently I could not even complete a single sketch with coherent form. Taking development further is really something I want to fous more on, and spending lots and lots of time on the sketch instead of jumping straight to the orchestration (or even worse for me, composing and orchestrating at the same time) has already provided some results. Therefore I'm also happy by the fact that you think the sketch could stand on its own material, by itself, even though it might be kind of predictable and a bit boring.

Will study the score by John Williams in detail and really think about your good suggestions when continuing this sketch. Thanks a lot!
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Just finished Mike Verta's "Structure"-masterclass, and learned a ton!

What do you think of this little sketch? What could I do to improve my form even more before starting writing out the individual pieces?

Piano is The Grandeur from NI, with Altiverb Todd AO-input at 40% and high/lowpass-filter. Nothing fancy.

One issue you will likely have as you rework this for orchestra is that it sounds to me like it's been conceived as a piano piece, so while I can hear places where an orchestra might supplement what you've written and places where the tune and accompaniment might be taken over by various orchestral instruments, its basic conception right now is pianistic, and so the path of least resistance in making it into an orchestra piece will be piano music that has had orchestral clothing thrown on it rather than being reconceived as orchestral music. So you'll have to take care as you go to rework it into orchestral textures. (This is a drawback of Verta's piano-centric method.) I wouldn't be surprised if you find that the most effective version in the end is as a piano dominated piece with some orchestral backing.
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
One issue you will likely have as you rework this for orchestra is that it sounds to me like it's been conceived as a piano piece, so while I can hear places where an orchestra might supplement what you've written and places where the tune and accompaniment might be taken over by various orchestral instruments, its basic conception right now is pianistic, and so the path of least resistance in making it into an orchestra piece will be piano music that has had orchestral clothing thrown on it rather than being reconceived as orchestral music. So you'll have to take care as you go to rework it into orchestral textures. (This is a drawback of Verta's piano-centric method.) I wouldn't be surprised if you find that the most effective version in the end is as a piano dominated piece with some orchestral backing.
Thanks for your very helpful reply! Makes me go over my process of writing this all over again, in a slightly new light.

Yes, it absolutely was conceived as a piano piece, and true it is pianistic in nature. I'm a real beginner at this, so the most important aspect of this sketch was to make a structure that would work. Plain old A-B-A-C-stuff. I felt I accomplished that part to some extent, but at the cost of variation and development.

The idea was to make a "mindmap" of melody, possibilities for second voices and harmonic content, and then work the orchestration from there. But you are totally correct, and I would also expect the piece to end up as a piano-driven piece. But since I'm so new to this, it's ok for now. In the meantime I will continiue to transcribe all I can, to learn and understand how to voice and orchestrate the content from my "mindmap-sketch" into a more coherent orchestral structure.
 

borisb2

Active Member
One issue you will likely have as you rework this for orchestra is that it sounds to me like it's been conceived as a piano piece, so while I can hear places where an orchestra might supplement what you've written and places where the tune and accompaniment might be taken over by various orchestral instruments, its basic conception right now is pianistic, and so the path of least resistance in making it into an orchestra piece will be piano music that has had orchestral clothing thrown on it rather than being reconceived as orchestral music. So you'll have to take care as you go to rework it into orchestral textures. (This is a drawback of Verta's piano-centric method.) I wouldn't be surprised if you find that the most effective version in the end is as a piano dominated piece with some orchestral backing.
great point .. what would be your advice then if one is composing on piano? focus on keeping the playing not piano-idiomatic but "limiting" to playing only melody on right hand and chords on left (as an example) ? .. as a piano player I'm stumbeling into the same trap sometimes.

On the other hand, Mike Verta's "the race" was written on piano as well I assume - and doesnt sound pianistic at all .. so it also comes down to how much one can abstract I guess.

@OP: did you start orchestrating it?
 
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OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
great point .. what would be your advice then if one is composing on piano? focus on keeping the playing not piano-idiomatic but "limiting" to playing only melody on right hand and chords on left (as an example) ? .. as a piano player I'm stumbeling into the same trap sometimes.

On the other hand, Mike Verta's "the race" was written on piano as well I assume - and doesnt sound pianistic at all .. so it also comes down to how much one can abstract I guess.

@OP: did you start orchestrating it?
Here is the final piece:
 

borisb2

Active Member
enjoyed listening to it..

personal thoughts: I would take out piano from 0.51 until it comes back around 1.40 - could give you a bit more contrast

which piano is that?
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
enjoyed listening to it..

personal thoughts: I would take out piano from 0.51 until it comes back around 1.40 - could give you a bit more contrast

which piano is that?
Interesting! Will try that in a mix. The piano is garritan cfx :)
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
One issue you will likely have as you rework this for orchestra is that it sounds to me like it's been conceived as a piano piece, so while I can hear places where an orchestra might supplement what you've written and places where the tune and accompaniment might be taken over by various orchestral instruments, its basic conception right now is pianistic, and so the path of least resistance in making it into an orchestra piece will be piano music that has had orchestral clothing thrown on it rather than being reconceived as orchestral music. So you'll have to take care as you go to rework it into orchestral textures. (This is a drawback of Verta's piano-centric method.) I wouldn't be surprised if you find that the most effective version in the end is as a piano dominated piece with some orchestral backing.
You were totally right about that - the piece ended up being mainly piano-driven :P
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Very nice. Excited to hear how you take your sketch now to orchestra. I'm also glad to hear Mike's classes are working well for you.

Remember, Mike is correct that modulation & repetition is a form of development. It is the simplest way to development, the "easiest" but it also the "weakest" form of development. Now by no means is anything wrong with your piece. I think the structure/form is fine and worked; as well if you decide to orchestrate the sketch, the orchestration will help keep forward momentum and the listener zoned in. But something you could improve on is development. You actually start to be more curious around your 2:40 min mark.

Now I'm going to probably be shunned for saying this and I'll preface with that I'm a huge John Williams fanboy and I love this piece alot, but "The Flight to Neverland" doesn't develop as much as you think but does follow the "repetition & modulation" development greatly. Just count how many times he modulates and plays the same theme(s) with little to no variation (not counting orchestration as variation, strictly just composition). Yes, this is a form of development but after 4 minutes it starts to get predictable and boring until he gives us a famous J.W. coda. John Williams beautiful orchestration helps us through with the forward momentum and interest. As well, we all know John Williams can develop and go on for another 40 minutes or more if he had too lol. Around the 1:30 min mark, & 3:26 mark J.W. actually starts to develop a bit but quickly returns to the melody.

Now, you could write a piece just like the Flight to Neverland and call it a day. Shit, I'd call that success for a year lol. But, if you want to improve you can focus on development because form, structure, and development all coincide with each other.

Just some stuff to think about for next time. Really enjoyed your piece, thank you for posting.

Final piece and orchestration:
 

DMDComposer

Member
Final piece and orchestration:
Very beautiful. Job well done. Your orchestration was quite simple & elegant, and I feel it was smart to feature the piano as the center of your piece and having it dance back & forth with the orchestra. I particularly love how much you featured woodwinds.

Great job, the orchestration helped a lot with the forward momentum. Looking forward to your next piece! :D
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Very beautiful. Job well done. Your orchestration was quite simple & elegant, and I feel it was smart to feature the piano as the center of your piece and having it dance back & forth with the orchestra. I particularly love how much you featured woodwinds.

Great job, the orchestration helped a lot with the forward momentum. Looking forward to your next piece! :D
Thank you so much! Glad to hear that you liked it. Can I ask you what you thought about the sound in general? To much hiss, high frequencies etc? What about the lows? I'm struggling to make my mixes sound the same across headphones and monitors. This piece was mixed on Beyerdynamic DT700 pro with Sonarworks-plugin + Goodhertz Can Opener.
 

DMDComposer

Member
Thank you so much! Glad to hear that you liked it. Can I ask you what you thought about the sound in general? To much hiss, high frequencies etc? What about the lows? I'm struggling to make my mixes sound the same across headphones and monitors. This piece was mixed on Beyerdynamic DT700 pro with Sonarworks-plugin + Goodhertz Can Opener.
Well, I'm not the best mixer but here is what I think.

Overall, I didn't mind much. I do think it's heavy on the reverb making it cinematic/fantasy like, (but that is probably what your going for so it's just a statement not a critique)

I do think your strings sound behind your winds. Your winds sound in front of your strings in terms of depth placement.

At times, I feel it gets a little muddy in the mid range. Around the 3 min mark, this mix sounds really good to me, but around the 1:15 is where its getting a little muddy around the mids. -- Basically, when we get louder is when the mud will start showing stronger.

I think the high frequencies/hiss as you said is fine, I didn't mind it at all. Perhaps this is a to taste thing, but I'm okay with that.
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Well, I'm not the best mixer but here is what I think.

Overall, I didn't mind much. I do think it's heavy on the reverb making it cinematic/fantasy like, (but that is probably what your going for so it's just a statement not a critique)

I do think your strings sound behind your winds. Your winds sound in front of your strings in terms of depth placement.

At times, I feel it gets a little muddy in the mid range. Around the 3 min mark, this mix sounds really good to me, but around the 1:15 is where its getting a little muddy around the mids. -- Basically, when we get louder is when the mud will start showing stronger.

I think the high frequencies/hiss as you said is fine, I didn't mind it at all. Perhaps this is a to taste thing, but I'm okay with that.
Heavy on the reverb - noted. I actually composed it all without external reverb, but just added some because.. well, not a really good reason apparently. Will make one more mix with it dialed way down, just to compare.

Yes, you are right. They really sound further behind. Need to check the mic-settings again.

Yep, mud in the middle was the toughest part to deal with in the loud session.

Thanks again for taking your time to listen, appreciate the feedback.
 

Meetyhtan

Noise Maker
Beautiful composition! I before faced the problem where I wrote a piece sololy for / on piano, just to find out that it isn't great to be orchestrated later on. Here it sounds just right.
As said before, I would like some more space on the woodwinds, making them a bit more ambient. At 1:02 the flute peaks out a little too much.
Sometimes, e.g. at 1:24 it feels like there is too much energy in the low-mid frequencys (brass). Feels kinda uncomfortable on my left ear. I haven't yet developed the best mixing ear though. It's just my impression that I would have to confirm with a frequency visualizer.
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Beautiful composition! I before faced the problem where I wrote a piece sololy for / on piano, just to find out that it isn't great to be orchestrated later on. Here it sounds just right.
As said before, I would like some more space on the woodwinds, making them a bit more ambient. At 1:02 the flute peaks out a little too much.
Sometimes, e.g. at 1:24 it feels like there is too much energy in the low-mid frequencys (brass). Feels kinda uncomfortable on my left ear. I haven't yet developed the best mixing ear though. It's just my impression that I would have to confirm with a frequency visualizer.
Thanks man! I think you are spot on concering your observations about levels and ambience. The more I listen to it again, the clearer I hear the things being pointed out by forum-members. Will take all your kind advice into consideratin and mix it again, and then post the new result here tonight or tomorrow. Glad you like the orchestration from the piano-sketch :)
 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Well, I'm not the best mixer but here is what I think.

Overall, I didn't mind much. I do think it's heavy on the reverb making it cinematic/fantasy like, (but that is probably what your going for so it's just a statement not a critique)

I do think your strings sound behind your winds. Your winds sound in front of your strings in terms of depth placement.

At times, I feel it gets a little muddy in the mid range. Around the 3 min mark, this mix sounds really good to me, but around the 1:15 is where its getting a little muddy around the mids. -- Basically, when we get louder is when the mud will start showing stronger.

I think the high frequencies/hiss as you said is fine, I didn't mind it at all. Perhaps this is a to taste thing, but I'm okay with that.
Here is the new mix, after rebalancing the woodwinds, reducing reverb, spatial placement of sustained cymbals and clearing up mid-mud by reorchestrating some pieces. Do you think this sounds more complete than the first mix?

 
OP
beyd770

beyd770

Member
Beautiful composition! I before faced the problem where I wrote a piece sololy for / on piano, just to find out that it isn't great to be orchestrated later on. Here it sounds just right.
As said before, I would like some more space on the woodwinds, making them a bit more ambient. At 1:02 the flute peaks out a little too much.
Sometimes, e.g. at 1:24 it feels like there is too much energy in the low-mid frequencys (brass). Feels kinda uncomfortable on my left ear. I haven't yet developed the best mixing ear though. It's just my impression that I would have to confirm with a frequency visualizer.
Tried to make more space for the woodwinds, and also increase the prescence of lower parts without letting them stick out too much. Also reorchestrated a bit to clear out the mid-muds. Do you think this mix is an improvement?

 
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