Author Topic: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation  (Read 415 times)

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UrbanK

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A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« on: February 08, 2019, 02:56:35 PM »
This is a piece of music I wrote without much idea of what I'm doing. I have trouble composing coherent things which aren't just relatively disparate ideas played one after the other. I heard modulation helps with that so this is the result. It is slightly more coherent than my usual piece, but I still have a feeling there's so much that I don't know I don't know. Please enlighten me!

Score: https://www.docdroid.net/Y212Yye/pianopiece-full-score.pdf
Audio: https://soundcloud.com/quelqundautre/pianopiece

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 06:53:00 PM »
UrbanK,
 
I'm a little confused. The audio seems to end, and the score ends, at bar 37, but then the sound keeps going in a different rhythm. Is part of the score missing, or does the sound run on into a different piece?
 
Your melodies have enough tension to be engaging. Your chordal accompaniments are a bit bland and don't do much but plod along. More texture and/or more movement in some of those repeated chords would help the melodies by providing more contrast to them in some places and more support for them in others.
 
Just when the piece gets more interesting, with some counterpoint introduced at bar 33, the music ends. You might want to explore that further.
 
I'm reminded of Bartok's short piano pieces, in which he balances deceptively simple melodies and harmonies against each other, with just enough surprise and dissonance in one or the other to keep things exciting.
 
One issue here is not modulation, but harmonic progression. You can stay in the same key and still move through various chord changes, leading back to your tonic.
 
Of course, you don't necessarily have to work in common practice tonality, based on tonic and dominant harmonies, but you need to understand enough of it so that using it or departing from it becomes a choice.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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sandalwood

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 12:10:32 AM »
Welcome to the forum UrbanK :) I liked many of the ideas in your piece.

"Form in Music" is the subject that addresses the question of coherence in a musical work. To put it simply, a piece generally needs to have its various sections organized according to a plan, to have them structured similar to one of the conventional musical forms in order to sound coherent and make sense. Countless material may be found on the web concerning the subject. This link may serve as a good point to start:

https://www.teoria.com/en/tutorials/forms/

I'm an amateur myself and a long-time student not much past the elementary level. Sorry if I have misunderstood your question and offering unneeded info.

Reha
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 12:15:31 AM by sandalwood »

UrbanK

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 02:34:15 PM »
Thank you, Jerry, for the feedback!

I'm a little confused. The audio seems to end, and the score ends, at bar 37, but then the sound keeps going in a different rhythm. Is part of the score missing, or does the sound run on into a different piece?

Yeah, that's just the website. It has mandatory auto play as far as I can tell. The next piece that starts playing isn't even mine.

Your melodies have enough tension to be engaging. Your chordal accompaniments are a bit bland and don't do much but plod along. More texture and/or more movement in some of those repeated chords would help the melodies by providing more contrast to them in some places and more support for them in others.

Yes. I plop down a couple of repeated triads and it sounds kind of nice. Then I do try to vary it a bit, but it ends up sounding worse than before because I don't really know what i'm doing, so I just revert back to the repeated triads. I need to look into that more.

When you say movement in the repeated chords do you mean inversions/suspensions/arpeggiation?

Also, I really like what you said about providing either contrast or support with the harmony - I wasn't really conscious of that spectrum, but it opens up a lot of possibilities now that I have the concept.

Just when the piece gets more interesting, with some counterpoint introduced at bar 33, the music ends. You might want to explore that further.

Good point. I think I actually ended it there because I was intimidated at continuing the counterpoint, which, admittedly, is not really a great musical decision.

I'm reminded of Bartok's short piano pieces, in which he balances deceptively simple melodies and harmonies against each other, with just enough surprise and dissonance in one or the other to keep things exciting.

I haven't listened to a lot of Bartok outside of the violin concertos. I'll give some of his piano works a try.

One issue here is not modulation, but harmonic progression. You can stay in the same key and still move through various chord changes, leading back to your tonic.

I suppose my issue with harmony is that I don't yet know it enough to be able to be very deliberate or flexible with it. I tend to first write the melody and then get quite lost with the accompaniment and therefore keep it very simple. Do you think it's mostly an issue with the harmony itself, or is the melody also such that it implies a lack of harmonic progression?

UrbanK

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 02:39:11 PM »
I did know about musical forms, sandalwood, but every time I try to apply them I run out of bars for a phrase I want to continue! ;D
As a consequence, they have slipped my mind a bit. Thanks for the reminder! I will try to challenge myself by actually abiding by a form. The link is a beautiful overview.

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 07:51:22 AM »
Thank you, Jerry, for the feedback!
 
When you say movement in the repeated chords do you mean inversions/suspensions/arpeggiation?
You're very welcome.

Yes, all of that. Changing inversions results in a different resonance between the bass note and the melody note. For example, sixths and tenths have deeply consonant sounds.

Of course, you can also change to different chords. But you can just alter one note in the existing chord. For example, your repeated A minor chords could move the top note up and then down a half step each half measure, so you get | Am - F/A - | Am6 - F/A - | etc. (It's the James Bond ostinato.) Or move the bass note down diatonically. Endless possibilities.

Quote
I suppose my issue with harmony is that I don't yet know it enough to be able to be very deliberate or flexible with it. I tend to first write the melody and then get quite lost with the accompaniment and therefore keep it very simple. Do you think it's mostly an issue with the harmony itself, or is the melody also such that it implies a lack of harmonic progression?
A diatonic melody such as yours is not locked into any pre-existing harmony. Right now the four measures beginning with the repeated Am chords have a modal sound, with just Am and Dm. But they might be harmonized, for example, | Am - F# - | Dm/F - E7 - | etc. The accidentals change the piece from modal to tonal harmony.
 
One approach to more interesting harmony is to write the melody and bass lines first, then fill in the middle.
 
Cheers,
Jer
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 07:54:30 AM by Jerry Engelbach »
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UrbanK

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Re: A piece for paino - exploring my limited grasp of modulation
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2019, 01:46:53 AM »
Thank you for the detail!

I'll try implementing some of those suggestions.

Quote
One approach to more interesting harmony is to write the melody and bass lines first, then fill in the middle.

Right! For some reason I always start with triads.