I just posted a piece of music on the web. I think it came out pretty decent, and I stretched my compositional chops during the writing and orchestrating phases.

Difficult Journey

What was the most fun about this was the discussion that began on one web board:

Guy Bacos: I like your sense of dissonance. The surprise trill is interesting. On the programing side I find the strings could sound less choppy make them slide a bit more

Angelo Clematide: Very nice movement. The quasi sonata, respectively sinfonia form and the staying in E aeolian all the way thru gives it a sacral, mediaval touch.

The Introduction (Einleitung) till bar 21 leads beautfully to the 1th Theme (Exposition) at bar 21. The short Variation at bar 31, quasi at the place of the Durchführung, great too. And then the quick Solution at bar 44 instead of a Reprise, very nice. The Ending is not what I expected.

The dissonances, I would call them tensions, are unavoidable when you wanna bring some movement into the progression when strictly staying in one church mode.

Sound design: the constant slow attack each time the strings bow a note is unpleasant.

GB: Angelo,a tension note is a dissonance, it doesn’t have to be a cluster…Bach is full of dissonance but they are resolved. You could call them hamburger notes if you prefer… hehe

I agree with the slow attacks, which makes it sound a bit choppy….

Of course [dissonances] are avoidable at least to wide range of degre, it depends on you musical approach. You’re not saying that Palestrina or Josquin de Près uses dissonances the same way synthetic did? I think synthetic was tasteful in his use of “dissonances” which should not be discredit….

AC: Well, actually I perceived “Difficult_Journey.mp3” as a modal choral species, at least how dissonances happen in the texture. Harmonically not really Palestrina, but a bringing together of medieval choral with absence of singing caesura, and renaissance instrumantal. Or to name composers, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, William Croft and André Campra and even baroque Marcello “Broccoli” Benedetto. Where the catholic church music style of Palestrina is not so imaginable in synthetics composition. As we all know, how we perceive dissonances is relative and also bound to history, in other word, after playing classic polyphonic music for a couple of hour and then intonating a medieval piece, the different tensions of the chords provoke a complete other feeling, at least on me. It doesn’t make much sense to ride on the term “dissonance”, this term went thru a lot of changes in meaning over the centuries.

I came to the conclusion, that “Difficult_Journey.mp3” is a creative mixture of medieval choral in the voice movement, but quasi extended to renaissance chord progressions, but I can still hear it as modal if I like to. All set slow as we hear. The form of the composition has nothing to do with a medieval or renaissance form, but is a very short and not complete traditional classic sinfonia form.

I was quite surprise how synthetic combined that all.

GB: Anyway, if this discussion goes any further we’ll soon get into prof Shlavsky theories of modal counterpoint…. hehe

I just want to say that my friendly ears appreciated the dissonances or (tension notes) not saying it’s a masterpiece, but some nice qualities in that regard.

Me: Wow, you guys are making it sound like I know what I’m doing! I honestly just make it up as I go, I don’t have a music composition degree. But I’m finding the analysis and debate very interesting and informative. I feel like an 8-year old whose art project has been installed in the Louvre by mistake, and scholars are debating its relevance.

My goals with the composition were to explore string dissonance and independent motion in the five string voices. If the style of the piece is mediaval, it’s because I’m still learning about form and harmony. I was inspired by Dvorak’s String Serenade and Thomas Newman’s film scores.

I had more quick attacks in the strings using the legato tool, but the more I worked on the piece the more I took those out. The slow attack strings sounded more realistic to me.

Thanks again for your comments and thoughtful critique!

AC: there is more to your piece then you may expect. It is a short soundtrack example of a movie who doesn’t exist yet. The movie will be called “Charles the Bold” and the scene is when his naked body being discovered some days afterwards on the battlefield

Here the storyboard:

I don’t stand in the Louvre but in the “Musée Lorrain” in Nancy. Here a screenshot of the particular scene:

Comments (2)

  1. Chris Randall (reply)

    April 10, 2007 at 10:56 pm


    I find that conversation interesting, inasmuch as it proves the adage that people hear what they want to hear. Speaking strictly for myself, I noticed the following two things:

    1) It doesn’t sound particularly medieval to me. In fact, it sounds quite modern. neither does it sound dissonant, but I’m very used to dissonance, since it plays such a large part in my own work, so I’m quite comfortable with it.

    2) It reminded me, if anything, of Brad Feidel’s stuff, which isn’t bad at all.

    The only criticism I could possibly offer, and this is true of virtually all synthesized “classical” (gods, I hate that term) music, is that the timing is too linear. You should pull out that pencil tool and attack your tempo map. When things crescendo, any orchestra in the world, no matter the size or the timing of the director, is going to speed up a bit. If they’re playing to click (as is the case for film) they’re going to start crowding the one. Likewise, in the more maudlin sections, they’ll slow down or start playing behind the beat a bit if to click. This can easily be simulated, but rarely is. The feel of music is far more important than any sound used when simulating real life.

    My solution: play to click, but don’t quantize. Just play it over ’til you play it right. But that works for me; just raising the tempo one tick over a couple measures will do the trick just as nicely.


  2. site admin (reply)

    April 23, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for your feedback. I’ve been playing with tempo maps more since recording this.

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Published on: 17 October 2006
Posted by: jlaity
Discussion: 2 Comments