Here is another work submitted to the young composer score call, entitled “Waltz in G Major”.  Download the score here.

This piece features a lilting sense of phrasing, a consistent sense of meter, and a melody that will surely “sing” on a real instrument (the MIDI playback lacks the nuance required to fully experience it).

In all, it is a well-built piece: it firmly understands piano technique, chord structure, voice leading, form, and a sense of artistic license.  The use of triplets also helps break up the structure of the meter.

This piece is basically “good to go”.  For the next piece, I would encourage the composer to try the following:

  1. Introducing chromaticism and mode mixture.  Per its title, this waltz stays in G major, using no accidentals and utilizing the I, IV, and V7 chords to good effect.  The next step in this composer’s progress may be to modulate, add in secondary dominants, experiment with diminished triads, and add in neapolitan sixth chords, augmented sixth chords, and notes borrowed from the parallel minor key.
  2. Break out of the barline.  Try writing some music, even if just a series of exercises, that lose a sense of meter, that can’t be divided into one, two, or four-bar “chunks”.  Expand the phrasing units into more than 4 bars, and make them begin and conclude on strange beats.  Try out mixed meter, and complex meters, for example a phrase with meters 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 3/4; or a piece in 7/8 throughout.
  3. Watch out for collisions in the score.  For example, be sure that those mezzo-fortes do not intersect with notes or pedal markings.
  4. Keep thinking about the instrument.  It is good that the composer has distinctly and specifically marked the pedaling they wish to have the player use.  Perhaps their next work will be for a combination of instruments that require very specific instructions and notation to get the exact sound the composer needs.
  5. Watch the bass note of the last chord.  Given the composer’s good knowledge of arpeggios and chord structure, and the consistent use of G major throughout (with the only seventh chord being on the dominant), ending with an F# in the bass sounds a bit out of place.  If the composer wishes to end on a major seventh chord, a G in the bass and an F# in the alto range may work better to bring finality to the piece.
  6. Watch out for copy-pasting music.  It can be effective, but try to see how the music can be refreshed every time a recapitulation is written.

Besides those, I really like how this piece is conscious about every decision.  Every note and chord is intentionally placed, there are dynamics that make sense, a clear sense of phrasing is present, articulations add dynamism to this work, and most importantly, the composer is aware of how the piece will sound when the MIDI playback is replaced by a real performer.  The use of a melody that is a bit hidden in the MIDI but would not be hidden in a human reading is an indicator of this to me.

All in all, I would encourage much listening to Chopin’s Waltzes, and Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, as a way to expand the composer’s sense of harmony and phrasing.  I would also urge the composer to go “wild”; I would recommend Pearl Jam’s song “Black” as a complete opposite end of the spectrum to this.  It is a very contemporary, free, dark, and emotionally wrenching work in the popular realm.  Sometimes by listening to something rather unrelated to one’s music can trigger thoughts and inspiration that may not have otherwise happened.

Happy composing,

Dan