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Topic: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

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  1. #1

    For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Hello, all!

    After owning the Garritan Personal Orchestra for a few years, I finally joined the NorthernSounds.com forum toward the end of last year. When I saw that it had a place where composers could post their music, this encouraged me to get back to work on a couple of pieces that I've been neglecting for way too long. I really appreciate having the opportunity to be here.

    Before I send you to my website, a little background. About five years ago, I started work on a piano sonata. I was using a substandard sampler at the time, and I finally had enough, so I looked around for something with decent sounds that I could actually afford. My search led me to the GPO product, which I've been happily using since then.

    Although I started using GPO for my sonata, the quality of its orchestral library led me to revisit a symphony I had shelved years earlier. These are still works-in-progress, but with GPO -- and now the listening room -- I'd like to start putting my music out there. So, I'm debuting what I call my "Virtual Concert Hall" where people can hear virtual performances of what I've written thus far. As I add new material to both pieces, I will update the sound files on my site.

    Between a busy (nonmusical) work schedule and severe bouts of writer's block, I don't know how often these updates may happen. But I'll say two things here: First, I have a mailing list for people who'd like to be e-mailed whenever I update my site with new sound files. However, I'm going to make these updates only when I put up a substantial amount of new material, so you won't be bothered every time I add just a few measures. Second, I hope that what I've written shows sufficient promise that a few of you will be interested in following my creative progress as I work these pieces to completion.

    If you'd like to have a listen to what I'm composing, please visit:

    http://levo.com/vch/

    Thanks, and I hope you enjoy what I have to offer!

    Cheers!

    Steve Johnson

  2. #2

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Hi Steve.

    Welcome to the Listening Room.

    I'm listening over and over to the First movement of your Symphony and found you learned a lot good from Sibelius.

    I went fired too from the discovery of this Master - his 2nd and 3rd Symhonies are my favourite works.

    To me the second part of your work - where the woodwinds leave their mark - seems to be more consistent.

    I liked also the short horn chorale in the introduction, though is not well rendered/articulated as other passages are.

    Very good job.

    I'll wait with pleasure the remaining movements over the next ten years
    Fabio
    Arrigo Beyle / Milanese / Lived, wrote, loved -- Stendhal
    Being Italian is a full-time job -- B. Severgnini

  3. #3

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    You mention Beethoven as someone you tried to imitate. It's easy to wrong there. Much of Beethoven's music is bordering on the uninteresting, at least to me. There is some magic in there, however, that turns it into something else. And that's almost impossible to imitate. That was pure genius.

    However, Beethoven's great innovation --structure-- is something you clearly understood. I found your 1st symphony to have clear phrases, that develop, and that are separated through proper orchestration. The harmonic language is clearly from another era. But the combination works for you, as it did for Sibelius. I'm not familiar enough with Sibelius to know how much is his and how much yours, but the work is pretty solid, and musical. I know how one can feel about older works, but in this case you can be satisfied with it. I would be...

    Welcome to the forum.
    Theo

  4. #4
    Senior Member sd cisco's Avatar
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    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Hey Steve!!
    Welcome to the Forum! Great start to your Symphony - awesome dynamics there and fine use of the Winds. I can't say if I could think of a single influence so much a variety of them, but all well integrated.
    Anyway thanks for posting I will check out more in a bit.

    Best regards,
    sd cisco

  5. #5

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Welcome Steve:

    Listened to your Piano Sonata and first movement of your Symphony.

    The piano sonata seemed, to me, a step forward for you toward the
    contemporary/impressionistic style of composition. I didn't have the
    time to listen carefully, but a lot of it sounded like it had a lot of whole
    tone harmony involved; however, nicely done.

    The symphony was very well engineered. It also demonstrated your
    ability to work very successfully with the GPO library. The balance
    and dynamics of your instrumentation was imminent from "note one."
    I really liked the mix.

    A great offering Steve and I hope you will return for our listening pleasure.

    Jack
    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 2014.5, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.5, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  6. #6

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Quote Originally Posted by fabiolcati View Post
    Hi Steve.

    Welcome to the Listening Room.

    I'm listening over and over to the First movement of your Symphony and found you learned a lot good from Sibelius.

    I went fired too from the discovery of this Master - his 2nd and 3rd Symhonies are my favourite works.

    To me the second part of your work - where the woodwinds leave their mark - seems to be more consistent.

    I liked also the short horn chorale in the introduction, though is not well rendered/articulated as other passages are.

    Very good job.

    I'll wait with pleasure the remaining movements over the next ten years
    Hello, Fabio!

    Sibelius' 3rd Symphony was the first one I got to know well. A real gem, and I wish it were performed in concert more often. By the way, I only recently started familiarizing myself with Kullervo, which was his first orchestral composition, and the piece that began his fame in Europe. Although it is a bit "rough around the edges", Kullervo is generally excellent, and a definite sign of the master symphonist Sibelius was to become.

    Regarding your comment on the short horn chorale in my Symphony's intro, I believe you're refering to the spot that starts with a timpani roll starting at 2:32 in the recording. If we're talking about the same place here, I know exactly what you're talking about. I spent a huge amount of time trying to make it sound as good as possible, although I think the problem may be inherent with the horn patch applied to the low register and close harmony in that passage. This was really frustrating for me, because the chords the horns are playing are important, but they can't be heard distinctly. Chalk it up to the limitations of sampling -- in concert performance live horns playing the chorale would have the effect I'm after.

    10 years??!!!?? Jeez, I hope not! Seriously, I feel like I've wasted way too much time doing nothing with whatever creative talents I have, so I value places like this as an incentive to keep active. I'll look forward to posting again soon when I have some new material up on my site.

    Steve

  7. #7

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Quote Originally Posted by FLWrd View Post
    You mention Beethoven as someone you tried to imitate. It's easy to wrong there. Much of Beethoven's music is bordering on the uninteresting, at least to me. There is some magic in there, however, that turns it into something else. And that's almost impossible to imitate. That was pure genius.

    However, Beethoven's great innovation --structure-- is something you clearly understood. I found your 1st symphony to have clear phrases, that develop, and that are separated through proper orchestration. The harmonic language is clearly from another era. But the combination works for you, as it did for Sibelius. I'm not familiar enough with Sibelius to know how much is his and how much yours, but the work is pretty solid, and musical. I know how one can feel about older works, but in this case you can be satisfied with it. I would be...

    Welcome to the forum.
    Hi, Theo!

    I agree with your take on Beethoven. When I first got into classical music I became an absolute Beethoven fanatic, and to the point that I finally burned out on his music. Now I hardly listen to him, although I'm rediscovering his late-period string quartets and piano sonatas. They are in their own way ahead of their time, although I take it as a sign of (some) artistic maturity that I can revisit Beethoven without feeling the compulsion to imitate him.

    Thank you for your comments about my Symphony. One big thing I share with Sibelius is an often crippling degree of self-criticism, so I'm deeply appreciative of any feedback which confirms my hope that the orchestral effort I started so long ago has not become a lost cause.

    Steve

  8. #8

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Quote Originally Posted by sd cisco View Post
    Hey Steve!!
    Welcome to the Forum! Great start to your Symphony - awesome dynamics there and fine use of the Winds. I can't say if I could think of a single influence so much a variety of them, but all well integrated.
    Anyway thanks for posting I will check out more in a bit.

    Best regards,
    sd cisco
    Although Sibelius is for me a conscious influence, I'm sure there are others that I don't even think about. Living inside one's own artistic creations makes it difficult (or perhaps impossible) to stand back and perceive them as others would, so this is where it's interesting -- and I think useful -- for an artist to get his (or her) work out there.

    I appreciate your comment about the integration of my influences (both conscious and subconscious), and this by itself is a major step for me. Back when I was trying to be Mozhovenahmskovsky, I wrote pieces where different sections sounded like different composers. Maybe okay for a first-year composition class, although hardly the sort of thing anyone could take seriously for actual public performance. However, when influences can be integrated to produce something coherent, it may not be exactly the latest cutting-edge thing of the moment, but the output at least shows some development of the individual artist, and perhaps some originality as well. Now, whether or not my Symphony shows any originality at all, I'm just thankful that it's not a pastiche along the lines of what I used to turn out during my "19th century" period.

    By the way, what's your take on my piano sonata? I think that one may be at least somewhat original.

    Thanks for your comments, and I look forward getting some additional feedback as I add new material to my symphony-in-progress!

    (Mozhovenahmskovsky -- would you like some after-dinner portmanteau? )

    Steve

  9. #9

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhap2 View Post
    Welcome Steve:

    Listened to your Piano Sonata and first movement of your Symphony.

    The piano sonata seemed, to me, a step forward for you toward the
    contemporary/impressionistic style of composition. I didn't have the
    time to listen carefully, but a lot of it sounded like it had a lot of whole
    tone harmony involved; however, nicely done.

    The symphony was very well engineered. It also demonstrated your
    ability to work very successfully with the GPO library. The balance
    and dynamics of your instrumentation was imminent from "note one."
    I really liked the mix.

    A great offering Steve and I hope you will return for our listening pleasure.

    Jack
    Hi, Jack!

    Oh, man -- you caught me! Yes, there is whole-tone harmony involved with both the Symphony and the piano sonata, although the sonata's harmonic structure is miles ahead in terms of its sophistication.

    Re. the Symphony, thanks so much for your feedback. I'm a newbie when it comes to working with something like GPO, so I wasn't sure if I could trust my ears on judging the quality of my "orchestra in a box" debut. However, I'm glad to hear that I seem to have a pretty good handle on using GPO, so the learning experience will really help me as I forge ahead.

    By the way, I'm buying a new computer, and I'll be going with a 64-bit system. I'm also thinking about an upgrade to GPO4. Before I do, I have a couple of questions:

    1. Does the GPO4 library represent a significant improvement in sound quality over the instruments I have in GPO2?

    2. Based on earlier posts I've read at this forum, it appears that the 64-bit install of GPO4 had some pretty major bugs. Is (or was) this the case? If so, are the bugs being fixed, or would it be better for me to hold onto GPO2 for now? The answer to this one is really important, because I honestly don't want to burn up a lot of time for an "upgrade" that isn't worth it.

    Thanks again, Jack, and I'll definitely post here again as soon as I have some new material up on my Virtual Concert Hall!

    Steve

  10. #10

    Re: For your consideration: Works-in-progress

    Steve:

    The quality of GPO sounds continually receives attention from the Garritan Team. I think you will be amazed when you load GPO4 and the new ARIA Player. It also comes with
    a new addition, the SAM Brass instruments. GPO4 and the ARIA Player are a dream
    setup and make working with samples much easier than earlier versions. I am thoroughly
    convinced that GPO4 has the most quality sounds that can be had for such a modest investment.

    In my opinion, GPO4 is very easy to install and use; additionally, I am not aware
    of any bugs inherent in the library. I think you will be pleasantly surprised after you
    install GPO4 as the many new improvements and design of the user interface will
    definitely impress you.

    Awaiting your new offerings with GPO4, Steve.

    Jack
    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 2014.5, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.5, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

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