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• Jul 27, 2016 - 15:43

I am trying to compose for more or less a half year. I never really had any lessons in music so I am not sure if my music is even remotely bearable. On my profile you will find a music piece called Monster Parade so you can hear it for yourself.

Do you have any advice to improve my music skills (If we can call it that)?
P.S: Sorry if I didn't put a link to the song. I am not very technical...

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For starters, you need to check the ranges of all the instruments.
There were several parts where you made the tubular bells and some of the brass instruments have notes that are higher or lower than their range. If any piece of music has that then that will render the score unplayable.
I am about to get more and more honest with you, however, I'll keep it as nice as possible.
Each instrument also has its limitations. The players of that instrument are trained in the technique associated with that instrument, plus they improve on that technique. Remember, no instrument in existence can do everything. Keep that in mind when you score music. In the meantime, if you feel the need to write impossible pieces, do so, just don't try to publish them (unless there is some sort of competition that consists of "write the most impossible piece).
This reminds me, some of the names of the instruments on your score are rather hard to recognize due to their "unique spelling". That was one thing I'll point out.

Also, for the Horn part and the Oboe part, you might want to make multiple parts for the same instrument since neither the oboe or the Horn can play more than one note at once. For the violin part, violinists can play chords, however not all chords the chord that you have in measure 5 is something that is not exactly playable. You might want to consider making more than one violin part.

Overall, I thought the piece was pretty interesting.
As for your music skills, I will choose not to state what I think of them, however what I will tell you is that they can always be improved if you take music theory classes.

In reply to by Elwin

Ok, thank you for the advice. I never heard of a thing called range so I looked it up and I understand your point now, and you are totally right. I had to look it up, because my main language is not English (hence the weird names).
And I already wondered if instruments like the Horn can play more notes, so thanks for pointing it out.
Now, when you say that instruments have their limitations, are you talking about the multiple notes like the Horn and Oboe or something else? Sorry if it is a dumb question, but I'm rather new in the music world.

But I really thank you for your advice, and I think it might be a good idea indeed to take music theory classes.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Oh, okay.

Actually, here's a piece of trivia, the world record for a french horn range was 8.5 octaves. However, you can not expect every horn player to match that. The only instruments capable of playing more notes at the same time on a SINGLE instrument are the string instruments (even then, their "chord" playing is rather limited as well). Other individual instruments can only play one note at a time. However, you can write multiple parts with the same instrument and make harmony.

As for limitations, I mean other things as well. The Register is one noteworthy factor to consider. Instruments like the Clarinet have the hardest "break" to cross. Articulations such as staccato, legato, etc. are another thing. Some instruments can play more articulations than others. You have to be aware of that when you compose.
You should also keep the performance capabilities in mind. Different skill levels have different capabilities. However, you can not expect the professionals to be able to play everything.

In reply to by Elwin

Ok, thank you for the explanation. I will do some research of what is and is not possible for the instruments I used.
But in general, there are issues about the song being impossible, and that is duly noted.

Now I have one more question. Beside the mistakes I made with writing the piece, is there anything wrong with the idea it self? Or is it mainly just it being impossible?

Again: Thank you for the explanation

In reply to by DracuDyl

There is nothing wrong with the idea itself. From what you've written, you have never taken music classes before and I assume you just decided to use MuseScore to try out what you know about music and that you kept the idea if it was pleasing to your ears. From what the piece sounded like, it seemed that you at least have the potential ear for music. The piece actually sounded pretty musical and not just dissonance (like some posters in this part of the forum).
In this case, you can actually create a good sounding piece that's very playable out of this one when you do more research about music theory and limitations etc.

I actually thought the idea was pretty cool.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Hey, you're welcome man!

One way to learn music theory would be to study an instrument and play in a group (It works better if you take band or orchestra in school). One of my followers (I follow him too) learned by being in school orchestra, and then later took a music theory class.

In reply to by Elwin

It's not quite accurate—the school orchestra came later, only in the last couple years. I believe I first started messing around with MuseScore before I even joined the homeschool orchestra, but I may have played with a kids' summer orchestra before that. For what it's worth. @DracuDyl, you may want to see if there's a local music camp or something of that sort next summer.

In reply to by Elwin

That sounds very interesting. However, the only thing that my school has that has to do with music is the fact that we have a piano. We don't have anything like a band or orchestra (But then again I'm in high school). I do have piano lessons for a while now.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Well, piano is technically the "basic". That's what I was always told.
Learning the piano as the first instrument already brings you several steps ahead in learning other instruments except for the viola. You learn to read the treble and bass clef as well. Plus, the piano in most orchestras is usually the "main feature".
I played Piano myself, and I wish I could still take lessons.

My big suggestion: instead of 32nd notes and rests in the oboe, make it all eighth notes with the "staccatissimo" mark on them. It's the ' in the Articulations & Ornaments palette. Means the same, sounds the same, but much easier to read.

I listened to this piece and I would say this sounds very good! You have good creativity when creating a melody. I do agree with the people above that you need to find out what works for each instrument. Try looking up instrument ranges on google or researching music theory. I am actually going to a university studying music, which includes theory, and let me tell you there are some people at that school who can not write music like you can! Keep at it and learn more about music!

In reply to by Elwin

Ok, and with different colours you mean like a violin and a trumpet? Or dont make a violin play a melody and make another violin play the harmony.

I have started to do some research in music theory and I am watching a few lecture's I could find on the internet. So there is progress.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Well, both have different colors or timbres. As for Trumpet and Violin grouping, here's this. Keep it in mind that the balancing for trumpet and violin might be hard to manage since the trumpet is technically louder, and will have more reverb due to its position on the stage.

In reply to by Elwin

That is true. But it was just an example so I could understand.

A quick question: The trumpet is obviously louder and therefore indeed more difficult to balance with a violin. However, Can you manage the balance by making the violin play louder (Forte)? Or will this just end up overlapping each other?
But I do get the idea of different timbres.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Well, you have to consider that an orchestra would generally have more violins than a trumpet, however, a section can only play twice as loud as a single instrument. You could try to make the trumpet sound softer, and see if that works, however, keep it in mind that MuseScore's default SoundFont is very below-quality.

In the meantime, if you want to make the trumpet play the melody with the violins accompanying it, then that's a better style.
Now, the reason the strings are at the front and the winds are at the back is to accommodate volumes. However, by doing so, the winds get a lot more reverb than the strings, so that is in consideration.

In the meantime, in regards to playback, you should build an "internal orchestra". This could be built by listening to various orchestral composers and all their symphonies. Learn to distinguish between the different sections and instruments while you listen, and then see how the composer uses their colors to paint a picture. What one professional composer stated was that "Make sure that the basis for knowing what sounds good is your internal orchestra, not your playback button". I'll admit that has been hard for me in the past, but I'm trying to improve on that.

Now, If you want a good Youtube Channel for orchestration, look up "Orchestration Online". The owner of the channel is a professional composer, he gives lessons about various elements. (He also gave some Sibelius 7 reviews along with a Save Sibelius declaration just so you know).

In reply to by Elwin

Ok, so I get your point woth the trumpet and violins.
Now, with listening to symphonies to improve with internal orchestration, do you mean to hear the different instruments and the different notes they play?

And I've watched the intro of Orchestration Online and it seems very interesting.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Well, not just that. An orchestra piece is more than different instruments playing different notes, though being able to distinguish the notes that different instruments play is important as well. You need to be able to hear how the composer uses the color of each instrument register. What might help is if you study the score of the pieces while you listen, and see what the composer does to achieve the color he needs.

Orchestration Online does post a "Tchaikovsky test" in regards to Sibelius 7 sounds, meaning you notate a Tchaikovsky symphony that you're familiar with and then see what the sound of the software is capable of doing, and not capable of doing. I'm considering doing that with MuseScore.

In reply to by Elwin

I have listened to a piece before while studying it. It was not a symphony but still a piece with more instruments. I think I get what you mean now when you say that composers use the colours

The Tchaikovsky test sounds interesting. I think I am going to try that soon.

So I should take for example Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and study the score while I am listening to it, so that I can see how a particular part is written for an instrument (And how it is written to make it sound like what I hear)?

In reply to by DracuDyl

Well, I do intend to try the Tchaikovsky test as well. However, I'm sort of waiting until MuseScore three comes out sometime next year because it has a pdf converter.

As for what you said, the piece you selected is alright. I actually liked it. What I can see is learnable from listening to it and reviewing the score is that it shows how a composer writes withing the technique that the musician is capable of, while still making an epic piece. Mozart did not overwork the musician, by writing parts that were waaay outside of the range of capabilities that the instrument was capable of, yet, the piece is still a great piece.

Starting with string orchestra scoring is a great start. I like it because it has fewer parts. plus, it's easier to balance.

However, you should be fluent in reading all three clefs if you are going to study the score while listening to the music.

In reply to by Elwin

Well yes, I did notice one particular instrument (Of wich I forgot the name) had an clef I did not recongize, but I am looking into that. As for the other clefs, I know how to read them (Thanks to the piano lessons I take).

However, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was not the piece I already studied while listening to it. I am planning to do that now, But the one I already did was This is Halloween from Danny Elfman.

I will study Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and I think I am going to try and make a string quartet. I can't work on Monster Parade for a while now, since I made it on my fathers laptop on vacation and when I downloaded it on musescore it sounded distorted. And I have a smaller piece of an erhu and another string instrument (Of which I can't remember the name again) and I thought I'd work that into a string quartet.

But for now I will study Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (And the C-Clef).

In reply to by DracuDyl

The instrument is the viola. The viola is the only instrument that uses it. Another clef that you might want to learn how to read would be the Tenor clef. Some older cello parts might use that clef if it gets high.

The lines for the C clef from top to bottom are F-A-C-E-G
The spaces are G-B-D-F.

You can tell the C-line because that little indentation on the right side of the clef is at the C-line.

As for Acronyms to help, for lines, its "Fat Albert Can't Eat Gunk". (come up with a better one if you can).
For spaces it's Green Bugs Don't Fall (come up with a better one if you can).

In reply to by Elwin

Oh, thanks for explaining the C-clef.

So, the C-clef (Or the alto clef if I'm correct) is like the treble clef but every note is one lower (So the C is where the B should be), and the tenor clef is like the treble clef but every note one higher (A C where D should be)?

And I can't come up with any better Acronyms.

In reply to by DracuDyl

The alto clef is one type of C clef; there are others, which have the staff positioned differentyl around exactly the same clef. At any rate, it's not quite correct that the alto clef is "like the treble clef but every note is one lower"—it's also an octave difference. The middle line in a C clef is *middle C*—the one that's on the first ledger line below the bottom of the treble clef staff.

In reply to by DracuDyl

Nope, every note in the Alto Clef is one note higher in name, however, the actual pitch is lower than the treble clef pitches. The G-line in the treble clef (the one where the clef curls around) is the same exact pitch as the top line in the alto clef.

The Tenor clef is basically the Alto clef moved up one line. (The C-clef is called the C-clef because that little indentation at the right side falls on the C line). The lines on the Tenor clef are D-F-A-C-E. The spaces are E-G-B-D.

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