Author Topic: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style  (Read 387 times)

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Offline Hammerklavier

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3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« on: July 02, 2017, 03:03:00 PM »
Hello!

I'm not a professional musician, but I've always enjoyed music, particularly classical music.  I have no formal musical training of any kind, but when I have spare time, I like to try and study music theory fundamentals while attempting to create my own musical compositions.  For all that I've managed to learn, there is still so much I haven't come to understand with any kind of sophistication, and I'll be the first to acknowledge that my technique as a composer needs a lot of refinement.  I like the music I create, but I've always felt that professional musicians would review my work and find a lot to criticize.  Now I can get a sense for just how much!

That said, I've composed three piano sonatas, each with multiple movements.  I'm submitting them for your perusal with the hope that the creative and talented musicians of this site may offer feedback, positive or negative (I anticipate more of the latter).  I'll be the first to acknowledge that there are a myriad of issues with the way the music has been laid out on the scores, and my understanding of music notation and how to use Finale remains a work in progress.  I imagine users of this site could write an entire book outlining all of the errors in the notation alone.  I haven't been sweating the notation issues as much, as this music is not being written for anyone else to perform.  It is composed purely for playback purposes.  I would greatly appreciate feedback on the merits of the compositions, in terms of compositional technique (harmony, counterpoint, voice leading, motivic development, etc...) and whether or not it captivates, entertains, etc...

A few notes on each sonata:
1) The first sonata, in c minor, contains three movements.  The first is in sonata form, the second is a slow movement in rondo form, and the third is a rondo in ABACA form.  Overall, this score likely has the most notation issues.

2) The second sonata, in D Major, also contains three movements.  The first is in sonata form, the second is a slow movement that I'd probably identify as being in a loose ternary form, and the third movement is a rondo in ABACABA form.

3) The third sonata, in F Major, contains four movements.  The first is in sonata form, the second is a slow movement that is also in sonata form, the third is a scherzo in ternary form, and the fourth is a rondo in ABACABA form.

For now, I'm attaching the MP3 files created from Finale PrintMusic, which are a bit mechanistic sounding, but it's the best I have for now.  If possible, I'll try to attach the sheet music as well.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Offline Hammerklavier

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Offline jessop

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 08:20:17 PM »
I had a little look at the C minor sonata and I will look at some more later.

I really do like it when people created pastiches like this in order to better understand music in old styles, and it is great to hear that you understand this.

In the first sonata I expected a modulation to a related key rather sooner than it actually happened, and also expected repeat bar lines when there were none.....

Is there a particular model composition you are taking as the basis for these works? I like to keep in mind the exact proportions of each section as well as the the finer details such as phrases within each section of any particular sonata in order to 'understand' what is going on. That way I think it would be easier to understand what has already been done in order to recreate the style through composition to cement these stylistic features in your mind.

Offline Hammerklavier

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2017, 02:21:37 PM »
Hi jessop,

Thanks for the feedback!  I look forward to any other observations/comments you might have as you listen to more.  :)

My original passion music-wise was the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven, so that was my starting point for my own creative exploration.  My first sonata in particular strikes me as being very much under the spell of Beethoven, but I made a concerted effort to branch out a bit more with the other two sonatas, which were also somewhat influenced by Schumann, Schubert, Brahms, Chopin and Mendelssohn.  Having not fully developed a musical voice of my own, my approach at this point is to imitate the general style of other composers and styles, as I believe something personal gradually begins to emerge in the music despite myself.

I think you're right regarding the modulation in the first movement of the c minor sonata.  In retrospect, the second subject (starting at bar 26) is in the same key as the first subject, which shouldn't happen.  I think the original plan was that it would be in G Major, but the chord progressions only reassert c minor as the tonal center.  I think the other two sonatas offered better tonal variety in their opening movements.

In each of my sonata-form movements, I've avoided expositional repeats, following the example of most of Beethoven's middle and later sonatas.  Though I did this in the name of economy, that didn't stop me from using repeats in other movements, such as the Scherzo from the F Major sonata and the recurring themes from the rondo movements.

Offline MarkMcD

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 02:19:46 AM »
Hi Hammerklavier,

I've only listened to the first sonata just now (I'll listen to the others also).  I can hear the Beethoven as you say but at this stage, that's not a bad thing.  Do you intend to edit these pieces at some point, or are you moving on to other things?  I say that because you mention that you're not happy with the modulation from c minor to the second subject because of the chord progression.  If you did want to change it, using the circle of 5th can give you progressions that you might be happier with and the you can transpose the following theme, and then work backwards to return to the home key when you want.

I like the piece, you have some nice ideas, but it does need that key change I think to spice it up a bit.

Mark

Offline Hammerklavier

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 08:00:25 PM »
Hi Hammerklavier,

I've only listened to the first sonata just now (I'll listen to the others also).  I can hear the Beethoven as you say but at this stage, that's not a bad thing.  Do you intend to edit these pieces at some point, or are you moving on to other things?  I say that because you mention that you're not happy with the modulation from c minor to the second subject because of the chord progression.  If you did want to change it, using the circle of 5th can give you progressions that you might be happier with and the you can transpose the following theme, and then work backwards to return to the home key when you want.

I like the piece, you have some nice ideas, but it does need that key change I think to spice it up a bit.

Mark

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the feedback, and for listening!

I'm currently forging ahead with another composition, but I do like the idea of revisiting the earlier works to add some polish and fix a couple of issues.

With each new composition, I aim to keep improving in all facets and to explore new ideas so as to avoid becoming repetitive.  While I retain a certain fondness for Sonata no. 1 in c minor, I feel that the second and third sonatas were marked improvements, particularly in terms of form and motivic development.  But I still have much to learn.

I look forward to any feedback you might have on the other sonatas as well.  :)

Offline amw

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 12:28:36 AM »
It's interesting for me to see attempts by modern composers to write in classical or historical styles. Almost without exception it's always possible to tell that a piece is not "genuinely" from the era it purports to imitate, because composers lack one or all of: a) a natural sense of tonality, or a "feel" for harmony and modulation; b) difficulty with phrase rhythm and large-scale structural dimensions; c) difficulty writing melodies or ideas that sound genuinely classical.

Not a criticism—I write music in the style of the past quite a lot, but it took years for me to learn those things (except the natural sense of tonality which I've always had) and I'm definitely still not perfect. Just an observation.

Offline Hammerklavier

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Re: 3 amateur piano sonatas in the classical/romantic style
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 09:51:37 AM »
It's interesting for me to see attempts by modern composers to write in classical or historical styles. Almost without exception it's always possible to tell that a piece is not "genuinely" from the era it purports to imitate, because composers lack one or all of: a) a natural sense of tonality, or a "feel" for harmony and modulation; b) difficulty with phrase rhythm and large-scale structural dimensions; c) difficulty writing melodies or ideas that sound genuinely classical.

Not a criticism—I write music in the style of the past quite a lot, but it took years for me to learn those things (except the natural sense of tonality which I've always had) and I'm definitely still not perfect. Just an observation.

Hi amw!

Just to clarify, I wouldn't say I was attempting to compose music that authentically sounds like it would have been written in the 19th century.  My "classical/romantic style" description was intended to indicate two things:

1) I'm attempting to use the more familiar harmonic languages of the 19th century as a starting point for my own harmonic exploration.
2) I'm attempting to use classical forms such as sonata form, rondo form and ternary form as a starting point for my own formal exploration.

There will be passages that don't reflect how Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin or Brahms would have written music during the 19th century, but I don't consider that a bad thing.  My ultimate goal is to develop a unique musical voice of my own; using more familiar structures and harmonies is merely how I'm choosing to begin that journey.  If something idiosyncratic or divergent emerges, that's fine with me as long as my idiosyncrasy was pleasing to me.  I'm not measuring my success by how "classical" the results sound.  :)

I suspect I might lack all three of the qualities you mentioned in your first paragraph.  I'd love to hear your specific feedback on which qualities you feel need the most work on my part.

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