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RFD for Music Composition Debate

missmozart
Posts: 306
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9/23/2016 5:59:09 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
This is the debate:
http://www.debate.org...


--RFD--


A fantastic debate deserves an equally good quality vote and RFD so I will try my absolute best in writing this. I am going to analyse each round, looking at both competitors' individual works and then refer to the debate voting guide (stated by Pro in Round 1) to explain point allocations. I will also try to give some advice if I can in places. Without any further ado, here is my analysis and thoughts. Note: I have not known any of the debaters before so my vote is completely unbiased.

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ROUND 1

*Pro- Sonatina*
Well done, this piece really is fantastic. I really like it and it's not that often I say that to young student 'composers'. The structure of this piece was excellent and very well planned (particularly in places where it modulates, like the build-up to b16, the dominant key). I also loved the choice of dynamics and the phrasing. Your sonatina is a very simple piece, very like classical sonatinas written in the past but I think the ornamentation (particularly the acciaccituras) give it a sort of youthful feeling as well as adding character. Another word I would use to describe it is "light" which is the theme after all so that's another successful aspect. I'm not going to comment on your recording because it wasn't even you (or a person) who played it but I will say that being a pianist myself, I've had a lot of fun just running through the sonatina on my piano a couple of times! I particularly like b25. I thought that the melody was gorgeous and the right hand rhythm was a fantastic idea.
My only criticism would be that you need to consider how people are going to play your piece. I feel as if when you were writing, you concentrated more on the harmonies and if the chord notes where technically correct in the left hand rather than playability. Of course harmonies are important but shouldn't be the main focus. Not a huge problem but it can be sort of sensed at places like b17-20 and b41-44 (bass clef notes). Just something to think about perhaps... Maybe this might have been due to the fact (in part) that you wrote too "hastily".

*Con- Bliss*
I loved the words to your piece, well done to Jahziah! It was beautifully written and extremely poetic, you should be proud!
However...
The biggest problem I think is that the words written were actually better than the music itself. Furthermore, it's not exactly a "classical/romantic" piece but I'll overlook that fact. I felt as if the piece was just a bunch of chords thrown together without enough meaning. It was too normal. I'm not going to mention your video because I think this should be judged wholly on the actual composition as it is a composition debate after all. Playing it on my piano, I was left asking questions like 'why did Jahziah decide to move to E minor in the second bar" because it sounded odd to my ears. Actually now looking at it again, both the video performance and the score are totally different except for the harmonies so I'm kind of confused as to what I should be judging. Anyway, I thought the piece was too repetitive, it was the same pattern repeated over and over again. It might have been better to vary that aspect a bit to keep the audience more interested. The piece did sort of convey the theme of light as the left hand was in a relatively high register, so well done in that sense.

ROUND 2

*Pro- Nightmares Lucid III*
Very interesting piece. I liked the different styles of music you managed to mingle together. It was very musically put together and well-planned out (regarding the different sounds entering at specific times etc). The harmonies in this piece were excellent and it was interesting to note the different sections. There was always something new going on before the sections became too repetitive. I love the very beginning also. I can't really comment on the melodies because I'm unable to analyse them in such detail as I was with the Sonatina but I thought that the notes chosen whatever they were, were excellent. I loved the way you ended the piece with the same section.
Unfortunately, I didn't really feel as if it was describing a nightmare half the time when listening to it. In fact, sometimes, I felt like clicking my fingers and moving to the beat instead of getting goosebumps. But other than that, bravo.

*Con- Meticulous Shadows*
I felt that this piece definitely conveyed the title better than Pro's in this round. The rhythms (particularly in the drums) were so cool! My favourite section has to be the one starting from 1:24. It was dead scary.
This was much better than Round 1 although I still think that a sense of direction is missing sometimes. You need to plan out your structure a bit more.I'm not sure if this was a technical problem or what but the ending I thought was too abrupt seeing as shadows usually fade out of sight in real life, especially the darker and more mysterious ones. But that's just a matter of taste I guess.

Well done to Smithereens, Emmarie and Jahziah.

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POINTS ALLOCATION

"Conduct (1 point): Overall, whose thematic expression was richer and more vivid? (Music Theory)"

As much as I loved both of Pro's pieces, I really felt that 'Nightmares' didn't live up to its name and theme compared to Con's pieces. This was probably because of the tempo choice or something (perhaps too fast?). Con's pieces, despite the obvious lack of theoretical experience, did suit the named themes- light and dark, slightly better.

"Grammar (1 point): Overall, whose songs were more enjoyable to listen to? (General)"

Pro without a doubt. They were structured, creative and very interesting overall. I felt that Con exhausted their ideas and sections seemed way too repetitive to be enjoyed as much as it could have been.

"Arguments (3 points): Overall, whose songs had superior construct sophistication? (Music Theory)"

I'm not going to repeat everything I said again but this goes to Pro. I felt that Con's Round 1 piece in particular sounded like just careless chords randomly selected to put it bluntly.

"Sources (2 points): Overall, whose compositions were most professionally made? (General)"

Pro again. Her pieces were well structured, showed clear musicianship, craftsmanship and basically, just more musical knowledge. The only thing I disliked really was that Pro didn't play the Sonatina herself. I think that would have been more effective. Con's pieces were fine in general, but the Round 1 piece was slightly disappointing, especially when contrasted to their Round 2 piece.

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CONCLUSION

Well done to both sides. Excellent work, really :)

Pro, you need to notify me every time you compose a new piece for the piano!! Con, you should be proud of your son's artistry and writing (poetry) skills. All he needs to do is to focus a bit more on structure and varying sections because he has potential.

End of RFD
"Bonjour" -Feu

Diqiu: "Asian men are generally perceived as more feminine..."
Me: "Are you feminine?"
Diqiu: "Hey, no!"

"Do really really really good pens turn you on?" -Hayd

"bsh1's profile pic is what the snapchat filter would look like on steroids"- VOT

"let's keep it simple and traditional :D" -Biodome
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
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9/23/2016 9:00:13 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/23/2016 5:59:09 PM, missmozart wrote:
are you a music teacher? you sound like a teacher. That was quite a thoughtful RFD.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
Emmarie
Posts: 1,907
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9/23/2016 10:45:16 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/23/2016 5:59:09 PM, missmozart wrote:
This is the debate:
http://www.debate.org...


I appreciate your thorough RFD. I apologize for the long post. I'd like to explain why I posted Bliss in R2.

I've had a love/hate relationship with the piano for my entire life. I took piano lessons for 8 years and never learned to sight read music when I was a kid because I have perfect pitch and can find the notes on the piano easily by ear. Ellen Swan Dixon was my instructor for the last 3 years that I took lessons. She could see how frustrated I was with trying to read music, and would play 3 pieces for me at each lesson and only assign me to learn 8 to 16 measures per song per lesson. She encouraged me to use my ear and continue struggling by counting up the scale till I found the note, until I had learned and memorized several classics.

The most difficult piece I can play is Chopin, Valse opus 64 no.2. Ellen gave me exercises to strengthen my hands and help with coordination, but after learning Valse I was satisfied with my technical ability. I was 15 when I quit taking lessons, and appreciated all Ellen had taught me. My first instructor would become angry that I still couldn't read music even after 5 years and yell at me. It made me hate the piano. I was in a grade 4 lesson book when my dad found Ellen. She gave me classical music pieces from the start, and encouraged me to use my natural gift by playing the pieces so that I could hear them and WANT to play them. She was the BEST!

I began to write and freestyle hip-hop lyrics in my late teens. I was in a rap group and even went to NYC to try to promote a demo tape of me and other artists from Milwaukee. I declined a meeting with an MTV executive because they weren't interested in my "friends" (other artists on the demo and the producer.) They wanted to give me a makeover and basically have me spit lyrics composed to sell records. I declined the offer for an interview and never regretted it. While we were composing our demo, I co produced some of the tracks, working with our DJ/producer by telling him samples to add, or melodies, baselines or beats that would blend with beats he had been working on. I loved collaborating more than anything else in music.

In 1993 I had a son, Jahziah. He loved touching the keys of the piano, like I had when I was only 3. I used to play along with jazz, and knew which notes I wanted to play by sound. He didn't completely have my ear, but he composed his first song at 6, a very simple chord melody played with both hands, but very heavy sounding. I was so impressed that I began tinkering with playing baselines, chords and melodies. I have never had any formal instruction in music theory. I learned to play notes that expressed how I was feeling. It never occurred to me that music doesn't have to be complex in order to have a sound that expresses feeling. He took lessons in school while he was in 5th grade, and learned to read music better than I ever could in that year.

Fast-forward 12 years. From the time he was 6 until he was 18, Jahziah and I bonded through collaborating on music. I bought him drums, and we composed quite a few songs together, me on piano and him on drums, or him starting a piece on piano and me adding chords or a melody or a vocal and lyrics. He also composed several electronic pieces that I posted on soundclick when he was 16 and 17.

When he turned 18, he began hanging with druggies, and got into trouble with the law. He spent 3 years in prison. I bought him a keyboard on canteen, and he also developed a love of drawing. His creativity kept him from getting socially involved with other prisoners, and he composed "bliss" while he was locked up. He said the lyrics were inspired because he had been dreaming he was home, and reality set in when he awoke and was still there. He sent me the piece, but I cried cuz I couldn't play it right. He was released a year ago, and hadn't played it until I asked him to record it for this debate. He changed it slightly from the way it was written because he like how it sounded better. He didn't know I had recorded it until after he was finished playing, because like me he is shy when he is recorded and self conscious. He didn't mind if I posted it after it was recorded.

He is doing great. He composes music using cubebase, and works 6 days a week and follows his probation rules to the letter. I'm proud of him for taking responsibility for the trouble he got into, and am glad we both have our love of music to get us through challenges. I just wanted to share this to I let members of DDO know that "Bliss" was an unfinished piece he had been working on, but never completed.
missmozart
Posts: 306
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9/24/2016 2:27:04 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/23/2016 9:00:13 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/23/2016 5:59:09 PM, missmozart wrote:
are you a music teacher? you sound like a teacher. That was quite a thoughtful RFD.

Thank you but no I am not a music teacher. I am only a piano student who loves music.
"Bonjour" -Feu

Diqiu: "Asian men are generally perceived as more feminine..."
Me: "Are you feminine?"
Diqiu: "Hey, no!"

"Do really really really good pens turn you on?" -Hayd

"bsh1's profile pic is what the snapchat filter would look like on steroids"- VOT

"let's keep it simple and traditional :D" -Biodome
missmozart
Posts: 306
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9/24/2016 2:33:59 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/23/2016 10:45:16 PM, Emmarie wrote:

Wow. It's amazing how much art can enrich someone's life. As I said before, I thought that Jahziah's words of 'Bliss' were absolutely beautiful and in fact, the video of his playing was probably better than the score you provided despite the minor slips. I think all the piece needs is a little brushing up on structure as well as questioning the individual harmonies and varying the sections a little. But other than that, well done, you should be a proud mother.
"Bonjour" -Feu

Diqiu: "Asian men are generally perceived as more feminine..."
Me: "Are you feminine?"
Diqiu: "Hey, no!"

"Do really really really good pens turn you on?" -Hayd

"bsh1's profile pic is what the snapchat filter would look like on steroids"- VOT

"let's keep it simple and traditional :D" -Biodome