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Introducing my piano compositions

Discussion in 'Composing' started by Rich Batsford, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    hi Folks

    Hopefully this is a suitable place to instroduce myself - Im Rich, 41 from Birmingham, England.

    Im a little nervous as Im not sure whether you will feel that my music falls under the classical banner. Im much influenced by my favourite classical composers - particularly the Romantic and Impressionist eras, but also by the minimalists and contemporary music such as electronica and post-rock.

    Anyway, I hope some of you will enjoy my music and Id welcome any feedback or comments. Please visit http://www.richbatsford.com/music to listen.

    many thanks

    Rich
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Hello Rich,
    For me your music is very beautiful for "ambience" music with dinner and polite conversation, etc. From a standpoint of it falling under "the classical banner" there's no chance of it. It is too static and repetitive (which is great for calming nevers and soothing oneself) and has no memorable melodies or tonal journey, and therefore is not suitable for significant story-telling. I found no influneces of "Romantic" or "Impressionist" composers, far less any minimalism, contemporary techniques or devices, electronica or post-rock for that matter, but did hear some jazz idiom in Completion. In summary, you write beautiful music for a certain purpose, but it isn't the kind that any pianists will want to buy the score of to perform for others in a program. They will, however, likely want to buy your CD(s) and play them during romantic dinners or at the end of a difficult day at work. Just my 2 cents. BTW, one litmus test of piano "art" music is whether you're intending to sell scores. If you are only intending to sell CDs, then I venture to say that it isn't "classical" (meaning "art" music). I by no means mean to denigrate here, I'm only identifying style by intent.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    Hi Eddy

    thanks for your message. Its always interesting to consider one's motives and purpose - for me, creating beautiful music that has an engaging and emotional effect on the listener would probably sum it up pretty well. From what you say, it sounds like you may think Im succeeding.

    As for my influences - they are all there in my "musical character" and have all affected the way I think about musical shape, tonality, phrasing and structure although Im certainly not looking to recreate or evoke any particular style. More to absorb the many different musical styles that have had an effect on me and from that melting pot to write music that is original and which, as a starting point, has an effect on me (if I know a new composition has a strong effect on me when I play it, theres got to be a reasonable chance it will have an effect on others as well).

    Youre right that I aim more for people to listen to my music (either live or in person) than to play it themselves and thats an interesting slant on the nature of composition. I do write from the "fingers and the heart" more than from "pencil and the mind" (to coin a couple of awkward phrases!). That said, in the limited exposure my music has had so far, Ive had a few enquiries after sheet music, so there is an interest there.

    Anyway, whilst I would overall agree that my music is unlikely to be thought of as falling officially within the classical tradition (I hope its ok for me to pop on here now and again to share and discuss my music. Im also looking at expanding on the teaching side of things as well in the future (I have a handful of private pupils) and if Im going to progress this further, I may be looking for some advice and conversation on traditional repertoire.

    best wishes

    Rich
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    I listened to the pieces on your site. Beautiful harmonies, gorgeous sound, well recorded and performed. However as a classical listener I got bored with all the pieces within the minute... You just can't milk the same rudimentary tune for 6 minutes and still hold a listener's interest. Strangely, I can appreciate quite some minimal music, but that's probably because it usually offers repetition with subtle variations in rhythm, pitch, tonality, dynamics etc... This is all just too repetitive, sorry. Not really our cup of tea here I'm afraid. As background/ambient music this is probably very good.

    Of course you're very welcome here to participate and discuss traditional classical music.
    BTW Is this an acoustic studio recording ? What piano ? The sound is most impressive.
     
  5. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    Hi Chris

    glad you found something to enjoy in my music. I know my stuff is more repetitive that most in (classical) history, but perhaps not so much from a contemporary perspective. I rather like the music of Steve Reich and Phil Glass and the genres of krautrock, breakbeat and downtempo electronica - all of which use a great deal more repetition than I. My aim in using repetition is to build a mood and create tension and purpose - quite often when I will repeat a section, the second time I extend and develop it into new territory, creaing a wave like effect that builds to a cliamax, before, typically, some restatement and a suitable close.

    The recording was made using a Roland FP4 digital piano plugged directly into a music studio.

    cheers

    Rich
     
  6. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Rich,
    I would love to discuss this with you anytime, when the time is right for you, either on this Composing Forum or even in Private Message (PM) if you prefer.

    Also, the "static" devices in western music entered by means of the influx of eastern philosophical/religious infuences as well as some monism. I'm curious if you have had any such influence, either removed through Reich, Glass and others or directly in a personal investigation of same?

    Eddy
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Whoa. I must say it sounds mighty good. Does that 'music studio' use sampled piano sound, like PianoTeq ?
     
  8. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    thanks Eddy, I'll look forward to that.

    Ive been practicing and studying Buddhism for four years or so, but I dont think that has had a direct effect on my music except that I generally now have a much calmer and clearer mind state than I used to. I first started composing in those few rare moments of mental quietude that I would get, often after a busy week at work, then some pretty heavy duty partying on a saturday night/sunday morning and then finding a quiet moment on a sunday where my mind was calm enough to just sit at the piano and play. Now, altho I still have busy days when its non stop - most days I find I have at least enough mental space to play and often to toy with an idea or two, or even develop an idea into a piece.

    Im not sure if that really was what you were asking about, but that is probably the chief way Eastern influence has affected my music.

    How about you, have you been influenced by Eastern music? Sounds interesting.

    Re Reich and Glass - I only started listening to Glass fairly recently, when people started mentioning his work a lot after having heard mine. But when I was 18 or so, a friend gave me a CD of Steve Reich's - Different Trains, and that had a piece on it called Electric Counterpoint which I really loved. I think it was listening to that and later on to other pieces and to electronica and post-rock that set me on the trail of more repetitive and minimalist structures.

    cheers

    Rich
     
  9. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    No, the sound was the Roland's own sample set.

    What I did was record in the first instance into the memory of the Roland (nice and easy one touch stuff). Then took the instrument to my friends music studio (Bartrum of Feathered Fish studios) where we took a midi line out and into Logic on a mac. There we fixed a couple of wrong notes using a terrific visual interface (I loved the geometric coloured patterns the music takes on in this form) and then played the new midi signal back through the keyboard, taking an audio line directly out and back into Logic.

    A little bit of audio tinkering from Bartrum and then sent to another engineer to be mastered and what you hear is the result. Im glad you like it, Ive been very happy with it too.

    cheers

    Rich
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Interesting. Rather contrived all the same, as compared to playing on a real instrument and recording it acoustically warts and all.
    I suppose it is the end that justifies the means... But let's not rake up that discussion here again.
     
  11. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    Well, one has to work within ones resources - I dont have regular access to a grand piano. Besides, the digital is very versatile - I can easily take it to gigs and perform anywhere and its easy to record (and never goes out of tune).

    Rich
     
  12. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Only by pentatonic scales (but via western music).
     
  13. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Sometimes I feel the same way about certain Schubert pieces! ;-)

    Certainly I'm hearing a lot more minimalism in this music than romantic/impressionist influences. It's enjoyable to listen to, but as a pianist I don't have the urge to ask for the sheet music and try playing it myself--because it doesn't use much of the resources of the instrument. That's where I think Philip Glass shows his classical background--in amongst all that repetition, you'll hear a huge variety of tone colours and textures; he uses the full resources at his disposal.

    Re the digital recording technique:
    Purely acoustic recordings can get pretty contrived too, when you start playing around with microphone placement, using more than one pair of mics, editing and so on.

    Anyway, thanks Rich for sharing this music with us, and I look forward to some interesting discussions in the future.
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Mhh yes, I do get impatient with some Schubert pieces too. Can't precisely say which, but he does go on a bit sometimes.
     
  15. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    hi Alexander

    could you expand more on what you were saying here about tone, colours and textures, sounds interesting and a good opportunity for learning for me if you wouldnt mind. If you can point to any particular examples in Glass' piano work, even better, as Im starting to get to know it a little.

    by the way, I see youre in Adelaide, theres a significant chance I might be moving there in a few months, so maybe we may yet have the opportunity to chat about this over a long black.

    best wishes

    Rich
     
  16. Perrotta

    Perrotta New Member

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    I liked your songs very much. Do you know George Winston? Your compositions have a style similar to his. I partially agree when people say it's not very attractive to buy the scores and learn the music, because it's very repetitive and makes people loose interest. However, there are pianists and pianists. I confess I'm not THAT inclined to learn these musics, but if I had the score here with me, I'd try once in a while, because they're beautiful. OK, they're like to be played in a romantic dinner and so on... but what if we want to achieve that?

    I works like yours greatly valuable, as I so consider George Winston as well. I'd buy you CD if I saw it in a store here (but I live in Brazil, it's kinda difficult, I guess).

    I don't wish you good luck, because you don't need it. You job is great enough not to need this. So, good carrer.
     
  17. differencetone

    differencetone New Member

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    It doesn't have enough dissonance in it to hold my interest. The way the phrases resolve reminds me of nursery rhymes. I don't mind repetition in music if there is a gradual momentum or metamorphosis which this doesn't have. It's not repeating phrases the way Philip Glass does with complex rhythms and subtle changes.
     
  18. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    Hi Perrotta

    many thanks for your kind words on my music. I have heard of George Winston, but am not really familiar with his music - I will have a listen.

    I havent published any sheet music as yet, but will do one day. Ive already had a few enquiries despite it still being very early days in terms of getting my music out to an audience.

    The repetition clearly bothers some people, but others have said they feel I strike a good balance between stating a theme enough times for it to be fully absorbed, but moving on - with some sense of progression - before the phrase becomes boring.

    Of course, different people will have different thresholds for this. For many people, classical music can seen almost schizophrenic in the way it is constantly changing, for others electronic music can seem interminably dull for the way it is so repetitive.

    I guess I fall somewhere between those two schools.

    My music doesnt seem to be a big hit with classical piano players, but there seem to be enough people who like you, find it beautiful, so I will certainly keep playing and recording.

    Thanks again for your support

    Rich
     
  19. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    Hi Rich,

    Sorry I didn't respond to this earlier! I don't know Glass's piano works all that well, I was actually thinking of his orchestral textures, particularly the three "portrait operas". For piano writing, it might be worth looking at early works of John Adams (when he used to be minimalist): China Gates and Phrygian Gates.

    Certainly I can help you find good coffee in Adelaide :) Drop me a line by PM or via my web site if you do end up moving here.
     
  20. Rich Batsford

    Rich Batsford New Member

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    Hi Alexander

    thanks for this. Ive been crazily busy lately recording my new album (my first of songs), but Ive made a note to follow your recommendations up at a quieter time.

    Im wondering if some of the issues of tone and texture are ones that I dont currently explore due to my particular pedalling technique. My default pedal position is down (sustain pedal I mean of course) - lifting it up very quickly only to change chord.

    This creates the effect of an ongoing swathe of sound which I personally find very satisfying, but to the pianist looking for the range of tone you can get not using the pedal, it may seem limited.

    My girlfriend has just got a temporary job here in the UK, so we'll be staying for a while, but we will certainly be at least visiting Adelaide again before long so she has a chance to catch up with friends and family. I'll drop you a message then and look forward to a coffee, thanks.

    Rich
     

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