A little composition of mine

Edited: December 29, 2017, 3:28 PM · Hey guys, this was the last thing I wrote and recorded, about 2 years ago now (right before my mom died, at which point I stopped composing).

Anyways, it's not perfect (and the intonation isn't ideal), but I thought I'd post it here anyways and see what you guys thought. Generally, no one on youtube provides any thoughts, because they really don't care about this type of music (they get way more excited about pop covers). It's pretty short and moves quickly through the different moods, so think of it as condensed piece that could theoretically be expanded with a lot more "filler" during each theme.

It's all done with viola and violin in my garage, nothing synthesized. Make sure to watch in the highest definition possible, as it greatly affects the sound quality!


EDITED to add a couple of other short pieces which I listed in a comment below:




Replies (25)

Edited: December 28, 2017, 2:46 PM · Very beautiful! Thank you for sharing
December 28, 2017, 2:48 PM · Thanks Julie :)
December 28, 2017, 4:01 PM · I like it. It awakes fantasy and imagination, and also very gentle and romantic. I can see it as a ballet. It is sad that you stopped to compose. I hope you will proceed.
December 28, 2017, 4:34 PM · What an emotional feeling. I felt like I almost wanted to cry, but don't know why. Beautiful, thank you.
December 29, 2017, 2:57 AM · Thanks for the positive input guys :)
Edited: December 29, 2017, 3:13 AM · Here are a couple of other short pieces I've done in the past:




December 29, 2017, 4:15 AM · I like it very much !!!
December 29, 2017, 5:03 AM · I like the other compositions too.

Dream Tally is my favorite.

December 29, 2017, 5:15 AM · I really like it! I'll definitely check out the other pieces too. I think you have really nice vibrato. I also liked that you made use of slides. I think too often people who are composing music with a classical bent are afraid to use slides.
December 29, 2017, 6:17 AM · Beautiful composition. Beautiful playing.

A typical pop tune that attempts to go over two minutes tends to degenerate into boring repetition. There are usually only 8 to 12 bars of "unique" motifs and maybe three chord progressions.

Your composition grabbed my attention from the first bar and took me on a dream-like journey for a full 3 minutes. Well done.

Edited: December 29, 2017, 6:53 AM · Very nice Erik! Slow and harmonic, just what I like. Keep up the good work, and hopefully you will.

Sorry for your loss.

Off topic a bit, a friend of mine wrote a full blown violin concerto with 3 movements and the like. I tried to do it justice with him on the piano but to say the least it was beyond me and I am reminded I am an amateur. I wonder what it would take to hire people to produce it professionally. It really has its moments. It's great that you were able to do it, how long did it take you and what sort of equipment? You don't have to answer that.

Edited: December 29, 2017, 6:54 AM · I just listened to your YouTube video and was like number 11. Over 600 views already and soon will be on the way to viraldom. ' )
December 29, 2017, 7:00 AM · Nice!
How did you record this? (rig, PC, microphone, home?)

Which would you say are your inspirations? (composers)

December 29, 2017, 7:54 AM · I liked it a lot. I am a big fan of Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter and other modern composers of instrumental music and OST. Your piece will fit very honorably among their best ones. Congratulations. I encourage you to keep composing. I think you have talent for it.
December 29, 2017, 5:12 PM · Marco: Dream tally was the last piece I ever recorded. The last messages I have from my mom were from her telling me I should do more with it :)

Jessy: I have often found that covers from pure classical musicians are boring, and they don't "sing" the notes properly. I think slides are important in some genres of music.

Carmen: Thank you :) Even worse about pop music, is that the new precedent is for them to be like 5 minutes long. Usually 2:30 is the longest I can take before the repetition starts to grind my gears a bit and I have to change the song. I actually like pop music a lot of the time, but the repetition kills me.

On that note, a funny fact: my "big break" (about 2 years ago) wasn't due to my classical compositions at all, but due to my vocal pop music. My singing ability and songwriting were the noticed entities, rather than my violin playing. I decided to turn down that chance, as I found that I hated writing music that would appeal to the common person. The song that caught interest had been written 5 years before - when I was less mature - and my musical style had changed completely since then. I would have had to give up my entire sense of self in order to go backwards musically, and that just wasn't worth the money and fame. Plus, I don't think I'd do well with being famous. The mainstream music world is so shallow now (probably always was), and it would hurt me to be in it.

Kan Pai: I do plan on getting back into music soon. Being disappointed repeatedly by violin students over the years has really started to hurt me, so it's my plan to start prioritizing my own musical development again, and to cut back on the students that I teach (only teach the ones that actually WANT to learn). Regarding your friend's violin concerto; that's an impressive achievement. I write everything you hear simply by improvising, and then recording that. Whenever I use sheet music, it just kills the fluidity of the process. So for him to complete a violin concerto is impressive. Recording is the easy part, if he already has the sheet music all written out. He just needs to find a good player and take it to a recording studio. I have my own recording equipment and have learned how to get an OK sound in my recordings, but doing that requires quite a bit of experience with audio sequencers, different mics, etc... It's a significant investment to get decent mics in addition to the other necessary equipment, so for just one song that's already in sheet music form, his best bet would be to go to an actual studio. My process simply doesn't allow that, because none of the music you're hearing is in sheet music form.

Jeff: Haha, most people don't give a crap about this type of music. I've noticed other musicians tend to like it, but as you noticed, my classical/original pieces have 5x-10x less views than my pop covers (and I only did the pop covers because friends asked me to do them, not because I wanted to).

Tim: I generally use a small condenser mic made by Rode (I think it's an NT2-A, but I forget right now). Sometimes I dual-mic it, sometimes I use a cardioid pattern head, sometimes an omni-pattern, sometimes I use both, sometimes I use a large condenser in addition to small condenser, sometimes I close-mic and and sometimes I far-mic. I always use an m-audio firewire audio interface, which seems to work fine. For sequencing, I had been using Cubase for a long time, but more recently had been using "Studio 1" from Presonus. It really just depends on experimentation. I record in my garage, which is also where I teach violin, but I really need to get a proper studio one day, because the garage just kills my creative instinct. It's way too associated with the issues students bring in to the space during the work-week.

Composer-wise, I really don't have much conscious inspiration. I just write what I like hearing, and I haven't found many composers that have the specific sound that I'm looking for (which is probably why I write it, since I can't find it already written). I do like specific pieces by different composers, but I rarely consciously incorporate a specific composer's sound into my own sound. For example, I love the intro to the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1, I love multiple parts of the Sibelius violin concerto, I love the middle of the 2nd movement of the Mendelssohn violin concerto, and so on. I also enjoy many movie themes. I just like anything that has a strong emotive element to it; great pain, great joy, great sadness, great nostalgia. I am a fan of extremes. BUT, I never purposefully copy anything, or even try to mimic a specific sound. I really just tend to play what I want to hear; most of the time my composition has a very "fantasy" feel to it; I guess I tend to feel like I lived a past life with a lot more fantasy elements to it, and my only way of experiencing that now is through music.

Carlos: Thanks for the compliment, that's a very nice thing to say! Of course, I don't know these names because my knowledge base regarding composers is extremely limited. I do plan on continuing.

Edited: December 29, 2017, 11:28 PM · Erik: Good to hear that you are getting back into your musical development! Kids will be kids and I can see why they could affect you so. Don't take it too personally; many don't know what they really want yet and violin is not for everyone.

Full disclosure: my friend did graduate with a degree in music composition although he wrote the concerto on his own impetus. Actually he went back to school and majored in math education and is now a mathematics teacher. I shall relay your news and push him some more to find someone or some studio to get it recorded at least with just piano and violin!

Best of luck!

December 30, 2017, 2:09 AM · Haha, it's not kids that are the problem as much as parents who are unwilling to help their children succeed (as well as adult students unwilling to help themselves succeed). Regardless, I will keep teaching.
December 31, 2017, 2:06 AM · Beautiful composition! An ethereal experience. I encourage you to continue to compose. The world needs more of this.
December 31, 2017, 5:50 AM · I like it! How many instrument tracks is it? It sounds more polyphonic to me than just a single viola and a single violin.

Regarding recording technique: have you considered simple ORTF stereo registration? It requires two small (not too expensive) cardioid microphones at some distance (listener's position) and creates a pleasing mix of stereo and reverberation. A disadvantage may be that the recording will have a bit more noise (both hiss and environmental noise) than a close-mike recording.

December 31, 2017, 7:56 PM · Hi Han, there are definitely up to 10ish tracks playing simultaneously at certain points in the piece. However, the only instruments used were my violin and viola. I can't remember what I specifically did for each piece, but I generally experiment with different distances and cardioid patterns to have more of a "background orchestra" feel for some of the tracks and more of a "upfront, solo" feel for the leading melodies.

Usually I'm pretty disorganized, though, and I never spend more than a single day on any song, since I lose motivation for that piece as soon as I take a break. So I do best with a nice 10-hour period where I don't eat or get distracted, and I try to pump out a whole song in that time period. Often it's less, like 2 hours.

The ORTF registration is a solid idea and I have indeed used it before, but I end up pumping everything out in mono anyways, so it's not always what I use, and given that I tons of road noise outside my garage, using far micing just isn't always doable. I also like the differing sounds from close micing vs far micing, so it all just depends. Really, I need to build a proper recording booth or studio so I can get proper sound dampening. I plan on doing this soon.

January 1, 2018, 2:37 PM · Your composition is very beautiful Erik.

I also happened to listen to your mellifluous rendition of You Raised Me Up. I've gotta say it sounds amazing! I like it more than the Daniel Jang version which hit nearly 4 million views on the tube, because to me it is emotionally deeper and technically more mature. One thing I know for sure: judging on the playing of your version alone, it deserves thousands more views.

The videos could be better if you could learn some acting as well. By that I mean, definitely some more facial expression and possibly some moving of the body. I think facial expression of most famous soloists, classical or otherwise, is done on purpose; it's something that they have been trained. One doesn't need to look like Taylor Davis to attract the audience. The Piano Guys and Steven Nelson cello don't look incredibly handsome, but they really know how to combine their facial feeling into the piece. I also love how Andre Rieu's face moved in tandem with his music.

What you may also want to do is to invest a little bit more on your videos. Your studio looks nice but the videos could be improved vastly: dark yellow lighting (in a bad way), no HD, no different angles. These alone could turn 95% of potential viewers away. You may also go outside, play fake on the sea shore, in the forest etc. etc. just for your videos; the real playing part can be done in your studio. A good cameraman (who could be your friend) could help you, and start to learn video editing if you are free - IMO it's not too hard.

Having a popular YouTube channel can help one's business as well: you can even list your channel's name as XX the violin instructor, and introduce your business there (I went to the 'about' section and it was blank).

January 1, 2018, 4:25 PM · Hey Willy, those are some great suggestions. I have thought of many things like that, but honestly, I just don't have the discipline for them. Even pushing out a semi-finished piece is almost beyond my will-power limit. This is partially because I use most of my musical/discipline energy by teaching. Before I taught, when I had lots of free energy, I was pretty prolific about writing music. A lot of it was vocal and electronic at that time, but I was pumping out songs every week or two. Now I'm lucky if I do one per year :P I've been thinking recently about the potential of quitting teaching and just starting composition (life circumstances could theoretically allow me to do this without starving). We'll see where the journey takes me.

Daniel Jang is a very handsome dude, and was also one of the first violinists to do pop song covers. So even though the quality/originality of his work is somewhat questionable, his following makes it so he can get 4 million views pretty easily. Ah, the benefits of being an early adopter (and being good looking)! I do appreciate you saying I should have thousands more views, but when appealing to the common person, the musicality of a song is probably the LEAST important thing (sadly). As you have noted, it's more about overall production quality. When people go to concerts, they don't care about the music as much as the experience itself. This same effect applies in music videos.

It's true that one doesn't NEED to be good looking to be popular, but it really, really helps. REALLY helps! Regarding facial expression, every pop cover I have ever done was at the request of some female friend at the time, so that's also why there's just not much effort put into those videos. I wouldn't generally do pop music covers if I was writing for myself. I had my chance at writing pop music for the sake of the common listener, but wasn't terribly interested. Truth be told, my vocal music would make a heck of a lot more money than my violin music, so if I was going the route of doing what's popular/financially smart, I would simply write vocal pieces.

My videos are awful, but once again this just comes down to sheer laziness. It's hard to do 1000x takes to get a good sound, and to have to record video of EVERY take and find the takes that match the audio later on. I guess I could finish the song and THEN record a dubbed version, but it really bothers me when I see a video that doesn't match the audio, even if it's only slightly noticeable. Still, this is probably something I'll end up doing later if I actually decide to go the "video" route with my career.

Long story short: if I stopped teaching and all I had was time and energy, I would probably do a lot of these cool things to make my videos more popular, in addition to simply increasing the overall quality of my recordings (there are a lot of errors I let slip) and being much more prolific about how much material I put out. But, it will require a lot of bravery on my part to take that leap and quit my "day job" for something that isn't exactly a "sure thing"

I'm thinking of starting a few experiments to see if there are any niche markets for my style of music (video game tracks seems to be the most likely, given the shortness of my pieces and the overall "fantasy" feel they have). If I find that there are markets (even small ones) for my style, I may very well lower my student count and dedicate myself to writing/recording music instead.

January 1, 2018, 4:50 PM · It's lovely.
January 1, 2018, 4:58 PM · Yes Erik, there are obviously opportunity costs for improving something like one's channel, and you just decide whether it's worth it. :-)
January 1, 2018, 7:17 PM · Will: Yeah, I'm at the crossroads of my life where I'm trying to decide whether I want to have lots of money, or whether I want to have a career that intrinsically satisfies me. Those two are generally mutually exclusive (unless you have an insane work ethic). I actually do like teaching as far as jobs go, but the disappointments often outweigh the successes, and I'm afraid that, in the long run, it'll wear down my soul too much. I'm starting to think that money isn't everything, and that perhaps I'd rather be poor and satisfied than rich and grumpy (plus I have the privilege of not having to worry about a retirement fund as much as most others would).

Thanks Mary!

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